New tinyAVRs deliver industry’s smallest and lowest power 8-bit MCU on the market today with 1KB Flash.
Making its debut at Embedded World 2016, Atmel has returned to its old-school ways with the world’s highest-performance, low-power, 8-bit microcontrollers boasting 1KB Flash memory. The all-new ATtiny102/104 run up to 12MIPS and integrate features previously only available in larger more expensive MCUs, making them ideal for smaller applications including logic replacement and the latest cost-optimized applications in the consumer, industrial and home automation markets.
The majority of today’s 8-bit market growth is coming from applications that previously only required discrete components. With many of these requiring simple intelligent functions such as timing, motor control or on/off functionality, 8-bit MCUs are becoming an essential feature for the personal healthcare, small kitchen appliance and consumer markets.
The ATtiny102/104 provide all the necessary features to help spur the growth in these applications with its small, cost-optimized low-pincount package with just 1KB of Flash memory. These features include self-programming for firmware upgrades, non-volatile data storage, accurate internal oscillator to provide more reliable motor control, high-speed serial communication with USART, operating voltages ranging from 1.8V to 5.5V 10-bit ADC with internal voltage references, and sleep currents at less than 100nA in power down mode with SRAM retention.
“Atmel has already sold more units of its 8-bit AVR core-based MCUs than the 7.4 billion people on Earth,” says Oyvind Strom, Atmel’s Senior Director of MCUs. “We continue to expand our AVR portfolio with the new ATtiny102/104 8-bit MCUs. These are the first two devices in our new tinyAVR portfolio that are packed with features optimized for tiny, compact MCU systems such as LED lighting, fan control and other small applications.”
Key specs of these tinyAVRs include:
• 1KB Flash / 32bytes SRAM
• 8- and 14-pin packages down to 2mm x 3mm in size
• Up to 12 MIPS at 12MHz
• Self-programmable Flash
• Accurate (±3%) Internal oscillator
• Multiple calibrated internal voltage references (1.1V, 2.2V, 4.3V)
• 10-bytes Unique ID (serial number)
• 10 bit ADC and analog comparator
• 1.8V to 5.5V voltage range
• -40°C to +105°C and -40°C to +125°C temperature ranges
The ATtiny102/104 engineering samples are now available with mass production samples slated for May 2016. The latest tinyAVRs are fully supported by Atmel Studio 7. Additionally, designers have access to the company’s embedded software, including the Atmel Software Framework and application notes, as well as the Atmel Gallery ‘app’ store.
Atmel Studio 7 accelerates MCU designs for both developers and Makers alike, bridging the gap between the MakerSpace and MarketPlace.
For those who may have attended the recent World Maker Faire in New York, this announcement should come as no surprise. However, if you were unable to get to the New York Hall of Science to swing by the Atmel booth or sit in on one of our panel discussions over the weekend, we’ve got some great news. The highly anticipated Atmel Studio 7 is now live!
Atmel Studio is a comprehensive, free integrated development environment (IDE) for microcontroller design using both Atmel | SMART ARM-based and AVR MCUs. What’s more, we are also excited to be launching Atmel START — a new, extremely intuitive graphical platform for creating and configuring embedded applications that allow developers to build custom software platforms.
Due to increased complexity and more demanding requirements, embedded developers are turning to IDEs to deliver more intelligence, performance and ease-of-use. Based on the latest Microsoft Visual Studio Shell, Atmel Studio 7 dramatically reduces overall design time by delivering significant performance enhancements for developing and debugging with a simple user interface, improved responsiveness for consumer, industrial and Maker markets, and much more. Plus, the brand-spankin’ new IDE provides real-time application data and power visualization to better optimize application performance and power utilization.
Ideal for the Maker community, the IDE lets Arduino developers quickly port their sketches created in the Arduino environment as C++ projects, and seamlessly migrate their prototypes into the professional Studio 7 environment. This will further streamline a Maker’s ability to help migrate their projects from ‘the MakerSpace to MarketPlace.’
Given the rise of the Internet of Things market and the projected billions of devices to follow, high quality, well integrated embedded software is key to enable designers to devise robust, smart solutions based on today’s connectivity and security standards. Cognizant of this, we are pleased to launch Atmel START which is a web-based tool that helps developers easily integrate basic software building blocks and focus on their own applications rather than having to deal with the headache of configuration and integration.
“Atmel Studio 7 IDE and Atmel START extend our commitment to bridge the gap between the Maker and professional environments, accelerating time-to-market for developers of all levels,” says Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Applications, Software and Tools. “Our new, innovative development tools and software provide Atmel’s customers with solutions for embedded system designs in low power and wireless communications such as our power visualizer and Atmel START. We are committed to bringing the best tools to market, enabling developers of all levels — from professionals to students, hobbyists and Makers — to get their projects quickly to market.”
Atmel START gives software developers the ability to graphically select software components and configure them for Atmel’s large family of evaluation boards or for their own custom hardware. Developers can build software platforms consisting of low-level drivers, advanced middleware, Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS), high-level communication stacks and more, as well as download the configured software package into their own IDE and make their application.
Atmel START supports graphical configuring of pin-muxes, along with clock trees, and the configured software package can be downloaded for a variety of supported development environments, such as Atmel Studio 7, IAR Embedded Workbench and Keil µVision. In addition to all that, the tool is entirely web-based so no installation is required before you get started — and the downloaded code will always be up-to-date.
“The Atmel START platform makes it easy for developers to get projects off the ground quickly and obtain the most benefit from working with ARM Keil MDK tools,” adds Reinhard Keil, ARM Director of Microcontroller Tools. “By using CMSIS, Atmel has once again proven the value of creating a platform built on a standards-based approach. Atmel START creates a robust and portable software management system that makes it easy for developers to deploy applications in any environment.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
Atmel’s Cloud Ecosystem Partner Program accelerates time-to-market for developers creating next-generation IoT solutions.
Good news, IoT developers! Atmel has just announced its Internet of Things Cloud Ecosystem Partner Program, providing those using Atmel | SMART MCUs and Atmel SmartConnect wireless solutions with access to a wide range of market-leading ecosystem cloud partners for device management, data analytics and visualization in order to experience end-to-end, out-of-the-box IoT solution development.
With the ever-increasing need to collect, visualize and analyze data from IoT edge nodes and to manage the associated services, cloud connectivity is becoming an essential element for product development. Aside from that, device management has also emerged as an important aspect of cloud services as more gizmos and gadgets are performing functions through remote management. Take a connected thermostat, for example, that is programmed remotely and sends climate information back to the user’s RC device reducing overall power consumption while providing a better user experience.
Each cloud partner in this program not only brings a unique, distinct feature to the IoT ecosystem for developers using Atmel solutions but offers production-ready software stacks ported on Atmel wireless platforms to help accelerate time-to-market as well. Developers can now easily connect to the cloud through various software as a service (SaaS) options, based on their use-case requirements early in the development cycle. Additionally, Atmel is in the process of onboarding multiple cloud service partners providing regional and vertical expertise where required. Among the names on the growing list are PubNub, Proximetry, Exosite and Arrayent.
“We are excited to team with Atmel to deliver to their customers a highly secure solution for bi-directional device communication and control,” says Todd Greene, PubNub CEO. “Our highly reliable and massively scalable Data Stream Network provides companies with real-time infrastructure and a robust feature set for architecting their IoT solutions. Our partnership with Atmel offers the only ‘out of the box’ solution for IoT developers to create secure IoT products, reducing risk and accelerating time-to-market.”
With the anticipated growth of billions of devices by 2020 in the IoT market, secure cloud services will be a critical element to ensure Internet accessibility connectivity of these smart devices. The partner program ensures developers have the opportunity to design with Atmel’s pre-certified Wi-Fi, 802.15.4, and multimode modules and Atmel | SMART MCUs to provide a seamless end-to-end solution from the edge node to the cloud with a simple, plug-and-play connection that works out of the box.
“Our cloud services are integrated into several leading Atmel | SMART MCUs, SmartConnect and security modules,” adds Tracy Trent, Proximetry CEO. “We provide leading software solutions that enable the management of the most critical of things in the IoT including remote access and secure data management. With our services integrated into Atmel’s leading products, IoT developers now have a true end-to-end solution from the edge node to the cloud.”
What’s more, IoT developers can simply use any of the compatible Atmel development boards for access to the application programming interface (API) to qualified cloud partners. In order to expire the design process, several development kits are available with access to Atmel Cloud Partners like the WINC1500-XSTK, the SAMW25-XPRO, the SAMR21-XPRO and the Arduino Zero.
“Launching this highly anticipated IoT ecosystem partner program, we are now one of the few suppliers that delivers solutions from the edge node to the cloud, along with full software support. We are excited to team with these unique cloud service companies and look forward to adding many more,” explains Reza Kazerounian, SVP and GM of Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel.
And just like that, another flagship Maker Faire event has come to an end.
From life-sized humanoids and stair-climbing robots to pancake printers and drum-playing pants, Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 had it all. Over the weekend, tinkerers, modders and hackers of all ages and skills flocked a jam-packed Atmel booth, which showcased a number of uber-cool demos under this year’s theme “From Makerspace to Makerplace.” Among those on display included 14-year-old Quin Etnyre, DrumPants, Zymbit, littleBits, Zippy Robotics, Primo and of course the heart of the Maker community, Arduino. When it came to gizmos and gadgets driven by versatile 8- and 32-bit AVR and Atmel | SMART MCUs, it didn’t stop within our exhibit. In fact, countless other DIYers throughout the fairegrounds proudly showed off their embedded projects as well.
Here’s a look back at the two-day show (and tell) in photos…
Let’s transition your products from a ‘dumb’ to ‘smart’ thing.
Many enterprises, startups and organizations have already been exposed to the innovation land grab stemming from the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT). What’s available in the product/market fit arena? This is the hunt to cease some segment of the multi-trillion dollar growth reported to gain from the IoT, enabling embedded system connectivity coupled with the ecosystem value-add of a product or service. Even for that matter, transforming a mere idea that centers around connectivity solutions can present an array of challenges, particularly when one seeks to bring to market disruptive ways for the end-user to adopt from the more traditional way of doing things (e.g. GoPro, PebbleWatch, FitBit, and even to as far as e-health monitors, tire subscriptions, self-driving vehicles, smart bracelets, connected medical apparatus or Industrial Internet devices, home automation systems and more).
All together, there’s one overlaying theme to these Internet-enabled products. They are all pervasively SMART technologies that help monetize the IoT. Now, let’s get your products to transition from a once ordinary, mundane object to a much smarter, more secure “thing.” When doing so, this too can often present a few obstacles for designers, especially as it requires a unique set of skills needed to interface systems with connectivity to the cloud or Internet.
To top it all off, there may already be various product lines in existence that have a mandate to leverage a connected ecosystem/design. In fact, even new ones require connectivity to the cloud, having designs set forth to enhance via customer usage then combining this user data with other associated data points. Already, the development to enable such devices require an assortment of skills. It’s an undertaking, one in which requires knowledge and expertise to command stable connectivity in the infrastructure and design a product with security, scalability, and low power.
Moving ahead, here are some recommendations developers and Makers should know:
Identify a need and market: The value of the smart device lies in in the service that it brings to the customer. Identify the need to develop a strong offer that brings value or enhances efficiency rather than creating a simple gadget. (See Marc Andreesen’s infamous blog on product/market fit for more tips).
Validate your ideation: Carry out market research. Do your due diligence. Determine whether the device you think of creating already exists. Can improvements be ascertained with testimonial as an enhanced or unique experience? Indeed, benchmarking will allow you to discover any competitors, find sources of inspiration, develop a network of ideas to pool and find other areas for improvement as well.
Prototype toward MVP: New device fabrication techniques, such as 3D printing, are the ideal creative validation for producing prototypes much faster and for less money. They also promote iteration, which is an integral process when designing the device towards MVP.
Connect the ‘thing’ then concert it into a smart ‘thing:’ Right now, there is no mandatory standard for interconnecting different devices. Selecting the right technology is essential, particularly if the device requires low-power (speaking of low-power….) and event and state controls, which highly optimize extended power and the services to enrich the information system and eventally enhance user experience with a roadmap toward an ecosystem.
Develop the application: Today, the primary smart devices are linked to an dedicated mobile app. Since the app transforms the smartphone into a remote control, it must be be easy to use for your end-users, and more importantly, simply upgraded via the cloud.
Manage the data: Fitted with a multitude of sensors, connected gadgets generate an enormous amount of data that need to be processed and stored with the utmost security across all layers even to as far as using cryptography in memory. (After all, you don’t want your design become a ‘Tales from the Crypt-O” horror story.)
Analyze and exploit the data: By processing and analyzing the data, a company can extract the necessary information to deploy the right service in the right place at the right time.
Measure the impact of the smart device: Set up probes to monitor your devices and data traffic quality. Answer questions objectively as to how it would securely scale and evolve should there be an instant high volume success and usage. This will help you measure the impact of the smart device in real time and adapt its actions accordingly, and model into the product roadmap and MVP spec.
Iterate to fine-tune the device’s use: After launching the project, the process has only begun. Feedback needs to be taken into account in order to adjust and fine-tune the project. Due to its very nature, digital technology requires continuous adaptation and iteration. “Try and learn” and present riskier ideas to products are the fundamental principles behind transformation when imposing a new use.
Prototype again: Continuous adaptation and iteration means that your company needs to produce a new prototype.
Here’s 10 + 1 invaluable steps to launching your IoT project or product.
11. Take advantage of the hands-on training in your region.
As an application space, IoT sensor nodes are enabled by a number of fundamental technologies, namely a low-power MCU, some form of wireless communication and strong security. With this in mind, the newly revealed Atmel IoT Secure Hello World series will offer attendees hands-on training, introducing them to some of the core technologies making the Internet of Things possible, including Wi-Fi and CryptoAuthentication.
What’s more, these sessions will showcase Atmel’s diverse Wi-Fi capabilities and CryptoAuthentication hardware key storage in the context of the simplest possible use cases. This includes learning how to send temperature information to any mobile device via a wireless network and how to enable the remote control of LEDs on a SAM D21 Xplained Pro board over a Wi-Fi network using a WINC1500. In addition, attendees will explore authentication of IoT nodes, as well as how to implement a secure communications link — something that will surely come in handy when preparing to launch your next smart product.
As you can see, so far, everyone is LOVING the Hello World sessions — from hardcore embedded engineers to hobbyists. Here some recent social activity following the recent Tech on Tour events in both Manchester and Heathrow, UK. Need we say more? These tweets say a thousand words!
Connected and ready to go… all before lunch! (Yes, there’s food as well!)
Atmel’s Tech on Tour and proud partner EBV Elektronik proudly thankful for the successful event in Manchester, UK.
Atmel’s Tech on Tour just successfully completed a full house attendance training in Manchester, UK
Hands-on ‘IoT Secure Hello World’ training introduces Atmel Wi-Fi and CrytoAuthentication technologies.
How The Big Bang Theory Relates to the Internet of Things
How many of you out there are fans of the CBS hit sitcom series Big Bang Theory? If you recall an episode from the show’s first season, entitled “The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization,” the team of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali successfully triggered a lamp over the Internet using an X-10 system.
In order to accomplish this feat, the gang sent signals across the web and around the world from their apartment to connect not only their lights, but other electronics like their stereo and remote control cars as well.
“Gentlemen, I am now about to send a signal from this laptop through our local ISP racing down fiber optic cable at the of light to San Francisco bouncing off a satellite in geosynchronous orbit to Lisbon, Portugal, where the data packets will be handed off to submerged transatlantic cables terminating in Halifax, Nova Scotia and transferred across the continent via microwave relays back to our ISP and the external receiver attached to this…lamp,” Wolowitz excitedly prefaced.
The funny thing is, the technology that the group of sitcom scientists was simulating could have just as easily been done using a Wi-Fi network controller like the WINC1500. However, at the time of airing back in March of 2008, open access for Internet users looking to control “things” around the house was seemingly something only engineers and super geeks thought possible.
We can imagine this is probably how it would’ve gone down…
Bringing Next-Generation Technology to You
In order to make the scene above possible, an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 was hooked up to the WINC1500 and connected to a solid-state relay, thereby enabling the team to control the lamp.
If this captivated your attention, then you’re in for a treat. That’s because Atmel is taking its “IoT Secure Hello World” Tech on Tour seminar on the road — starting with Europe!
As an application space, IoT sensor nodes are enabled by a number of fundamental technologies, namely a low-power MCU, some form of wireless communication and strong security. With this in mind, the Atmel IoT Secure Hello World series will offer attendees hands-on training, introducing them to some of the core technologies making the Internet of Things possible, including Wi-Fi and CryptoAuthentication.
These training sessions will showcase Atmel’s Wi-Fi capability and CryptoAuthentication hardware key storage in the context of the simplest possible use-case in order to focus attention on the practical aspects of combining the associated supporting devices and software. This includes learning how to send temperature information to any mobile device via a wireless network and how to enable the remote control of LEDs on a SAM D21 Xplained Pro board over a Wi-Fi network using a WINC1500. In addition, attendees will explore authentication of IoT nodes, as well as how to implement a secure communications link.
Take the very fundamental use-case of switching on an LED, for instance, which will represent our ‘Hello World!’ For this IoT application, the LED will be controlled using a smartphone app via the Internet, while a sensor node will be enabled to read an analog temperature sensor. The first part of the training will introduce Atmel Wi-Fi technology, which connects our embedded development kit of choice, an Atmel | SMART SAMD21 Xplained Pro, via the Atmel SmartConnect WINC1500 Wi-Fi module to a local access point. The result will be the ability to easily and securely send temperature information to any mobile device on the network, while also having remote control of the LED.
From the moment a ‘thing’ is connected, it becomes susceptible to a slew of potential security risks from hackers. That’s why the second part of the training will delve deeper into how CryptoAuthentication can be used to authenticate the temperature sensor node and host application before it can read the temperature information to avoid fake nodes. A secure communications link will be implemented using a session key to and from the remote node.
When all is said and done, building for the IoT demands innovative and secure solutions while architecting a balance between performance, scalability, compatibility, security, flexibility and energy efficiency — all of which Atmel covers extremely well.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Connected cars are expected to be among several of the key trends at this year’s International CES. With up to a hundred million lines of code, at least 30 MCU-controlled devices — and some with as many as 100 — the vehicle is the ideal application to bring smart, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT). Not only will these vehicles be packed with next-gen functionality ranging from navigation and parking assistance to diagnosis and road conditions, they will become much more intuitive and integrated with smartphone-like interfaces. In order to provide this, the automobile of tomorrow will feature a curved center console display offering a large amount of real estate for information to drivers. And, the newly-announced AvantCar™ 2.0 will make this possible.
The successor to the concept introduced a year ago, the AvantCar 2.0 is equipped with an array of Atmel technologies including a 2.5D model of a car connected to a fully-functional central display demonstrating car access, car networking, MCUs, audio streaming over-Ethernet-AVB and CryptoAuthentication™ products. The futuristic AvantCar 2.0 sports active touchscreens, curved form factors, personalized color schemes and navigation menus via touch buttons and sliders in a cutting-edge sleek center console.
Focusing on user requirements for future generation automobiles, AvantCar 2.0 delivers an advanced human machine interface (HMI). The new concept boasts curved touchscreens highlighting HMI in upcoming automobiles using Atmel technologies like maXTouch touchscreen controllers and XSense flexible touch sensors, as well as Atmel’s QTouch™ with proximity sensing, LIN networking for ambient lighting controls, and automotive-qualified AVR MCUs.
“As a leading provider of smart, connected devices with sophisticated, easy-to-use HMI, Atmel is committed to delivering a state-of-the-art connected experience in the automobile,” Rob Valiton, Atmel SVP and GM of Automotive, Aerospace and Memory Business Units. “Atmel’s AvantCar 2.0 showcases the connected car and delivers a futuristic center console showcasing our latest technologies in a sleek, slim center console with increased performance and fully connected throughout the car. We are excited to bring this next-generation concept to the public demonstrating the future of HMI in the connected car.”
Upon quick glance, one thing you will notice is that the AvantCar 2.0 is a bit different than your typical console — no more mechanical buttons or clunky knobs. Instead, the touchscreens integrated capacitive touch buttons and sliders enable users to navigate general applications typically found within an automotive center displays. The second generation demo is slimmer than its predecessor, offering a more appealing aesthetic with improved performance including Silicon Image’s MHL® (Mobile High-Definition Link) solution — a technology that allows users to easily transmit content from a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to larger displays such as in-dash automotive displays, while charging the mobile device.
“The last one wasn’t as tailored to automotive standards for display quality,” Paul Kopp, Atmel Director of Automotive, told Venture Beat in a recent interview.“It also has curved liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that weren’t available before. It will look more like a curved surface. The designers really want that in automotive now. The lines will blend more with the vehicle itself.”
While carmakers have been using haptic feedback, it’s apparent that the trend has shifted towards much larger screens and easier touch technology. Tomorrow’s displays will likely be pretty big. While the average is currently about 8 inches diagonal now, it could, in fact, head closer to 10 inches or 12 inches in future models.
“When Tesla came out with a 17-inch main screen, that woke up a lot of the American manufacturers to the idea of bigger displays in the car,” Kopp told Venture Beat. “The right size for the user? The jury is still out.”
Those heading to Vegas for the world’s largest electronics show can experience the newly-unveiled AvantCar 2.0 concept by speeding on over to the Atmel booth (#MP25760) in the LVCC South Hall.