Atmel makes Wi-Fi easy with their new SmartConnect WINC1500

4th May 2015

Atmel have announced their new SmartConnect WINC1500 SoC – a wireless network controller system-on-chip platform, specifically aimed at Wi-Fi connectivity in embedded systems and Internet-of-Things applications.

The WINC1500 is part of Atmel’s SmartConnect portfolio aimed at IoT and wireless connectivity applications, which complements their existing line-up of radio-plus-microcontroller RF SoC solutions for wireless connectivity using 802.15.4/6LoWPAN, by now offering 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN connectivity for embedded and IoT applications such as smart-home appliances, home automation, wireless media streaming or industrial applications. 

By using an innovative power architecture that delivers very low power consumption along with high performance, the WINC1500 can help optimise your bill of materials, minimising the number of components required to support your design.

Furthermore the WINC1500 is a great add-on platform to extend the wireless connectivity of existing microcontroller-based solutions, bringing Wi-Fi networking capability to an existing system through a UART or SPI interface to the Wi-Fi device.

The WINC1500 connects to any Atmel AVR or Atmel SMART microcontroller with minimal requirements for memory or other resources in the host microcontroller, and it supports different 801.11 modes including single-stream 802.11n with throughput up to 72 Mbps.

The WINC1500 provides internal Flash memory as well as multiple interfaces for peripheral devices, including UART, SPI and I2C, and it also includes a fully integrated power amplifier, LNA, RF transmit/receive switch and power management on the RF side, meaning that integration of the WINC1500 into your design is easy, without requiring large amounts of RF design expertise or a high external bill-of-materials cost to support this device.

The ATWINC1500 device can receive wired firmware updates via its UART, or over-the-air firmware updates. The device features 4 MBit of internal Flash memory for storing its firmware, and a provisioning mode for setup, where the device sends beacons as a soft Wi-Fi access point and can transmit or receive data at any time, using a system called Wireless Simple Configuration to make initial setup of your devices simpler.

The device supports Wi-Fi Direct, station mode and Soft-AP support, with support for either WEP or WPA2 Enterprise security modes, and offers an RF transmit power of +19 dBm with a low current consumption of 172 mA – relatively impressive for an 802.11 WiFi device in transmit mode.

A TCP/IP stack is provided on board, without the need for the host microcontroller to support this, along with DHCP/DNS network protocols and TLS (Transport Layer Security) support for secure communications.

The WINC1500 is available in a compact QFN package and requires only one external clock source, from a single crystal or oscillator, with a wide variety of reference clock frequencies between 12-32 MHz supported.

As well as the WINC1500 IC itself, in a 40-pin QFN package for board-level integration into your bespoke designs, Atmel also offers the ATWINC1500-MR210PA module. This module includes an on-board crystal, voltage regulators and other core support components, an RF balun, antenna matching network and an on-board antenna, along with a shielding can.

This module makes it very easy to get started integrating the WINC1500 into your design, with minimal design effort or RF layout expertise required. The ATWINC1500-MR210PA module also offers module-level pre-certification of the RF system for regulatory agencies such as the FCC, making it easier to get your product approved and to market without much RF engineering expertise.

As with Atmel’s other microcontroller products, you can easily get started evaluating and designing with the ATWINC1500 low-cost, low-power WiFi network controller by using Atmel’s starter kit for this device, the ATWINC1500-XSTK Xplained Pro platform.

Atmel WINC1500 2

This kit provides the hardware and software platform you need to get started with easy access to the features of the ATWINC1500 and explains how to integrate the device in a custom design, with an on-board embedded debugger and support in the Atmel Studio integrated development platform, with standardised compatibility with the rest of Atmel’s Xplained Pro ecosystem of development tools.

No extra tools are necessary to program or debug the host microcontroller, but the Xplained Pro development system does offer additional peripherals to extend the features of the board and ease the development of custom designs.

Included in the kit is a SAMD21 Xplained Pro board, as the host microcontroller, along with an ATWINC1500 Xplained Pro extension board, which includes an ATWINC1500-MR210PA, shielded and approved RF module and an Atmel I/01 Xplained Pro board which provides sensor inputs to the host microcontroller along with a micro-SD card.

There is an embedded debugger for programming the SAMD21 host microcontroller, Atmel’s Data Gateway Interface (DGI) for connectivity between the host microcontroller and the WiFi platform over either TWI or SPI, a USB virtual-serial-port interface to the host microcontroller’s UART for debugging, an Atmel CryptoAuthentication device connected to the host microcontroller, and a range of application examples supported through the Atmel Gallery.

Together, this development pack provides a powerful but easy-to-use combination of tools you can use to quickly get started prototyping or developing a WiFi-networked, Internet-connected sensor network device or Internet-of-Things appliance based on the WINC1500.

After the explosion of the Expressif ESP8266 into the marketplace last year, we consider this to be Atmel’s reply to the inexpensive SoC from China – and look forward to further announcements from other manufacturers with their responses. Which leads to more options in the marketplace to choose from = each with their own pros and cons to your specific application.

If your team is looking for help moving forward with your own Wi-Fi or IoT-based devices – we invite you to join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisAtmel makes Wi-Fi easy with their new SmartConnect WINC1500

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