Sitara Processor: ARM Cortex-A9, Security, 3D

Sitara Processor: ARM Cortex-A9, Security, 3D - AM4384

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The TI AM438x high-performance processors are based on the ARM Cortex-A9 core.

The processors are enhanced with payment card peripherals and logical and physical security to help customers meet payment card industry (PCI) requirements. The devices support high-level operating systems (HLOS). Linux® is available free of charge from TI.

The devices offer an upgrade to systems based on lower performance ARM cores, provide updated peripherals, including memory options such as QSPI-NOR and LPDDR2, and support the security features discussed below.

The processors contain the subsystems shown in the Functional Block Diagram, and a brief description of each follows.

The processor subsystem is based on the ARM Cortex-A9 core, and the PowerVR SGX™ graphics accelerator subsystem provides 3D graphics acceleration to support display and advanced user interfaces.

The programmable real-time unit subsystem and industrial communication subsystem (PRU-ICSS) is separate from the ARM core and allows independent operation and clocking for greater efficiency and flexibility. The programmable nature of the PRU-ICSS, along with their access to pins, events and all system-on-chip (SoC) resources, provides flexibility in implementing fast real-time responses, specialized data handling operations, custom peripheral interfaces, and in off-loading tasks from the other processor cores of the SoC.

High-performance interconnects provide high-bandwidth data transfers for multiple initiators to the internal and external memory controllers and to on-chip peripherals. The device also offers a comprehensive clock-management scheme.

The on-chip analog to digital converter (ADC0) can couple with the display subsystem to provide an integrated touch-screen solution. There is also an EMV-compliant ISO7816 interface (Smart Card) interface and magnetic card controller (ADC1).

The RTC provides a clock reference on a separate power domain. The clock reference enables a battery-backed clock reference.

The camera interface offers configuration for a single- or dual-camera parallel port.

The physical protection subsystem adds enclosure protection to the secure features offered by the AM438x processors which include cryptography acceleration and secure boot. Enclosure protection helps customers design products that detect when the casing is opened, and protect sensitive parts of the circuit with a wire mesh. Tamper protection monitors voltage, temperature, and crystal frequency so system designers can detect external attacks.

In addition, the partial ARM TrustZone allows system designers to configure memory for secure storage and protect against software attacks.


  • Highlights
    • Sitara™ ARM® Cortex®-A9 32-Bit RISC Processor With Processing Speed up to 1000 MHz
      • NEON™ SIMD Coprocessor and Vector Floating Point (VFPv3) Coprocessor
      • 32KB of Both L1 Instruction and Data Cache
      • 256KB of L2 Cache or L3 RAM
    • 32-Bit LPDDR2, DDR3, and DDR3L Support
    • General-Purpose Memory Support (NAND, NOR, SRAM) Supporting up to 16-Bit ECC
    • SGX530 Graphics Engine
    • Display Subsystem
    • Programmable Real-Time Unit Subsystem and Industrial Communication Subsystem (PRU-ICSS)
    • Real-Time Clock (RTC)
    • Up to Two USB 2.0 High-Speed Dual-Role (Host or Device) Ports With Integrated PHY
    • 10, 100, and 1000 Ethernet Switch
    • Serial Interfaces:
      • Six UARTs, Two McASPs, Five McSPIs, Three I2C Ports, One QSPI, and One HDQ or 1-Wire
      • Up to Two ISO7816 (Smart Card) Interfaces
    • Security
      • Crypto Hardware Accelerators (AES, SHA, PKA, RNG, DES, and 3DES) With Crypto DMA
      • Secure Boot
      • Physical (Enclosure) Protection
        • 12 Tamper I/Os
        • Wire Mesh
      • Tamper Protection
        • Voltage Monitoring
        • Temperature Monitoring
        • Crystal Monitoring
        • Erasable Secure Memory for Encryption Keys
        • Configurable Tamper Response
        • Tamper Events Log
      • Partial ARM TrustZone With Secure Run-Time Environment for Secure Applications
      • On-the-Fly-Encryption (OTFE) of the DDR Memory Bus Interface
    • Touch Screen Controller, ADC0
    • 12-Bit Successive Approximation Register (SAR) ADC0
      • Up to 867K Samples Per Second
      • Input Can be Selected from Any of the Eight Analog Inputs Multiplexed through an 8:1 Analog Switch
      • Can Be Configured to Operate as a 4-, 5-, or 8-Wire Resistive Touch Screen Controller (TSC) Interface
    • Magnetic Card Reader, ADC1
    • Up to Three 32-Bit Enhanced Capture (eCAP) Modules
    • Up to Three Enhanced Quadrature Encoder Pulse (eQEP) Modules
    • Up to Six Enhanced High-Resolution PWM (eHRPWM) Modules
  • MPU Subsystem
    • ARM Cortex-A9 32-Bit RISC Microprocessor With Processing Speed up to 1000 MHz
    • 32KB of Both L1 Instruction and Data Cache
    • 256KB of L2 Cache (Option to Configure as L3 RAM)
    • 256KB of On-Chip Boot ROM
    • 64KB of On-Chip RAM
    • Secure Control Module (SCM)
    • Emulation and Debug
      • JTAG
      • Embedded Trace Buffer
    • Interrupt Controller
  • On-Chip Memory (Shared L3 RAM)
    • 256KB of General-Purpose On-Chip Memory Controller (OCMC) RAM
    • 8KB Erasable Memory
    • Accessible to All Masters
    • Supports Retention for Fast Wakeup
    • Up to 512KB of Total Internal RAM
      (256KB of ARM Memory Configured as L3 RAM + 256KB of OCMC RAM)
  • External Memory Interfaces (EMIFs)
    • DDR Controllers:
      • LPDDR2: 266-MHz Clock (LPDDR2-533 Data Rate)
      • DDR3 and DDR3L: 400-MHz Clock (DDR-800 Data Rate)
      • 32-Bit Data Bus
      • 2GB of Total Addressable Space
      • Supports One x32, Two x16, or Four x8 Memory Device Configurations
  • General-Purpose Memory Controller (GPMC)
    • Flexible 8- and 16-Bit Asynchronous Memory Interface With up to Seven Chip Selects (NAND, NOR, Muxed-NOR, and SRAM)
    • Uses BCH Code to Support 4-, 8-, or 16-Bit ECC
    • Uses Hamming Code to Support 1-Bit ECC
  • Error Locator Module (ELM)
    • Used With the GPMC to Locate Addresses of Data Errors From Syndrome Polynomials Generated Using a BCH Algorithm
    • Supports 4-, 8-, and 16-Bit Per 512-Byte Block Error Location Based on BCH Algorithms
  • Programmable Real-Time Unit Subsystem and Industrial Communication Subsystem (PRU-ICSS)
    • Two Programmable Real-Time Units (PRUs) Subsystems With Two PRU Cores Each
      • Each Core is a 32-Bit Load and Store RISC Processor Capable of Running at 200 MHz
      • 12KB (PRU-ICSS1), 4KB (PRU-ICSS0) of Instruction RAM With Single-Error Detection (Parity)
      • 8KB (PRU-ICSS1), 4KB (PRU-ICSS0) of Data RAM With Single-Error Detection (Parity)
      • Single-Cycle 32-Bit Multiplier With 64-Bit Accumulator
      • Enhanced GPIO Module Provides Shift-In and Shift-Out Support and Parallel Latch on External Signal
    • 12KB (PRU-ICSS1 Only) of Shared RAM With Single-Error Detection (Parity)
    • Three 120-Byte Register Banks Accessible by Each PRU
    • Interrupt Controller Module (INTC) for Handling System Input Events
    • Local Interconnect Bus for Connecting Internal and External Masters to the Resources Inside the PRU-ICSS
    • Peripherals Inside the PRU-ICSS
      • One UART Port With Flow Control Pins, Supports up to 12 Mbps
      • One eCAP Module
      • Two MII Ethernet Ports that Support Industrial Ethernet, such as EtherCAT
      • One MDIO Port
  • Power, Reset, and Clock Management (PRCM) Module
    • Controls the Entry and Exit of Deep-Sleep Modes
    • Responsible for Sleep Sequencing, Power Domain Switch-Off Sequencing, Wake-Up Sequencing, and Power Domain Switch-On Sequencing
    • Clocks
      • Integrated High-Frequency Oscillator Used to Generate a Reference Clock (19.2, 24, 25, and 26 MHz) for Various System and Peripheral Clocks
      • Supports Individual Clock Enable and Disable Control for Subsystems and Peripherals to Facilitate Reduced Power Consumption
      • Five ADPLLs to Generate System Clocks (MPU Subsystem, DDR Interface, USB, and Peripherals [MMC and SD, UART, SPI, I2C], L3, L4, Ethernet, GFX [SGX530], and LCD Pixel Clock)
    • Power
      • Three Nonswitchable Power Domains (RTC, Wake-Up Logic [WAKE-UP], and Physical or Tamper [TPM])
      • Three Switchable Power Domains (MPU Subsystem, SGX530 [GFX], Peripherals and Infrastructure [PER])
      • Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling (DVFS)
  • Real-Time Clock (RTC)
    • Real-Time Date (Day, Month, Year, and Day of Week) and Time (Hours, Minutes, and Seconds) Information
    • Internal 32.768-kHz Oscillator, RTC Logic, and 1.1-V Internal LDO
    • Independent Power-On-Reset (RTC_PWRONRSTn) Input
    • Dedicated Input Pin (TPM_WAKEUP) for External Wake Events
    • Programmable Alarm Can Generate Internal Interrupts to the PRCM for Wakeup or Cortex-A9 for Event Notification
    • Programmable Alarm Can Be Used With External Output (RTC_PMIC_EN) to Enable the Power-Management IC to Restore Non-RTC Power Domains
  • Peripherals
    • Up to Two USB 2.0 High-Speed Dual-Role (Host or Device) Ports With Integrated PHY
    • Up to Two Industrial Gigabit Ethernet MACs
      (10, 100, and 1000 Mbps)
      • Integrated Switch
      • Each MAC Supports MII, RMII, and RGMII and MDIO Interfaces
      • Ethernet MACs and Switch Can Operate Independent of Other Functions
      • IEEE 1588v2 Precision Time Protocol (PTP)
    • Up to Two Multichannel Audio Serial Ports (McASPs)
      • Transmit and Receive Clocks up to 50 MHz
      • Up to Four Serial Data Pins Per McASP Port With Independent TX and RX Clocks
      • Supports Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), Inter-IC Sound (I2S), and Similar Formats
      • Supports Digital Audio Interface Transmission (SPDIF, IEC60958-1, and AES-3 Formats)
      • FIFO Buffers for Transmit and Receive (256 Bytes)
    • Up to Six UARTs
      • All UARTs Support IrDA and CIR Modes
      • All UARTs Support RTS and CTS Flow Control
      • UART1 Supports Full Modem Control
    • Up to Five Master and Slave McSPIs
      • McSPI0–McSPI2 Support up to Four Chip Selects
      • McSPI3 and McSPI4 Support up to Two Chip Selects
      • Up to 48 MHz
    • One Quad-SPI
      • Supports eXecute In Place (XIP) from Serial NOR FLASH
    • One Dallas 1-Wire® and HDQ Serial Interface
    • Up to Three MMC, SD, and SDIO Ports
      • 1-, 4-, and 8-Bit MMC, SD, and SDIO Modes
      • 1.8- or 3.3-V Operation on All Ports
      • Up to 48-MHz Clock
      • Supports Card Detect and Write Protect
      • Complies With MMC4.3 and SD and SDIO 2.0 Specifications
    • Up to Two ISO7816 (Smart Card) Interfaces
      • EMV-Compliant
      • Supports T=0 and T=1 Protocols
    • One Magnetic Card Reader (ADC1)
      • ISO7811-Compliant
      • AFE Contains 12-bit, 867 kSPS ADC With Four Differential Channels, Including Pre-Amplifier
        • ADC Can Be Used For General Purposes
    • Up to Three I2C Master and Slave Interfaces
      • Standard Mode (up to 100 kHz)
      • Fast Mode (up to 400 kHz)
    • Up to Six Banks of General-Purpose I/O (GPIO)
      • 32 GPIOs per Bank (Multiplexed With Other Functional Pins)
      • GPIOs Can be Used as Interrupt Inputs (up to Two Interrupt Inputs per Bank)
    • Up to Three External DMA Event Inputs That Can Also be Used as Interrupt Inputs
    • Twelve 32-Bit General-Purpose Timers
      • DMTIMER1 is a 1-ms Timer Used for Operating System (OS) Ticks
      • DMTIMER4–DMTIMER7 are Pinned Out
    • One Public and One Secure Watchdog Timer
    • One Free-Running, High-Resolution 32-kHz Counter (synctimer32K)
    • SGX530 3D Graphics Engine
      • Tile-Based Architecture Delivering up to 20M Poly/sec
      • Universal Scalable Shader Engine is a Multithreaded Engine Incorporating Pixel and Vertex Shader Functionality
      • Advanced Shader Feature Set in Excess of Microsoft VS3.0, PS3.0, and OGL2.0
      • Industry Standard API Support of Direct3D Mobile, OGL-ES 1.1 and 2.0, and OpenVG 1.0
      • Fine-Grained Task Switching, Load Balancing, and Power Management
      • Advanced Geometry DMA-Driven Operation for Minimum CPU Interaction
      • Programmable High-Quality Image Anti-Aliasing
      • Fully Virtualized Memory Addressing for OS Operation in a Unified Memory Architecture
    • Display Subsystem
      • Display Modes
        • Programmable Pixel Memory Formats (Palletized: 1-, 2-, 4-, and 8-Bits Per Pixel; RGB 16- and 24-Bits Per Pixel; and YUV 4:2:2)
        • 256- × 24-Bit Entries Palette in RGB
        • Up to 2048 × 2048 Resolution
      • Display Support
        • Four Types of Displays Are Supported: Passive and Active Colors; Passive and Active Monochromes
        • 4- and 8-Bit Monochrome Passive Panel Interface Support (15 Grayscale Levels Supported Using Dithering Block)
        • RGB 8-Bit Color Passive Panel Interface Support (3,375 Colors Supported for Color Panel Using Dithering Block)
        • RGB 12-, 16-, 18-, and 24-Bit Active Panel Interface Support (Replicated or Dithered Encoded Pixel Values)
        • Remote Frame Buffer (Embedded in the LCD Panel) Support Through the RFBI Module
        • Partial Refresh of the Remote Frame Buffer Through the RFBI Module
        • Partial Display
        • Multiple Cycles Output Format on 8-, 9-, 12-, and 16-Bit Interface (TDM)
      • Signal Processing
        • Overlay and Windowing Support for One Graphics Layer (RGB or CLUT) and Two Video Layers (YUV 4:2:2, RGB16, and RGB24)
        • RGB 24-Bit Support on the Display Interface, Optionally Dithered to RGB 18‑Bit Pixel Output Plus 6-Bit Frame Rate Control (Spatial and Temporal)
        • Transparency Color Key (Source and Destination)
        • Synchronized Buffer Update
        • Gamma Curve Support
        • Multiple-Buffer Support
        • Cropping Support
        • Color Phase Rotation
    • Up to Three 32-Bit eCAP Modules
      • Configurable as Three Capture Inputs or Three Auxiliary PWM Outputs
    • Up to Six Enhanced eHRPWM Modules
      • Dedicated 16-Bit Time-Base Counter With Time and Frequency Controls
      • Configurable as Six Single-Ended, Six Dual-Edge Symmetric, or Three Dual-Edge Asymmetric Outputs
    • Up to Three 32-Bit eQEP Modules
  • Device Identification
    • Factory Programmable Electrical Fuse Farm (FuseFarm)
      • Production ID
      • Device Part Number (Unique JTAG ID)
      • Device Revision (Readable by Host ARM)
      • Security Keys
      • Feature Identification
  • Debug Interface Support
    • JTAG and cJTAG for ARM (Cortex-A9 and PRCM) and PRU-ICSS Debug
    • Supports Real-Time Trace Pins (for Cortex-A9)
    • 64-KB Embedded Trace Buffer (ETB)
    • Supports Device Boundary Scan
    • Supports IEEE 1500
  • DMA
    • On-Chip Enhanced DMA Controller (EDMA) Has Three Third-Party Transfer Controllers (TPTCs) and One Third-Party Channel Controller (TPCC), Which Supports up to 64 Programmable Logical Channels and Eight QDMA Channels
    • EDMA is Used for:
      • Transfers to and from On-Chip Memories
      • Transfers to and from External Storage (EMIF, GPMC, and Slave Peripherals)
    • DMA for Crypto Data Paths and Transfers (Crypto DMA)
  • InterProcessor Communication (IPC)
    • Integrates Hardware-Based Mailbox for IPC and Spinlock for Process Synchronization Between the Cortex-A9, PRCM, and PRU-ICSS
  • Boot Modes
    • Boot Mode is Selected Through Boot Configuration Pins Latched on the Rising Edge of the PWRONRSTn Reset Input Pin
  • Camera
    • Dual Port 8- and 10-Bit BT656 Interface
    • Dual Port 8- and 10-Bit Including External Syncs
    • Single Port 12-Bit
    • YUV422/RGB422 and BT656 Input Format
    • RAW Format
    • Pixel Clock Rate up to 75 MHz
  • Package
    • 491-Pin BGA Package (17-mm × 17-mm) (ZDN Suffix), 0.65-mm Ball Pitch With Via Channel Array Technology to Enable Low-Cost Routing

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Parametrics Compare all products in AM438x

ARM MHz (Max.)
Serial I/O
Security Enabler
Graphics Acceleration
Industrial Protocols
Operating Temperature Range (C)
AM4384 AM4382 AM4388
Magnetic Card
Smart Card
Magnetic Card
Smart Card
Magnetic Card
Smart Card
Debug security
Secure storage
Physical security
Cryptographic acceleration
Initial secure programming
Trusted execution environment
Secure boot
Software IP protection
External memory protection
Device identity   
Debug security
Secure storage
Physical security
Cryptographic acceleration
Initial secure programming
Trusted execution environment
Secure boot
Software IP protection
External memory protection
Device identity   
Debug security
Secure storage
Physical security
Cryptographic acceleration
Initial secure programming
Trusted execution environment
Secure boot
Software IP protection
External memory protection
Device identity   
N/A    N/A    PRU-ICSS   
1 3D    N/A    1 3D   
2-Port 1Gb Switch    2-Port 1Gb Switch    2-Port 1Gb Switch   
N/A    N/A    N/A   
Parallel    Parallel    Parallel   
-40 to 105    -40 to 105    -40 to 105   

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