back to article Atmel stoops to an 'all-time low' in Internet of Things battle

Atmel reckons it has crafted the world's lowest-power ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers, a family of chips that can go for "decades" on the same batteries. The SAM-L21 family is aimed at "fire alarms, healthcare, medical, wearable, and devices placed in rural, agriculture, offshore and other remote areas." Atmel says samples of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Cool, now it can die from tin whiskers before the battery does.

    1. PleebSmash

      Re: Decades?

      More like the battery will leak charge and acid first. But you get the idea.

      1. ChrisC

        Re: Decades?

        Being able to run for decades from whatever battery Atmel had in mind when working out that it could run for decades from it is just one way of looking at things. Another way is to realise that the lower your power consumption gets, the smaller your power source needs to be to maintain the same runtime, which may open the door to power sources other than a battery...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Decades?

        Still, given that Li-ion was invented merely ~24 years ago, we might be surprised. I have one last Panasonic CGR18650HM that I pulled from a worn-out Thinkpad 600E pack roughly a decade ago, and while left in a box for more than a few years, it kept a proper voltage. Today it still charges and runs an MP3 player. On the other hand, it was apparently made in Japan as opposed to China. YMMV

  2. DNTP

    IoT detection alarm

    And THIS device sounds an alarm if, and only if, someone invents an IoT device that's both innovative and practical. Otherwise, it sits dormant.

    We expect the battery to last a decade or more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IoT detection alarm

      Pro tip: prevent DoS attacks against the power supply by leaving the networky bits turned off.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Doesn't it need

    to do regular comms tests?

    Else "There's a fire" will fall on deaf antenna, since the comms world has moved on in a decade...

    1. Malcolm Weir

      Re: Doesn't it need

      Possibly... although the actual alarm indication may be Someone Else's problem, but a weekly or monthly comms test may simply mean you need to change the battery every year. You know, like with smoke detectors...

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Doesn't it need

        But at least the comms test could *tell* you that the battery needs changing...

  4. YetAnotherLocksmith

    Could be useful for some stuff. Radiators and other stuff that toggles a few times a day or less.

    Bet they cost a fortune to get started with...

    1. BobRocket


      Atmel SAM L21 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit (pictured above) is $49 from the Atmel store or it will be if it comes into stock. I imagine there will be cheaper (and more expensive) 3rd party boards available soon.

  5. ChrisC

    "the SAM-L21 is not particularly powerful"

    That all depends on what you're using as a comparison benchmark...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Transducer supply

    If the controller sensor is a transducer, like a magnetic core microphone, then power will never be an issue.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Transducer supply

      I was thinking something similar when someone above mentioned radiators. They may be the lowest-power chips yet, but I guess we're not going to see these powered by thermopiles especially if they're an active part of a thermostat system.

      The other thought that struck me was the ROTM angle. It's a little bit frightening that they now have the capability of running in "sleeper cell" mode for decades, just biding their time waiting ... waiting ...

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