Atmel® ARM®-based microcontrollers and microprocessors are very easy to use. This quick guide will help you get started in three simple steps.


Step 1: Download Atmel Studio 6 or a Third-Party IDE

All Atmel ARM-based devices require some software to be useful. To create and debug this software, you can use an integrated development environment (IDE). The free Atmel Studio 6 IDE will help you develop with Atmel ARM-based Flash MCUs (microcontroller units). These include the ARM Cortex®-M4, Cortex-M3, ARM926EJ-S™ and ARM7TDMI® based devices. You can use third-party tool chains for Atmel ARM-based MPUs.

Atmel Studio 6 contains everything you need to create, compile and debug code. It will download your code straight into the on-chip Flash of the ARM-based microcontroller — without any other software components. You can also use third-party tools with Atmel ARM-based MCUs. See details and contact information for these companies.

Third-party tools help you develop Atmel MPUs. These include our ARM Cortex-A5 and ARM926EJ-S™ based devices.


Step 2: Look at Some Examples

Creating a software program from scratch can be hard, so we provide hundreds of example projects right here on the site. These are called application notes, and they cover various aspects of programming and using the ARM-based MCUs and MPUs. Just visit any device page and browse to the "Documents" tab where you will find all relevant application notes for that particular device. You can also find the datasheet under the Documents tab.

  • Software Packages – Software packages might include examples, libraries, a USB framework and bootstrap code or demos. They can be downloaded from the Tools tab on the corresponding device page.

  • Operating Systems for Atmel MPUs – Atmel provides Windows CE, Linux and Android board support package (BSP) sources as well as demo binaries running on evaluation kits for all Atmel AT91SAM MPUs. BSP sources are available on the respective dedicated portals Windows4SAM, Linux4SAM, and Android4SAM. These portals are more than just repositories: you will find Getting Started tutorials and step–by-step procedures to customize, compile and deploy BSPs.

Step 3: Get Some Hardware Tools

In addition to an IDE, you will also need some hardware tools. The two most important are the debugger and the evaluation kits.

In-Circuit Debugger

The most essential hardware tool for any software developer is the in-circuit debugger. It connects the microcontroller to the PC via a special debug and programming interface, thus opening a window into the internal workings of the microcontroller. Programming your software into the microcontroller only takes a few seconds, and there is no need to remove or re-solder any components. Once programmed, the debugger can control the CPU to run, stop or single step, and it will read out real-time data from all the microcontroller memories and I/O registers.

  • Atmel SAM-ICE JTAG Emulator – To debug, program and trace code while running your AT91SAM product, you will need a JTAG/ICE to interface to a debugger. Atmel offers the Atmel SAM-ICE™ JTAG emulator, which supports all AT91SAM Flash MCUs and MPUs.

    SAM-ICE can be used with RDI-compliant debuggers such as IAR EWARM, Keil MDK and gdb. It can also be used with the Atmel SAM-BA ISP tool, allowing users to program AT91SAM Flash MCUs in-situ through a JTAG/ICE interface. The Atmel SAM-ICE can be purchased from the Atmel Store.

Evaluation Kits

Evaluation kits are available for all AT91SAM Flash MCUs and MPUs. The kits are designed to help you evaluate device features and start code development. The PCB layout, bill of materials (BOM) and schematics files are also available for download and can be retrieved from the device page. Evaluation kits can be purchased from the Atmel Store. Select the device in the store Search, click Go, and a list of evaluation kits will appear.

  • Atmel SAM-BA In-System Programming Tool – Atmel offers a free SAM-BA in-system programming tool for AT91SAM Flash MCUs. It provides an easy way to enable in-situ programming of the on-chip Flash memory through a USB, serial port or JTAG/ICE interface.

    You can also use the SAM-BA tool to program external memories—such as NAND, SPI DataFlash and NOR Flash—that are connected to the AT91SAM MPUs. Get the latest version of the Atmel SAM-BA ISP tool.

Additional Resources

Atmel Gallery – App Store

The Atmel Gallery app store makes it fast and easy for embedded developers using MCUs to get the tool or embedded software they need to extend the Atmel Studio 6 development platform. Developers can download and securely purchase extensions such as compilers, debugging tools, real-time operating systems, communication stacks and a broad range of utilities. If they discover the need for a tool during the development process—or are looking for software to embed in their applications—they won’t have to leave the development environment to find a solution.

Atmel Spaces – Collaborative Community

Atmel Spaces lets you create your space to share your latest Atmel based software or hardware project with your friends, co-workers, customers or community. Atmel Spaces hosts open source projects that use an Atmel product or processor and provides many collabora¬tion tools for your software/hardware project.

Knowledge Base with FAQ and Online Tools Help

A comprehensive FAQ database gives answers to many of the questions you may have. The FAQ database is organized into product groups and sub-categories for easy browsing. Online versions of many tools and user guides are available for easy browsing.

Application Notes and other Documentation

Get the most out of your ARM-based MCU or MPU with the free application notes and datasheets containing detailed and application specific information. Here you can get quick-start guides, migration notes, design considerations, peripheral drivers and other useful code examples.

Discussion Forums

There is no need to re-invent the wheel! Users worldwide are constantly discussing new topics and inventions using Atmel microcontrollers. Be a part of the communities, participate in discussions, and get valuable feedback on any issue you may have.

Training and Events

Learn even more! By participating in training sessions, seminars, tradeshows, workshops, and conferences worldwide you will learn about the latest news and hottest topics. Atmel visits places all over the world to show you new products and features.

Third-Party Support

Atmel AVR® products enjoy extensive third-party-support from leading companies worldwide. These third parties offer hardware and software development tools and AVR application design consultancy services. They can efficiently help designers develop their applications in a timely manner and provide expertise if needed.

Detailed information and contact for these companies are listed in this section.