Tachyon Arduino Zero Compatible Board Features Microchip SAMD51 Arm MCU @ 120 MHz (Crowdfunding)

Most Arm based Arduino compatible boards come with a Microchip SAMD21 Arm Cortex-M0+ MCU clocked at up to 48 MHz since this is the microcontroller found in the official Arduino Zero and MKRZero boards and comes with proper support in the Arduino IDE.

But last year, Microchip introduced SAMD5x Arm Cortex-M4 microcontroller family  which offers devices that are pin-to-pin compatible with SAMA2x microcontrollers but with better performance, and more memory and storage. So the guys at Rabid Prototypes decided to make Tachyon, a tiny Arduino Zero compatible board based on SAMD51 MCU for people wanting more oomph out of their Arduino board.

SAMD51 Arduino Board
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Tachyon board specifications:

  • MCU – Microchip ATSAMD51G18A Arm Cortex M4F @  120 MHz with 256KB flash, 128 KB RAM
  • I/Os
    • Digital I/O pins – 14x w/ 12x PWM
    • Analog input pins – 6x 12-bit ADC channels
    • Analog output pins – 2x 10-bit DACs
    • Operating voltage – 3.3V
    • I/O pin limits: 3.3V, 7 mA
  • Misc – Status LED, Power LED, reset switch, inductor pads to add optional 1210 10uH inductor for low power applications
  • Power Supply –  3.7-5.5V input via micro USB port or Vin, 3.3V/300mA output
  • Dimensions – 36 x 18mm

Tachyon board

The board will ship with Arduino Zero bootloader, and programming can be done in the Arduino IDE, although more advanced users can  also use Atmel/Microchip ICE. The design will be open source hardware, and once the boards ship, EAGLE CAD files and schematics will be released.

Tachyon board has launched on Kickstarter and with 12 days to raise, the project has raised a little over $6,000 so far surpassing its $5,000 funding target. A pledge of $20 should get you a board in October 2018. Shipping adds $5 to the total.

AFAIK, this is the first time I cover a SAMD51 Arduino board, but this got me curious to find out if there were some others, and indeed Adafruit launched their Metro M4 board using Arduino Zero/UNO form factor  for $27.50 , and another company offers their Xeno Mini SAMD51 development board. I was not so luck on Aliexpress as a search for “SAMD51” did not return any results.

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willy
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willy

With 6 ADC, 2 DAC and this amount of CPU power, I wouldn’t be surprised if this MCU finds its way into various portable sound processing devices (reverb, chorus, echo, distorsion, pitch adjustment etc). 10 bits is enough for most use cases, especially with the horribly low quality speakers people connect to their smartphones nowadays.

cyk
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cyk

Not bad, and normally I’d support the project, in the hope that it’ll trigger a flood of dirt cheap Chinese clones, but I have already so many nice boards laying around here, that gather dust, so I’ll leave this one out.
Also, my experiences with Kickstarter are rather mixed.

Oh, and a microcontroller with integrated USB isn’t always the best choice, because most integrated USB interfaces offload a lot of things to the microcontroller, so the user code gets frequently interrupted by USB tasks.
Which makes it much more difficult to do realtime tasks.
In many cases, a classical Arduino with one 8-bit controller, and a separate USB to serial converter is not only easier to program, but also better suited for hard realtime jobs.

Brian
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Brian

Very similar to the Tiera Butterfly board (ARM M4F Arduino-programmable) which has been around for over a year and is cheaper:

https://www.tindie.com/products/TleraCorp/butterfly-stm32l433-development-board/

Lots of peripheral boards available for it too – SD card etc.

Noloqoq
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Noloqoq

The Nucleo boards based on STMicroelectronics STM32 SoCs (cortex M4 + DSP +some others side processors) are ohter interesting alternatives, they are also compatible with Arduino but far more powerful and start at the same price than SAMD21 (~10€). STMicroelectronics already made lot of documentation for their usage on their dedicated site; and there are nice card like Axoloti (a powerfull high-end open source hardware + software sou synthesizer + sequencer) that use this kind of SoC.