Arduino Technology
First Look at the New Arduino Zero

Hinted at yesterday by Massimo Banzi during his keynote speech at MakerCon, Arduino has just officially announced their latest board—the Arduino Zero.

On the surface the board may look very similar to the Arduino Leonardo, but there are big differences. Powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0+ core, the Atmel SAMD21, the new board is significantly faster than the traditional 8-bit Arduino boards, running at 48MHz, and is much more capable.

While it shares the same form factor as the Arduino Leonardo—with 14 digital and 5 analog pins—all of the digital pins except the Rx/Tx pins can act as PWM pins, and the analog pins have a 12-bit ADC instead of the Leonardo’s 10-bit ADC, giving significantly better analog resolution.

maker-faire-bay-area-logo-2014The new board comes with 256KB of Flash memory, and 32KB of SRAM. In comparison the 8-bit Leonardo which uses the Atmel ATmega32u4 comes with just 32KB of Flash memory and 2.5KB of SRAM. While the new board doesn’t have EEPROM, it does support 16KB by emulation, so Arduino sketches relying on this feature will still run without issue.

Like the Arduino Due, the first Arduino micro-controller to be based on an ARM core, the new Zero runs at 3.3V while there is a 5V power pin on the board in the usual place, it looks like the voltage of the rest of the digital and analog pins is 3.3V rather than the normal 5V—so any shields you use with the board will have to be 3.3V compatible.

One of the interesting differences about board layout of the Zero is the addition of an extra micro-USB port. While information is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, the SAMD21 supports both USB Host and Device mode, so it’s possible that that extra port is to support that functionality. Although its also possible that this USB port could be dedicated to support Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG) as this is the first Arduino board to support this feature. EDBG is an interesting addition—it provides a full debug interface without the need for additional hardware.

The first prototypes of the new board will be on display at the Arduino (#204), Atmel (#205) and ARM (#405) booths at Maker Faire Bay Area, which kicks off in just two days time. So see you at the faire, the greatest show (and tell) on Earth!

29 thoughts on “First Look at the New Arduino Zero

  1. wow what a revolutionary product, can’t wait… but seriously it’s just a smaller, slower due.

    1. smaller = easier to put into smaller projects

      slower = more affordable, more projects can be built for the same price

      I fail to see why this isn’t a decent addition to the Arduino line?

  2. Follow the traces. The second USB port is CLEARLY connected to the EDBG chip, not the SAMD21.

      1. The JTAG label is for the small 10-pin header, and I was talking about the traces to the other USB port (the lower one in that picture).

  3. great article! I noticed this error though “an interesting addition—it provides as it provides a full debug interface”

    I hope we don’t have to wait too long to get our hands on this. It seems pretty clear that the second usb port is for debug I think.

    1. It’s about damn time! So annoying that you couldn’t use a piece of perf board to make a shield that used 8-13.

    2. Nope, sorry to disappoint you the header layout is still the same. The board is R3 shield compatible. Although I’ll agree the picture is a bit misleading…

  4. man and i of course went with the BeagleBone rev C, which has the TI Cortex chip on it, a company I have sworn to never buy from or design with wherever possible (Felt they screwed me at a university they founded nearly 40 years ago – UTD). Screwed me prior to college as well, long story. It all worked out though, just wont find TI products on any of my designs, its my contribution back to them :-)

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

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