Atmel(R) Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) announced today its CAP7L customizable microcontroller that allows fabless semiconductor companies to implement ARM7(TM) processor-based systems-on-chip (SoCs) with a turn-around period as low as 12 weeks, a nominal NRE charge of only US$75,000, and unit costs as low as US$5, without requiring a separate license from ARM.
CAP7L SoCs are economical in volumes of 10K units, with a fully-amortized unit cost of US$17. In 50K unit volumes, the amortized unit cost is only US$7, including NRE and IP expense.
The AT91CAP7L is a microcontroller with 200K gates of metal programmable cell fabric that can be used to implement proprietary customer IP, hardware accelerators, additional processor cores or unique peripherals sets to achieve a customized SoC. Atmel has a large library of license- and royalty-free IP that has been fully verified and tested in the CAP7L MP block.
Atmel's second-generation metal programmable cell fabric technology (MPCF-II) has cut the mask charges to US$75K by using only three metal and three via layers for configuration.
According to Jay Johnson, Atmel's director of CAP(TM) marketing, "Fabless semiconductor companies are often stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to implementing new designs. Low-volume, quick-turnaround ASICs typically have unit costs of hundreds of dollars and often require the purchase of an ARM IP license. The CAP7L provides an affordable low-volume solution with the power consumption, performance characteristics, and IP security of a custom-SoC, without excessive license fees or units costs. Worst-case static power consumption for the CAP7L is between 3mW and 4mW - 98% less than the power consumed by a typical FPGA," Johnson concluded.
The HDL code for any custom-IP is developed using standard, vendor-specific or third-party FPGA design tools. Once verified, the customer needs to provide the register transfer level (RTL) netlist to Atmel for implementation in the MP block on the CAP7L. Prototypes can be available within 10 weeks of final gate level netlist and production quantities within 12 weeks.
Existing Third-party Tools. The same C-compilers, RTOS, OSs, ICEs and IDEs used with Atmel's ARM processor-based MCUs can be used with the CAP versions of the devices. These include Atmel's free GNU gcc C compiler, GNU gdb debugger, FreeRTOS.org real-time kernel. Commercially available tools include ARM (RealView Development Suite, RealView ICE, RealView Trace2) Green Hills(R) (Multi(R) IDE, TimeMachine(TM), Integrity(R) OS), IAR(TM) (C compiler - Embedded Workbench), ExpressLogic (Real-time Operating System - ThreadX(R)) and Micrium (Real-time Operating System - uCOS/II).
Availability and Pricing- CAP7L customizable microcontrollers are available now. NRE is US$75K, with unit costs of US$5.50 in quantities of 50K units in the 144 LQFP package. Included in the US$75K NRE is design engineering to assist customers in re-targeting their FPGA code into Atmel's metal programmable library, static timing analysis and closure, place and route, design finishing, masks and 10 quick-turn prototypes. In addition, a low cost starter kit is available for engineering evaluation. The AT91CAP7A-STK kit is priced at US$399.
Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry's broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions focused on consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.
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