Microchip SAMA7G54 is a single-core Arm Cortex-A7 microprocessor for low power AI camera & audio applications

Microchip has just announced the 1 GHz SAMA7G54 single-core Arm Cortex-A7 microprocessor (MPU) with MIPI CSI-2 and parallel camera interfaces, as well as up to four I2S, one SPDIF transmitter and receiver, and a 4-stereo channel audio sample rate converter.

The company specifically launched a single-core processor to offer a lower power solution for AI camera and audio solutions, and the chip is coupled with the MCP16502 power management IC that has been optimized to provide the best power/performance ratio for the SAMA7G54.

Microchip SAMA7G54

Microchip SAMA7G54 specifications:

  • CPU – Arm Cortex-A7 based MPU @ up to 1GHz with 256KB L2 cache
  • Memory – DDR2/DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3 up to 533MHz
  • Storage – Quad SPI, Octal SPI, 3x SD/eMMC
  • Camera I/F – MIPI CSI-2 (2-lane up to 1.5 Gbps each) and 12-bit parallel camera Up to 8 Mpixel @ 30 fps
  • Audio – Up to 4x I2S, PDM, SPDIF (Rx/Tx), 4 stereo channel ASRC
  • Networking – 2x Ethernet MAC (10/100/1000 Gbit + 10/100 Mbit)
  • USB – 3x HS USB PHY
  • Other peripherals – Up to 12x FLEXCOMs, 6x CAN FDs, 16x ADC Channels (12-bit resolution, up to 1000 ksps sampling rate)
  • Security – Secure Boot, HW Cryptography (AES/TDES/SHA/RSA/ECC), On-the-fly encryption/decryption from external memories, 11 kB OTP for key storage
  • Package – TFBGA343 14mm x 14mm, 0.65 mm pitch; designed to facilitate 4-layer PCB designs
SAMA7G54 block diagram
Devkit block diagram (left) and MPU block diagram (right)

While the company mentions artificial intelligence (AI) several times in the press release, I don’t see any AI accelerator, so any workload would run on the Arm Cortex-A7 CPU, possibly leveraging NEON instructions. The device is supported by Microchip’s mainline Linux distribution (linux4sam), and MPLAB Harmony v3 embedded software development framework enables bare-metal and RTOS support.

SAMA7G54 evaluation kit

The SAMA7G54 Evaluation Kit allows to get started quickly with the new processor, and comes with the following features:

  • SoC – Microchip SAMA7G54-V/4HB Arm Cortex-A7 microprocessor running up to 1GHz
  • System Memory – 16-bit, 4Gbit (512MB) DDR3L
  • Storage – 32Gbit (4GB) eMMC flash, 1Gbit (128MB) Octal SPI flash, 2x EEPROMs w/ EUI-48TM MAC ID, 1x SD card slot
  • Camera I/F – Raspberry Pi CSI camera interface
  • Audio
    • S/PDIF RX and TX ports
    • 4x digital microphone ports
  • Networking
    • Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, 10/100M Fast Ethernet port
    • Pad for ATWILC3000 Wi-Fi/BT module (unpopulated)
  • USB – 3x USB ports (Type-A, Type-C, and micro USB)
  • Serial – 2x CAN interfaces via terminal block
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi expansion header
    • 2x mikroBUS connectors
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB port or DC jack

SAMA7G54 development board

Microchip SAMA7G54 is available now for $7.75 each in 10,000-unit quantities, while the evaluation kit sells for $330. The chip is probably about twice as expensive as similar solutions from Allwinner and SigmaStar, but the company is maintaining Linux 5.15 LTS for the chip and the documentation is much better (e.g. 3000+ page datasheet), so projects failure and/or delays are less likely. More details may be found on the product pages for the microprocessor and evaluation kit.

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