Tag Archives: 8-bit AVR Microcontroller

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.

Securing the Internet of Streams

The evolution of IoT is now at a point that it will require a comprehensively redesigned approach to security threats in order to ensure its continuous growth and expansion.

The relentless flow of new product introductions keeps fueling the gargantuan estimates of billions of connected communicating computing devices which is projected to imminently make the Internet of Things ubiquitous within every facet of our lives. The IoT has been portrayed as the key enabler of a smarter world with compelling use cases that cut across a wide array of both personal and industrial ecosystems.

A great description is that the IoT is the global nervous system. This could be a pun, as IoT is increasingly producing troubling headlines. Stories abound, detailing security breaches that sound as if they were taken from a sci-fi movie, from hacked security cameras to a spamming refrigerator.


Figure 1 (Source: re-workblog.tumblr.com)

The explosive growth of the IoT coincides with an alarming increase in reported rates of identity theft and hacker attacks on everyday gadgets and appliances. Security researchers have easily established the feasibility of attacks against TVs, cars, security cameras, and medical equipment. There is much more than stolen money on the line if these types of attacks are carried out. The evidence demonstrates that existing security mechanisms are insufficient or ill-suited to address the risks inherent with the ubiquitous deployment of the IoT.

The need for a new original approach

The traditional approach to security, applied to both consumer and business domains, is one of separation – preventing those who are considered bad actors from accessing devices and networks. However, the dynamic topology of the network environments in which IoT applications are deployed largely invalidates the separation approach, making it both impractical and overly rigid. For example, with BYOD (bring-your-own-device), enterprises struggle to apply traditional security schemes to devices that may have been compromised while outside the perimeter firewall.

Many IoT devices self-configure and run autonomously. User interaction is limited to the devices’ operations, and there are no means to change security parameters. These devices rely on the manufacturer to implement security, both in the hardware and the software.

Moreover, manufacturers have to consider the broader ecosystem, not just their own products. For example, recent research has revealed inherent security flaws in USB memory stick controller hardware and firmware. Users must be concerned not only about the safety of the data on the memory stick, but if the memory stick controller itself has somehow been compromised.

To thwart similar issues, IoT device vendors are rushing to upgrade their product portfolios to low-power, high-performance microcontrollers that include firmware upgrade and data encryption mechanisms.

Atmel's IoT Layered Security Solutions

Figure 2 (Source: Atmel’s White Paper: Integrating the Internet of Things)

In the hyper-connected world of IoT, security breaches will gravitate towards the weakest link in the chain. It will become very hard to maintain the confidence that any particular device, user, application or service maintains its integrity; instead, the assumption will be that things will occasionally break for a variety of reasons, over which there is little control and no method for fixing. As a result, IoT will force the adoption of new concepts for the establishment of trust.

A smarter network combined

In the loosely coupled world of IoT, security issues are driving a need for greater collaboration among the vendors participating in the ecosystem, recognizing their respective core competencies. Hardware vendors make devices smarter. Software developers make applications and services smarter. The connective tissue, the global Internet with its myriad of communication transports and protocols, is tasked with carrying the data that powers IoT. This begs the question – can the network be made an enabler of IoT security by becoming smarter in its own right?

Context is essential for identifying and handling security threats and is best understood at the application level, where the intent of information is processed. This points towards a higher-level communication framework for IoT – the Internet of Data Streams. This framework enables apps and services to view things as consumers and producers of data. It allows for descriptive representations of devices’ operational status and real-time detection of their presence or absence.

Elevating the functional value of the Internet, from a medium of communication to a network of data streams for IoT, would be highly beneficial to ease collaboration among the IoT ecosystem participants. The smarter network can provide apps and services with the ability to implement logic that detects things that break or misbehave, flagging them as suspect while ensuring graceful and consistent operation using the redundant resources.


For example, a smarter network can detect that a connected sensor stopped functioning (e.g. due to a denial of power attack, possibly triggered through some obscure security loophole) and allow the apps that depend on the sensor to provide uninterrupted service to users. Additionally, a network of data streams can foster a global industry of security-as-a-service solutions, which can, as an example, send real-time security alerts to app administrators and device manufacturers.

The evolution of IoT is now at a point that it will require a comprehensively redesigned approach to security threats in order to ensure its continuous growth and expansion. Addressing the surfaced issues from an ecosystem standpoint calls for apps, services and “things” to explicitly handle communication via a smarter data network, which has the promise of placing IoT in safer hands, courtesy of the Internet of Streams.

Atmel and IHR driving innovation in automotive electronics

Atmel has just announced a collaboration with IHR, a worldwide partner in the automotive industry, to further support the innovation of Local Interconnect Network (LIN) systems. This collaboration leverages IHR’s LIN configuration tools with Atmel’s industry-leading embedded solutions to improve application integration, time-to-market and to minimize licensing costs.


Atmel’s collaboration with IHR enables Atmel to provide manufacturers with a LIN-compliant evaluation environment to further streamline development, bringing the best of automotive engineering faster to market. IHR’s solutions support several Atmel technologies including the megaAVRtinyAVR and XMega AVR families.

For those interested, a free demo version of the LIN drivers is now available for download via the IHR website and can be used for evaluation purposes. Upcoming new product series will be supported by IHR solutions as well.

“With nearly 30 years of experience working with the automotive industry, Atmel has spurred the pervasive growth of electronic features in cars,” explained Giovanni Fontana, Atmel Automotive Applications Director. “Our collaboration with IHR will help our customers continue to build innovative electronic products in a cost-effective manner with improved integration and intuitive configuration capabilities.”

Atmel combines a unique blend of IVN products and embedded MCUs. AVR MCUs deliver the power, performance and flexibility to support a wide range of automotive applications. These small, yet powerful, advanced 8- and 32-bit AVR MCUs deliver the technical features, advanced architecture and dependable design ideal for an array of applications.

In what has become the industry’s largest, the Atmel LIN product portfolio includes stand-alone transceivers, system basis chips (SBC) which integrate a transceiver, a voltage regulator and often other functions as well as AVR MCU-based system-in-package (SiP) and application-specific (ASSP) devices.

“IHR is recognized for our proven LIN tools used by designers to create applications that automotive manufactures rely on as competitive differentiators,” said Rüdiger Kewitz, COO at IHR GmbH. “Together with Atmel, we offer a very compelling proposition for manufacturers to not only design next-generation embedded systems, but also to bring high-end applications to market through an amplitude of makes and models.”

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s LIN solutions? Additional information is available here. You can also browse through the Bits & Pieces archive on the topic.