Atmel Reduces System Cost in Industrial Applications with High-Quality Video Decoding ARM926-based Microprocessor

11th January 2010
ES Admin

Atmel today announced the SAM9M10, a high-performance ARM926EJ-based embedded microprocessor (MPU) that integrates a video decoder and 2D acceleration (scaling, rotating, color space conversion, picture in picture) to provide high-quality video performance in industrial embedded applications. The SAM9M10 is targeted at media rich display and control panels in application segments such as home and commercial buildings, POS (Point of Sale) terminals, entertainment systems, Internet appliances and medical.

This new product includes a 400 MHz ARM926-based microprocessor that integrates twin parallel External Bus Interfaces (EBI) to support Dual Data Rate DRAM (DDR2) at 133 MHz. It also integrates high-speed (480 Mbps) USB Host and Device Ports with on-chip transceivers, Ethernet MAC, two interfaces for MMC 4.3 and SDIO/SD Card 2.0, as well as an LCD controller with resistive touch screen support, and CMOS camera and audio interfaces. The SAM9M10 decodes video streams up to D1 (720 x 576 pixels) or WVGA (800 x 480) at 30 frames per second (fps). It is pin-to-pin compatible with the recently released SAM9G45, and extends Atmel's ARM9(TM) offering at the top. An evaluation kit is available with free Linux® distribution and Microsoft® Windows® Embedded CE board support packages (BSP).

Video Decoding and 2D Acceleration for intelligent User Interfaces (iUI)
Whether it's an alarm control panel showing a sequence taken from a surveillance camera or a connected tablet playing content from the Internet, today, iUIs must support high-quality video playback. However, video decoding raises multiple issues in system design, the central one being the processing power required to handle the task. To solve the problems that a software solution causes, the SAM9M10 embeds a high-performance hardware video decoder. The module plays resolutions up to D1 (720x576) or WVGA (800x480) at 30fps and supports multiple formats, H264, H263, MPEG4, MPEG2, VC1, and JPEG. The LCD display benefits from accelerations, including image scaling and image rotation, color space conversion (YUV to RGB) for the rendering of compressed formats, and a picture-in-picture capability. Overall, the SAM9M10 provides a high-quality visual experience for the user while preserving the full processing power of the central processing unit for the application.

Integrated Power Management with 1.8 or 3.3V supply voltage - Most ARM9-based MPUs were originally developed for the mobile phone market with a 1.8V supply voltage. In order to be used in industrial applications, which typically run at 3.3V, they require expensive external power management ICs and level shifters. The SAM9M10 offers integrated power management, slew rate control I/Os with programmable 1.8 or 3.3V voltage levels, in a 0.8mm ball pitch package to simplify industrial control design and reduce cost.

DDR2 Support Cuts Bill-of-Material (BOM) Cost and Eases Sourcing - There are serious concerns in the industrial market segment about the use of DRAM memories. SDRAM is a legacy memory option, and the market has already moved beyond DDR. As a result of cost and technology considerations, DDR2 is becoming the memory-of-choice for the industrial embedded market. Atmel is at the forefront with the SAM9M10 as its second ARM9-based embedded microprocessor with DDR2 support.

Distributed Memory, DMA and Dual EBI for Optimal Data Bandwidth - The 12-layer system bus matrix is linked to the Memory Management Unit of the processor core, as well as 8 central DMA channels, 6 high-speed DMAs, each dedicated to the video decoder, LCD controller, USB host and device, Ethernet MAC, and image sensor Interface, 21 Peripheral DMA (PDC) channels, dual EBI and small blocks of on chip distributed SRAM to ensure uninterrupted internal and external data flows with minimum processor overhead. The high data speedway architecture enables the SAM9M10 to perform 100Mpbs+ data transfers, video decoding and user interface rendering in parallel with computationally intensive data processing.

Preserves the Power Budget while Pushing Performance and Integration - While maximizing performance, the SAM9M10 contains a number of advanced features that minimize power consumption and reduce the number of external components required. At 400 MHz operation and a 1.0V core supply the typical power consumption less than 300 uW/MHz. In backup mode with the RTC running, the SAM9M10 only consumes around 8 uA. The system controller incorporates startup, shutdown and power-on reset controllers, on-chip oscillators for 12 MHz and 32 KHz, and a power management controller (PMC) that fine-tunes power consumption to the required system performance under all conditions of use. I/Os have programmable slew rate to simplify PCB design and support 1.8 and 3.3V operation to eliminate external level shifters, thereby reducing component count and board area.

EHCI-compliant High Speed USB Host - A bandwidth of 480 Mbps high-speed USB can meet growing demands for bandwidth. The EHCI-compliant high-speed USB host provides a well-understood, easy-to-use vehicle to handle large amounts of data and interconnection between systems and the printed circuit boards (PCBs) inside a system. The SAM9M10 USB host is fully compliant to the EHCI and OHCI standards that guarantee straightforward porting of proven USB host drivers to the SAM9M10. These features shorten the development cycle and secure higher quality standards.

Comprehensive Eco-system and Evaluation Kit - The SAM9M10 is released with an evaluation kit and supported by a free Linux distribution and Microsoft Windows Embedded CE BSP, including a video driver and GStreamer and DirectShow multimedia frameworks, respectively. More information can be downloaded from the following websites: http://www.at91.com/windows4sam and http://www.linux4sam.org. Extensive documentation including a ready-to-run demonstration explaining how to use and customize the source code and how to build applications is also provided.

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