Tag Archives: Battery (electricity)

Building a remote process control node with Atmel’s SAM4L MCU

A remote process control node is an electronic device that monitors and controls manufacturing in factories, refineries and other industrial environments. Such nodes can either be linked to wired or wireless networks to communicate with a system controller.

Remote process control nodes typically require low active and standby power consumption, as many nodes are battery powered or have significant power restrictions. Plus, nodes are often in remote, inaccessible or physically dangerous locations, making changing batteries somewhat of a complex task.

Similarly, safe and predictable operation is a must, as is the need to detect and respond to alarms with the lowest latency possible. The same is true for secured communication and update capabilities, along with preventing commands and data from being overridden or altered by nefarious hackers.


Atmel’s versatile SAM4L (ARM) Cortex-M4 based MCU (microcontroller) lineup, paired with an ATZigBit RF module (or AT86RF231/232/233 RF transceiver), ATZigBit RF module and an AT30 EEPROM/temperature sensor, can be used to build a safe, secure and reliable remote process control node that more than fulfills the above-mentioned requirements.

“Atmel’s SAM4L offers low active and standby power consumption, safe and predictable operation, and secured communication and update to address the needs of a remote process control node,” an Atmel engineer told us.

“The SAM4L is fully functional down to 1.68V. In active mode, the total power consumption is as low as 90uA/MHz. In backup mode with RTC running, the current consumption is as low as 0.7uA. And last, but certainly not least, the DMA controller, event system and intelligent peripherals with SleepWalking dramatically reduce CPU activity and power consumption.”

It should also be noted that Atmel’s event system has a guaranteed response time, allowing the system to safely detect and respond to alarm conditions. An embedded AES/DES encryption engine ensures secure high data rate communications without waking the CPU, while a hardware-based random number generator (TRNG) facilitates truly secure node identification, along with firmware updates to help prevent hacking.

On the software side, engineers will have easy access to the SAM4L-EK full-featured kit and SAM4S software package for fast development and code evaluation. In addition, Atmel’s Studio 6 & Atmel Software Framework (ASF) supports all Atmel 8-bit and 32-bit MCUs. There is also a free IDE (integrated development environment) with compiler, free software libraries of production-ready source code and Common APIs for project portability.

Additional information about Atmel’s SAM4L MCU lineup can be found here.

Atmel’s SAM4L can power this smart glucose meter

Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar due to insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas – or because cells do not properly respond to the insulin that is produced.

Specifically, Type 1 diabetes is attributed to the body’s failure to produce insulin and requires an individual to either inject insulin or wear a pump which automatically drips an appropriate amount of the peptide hormone into the bloodstream.

For those who choose to inject themselves with insulin, a smart glucose meter is obviously critical. Indeed, this portable medical device is tasked with measuring, displaying and recording the concentration of glucose in the blood. Clearly, the battery-powered monitor demands dependable silicon under the hood to ensure extended battery life along with a high level of accuracy to prevent reading or operator errors.


Atmel’s SAM4L microcontroller (MCU) fits the bill with its ultra low power consumption, versatile integration capabilities and multiple connectivity options. Related components include the AT86RF231/232/233 RF Transceiver, ATZigBit RF Module and ATSHA204 Authentication IC with EEPROM.

“Atmel’s SAM4L offers low power operation to extend battery life, with our PicoPower Technology achieving dynamic mode down to 90uA/MHz and static backup mode with RTC down to 0.7uA with fast wakeup (<1.5ms),” an Atmel engineer explained.

“Meanwhile, the Event System and SleepWalking features frees the CPU up from peripheral operations, resulting in lower system power consumption, as our embedded Segment LCD Controller updates/refreshes displays with minimal CPU and power impact.”

The SAM4L is also integrated with full-speed USB (host & device) and transceiver (removing external crystal and PHY), up to 160 segment LCD controller, high precision analog and an internal temperature sensor. On the software side, Atmel offers free software libraries of production-ready source code for USB, ZigBee and Proprietary Low Footprint 802.15.4 Mesh.

Additional information about Atmel’s versatile SAM4L is available here.