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GUI MCU supports 'smart' control panel apps

Posted: 23 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GUI MCU? smart control? panel application?

Atmel Corp. has released the AT91SAM9RL64 MCU with high throughput and OS support to implement "smart" control panel applications that can provide access to content including user manuals, video clips and audio, as well as offering a robust interface to system control functions.

The ARM9-based interactive GUI MCU can also be used as the main processor in a system or as the co-processor dedicated to the user interface. A USB High Speed link provides the bandwidth to transfer streaming video between the host and the AT91SAM9RL64 co-processor.

The buttons, dials, switches and joysticks typically used to control electronic products are rapidly being replaced by touchscreens with icons that beat or zoom when selected or fly over the screen as the user navigates through the available content. Increasingly systems are voice activated, being able to both talk and listen to the user. Interactive video content is replacing static lists and instructions.

While 8- and 16bit MCUs are used for user interfaces in cost sensitive consumer applications, they are, however, not capable of dealing with the amount of processing and data movement required to

manage an interactive GUI. The AT91SAM9RL64 is a single-chip "smart" panel solution with 200-plus MIPS, a 6-layer bus matrix and DMA on all on-chip peripherals to support the high data rates associated with screen refresh, image processing, user interaction and the creation of the dynamics guaranteeing a good user experience. On-chip peripherals include LCD and touchscreen controllers, USB High Speed device, 24 DMA channels, an MCI/SDIO interface, 5 UARTs, SPI, dual SSC, AC'97, 6 Timers, 4 PWMs with high-drive I/Os, dual TWI and a battery backup RTC with associated registers.

In addition to the 4Kbytes each of data and instruction cache, the SAM9RL64 supports deterministic processing with an additional 64Kbytes of SRAM arranged in four 16Kbyte blocks, which can be configured as data or instruction tightly coupled memory (TCM) that bypasses the cache to provide single cycle access at the maximum 200 MIPS clock frequency. The TCM may also be configured as local memory for on-chip peripherals connected to the multi-layer bus. At system boot, the SRAM is connected to the multi-layer bus allowing the DMA controller to copy the real-time critical code from non-volatile storage, such as NAND or DataFlash. After the code has been shadowed in the SRAM, the memory blocks can be reconfigured as TCM.

Atmel provides the GNU C compiler and GNU debugger free of charge. Commercial licenses from IAR (C compiler - Embedded Workbench - RTOS - Powerware), Mentor Graphics (RTOS - Nucleus PLUS & User Interface middleware - Inflexion), Micrium (RTOS - uCOS/II), ExpressLogic (RTOS - ThreadX) and Microsoft (Windows CE - .NET Framework) are currently being ported for a complete embedded

application prototyping. Atmel also provides a software package with register descriptions and device drivers for all peripherals and project examples that ease the use of the microcontroller. An evaluation board is available for benchmarking and a quick start in the development.

The AT91SAM9RL64 is available in a 217-pin 15mm x1 5mm 0.8mm ball pitch BGA package. Pricing is at $6.85 in volumes of 10,000 units.

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