Category Archives: Product News

Atmel wireless connectivity supports industrial IoT revolution


The BTLC1000 exhibits the lowest BLE power consumption in the industry.


With both this year’s CES and Embedded World now behind us, it’ll be interesting to see which of the gadgets unveiled during these shows find a way to market — some will go to production, others won’t. I am skeptic about the smart shoe offering self-fastening mechanism… And during these two weeks, the IoT revolution has silently progressed in industrial automation. (You will be surprised if you read some very serious white papers extracted from the Internet of Things series published by Bosch.)

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While attendees flocked to Vegas, progresses were made in industrial automation thanks to hard work being done in Germany. In fact, these two worlds — consumer oriented and industrial — are both relying on wireless connectivity, including products from Atmel: the ATWILC1000, ATWILC1500 or ATWILC3000 supporting Wi-Fi and ATBLC1000 supporting BTLE 4.1,which  was recently crowned “Product of the Year” from Electronic Products.

According to Bosch’s white paper “Leveraging the Internet of Things: Companies can streamline business processes for stakeholders across the extended enterprise,” we realize that Bosch’s managers have brainstormed about the IoT to extract the added business value for the enterprise, like for example, “in manufacturing, data automatically collected from smart and connected products, give companies meaningful feedback as to how products should be reengineered, and provides opportunities for additional revenue through selling services.”

In order to become smart and connected, industrial products need to integrate either a Wi-Fi connection supported by ATWINC1500, or a Bluetooth supported by the very tiny (see above) ATBTLC1000.

IoT-scalability-courtesy-Bosch

Shows the requirements for scalability on two current customer PoCs at Bosch Software Innovations. These PoCs start in year one with a very low umber of connected devices and sensors. However, in a short space of time, they scale massively upward for commercial launch and rollout.

From the above graphic, extracted from another white paper from Bosch, “Realizing the connected world-how to choose the right IoT platform,” we can derive two crucial information. The first is the fact that IoT is already a reality in the industrial market segment, not really known to be fashion driven like could be consumer electronic. The second information is about scalability. In both examples, the number of connected devices was very low, but in a short space of time they scale massively, reaching 500k devices for the first and up to 3 million for the other. A single industrial automation application can generate a very good semiconductor business, including sensors, MCU and wireless connectivity device. In our previous blog, we have investigated the ATWINCxx00 family bringing Wi-Fi connectivity to any embedded design. Let’s take a look at the award winner ATBTLC1000 device supporting BT 4.1 connectivity.

Atmel's BTLC1000

The BTLC1000 is an ultra-low power Bluetooth SMART (BLE 4.1) SoC with an integrated ARM Cortex-M0 MCU, a transceiver, a modem, MAC, PA, TR Switch, and a power management unit (PMU). It can be used as a BLE link controller or data pump with external host MCU, or as a standalone applications processor with embedded BLE connectivity and external memory. If we look at the key features list:

  • BLE4.1 compliant SoC and protocol stack
  • Lowest BLE power consumption in industry
  • Smallest BLE 4.1 SoC — Available in WLCSP (2.26×2.14mm) or QFN ( 32p 4×4 mm)
  • Optimized system cost — High level of integration on chip reduces external Bill of Material significantly
  • Wide operating Voltage range — 1.8 – 4.3V
  • Host Interface — SPI or UART
  • Certified modules — FCC, ETSI/CE, TELEC
  • Enterprise Development support & tools with the ATBTLC1000 Xplained Pro

The main reasons why the Atmel BTLC1000 has won the Electronic Design award are power, cost and certification. This chip not only exhibits the lowest BLE power consumption in the industry, it’s also the smallest BLE 4.1 SoC (see picture) offering optimized system cost, thanks to high level of integration. If companies like Bosch supporting industrial automation segment for years (if not centuries) start to be seriously involved into smart connected IoT systems, no doubt that ATBTLC1000 and ATWILC1000 devices have a bright future…


This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Eric Esteve is a principle blogger and one of the four founding members of the site. This blog first appeared on SemiWiki on January 10, 2016.

tinyAVR in 8- and 14-pin SOIC now self-programming


The ATtiny102/104 retain the AVR performance advantage — still a 12 MIPS core with 1KB Flash and 32B SRAM — and upgrade many of the features around it.


At this week’s Embedded World 2016, Atmel is heading back to 8-bit old school with their news, straight to the low pin count end of their MCU portfolio with a significant upgrade to the tinyAVR family.

According to Atmel’s briefing package, development of the ATtiny102 and ATtiny104 has been in progress for some time. We got a peek at the company’s roadmap for AVR where these are labeled “next generation tinyAVRs,” and all we can say is this is the beginning of a significant refresh — alas, we can’t share those details, but we can now look at these two new parts.

What jumps out immediately is how the AVR refresh fills a significant gap in Atmel’s capability. The existing tinyAVR family is anchored by the ATtiny10, a capable 8-bit AVR core running at up to 12 MIPS with 0.5 or 1KB Flash and 32B of SRAM. The pluses of extended availability are obvious at the beginning of the lifecycle, but by the midpoint of a long run, the technology can start to seem dated.

 ATtiny102/ ATtiny104

ATtiny102/ ATtiny104

That is certainly the case for the ATtiny10 introduced in April 2009. At that time, the ATtiny10 was a shot straight at the Microchip PIC10F, with much higher CPU performance and a competitive 6-pin SOT and 8-pin DFN package offering. Outside of the CPU itself, the ATtiny10 and PIC10F line up pretty closely except for two areas: self-programming, and the accuracy of on-chip oscillators and voltage references. ATtiny10 parts require pre-programming from Atmel or a distributor, and its rather wide accuracy specs need help from product calibration and external componentry – however, cost and code compatibility still have a lot of sway, and the popularity of the ATtiny10 was unshaken.

The ATtiny102/104 retain the AVR performance advantage — still a 12 MIPS core with 1KB Flash and 32B SRAM — and upgrade many of the features around it. First and most noticeable is a packaging improvement. The ATtiny102 comes in an 8-pin SOIC (with the 8-pin DFN option still available). For a generation of applications needing more I/O in a low-cost part, the ATtiny104 comes in a pin-compatible 14-pin SOIC with 6 extra I/O pins.

Features for ATtiny102/ ATtiny104

Self-programming of Flash has been added to both versions, and with the same core footprint a single production image for both parts is achievable. Fast start-up time is available as an option as well. The internal voltage references are now highly accurate, with calibrated 1.1V, 2.2V, and 4.3V taps at +/- 3%. Internal oscillator accuracy is now +/- 2% over a 0 to 50 degrees C temperature range at fixed voltage. Those changes prompted expanding successive approximation ADC resolution to 10-bit, and channels are doubled to eight. Two of the I/O pins can now be configured for a USART, adding serial communications capability. A new 10-byte Unique ID provides a serial number.

Those features translate to customer satisfaction with intelligent devices using the ATtiny102 and ATtiny104. The more accurate internal oscillator improves the precision of motor control in personal care devices such as toothbrushes and electric shavers. The calibrated voltage references enable applications where rechargeable battery management is a primary function, for example in the d.light family of portable solar-powered lighting.

For more information on the ATtiny102 and ATtiny104 MCUs, you can check out Atmel’s recent post here.

This announcement, and what I think will follow from Atmel later this year, reaffirms just how important 8-bit is for the future at Atmel. The AVR architecture is beloved because of its simplicity and ubiquity with over 7B cores now shipped. The advances in the ATtiny102 and ATtiny104 are aimed at reducing BOM and manufacturing costs and enabling further innovation in intelligent consumer devices.

ATtiny102/104 are self-programmable, 8- and 14-pin tinyAVR MCUs


New tinyAVRs deliver industry’s smallest and lowest power 8-bit MCU on the market today with 1KB Flash.


Making its debut at Embedded World 2016, Atmel has returned to its old-school ways with the world’s highest-performance, low-power, 8-bit microcontrollers boasting 1KB Flash memory. The all-new ATtiny102/104 run up to 12MIPS and integrate features previously only available in larger more expensive MCUs, making them ideal for smaller applications including logic replacement and the latest cost-optimized applications in the consumer, industrial and home automation markets.

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The majority of today’s 8-bit market growth is coming from applications that previously only required discrete components. With many of these requiring simple intelligent functions such as timing, motor control or on/off functionality, 8-bit MCUs are becoming an essential feature for the personal healthcare, small kitchen appliance and consumer markets.

The ATtiny102/104 provide all the necessary features to help spur the growth in these applications with its small, cost-optimized low-pincount package with just 1KB of Flash memory. These features include self-programming for firmware upgrades, non-volatile data storage, accurate internal oscillator to provide more reliable motor control, high-speed serial communication with USART, operating voltages ranging from 1.8V to 5.5V 10-bit ADC with internal voltage references, and sleep currents at less than 100nA in power down mode with SRAM retention.

“Atmel has already sold more units of its 8-bit AVR core-based MCUs than the 7.4 billion people on Earth,” says Oyvind Strom, Atmel’s Senior Director of MCUs. “We continue to expand our AVR portfolio with the new ATtiny102/104 8-bit MCUs. These are the first two devices in our new tinyAVR portfolio that are packed with features optimized for tiny, compact MCU systems such as LED lighting, fan control and other small applications.”

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Key specs of these tinyAVRs include:

• 1KB Flash / 32bytes SRAM
• 8- and 14-pin packages down to 2mm x 3mm in size
• Up to 12 MIPS at 12MHz
• Self-programmable Flash
• Accurate (±3%) Internal oscillator
• Multiple calibrated internal voltage references (1.1V, 2.2V, 4.3V)
• 10-bytes Unique ID (serial number)
• USART
• 10 bit ADC and analog comparator
• 1.8V to 5.5V voltage range
• -40°C to +105°C and -40°C to +125°C temperature ranges

The ATtiny102/104 engineering samples are now available with mass production samples slated for May 2016. The latest tinyAVRs are fully supported by Atmel Studio 7. Additionally, designers have access to the company’s embedded software, including the Atmel Software Framework and application notes, as well as the Atmel Gallery ‘app’ store.

Atmel launches the industry’s first hardware interface library for TLS stacks used in IoT edge node apps


The new HW-TLS platform provides an interface between software TLS packages and the ATECC508A cryptographic co-processor.


With the rise of the Internet of Things, security has become a pressing topic because autonomous remote devices are now routinely connecting to wireless networks to form complex smart device and cloud-service ecosystems. As a result, autonomous IoT gadgets constitute a significant part of those networks and must be able to authenticate themselves to the network resources to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem. In addition, these remote, resource-constrained clients must be able to perform this authentication using minimal processing, memory and power.

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Cognizant of this, Atmel has launched the industry’s first hardware interface library for TLS stacks used in Internet of Things edge node applications. Hardening is a method used for reducing security risks to a system by applying additional hardware security layers and eliminating vulnerable software. This new Hardware-TLS (HW-TLS) platform provides an API that allows TLS packages to utilize hardware key storage and cryptographic acceleration even in resource constrained edge node designs. HW-TLS is a comprehensive solution pre-loaded with unique keys and certificates designed to eliminate the complexities of generating secure keys in the manufacturing supply chain.

OpenSSL is a general-purpose cryptography library that provides an open source implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and TLS protocols. wolfSSL is a cryptography library that provides lightweight, portable security solutions with a focus on speed and size. Atmel’s new ATECC508A-OpenSSL and ATECC508A-wolfSSL are available for immediate download at their respective software distribution repositories, offering seamless adoption of more secure elements without disruption to the developer workflow.

OpenSSL

Secure hardening for both OpenSSL and wolfSSL is made possible with HW-TLS which enables those TLS software packages to interface seamlessly with the ATECC508A CryptoAuthentication co-processor. This IC provides protected key storage as well as hardware acceleration of Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) cipher suites including mutual authentication (ECDSA) and Diffie-Hellman key agreement (ECDH). As such, HW-TLS allows developers to substantially harden Transport Layer Security (TLS), enhancing security for IoT ecosystems.

When used together, HW-TLS and the ATECC508A let even extremely small, low-cost IoT nodes implement strong cryptographic security. All private keys, certificates and other sensitive security data used for authentication are stored in secure hardware and protected against software, hardware and back-door attacks. Beyond that, the integrated ECC accelerators in the ATECC508A offload cryptographic code and math from the MCU allowing even a low-end processor to perform strong authentication.

ATEC

“Everyone with an interest in IoT security should be excited about Atmel HW-TLS with wolfSSL,” explains Larry Stefonic, wolfSSL CEO. “The combination of our secure software and Atmel’s new chips brings TLS performance and security to a level unrivaled in the industry. Atmel’s HW-TLS platform also makes it easier than ever for developers to incorporate truly hardened security into our TLS stack.”

Traditionally, TLS performed authentication and stored private keys in software. However, Atmel’s latest platform closes the vulnerability gap in this arrangement by offloading the crucial key management responsibility to dedicated, tamper-resistant secure elements such as the ATECCC508A crypto engine. What’s more, the intensive crypto algorithms are processed in the CryptoAuthentication device, offloading the MCU on the remote devices and enabling the IoT edge node to authenticate to the cloud without a user-perceptible delay. Furthermore, Atmel Hardware-TLS comes as a complete platform pre-loaded with unique keys and certificates for eliminating the complexities of adding secure keys to each device in a manufacturing supply chain.

“With more and more remote devices being connected to the cloud every day in the era of the IoT, it becomes increasingly critical to ensure these devices are not vulnerable to attack,” adds Nicolas Schieli, Senior Director of Atmel’s Secure Products Group. “Such devices can be entirely secure only when they are hardware secure, meaning the ‘secret’ keys are stored in a separate hardware unit. We are excited to bring this innovation to market, enabling device manufacturers that need to connect to the cloud to take advantage of hardware security.”

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The Hardware-TLS complements Atmel Certified-ID, a seamless and secure keys provisioning platform for assigning trusted identities to devices joining the IoT.

Atmel adds force sensing to capacitive touch


Atmel’s new force sensing technology gives users more control through the pressure of their touch.


During CES 2016, Atmel showcased its next-generation force sensing technology in the latest maXTouch U series for smartphones. This new technology boasts 3D interactions for more intuitive control. Meaning, it enables a user to preview, zoom, play game, text and much more, simply by applying pressure to the screen with the touch of a finger.

Atmel’s force sensing technology can detect how much pressure a user applies to the screen and respond accordingly. For instance, a user can apply variable force to the glass on the touchscreen to activate various commands with their finger: slight pressure can be applied to the screen to select a gaming app and more pressure can be applied to start the game.

Atmel launches ultra-low-power platform for IoT and wearable devices


This platform integrates the ultra-low-power SAM L21 with a BTLC1000 SoC and a software ecosystem into a small, flexible form factor.


Just in time for CES 2016, Atmel unveiled a complete, ultra-low-power connected platform for cost-optimized IoT and wearable applications. This new platform features the world’s lowest power ARM Cortex-M0+, the Atmel | SMART SAM L21, and award-winning BTLC1000 Bluetooth Smart SoC, making it the perfect solution for battery-operated devices requiring activity and environment monitoring.

Atmel-Ultra-Lowend-Wearable%20Board-Angled-2

Key components for the low-power connected platform — the Atmel | SMART SAM L21 MCU and the BTLC1000 — achieve industry-leading standards. The SAM L21 boasts a staggering ULPBench score of 185, the highest recorded score for any Cortex-M0+ while running the EEMBC ULPBench, the industry marker for low power, with a power consumption down to 35µA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode. Atmel’s Bluetooth Smart solution is 25% smaller than the closest competing solution packaged in a 2.2mm x 2.1mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package, enabling designers to build ultra-small industrial designs for next-generation connected IoT and wearable applications.

Atmel’s low-power platform is a design-ready unit showcasing the company’s broad portfolio of ultra-low-power smart, secure and connected products, and partner technologies. Embodied in a 30mm x 40mm form factor, the platform integrates the Atmel | SMART ultra-low power MCU, Bluetooth Smart low-energy connectivity, capacitive touch interface, security solution, complete software platform, real-time operating system (RTOS), a BHI160 6-axis SmartHub motion sensor and a BME280 environmental sensor from Bosch Sensortec. The platform can be powered by a simple coin cell utilizing extremely low power consumption, and manufacturers can also leverage Atmel’s extensive list of sensor partners.

To simplify the design process, the platform is compatible with Atmel’s flagship Studio 7 IDE, along with Atmel START, the world’s first intuitive web-based tool for software configuration and code generation.

“As a leading provider of ultra-low power IoT solutions, we know that out-of-the-box, easy to implement reference platforms are a necessity to help accelerate the adoption of wearable applications, and enable a rapid time-to-market for new product ideas,” says Andreas Eieland, Atmel Director of Product Marketing for the Microcontroller Business Unit. “Atmel’s new reference platform allows our customers to develop differentiated solutions for cost-optimized, yet competitive, markets including healthcare, fitness, wellness and much more. We continue to help drive the IoT and wearable market with simple, ultra-low power platforms with complete hardware and software solutions.”

Introducing the new Power Debugger


Atmel has unveiled a new high-performance debugging tool with advanced power visualization for ultra-low-power designs.


If you’re seeking a high-accuracy debugging tool that lets you visualize the power usage of your product during development, you’re in luck. That’s because Atmel has unveiled a new Power Debugger, the latest dev tool for debugging and programming both Atmel | SMART Cortex-M–based and AVR MCUs that use JTAG, SWD, PDI, debugWIRE, aWire, TPI or SPI target interfaces.

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With ultra-low power being such a critical factor in next-generation IoT, wearable and battery-operated devices, having the ability to locate code where power spikes occur is crucial. The Power Debugger features two independent current-sensing channels for collecting power measurements during application execution (one high resolution channel that can measure 100nA to 100mA and one lower resolution channel that can measure 1mA to 1A), and streams such collected measurements to the Atmel Data Visualizer — available in the Atmel Studio 7 IDE — for real-time analysis and display. The program graphs power usage and utilizes this data to estimate application battery life. What’s more, the Data Visualizer allows developers to correlate power samples with the code that was executing when the sample was taken, greatly reducing the time required to identify “hot spots” in the developers’ application.

“Lowering overall power consumption is key to many customer designs and essential for battery-operated and wearable designs,” explains Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Software Development, Applications and Tools. “Atmel provides cost-effective, easy-to-use tools that make it possible for our developers to profile the power usage of applications running on their own hardware as part of the standard development cycle. The Power Debugger is part of Atmel’s pledge to bring the latest tools to market, enabling developers to quickly get their prototype to production with the lowest power consumption.”

The Power Debugger is now available on Atmel’s online store and and through a variety of distributors. Each kit consists of a main unit with plastic back-plate, two USB cables, a 10-lead squid cable, a flat cable (10-pin 50mil connector and 6-pin 100mil connector), an adapter board (20-pin 100mil connector, 6-pin 50mil connector and 10-pin 100mil connector) and a 20-pin 100mil jumper cable.