For general purpose computers, programs written in one programming language can support different hardware configurations. But things are different for microcontrollers.  Each family of micro controllers have its own unique type of hardware architecture, instruction sets, register configuration and memories.

                So for each architecture of Micro controller family, there will be at least one compiler available, supporting that particular micro controller family or a couple of other families. Most of them support programming in assembly language while some of them support programs to be written in C language. In rare cases there are compilers that accept Java codes too. But I don’t recommend searching too much for a Java compiler, because most popular Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) don’t support it. AVR studio supports AVR series micro controllers. However the interesting fact is that, even AVR Studio doesn’t support all of the avr series micro controllers. I wrote it is “interesting”  because this IDE has been designed by the manufacturer (Atmel) itself. See release note of each version to know about supported micro controllers or the excluded ones.

                So if you are a beginner, I’ll suggest you to begin with AVR studio 4. Later, when you gain experience, start using AVR studio5. They are much different from each other. We will provide a comparative table of their features.

AVR Studio 4

AVR studio 4 provides an integrated development environment(IDE), combined with two other supporting softwares, AVR Toolchain and WinAVR. AVR Toolchain installs the Library for AVR studio. AvrToolchain is a must to run AVR studio. If you install AVR Studio and AVR Toolchain, you’d be able to write program in assembly language. To write a program in C, you need to install WinAVR. If you are thinking to buy a development board from Atmel, it will be an even better decision because AVR Studio supports on board programming. You can write your programs in the AVR studio and you can instantly download & verify it too. Supported programmers are listed below:

  • AVR Dragon
  • AVR One
  • AVR Simulator
  • AVR Simulator 2
  • ICE 200
  • ICE 40
  • ICE 50
  • JTAG ICE mkll

Programming Languages:                           Assembly Language, C

Software requirements:                               AVR Toolchain 3.0.0, WinAVR 20100110

For supported devices, hardware and software requirement details, see release notes @

AVR Toolchain 3.3.0 for 8 bit AVR

AVR Toolchain 3.3.0 for 32 bit AVR

Helpful Features:   I/O view pane, multiple document editing in tabs, really good reference manual. Hex file generation.

Total Space Consumption:

  •  AVR Studio 4       307 MB
  • AVR Tool Chain   194 MB
  • Win AVR                 138 MB
  •  Total             639 MB (As calculated by Windows uninstaller)

AVR Studio 5

AVR Studio 5 is much better than that of AVR studio 4. The experience is pretty amazing with AVR Studio 5. It has auto suggestion facility, like, if you start to type a function name, it will look in the library and the C file itself for matches and will list them in a drop down list, from which you can select them. This reduces name conflict. Suppose you want to define a macro or variables or want to introduce a new function, this feature helps very much. This feature is really helpful for a new programmer for whom the library is almost unknown. In addition, using new functions and macros has been made much easier. But to do this, you need the help of Visual studio shell. All the library, compiler and linker are provided with the AVR Studio 5 installer. For rest of the information have look at the release notes.

 Programming Languages:             Assembly Language, C

 Software requirements: Microsoft visual studio Isolated Shell 2010, AVR Jungo USB, Microsoft .NET framework 4 client profile.For supported programmers, supported devices, hardware and software requirement details See release notes @ AVR Studio 5 release notes

Helpful Features:    AVR studio 4 features + single compiler for 8 & 32 bit AVR controllers. In AVR Studio v5 there is no need of installing any additional tool chains. Another useful features of AVR studio 5 are, auto suggestion function, ready to use libraries, readily available examples, integrated online help,  integrated C Compiler,  Atmel AVR Software Framework, Standard APIs, Application Builder, Solution Explorer, In-system programming, JTAGICE3, I/O view etc and much more.

 Total Space Consumption:    

  • AVR Studio 5                                          535 MB
  • Visual Studio Isolated Shell             533 MB
  •  .NET framework 4 client profile    182MB
  • AVR Jungo USB                                     2 MB
  • Total                                         1.22 GB (As calculated by windows uninstaller)

 For Programming Guide and programming help, see my upcoming posts.


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