Atmel SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Atmel SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra

Author: matfur92

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained, Arduino Yun, Arduino Mega 2560, Arduino Uno

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Initial phase hard: missing instructions to start using the board through examples that can make people understand the potential of this

Detailed Review:


Under construction - progressive updates


Comparison with similar product

 

CharacteristicsSAMA5D4SAMA5D3
Dimensions (L x W x H)135 × 88 × 20 mm125 x 75 x 20mm (10-layers)
Processor

SAMA5D44 ( 361-ball BGA pack

age), 16x16 mm body, pitch 0.8 mm

SAMA5D36 (324-ball BGA package)

ARM Cortex-A5 Processor with ARM

v7-A Thumb2® instruction set, core frequency up to 536 MHz
Oscillators

MPU, EDBG: 12 MHz quartz

RTC: 32.768 KHz

PHY: 25 MHz

12-MHz crystal oscillator

32.768-kHz crystal oscillator

Main Memory

2 x DDR2 2 Gb 16 Meg x 16 x 8 banks (total 4Gbit = 512 MB)

1 x SLC NAND Flash 4 Gb 8-bit data (total 4Gbit = 512 MB)

2x 1Gb DDR2 (16M x 16 bits x 8 banks)

1x 2Gb SLC NAND Flash (256M x 8 bits)

Accessory memories

One optional Serial EEPROM SPI

One EEPROM with Mac Address and Serial Number

One Serial EEPROM SPI

One 1-Wire EEPROM

SD/MMC

One 4-bit SD card connector

One 4-bit Micro-SD card connector

One 8-bit SD card connector

One optional 4-bit Micro-SD card connector

USB

Two USB Hosts with power switch

One Micro-AB USB device

Two USB Hosts with power switch

One Micro-AB USB device

Display

One LCD interface connector, LCD TFT Controller with overlay, alpha-blending, rotation, scaling and color space conversion

One HDMI interface and connector

One LCD interface connector, LCD TFT Controller with overlay, alpha-

blending, rotation, scaling and color space conversion

EthernetOne Ethernet PHY (RMII 10/100MHz)

One Gigabit Ethernet PHY (GRMII 10/100/1000)

One Ethernet PHY (RMII 10/100)

Debug port

One JTAG interface connector

One EDBG interface

One serial DBGU interface (3v3 level)

One JTAG interface connector

One serial DBGU interface (3.3V level)

Expansion connector

Arduino R3 compatible set of connectors

XPRO set of connectors

Arduino R3 compatible set of headers

The SAMA5D36 GPIO,TWI, SPI, USART, UART, Audio and ISI interfaces

are accessible through these headers
Board supply voltage

5V from USB, power jack, and Arduino shield

On-board power regulation by PMIC

5V from USB or power jack or Arduino shield

On-board power regulation is perfo

rmed by a Power Management Unit

(PMU)

BatteryOn-board battery socketOn-board optional power Cap for CMOS backup
User interface

Reset, Wake-up and free user push button

One red user/power LED and one blue user

LED

Reset, wakeup and free user pushbutton

One red user/power LED and one blue user LED

Connectors

J4 Main power supply

J11 USB A Device. Supports USB device using a type Micro-AB connector

J16 USB Host B and C. Supports USB host using a stacked type A connector

J1 Serial DBGU (3.3V level)

J13 JTAG, 20 pin IDC connector

J20 EDBG USB connector

J9 Micro-SD connector

J24 SD/MMC connector

J12 Ethernet ETH0

J2 Expansion connector with all LCD controller signals for display module connection (QTouch®, TFT LCD display with touchscreen and backlight)

J5 HDMI connector type A

BAT1 CR1225 Battery holder

J6, J7, J8, J14, J15, J17, J18, J19 Expansion connectors with Arduino R3 compatible PIO signals

J21, J22, J23 Expansion connectors Xplained

J3 JTAG EDBG (not populated)

J10 PIOBU extension (not populated)

J2 Main power supply

J6 USB A device, that supports USB device using a Micro-AB connector

J7 (upper): USB B Host, that supports USB host using a type A connector

J7 (lower): USB C Host, that supports USB host using a type A connector

J23 Serial DBGU 3.3V level

J24 JTAG, 20-pin IDC connector

J11 Micro-SD connector

J10 SD/MMC connector

J12 Gigabit Ethernet ETH0

J13 Ethernet ETH1

J22 Expansion connector with all LCD controller signals for display module connection (QTouch, TFT,LCD display with Touch Screen and backlight

C41 Optional SuperCap

J14 to J21 Seven expansion connectors with Arduino R3 compatible PIO signals

Various test points located throughout the board

Others

Compatible IDE : DS-5 Community Edition | ARM DS-5 Development Studio

Compatible IDE : DS-5 Community Edition | ARM DS-5 Development Studio

Supported tools LinuxLink Embedded Linux Development Center for Atmel SAMA5D3 Series | Timesys Embedded Linux

Both are two beautiful board, with two prices not too far apart. SAMA5D4, unlike the younger sister SAMA5D3 unfortunately does not have an additional port to provide enhanced performance with Gigabit Ethernet, is therefore limited to a single Ethernet 10/100. it really is a shame given the higher cost, would have been better but even a single Ethernet Gigabit! Another lack, which has not the SAMA5D3 is compatible with the service provided by the http://www.timesys.com at LinuxLink Embedded Linux Development Center for Atmel SAMA5D3 Series | Timesys Embedded Linux for creating through the cloud of the images from the system. Although you can not create them directly online from the panel that you have available once registered, it seems possible to create in any case, through the IDE owner, a build for the SAMA5D4 as reported by this link: http://www.timesys.com/pdf/2015-timesys-productbrief-atmel-sama5.pdf.
The price difference with the younger sister is anyway justified by a number of features of the highest level as the presence of an HDMI port which now allows to display on a screen of any of the content that the most recent production there own pace, thanks to a more powerful processor. The amount of RAM and ROM is doubled allowing the use of multiple processes simultaneously or storing a quantity of appropriate data, thus allowing a more dynamic and flexible. In addition to the compatibility of the pinout of Arduino R3 is also added compatibility with XPRO !!
The last gem that differentiates this product also is definitely the space for the battery (not included).
These differences largely repay the difference in price between the two products, but the absence of a Gigabit port may be one of the minus points of this board in case anyone ever needs a decent IO on network.


Enable HDMI

To enable HDMI I had to flash the OS.
I downloaded the latest image available at this address: ftp://www.at91.com/pub/demo/linux4sam_4.6/linux4sam-poky-sama5d4_xplained-4.6.zip

When I extract the .zip file are entered in the folder linux4sam-poky-sama5d4_xplained-4.6 and I went as taking a slight modification to file demo_script_linux_nandflash.tcl. A line 210 I replaced

append dtbFile $variant_name $board_suffix ".dtb"
  

con

append dtbFile $variant_name $board_suffix "_hdmi.dtb"
  

to enable exactly the HDMI.

I performed the following steps then having the board disconnected from any power:
1) closed jumper JP7
2) Connect the USB micro-A cable to J11
3) Once recognized by the operating system (Windows Me), open the jumper JP7
4) Started as an administrator demo_linux_nandflash.bat script (.sh for UNIX users)
5) Given a few minutes, you open a file in notepad in which the last line shows the word === DONE. ===. This indicates that the flash was successful.
6) Detached the USB from J11 and connect to J20:EDBG_USB from which you can normally access the shell of the board
.

Now the HDMI is enabled and if the HDMI cable connected to a screen will not say more video source does not exist but it will give a beautiful black screen


First boot:

I connected the card to the PC using type A-micro-B USB cable connected to the USB-EDBG



First look [UNBOXING] :

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