Atmel simplifies MCU design with new Atmel studio 6, expands ARM Cortex-M series processor portfolio

  • Atmel Studio 6 Integrates ARM and AVR Design in Single Environment
  • 40 New Atmel SAM3 Devices Deliver More Scalability, Cost-Efficiency and Connectivity

Atmel Corporation, a leader in microcontroller and touch technology solutions, has continued its commitment to deliver innovative new solutions to the ARM market with the introduction of Atmel Studio 6, the latest version of its popular integrated development environment (IDE) that now supports both Atmel 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M series processor-based and Atmel 8/32-bit AVR® based microcontrollers (MCUs). For the first time, the extensive AVR customer base of more than 100,000 engineers and the designers of ARM Cortex-M series processor-based applications have all of the tools required to develop and debug Atmel MCU applications in a single, seamless environment.

The company has also announced an aggressive expansion of its Atmel SAM3 ARM Cortex-M3 processor-based MCU family with 40 new devices, delivering more scalability, cost-efficiency and connectivity for a broad array of applications, including industrial automation, smart grid, and building and home control. Throughout this year, the SAM3 and SAM4 families will quadruple the Atmel Cortex-M series processor portfolio to nearly 200 ARM processor-based MCUs, and include devices with on-chip memory densities of up to 2MB Flash, 192KB of SRAM and extensive peripherals, such as high-speed USB host and device with on-chip physical layer (PHY), Ethernet and dual CAN.

“We’re pleased to offer the design advantages of the Atmel Studio 6 IDE to the ARM community, whose engineers can now enjoy the ease of use and seamless integration with other toolsets that our AVR MCU development community has long experienced. With a user base of more than 100,000, our IDE is clearly proven and highly appreciated among AVR designers, so it was only natural for us to extend the environment to support all Atmel MCUs and enable the ARM application developers,” said Vegard Wollan, vice president, microcontroller and touch business unit, Atmel Corporation. “Furthermore, by expanding our SAM3 family, we are delivering the first phase of significantly expanding our ARM Cortex-M processor-based MCU offering, providing the ARM community with more choice to meet their unique design requirements.”

“We welcome Atmel’s expansion of their Cortex-M series processor-based MCU portfolio,” said Keith Clarke, VP, embedded processors, ARM. “The availability of 40 new SAM3 devices, together with free Atmel tools and software support, is welcome news for developers aiming to bring Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M series processor-based devices and applications to market quickly. Atmel’s offering further underlines the popularity of the ARM architecture.”

Atmel Studio 6: Easing the Design Process with 1,000 ARM and AVR Project Examples

Atmel Studio 6 significantly reduces the cost of creating new designs because it is free of charge, provides professional-quality development tools, and comes with Atmel Software Framework (formerly called AVR Software Framework). With Atmel Software Framework, designers get a large library of well proven and free source code—including about 1,000 project examples. Using this code, design engineers can eliminate writing most of the low-level source code for their projects, significantly reducing time to market while maintaining high-quality solutions. The software framework includes a full set of drivers for on-chip peripherals and external components, wired and wireless communication stacks, audio decoding, graphics rendering, and fixed- and floating-point math libraries. For Atmel’s ARM processor-based microcontrollers, the library provides full support for the Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS). Atmel Studio 6 currently supports roughly 300 of the company’s MCUs.

Faster product development cycles combined with reduced cost for on-chip Flash and the advent of faster MCUs are driving more design engineers to write code in C and C++, rather than in assembly code. Atmel Studio 6 makes it easy for engineers to write, build and debug their C/C++ and assembly code. Atmel Studio 6 also brings together, in seamless fashion, an editor with assisted code writing, a wizard for quickly creating new projects, a GNU C/C++ Compiler, a powerful simulator, and a front-end visualization tool for all of Atmel’s Cortex-M series and AVR processor programmers and in-circuit debuggers. The simulator, currently available for AVR designs, accelerates application development by providing an accurate model of the AVR MCUs. The simulator not only models the CPU and interrupts but also the on-chip I/O modules, allowing complete application development without the need for actual hardware.

For in-system programming and debugging, the IDE connects seamlessly to a wide range of ARM and AVR debuggers and programmers, including JTAGICE3, AVR ONE! and SAM-ICE. With full debug views, engineers get a transparent view into the CPU and peripherals that supports easy code development and debugging.

Atmel Studio 6 is fully integrated with Atmel QTouch® Composer (formerly called QTouch Studio). As such, developers no longer need to toggle between two development environments for MCU applications that include touch-enabled user interfaces. Atmel Studio 6 simplifies the design process by seamlessly tying together the tools needed to edit code in Atmel Studio 6 and to seamlessly integrate and tune the touch design in QTouch Composer.

ARM Cortex-M Series Processor Portfolio: Expanding to Deliver More Design Options

With the announcement of its new SAM3 devices, Atmel is continuing its commitment toward expanding its product line for the ARM community. This is a commitment that Atmel began in 1995, when it was one of the first suppliers to license ARM processors. In October 2011, the company announced sampling of its first ARM Cortex-M4 processor-based MCU, the Atmel SAM4S16, and introduced its fifth generation ARM processor-based MCUs.

SAM3 Family: Delivering More Scalability, Cost-Efficiency and Connectivity

With a full range of Flash memory options from 16KB up to 1MB and new peripheral sets for advanced connectivity, including Ethernet, dual CAN and high-speed USB MiniHost and device with on-chip PHY, the SAM3 family brings to design engineers a highly scalable, connected and cost-efficient Cortex-M3 processor portfolio backed by a trusted ecosystem of development resources. The devices will open engineers to more design possibilities in industrial automation, smart grids, medical equipment, building and home control, test and measurement systems, and computer and consumer peripherals.

The SAM3 family has established a reputation for streamlining system design while reducing power consumption. The expanded portfolio continues to deliver on these promises while bringing new benefits to the table. Now, design engineers have a single source of high-performance, highly integrated, low-power Cortex-M3 processor-based MCUs for their wide-ranging design requirements. New devices include:

  • Additions to the SAM3N series, the SAM3N00 and SAM3N0, featuring 16KB and 32KB Flash memory densities and 48- and 64-pin QFP and QFN packages.
  • Additions to the SAM3S series, the SAM3S8 and SAM3SD8, featuring 512KB single-bank and 2x256KB dual-bank Flash memory, respectively, and available in 64-pin QFP and QFN and 100-pin QFP and BGA packages.
  • SAM3X series, with the SAM3X4 and the SAM3X8, featuring 2x128KB and 2x256KB dual-bank Flash memory, respectively, and available in 100- and 144-pin QFP and BGA packages. This series also includes new peripherals providing increased connectivity (including Ethernet, dual CAN and high-speed USB MiniHost and device with on-chip PHY).
  • SAM3A series, with the SAM3A4 and SAM3A8, featuring 2x128KB and 2x256KB dual-bank Flash memory, respectively, and available in 100-pin QFP and BGA packages. The SAM3A series includes dual CAN and high-speed USB MiniHost and device with on-chip PHY.
  • A 64KB Flash density version of the SAM3U, the SAM3U1, featuring a high-speed USB device with on-chip PHY and availability in 100- and 144-pin QFP and BGA packages.

The SAM3 portfolio offers native support for the Atmel QTouch library for buttons, sliders and wheels functionality, as well as the Atmel 802.15.4-based wireless solution. The device family includes enhanced safety features to preserve data and system integrity. To accelerate the design process, the family comes with a full set of tools; the support of evaluation kits, debuggers, emulators, programmers and software packages; and a worldwide ecosystem of development tools, operating systems and protocol stacks, Flash programming, and software and technical support. Design engineers can take advantage of an easy migration path from Atmel SAM7S ARM7TDMI® processor-based devices to these Cortex-M3 processor-based products, with pin compatibility in the 64-pin package option.


Atmel Studio 6 is available as a beta release, free of charge, and can be downloaded at It is 100% backwards-compatible with AVR Studio 5. The IDE supports currently available AVR and SAM3 Cortex-M3 processor Flash-based MCU evaluation kits.

Production volumes of the new SAM3 devices are shipping now. Evaluation kits for these devices can be purchased from the Atmel store at