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AT91SAM (AT91 Smart ARM Microcontrollers) is a family of 32-bit microcontroller integrated circuits by Atmel. The AT91SAM chips are grouped into related series that are based around the same 32-bit ARM processor core, such as the Cortex-A5, Cortex-M4, Cortex-M3, Cortex-M0+, ARM9, or ARM7. Internally, each microcontroller consists of the processor core, static RAM memory, flash memory, debugging interface, and various peripherals.[1]


Main articles: ARM architecture and ARM Cortex-M

Some are targeted as applications processors, with external memory busses used to access RAM (SDRAM or DDR2) and flash, and large sets of integrated peripherals. When targeted as microcontrollers they include embedded Flash and SRAM memories together with a number of peripherals and standard communications and networking interfaces. This qualifies them as system-on-a-chip devices.

External interfaces include USB, CAN, Ethernet, SPI, USART and ADC. A DMA controller provides direct communication channels between external interfaces and memories, increasing data throughput with minimal processor intervention.

Peripherals include counter/timers, power-on reset generators, voltage regulators and advanced interrupt controller. This enhances the real-time performance of the processor. A power management controller keeps power consumption to a minimum by powering down unused peripherals and interfaces, and enabling the processor to be put in standby mode.


  • In June 2009, Atmel announced the SAM3U series based on the ARM Cortex-M3 core.[3]
  • In December 2009, Atmel announced the SAM3S series based on the ARM Cortex-M3 core.[4]
  • In November 2010, Atmel announced the SAM3N series based on the ARM Cortex-M3 core.[5]
  • In October 2011, Atmel announced the SAM4S series based on the ARM Cortex-M4.[6]
  • In February 2012, Atmel announced the SAM3A and SAM3X series based on the ARM Cortex-M3 core.[7]
  • In September 2012, Atmel announced the SAM4L series based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core.[8]
  • In January 2013, Atmel announced the SAM4E series based on the ARM Cortex-M4F, which is the first SAM4 series that has a FPU (Floating-Point Unit).[9]
  • In February 2013, Atmel announced the SAMA5D3 series based on the ARM Cortex-A5, which is the first Atmel chip with a Cortex-A5 core.[10]
  • In June 2013, Atmel announced the SAMD20 series based on the ARM Cortex-M0+, which is the first Atmel chip with this ARM core.[11]
  • In January 2014, Atmel announced the SAMG family and SAMG51 / SAMG53 series based on the ARM Cortex-M4F.[12]


The AT91SAM branding is an umbrella for all AT91 ARM parts, even those without "SAM" in the name.

The SAM4S, SAM4N, SAM3S, SAM3N, SAM7S (64-pin) families have pin-compatible IC footprints, except for USB device, though they are not voltage level compatible.[13]


Arduino Due with Atmel SAM3X8E

In 2009 Atmel announced the AT91SAM3U line of flash-based microcontrollers based on the Cortex-M3 processor, as a higher end evolution of the SAM7 microcontroller products. They have a top clock speed in the range of 100 MHz, and come in a variety of flash sizes. In the summer 2009 these parts were still sampling, and a development board had recently been made available.

In December 2009, the AT91SAM3S line was announced. This features several enhancements for lower power operation and bill of materials cost reduction.

Market watchers observe that these Cortex-M3 products are competition for Atmel's own AVR32 UC3A products. Both are microcontrollers with largely identical peripherals and other hardware technology, flash-based, similar clock speeds, and with dense 16/32 bit RISC instruction sets.


The AT91SAM4 is based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core. The SAM4E includes a FPU (Floating-Point Unit). The SAM4C includes a dual ARM Cortex-M4 core (one core with a FPU).

  • SAM4C - ARM Cortex-M4/M4F dual core, which includes FPU.
  • SAM4E - ARM Cortex-M4F core, which includes FPU.
  • SAM4L - ARM Cortex-M4 core.
  • SAM4N - ARM Cortex-M4 core. Pin-to-pin compatibility with SAM4S, SAM3S, SAM3N, SAM7S devices.
  • SAM4S - ARM Cortex-M4 core.
  • SAMG - ARM Cortex-M4F core, which includes FPU.


There are a wide variety of AT91 flash-based microcontrollers, based on ARM7TDMI cores. These chips have a top clock speed in the range of 60 MHz, and come with a variety of flash sizes and peripheral sets.

  • SAM7L - low power operation
  • SAM7S - USB and other peripherals. SAM7S 64-pin chips are compatible with SAM4S, SAM4N SAM3S, SAM3N families.
  • SAM7SE - USB, external memory support, and other peripherals
  • SAM7X - Ethernet, USB, CAN, and other peripherals
  • SAM7XC - cryptographic extensions (notably AES support) to AT91SAM7X chips


MYIR's MYD-SAM9X5 board for Atmel AT91SAM9G and SAM9X processors
MYIR's MYD-SAM9X5-V2 board for Atmel AT91SAM9G and SAM9X processors

The AT91SAM9XE flash-based microcontrollers are based on the ARM926ej-s cores. They have a top clock speed in the range of 200 up to 400 MHz,[15] and come with a variety of flash sizes. They somewhat resemble flash-equipped AT91SAM9260 chips.

Atmel introduced the AT91SAM9 processors (using the ARM926ej-s core, with the ARMv5TEJ architecture) as its first broad market follow on to the highly successful AT91rm9200 processor. These processors improved on that predecessor by using less power, incorporating a newer and more powerful ARM core, and providing a variety of chips with different peripheral sets. While most are clocked at up to about 200 MHz, some can run at twice that speed. Processors include:


MYD-SAMA5D3X development board for Atmel SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processors.

Development boards[edit]

Arduino boards[edit]

MYIR boards[edit]

  • MYD-SAM9X5 Development Board for Atmel AT91SAM9X5 processors designed by MYIR [17]
  • MYC-SAM9X5 CPU Module for Atmel AT91SAM9X5 processors designed by MYIR [18]
  • MYD-SAM9X5-V2 Development Board for Atmel AT91SAM9X5 processors designed by MYIR [19]
  • MYC-SAM9X5-V2 CPU Module for Atmel AT91SAM9X5 processors designed by MYIR [20]
  • MYD-SAMA5D3X Development Board for Atmel ATSAMA5D3 series processors designed by MYIR [21]
  • MYC-SAMA5D3X CPU Module for Atmel ATSAMA5D3 series processors designed by MYIR [22]

Development tools[edit]

Linux Support
  • Buildroot [23]
  • Openembedded [24]
  • meta-atmel Yocto compliant layer[25]


The amount of documentation for all ARM chips is daunting, especially for newcomers. The documentation for microcontrollers from past decades would easily be inclusive in a single document, but as chips have evolved so has the documentation grown. The total documentation is especially hard to grasp for all ARM chips since it consists of documents from the IC manufacturer (Atmel) and documents from CPU core vendor (ARM Holdings).

A typical top-down documentation tree is: manufacturer website, manufacturer marketing slides, manufacturer datasheet for the exact physical chip, manufacturer detailed reference manual that describes common peripherals and aspects of a physical chip family, ARM core generic user guide, ARM core technical reference manual, ARM architecture reference manual that describes the instruction set(s).

AT91SAM documentation tree (top to bottom)
  1. AT91SAM website.
  2. AT91SAM marketing slides.
  3. AT91SAM datasheet.
  4. AT91SAM reference manual.
  5. ARM core website.
  6. ARM core generic user guide.
  7. ARM core technical reference manual.
  8. ARM architecture reference manual.

Atmel has additional documents, such as: evaluation board user manuals, application notes, getting started guides, software library documents, errata, and more. See External Links section for links to official AT91SAM and ARM documents.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

ARM Cortex-M
  • Digital Signal Processing and Applications Using the ARM Cortex M4; 1st Edition; Donald Reay; Wiley; 250 pages; 2014; ISBN 978-1118859049.
  • Assembly Language Programming : ARM Cortex-M3; 1st Edition; Vincent Mahout; Wiley-ISTE; 256 pages; 2012; ISBN 978-1848213296.
  • The Definitive Guide to the ARM Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 Processors; 3rd Edition; Joseph Yiu; Newnes; 600 pages; 2013; ISBN 978-0124080829.
  • The Definitive Guide to the ARM Cortex-M0; 1st Edition; Joseph Yiu; Newnes; 552 pages; 2011; ISBN 978-0-12-385477-3.

External links[edit]

AT91SAM Official Documents
ARM Official Documents