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Eval kit ships for low-cost ARM9 SoC

Oct 6, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Atmel Corp. announced a Linux-compatible evaluation kit for its $8, ARM926-based SAM9G45 system-on-chip (SoC). The SAM9G45-EK kit includes the 400MHz processor, two banks of 128MB DDR2 memory, 2GB of NAND flash, a 4.3-inch, 480 x 272 pixel touchscreen, dual USB ports, and Ethernet, says the company.

Announced in July, Atmel's $8 (in volume) AT91SAM9G45 is targeted at industrial applications including building automation, data loggers, point-of-sale (PoS) terminals, alarm systems, and medical equipment. The chip is touted for supporting DDR2 memory and 100Mbps+ data rates, along with LCD touchscreens, 3.3 V power, and 480Mbps USB.

SAM9G45 architecture

Like the AT91SAM9G20, announced in May 2008, the SAM9G45 uses an ARM926EJ-S core clocked to 400MHz, as well as 32KB each of data and instruction cache. This is twice the clock speed and four times the cache of the earlier AT91SAM9260.

The SAM9G45's twin parallel external bus interfaces (EBI) support DDR2 memory at 133MHz. The chip ships with 64K of internal SRAM, supports NAND and NOR flash, and offers dual interfaces for MMC 4.3 and SDIO/SDCard 2.0. The device provides boot from NAND flash, SDCard, DataFlash, or serial DataFlash, Atmel adds.

SAM9G45-EK evaluation kit

Atmel's SAM9G45-EK board builds on the SAM9G20 SoC with two separate banks of 128MB DDR2 memory, each connected to an external bus interface, says the company. Flash memory is said to include 2GB of NAND, as well as 32MB (2M x 16) of flash memory dedicated to storing application data or firmware uploaded into DDR2 memory at system boot. Dual high-speed SD/SDIO/MMC slots are also supplied.

Atmel SAM9G45-EK

(Click to enlarge)

The SAM9G45-EK ships with a 4.3-inch, 24-bit color WQVGA (480 x 272 pixel) display with resistive touchscreen and backlight, and also provides composite video output, according to Atmel. The device includes a 10/100 Ethernet port, a USB host/device port, a USB host port, and a camera image sensing interface, the company adds.

Atmel SAM9G45-EK architecture

(Click to enlarge)

The SAM9G45-EK offers dual boot capability, supporting Linux and Windows CE, with both operating systems supported with free board support packages (BSPs). The Linux BSP includes a Linux 2.6.27 kernel, along with a device-specific patch. Other features are said to include device drivers, pre-built demonstrations, and the Angstrom distribution, based on the OpenEmbedded build environment.

Atmel SAM9G45-EK unboxed
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the SAM9G45-EK include:

  • Processor — Atmel SAM9G20 @ 400MHz
  • Memory — 256MB DDR2 memory (dual 128MB banks)
  • Flash — 2GB NAND; 32MB (2M x 16) application/firmware flash
  • Flash expansion — SD/SDIO/MMC card slot; SD/MMCplus and SD/MMC connectors
  • Display — 4.3-inch, 24-bit color WQVGA (480 x 272 pixel) LCD TFT resistive touchscreen and backlight; composite video out
  • Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x USB host/device interface
    • 1 x USB host/device interface
    • 1 x RS232 serial port
    • 1 x DBGU serial port
    • 1 x JTAG/ICE debug interface
    • 1 x ISI connector (camera interface)
    • 1 x UART
  • Audio:
    • AC '97 codec
    • Headphone/line out
    • Line in
    • Mono/stereo microphone inputs
  • Other features:
    • Reset/board reset
    • Wake-up pushbutton
    • Right/left click pushbutton switches
    • Joystick switch
    • 3 x LEDs
  • Power — 1.8 or 3.3 V I/O supply voltage ; 5 VDC from connector; Lithium coin cell battery retainer for 12mm cell
  • Operating temperature — 14 to 122 deg. F (-10 to 50 deg C)
  • Dimensions — 7.1 x 6.3 inches (180 x 160mm)
  • Operating system — Linux; Windows CE

In August, Timesys announced LinuxLink development support for the processor. At the time, the company announced that its LinuxLink framework would support the upcoming evaluation kit, and the company has now reiterated that support.

Support testimonials are also supplied by Mentor Graphics (on behalf of its Nucleus real-time operating system), Micrium (USB controller driver and stack), QNX (Neutrino RTOS), Fluffy Spider Technologies (FancyPants GUI), and Adeneo Embedded (Windows CE development platform).

Stated Robi Karp, Fluffy Spider Technologies' CEO, "The Atmel SAM9G45 eMPU offers intelligent-device manufacturers and application developers a feature-rich and cost-effective platform."


The SAM9G45-EK evaluation kit is available now for $750 in single-unit quantities, says Atmel. More information may be found here and at Atmel's SAM9 Linux site, here.

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