MSC presented the new IEE 802.15.4 compliant AVR wireless microcontroller from Atmel for the first time at embedded world 2010. The MCU features ultra-low power consumption in all processor modes, a step-less selectable supply voltage setting from 1.8 V to 3.6 V and an especially short activation time of less than 250 µs from sleep mode to active mode.
First member of the new MCU family, which targets wireless applications such as ZigBee, smart metering and IPv6/6LoWPAN, is the ATmega128RFA1. This MCU is manufactured using Atmel’s picoPower technology and comes with a 2.4 GHz RF transceiver.
For the development of particularly energy efficient, battery operated products, the transmit‑receive device, which has dimensions of just 9 mm x 9 mm, provides various power-down modes such as keeping the RF transceiver active regardless of the respective state of the MCU. Even at 16 MHz clock frequency and use of all features including RF transmission, the current consumption is less than 19 mA and in deep sleep mode drops to 250 nA.
Furthermore, with a transmit (TX) output power of +3.5 dBm and receive (RX) sensitivity of ‑100 dBm, the ATmega128RFA1 enables a range of several hundred meters in open space. This is an exceptionally high range for IEEE 802.15.4 compatible devices. A further increase in range can be achieved with the help of an external power amplifier, whose control can be supported by the device if required.
Data transfer rates of up to 2 Mbit/s and freely available stacks/profiles for MAC, IPv6/6LoWPAN, RF4CE, BitCloud ZigBeePRO and BitCloud Smart Energy support a wide variety of IEEE 802.15.4 applications. Additionally, in order to simplify the system development, Atmel and MSC offer a complete development kit for the ATmega128RFA1.