Tag Archives: integrated development platform

Atmel and IoT and Crypto, oh my!

One of the companies that is best positioned to supply components into the Internet of Things (IoT) market is Atmel. For the time being most designs will be done using standard components, not doing massive integration on an SoC targeted at a specific market. The biggest issue in the early stage of market development will be working out what the customer wants and so the big premium will be on getting to market early and iterating fast, not premature cost optimization for a market that might not be big enough to support the design/NRE of a custom design.

Latest product in Atmel's SmartConnect family, the SAM W25 module

Here is Atmel’s latest product in the SmartConnect family, the SAM W25 module

Atmel has microcontrollers, literally over 500 different flavors and in two families, the AVR family and a broad selection of ARM microcontrollers ad processors. They have wireless connectivity. They have strong solutions in security.

Indeed last week at Electronica in Germany they announced the latest product in the SmartConnect family, the SAM W25 module. It is the industry’s first fully-integrated FCC-certified Wi-Fi module with a standalone MCU and hardware security from a single source. The module is tiny, not much larger than a penny. The module includes Atmel’s recently-announced 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi WINC1500, along with an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 ARM Cortex M0+-based MCU and Atmel’s ATECC108A optimized CryptoAuthentication engine with ultra-secure hardware-based key storage for secure connectivity.

Atmel at Electronica 2014

Atmel at Electronica 2014

That last item is a key component for many IoT designs. Security is going to be a big thing and with so many well-publicized breaches of software security, the algorithms, and particularly the keys, are moving quickly into hardware. That component, the ATECC108A, provides state-of-the-art hardware security including a full turnkey Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) engine using key sizes of 256 or 283 bits – appropriate for modern security environments without the long computation delay typical of software solutions. Access to the device is through a standard I²C Interface at speeds up to 1Mb/sec. It is compatible with standard Serial EEPROM I²C Interface specifications. Compared to software, the device is:

  • Higher performance (faster encryption)
  • Lower power
  • Much harder to compromise

Atmel has a new white paper out, Integrating the Internet of Things, Necessary Building Blocks for Broad Market Adoption. Depending on whose numbers you believe, there will be 50 billion IoT edge devices connected by 2020.

Edge nodes are becoming integrated into everyone’s life

As it says in the white paper:

On first inspection, the requirements of an IoT edge device appear to be much the same as any other microcontroller (MCU) based development project. You have one or more sensors that are read by an MCU, the data may then be processed locally prior to sending it off to another application or causing another event to occur such as turning on a motor. However, there are decisions to be made regarding how to communicate with these other applications. Wired, wireless, and power line communication (PLC) are the usual options. But, then you have to consider that many IoT devices are going to be battery powered, which means that their power consumption needs to be kept as low as possible to prolong battery life. The complexities deepen when you consider the security implications of a connected device as well. And that’s not just security of data being transferred, but also ensuring your device can’t be cloned and that it does not allow unauthorized applications to run on it.
IoT Design Requirements - Software / Development Tools Ecosystem

IoT design requirements: Software / development tools ecosystem

For almost any application, the building blocks for an IoT edge node are the same:

  • Embedded processing
  • Sensors
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • And while not really a “building block,” ultra-low power for always-on applications

My view is that the biggest of these issues will be security. After all, even though Atmel has hundreds of different microcontrollers and microprocessors, there are plenty of other suppliers. Same goes for connectivity solutions. But strong cryptographhic solutions implemented in hardware are much less common.

The new IoT white paper is available for download here.

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Paul McLellan is a featured blogger. It first appeared there on November 19, 2014.

Using Custom Toolchains in Your Embedded Designs

Are you interested in using custom toolchains in your embedded designs? Watch this new video to learn how to configure toolchain flavors inside the Atmel Studio integrated development platform. With this capability, you’ll be able to build existing projects with a custom toolchain that you’ve provided.

New Dev Kit for Creating and Sharing Embedded Design Extensions

It’s the life of an embedded design engineer: design is becoming increasingly complex, while resources and budgets are as tight as ever. What’s more, design teams are often distributed across different locations, and the pressure to get to market remains constant. Good, easy-to-use software and tools can help, especially if they foster collaboration.

Do you create software, tools and other design resources that help engineers meet their challenges? Read this application note to learn about a new developer’s kit for creating and uploading extensions to the new Atmel Gallery online apps store, a part of the free Atmel Studio 6 integrated development platform for AVR and ARM processor-based microcontrollers. The Atmel Studio Extension Developer’s Kit (XDK) gives you resources to easily develop extensions that integrate with Atmel Studio and are available to design engineers on Atmel Gallery.

Embedded Tools Apps Store Inside IDE

Are you under increasing pressure to develop products with fewer engineering resources and shorter deadlines? The folks at Atmel just announced the Atmel Gallery integrated apps store as part of the newest version of the Atmel Studio 6 integrated development platform. With Atmel Gallery, you can access tools, such as compilers, peripheral configuration, code editing and embedded software, right from the Studio 6 environment. These tools come from Atmel and third parties. Also, Studio 6 now includes Atmel Spaces, a workspace for development of open-source, collaboratively developed projects. Studio 6 is one example of how the embedded development platform continues to evolve to address some pressing challenges that embedded design engineers are facing today.

Here’s an interesting article from EE Times about how development environments are changing.  

Learn more about Atmel Gallery and Atmel Spaces.