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Realtek spins wireless oriented Arduino compatible SBC

Jul 2, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,178 views

Realtek has launched a $25, Arduino compatible “Ameba” SBC, built around a 166MHz Cortex-M3 RTL8195AM chipset, and offering WiFi and NFC.

When you think of Realtek Semiconductor, you probably think about audio codecs, but the company makes a wide variety of other ICs and MCUs that end up on hacker boards. Realtek is now trying its hand at its own Arduino compatible SBC: the Realtek IoT Ameba Platform. The board is backed by a community site with plenty of examples of robots, drones, home automation gizmos, and more that run on the Ameba.

Realtek IoT Ameba Platform, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Ameba showcases Realtek’s RTL8195AM chipset, a 32-bit, up to 166MHz Cortex M3 MCU with built in single-channel 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. The chipset is further equipped with 512KB SRAM, 1MB ROM, and a hardware-accelerated SSL engine.

Ameba detail view
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The Ameba board adds 2MB SDRAM, an SDIO controller, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a short-range NFC read/write chip. Antenna connectors are provided for both NFC and WiFi, and Realtek offers support via Apple Wireless Accessory Configuration (WAC).

Comparison of Ameba and Arduino Uno expansion connectors
(click image to enlarge)

The board offers a micro-USB host port and micro-USB OTG port with 5V charging capability, plus 2x SPI, 3x UART, 4x I2C, and 2x I2S/PCM. Other features include a DAC interface, as well as 2x ADC, 4x PWM, and up to 30x GPIOs. DAP reset and update mode buttons are available, along with a board reset and a JTAG debug interface. The Ameba’s GPIO pins appear to be a superset of those of the Arduino Uno, as shown above and below.

Arduino Uno R3 (left) and Ameba expansion connector pinouts
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The Ameba supports Arduino IDE programming via a Windows or Mac PC, as well as Mbed and FreeRTOS. The board appears to be open source, but many site resources require free registration for access.

Ameba car and video camera applications
(click images to enlarge)

Further information

The Realtek IoT Ameba Platform is available for $25 at various locations such as ICShop or eBay. More information may be found at this ARM Connected Community Ameba announcement and Realtek Ameba announcement, as well as this Ameba Facebook page and the Ameba community site.

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