I first started working with Arduino microcontroller development platforms last year in the form of the Rainbowduino Arduino-compatible system from Seeed Studio, which powered my 4x4x4 tri-color 3D LED cube.
Since that time, I've become a huge supporter of the Arduino, from the concept to the hardware to the software (IDE) to the ecosystem. I'm now using Arduinos and Arduino-compatible platforms for all sorts of projects, including my Infinity Mirror, my Inamorata Prognostication Engine, and my BADASS Display.
Along the way, I've used Arduino Unos and Arduino Megas, both of which are powered by Atmel processors. I'm poised to start using a chipKIT Max32, which is powered by a MIPS processor from Microchip. I'm also looking at a Teensy 3.1, which boasts a Kinetis processor from Freescale.
Each Arduino and Arduino-compatible platform offers different features, functions, capacities, and capabilities, which makes it possible to select the optimal platform for the project at hand using criteria such as size, cost, performance, and number of input/output pins.
As of this morning, there's a new kid on the block -- the Arduino Zero, which has been jointly developed by Atmel and Arduino.
The 3.3V Arduino Zero has the same form factor as the 5V Arduino Uno but is powered by Atmel's SAMD21 MCU, which boasts a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ core. (The Atmel ATmega328, featuring an eight-bit AVR core running at 16MHz, powers the Uno).
When I first posted this column, I said:
The Arduino Zero's processor also boasts 32 Kbytes of flash and 4 Kbytes of SRAM. (I'm not sure about the clock speed.)
These memory numbers were based on the fact that the original press release said 256kb (kbits) of flash and 32kb of SRAM. As you will see if you read the comment threads below, I subsequently discovered that the Arduino Zero actually boasts 256 Kbytes of Flash and 32 Kbytes of SRAM, which are much more respectable quantities. Also, I subsequently discovered that the Zero's clock speed is 48MHz, which is 3X that of the Arduino Uno.
I hear that the first prototypes of the Arduino Zero will be on display at the Maker Faire, which will take place in the San Mateo Event Center May 17-18. If you are fortunate enough to be attending the Maker Faire, make sure you check the Zero out at the Arduino booth (No. 204), the Atmel booth (No. 205), or the ARM booth (No. #405). Take pictures of everything -- the Maker Faire in general and the Zero in particular -- and email them to me at email@example.com.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting