Atmel(R) Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) announced that it has extended its CAP family of customizable microcontroller-based System-on-a-Chip products with an ARM7 core. The new CAP7 customizable microcontroller is architecturally compatible with Atmel’s broad range of off-the-shelf ARM7-based MCUs and incorporates metal programmable cell fabric (MPCF) technology to integrate up to 450K equivalent ASIC gates in a metal programmable block for custom logic netlist conversion. Atmel’s flexible design flow allows an easy conversion path from FPGA netlist to the metal programmable block.
According to Atmel’s marketing director, Jay Johnson, “Design engineers frequently use programmable ICs to accelerate their proprietary DSP algorithms in a gate array technology. Many choose FPGAs which represent a flexible, cost-effective solution for market-testing new products, when volumes cannot be predicted. However, once production ramp begins and controlling bill of materials is a priority, our CAP7 customizable MCUs offer a painless cost reduction path, without the typical NRE and long development cycle associated with a standard cell ASIC.”
By eliminating an external FPGA, Atmel’s customizable microcontrollers can reduce IC costs by at least 50%. For example, in medium volumes (50K units), a 1 to 2M gate FPGA and ARM7 MCU, 2-chip solution, market price is between $13 and $20. With unit prices under $6, CAP7 can cut the cost by more than half. In addition, with an 80MHz CAP7, designers can double performance and reduce power consumption by 90%, compared to 1 to 2 watt FPGA solutions.
Available for ARM7-based Designs
The initial CAP7 product release includes the AT91CAP7S, based on the ARM7TDMI(R) processor core. The AT91CAP7S has 160K bytes of on-chip fast SRAM and either a 250K or 450K block of metal programmable ASIC gates. Peripherals include USB device, SPI master and slave, two USARTs, three 16-bit timer counters, an 8-channel, 10-bit analog to digital converter, and a full complement of supervisory functions. Additional peripherals from Atmel’s extensive IP library or customer IP may be instantiated in the MP block.
Availability and Pricing
There is a one-time charge of US $150,000 for design, mask fees, and prototypes. The CAP7 is available now for design. The AT91CAP7S250 in a 144 pin LQFP package is priced at US $5.44 for 50K unit quantities.
The MPCF technology offers the density and unit costs of cell-based ASICs with the quick turn around and low NREs of gate arrays. The key to the MPCF technology is an 8 transistor core cell that is only 3.2 um high and 2.0 um wide in Atmel’s 130nm process, achieving densities up to 210,000 usable gates per square millimeter which is 35% more available gates than sea-of-gates technology.
Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, 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 consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.
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