Tag Archives: ARM-based MCU

Only true engineers have Christmas trees like this


♫ Have yourself an engineery little Christmas… ♫


Although some Makers enjoy dressing their Christmas trees with beeps and blinks, others go the extra mile to deck theirs out with Arduino-based controls and wireless connectivity. Well, the Atmel applications team in Norway decided to take it to an entirely whole new level last year. Rather than merely embellish the decorative piece with traditional ornaments, lights and ribbon, the Trondheim engineers built a tree made of actual microcontrollers. And that’s not all, it’s powered by a pair of Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Xplained Pro eval kits. For an extra “tree-t,” the group even added a plexi LED star on top!

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Certified safety software libraries now available for Atmel | SMART MCUs


Atmel is collaborating with HiTex and Pervasive Displays to release software libraries including the IEC 60730 Class B safety standard and e-paper drivers.


Atmel has just unveiled additional ease-of-use capabilities for the ultra-low power Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCUs for household appliances, industrial and human interface device applications. In an effort to continue delivering rich features to its growing portfolio, Atmel is collaborating with HiTex and Pervasive Displays to release software libraries including the IEC 60730 Class B safety standard and e-paper drivers, respectively, to support Atmel | SMART MCUs.

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The Cortex-M0+ based family featuring a peripheral touch controller is currently designed into a wide variety of applications in tier 1 white goods manufacturer, and is ideal for a number of household appliances for touch-enabled button, wheel and slider capabilities. As a safety requirement for household appliances, the IEC 60730 safely standard—a requirement in Europe since 2007—was recently mandated in the US. Hitex has developed an IEC 60730 Class B library for Atmel | SMART MCUs. The library comes with excellent documentation, a formal certificate from VDE and can be downloaded from the Hitex website.

“Safety and time-to-market are two critical elements for appliance developers,” explains Andreas Eieland, Atmel Director of MCU Marketing. “The implementation of capacitive touch sensing for the user interface and MCUs in next-generation appliances, along with the availability of VDE certified Class B software libraries, allows manufacturers to get their products quickly to market with all the safely requirements.”

With power consumption being a primary driver for battery-powered retail and commercial markets, manufacturers are turning to e-paper for displaying pricing and information for their products. When paired with an ultra-low-power Atmel | SMART MCU and wireless transceiver, e-paper is the perfect interface for IoT apps running on coin cells or energy harvesting. To enable manufacturers to easily implement e-paper displays, Pervasive Displays has developed e-paper software drivers to support the Atmel | SMART SAM D and SAM L product families.

“Manufacturers of next generation battery-powered application are demanding lower power consumption and improved performance. E-paper addresses those needs with the lowest power display in the industry,” adds Charming Su, Pervasive Displays Technical Director. “With the combination of the Atmel | SMART MCUs and our free software drivers, e-paper manufacturers can be confident that their implementation is straight forward and power efficient. Our collaboration with Atmel enables manufacturers to deliver ultra-low power, next-generation e-paper displays.”

SOMNIUM’s DRT software tools now available in Atmel Studio 7


Build smaller, faster, cheaper and more energy efficient software for Atmel | SMART devices with the SOMNIUM DRT Atmel Studio Extension.


As the desire for the world to become more connected increases by the day, we see more and more devices connecting to each other and sensors being built into everything around us. The advent of the Internet of Things means that MCUs need to be smaller and more energy efficient than ever before, but at the same time these processors need to be smarter and cheaper, and from a developers perspective, need to be easy to program as well.

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Fortunately, the Atmel | SMART ARM-based family has been optimized for cost and power sensitive use cases, targeting applications such as the IoT, smart metering, industrial controls and domestic appliances, to name just a few. Moreover, the recently launched Atmel Studio 7 has introduced a new capability to measure energy consumption during development — a clear indication of the growing significance of this factor to developers in their embedded designs.

Easily measuring energy consumption during development is clearly important, but once you know your consumption what steps can you take if you need to reduce usage in your design? The MCU itself certainly contributes, and typically a smaller device will need lower power. As a result, many designers’ first strategy is keep the energy consumption low in their design is to reduce code size, thus allowing them to devise on a smaller MCU. This often requires a fair amount of manual code optimization, a time consuming and costly task.

What if there was a way for you to not only take advantage of the innovative Atmel | SMART MCU lineup and the added features of Atmel Studio 7, but also take your embedded software designs to the next level, further reducing your energy consumption, shrinking your code size without manual intervention and at the same time improving performance? Now there is, thanks to the SOMNIUM DRT Atmel Studio Extension.

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DRT supports all Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M based MCUs, and is the only product that offers improved code generation while maintaining full compatibility with industry-standard GNU tools. What’s more, the extension enhances Atmel Studio 7 by enabling superior quality C and C++ code generation, resulting in reduced flash requirement for applications, faster code execution and reduced power consumption. DRT installs as an alternate toolchain, seamlessly replacing the Atmel GNU tools, making SOMNIUM’s patented-resequencing optimizations available to Atmel Studio users without complex software rewriting and staff retraining.

Unlike traditional tools which only consider the ARM Cortex processor, DRT is aware of the coupling of the processor and its memory system, automatically applying a new series of device-specific optimizations. DRT analyzes the whole program, identifying all instruction and data sequences and the interactions between them. Knowledge of the Atmel SMART MCU’s memory system and ARM Cortex pipeline are used to intelligently resequence your program.

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“By adding the SOMNIUM DRT to Atmel’s software and tools ecosystem, our developers can take their projects to market with improved code generation,” explained Henrik Flodell, Atmel Senior Product Marketing Manager, Development Tools. “With access to high-quality tools, developers can optimize memory-constrained systems for performance along with power efficiency. SOMNIUM’s advanced technology brings additional value to our customers in these areas.”

Interested? A 21-day trial of the SOMNIUM DRT Atmel Studio Extension can be be downloaded free of charge from the Atmel Gallery. An annual license with full commercial support is also available from SOMNIUM for $750.

The SAM L22 is a Cortex-M0+ MCU with a segment LCD controller


The Atmel | SMART SAM L22 delivers down to 39uA/MHz running CoreMark and features a segment LCD controller, peripheral touch controller and tamper detection. 


Atmel has expanded its popular lineup of secure, ARM Cortex M0+-based MCUs with the new SAM L22 series. The Atmel | SMART SAM L family is the highest scoring product family in the EEMBC ULPBench and offers an ultra-low power capacitive touch with a segment LCD controller that can deliver up to 320 segments, making the devices ideal for low-power applications such as thermostats, electric/gas/water meters, home control, medical and access systems.

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The Internet of Things is driving connectivity in various battery-powered devices making security and ultra-low power critical features in these devices. With this in mind, the SAM L22 series boasts 256-bit AES encryption, cyclic redundancy check (CRC), a true random number generator, Flash protection and tamper detection to ensure information is securely stored, delivered and accessible. To get the lowest possible power consumption, the devices use Atmel’s proprietary picoPower technologies and smart low-power peripherals that work independently of the CPU in sleep modes. The latest MCU can run down to 39µA/MHz in active mode, consuming only 490nA with RTC in backup-mode.

“As more devices in the consumer, industrial and home automation segments are becoming smarter and connected, these devices require a number of unique features including ultra-low power, security, touch capability with an LCD — all features that are currently provided in the SAM L22,” explained Oyvind Strom, Atmel Senior Director of MCUs. “Atmel is already engaged with a number of alpha customers developing metering, thermostat and industrial automation solutions based on the new Atmel | SMART SAM L22 series.”

In addition to segment LCD supporting up to eight communication lines, capacitive touch sensing and built-in security measures, the SAM L22 includes up to 256KB of Flash and 32KB of SRAM, crystal-less USB device, programmable Serial Communication modules (SERCOM) and Atmel’s patented Event System and Sleepwalking technologies.

Those wishing to accelerate their designs will be happy to learn that the new SAM L22 Atmel Xplained Pro is now available. This professional evaluation board with an on-board debugger and standardized extension connectors is also fully supported by Atmel Studio. While the Atmel SAM L22 series is currently sampling, production release is slated for December 2015.

The world’s highest-performing Cortex-M7 MCUs are now shipping


Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs deliver 50% more performance than the closest competitor.


Back in January, we unveiled the brand new Atmel | SMART SAM S70 and E70 families. And if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on the new ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, you’re in luck. That’s because both are now shipping in mass production.

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With 50% higher performance than the closest competitor, larger configurable SRAM, more embedded Flash and high-bandwidth peripherals, these devices offer the ideal mix of connectivity, memory and performance. The SAM S70 and E70 series allow users to scale-up performance and deliver SRAM and system functionality, all while keeping the Cortex-M processor family ease-of-use and maximizing software reuse.

“As a lead partner for the ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, we are excited to ship volume units of our SAM E70 and S70 MCUs to worldwide customers,” explains Jacko Wilbrink, Atmel Senior Marketing Director. “Our SAM E70 and SAM S70 series deliver a robust memory and connectivity feature set, along with extensive software and third party support, enabling next-generation industrial, consumer and IoT designers the ability to differentiate their applications in a demanding market. We are working with hundreds of customers worldwide on a variety of applications using the new ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs and look forward to mass adoption of these devices.”

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These boards pack more than four times the performance of current Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M based MCUs. Running at speeds up to 300 MHz and embedding larger configurable SRAM up to 384 KB and higher bandwidth peripherals, the new series offer designers the right connectivity, SRAM and peripheral mix for industrial and connectivity designs. Additionally, the SAM S70 and E70 boast advanced memory architectures with up to 384KB of multi-port SRAM memory out of which 256KB can be configured as tightly coupled memory delivering zero wait state access at 300MHz. All devices come with high-speed USB Host and Device with on-chip high-speed USB PHY and Flash memory densities of 512kB, 1MB and 2MB.

What’s more, the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs are supported by ARM ecosystem partners on development tools and real-time operating system (RTOS) board support packages (BSPs) accelerating time-to-market. Software development tools are available on Atmel Studio, the ARM Keil MDK-ARM and IAR Embedded Workbench. Operating system support include Express Logic ThreadX, FreeRTOS, Keil RTX, NuttX and Segger embOS. A comprehensive set of peripheral driver examples and open source middleware is also provided in Atmel’s Software Package.

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“Atmel has developed a global network of ecosystem partners that deliver hardware and software solutions for the Atmel SMART Cortex-M7 MCU,” adds Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Software Applications, Tools and Development. “Atmel’s robust, easy-to-use development platform along with our partners’ advanced development platforms offer developers the opportunity to use the best tools and services to bring their designs quickly to market. Atmel continues to expand our partner program to bring the best tools and solutions to our customers.”

Interested? Production quantities of both the SAM E70 and S70 are now available. In order to help accelerate design and to support these devices, an Atmel Xplained development kit is shipping today as well. Pricing for the SAM S70 starts at $5.34 in 64-pin LQFP package and 512KB on-chip flash for 10k-piece quantities while the Atmel Xplained board will run you $136.25. Meanwhile, be sure to read up on the new MCU families here.

MYLE TAP is the world’s first wearable thought catcher


This touch-activated, voice-powered wearable automatically converts your thoughts into actions.


Did you know that the average person generates over 70,000 thoughts each day? Many of which are forgotten. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: a great idea pops into your head while in the shower, in the car or out for a jog, only to find that by the time you grab a pen and paper, that million dollar concept or simple to-do is out of mind. What if there was a device that could easily capture that thought in a matter of seconds and then automatically convert it into action?

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That’s the idea behind the latest innovation from one Calgary-based startup who has devised what they’re calling the “first wearable thought catcher.” As its slogan would imply, the MYLE TAP is a super stylish, touch-activated wearable voice recorder that instantly registers and analyzes spoken words, then sends them to one of many commonly used mobile apps. This can be everything from writing a Facebook message to a friend to jotting down an appointment in the calendar while driving or sharing a memo to a colleague in Evernote.

In addition to dozens of integrated program already available, MYLE TAP also features several applications of its own, including those that can help keep tabs on groceries, manage personal budgets, count calories and even control IoT systems. What’s more, it understands 42 languages.

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Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM4S MCU, the super compact and lightweight gadget is equipped with an accelerometer, a Bluetooth Low Energy module, a few LEDs and a built-in battery capable of running up to a week on a single charge. MYLE TAP boasts some impressive memory as well, with a storage capacity of up to 2,000 voice notes.

As for its software, the MYLE TAP is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, along with countless apps already installed on a majority of today’s smartphone and tablets. Beyond that, the startup’s SDK/API enables users to develop their own programs.

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So whether you’re a businessman, a stay-at-home mom, a fitness buff or a marketing guru with a constant stream of ideas, this wearable thought catcher may be for you. If so, head over to MYLE TAP’s Indiegogo campaign where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin later this year.

SAM L family now the world’s lowest power ARM Cortex-M based solution


Consuming one-third the power of existing solutions, Atmel | SMART SAM L achieves 185 EEMBC ULPBench score.


System design used to be an exercise in optimizing speed. That has since changed. Nowadays, embedded systems pack plenty of performance to handle a number of task, leading the challenge for designers to shift to completing those tasks using as little energy as possible — but not necessarily making it as fast as possible. As you can imagine, this has created quite the competitive environment on the processor battlefield amongst vendors, each seeking to attain the lowest power solution on the market.

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“The surge in popularity of battery-powered electronics has made battery life a primary system-design consideration. In extreme cases, the desire is not to run off of a battery at all, but to harvest energy from local sources to run a system — which requires the utmost power frugality,” writes Andreas Eieland, Atmel Director of Product Marketing. “In addition, there’s a growing family of devices like smoke detectors, door locks, and industrial sensors (4-20 mA and 10-50 mA) that can draw power through their inputs, and that power is limited.”

These sort of trends point to the significance of reducing the power requirements of electronic systems. However, the varying technologies that provide the necessary performance make power reduction harder. Fortunately, Atmel has been focusing on low power consumption for more than 10 years across its portfolio of AVR and Atmel ǀ SMART ARM-based processors. Many integrated peripherals and design techniques are used to minimize power consumption in real-world applications, such as integrated hardware DMA and event system to offload the CPU in active and standby modes, switching off or reducing clock or supply on device portions not in use, intelligent SleepWalking peripherals enabling CPU to remain in deep sleep longer, fast wake-up from low power modes, low voltage operation with full functionality, as well as careful balancing of high performance and low leakage transistors in the MCU design.

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With picoPower technology found in AVR and Atmel ǀ SMART MCUs, Atmel has taken it a step further. Indeed, all picoPower devices are designed from the ground up for lowest possible power consumption from transistor design and process geometry, sleep modes, flexible clocking options, to intelligent peripherals. Atmel picoPower devices can operate down to 1.62V while still maintaining all functionality, including analog functions. They have short wake-up times, with multiple wake-up sources from even the deepest sleep modes. Some elements of picoPower technology cannot be directly manipulated by the user, but they form a solid base that enables ultra-low power application development without compromising functionality. Meanwhile, flexible and powerful features and peripherals lets users apply an assortment of techniques to reduce a system’s total power consumption even further.

Then, there’s the Atmel | SMART SAM L21 microcontroller, which has broken all ultra-low power performance barriers to date. These Cortex-M0+-based MCUs can maintain system functionality, all while consuming just one-third the power of comparable products on the market today. This device delivers ultra-low power running down to 35µA/MHz in active mode, consuming less than 900nA with full 32kB RAM retention. With rapid wake-up times, Event System, Sleepwalking and the innovative picoPower peripherals, the SAM L21 is ideal for handheld and battery-operated devices for a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The ultra-low power SAM L family not only broadens the Atmel | SMART portfolio, but extends battery life from years to decades, reducing the number of times batteries need to be changed in devices such as fire alarms, healthcare, medical, wearable, and equipment placed in rural, agriculture, offshore and other remote areas. The SAM L21 combines ultra-low power with Flash and SRAM that are large enough to run both the application and wireless stacks — three features that are cornerstones of most IoT applications. Sampling now, the SAM L21 comes complete with a development platform including an Xplained Pro kit, code libraries and Atmel Studio support.

So how does the SAM L21 stack up against the others? Ahead of the pack, of course! As an alternative to so-called “bench marketing” of low power products, nearly ever large semiconductor company — and several smaller ones that focus on low power — have collaborated in a working group formed by the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC). The EEMBC ULPBench uses standardized test measurement hardware to strictly define a benchmark code for use by vendors, considering energy efficiency and running on 8-, 16- and 32-bit architectures. At the moment, the Atmel | SMART SAM L21 product boasts the highest ULPBench score of any microcontroller, regardless of CPU.

“In Atmel’s announcement last year for the company’s SAM L21 family, I had pointed out the amazingly low current consumption ratings for both the active and sleep mode operation of this product family – now I can confirm this opinion with concrete data derived from the EEMBC ULPBench,” explained Markus Levy, EEMBC President and Founder. “Atmel achieved the lowest power of any Cortex-M based processor and MCU in the world because of its patented ultra-low power picoPower technology. These ULPBench results are remarkable, demonstrating the company’s low-power expertise utilizing DC-DC conversion for voltage monitoring, as well as other innovative techniques.”

While running the EEMBC ULPBench, the SAM L21 achieves a staggering score of 185, the highest publicly-recorded score for any Cortex-M based processor or MCU in the world — and significantly higher than the 167 and 123 scores announced by other vendors. The SAM L21 family consumes less than 940nA with full 40kB SRAM retention, real-time clock and calendar and 200nA in the deepest sleep mode.

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In fact, a recent EE Times writeup delving deeper into competition even revealed, “TI surpassed its own earlier result by announcing the MSP-432 family based on the Cortex M4F. It achieved a ULPBench score of 167.4. While TI was briefing the media on this product, however, Atmel quietly published a ULPBench score of 185.8 for its SAM L21 MCU based on the Cortex M0+.”

Beyond the recently-unveiled ARM-based chip, it’s also important to note the 0.7V tinyAVR. A typical microcontroller requires at least 1.8V to operate, while the voltage of a single battery-cell typically ranges from 1.2V to 1.5V when fully charged, and then drops gradually below 1V during use, still holding a reasonable amount of charge. This means a regular MCU needs at least two battery cells. Whereas, Atmel has solved this problem by integrating a boost converter inside the ATtiny43U, converting a DC voltage to a higher level, and bridging the gap between minimum supply voltage of the MCU and the typical output voltages of a standard single cell battery. The boost converter provides the chip with a fixed supply voltage of 3.0V from a single battery cell even when the battery voltage drops down to 0.7V. This allows non-rechargeable batteries to be drained to the minimum, thereby extending the battery life. Programmable shut-off levels above the critical minimum voltage level avoid damaging the battery cell of rechargeable batteries.

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Interested in learning more? You can explore Atmel’s low power technology here, as well as download the new white paper entitled “Turn Power-Reducing Features into Low-Power Systems” here.