Atmel is still too early to dig - it is more alive than all living

Published on April 03, 2015

Atmel is still too early to dig - it is more alive than all living


I want to share the news, which almost passed by, although it deserves your attention. Atmel decided to enter the IoT race. The AVR architecture developed by Atmel in 1996 (meaning the family of eight-bit microcontrollers) is hopelessly outdated. The family of 32-bit AVR32 controllers has not gained popularity. Always staying at the expense of reliable and simple as a stone ATtiny and ATmega will not work due to their limited functionality. I myself am a fan of the simplicity and reliability of AVR, but at one time I decided to switch from AVR to ARM from ST, precisely because of the "antediluvian" of the first and the "stuffed" second. Atmel seemed to no longer develop the AVR architecture - then why waste time dying - in general, I was right.

It seems that the same idea came to the minds of the Atmel management and they ordered to dig in the direction of new developments on ARM instead of adding AVR. As a result, we have a new MK series from Atmel SMART SAM L21 based on the ARM Cortex-M0 + architecture.

The links are here:

By the way, the SMART SAM S70 and E70 family on the ARM Cortex-M7 architecture was also presented there for those who like to drive, but we are not talking about them today.

So what we have in the end ... SMART SAM L21 series MK series on the ARM Cortex-M0 + architecture with ultra-low power consumption and a maximum frequency of 48 MHz. 256 KB flash and 44 KB RAM. In general, everything that was in the old beloved ATmega, but with a large flash and RAM plus chips with energy management. And also up to 8 counters. 32-bit real-time clock and calendar. USB HS 2.0 (IMHO, although they could have 3.0 - 2015 in the yard) in the device and host mode. Up to six different interfaces - USART, I2C, SPI, LIN communicating via SERCOM - Serial Communication Interfaces (some new Atmel development). DAC and ADC. Three operational amplifiers. Up to 51 I / O legs. For fans of encryption: support for AES encryption, RNG, CRC-32. All this in TQFP or QFN cases on 32, 48 or 64 legs. The operating voltage is finally reduced to 1.62V - 3.63V. Ability to connect touch panels. SWD debug

Power consumption less than 35 μA / MHz in working condition and several hundred nA in sleep mode. Here's what Atmel's marketing manager Andreas Eieland has to say about this:
“In the traditional implementation of sleep mode, all controller units are disabled, except for the real-time clock. This is necessary so that after waking up, it remains synchronized. In L21, we completely redesigned the low power scheme. The entire chip is divided into five domains, and the residual current can be taken from unused modules. In addition, peripherals continue to communicate even when the controller is asleep. ”

You can read more about picoPower technology here . And here is the domain diagram from , about which Andreas says:

domain diagram

In the photo, Andreas Yeland powered the SMART SAM L21 chip from the heat of his hand
In the photo Andreas Yeland powered the SMART SAM L21 chip from the heat of his hand.

Also, together with the production of chips, Atmel launches the debugging board for prototyping SMART SAM L21 Xplained Pro for some 54 $. Chips and boards will be sold in September 2015.

In general, it sounds pretty tempting. But how many people want to transfer to SMART SAM L21 with ATmega and STM32 will depend only on the cost of the chips. Personally, I will not hurry until I wait for Atmel to pull its development environment to a decent level, or at least take up writing plugins for Eclipse or IntelliJ CLion, because for me personally, the productivity of development on Atmel Studio 6 is much lower than the productivity of working with Notepad ++.

So we stock up on popcorn and we’ll see what ST answers.

Update : here @FakeFactFelis talks more about picoPower technology.