The new Arduino WiFi shield looks interesting! But it begs the question... If it is using a AVR32 UC3 chip, which model is it?
Its an AT32UC3A1256(512)
Also it seems that having a ordinary 8bit AVR boss around a AVR32 chip seems a bit like the tail wagging the dog.
Not really. You use the right tool for the job. I looked into this a while ago, and the bottom line is that H&D Wireless makes a firmware library that goes with their wifi chip. The library does a ton of stuff, including implementing an entire TCP stack. This can not be done on an AVR, so the UC3 is needed to do all this.
Given all the work that has already gone into developing this board, would it not be a small step to go all the way and turn it into another board by designing one that makes this a total replacement for an UNO or Leonardo (sans the WiFi chip) and turn it into a much more powerful AVR based microcontroller? It would leave the 8 bit boards well behind and would go a long way towards releiving the long wait for the Due that has not arrived (yet).
Since the chip on the WiFi board can have it's flash memory reprogrammed, It would seem the even the IDE is already mostly developed making the possibility of developing the board I describe a much more likely possibility. It would just be loading compile sketches that are not inteded to make the chip process the logic of a WiFi stack.
I wonder if the Arduino team has any such unannounced plans to bolster the AVR (vs SAM) line of boards.
Just wondering what others have thought? I'm curious.
You could of course build a 32bit board based on this or another UC3. There are piles of 32 bit boards based on various ARM chips and Microchip chips. The harder part is the software. You need a tool chain, libraries and all that. Atmel supplies all this for free (see AVR Studio) but its not Arduino compatible.