Tag Archives: ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCU

Video: Andreas Eieland talks Atmel | SMART SAM L21

Low power just got a whole heck of a lot lower.

During CES 2015, ARMdevices.net had the chance to catch up with Andreas Eieland, Atmel Senior Product Marketing Manager, to discuss the recently-revealed Atmel | SMART SAM L21.


The SAM L21 not only boasts the performance of an ARM Cortex-M0+ core, it also consumes just one-third the power of comparable products in the market today. The Atmel | SMART MCU 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 family is ideal for handheld and battery-operated devices for a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

In Eieland’s video below, the SAM L21 is powered from the heat of a hand through a Peltier Element. This is enough energy to modulate a music file and transmit it with AM modulation at 1MHz to the nearby radio receiver. This demo shows that the latest ARM Cortex-M0+ MCU is truly unique in supporting ultra-low power consumption in active mode without having to limit Flash or SRAM size.

(And, let us apologize ahead of time for the Rick Astley tune that’ll surely be stuck in your head. You’ll see what we mean around the 2:30 mark.)

Tektyte launches real-time circuit testers for USB and PoE-powered devices

Have you always wanted to diagnose your device while it was connected to a PC and transferring data? 

Thanks to the Melbourne-based team of Tektyte, you can. Their LogIT specialized circuit testers — which recently made their Kickstarter debut — provide a simple connection to the device being tested, while enabling data to pass through without interruption.


The idea for the LogIT came about after observing that in many cases a modern MCU-based system, like a phone or an Arduino, are powered by USB while connected to a PC that is also relaying information. To rectify that issue, the LogIT devices are specifically designed to measure the low positive voltages of USB and Power over Ethernet (PoE) connected equipment with high accuracy. The time between individual measurement data samples, obtained inside the LogIT, can be measured at either standard or custom intervals ranging from a millisecond to hours.

The series of devices is comprised of two unique circuit measurement tools, both displaying accurate readings of voltage, current, and power while also simultaneously logging all measurement data to a MicroSD card and/or PC. At the heart of the LogIT is a 32-bit Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller, which consumes tiny amounts of power while still managing to synchronize numerous simultaneous interactions between peripherals such as the SD card, display, serial data port, and sensing system. At the moment, the team has embedded a SAM D20 in the USB version, with plans of implementing the SAM D21 for DMA firmware features.

“Using a gutsy little processor has enabled the LogIT to support the writing of standard CSV formatted data to SD card with files sizes only limited by the SD card capacity. If you wish to log over 2GB of power, voltage, and current data in a single recording, potentially stretching for weeks, then a LogIT will help you achieve this.”


“We have worked diligently to create a device which not only connects to a PC, but can also be operated as a standalone logger with a battery life of up to a week for fast recording rates and continuous measurement display. This is achieved by incorporating a large lithium polymer battery and one of the latest high speed/low power display technologies called Memory LCD,” a company rep explains.

Equipped with a 96 x 96 pixel dot-matrix display, the LogIT allows for the measurements to be represented in both numerical and graphical format simultaneously. Meanwhile, each device is packed with a real-time clock, ensuring that all the collected data is accurately time stamped. The time can be synchronized to the connected PC, or manually set. According to the team, both devices sport a number of additional features including:

  • Full isolation between the measurement ports and the test data USB/Serial ports
  • An open protocol for serial data streaming in both event and continuous modes
  • Screw terminals so that you can wire the LogIT directly into a circuit and test a wider range of voltages
  • Visual and audible buzzer alarm capabilities for indication of events set as thresholds by the user for current, voltage, or power
  • A low voltage serial port connector for direct connection to a DIY embedded devices such as an Arduino or Raspberry Pi


Additionally, users can download its free desktop application, which is coded in Java so that both Mac and PC users can connect, graph, and download data from the LogIT devices. Interested in learning more? Head on over to the project’s official Kickstarter page here, where the team has already exceeded its initial $7,500 pledge goal.

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.

Atmel expands QTouch Safety Platform for home appliance user interfaces

Just in time for Electronica 2014, we’re excited to announce our new QTouch Safety Platform for capacitive touch-enabled user interfaces in the home appliance market. Not only does the new platform add mandatory safety, it also supports Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCUs for safety critical home electronics applications.


The most recent QTouch capacitive touch platform is based on the Atmel | SMART SAM D20 integrating an on-chip peripheral touch controller (PTC) to deliver excellent EMC robustness, short response times and combines self- and mutual capacitance sensors for up to 256 channels. Today, the QTouch platform is already widely adopted by some of the world’s leading manufacturers.

When it comes to next-gen home appliances, designers are not only facing stringent certification requirements for safety and EMC robustness, but are seeking a platform that supports all the applicable safety standards required to pass end product qualification with minimal design time. Fortunately, Atmel’s QTouch Safety Platform is pre-qualified for the VDE/UL 60730 Class B and UL 1998 certifications, reducing a designer’s overall development time by as much as 12 months.

What this means is that household appliance designers can now harness their energy on more innovative, easy-to-use interfaces that support capacitive touch buttons, sliders and wheels on an Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex M0+-based MCU, rather than focusing on safety certification features. The SAM D20 ARM-based Cortex M0+-based MCU is the first device to support the QTouch safety library, with support for future home appliance devices to be added as they become available.

In the meantime, designers can go ahead and download the QTouch Safety Library Firmware, FMEA library and QTouch Composer Development Software on an Atmel ARM Cortex M0+-based MCU. The QTouch Safety Library ensures excellent noise tolerance through dynamic hardware and firmware noise filtering through the IEC 61000-4-6 10V conducted immunity with minimal design effort. Additionally, QTouch Safety Platform provides FMEA support and moisture tolerance.

“With the increased regulations in Europe and the US for safer home appliance products, designers are looking for pre-qualified solutions that accelerate this part of the development cycle,” said Geir Kjosavik, Atmel Director of QTouch Product Marketing. “Atmel’s latest QTouch Safety Platform gives designers the pre-qualified features for their home appliances while enabling them to differentiate their products with capacitive touch interfaces in the form of buttons, wheels or sliders. We are excited to help bring more safety critical home appliances to market and are continuing to broaden our portfolio of devices to support the home appliance market.”

To help accelerate a designer’s development, the QTouch Safety Platform offers easy-to-use software and hardware tools, each of which are available free of charge in the Atmel Gallery. Wait, there’s more good news! The SAM D20 — offered in 16KB to 256KB of Flash in 32-, 48- and 64-pin packages — is now shipping in volume.

Furthermore, the SAM D20 QTouch robustness demo — which provides an evaluation and demo highlighting the superior performance Atmel’s QTouch Safety Platform — is available in the Atmel Store for USD $149. The kit comes pre-loaded with a pre-qualified 60730 Class B software that can be easily re-programmed and debugged using the embedded debugger, not to mention passes all standard home appliance EMC tests.

In addition to the SAM D20 QTouch robustness demo, the QTouch Safety Platform can be explored using the Xplained Pro evaluation platform. The SAM D20 Xplained Pro evaluation board is available for USD $39, while the QT1 Xplained Pro adding QTouch support is available for USD $25. Both of these kits are also available in the Atmel Store.

Heading to Munich for Electronica 2014? Stop by Atmel booth — located in Hall A5, #542 — to discover how we’re bringing more intelligent, connected devices together. In the Atmel SMART HOME ZONE, you will have the chance to experience a live demonstration of the QTouch Safety Library with SAM D20, displaying the superior capacitive touch performance of the peripheral touch controller while achieving best-in-class noise immunity and moisture tolerance required in home appliances.

An intelligent remote control with Atmel’s SAM D20 under the hood

An intelligent remote control is typically paired with electronic devices capable of processing infrared (IR) or WiFi signals. 

Powered by batteries, remote control units demand low sipping capabilities, both when activated and during idle time. Additional design considerations include flexible and multi-function user interfaces (UI), as well as responsive touch-screens.

“Integrating interfaces, functions and firmware helps to minimize the BOM of an intelligent remote, while reducing size and cost,” Atmel engineering manager Bob Martin told Bits & Pieces.


“This can be accomplished by using Atmel’s SAM D20 ARM Cortex-M0+ based MCU, along with our 86RF232 802.15.4 Radio, 30TS Temperature Sensor and AT24/AT25 Serial EEPROM.”

According to Martin, the SAM D20 offers low power operation with flexible, multi-function peripherals in a small form factor.

“Low power operation means less than 150µA/MHz in active state and full operation from 1.6V to 3.6V. It also means <2uA with the Real Time Clock (RTC) operating and full RAM retention. Plus, Atmel’s Sleepwalking and Event System capabilities provide low-power wakeup with minimal CPU load,” he said.

“In addition, the Atmel platform offers multi-function peripherals for diverse and complex serial interfaces, including 6 flexible SERCOM interfaces – with each configurable as SPI, I2C, or USART for gyroscopes, accelerometers, temp sensors, displays, Wi-Fi and 802.15.4 RF communications.”

Martin noted that Atmel’s intelligent remote control platform offers 16 channel 12 bit ADC, 10 bit DAC and full-featured comparators, along with a fully integrated, low-power, hardware-accelerated Peripheral Touch Controller. It also supports direct connection to touch interfaces, magnetometers and battery monitoring.

On the software side, Atmel’s SAM D20 supports an extensive development ecosystem with access to Atmel Studio 6 (free IDE and compiler), Atmel Software Framework (ASF) with free SW libraries of production-ready source code, along with Atmel’s Gallery, SAM D20 Xplained Pro Kit with built-in programmer and debugger (includes connectors for expansion wings).

Additional information about Atmel’s SAMD20 can be found here.