Why No Really Fast AVRs

I like using ATTiny and ATMegas on project. Easy to use and easy to hook things to. But it would be nice if they were a bit more powerful. I know there are cheap 32-bit chips, but I don't think you can put them on breadboards as they are surface mount.

I wonder why Atmel doesn't refresh their AVR line with beefier 8-bit chips with the same form factor?

For example, you could make an amazing sound chip with a 100Mhz ATTiny84.

For example, you could make an amazing sound chip with a 100Mhz ATTiny84.

If you wanted 100MHz, you could implement one in an FPGA

There are two big problems: 1) Flash memory isn't fast enough to run at 100MHz (usually tops out at about 32MHz?) The 32bit chips that run faster than that use wait states on the memory, and/or have fancy "flash accelerator" systems that wreck havoc on determinism. 2) The DIP packages you want aren't particularly compatible with higher speeds. The internal leadframe that connects the pins to the chip are "long" and have a high inductance, which is bad for speed. SMT chips are fundamentally faster because the leads are closer to the actual chip.

So what about the ESP8266 and the ESP12 module? It got an external SPI flash memory (25Q32 i believe), and can be clocked unto 160MHz. the IC itself is tiny, but the module or breakout board makes the traces fundamentally longer than inside the chip itself. Still there isn't a problem outputting really high frequency signal using this module. Have a look at this post from Hackaday. It's an ESP8266 outputting a NTSC signal at 61.25MHz. If this is possible using a module/breakout board, why shouldn't doing this with a DIP package be possible?

The ESP8266 has some of the speed-critical components mounted inside the module, close to the SMT chips involved. You can do that with the 32bit processors that are around as well (Teensy3.2 runs 96MHz, doesn't it?), but I have to admit that I don't understand how china can churn out such modules at prices competitive with a DIP package. (Certainly every time I try to DESIGN a DIP module, I get to the "this is too expensive and too hard to assemble (or manufacture) anyway" state quite quickly.) (I think the ESP modules are used in some very high-volume consumer products, and we're getting to see the "manufacturing surplus" on the low-volume market. Something that China does much differently than the US.)

Well now you got me interested in these 32-bit modules from China. I was not aware of any of this. I just ordered some from E-bay. I'll see if I can port some ATMega synthesizer code to them. Thanks for the info.

If you're stepping into the world of the ESP8266, there's a lot to learn, but endless possibilities! :) I'm using a NodeMCU module for simple prototyping (since it got a built in USB to serial adapter). You can download the Arduino IDE plugin from here: https://github.com/esp8266/Arduino Also make sure to check out Blynk (see the video on the bottom of the page) There's also an ESP8266 community forum

hansibull: ... I'm using a NodeMCU module for simple prototyping (since it got a built in USB to serial adapter).

Do you use the LUA software that comes with them, or do you flash them with your own software? I just ordered one (I paid $7 so I could get it from Amazon Prime) but if I like it, I'll probably get a bunch of cheaper ones from AliExpress. Also, since these have their own IO pins, do you use them as the CPU for your projects or do you have them communicate with an Arduino and use that? Thanks for the info. This stuff is very interesting.

I'm not running the LUA firmware, but flashed them using Arduino IDE. The IO pins can be used just like on an Arduino. Just remember; they are not 5v tolerant ;) I've used mine to get data from a sensor (DHT22, LM35, DS18B20) and push it to Thingspeak (a free service that let you display and log your data). You should definitely have a look at this Youtube video, where he's explaining how you can pull any data from the internet and use it for whatever you want :)

shawnlg: Well now you got me interested in these 32-bit modules from China. I was not aware of any of this. I just ordered some from E-bay. I'll see if I can port some ATMega synthesizer code to them. Thanks for the info.

You should also checkout STM32DUINO.COM Start-up cost about $4 USD (but buy at least 2 so you have a dedicated test)

Ray