Atmel Rolls Out AT91SAM7L Ultra-low Power ARM7 Microcontrollers

Atmel® Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) announced a new series of high-performance, ultra-low power ARM7TDMI®-based microcontrollers, the AT91SAM7L series, embedding power switches controlling multiple power islands and programmable voltage regulators to reduce power consumption in active and standby modes. There is a rapidly growing demand for more power efficient products that is driven by a market trend towards environmentally friendly, battery operated and portable products like media players, remote controls, weather stations, calculators, toys, control panels, thermostats and hand-held medical devices such as glucose meters, blood pressure meters and fitness monitors. The demand for green products is pushing manufacturers to consider low-power standby modes even on products supplied by the power grid. The individual standby power of audio or TV equipment is small at around 1 or 2 W per unit, but the fact that billions of these are maintained in standby mode, results in a total power consumption of thousands of megawatts.

Active and passive power control techniques. The AT91SAM7L series features innovative power reduction techniques for both active and standby modes. In active mode, the power consumption is optimized via a programmable operating voltage, operating frequency, and peripheral clock activity, and the use of DMA instead of the CPU for data transfers. The SAM7L operates in single supply mode down to 1.8V and consumes 0.5mA/MHz typical in active mode when executing code out of its Flash memory. The power consumption in the different standby modes is controlled via power switches, scalable voltage regulators, and the use of sampling techniques on Voltage Monitors, Power On Reset and Brown Out Detector instead of continuous measurement. This provides a higher level of granularity than is available in competing products, while achieving at least the same levels of power saving. In power down mode, the AT91SAM7L consumes only a typical 100nA, which is believed to be a unique feature for 32-bit MCUs.

Low power modes and fast wake-up. In Power Down mode, only the Fast Wake-up (FWUP) pin is supplied, allowing a system wake-up through a simple push button. This feature can be used to control power on/off in applications such as calculators. In Backup mode, only the supply controller, the zero-power POR and the 32kHz oscillator remain running. The RTC, the 2K backup SRAM, the BOD, the charge pump, the LCD voltage regulator and the LCD Controller can be set on or off separately. This mode can be used when time, context or display need to be saved even if the main application is not running. In Wait mode, the 2MHz RC oscillator provides a rapid wake-up time for fast external event management.

Segment LCD Controller. The AT91SAM7L128/64 embeds LCD features. These include a Segment LCD Controller, built-in drivers and the programmable LCD power supply for contrast control comprising a regulated Charge Pump and an adjustable Voltage Regulator. It is intended for monochrome passive liquid crystal displays (LCD) with up to 10 common terminals and up to 40 segment terminals.

Choice of On-chip Flash and Extensive Peripheral Set. The AT91SAM7L series has two members, the AT91SAM7L128 and the AT91SAM7L64 with respectively 128k Bytes and 64k Bytes of Flash memory. The AT91SAM7L series also integrates a wide range of peripheral functions, including USART, SPI, Timer Counter, RTC and Analog-to- Digital Converters. The AT91SAM7L128/64 System Controller includes a Reset Controller capable of managing the power-on sequence. Correct device operation can be monitored by a built-in Brown Out Detector and a Watchdog Timer running off an integrated oscillator. This complete set of system functions minimizes the number of external components as the chip can run at maximum speed without any external oscillator.

Development Tools and Real-Time Operating System Support. The SAM7L is supplied with a low-cost Starter Kit, the AT91SAM7L-STK, and runs the comprehensive set of application development tools that has been built up over the years for Atmel’s ARM®-based microcontrollers.

Availability and Pricing
The AT91SAM7L128 and the AT91SAM7L64 are available now; packaged in a 128-pin LQFP package and a 144-pin 10x10mm 0.8mm ball pitch BGA package. Pricing is below US$4 in volumes of 10,000 units.

About Atmel
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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