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Process instruments include the electronics required to measure process variables, such as temperature, pressure, level and flow, using a variety of sensors and methods. Power consumption in active mode is critical for these products, as most field instruments are powered though a 4-20mA current loop interface, which strongly limits the available power budget for the electronics. Process instruments must often be able to operate in hazardous areas, and cannot buffer energy.
Atmel® has become a leading supplier of microcontroller for the manufacturers of industrial process instruments.
Features and Benefits
- Atmel 32-bit microcontrollers can operate down to 1.62V and achieve sub 1mW/DMIPS power consumption figures.
- Process instruments often operate the microcontroller at low frequencies to reduce power consumption. Atmel has optimized the Flash read accesses in these conditions.
- The Atmel AVR 32-bit microcontroller and the Atmel ARM® Cortex™-M3 processor-based SAM3 family provide modern and efficient RISC architectures, supporting more complex signals.
- Embedded DSP functionalities (MAC, saturating arithmetic) and FPU, along with middleware libraries to support them, considerably simplify signal conditioning.
- Complex signal algorithms, field bus or industrial Ethernet support, functional safety test routines, and multi-language menus, require increasingly large embedded Flash support. Atmel offers 32-bit microcontrollers with embedded Flash up to 512KB.
- Atmel microcontrollers integrate dedicated hardware mechanisms to support the implementation of the IEC61508 safety standard. Learn more about Atmel microcontroller safety functions.
- Wireless communication is attractive for industrial sites with instruments dispersed over a large area. The Atmel wireless microcontroller product line provides the required hardware platform to build products compatible with the popular Wireless HART protocol. The Atmel best-in-class RF properties help increase range and make RF links more robust, yet highly efficient.
- The Atmel CryptoAuthentication™ family of hardware security products provides easy-to-implement, cost-effective and low standby power solutions for secure communication to/from process instruments.
The Atmel SAM3, SAM7 and the AVR UC3 32-bit families deliver a unique combination of low power and excellent signal processing capabilities.
- Low power consumption
- Efficient signal processing (DSP and FPU)
- Wide Flash size availability
- Sensor element and field bus connection
- Safety functions according to IEC61508
- Capacitive touch
- Wireless microcontroller
Overview of the Atmel Safety Features
| ||Features||Atmel SAM3 Family||Atmel AVR XMEGA Family||Atmel AVR UC3 Family|
|Code Integrity||Flash with write protection||Selectable flash regions||Application and boot section||Selectable flash regions|
|Dual Bank||Yes (SAM3U)|| || |
|Flash Checksum||CRC unit (SAM3S)||CRC Unit||Software|
|Watchdog||Running from an internal RC oscillator||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lock function||Locked after first write||Locked per fuse||Key protected|
|Window mode||Yes||Yes||Yes (AVR UC3)|
|Software Runaway||Memory Protection Unit||Yes||No||Yes|
|Lock function for the IO register||Yes, using the MPU||Yes||Yes, using the MPU|
|Lock function for the Clock Configuration||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lock Event System Configuration||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Clock Failure||Start-up from internal RC oscillator||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Main clock failure detection||Yes (SAM3S)||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic switch to the internal RC||Yes (SAM3S)||Yes||Yes|
Atmel AVR and ARM Comparison
|CPU||AVR Family||ARM-based Solutions|
|Product Family||AVR XMEGA 8/16-bit microcontroller||AVR UC3 32-bit microcontroller||SAM3 microcontroller||SAM9 MPU|
|CPU Feature||Best-in-class 8/16-bit RISC hardware multiplier||32-bit RISC with DSP support (Single cycle MAC, saturation)||Cortex-M3 with MPU||ARM926-EJ|
|Active Mode||0.5 mW/MHz||< 1mW/MHz||1 mW/MHz||0.125mW/MHz|
|Power Down||< 100nA||100nA||100nA|| |
|Field Instrument||Temperature, Low-end Pressure & Flow||Temperature, Pressure, Flow, Level, Analysis||Temperature, Pressure, Flow, Level, Analysis||Level, Flow, Liquid Analysis|
Learn more about the Atmel solution Application Notes, Devices, and Tools and Software.