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Atmel chipset offers ZigBee migration for AVR-based sensor and control applications

Atmel Corporation has introduced a chipset that is intended to provide seamless migration to 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless networking for automotive and other applications based on Atmel’s 8-bit AVR family of RISC microcontrollers.

The AVR Z-Link solution includes Atmel's 2.4 GHz AT86RF230 802.15.4 radio, an ATmega1281 or ATmega 2561 AVR microcontroller, and media access control (MAC) software optimized for Atmel’s AVR architecture. The chipset is said to consume less power, and to offer a higher link budget (-100 dB receive sensitivity and 3 dB transmit power) than other 802.15.4 solutions as well as a line-of-sight operating range up to 2.8 times that of competing radios.

The 103 dB link budget is achieved without external power amplifiers, according to Atmel, and the solution requires only six external components. The solution’s wide range reduces the total number of nodes required in a network, thus reducing system cost by as much as 60%, the company said.

The 1.8 V Z-Link radio consumes 17 mA during transmission, 15 mA in receive mode, and 0.7 µA in sleep mode. Atmel said that at one transmission per minute, the chipset consumes, on average, less than 0.01 mA/hour, resulting in a battery life of greater than five years using two AA 2700 mA hours batteries. End-node battery life is limited by other non-radio/MCU system components, such as sensors or actuators, or by the shelf life of the battery.

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