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Microchip releases open source GUI kit for its SAMA5 and SAM9 chips

Sep 22, 2020 — by Eric Brown 958 views

Microchip has introduced a free, open source “Ensemble Graphics Toolkit” running on Linux for building C++ based GUIs for its Cortex-A5 SAMA5 and Arm9 SAM9 SoCs.

Microchip has released a free, Apache 2.0 licensed C++ GUI suite for the Linux-powered, single-core, 32-bit SoCs it received from its acquisition of Atmel. The Ensemble Graphics Toolkit (EGT), which is now integrated with Microchip’s Linux4SAM distribution, is designed for Cortex-A5 based SAMA5 SoCs such as the SAMA5D27, which is found on its SAMA5D27 SOM SiP module. It also supports Arm9-based SAM9 SoCs such as the 600MHz SAM9X60 SoC that was announced in March.


By taking advantage of hardware acceleration, including graphics controllers and video decoders when available, the tookit enables graphical user interfaces with touchscreen displays at up to XGA (1024 × 768) resolution. EGT applications include robotic and machine controls, medical user interfaces, automotive instrumentation, and home and building automation systems.


EGT is touted for its small memory footprint, efficient performance, and fast cold boot of under three seconds from cold reset, which is said to be useful in automotive dashboard clusters. The toolkit is based on C++11 and Linux graphical libraries such as Cairo for 2D vector graphics. It also supports integration with third-party libraries such as Box2D.

Ensemble Graphics Toolkit sample GUIs
(click image to enlarge)

The software uses DRM/KMS, X11, and fbdev backends, and supports import of SVG or HTML5/CSS3 content. Other open source components include gstreamer and ffmpeg, which enable video playback, raster images, and vector graphics. There is an extensible default widget set with themeable widget drawing, colors, and fonts and support for basic animations and effects.

The toolkit is supported by a repository with over 30 examples, as well as by forums, demos, and extensive documentation. Microchip offers numerous evaluation kits for its SAMA5 and SAM9 processors such as the ATSAMA5D2-XULT evaluation kit.

Ensemble Graphics Toolkit development interface
(click image to enlarge)

The Linux4SAM distro that now integrates EGT contains driver support for Microchip’s maXTouch family of touchscreen controllers, as well as its memory devices, power management and analog devices, and wired and wireless networking components and modules. EGT is complementary to Microchip’s royalty-free, bare metal/RTOS-focused MPLAB Harmony Graphics Suite embedded software development framework for its MCUs.

Further information

The Ensemble Graphics Toolkit (EGT) is available now for free download. More information may be found in Microchip’s announcement and product page.

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