Arduino Due debuts with 32-bit ARM CPU

In the last couple of years, the Arduino platform has fueled a revolution in homebrew electronics projects. Now, there's a new version with substantially more oompf. The Arduino Due features an Atmel SAM3X8E processor based on ARM's 32-bit Cortex-M3 CPU. Although the chip runs at just 84MHz, it's a substantial upgrade over older Arduino platforms, which feature 8-bit processors that run at a maximum of 16MHz. Those older designs are limited to sampling rates of 15 kilosamples per second, or ksps. The Arduino Due can handle a whopping 1,000 ksps according to this Wired story on the board.

There's more than just additional power on tap in the new Arduino. The platform features dual USB connectors: one for programming and another that allows the Due to act as a standard USB device or host. Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi is particularly keen on the Due's USB host support, which is expected to spawn the "craziest" community-developed applications.

The Arduino Due also features dual DACs with support for WAV audio output, and Ogg playback is rumored to be in the cards. Interestingly, Google is the one reportedly working on the Ogg code. Don't get your hopes up for an Arduino-powered media system, though. More PC-like boards, such as the Raspberry Pi, are probably more appropriate for those kinds of projects.

Despite the upgrades, the Arduino Due remains tiny. The board measures 2.1" x 4", which is only a little more than an inch longer than the original. The Due costs a bit more, at $49, and it should be available starting today.

I've had a couple of ideas for Arduino projects floating around in my head for a while but haven't had the time to tinker. Admittedly, these simplistic projects don't need the Due's additional grunt, but it's nice to see the Arduino family expanding to include a more powerful option.

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