Atmel in ARM-land

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A few opinions, please...

I've been working with ARM7 and now Cortex for several years (embedded systems, not consumer items).

I may be mistaken/naive but it seems that this ARM/embedded market is dominated (market share) by NXP and ST Micro. Again, not talking about ARMs with MMUs.

Would you go down the Atmel road with low-end ARM/Cortex? Are there facts that bolster the prudence of Atmel in (low end) ARM-land?

Atmel Studio 6 seems focused on Cortex/M3 and that's a positive sign - if it matures and proves to be a viable alternative to IAR and Keil (in the professional tools space).

some chatter...
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/601116

http://www.atmel.com/microsite/sam3ax/

http://dev.frozeneskimo.com/notes/getting_started_with_cortex_m3_cmsis_and_gnu_tools#why_i_like_cortex_m3

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Many years ago I went to an Atmel seminar introducing their low-cost ARM7TDMI device. We got a nice little evaluation board and a Wiggler (both free). I think they were the first company with such hardware. However, they seem to have lost their way subsequently, and are now, belatedly, trying to catch up. They appear to have abandoned the low-end Cortex-M0, perhaps because it competes with the 8-bit AVR.

Leon Heller
G1HSM

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Let me put on my Owner Of One Man Company Hat.... "Hmmm... need an ARM compiler for this Company X project... lets see... this one is $3000, this one is free. Gotta think... $3000? $0?"

Imagecraft compiler user

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To expand on Uncle Bob's post. If I was to get into ARM, I would look at what Atmel has to offer simply because I would not have to learn an entirely new toolset. THe price is a home run as well. I will note that given the current issues with Studio5, I have not looked at the concensus of 5.1 is, I would wait to see how things work out with the toolset before jumping in.

I do agree with Bob, $3k as opposed to $0. At the same time though for $3k, one would expect things to work perfectly right out of the gate.

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than to attempt nothing and succeed. - Fortune cookie

 

Don't hang your hat on expectations because this often leads to disappointment.

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stevech wrote:
in the professional tools space
What space is that? Why does not GCC (avr*-gcc) belong there? Is it because it is free?

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not sure how yet this "Atmel Software Framework" works with this "For Atmel's ARM processor-based microcontrollers, the library provides full support for the Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS)."..need to research a bit more on that to get a clear picture.

they also say that AvrStudio 6 supports SAM-ICE which if I understand correctly is an OEM version (subset)of the full version Segger ARM Jtag debugger. So it would be interesting to know if AvrStudio 6 will support Segger ARM Jtag tools and the Atmel Cortex versions...seems like they could/should at some point.

along with Atmel , Silabs also has joined the ARM Cortex train recently

http://www.silabs.com/products/mcu/Pages/32-bit-microcontrollers.aspx

Silabs indicates their software is free (eclipse based like NXP,Code Red,Atolic,TI.etc)...so if cross platform dev is important, there are lots of choices unlike AvrStudio6. Kind of like all the eclipse based vendors though as their IDE's are somewhat the same, so you can have more mfg choices without being locked in too much if at all.

and there are many choice's between $3k and $0 and a lot of them are pretty stable dev tools as they have been released for some time.

what Silabs may bring to the party is a good backgound in Analog and rf capabilities..that is probably where their Cortex parts will ultimately shine especially if they embed some of their other technology.

chips with little or no errata, available from distributor stock in qty, and the stability and reliability of the sofwtare tools/envirionment is the criteria here for almost any micro to be considered...that and is the mfg a reliable vendor moving forward and also in the recent past.

it will be interesting to see if other software only vendors supports ATmel Cortex going forward.

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Cortex M0; cheaper than a cup of shitty coffee, 50 MIPs, 32 bit, CMSISS, multiple vendors offering similar silicon.

What bob says about pricey development tools is true, but it is a one time investment and the benefits of M0 over AVR is very compelling.

I had a glance at the SAM3 stuff, it looks exactly like the M3 stuff that other vendors offer. No big advantage no big disadvantage. With all things being equal, I would pick a company that has it's own fabs or is bigger so it has a bigger axe to swing when competing for space from 3rd party fabs.

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Development tools... for my job, the benefits of tools in the class of IAR + Segger JTAG/Flash breakpoints - makes the price insignificant, given one (like me) works for several years in ARM-land. And the IAR tool license applies to all vendors' ARMs. People gripe about the cost, but the difference in productivity with IAR is night and day versus GCC.

Indeed, GCC is great for students/hobby and some one of a kind product development.

BUT, the topic's theme is is Atmel in ARM-land, not a debate on tools.

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ezharkov wrote:
stevech wrote:
in the professional tools space
What space is that? Why does not GCC (avr*-gcc) belong there? Is it because it is free?

IMO AVR studio and AVR-GCC is every bit as professional as stuff from keil and IAR. Once you get into more exotic stuff like RTOS the non free stuff starts to flex it's muscle.

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stevech wrote:
BUT, the topic's theme is is Atmel in ARM-land, not a debate on tools.
I understand. Sorry for dragging the thread in a different direction. But in my defense, I thought you were asking for that by the phrasing that you used. I have not done any ARM. I cannot comment on that. But I have been doing AVR "professionally" for several years already. Therefore, the cost of IAR would not be an issue. But I just do not see what "night and day" advantage IAR would give. I have to say, I have not tried IAR for AVR (or anything else, for that matter). On the other hand, I have been doing software for quite some time. Therefore, I just do not believe that there is something out there that will just revolutionize my productivity.

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The Value Added by Big Companies is libraries and appnotes targeted to the Big Company products. Rabbit for example. Make a lot of modules with a microprocessor, a ram chip or two, a couple of flash roms, an ethernet chip, and they have libraries for everything... complete tcpip stack, just include the h file and call the connect function. Same with Good Old MicroChip. Great appnotes with tutorial info. Atmel is Catching Up... they have good appnotes, and now they have a complete suite of evaluation boards with every Atmel cpu, and the AtmelSoftwareFramework looks like a complete point and click library for every peripheral on every Atmel cpu. No more writing a uart putchar. Thats last millenium. Link configuration manged object files written by professional software engineers. Guaranteed success.

Imagecraft compiler user

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