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SODIMM-style COM runs Linux on Atmel SoC

Oct 2, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 1,993 views

ShiraTech announced a SODIMM style computer-on-module (COM) running Linux on an ARM Cortex-A5-based Atmel SAMA5D3 processor. The AT-501 COM integrates interfaces for TFT LCD display, gigabit Ethernet, USB, CAN, SDIO/MMC/SD, audio, image sensing, serial, analog, and digital I/O, and features low power drain and wide temperature operation.

ShiraTech is targeting the AT-501 at developers of industrial and medical devices, particularly those requiring battery-powered operation. The module is built on a 68 x 47mm card that plugs into a 200-pin SODIMM connector. However, the board’s card-edge fingers implement a unique signal assignment, as is the case with nearly all SODIMM-style COMs, such as the similarly Atmel-powered EMAC SoM-9X25 (AT915AM9-based) and Glomation GECM-5100 (SAMA5D3-based).

ShiraTech’s AT-501 computer-on-module
(click image to enlarge)


The heart of the AT-501 COM is, of course, its Atmel SAMA5D3 system-on-chip (SoC). ShiraTech offers the module in three versions, built with either a SAMA5D31, SAMA5D34, or SAMA5D35. All three SoC models integrate an ARM Cortex-A5 CPU core and a built-in FPU, and are clocked at a modest 536MHz. The differences among the module versions are summarized in the table below.


Differences among the three SoC options

SoC model LCD controller Gig-Ethernet 100Mbps Ethernet Dual CAN
SAMA5D31 yes no yes no
SAMA5D34 yes yes no yes
SAMA5D35 no yes yes yes


The 536MHz Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC is claimed to offer 850DMIPS performance with 200mW power draw, and provides 1328MB/s transfer rates at 166MHz bus speed. The SoC’s performance is aided by the inclusion of an embedded FPU (floating point unit), and its LCD TFT controller includes a graphics accelerator for overlay, alpha-blending, rotation, scaling, and color space conversion.

Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)


ShiraTech also offers two compact development platforms for use in evaluating the AT-501 COM and developing customized systems based on it. The low-cost CB-10 baseboard (shown below) offers convenient access to the COM’s Ethernet, USB, RS-232 serial port, and debug port (RS-232 over micro-USB, based on a built-in RS-232-to-USB converter).

CB-10 development platform
(click images to enlarge)


The higher-end CB-20 development platform (shown below) provides access to all key interfaces, including gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45), RS-232 (DB-9), USB 2.0 OTG (micro-USB), dual CAN interfaces (RJ-11), and audio I/O, and it provides a micro-SD slot for software bring-up and data storage. Options include a 7-inch TFT touch screen and a WiFi module.

CB-20 development platform with LCD
(click images to enlarge)


AT-501 specifications

ShiraTech lists these specifications for its AT-501 COM:

  • Processor — Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC with 536MHz ARM Cortex A5; VFPv4 FPU; 850DMIPS; 1328MB/s at 166MHz
  • RAM — 256MB or 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Flash — 256MB or 512MB NAND flash
  • Display:
    • TFT LCD controller — up to 24-bits 1280 x 720 RGB
    • Resistive touch interface (4/5 wire)
  • Ethernet:
    • 1x gigabit Ethernet port; IEEE1588 support; built-in phy
    • 1x 10/100Mbps port (option)
  • USB 2.0 ports — 2x host, 1x host/device
  • Serial ports — up to 4x USARTs (4-wire); up to 2x UARTs (2-wire)
  • ISI (image sensor interface) — for camera, scanner, or other image sensor inputs
  • SD — up to 3x SD/SDIO/MMC card interfaces
  • Audio — SSC interface
  • Other I/O — up to 3x I2C; up to 2x SPI; up to 120x GPIOs; up to 12x analog inputs; up to 2 CAN; serial debug port; JTAG interface
  • Security features — AES, TDES, SHA encryption; TRNG; Atmel Secure Boot support
  • Plug-in connector — 200-pin SO-DIMM connector
  • Power — 3.3V DC @ 110mA (active), 20mA (idle), 0.3mA ultra-low-power mode
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 50°C (commercial); -25 to +85°C (industrial)
  • Dimensions — 68 x 47mm (2.7 x 1.85 inches); SODIMM-style
  • Operating system options:
    • ShiraTech Debian 6.0.4 with 3.6.9 Linux kernel
    • Timesys LinuxLink BSP

ShiraTech says its Debian distribution for the AT-501 COM is available both as barebones version, with minimal packages, and in a version that includes selected packages, such as the Mongoose webserver, Ethtool, Dhclient, Dropbear, Snmpd, and Sqlie3, plus a sample application that includes Web and SNMP support, for use in starting-up development cycles. All versions can run from either SD card or NAND flash. ShiraTech also offers several support utilities, including remote software upgrade with roll-back options.

Further information

The ShiraTech AT-501 COM is shipping now, at an unlisted price. Further details are available on ShiraTech’s AT-501 COM product page. Information on the module’s Timesys LinuxLink BSP can be found on the Timesys website, here.

In related news, Arrow Electronics last month announced that it has entered into a distribution agreement with ShiraTech. Arrow is now the exclusive distributor for ShiraTech’s ARM-based COMs to customers in North America, ShiraTech co-founder Amir Shapira told LinuxGizmos. While declining to specify pricing Shapira said: “We offer a competitive solution for small and large volumes and we are aware of the market prices.”

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