Atmel shows first ARM Cortex M4-based single-chip system for PRIME smart metering applications

Metering, Billing & CRM Show, Amsterdam, Netherlands. October 9, 2012 — Atmel® Corporation today showcased the world’s first single-chip power line communications (PLC)-based system using an ARM® Cortex™-M4 processor-based microcontroller (MCU) targeting the rapidly growing PRIME smart metering market at the Metering Billing/CRM Show in Amsterdam.

Atmel’s SAM4SP32A is a new compact, highly integrated solution that combines a Cortex-M4 processor-based MCU, 2Mb of dual-bank Flash, 160Kb SRAM and a high-performance PLC transceiver in a single-chip SoC that lowers overall system costs.

The SAM4SP32A SoC is said to be fully compliant with the latest PRIME (Power Line Intelligent Metering Evolution) PLC specification.

In order to support the complex protocol required by smart meters to make firmware upgrades of the application and the protocol stack independently in the field, the new SoC integrates Atmel’s PLC technology with a high-performance Cortex-M4 MCU with 2Mb of programme memory on a dual-bank configuration. The new solution also leverages the powerful peripherals of the Cortex-M4 MCU, including serial peripheral interface (SPI), TWI and USARTS, to support the various communication interfaces required by smart metering applications.

Atmel’s SAM4SP32A SoC reportedly offers a high level of integration and power efficiency, along with extraordinary sensitivity of up to 34.8dBuV and a dynamic range of up to 73.18dB. The new SoC includes an integrated low-power amplifier that consumes 40% less power than other solutions on the market today.

To optimise the process of designing PLC-based smart metering solutions, the SAM4SP32A will be supported by Atmel Studio 6, the latest version of the company’s integrated development environment (IDE) that now supports both Atmel 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M series processor-based and Atmel 8/32-bit AVR® based microcontrollers (MCUs).

For the first time, says Atmel, the AVR customer base of more than 100,000 engineers and the designers of ARM Cortex-M series processor-based applications have all of the tools required to develop and debug Atmel MCU applications in a single, seamless environment. Atmel Studio 6 is available free of charge.

To further accelerate the design process, Atmel’s SAM4SP32A SoC will also be available with a SAM4SP32AAEK-99 evaluation kit that includes two boards, a complete set of software libraries, application examples, a PHY tester, PRIME Network Manager and PC USI test. The evaluation kits will be available in Q1FY13.

The Atmel SAM4SP32A SoC is sampling to lead customers now, with production quantities available in Q1FY2013. The SoC is available in a 128-lead LQFP package in a 14mm X 14mm dimension, with a 0.4mm pitch.

A webinar entitled ‘Reducing Costs in Future-Proof PRIME Smart Meters with New Atmel SAM4SP32A SoC’ will debut on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 8:00 am PT. Webinar viewers can learn the main features of Atmel’s SAM4SP32A device and how it can reduce the overall system costs of a metering product.

Atmel Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) is a designer and manufacturer of microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed signal, non-volatile 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 industrial, consumer, communications, computing and automotive markets.

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