Atmel Corporation (Atmel), a US-based manufacturer of microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and RF components, has introduced a new ultra wideband (UWB) evaluation kit, AT91CAP9A. The AT91CAP9A UWB evaluation kit includes two AT91CAP9A development kits, one for transmission and the other for reception. The new kit is designed for low-cost development of UWB applications and is built around the AT91CAP9 ARM926EJ-S-based customizable microcontroller.

The UWB media access controller (MAC) is executed together with any application-specific logic, in the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) that emulates the CAP metal programmable (MP) block. The UWB physical access layer (PHY) is executed in transmission and the reception extension boards that plug into the CAP Development Board.

Each AT91CAP9A development kit includes three related boards (motherboard, mezzanine and 3.3V memory extension), a CAP9 UWB PHY transmitter board and a CAP9 UWB PHY receiver board, together with the UWB video streaming application software. This configuration creates an application ready UWB development environment with a video streaming reference design.

The new AT91CAP9A UWB evaluation kit interfaces with PC running industry-standard ARM development tools for the system development and debug. This permits parallel hardware/software development that drastically decreases the development time for the application. When the system has been fully debugged, the UWB MAC and the application-specific logic are re-mapped into MP block of a customized CAP, offering a complete UWB transceiver system based on a small part count. This low-cost, medium-volume UWB solution is ideal for the wireless medical systems and similar applications.

Michel Le Lan, Atmel’s marketing director for ASICs, stated, Ultra Wideband is an energy-efficient short-range protocol that is ideal for many industrial and medical applications that operate in noisy, obstructed environments. Our CAP UWB Development Kit provides a rapid, low-cost development path for customers who wish to integrate their own IP together with the UWB MAC in a single high-performance, low-cost system-on-chip.

About UWB:

UWB is a wireless technology for transmitting the large amounts of digital data over medium distances (10 to 50m) utilizing a broad spectrum of frequency bands with very low power. UWB has ability to carry the signals via doors and other obstacles that tend to reflect signals at more limited bandwidths and higher power. UWB broadcasts digital pulses that are timed very precisely on carrier signal that concurrently occupies numerous frequency channels across a broad spectrum. The transmitter and receiver must be synchronized to send and receive the pulses with sub-nanosecond accuracy. On any given frequency band that may already be in use, the UWB signal has less power than background noise of other transmission protocols, so interference is decreased.

The UWB protocol is defined, certified and supported by WiMedia Alliance, and has been normalized in ECMA standards ECMA-368 (High Rate Ultra Wideband PHY and MAC Standard) and ECMA-369 (MAC-PHY Interface for ECMA- 368).