SAN JOSE, Calif. Atmel Corp. and Sharp Microelectronics are rolling out ARM9-based microcontrollers that integrate enough features to make them system-on-chip (SoC) devices.
Sharp is now providing samples of two 200-MHz ARM9 microcontrollers, both based on the 922 core. Atmel, meanwhile, has introduced an ASSP and ASIC version of its first ARM9 microcontroller, the AT91RM9200.
The 32-bit products will come in at the high end of both companies' microcontroller lines and follow earlier versions of ARM7-based devices. At the same time, Sharp said it is rolling out four new ARM7 MCUs.
Terry Thomas, Sharp's director of microcontroller and SoC marketing, said the ARM9 products should generate the most interest from North American customers designing leading-edge mobile devices. "These are very high-end and sophisticated SoCs. They're fast and run Windows CE and Linux and do a lot of stuff," he said.
Jay Johnson, Atmel's director of ASIC and application-specific standard-product marketing, said customers already are transitioning from ARM7 to ARM9 cores. Johnson said this trend would continue as more customers move to Atmel's 0.18-micron process, in which the new 9200 controller is implemented.
Sharp's LH7A400 includes a 1,024 x 768-pixel LCD controller, USB port, MultiMediaCard interface and Smart Card interface. Its derivative, the LH7A404, can support a MultiMediaCard interface with Smart Digital and comes with a 10-bit A/D converter for touchscreen control. Both are aimed at PDAs, smart phones and other apps.
Sharp plans to formally unveil the chips at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco in April. They are expected to start shipping in quantity by the end of March or early April, and will be priced between $14 and $15, Thomas said.
Atmel's recently introduced ARM9 MCU, meanwhile, features a controller interface to Atmel's DataFlash, a flash memory feature that allows program code to be stored in serial flash, and then "shadowed" in SDRAM for fast application boot loading.
The hard macro of the ARM920T that ARM Ltd. supplies to Atmel includes dual 16-kbyte caches and a memory management unit. The core external bus interface will support SDRAM, burst flash, compact flash and SmartMedia. Atmel's implementation adds a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, four UARTs, 128 kbytes of boot ROM, 16 kbytes of SRAM, and USB 1.1 host and device interfaces. The UART supports SmartCards, an IrDA port, RS-232/485 devices or a soft modem. Atmel is working with a Spanish partner, Sidsa (Madrid), on glueless LCD support.