Atmel SAM9X

SAM9 processors are indented for application in different industrial spheres, medical devices and POS-terminals. By producing SAM9 series in a housing of industrial temperature range Atmel unambiguously suggests the sphere of application of these processors to the developing engineers. On the whole, SAM9 series features a relatively rich set of peripherals for industrial purposes: Ethernet-controller (1 or 2), CAN-controller (1 or 2), a number of UART on one chip and other equally useful interfaces.

On the other hand, SAM9M models feature wide multimedia possibilities, for example, built-in hardware-based video-decoder, hardware-based crypto-accelerator (AES, TDES and SHA) and a hardware accelerator of 2D-graphics. Video-decoder can decode video-containers of the following formats: H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, VC-1, H.263.

The whole SAM9 family is based on the 32-bit core ARM® ARM926EJ-S™. The core itself has existed in built-in processors for 10 years already, however the productivity of this core is sufficient to solve many problems. Maximum core clock of the SAM9 processors family is 400MHz, nevertheless even at this frequency Atmel has integrated into a part of processors a new storage controller. This controller supports DDR2 memory which operates at 133MHz frequency. Apart from that, availability of a 12-layer AHB bus allows to conduct parallel data exchange between peripherals and memory with the help of DMA channel. This makes it possible to eliminate delays on a high-speed bus which is used by ARM® core at a specific time.

Almost the whole SAM9 family has a standard set of peripherals: LCD-controller, SPI, I2C, UART, ATS, AC’97-controller, I2S-controller, camera interface. The key features of the whole SAM9 family are low-power consumption, relatively low price and sufficient productivity, while high integrity of peripheral units on chip makes it possible for the developers to lower the cost of production of a bill of materials (BOM).

In 2011 Atmel expanded the range of SAM9 processors – there appeared 400MHz SAM9G15, SAM9G25, SAM9G35, SAM9X25 and SAM9X35 with consumption not exceeding 100mW. Apart from that, these processors incorporate NAND- and DDR2-memory support, in some models LCD-, Ethernet and CAN-controllers are integrated. Most recent SAM9Gxx processors and CAN-adapted SAM9Xxx processors have been developed especially for application in industrial devices, controllers managing the systems "connected home", POS-devices, medical devices and in HMI (Human Machine Interface). 

Debug board AT91SAM9X25-EK

Yet another peculiarity of AT91SAM9X35 processor is availability of a software modem Conexant CX20548 with SmartDAA technology support. Patented SmartDAA technology allows connecting diverse physical interface to AT91SAM9X35. Different solutions for the use of a built-in modem in practically any country of the world are realized at the software level. Soft modems are applied in applications which require public switched telephone network(PSTN): payment terminals, signaling systems and TeleCare.

There has been worked out a relatively good support software solution for Atmel SAM9 processors.

  • There exists a number of external environments(such as IAR Embedded Workbench® ARM, Rowley® CrossWorks, etc.) for creation of a Bare-Metal application. Besides, there is always a possibility to work with open software such as ARM GNU Toolchain and Eclipse environment.
  • In order to use Embedded Linux OS there exists an open project Linux4SAM where one can download the latest distribution package Embedded Linux for a particular SAM9xxx processor (the package includes initial boot loader AT91Bootstrap, stage two boot loader U-boot, OS core – Linux kernel and a file system image);
  • In order to use Android 2.3.x OS there exists a separate open project Android4SAM where one can download complete Buildroot in order to generate an image and a file system of Android OS;
  • In order to use Windows Embedded CE OS there exist BSP (board support package) from third-party manufacturers;
  • eCOS 3.0 OS can also be used with BSP from third-party manufacturers;
  • In order to use QNX OS there exists a BSP which allows generating an OS image.

A distinctive feature of the processor software downloading strategy is availability of the processor ROM of SAM9 family of a SAM-BA monitor micro program.

Additionally to this micro program in the processor ROM, Atmel has developed a convenient program for desktop computers – Atmel SAM-BA ISP.This software, applying UART, USB or JTAG as a vehicle, allows programming the processor and/or external memory in the process of device production. Apart from that, this software allows to create verification scripts for external peripheral units on the board with the help of this processor (as far as practicable).

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