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Open source COM runs mainline Linux on Microchip SAMA5D2 SiP

Feb 20, 2018 — by Eric Brown 4,217 views

Microchip unveiled an open source, mainline Linux ready “SAMA5D27 SOM” module based on a SiP implementation of its Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D27 SoC with 128MB RAM. The 40 x 38mm module is also available with a SOM1-EK1 dev board.

Long before it was acquired by Microchip Technology, Atmel had been producing a line of Linux-focused, Cortex-A5 based SAMA5 SoCs, but the only Atmel-branded SAMA5 boards were its open-spec Xplained development boards developed with Newark Element14. The SAMA5 family was always a side business to Atmel’s MCU line, with very little integration between the two. With its ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 (SAMA5D27 SOM1) module, which uses a system-in-package (SiP) implementation of Microchip’s SAMA5D27 SoC, Microchip is starting to bridge the gap between the SAMA5 product line and its much larger RTOS/MCU business.

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The 40 x 38mm SAMA5D27 SOM is Microchip’s first computer-on-module based on a Linux-ready application processor, and the first SiP-based module built around a SAMA5 SoC. Designed for rugged IoT applications, the module can be soldered onto a baseboard by hand. It offers long term availability and supports industrial -40 to 85°C temperatures.

Like the Xplained boards, the module is fully open source, from the mainline Linux support to the posting of open schematics, design, Gerber, and BoM files for both the SOM and the optional SOM1-EK1 development board. “All of Microchip’s Linux development code for the SiP and SOM are mainlined in the Linux communities,” says Microchip.



In addition to the ATSAMA5D27C-D1G-CUSiP (SAMA5D27 SiP) found on the module, three other SiP variations are separately available. The four SKUs include:

  • SAMA5D225C-D1M — SAMA5D22 with 128Mb (16MB) DDR2 in BGA196 (11 x 11mm with 0.75mm pitch) — FreeRTOS or barebones only
  • SAMA5D27C-D5M — SAMA5D27C with 512Mb (64MB) DDR2 in BGA289 (14 x 14mm with 0.8mm pitch) — Linux only
  • SAMA5D27C-D1G — SAMA5D27C with 1Gb (64MB) DDR2 in BGA289 (14 x 14mm with 0.8mm pitch) — Linux only (used on SAMA5D27 SOM1)
  • SAMA5D28C-D1G – SAMA5D28 with 1Gb (128MB) DDR2 in BGA289 (14 x 14mm with 0.8mm pitch) with PCI Security pre-certification — Linux only

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The SAMA5D2 SiP is built around the Microchip SAMA5D2. The FreeRTOS-focused 128MB version uses a lower-end SAM5D22 model limited to 16-bit DDR2 RAM while the Linux-ready 512MB and 1GB versions use the higher end SAMA5D27 and SAMA5D28, respectively, with 16/32-bit DDR. All the models are notable for offering CAN support, and because the SAMA5D28 also adds security features, it’s the only one that is pre-certified for PCI Security.

The SAMA5D has fewer I/O pins and slower performance (166-500MHz) compared to the earlier, 600MHz SAMA5D4, but the power consumption is lower. The SAMA5D2 SoC can run at less than 150mW in active mode at 500MHz with all peripherals activated, and at less than 0.5mW in low power mode with SRAM and registers retention.

Other modules based on the SAMA5D27 include Acme’s 40 x 30mm RoadRunner and MYIR’s MYC-JA5D2X.

With the SAMA5D2 SiP design and the SAMA5D27 SOM’s integrated security features, Microchip is making it easier for its MCU development customers to try out the embedded Linux world without struggling with development hassles that aren’t encountered on microcontroller-based boards. The SAMA5D2 SiP can save developers from long hours spent on PCB layouts to guarantee signal integrity for the high-speed interfaces to DDR memory while complying with Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) standards, says Microchip. Impedance matching for normal and low-speed operation is automatic.

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more Linux hacker board projects embracing the SiP concept to ease OEM development and reduce PCB size and layers (i.e. complexity). has used Octavo’s TI Sitara based OSD3358-SM SiP in BeagleBone variants such as the PocketBeagle. Next Thing deploys a SiP version of the Allwinner R8 SoC called the GR8 in its Chip Pro module.

SAMA5D27 SOM1 module

The SAMA5D27 SOM1 combines the RAM-ready SAMA5D27C-D1G SiP with 64Mb of non-volatile QSPI boot flash and a 10/100 Ethernet PHY with clock. The module also integrates a 2Kb EEPROM with pre-programmed MAC address.

SAMA5D27 SOM detail
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The SAMA5D27 SOM1 is further equipped with a PMIC and a 3.3V power supply. Typical power consumption ranges from 120mA to 160mA. There’s also a 60mA idle mode and an ultra-low 30mA mode.

SAMA5D27 SOM block diagram and dimensions
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The module’s 128 GPIO pins include 2x USB 2.0 host, one USB device, and 2x SD/MMC interfaces with eMMC 4.51 support. You also get 10x UART, 7x SPI, 2x CAN, camera and audio interfaces, and much more.

An LCD TFT controller offers up to 1024 x 768 resolution and 24-bit parallel RGB, and is supported with capacitive touch. The module offer Arm TrustZone security, a hardware encryption engine, secure boot, and capabilities for tamper detection, secure data, and program storage.

SOM1-EK1 development board

The SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 evaluation kit is built around a baseboard with a soldered SAMA5D27-SOM1 module with the 128MB (1Gb) configuration. You get both SD and microSD slots, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port, a micro-USB host port, and a micro-USB device port with power input.

SOM1-EK1, two views
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The remaining peripherals come from onboard connectors and headers. These include a 12-bit camera interface and an LCD RGB 24-bit interface via a 50-pin FPC connector. Expansion is available via a PMOD connector and 2x mikroBus connectors that support MikroElektronika’s Click boards.

SOM1-EK1 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Additional I/O includes USB HSIC, CAN, JLINK, and JTAG interfaces. There’s a tamper connector, 4x push buttons, an LED, supercap backup, and an ATECC508 CryptoAuthentication device. A Linux4SAM BSP is available with Linux kernel and drivers.

Further information

The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 is available for $39 each in 100-unit quantities, and the ATSAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development board is available for $245 each. The ATSAMA5D2 SiP starts at for $8.62 each in 10,000-unit quantities for the low-end, FreeRTOS ready ATSAMA5D225C-D1M-CU in a 196-lead BGA package. SiP pricing may be found here.

More information may be found in Microchip’s SAMA5D2 SiP and SOM announcement and launch page, which points to SOM and SiP pages, as well as the SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 dev board page.

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