Cortex M3 MCU features USB firmware protection

  
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Atmel joins NXP, ST, Luminary Micro (now TI), and Toshiba as a microcontroller vendor to use the ARM Cortex-M3processor core. As a presumed replacement for some of their ARM 7 based MCU products, Atmel`s first Cortex-M3aims to differentiate from the rest by offering high speed USB functionality, firmware protection, differential input ADC, and 1. 6
Cortex M3 MCU features USB firmware protection - schematic

2V core voltage. When asked what differentiates Atmel from the other Cortex competitors, Product Marketing Manager Jacko Wilbrink offered this assesment: "The majority of other Cortex M3-based devices are targeted to low and mid-level data rate applications. We have built an ARM9-type infrastructure around our M3 core, with lots of DMA options, multilayer busses and segmented memories that can support high-end communication from high speed USB, SDIO, MMC and SPI. " Atmel used their experience designing high speed USB for their SAM9 product line and have been able to port the design to the lower power, lower speed Cortex-M3. (For some more technical details on how they were able to do it, read this article ) The SAM3U is currently the only Cortex-M3 design to offer high speed USB. Building on their experience with high speed interfaces in general, the SAM3U also contains SDIO/SD/MMC host and SPI interfaces on-chip. Borrowing from Atmel`s experience in smart card market, the SAM3U also features an on chip memory protection unit (MPU) and a 128-bit unique ID (for every device) that both can be used to protect the firmware both on-chip, and in an external memory device. As more resources get poured into firmware developement than hardware, protecting the algorithms that make the system work becomes more important. The added security might be just enough to dissuade a potential counterfeiter. The device also has a high...



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