With the changing times, the use of internet in smartphones, tablets and other devices has increased by notches, due to which, the desire for low-power chips has also increased. Thanks to Atmel, which has come up with a low-power chips that can last for “a decade” on a single battery charge.
Atmel, is generating some buzz with its latest Smart SAM L21 32-bit ARM family of micro-controllers that is based on the ARM technology. It draws as little power as 35 micro-amps/megahertz when it works, and 200 amps in sleep mode. According to the reports, the SoC is powered by the energy taken from body motion – so this is a Wearable Tech play.
Generally in such chips, sleep mode shuts down the clock function, which means that it has to wake each time the device needs to communicate, but, this new chip functions on a different sleep mode. it allows the communication of connected devices while the chip continues to use very little power.
Atmel has not yet revealed the process technology that has been integrated in its L21 core. The reason behind the silence could be that such low-power processors are often built by older nodes and are focused toward low cost instead of raw performance.
Such chipsets do not rely on the top-notch 14nm or 16nm process, Atmel has concentrated more on the trailblazing power conserving methods that are also adopted by the companies such as Intel and AMD. Each area of this new chip has been designed in a way to gate power, and the core immediately shuts down those segments that are not in use.
Such chips are not packed with much compute power (and it’s OK), at most we have, 42 MHz Cortex M0+ CPU core, 256 KB Flash memory, 32 KB static RAM, and 8KB of another low-power static RAM. It goes without saying that such chips may not be powerful enough to run desktop operating system, but can handle small programs, hardware interfaces, read and record sensor data, stream media from an external device, and much more.
Atmel has not yet revealed the pricing and availability, but in few months, chip kits will be available to the developers as a part of pilot phase. Given their size, they are probably very affordable for this segment.