Category: "SAMA5D3"

In December 2016, Google presented its new operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT), called Android Things. As the name implies it’s a derivative of Android, just like Android Auto, Android TV and Android Wear. It’s supposed to run on low-power embedded devices such as emtrion’s SBC-SAMA5D36, which is well suited to be used in devices such as fridges, ovens, microwaves and many more. Unlike Android it can be run with or without a display and runs only one single application, called the home activity, which is launched on boot. Google decided to implement the Java Runtime on Android Things, so that Android App developers are able to write IoT apps in their familiar Android Studio environment. To this day Google has not yet released the source code of Things but a few images for different hardware platforms. In an internal study, we at emtrion have ported Android Things to our single board computer SBC-SAMA5D36. The SBC-SAMA5D36 is well suited for the use in IoT environments with its numerous peripheral connections and the possibility to use a touchscreen.

Android Things on emtrion's SBC-SAMA5D36
Android Things on emtrion's SBC-SAMA5D36

A key part of Android Things is the Peripheral I/O API, which is used to communicate with sensors and actuators via GPIO, PWM and serial protocols such as I2C, SPI and UART. Another central component of Things is the User Driver API, which introduces so called user-space drivers. With this approach developers can embed their peripheral hardware into the Android framework which has one main advantage, namely to abstract the application code from the hardware platform, so that once written, the application code can be ported to different hardware devices. This allows the reuse of code. Using the native PIO API it’s now possible to write Android Things Apps exclusively in C/C++ without the need of Java.

Smartphone operating system market share
Smartphone operating system market share [1]

Looking at the growth of Android market share at embedded devices like smartphones and the rise of IoT in the last few years, a good argument can be made that Android Things will be the next big "thing" in the near future.

[1] https://www.statista.com/chart/4112/smartphone-platform-market-share/


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Beta Release of SBC-SAMA5D36 RootFS

 03. March 2017, by emtrion
Categories: Software, Linux, SAMA5D3

Today we released a beta version of a new root file system for the SBC-SAMA5D36. The main changes are a new Kernel Version and the use of systemd as init system. The Kernel version is 4.9 and is a longterm maintained kernel (see https://www.kernel.org/category/releases.html for more information). Systemd has some advantages over sysv like parallel start of services (if possible), delaying of the start until a service or device is really needed, and it is compatible to the old sysv init scripts. Systemd also has some other advantages like builtin monitoring of running services and restart of them if they crash or stop working and also better dependency handling of services.

Use this beta release at your own risk. There are some known issues and mabye also some unknown ones. We will stabilize this release during the next weeks and bring out a stable release. Please find the release under following link:

Link to Beta RootFS


Hint:

To get the debug-console of the SBC-SAMA5D36 you can use one of the cheap USB to serial converter that are offered on ebay, amazon, aliexpress and other sites. There are some modules that have exactly the same pinout as the SBC and can directly connect to it. So no extra wiring is needed, expect for an USB-cable, but they are much cheaper than the original FTDI USB-serial converters. But be careful to choose converters which are capable to handle 3.3V levels.

Cheap USB-serial converter example

 


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Introduction

Products for consumer market, industrial control systems and other embedded devices often require a touch screen display to offer both, visual feedback to the user, as well as an input method to interact with the system. In order to achieve a nicely designed and responsive user interface, developers can write their own graphical library providing widgets like drop-down menus, list-views, check-boxes or simple buttons. However, this can be a very tedious and error-prone task. It is best to use one of the available graphic libraries like Qt[1], Cairo[2], EFL[3] or also emWin[4], not to forget to mention nCurses for console-style block-oriented graphics.

Now which library should one select, especially in terms of limited hardware resources on embedded systems but also with a look forward to the look&feel as well as the usability on a touch screen? Besides, hardware restrictions, like the used CPU and its computing power, available RAM-size, free space in ROM, availability of a GPU with 2D/3D hardware accelerated graphics and the used operating system, should be taken into consideration. emWin for example, runs on bare-metal systems either with or without a RTOS whereas Qt or EFL need at least a running Linux (but not said that it is impossible to run them on bare-metal). Other decision affecting parameters are the availability of the library as open- or closed-source, as well as the costs for non-commercial and commercial products. In the following article we will take a brief look at the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) of a small Cortex-A5 based single board computer from emtrion running a Debian Jessie based Linux: the SBC-SAMA5D36 [5].

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The emtrion SBC-SAMA5D36

 06. May 2015, by emtrion
Categories: Hardware, Linux, embedded, SAMA5D3

 I may be a microcontroller guy myself, but there are times where you need the power of a microprocessor. Having an operating system handle the memory, peripherals and events just saves time, and some applications really do need the power a microprocessor provides.

Atmel’s SAMA5D3 family has some impressive devices. Based on ARM’s A5 architecture, they has an impressive amount of peripherals and I/O lines. To name just a few, the SAMA5D36 has 3 I2C ports, 6 SPI ports, 12 12-bit ADC channels, and something you don’t see every day, 7 UART ports. This is impressive enough, but to add to that, the SAMA5D3 also has up to 160 I/O pins, each with its own interrupt. The SAMA5 series is geared towards industrial environments, automotive devices, and with Atmel’s implementation of capacitive touch peripherals, it can be used on just about any application where a user must input data.

With all that power, it isn’t surprising that the German manufacturer emtrion used this processor for one of their development boards, the SBC-SAMA5D36. They not only went with the SAMA5D36 device for its power and reliability, but also for Atmel’s reactivity when it comes to support. Atmel has worked hard on Linux implementation, and so the Linux kernel has everything you need to access every part of the processor, but I’ll get into that later on.

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New SBC-SAMA5D36 developer kit presentation

 08. September 2014, by emtrion
Categories: Hardware, Linux, embedded, SAMA5D3
New SBC-SAMA5D36 developer kit presentation

Emtrion is pleased to announce the availability of its new SBC (Single Board Computer) based on the new SoC ‘ATSAMA5D36’ from Atmel.

The SBC is composed of a single ARM Cortex-A5 core CPU running at 536MHz, 256MB of DDR2-SDRAM, 512MB of SLC NAND Flash and 8 MB NOR Flash. The available peripherals are 2xUSB 2.0 Host, 1xUSB 2.0 Device, 1xGbit Ethernet, 1x100Mbit Ethernet, 1xLCD connector, 1xHDMI connector and more than 40 fully configurable I/Os on its expansion connectors.

With its compact size (135mm x 74mm x 15mm (LxWxH)) and its low power consumption (only 200mA @ 5V typ), the SBC-SAMA5D36 is the perfect low-power prototyping board with industry quality. Thanks to its optional extended temperature (-40°C to 85°C) and its 4 mounting holes, the board can also be directly integrated into your industrial project.  

This board is targeting various industrial field applications. With its Lithium battery charger, the board can be used as battery powered device. It can also connect with several industrial busses via its expansion board: CAN, RS-232/485, Soft Modem Device, SPI, I²C… The user interaction is not only composed by 4 LEDs and 2 Push Buttons, but also with the LCD connector that can output a WVGA resolution on a 7” LCD screen with no extra external power supply for the display! And if the LCD display is too small for the application, the HDMI connection makes it possible to output on a standard PC monitor with no extra software required!

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