Atmel recently expanded its wireless product portfolio with a new family of solutions targeting the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT).
Essentially, the new SmartConnect family combines Atmel’s ultra-low power MCUs with its wireless solutions and complementary software into a single package, allowing designers to easily add wireless connectivity to any embedded system. This new lineup includes Atmel’s SmartConnect Wi-Fi modules, an integration of the company’s ultra-low power Wi-Fi System-on-Chip with a Cortex M0+ ARM-based MCU, and the SmartConnect ZigBee SAM R21, a single-chip integrating Atmel’s ultra-low power ZigBee solution with a Cortex-M0+-based MCU.
Earlier this week, HackADay’s Eric Evenchick talked with Atmel reps about the new SmartConnect family. In his subsequent coverage, EvenChick wrote:
“SmartConnect moves beyond the point-to-point nature of WiFi Direct, and enables connections to standard access points. The SmartConnect series is designed for embedding in low cost devices that need to connect to a network… The first devices in the SmartConnect line will be modules based on two chips: an Atmel SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and an Ozmo 3000 WiFi System on Chip. There’s also an on-board antenna and RF shielding can. It’s a drop in WiFi module, which is certified by the FCC. You can hook up your microcontroller to this device over SPI, and have a fully certified design that supports WiFi.”
As Evenchick notes, there are two ways to use the module.
“The first is as an add-on, which is similar to existing modules. A host microcontroller communicates with the module over SPI and utilizes its command set. The second method uses the module as a standalone device, with application code running on the internal SAMD21 microcontroller,” he explained.
“Atmel has said that the standalone option will only be available on a case to case basis, but we’re hoping this opens up to everyone. If the Arduino toolchain could target this microcontroller, it could be a great development platform for cheap WiFi devices.”
Evenchick also pointed out that there are some notable differences between Atmel’s WiFi module and other platforms on the market.
“One major feature is the built in support for TLS and HTTPS, which makes it easier to build devices with secure connections. This is critical when deploying devices that are connected over the Internet. [Plus], Atmel [announced] improvements in power management as well,” he continued.
“The module can run straight from a battery at 1.8 V to 3.3 V without external regulation, and has a deep sleep current of 5 nA. Obviously the operating power will be much higher, but this will greatly assist devices that sporadically connect to the internet. SmartConnect is targeting a launch date of June 15, so we hope to learn more this summer.”