It’s been couple weeks since Arduino Zero was announced. It sounds like a great new player in Arduino world. So what it is and what benefits do we get from it? The name Zero may sound like a downgrade from UNO, but in fact this is opposite. I think this naming convention was chosen not to confuse with Arduino Duo. Anyway this is not that important as it features. Arduino Zero comes in shape of Arduino Uno. So this is same feel as standard Arduino board, but it packs powerful 32-bit SAMD21 MCU ARM Cortex-M0 clocked at 48MHz. It features 256KB
MB of flash and 32KB of SRAM. Up to 16KB EEPROM emulation. As ARM it also brings additional 10-bit DAC to functionality.
One nice feature here is embedded debugger (EDBG) which enables debugging without external hardware. Debugger part also supports virtual serial interface which is used for programming Arduino. So if you stuck with Uno, try to boost performance with Zero.
It seems that slow Arduino times completely have past. You can find many different flavors including AVR, ARM, PIC based. Even Intel Galileo is on horizon. It seems that there is another player in a market that offers powerful Arduino boards called 86Duino. DM&P produces low power x86 based processors called Vortex. So they released an 86Duino board that can run Linux, Windows OS or other 32-bit OS.
86Duino SoC Vortex86EX runs at 300MHz and carries 128MB DDR3 RAM. It is quipped with most standard PC periphery including PCIE bus, DDR3 controller, ROM controller, xISA, I2C, SPI, and Internal Peripheral controller with DMA, Interrupt, and timer/counter. Other features include Fast Ethernet, FIFO UART, USB 2.0 and SD/SATA. All this comes from single SoC. 86Duino has a form factor of standard Arduino just a PCIE connector pops on side. Of course there are standard Arduino header with 14 digita l/O and six 11 bit analog inputs. Most of them support 32-bit operations. Boars are announced in two formats – Zero and One which is bigger like Arduino Mega. 86Duino is also Arduino IDE compatible. Same programming experience just more power and freedom.
Arduino boards only have headers that are convenient for shields and wire jumpers to connect to breadboard. But sometimes you just need a fast way to connect to some sort of component which is in SMT package. SARduino (Space-Age-Robotics-duino) was built with this in mind. Firs of all it is not and Arduino shaped, so it won’t fit shields. But it has bit prototyping area where components can be soldered directly on board. And this is not only for through hole, but also for SMT parts.
There can be various devices soldered like SOIC-16, SOT23-6, SC-70-6. This is really nice solution for prototyping and even for end design if you wish.
Standard Arduino comes with Atmega328 chip. It isn’t the top notch microcontroller when speaking of number of I/Os or Flash memory. You could go with mega version when real power is needed. But fact is that mega might be too much or simply too expensive. In that case consider Sanguino. It is an Atmega644 based Arduino board assembled on custom board and its cost in parts is about $8.
Atmega644 has more pins and twice Flash memory than Atmega328. The schematic was originally copied from real sanguino so only a soldering has to be done. There is a full support for Sanguino – all you have is to copy some files that makes it available. If you need more power and still need DIP packages Sanguino is right choice.