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Category: Embedded System Product News

New Atmel Microcontrollers Target Low-Power ZigBee

By Bill Giovino
Mar 20, 2006 - 3:30:00 PM

New AVR Atmel Microcontrollers only draw 650na for low power ZigBee applications
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San Jose, CA, March, 20th 2006 Atmel Corporation announced today two ultra-low power AVR microcontrollers, the ATmega169P and the ATmega165P. Drawing as little as 650nA in clock sleep mode and 100nA in standby, these devices enable applications like ZigBee and keyless entry to perform for years on the same battery.

The new ultra low power technology for Atmel microcontrollers, dubbed "picoPower", draws only 650nA low power run current with only the 32 KHz real time clock running.

Specifications of the new Atmel microcontrollers include:

  • Conform to ZigBee specifications for low power operation
  • Up to 16 MIPS performance
  • 16 KBytes of Flash memory
  • 512 Bytes EEPROM
  • 1 KBytes SRAM
  • 10-bit ADC
  • SPI
  • 1.8 to 5.5 volt operating voltage
  • 340 uA in active run mode
  • 150 uA in idle mode at 1 MHz
  • 650 nA in power-save mode with real time clock running
  • 100 nA in power-down mode
  • Brown-out detector
  • 4x25 segment LCD controller (ATmega169P only)
  • 64-pin TQFP and 64-pin QFN packages

Fourteen additional 8-bit picoPower AVR Atmal microcontrollers will be added within the next twelve months

"Multi-year battery lives are becoming mandatory in a wide variety of applications," stated stated Asmund Saetre, Atmel's AVR marketing manager. "Battery life has become so important that it is even a part of the ZigBee specification - ZigBee end-products must have a battery life of at least two years or they won't be certified."

"Atmel has focused on eliminating or drastically reducing the power drain from oscillators, brown-out detectors, I/O pin leakage and the like to achieve the lowest power MCUs on the market."

The new picoPower technology for Atmel microcontrollers dramatically reduce power consumption by powering down unused areas of the silicon. The engineer can choose to power off individual peripherals and I/O pin drivers to achieve the lower power possible in the application. The engineer can also disable I/O drivers on the ADC inputs, for significant power savings.

In the 650nA Power-Save mode, only the 32KHz real time clock is running to keep track of elapsed time and also provide a wake-up signal at specified time intervals.

The accuracy of BODs is directly proportional to the current they consume. Low- or zero-power BODs tend to be both slow and inaccurate, while more accurate, faster BODs consume a lot of power. Since BODs usually remain on in sleep mode, they represent a substantial drag on battery life. As a result, most vendors of ultra-low power MCUs, sacrifice accuracy and speed to lower current consumption.

The Brown-Out Detector (BOD) on these new AVR Atmel microcontrollers use an innovative circuitry that shuts down the BOD when in sleep mode. The BOD is re-enabled shortly before the AVR wakes up and before executing any instructions. This provides significant power savings with no loss of stability.

Microcontrollers commonly power the entire Flash program memory array during active mode, which causes unnecessary power drain at low clock frequencies. A technique Atmel calls Flash sampling only powers the Flash for a few nanoseconds, just long enough to fetch a memory contents, then powers down the array after memory has been retrieved. This significantly reduces the current leakage caused by the memory cells being constantly powered on.

The ATmega165P and ATmega169P are available today in production quantities. The ATmega165P is priced at $2.15 and ATmega169P with LCD controller is priced at $2.25 for quantities of 10,000 units.

About Atmel
Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry's broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions. Atmel microcontrollers are focused on consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.

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New Atmel Microcontrollers Target Low-Power ZigBee

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