(Note: This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.
Atmel has announced production availability of the Atmel AT73C246 analog companion chip to provide power supplies and audio input/output to match the Atmel AT91SAM9 ARM9-based MCUs (and equivalent 32-bit devices) to host multimedia applications.
Operating from a single 2.9 V to 5.5 V source, the AT73C246, when combined with a high-quality stereo audio codec, provides the multi-level supplies required by the AT91SAM9 devices. The combination reduces the external component count and helps keep system power supply to a minimum.
Many multimedia applications are based on an ARM9 32-bit microcontroller with fast power-hungry devices such as external high-capacity memories and signal processing ICs. For both wired and portable devices, system power efficiency is a key factor to decrease power dissipation and to increase battery life. High efficiency and high output current power supplies are also required to meet these requirements.
The AT73C246 integrates two high-efficiency power supply channels designed to supply the core section and the I/O pad section of an ARM9 32-bit MCU-based application. The device incorporates an integrated automatic voltage scaling function that allows the application developer to optimize the power efficiency of the system in all operating modes.
In addition, a key feature of many multimedia devices is wireless connectivity to create an Internet-enabled system. The radio frequency section requires a high quality, low-noise power supply to maximize transmission/reception quality. The AT73C246 integrates three low-noise Low Drop Out (LDO) regulators featuring ultra fast transient responses particularly adapted to supply RF ICs.
The most important feature of a multimedia device is its audio/video processing capability. The AT73C246 integrates a complete state-of-the-art low-power stereo audio codec with a headphone amplifier. The input section consists of two selectable stereo inputs (Line/Aux), based on a differential or single-ended mode, to drive a 96 dB dynamic range stereo audio ADC through an input mixer. On the output side, a 100 dB dynamic range stereo audio DAC drives a 60 mW stereo headphone amplifier through an output mixer. The audio output can also be connected, via an external amplifier, to hi-fi quality speakers. This configuration offers numerous possibilities for mixing audio/voice channels in input/output stages.
"The AT73C246 is an optimal integration of power supplies and audio interface tailored for multimedia products and specifically for ARM9 32-bit based applications," said Michele Casetta, marketing manager for power management and audio analog companion (PMAAC) product line, Atmel Corporation. "Usually the market offers power management and analog interface in a single chip for a few high volume applications, such as smartphones or PDAs, where the feature set of the power section supply is larger than the audio section. The AT73C246 feature set is unique because Atmel has reduced the minimum number of power supply cells, while augmenting the features of the audio section, increasing the number of input/output channels and improving the audio quality. This option enables designers to also target small multimedia devices such as music players, picture viewers, etc."
"Customers have huge advantages choosing an Atmel solution for their application because the AT73C246 is qualified to work with our market-leading family of ARM9-based devices such as the SAM9G10, SAM9G20, SAM9G45, CAP9S, etc. To help with system integration, Atmel also offers application schematics and software drivers."
Availability and Pricing
Atmel offers the AT73C246 in a 7.5x7.5 mm, 64-pin QFN package in order to satisfy manufacturers' minimum space requirements. It is now available mounted on a reference design board or as engineering samples. Production quantities are also available, with a reference price below 2.00 US Dollars in large volumes.
Related link: Atmel AT73C246