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[avr-gcc-list] avr seminar Summary

From: Reza Naima
Subject: [avr-gcc-list] avr seminar Summary
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 17:57:34 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.4b) Gecko/20030507

Ok, I'll try to keep it brief.  I attended the first two sessions devoted to AVR at the ATMEL corporate headquarters in San Jose yesterday.  The room was large, and packed with people.  They had pastries, bagels, and drinks in the morning and provided a table of sandwich fixings for lunch.  I was also surprised to be handed an 'AVR Butterfly', which is an ATmega196 dev board w/ LCD, speaker, and a cool joystick-button. I guess they're planning on selling them for $20 at some point, but their fairly cool..

The fist person gave an overview of their AVR line, their new products, and an overview of what was going to be released.  Though there were some technical discussions, the bulk of the first session was more of a sales pitch.  But they do have some new interesting products.   For example, they're coming out with a secure version of the AVR, which has built-in cryptographic features, a platform to do Ethernet development (you must first buy the dev kit, then sign an agreement that you're not going to port their source to another microprocessor platform, but then can use it royalty-free).  They have one that has a built-in RF transmitter.  They don’t have any with built in receivers, so I'm not seeing a huge benefit here.  They also are going to start putting LCD drivers directly inside the AVRs (ATmega196 supports it now).   That's what they were using to drive the LCD on the AVR Butterfly, and it seems like either I have a bad LCD, or their technology sucks.  It flickers a lot and some segments just don’t seem to work right.  They're also retooling a lot of their older products by adding features, making them fully backwards compatible adding more flash, and dropping the price.  One of the handouts had a picture of what was being phased out and what was replacing it (i can try to scan it if people can't find the info elsewhere).  They talked a bit about the compilers, said that the AVR was designed in conjunction with IAR to work well with C, talked briefly about compilers.  They mentioned avr-gcc, but it was almost a footnote, and the big negative associated it was lack of support -- though I personally find support great on this list.

The second speaker (Tony, I think), went on about designing hardware/software.  I'll just go over the bits I found interesting... They suggested using 2 caps and an inductor rather than a single decoupling cap.  Using the internal calibrated oscillator is sufficient to drive the UART, and if you use a 32k xtal for RTC purposes, then you can use that to recalibrate the internal oscillator on the fly to compensate for temperature.  For power saving mode, it's advantageous to run at a high clock speed and sleep or use a low clock speed an not sleep (though I'm sure there are a lot of variables involved).  They stressed using local variables, and if you were to use global variables, to pack them in a struct (for a smaller code base).  They demo'ed the IAR compiler and it was able to produce a 20% reduction in code size after it had it's optimizations turned on.  The code was using to recode the AVR Butterfly to be a thermostat, reprogramming it via the JTAG interface.  Oh, and they're also going to phase out the JTAG and replace it with a device that supports 1 wire debugging to save on pins.  The newer products will support the one wire debug feature, and I'm guessing the JTAG replacement will also work with the older JTAG interfaced products.  It's not out yet, but they said it will be around the same cost.

That's just what I recalled off the top of my head.  If you have questions, please feel free to email me.  Otherwise, I think it was worthwhile event, though way too early for my blood.  And I would have liked to stay for the 8051 and ARM sessions, but their chair didn't agree with my behind, and I wanted to avoid traffic going back into San Francisco.


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