MCU is heir apparent to the Arduino throne

March 05, 2018

Michael Dunn-March 05, 2018

Microchip has fair claim to the crown of Acquisition King, even ignoring the just announced Microsemi deal. But that’s for another article. Here are some interesting new products of theirs in ye Realm of Microcontrollers.

First off is the ATmega4809, of clan AVR. Heir apparent to the Arduino throne, it shares the basic characteristics of the somewhat-stuck-in-time AVR family. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Lower-end applications will always exist (and of course, Arduino is mainly aimed at the hobby crowd anyway), but much more powerful Arduino-compatible boards, official and unofficial, already exist. We can only speculate why Arduino chose to remain with eight-bit AVR. Comfort, 5V capability, a sweet deal from Microchip? But that’s for another article.

What sets the 4809 apart, if not the CPU (or memory complement for that matter (20MHz, 48k, 6k)), is the panoply of peripherals, including what Microchip calls core-independent peripherals, which can accomplish many functions without pesky CPU intervention.

You’ve got to love block diagrams with cryptic TLAs & FLAs (3 & 4-letter acronyms ;-)  The less obvious ones are: UPDI (programming & debug interface), TWI (two-wire interface, a.k.a. I2C & SMBus; that wasn’t easy to find (though I’d guessed the meaning before finding it in the datasheet)…do these guys want to sell parts, or confuse people?), TCA/TCB (timers), and the kicker: CCL (configurable custom logic).

The CCL is basically a teeny-tiny FPGA that can be connected to internal peripherals and external pins. I’m not sure it’s the answer to all of life’s problems, but it could certainly be useful, and seems to impinge on Cypress’ PSoC space a bit.

The ATmega4809 is yours for only USD 1.09 @5k.

Continue reading on Embedded's sister site, EDN: "New brain for the Arduino, and…PICkit 4."


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