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Topic: Robustness and long term reliability of Arduino boards and AVR chips (Read 5 times) previous topic - next topic

retrolefty


How long can the arduino or those AVR/PIC chips run continuously? Say blinking LEDs on Pin 1. How long can it last until it skips a beat or stops working properly or downright fails?

As long as you don't subject the chip to operating temperatures beyond their ratings and power supplied is always within proper ratings I see no limit to continuous operating, there is no 'wear out' factor for the chip. I have a 5x5x5 led cube run with a 328p chip that has been running non stop for over 2 years now, with only a house power outage stopping it momentary a couple of times.

For example, if you make an RFID door to unlock it for a home automation application, you'd want the ensure your controller is quite reliable lol.

The chip will not be the limiting factor to the system reliability, the power supply most likely will be or perhaps the electro-mechanical locking mechanics.

Yeah thats interesting too. I always wondered what chips industrial PLCs use. Do they use commercial ones manufactured by large fab houses or do they program their own controllers with FPGAs, ASICs, etc?

Nick Gammon

I have an RFID door opener. It works reliably month after month. The only time it failed was when we had a power outage and then a "brown-out" where I measured about half the normal line voltage. I think the board (temporarily) stopped working because the power company brought the power back up slowly. Possibly the RFID reader had failed and not the Arduino. However simply powering it off and on again fixed it.

I'm not sure if I had brown-out enabled on that particular board, possibly not.

If I was worried (I'm not because there are other ways into the house) I would make sure the brown-out was configured correctly, and make the processor turn the RFID reader on (via a MOSFET) in an orderly way. Also I would have a watchdog timer set up (which I haven't at present) to force a reboot if it gets into some loop.

I don't think there is any reason to suppose the the AVR chips are unreliable. In any case as Retrolefty said, I would be more worried that the RFID reader failed, or the door lock failed.

Quote
How long can it last until it skips a beat or stops working properly or downright fails?


Operating within design parameters, there is no reason for it to "wear out" or "skip a beat".

subway

Beside AVRs, Atmel also manufactures Intel 8051 compatible processors and many other IC which have heavy industrial or domestic applications.

The microelectronic technology Atmel uses for all of its chips is reliable.

However, for newly released AVRs there could be problems:

Bad Remark:
Atmel AVR microcontrollers are inexpensive and have an inexpensive development tools but the AVR microcontrollers are not up to par for commercial applications. I used a AVR32 in a comical application and while the chip did have some nice features is also had several bugs in the board support package, drivers, development tools and in the chip itself. To make matters worse each shipment of parts not only had bugs but different bugs requiring a hardware and software change for each shipment. This may not be a big problem for a hobbyist but it's a disaster for a company that wants to put its product into production. I would not recommend anyone attempt to use an Atmel part in a commercial product unless they want to lose there job.

Answer:   
Sounds like you had some trouble with AVR32, which is relatively new. However, standard 8-bit AVRs are used all over in successful industrial and commercial products, and this has been the case for many, many years. - wjl Oct 15 '11 at 1:31

http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/2324/why-are-atmel-avrs-so-popular

Jack Christensen


However, standard 8-bit AVRs are used all over in successful industrial and commercial products, and this has been the case for many, many years. - wjl Oct 15 '11 at 1:31[/i]
http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/2324/why-are-atmel-avrs-so-popular


There was a thread a while back about products that folks had torn down for parts or whatever and found Atmel MCUs inside. I happen to know that they are used in automotive applications. I expect that they are very robust indeed. I would not expect MCUs from Microchip, TI, Maxim, NXP, ST Micro, etc. to differ significantly in that regard.

Arduinos are "prototyping platforms" (first sentence on the home page) so right there that tells us they are not necessarily meant for deployment in industrial or even commercial applications. That said, they do the job of prototyping platform very well. Even so, I would still expect them to be very robust in reasonable environments.
MCP79411/12 RTC ... "One Million Ohms" ATtiny kit ... available at http://www.tindie.com/stores/JChristensen/

Nick Gammon


To make matters worse each shipment of parts not only had bugs but different bugs requiring a hardware and software change for each shipment. This may not be a big problem for a hobbyist but it's a disaster for a company that wants to put its product into production.


I seem to recall an EEVblog about PIC chips also having bugs.

Ah yes, here:

http://www.eevblog.com/2010/01/07/eevblog-53-mr-murphy-and-microchip-pic-silicon-bugs/

Title: "EEVblog #53 - Mr Murphy and Microchip PIC Silicon Bugs".

In the middle of the episode he finds that one of the sets of the ICSP programming pins are not connected internally in the chip! And that was the one he chose to wire up on his board.

So it's not just Atmel that have production problems.

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