Process instruments employ a variety of sensors and methods to precisely measure process variables, such as temperature, pressure, level and flow.
Clearly, power consumption in active mode is critical for these products, as most field instruments are powered via a 4-20mA current loop interface, which significantly limits power budgets. In addition, process instruments should be capable of operating in hazardous areas.
Atmel’s versatile portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) can be used by manufacturers and engineers to design a wide range of industrial process instruments. Perhaps most importantly, our 32-bit microcontrollers are capable of operating down to 1.62V and achieving sub 1mW/DMIPS power consumption figures. In addition, process instruments often operate the microcontroller at low frequencies to reduce power consumption, which is why Atmel optimizes Flash read accesses for such scenarios.
“Both the Atmel AVR 32-bit microcontroller and the Atmel ARM Cortex-M3 processor-based SAM3 family provide modern and efficient RISC architectures, supporting more complex signals. Atmel’s Embedded DSP functionalities (MAC, saturating arithmetic) and FPU, along with middleware libraries to support them, considerably simplify signal conditioning,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces.
“Plus, complex signal algorithms, field bus or industrial Ethernet support, functional safety test routines, and multi-language menus, require increasingly large embedded Flash support. And that is why we offer 32-bit microcontrollers with embedded Flash up to 512KB. Atmel MCUs also integrate dedicated hardware mechanisms to support the implementation of the IEC61508 safety standard.”
In terms of wireless communications, Atmel’s wireless microcontroller lineup provides the required hardware for engineers to build products compatible with the popular Wireless HART protocol. Meanwhile, Atmel’s best-in-class RF properties help increase range and make RF links more robust, yet highly efficient.
“In short, Atmel’s SAM3, SAM7 and the AVR UC3 32-bit families deliver a unique combination of low power and excellent signal processing capabilities, as well as low power consumption, efficient signal processing (DSP and FPU), wide Flash size availability, sensor element and field bus connection, capacitive touch and wireless microcontrollers,” the engineering rep added.
Interested in learning more about Atmel’s process instruments portfolio? Be sure to check out our extensive device breakdown here.