NEWS-Atmel and Arduino collaborate on new ARM-based platform

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San Jose, CA, September 16, 2011 - Today at the BUILD conference, Atmel® Corporation (NASDAQ: ATML), a leader in microcontroller and touch solutions, and Arduino, the leading open-source electronics prototyping platform and community, announced they are collaborating on several development boards using Atmel AVR and ARM-based microcontroller (MCU) products. The new easy-to-use Arduino boards use several Atmel products including the Cortex-M3-based SAM3U MCU, ATmega32U4 and AVR UC3 MCUs.

Atmel and Arduino will be demonstrating several platforms in the Atmel-sponsored Arduino Pavilion including:

Arduino Leonardo. Based on the Atmel ATmega32u4, it is a low-cost Arduino board which includes a simpler circuit as the Arduino UNO board. The software on the board includes a USB driver that can simulate a mouse, keyboard and serial port. In addition, the bootloader includes a serial port and USB mass storage driver.
Arduino Due. The newest board to Arduino's collection, the Arduino Due is based on an Atmel Cortex-M3-based microcontroller, also known as the Atmel SAM3U ARM-based MCU. This MCU can run up to 96MHz and will be available to the Arduino community by the end of 2011.
Arduino WiFi. This board is for hobbyists interested in WiFi applications. Arduino WiFi includes an add-on module using the Atmel AVR MCU and an H&D Wireless module that provides developers with a powerful WiFi interface.


I think this is going to make things very interesting in the ARM market! And I can not even imagine the impact on the designs (and designers). :)

source: Atmel
http://www.atmel.com/dyn/corpora...

-Pantelis

Professor of Applied Murphology, University of W.T.F.Justhappened.

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I didn't dig deep into the STM32 circle, and I never seen an Arduino in action, but I think tha approach is quite similar. Anyway, I would prefer by far the SAM3U in an even cheaper thingie than the more complex and less usable/capable Circle.

I would work directly with the uC and get rid from the Arduino shield. SAM3U are quite sexy, but since they were not available when at my job choose a uC, we switch to the STM32F102/107. But my colleages are open to switch at any moment.

A pity that the time to play with them is approaching, but I will (probably) move away from that job for some time.

Guillem.
"Common sense is the least common of the senses" Anonymous.

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Guillem Planisi wrote:
I would work directly with the uC and get rid from the Arduino shield.
That's exactly what I was thinking too. Cheap, tested and easy to program hardware that one can find everywhere, with an active and very rich ecosystem. And considering the capabilities of the ARM core, well, I can't help feeling excited! :)

Although, for the first time, I am actually curious and willing to have a look on the software side of the Arduino platform, for quick and dirty testing of peripherals.

I am also curious to see if there is going to be an easy way to migrate all the existing libraries to the ARM based platform, or if major rewritting will be required. I expect the latter.

-Pantelis

Professor of Applied Murphology, University of W.T.F.Justhappened.

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One of the most sexy peripheral is the DMA concept. I would re-written all my routines used for comms and take advantage of the DMA features. I did that for testing with a AT91SAM7 (S64 once, X256 later), and it works like a charm. Data transfer from peripherals to the app is transparent, fast, easy, a real luxury.

BTW, check CooCox.org, a bunch of libraries, demos, a full RTOS for Cortex M3 (almost any vendor!!), and useful information. And probably Atmel libraries for SAM3 are much better than ASF, quite complete (I hope they are similar than those for SAM7).

Guillem.
"Common sense is the least common of the senses" Anonymous.

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I haven't played with anything 32bit (yet), so I am quite eager to try all the fancy stuff, like DMA. I will have quite some reading to do though!

I checked CooCox, and it seems like a great place to start! I like the fact they they offer a complete solution that is quite cheap (they sell a debugger for 20$+shipping!! If only it was in stock) I will certainly spend more hours on it these days. I don't expect the new ARMduinos to come out that soon anyway. :)

-Pantelis

Professor of Applied Murphology, University of W.T.F.Justhappened.

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There's few cheap 32bit Arduino based thingies available already. Atmel are a bit late to the party and I doubt they'll add much of anything the others don't have already.

Digilent have their PIC32 based things available at less than the cost of Arduinos.

There's a STM32 based one I've come across.

As for libraries, it will be a bit of a mixed bag. The usual suspects would be implemented methinks.

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The PIC32 used in the Digilent chipKIT offers a lot more performance than the SAM3U used in the Arduino Due.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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Leon, I am aware of the Chipkit platform and, to be honest, I am still seriously tempted to give it a try, just for the fun of it, and I will certainly have a serious look on the available nonArduino libraries. I am in a phase right now that I want to get my hands on as many platforms as possible. Also, I come from a PIC background so Microchip is still high on my preferred-to-work-with list, actually number 2.

But, I decided to work and get familiar with the ARM core first.

Kartman, I was not aware of the STM32-Arduino project, thanks. I suppose it would have lowered my enthousiasm for the AtmelARM-Arduino a bit, although I am not sure how complete it is yet. But still, it is not so much the Arduino IDE I am interested in, it's the hardware. I am quite satisfied with Atmel's ICs, so I wanted to give a shot at their ARM family first. So, I am hoping that this collaboration will provide cheap hardware (platform and "shields") to play with, until I get rich enough to not care about devkits' prices. :)

-Pantelis

Professor of Applied Murphology, University of W.T.F.Justhappened.

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There are already a couple of affordable SAM3 development boards available (ie from Olimex.) Traditionally, Arduino hardware is trivial to the point it gets insulted, so it's not particular exciting to have another vendor of a trivial ARM board. Having a common set of "baby talk programming" libraries for both ARM and AVR (and PIC32) could be nice, though.

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Yeah, I don't see the value either. Frankly from my perspective I don't see how it matters what microcontroller is being used under the hood because if you use Arduino as Arduino you'd never know anyway. Arduino is a higher level abstraction that intentionally protects the user from details like this. I guess more advanced users might like to have a simple platform for doing testing with their favorite chip of the month, but for the intended Arduino audience, I think this just further muddies the water.

Smiley

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westfw, I agree. There are also NXP's Xpresso boards with some dirt-cheap varieties, and the STM32 discovery boards for 10$. That is not the point. Arduino-based stuff have also "shields" that are tested to be compatible and made in large volumes and thus can have lower prices and better support through the community.

I don't know, maybe I am overoptimistic about this or I am slowly becoming an Atmel fanboy...

smileymicros wrote:
I guess more advanced users might like to have a simple platform for doing testing with their favorite chip of the month
Exactly!!

What I am most curious to see is this: If the hobbyist community had such a boost with Arduino 8bit, what is going to happen with 32bit and all the new peripherals and speed?

-Pantelis

Professor of Applied Murphology, University of W.T.F.Justhappened.

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what is going to happen with 32bit and all the new peripherals and speed?

Yeah but how many of the Arudino based LED flashing projects actually care whether the CPU runs at 1MHz, 10MHz or 100MHz? Also what extra "peripherals" are we hoping for here? a 168/328/1280 has SPI, ADC, timers, UART, TWI, GPIO. Most ARMs have these things too. The question is what have ARMs got that AVRs don't? (are we talking about DMA controller? Will your average Arduino user even know how it helps?).

As Joe said "Frankly from my perspective I don't see how it matters what microcontroller is being used under the hood"

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what is going to happen with 32bit ... and speed?

It will confuse the beginners that Arduino is aimed at, while comforting the slightly more experienced users that are sure they want something "more powerful."

People will figure out a way to piss away the extra speed by adding additional layers of abstraction or fancy modern languages; perl or java or javascript or something "in vogue." Data types will become complex (floating point everywhere), and there will be a kernel and a VM and "message passing" and "built in security via XXbit encryption."

In the end, you'll be able do things with it that are very similar to what you'd have been able to do on the slower, 8bit, AVR systems if you had exerted additional knowledge, expertise, and cleverness. But it will be "good", because the price will be the same or lower, and allowing people to do things WITHOUT knowledge, expertise, or cleverness (WRT microcontrollers and programming) is what the arduino project is all about.

Just like your desktop PCs!