Tag Archives: 32-bit MCU

Step up your Arduino game with the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout

The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is an Arduino-sized breakout board for the Atmel ATSAMD21G18.

If you’re ready to step your Arduino game up from 8-bit MCUs, the newly-unveiled SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is a great way to start. The Arduino-sized breakout for the Atmel | SMART ATSAMD21G18 — a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ processor with 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM and an operating speed of up to 48MHz — provides you with an Arduino hardware option that solves the problems of low storage limits and dynamic memory stack overflows that have plagued the previous iterations of the Arduino family. Even better, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is fully supported in the Arduino IDE and libraries for the Arduino Zero.


The SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout has been equipped with a USB interface for programming and power, surrounded with an RTC crystal, and a 600mA 3.3V regulator. By utilizing the Pro R3’s extra PCB real-estate, SparkFun has been able to leave room for a few extra GPIO pins and an integrated LiPo charger. To power this board, simply plug it into a USB port on your computer via its micro-B port.

Not near a USB port? Don’t fret, the SparkFun SAM D21 Dev Breakout is also equipped with a LiPo Battery connector and unpopluated supply input to solder on your own PTH Barrel Jack. If you’ve used any Arduino before, this pinout shouldn’t surprise you – the layout meets the Arduino 1.0 footprint standard, including a separate SPI header and additional I2C header.


One of the most unique features of the SAM D21 is SERCOM — a set of six configurable serial interfaces that can be turned into either a UART, I2C master, I2C slave, SPI master, or SPI slave. Each SERCOM provides for a lot of flexibility: the ports can be multiplexed, giving you a choice of which task each pin is assigned.

SparkFun has made a SAM D21 Mini/Dev Breakout Hookup Guide available online, which includes step by step instructions of how to connect your board as well as a few circuit examples to test out. Intrigued? Head over to its official page here to get yours!

Flip & click is like Arduino’s two-sided cousin

This board is too flippin’ cool! 

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: modularity is king when it comes to the Maker Movement. Dating back to the earliest days of Tinkertoys and LEGO, DIYers have always loved piecing things together to construct new projects. Fast forward several decades and this passion, when combined with modern-day smart technology, has transcended well beyond just plastic and wood to encompass more exciting, next-generational building blocks like littleBits, Modulo, Microduino and even Genuino’s Eslov.


And that’s not all. While walking the grounds of Maker Faire Rome, we had the pleasure of spotting Flip & click, which upon first glance appeared to be Arduino’s two-sided cousin. While it may share many of the same attributes as the popular, open source platform including the 32-bit AT91SAM3X8E core of a Due, the pinout of an Uno and the ability to be programmed in the Arduino IDE via microUSB, what really sets this new dev board from MikroElektronika apart is when you turn it over.


Sure, it has Arduino-compatible headers on top. But on the other side, you’ll find four open mikroBUS sockets for what the company calls “click boards.” Essentially, these are add-on modules that resemble Arduino shields, but shrunken down so that you can fit a few at the same time on the Flip & click without any trouble. With more than 160 to choose from, Makers can prototype their next gizmo or gadget effortlessly by simply adding new functionality — ranging from OLED displays to relays to sensors — to their dev boards. As to what you can create with Flip & click, MikroElectronika lists various examples like a sous-vide controller, a bad breath detector and a weather reporting device, but the possibilities are endless.


Intrigued? Flip & click will most likely begin selling for less than $40 sometime in November. Until then, you can click here to flip over to its page.

Talon is a smart ring for gaming

Talon is a smart ring that allows you to play games and control apps with simple gestures.

25 years ago, Nintendo unveiled the Power Glove. While the wearable accessory never lived up to its hype, one San Jose startup has developed something a bit less bulky and much more intuitive: a controller in the form of a smart ring.


No more than four millimeters thick, Titanium Falcon’s Talon is equipped with a 32-bit MCU at its core, a nine-axis motion sensor and connects to all smart devices over Bluetooth. When paired with a gaming console, computer, smart TV or mobile device, the wearable is able to convert a player’s finger gestures into actual commands. This can range from steering an invisible wheel for racing games, swinging an imaginary racquet for a Wii-like tennis match, or waving through a main menu in an application.

“Utilizing a real-time three-dimensional space, the Talon simply outperforms the on-screen two-dimensional controller and allows users to use quick and easy waves and gestures to control the application,” its creators explain.


Talon provides a hands-free user experience like no other, enabling wearers to play games from just about anywhere and on-the-go. What’s more, the ring is equipped with two action buttons (similar to the AB buttons found on more traditional consoles) that provide additional control options, such as jumping, firing and what not. Aside from using motion for input, the latest prototype boasts a battery life of around 12 hours before needing to be recharged.

While this may not be first so-called smart ring we’ve come across, it’s pretty awesome nevertheless. Not only is it sleek and stylish, its inner portion of is fitted with soft skin-feel silicone gels that makes for a comfortable yet snug fit. Once available, Talon will come in four different sizes (small, medium, large and extra large). Until then, head over to its Indiegogo page to learn more. Delivery is slated for June 2016.

SteadXP is a plug and play video stabilization device

SteadXP allows you to capture action shots without the bulk or hassle of a Steadicam or gimbal.

Unless you’re going for that “The Blair Witch Project” shaky cam look, keeping a camera steady has always been a chore for professional and leisure videographers alike. And while numerous ways to stabilize video have been introduced, they’re often too inaccessible for independent projects or the hobbyist. This is a problem that one French startup is hoping to solve with a drastically new approach.


Introducing SteadXP, a three-axis stabilization system housed in a small, affordable box. Not only does it offer a lightweight, easy-to-use package, the add-on is compatible with nearly every digital camera on the market, including your GoPro and DSLR.

By combining custom hardware with a unique software algorithm, SteadXP allows you to capture action shots without a Steadicam, gimbal or shoulder rig. Instead, the device’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope record the camera’s movements accurately as you shoot. When finished, SteadXP connects to your PC while its software stabilizes and reduces all of the unwanted jitters, movements and noise in the footage.


SteadXP will also let you choose between different trajectories optimized for your shot, and the results are looks from various angles. Beyond that, those seeking a particular rendering effect can take total control of framing with a complete set of semi-automatic features as well.

For its Kickstarter launch, SteadXP is available in two versions: one made specifically for GoPros, the other designed to fit on practically any other video camera. The former weighs just 34 grams, can be plugged directly into the expansion port of your GoPro camera and is powered by the host battery. Whereas the latter is a bit heavier (60 grams) and requires an accessible flash mount, a stereo microphone unit and a clean video output (AV out or HDMI). Nevertheless, both models share many of the same key components, including a powerful 32-bit ARM MCU, a three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, a microSD slot and USB port.


Looking ahead, the team hopes to release a mobile app that will enable users to complete their workflow with a quick preview solution that validates a shot on the spot, even if that means at a lower res. What’s more, SteadXP wants to become the first gadget to automatically keep horizon stable when filming immersive virtual reality footage. Adding this to its native rolling shutter correction technology means you’ll never get sick again watching VR videos!

Intrigued? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where the SteadXP team is currently seeking $167,715. Delivery is expected to begin in March 2016.

Fun facts: 30 years, 1 company, unlimited possibilities

Boy, where has the time gone? Today, December 5, 2014, marks an extremely special day for us here at Atmel — it is the day we turn 30 as a semiconductor company. Founded in 1984, Atmel began as a company focusing on non-volatile memories. At this time, Atmel’s founder George Perlegos made a breakthrough with the invention of electrically erasable programable read-only memory, or EEPROM.


After 30 years of innovation, Atmel has emerged as a leading solutions-based company delivering secure, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things. Guess you can say we’ve gotten ‘smarter’ with age! While the company’s influence can’t be underestimated when it comes to enabling Makers, designers and engineers alike, how much of its history do you actually know?

Here are a few interesting facts to get you up to speed on Atmel’s backstory!

Atmel = “Advanced Technology for Memory and Logic.”


Atmel changed headquarters and its logo in 2012. (Previous logo shown below.)


Atmel’s leadership in EEPROM and Flash was put to good use when it developed the first-ever Flash-based MCU in 1993, the AT89LP.


Atmel complemented the ARM7TDMI CPU with a unique set of system peripherals to create the world’s first ARM-based MCU.


Atmel’s SAM9 became the world’s first ARM9-based controllers.


The mXT768E was the industry’s first 32-bit single-chip controller for touchscreens up to 12-inches.


Atmel is also credited for creating the automotive industry’s first touchscreen controller supporting shieldless sensors and gloved operation.


The incredibly-popular AVR 8-bit architecture was introduced in 1997. By 2003, Atmel had already shipped over 500 million of the MCUs.


Atmel can be found at the heart of the the first Arduino prototype.


… And in the earliest MakerBot 3D printers.


… Oh, and some of the first DIY drones, too.


Atmel remains at the forefront of the Maker Movement, having been an avid participant in Maker Faires since their onset.


… Including an appearance at this year’s inaugural White House Maker Faire.


At the moment, there are over 160 Kickstarter projects built around Atmel AVR, not to mention its versatile Atmel | SMART ARM-based MCUs. Specifically, more than 60% have been successfully funded, garnering well over $7 million in pledges.


Atmel brought flexy back with the debut of its XSense touch sensors.


Atmel unveiled the first futuristic touch-centric curved automotive console back at CES 2014.


Oh. My. God. Becky, look… Atmel has even rap-battled with Sir Mix-A-Lot.


Atmel’s ATmega32U4 has transformed a number of ordinary objects into touch interfaces.


The ATtiny20 is so small that it can almost fit inside the ball of a ballpoint pen, or balance precariously on the tip of a matchstick.


Talk about driving the IoT! Earlier this year, Atmel packed its latest solutions onto a 40′ x 85′ mobile trailer and hit the open road. To date, the big rig has traveled over 55,000 miles with 10,000 visitors hopping onboard.

So, as we reminisce about our past, we can’t help but look ahead to the next 30 years! In celebration of this joyous occasion, we’re asking our fans, friends and loyal customers to share their favorite memories and show off their Atmel pride! Learn how to get started here!


Low power just got lower with the Atmel | SMART SAM L21

Well, low power just got lower. The Atmel team is excited to announce that it has reached a new low-power standard for its ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCUs with power consumption down to 40 µA/MHz in active mode and 200nA in sleep mode. In addition to ultra-low power, the new platform features full-speed USB host and device, Event System and Sleepwalking,12-bit analog, AES, capacitive touch sensing and much more.


With billions of devices predicted for the Internet of Things (IoT) market by 2020, there is a need for lower power MCUs that will power these applications without adding load to utility grids or requiring frequent battery changes. Atmel’s latest Atmel | SMART platform is designed specifically for these applications, expanding battery life from years to decades.

Consuming just one-third the power of comparable products in the market today, the new low-power SAM L21 family is the first on the new platform expanding the Atmel | SMART 32-bit ARM-based products using Atmel’s proprietary picoPower technology.

While running the EEMBC CoreMark benchmark, Atmel’s SAM L21 family delivers ultra-low power running down to 40µA/MHz in active mode, consuming less than 900nA with full 32kB RAM retention and real-time clock and calendar, and 200nA in the deepest sleep mode. With rapid wake-up times, Event System, Sleepwalking and the innovative picoPower peripherals, the SAM L21 ultra-low power family is ideal for handheld and battery-operated devices in a variety of markets including IoT, consumer, industrial and portable medical applications.

Architectural innovations in the new platform enables low-power peripherals including timers, serial communications and capacitive touch sensing to remain powered and running while the rest of the system is in a lower power mode, further reducing power consumption for many always-on applications.


The Atmel SAM L21 family has amazingly low current consumption ratings for both the active and sleep mode operation which will be a great benefit in targeting the growing battery-powered device market,” said Markus Levy, president and co-founder, EEMBC. “With billions of devices to be brought to market during the era of the Internet of Things, designers can utilize Atmel’s ultra-low power SAM L family to ensure an increased life in these battery-powered devices. To instantiate this power data from Atmel, I’m looking forward to seeing the results from this new platform running our newly established ULPBench, aimed at the ultra-low power microcontroller industry.”

“Atmel is committed to providing the industry’s lowest power technologies for the rapidly growing IoT market and beyond for battery-powered devices,” expained Reza Kazerounian, Atmel SVP and GM, MCU business unit. “Developers for IoT edge nodes are no longer just interested in expanding the life of a battery to one year, but are looking for technologies that will increase the life of a battery to a decade or longer. Doing just that, the new 32-bit MCU platform in the Atmel | SMART family integrating our proprietary picoPower technologies are the perfect MCUs for IoT edge nodes.”

Engineering samples of the SAM L21, along with development tools and datasheet will be available in February 2015. Meanwhile, the SAM L21 can be found all this week in Hall A5, Booth 542 at Electronica.

Video: Pat Sullivan talks ARM Cortex-M7 at ARM TechCon

As reported on Bits & Pieces, ARM recently unveiled a new 32-bit Cortex-M7 microcontroller (MCU) targeted at high-end, next-gen embedded applications.

After being named one of the early lead licensees of the processor, we announced a new family of Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, which are well positioned between our existing ARM Cortex-M-based MCUs and Cortex-A-based MPUs. The new devices will address high-growth markets including the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, as well as automotive and industrial applications that require both high performance and power efficiency.


During ARM TechCon 2014, Atmel’s Pat Sullivan had the chance to catch up with Dominic Pajak of ARM to discuss the company’s newly-introduced Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based processor.

“We are proud to be a lead partner in the Cortex-M7 product. We think it’s a great device and really like the performance of it. It actually sits really well between the M4 and A5/A7 portfolios, ” Sullivan told Pajak. “I see this as a really nice filler for us. It allows our customers working in both areas to have a bridge product and a really nice roadmap moving forward.”

As to which IoT segments the Atmel Cortex-M7 processors will be used, “We see it in mid-range wearable applications, as well as healthcare devices in that area,” Sullivan notes.

Shortly thereafter, Sullivan joined fellow industry heavyweights (ST Micro and Freescale) for a standing-room only panel on the microcontroller. During the session, Sullivan said he sees the Cortex-M7 also succeeding in networking and gateway arenas.

“We see it addressing a lot of the system integration, performance issues, and power issues that we have. We also see it working in networking, Internet of Things and smart energy. We think this particular core is well suited for the areas where we see the highest growth rate.”


“Consistent architecture with high-performance is one of the most important things we see in ARM Cortex-M7.” He later added, “Huge data is driving a connected home and it’s coming sooner than we think.”

Sullivan concluded, “We’re all going to be in a more connected world in the future, good and bad. We may not even recognize it.”


While sampling to select customers is currently underway, general availability of the Xplained kit is expected in early 2015. Stay tuned!