Atmel Corporation

Reported by Cliff Keys, Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design


ARM Cortex-M3 Flash MCU Family With SAM3N Series

Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry's broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions focused on industrial, consumer, communications, computing and automotive markets.

Atmel® announced the new Atmel SAM3N series to expand their ARM® Cortex™-M3 Flash Family. The new SAM3N series offers high performance, low-power consumption and scalable memory, pin-count, package options and capacitive touch support. The SAM3N series combines performance and simplicity by including development tools, software, In-system programming and support from the ARM third-party ecosystem network. The SAM3N series is a general-purpose microcontroller targeted at applications including consumer, industrial control, metering, toys, medical, test and measurement, 802.15.4 wireless networking, and PC, cell phone and gaming peripherals. The Atmel SAM3N and SAM3S series are the first ARM-based microcontrollers that offer capacitive touch support for buttons, sliders and wheels with the Atmel QTouch® library and studio to deploy modern-user interfaces. The new series offers an extended supply range from 1.62 to 3.6V to enable a true 1.8V operation and 0.86mW per megahertz in active mode. The lower power consumption can also be reduced to 1.9uA in 1.8V standby mode with RTC (real-time clock) running.

The Atmel SAM3N Cortex-M3 Flash series is pin-to-pin compatible with the best-selling Atmel ARM7TDMI®-based SAM7S series to offer an ideal migration path to higher performance and lower power consumption. The new SAM3N series optimizes overall bill of material (BOM) with a lower price-point and by improving system-level integration with on-chip termination resistors. "The SAM3N series offers the ideal general-purpose microcontroller with the best cost-to-power consumption, processing power and peripheral set ratio," said Jacko Wilbrink, director of ARM microcontrollers, Atmel Corporation. "The SAM3S offers additional features with higher performance and more peripherals options including 12-bit ADC, SDIO, USB full-speed device, external bus interface, and more Flash SRAM options." The Atmel SAM3N series is a member of a Flash microcontroller family based on the high-performance 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 RISC processor. The new ARM-based microcontroller series provides processing power and features such as system control, sensor interfaces, 64k to 256kByte Flash memory options, connectivity capabilities and user interface support. It embeds a rich set of peripherals including ADC/DAC and up to 16 timers and four UARTs supporting ISO7816 standard. In addition, functionality like On-Die-Termination (ODT) for simplification of PCB design has been integrated.

Atmel® announced the first 32-bit AVR® microcontrollers (MCUs) with a floating point unit (FPU). Targeting industrial control applications, the new Atmel AVR UC3 C MCU series offers a unique mix of high-processing power, true 5V operation, high-speed communication and advanced safety and reliability features packaged in a range of small and miniature packages. The IEEE 754-1985-compatible FPU increases the performance, precision and dynamic range of calculations offered by the Atmel AVR UC3 CPU. The native support for the floating point arithmetic allows design engineers to use a full-featured toolbox for designing sensor and control applications. In addition, the advanced math can be applied to enhance signal processing, filtering, and noise suppression in a wide range of applications including motor control, robotics and audio. "The Atmel AVR UC3 C series delivers more processing power—in a smaller footprint—than any other microcontroller in our line card," said Haakon Skar, marketing director of AVR UC3 products, Atmel Corporation. "The new series offers better performance and enables us to include this new FPU without negatively impacting the microcontroller power consumption. These new 32-bit AVR microcontrollers complement our already-strong line card of 8-bit AVR MCUs targeting the industrial control." The Atmel UC3 C series is the first Atmel 32-bit AVR microcontroller built for high-speed communication designed for 3.0 - 5.5V operation with a true 5V operation. A 5V supply voltage is a requirement for many industrial control applications to allow better signal-to-noise ratio, particularly in applications that require large switching currents or very sensitive analog instrumentation. The UC3 C series comes with a 9-layer databus, 64 + 4kB high-speed SRAM and a mix of high-speed communication peripherals including a 100Mbps Ethernet, Dual CAN ports and a full-speed USB interface. An SDRAM interface is included in larger devices. The layered databus and split SRAM architecture allows the system designer to easily avoid clashes on high-speed communications that could result in package loss or decreased system performance. The UC3 C series also offers the Atmel Peripheral Event System which is found in the Atmel UC3 L series and Atmel 8-bit AVR® XMEGA® products. The Event System allows inter-peripheral communication to take place without CPU intervention and guarantees two-cycle latency between the completion of one peripheral operation and the start of another. This ultimately eliminates the jitter and unpredictable latency associated with a traditional CPU interrupt. Finally, the UC3 C series includes FlashVault code protection, a flash security technology that allows the on-chip flash to be partially programmed and locked, creating secure on-chip storage for secret code and software intellectual property. Code stored in the FlashVault will execute as normal, but cannot be read, copied or debugged. This allows a device with FlashVault code protection to carry valuable software, such as a math library or an encryption algorithm, from a trusted location to a potentially untrustworthy partner where the rest of the source code can be developed, debugged and programmed. The new UC3C series is available in a range of package options including 9x9mm QFN64 to 22x22mm TQFP144 packages. Power consumption is in line with the existing Atmel AVR microcontroller UC3 A and B series.


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