Atmel Debuts $399 AT91CAP7A-STK Starter Kit for ARM7 Microcontrollers

Atmel® Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML), announced its AT91CAP7A-STK Starter Kit for the evaluation of its ARM7[tm]-based CAP[tm] family of customizable microcontrollers. CAP7 customizable MCUs allow designers to migrate ARM7-plus-FPGA designs to a low-NRE, single-chip solution with approximately 30% lower unit costs, with eight times better performance, 98% less static power consumption, and 70% less active power consumption.

The $399 CAP7 Starter Kit includes a printed circuit board with Atmel’s ARM7-based AT91CAP7E microcontroller, Altera® Cyclone®II EP2C8F256C7N FPGA with EPCS4SI8N serial configuration memory, 2.8″ TFT LCD panel, joystick, 64M Bytes of SDRAM application memory, 10-bit analog to digital converter (ADC), 256M Bytes of NAND flash and a 4MB DataFlash®. External interfaces include USB full-speed device, four analog inputs, external bus interface (EBI), USART, SPI, and Debug UART. The board also supports sensing applications with light and temperature sensors and potentiometers.

The on-board Cyclone II FPGA contains 8,256 four-input Lookup Table (LUTs) logic elements equivalent to 66,048 CAP7 MP block gates — about one seventh the total available logic on a CAP7 device. It can be used to map and emulate application-specific IP blocks, in the CAP7′s embedded Metal Programmable (MP) block, along with the system software. The AT91CAP7E executes at clock speeds up to 80 MHz and can send to or receive data from the FPGA at this speed over the EBI. The AT91CAP7E can also interface the FPGA via peripheral IO (PIO).

The CAP7 starter kit allows designers to determine how the software, MCU and new IP will play together in a customizable MCU, without incurring any NRE charges or spending thousands of dollars for a full development board. Designers can accurately gauge the superior power consumption and performance characteristics of the CAP7 device, evaluate the ADC resolution, and experiment with the peripherals on the device. Smaller designs can be emulated and evaluated on the AT91CAP7A-STK. However for development of a customized CAP7 device, the fully featured AT91CAP7-DK is recommended to allow customers to take full advantage of the CAP7′s multi-layer high-speed bus (AHB) and peripheral DMA.

There are 32 general-purpose I/O connections on the AT91CAP7E, and 75 I/Os on the FPGA to support application-specific external interfaces. Debug is facilitated by the provision of an ICE-JTAG interface for CAP7 JTAG programming, and a USB-Blaster-JTAG interface for Cyclone II JTAG programming.

Jay Johnson, Atmel’s Marketing Director for ASIC Products, commented, “Development boards with an ARM7 and FPGA usually cost thousands of dollars. The $399 CAP7 starter kit is the first ARM7-plus FPGA kit to provide a low cost alternative for evaluating these designs and for validating the CAP7 concept, without any NRE charges or risk. This kit can be used by anyone from a developer in a tier-one electronics company to the smallest startup to find out how easy it is to customize an ARM-based MCU for a specific application. It is also the ideal vehicle for students of electronics engineering to consolidate their knowledge of system-on-chip hardware and software design.”

Availability and Pricing
The AT91CAP7A-STK Starter Kit is now available and is priced at $399.

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.

Atmel®, logo and combinations thereof, DataFlash® and others, are registered trademarks, CAP[tm] and others are trademarks of Atmel Corporation or its subsidiaries. ARM® and others are a registered trademark or trademark of ARM Ltd.