Tag Archives: 8-bit MCUs

IAR Embedded Workbench vastly improves performance for 8-bit AVR MCUs


Version 6.70 of the popular toolchain includes improved compiler optimizations. 


IAR Systems has released a new version of its complete C/C++ development toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR. Version 6.70 of the popular toolchain includes improved compiler optimizations as well as new device support and updates to the add-on tool C-STAT for static code analysis.

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“Embedded systems are growing in complexity and many applications are being migrated to 32-bit microcontrollers. Despite this, the 8-bit AVR microcontrollers are continuously being used in many applications for example within automotive, battery management and wireless solutions,” says Thomas Sporrong, IAR Systems Global FAE Manager. “IAR Systems has a large customer base of developers working with AVR and the company remains committed to supplying world-class tools for embedded developers across the entire range from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontrollers.”

IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR features world-leading code optimizations that create compact, fast-performing code. The optimization technology has been further improved in this version, particularly involving speed optimizations of floating-point data types. These improvements enable developers to gain even better performance in applications where optimal execution speed is critical. To achieve the best possible configuration for the application at hand, developers are able to tune the optimizations. With the possibility to set different optimizations for different parts of the code, the right balance between code size and code speed can be achieved.

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The previous version 6.60 of IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR introduced support for IAR Systems’ static analysis add-on product C-STAT. Completely integrated in the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE, C-STAT can perform numerous checks for compliance with rules as defined by the coding standards MISRA C:2004, MISRA C++:2008 and MISRA C:2012, as well as rules based on for example CWE (the Common Weakness Enumeration) and CERT C/C++. By using static analysis, developers can identify errors such as memory leaks, access violations, arithmetic errors, and array and string overruns at an early stage to ensure code quality and minimize the impact of errors on the finished product and on the project timeline. With the latest release come further updates to the C-STAT tool, including an added report generator and added pragmas for temporary disabling checks.

IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR is a complete set of powerful C/C++ development tools with extensive support for devices in all AVR families. IAR Systems’ high-performance development tools and world-class technical support are available across Atmel’s entire range of 8-bit and 32-bit microcontroller architectures.

Interested? Get started here.

Could the 8-bit MCU be experiencing a renaissance?

So, is the 8-bit MCU experiencing a renaissance? According to Electronics Weekly, it’s rather possible. A recent article notes that despite the rise of ARM architecture and widespread adoption of 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs), a number of suppliers like Atmel are “more committed to their 8-bit chips than ever before.”

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In fact, the publication points out that companies are now adding higher performance peripherals and extending development tools for their highly-popular 8-bit lineups.

“Atmel is another supplier which continues to invest in its range of megaAVR MCUs. Now in their third generation, the MCUs are attracting growing interest in hobbyist/professional crossover applications as a result of being designed into the Arduino low cost embedded computing platform.”

Since its initial launch in 2002, the megaAVR family has become the go-to choice of Makers and engineers alike. The MCUs, which include the stalwart ATmega328 to ATmega32U4, can be found at the heart of millions of gadgets and gizmos, including an entire lineup of Arduino boards, 3D printers such as RepRap and MakerBot, as well as a number of innovative DIY platforms.

“This family of 8-bit megaAVR MCUs has been highly recognized by a variety of communities from the professional designers using our Atmel Studio ecosystem to the hobbyist and Maker in the AVR Freaks and Arduino communities,” explained Oyvind Strom, Senior Director of Marketing for Atmel’s MCU Business Unit.

These MCUs run single-cycle instructions with performance of 1MIPS per MHz, while on-chip flash memory spans from 4KB to 16KB. These new devices provide next-gen enhancements including analog functionality and features for the latest low-power hungry consumer, industrial and IoT applications.

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As Electronics Weekly notes, the burgeoning Maker Movement combined with the low-cost embedded board phenomenon has created a new playground for 8-bit devices. This “new relevance” has never been more apparent than with Arduino’s adoption of AVR MCUs, which can be found in its wildly-popular Uno (ATmega328), Leonardo (ATmega32U4) and Mega (ATmega2560) to name just a few.

The primary attraction of 8-bit MCUs is not only affordable performance, but with 8, 14 and 20-pin packages, they also are affordable and easier to use than their 32-bit counterparts.

Development tools are also matching the increasing range of higher performance applications for these MCUs as well. Take Atmel’s Xplained Mini 8-bit development platform for instance, which not only costs less than $9 but are also designed with an optional Arduino header for expandability.

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The article goes on to reference IAR Systems, who recently updated its high-performance development tools for 8-bit MCUs. Just a few weeks back, IAR Systems and Atmel announced an extension of their ongoing partnership would include over 1,400 example projects in IAR Systems’ development tools to support Atmel’s entire portfolio. This allows designers using microcontrollers, like the 8-bit AVR, to leverage the Embedded Workbench C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain with new example projects to bring their products to market faster.

Interested in reading more? You can access the entire article here. Meanwhile, you can also browse through our extensive lineup of 8-bit microcontrollers here.

Introducing the next-generation of 8-bit megaAVR MCUs

Since its initial launch in 2002, megaAVR microcontrollers (MCUs) have become the go-to choice of Makers everywhere. Ranging from the uber-popular ATmega328 to ATmega32U4, the chips can be found at the heart of millions of gadgets and gizmos, including an entire lineup of Arduino boards, 3D printers like RepRap and MakerBot, and innovative DIY platforms such as littleBits, Bare Conductive and MaKey MaKey. Heck, they’ve even captured the hearts of celebrity creator Sir Mix-A-Lot!

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Designed for engineers of all levels from the professional developers to the Maker community, the 8-bit megaAVR MCUs are ideal for applications in a variety of markets — automotive, industrial, consumer and white goods.

Today, we are excited to announce the next generation of this incredibly-popular family, with the debut of new 8-bit megaAVR MCUs. Spanning from 4KB to 16KB Flash memory, the new devices provide next-generation enhancements including additional analog functionality and features for the latest low-power consumer, industrial, white goods and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

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This expansion of megaAVR family will deliver all the benefits of previous generations including a simple, easy-to-use interface for a seamless upgrade and binary compatibility with existing 8-bit megaAVR MCUs.

“With over 20 years of MCU experience, we are proud to launch our third generation of 8-bit megaAVR MCUs to the market today—a family that has been highly recognized by a variety of communities from the professional designers using our Atmel Studio ecosystem to the hobbyist and Maker in the AVR Freaks and Arduino communities,” explained Oyvind Strom, Atmel Senior Marketing Director. “As the leader in the 8-bit MCU market, Atmel continues to add easy-to-use, innovative products to our broad portfolio of MCUs.”

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Key features of megaAVR MCUs include:

  • Simple, easy-to-use
  • Low power
  • Wide selection of development tools including free Atmel Studio IDE
  • Extensive set of peripherals, including ADC, Analog Comparator, SPI, I2C and USART
  • Single-cycle instructions running 1MIPS per MHz
  • Designed for high-level languages with minimal code space
  • Real-time performance with single cycle I/O access

Among a number of other new attributes:

  • Unique ID for every device enabling a more secure device for IoT applications and wireless networks
  • Improved accuracy of internal oscillators for UART serial communications
  • Enhanced accuracy of internal voltage reference for better analog-to-digital conversion results

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Makers seeking to accelerate their design are encouraged to check out our ultra-low cost Xplained Mini development platform, which is currently available for only $8.88 USD (see what we did there?) in the Atmel Store and fully compatible with 8-bit megaAVR MCUs. The new boards can easily be connected to any Arduino board making it ideal for a variety of projects and prototypes using an Arduino board.

The megaAVR 8-bit MCUs are fully supported by Atmel’s development eco-system including Atmel Studio 6.2, the integrated development environment (IDE) for developing and debugging Atmel | SMART Cortex-M and Atmel AVR MCU-based applications. Atmel Studio 6.2 gives designers a seamless and easy-to-use environment to write, build, simulate, program and debug their applications to write, build, simulate, program and debug your applications written in C/C++ or assembly code using the integrated GCC compiler and AVR assembler. With Atmel’s broad portfolio of AVR products and easy-to-use development software, designers can quickly bring their 8-bit MCU to market. Additionally, designers have access to the company’s embedded software including the Atmel Software Framework and application notes, and the Atmel Gallery app store.

Currently on display at Electronica 2014, the Atmel mega168PB, mega88PB and mega48PB are now available in 32-pin QFN and QFP packages with additional devices slated for later this year. All devices are sampling now. Production quantities for the mega168PB devices are available now while the mega88PB and ATmega48PB devices will be available in February 2015.

Want to explore the AVR microcontrollers a bit further? Head on over to the official page. Those wishing to learn more about the backstory and inspiration of the Maker Movement’s favorite 8-bit MCU can do so from the co-inventor himself here.