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Why Arduino ATmega 32u4 is a Highly Preferred Microcontroller Board?

The Arduino ATmega32u4 comes with a lot of features. This makes it a widely integrated microcontroller board in several applications. Read further to learn more about Arduino ATmega32u4 and what it offers.

 What is Arduino ATmega32u4?

The Arduino ATmega 32u4 is a family of 8-bit microcontrollers. It shares some similarities with the ATmega328P. However, the Arduino ATmega32u4 internally handles USB communication. The 328P doesn’t communicate with a USB cable. Therefore, boards that integrate 328P requires a USB-to-serial converter to program.

The ATMega32u4 is an 8-bit AVRs that comes with a flash memory of 32kB. Also, it has timers, ADCs, and UARTs among others. One of the benefits of using the Arduino ATmega 32u4 is its low cost. This board is much cheaper than ATmega 328 boards. Also, ATmega 32u4 can execute regular things other Arduino boards can’t. One of these things is the ability to copy a USB mouse or keyboard.

Despite the numerous benefits of ATmega 32u4, this board has its own drawbacks too. It can be more difficult to utilize and can be less reliable. Furthermore, ATmega 32u4 comes with a built-in USB communication. With this feature, there is no need for a secondary processor. There are several microcontroller boards based on the ATmega 32u4. An example of such microcontroller board is the Micro.  

The Micro board works in a similar way with the Arduino Leonardo. This similarity in their operation and functioning is due to the integration of ATmega 32u4.

Since Arduino ATmega 32u4 controls its USB connection, this makes it a more flexible option compared to 328P boards. The ATmega 32u4 can be easily programmed to function as a mouse, MIDI controller, or a keyboard when connected to a computer. These capabilities aren’t possible with 328P boards.

ATmega 32u4 offers support to SPI and 12C communication. Also, this microcontroller board enables CDC communication over the universal serial bus (USB).

Features of Arduino ATmega 32u4

ATmega 32u4

ATmega 32u4 is based on the AVR enhanced RISC architecture. It is a CMOS 8-bit microcontroller. This device provides throughputs of 1 about MIPS per MHz by carrying out strong instructions, enabling the optimization of power. More features of ATmega 32u4 are mentioned below:

High performance

ATmega 32u4 is a high performance and low power 8-bit microcontroller.

Enhanced RISC architecture

The RISC architecture is improved. It includes 135 instructions with single clock cycle execution. Also, it is a fully static operation with 32 x 8 general purpose working registers. This architecture is about MIPS throughput at 16MHz.

Non-volatile program and data memories

ATmega 32u4 features non-volatile data memories and program as it comes with

  • 6/32KB of In-System Self-Programmable Flash
  • 1.25/2.5KB Internal  SRAM
  • 512Bytes/1KB Internal EEPROM

I/O packages

The I/O packages comprise 26 programmable input/output lines, 44 lead QFN package, 44 lead TQFP package and I/O combine LVTTL inputs and CMOS outputs.

Special microcontroller features

ATmega 32u4 comes with an internal calibrated oscillator, programmable brown-out detection, external & internal interrupt sources, and Power-on Reset. Also, it comes with six different sleep modes which are Power-down, Extended Standby, ADC Noise Reduction, Power-save, Standby, and Idle.

IEEE® std. 1149.1 compliant JTAG interface

The JTAG interface has boundary-scan capabilities based on the JTAG standard. Also, this interface allows programming of EEPROM, Lock Bits, and Flash.

Other Features of Arduino ATmega32u4

  • Strictly complies with Universal Serial Bus Specification Rev. 2.0
  • It offers supports to data transfer rates of about 1.5 Mbit/s  and 12 Mbit/s
  • ATmega has six different programmable Endpoints that comes wit In or Out Directions and with Bulk, Interrupt or Isochronous Transfers
  • Features 48 MHz from PLL to enable Full-Speed Bus Operation
  • The size of configurable Endpoints of this microcontroller size is about 256 bytes in double bank mode
  • Fully independent 832 bytes USB DPRAM for endpoint memory allocation
  • Comes with suspend/Resume Interrupts
  • Offers crystal-less operation to enable Low-Speed mode
  • It is possible to execute CPU Reset on USB Bus Reset detection
  • It is equipped with USB Bus Connection/Disconnection on Microcontroller Request

Peripheral Features of Arduino ATmega 32u4

  • Four PWM Channels that has Programmable Resolution ranging from 2 to 16 Bits
  • On-chip Temperature Sensor
  • One 10-bit High-Speed Timer/Counter with PLL (64MHz) and Compare Mode
  • Four 8-bit PWM  Channels
  • Six PWM Channels for High-Speed Operation, with Programmable Resolution from 2 to 11 Bits
  • On-chip PLL for USB and High-Speed Timer : 32 up to 96MHz operation
  • Byte-Oriented 2-wire Serial Interface
  • Output Compare Modulator
  • Two 16-bit Timer/Counter with Separate Prescaler, Compare- and Capture Mode
  • One 8-bit Timer/Counter with Separate  Prescaler  and Compare Mode
  • Programmable Serial USART with Hardware Flow Control
  • 12-channels, 10-bit ADC (features Differential Channels with  Programmable Gain )
  • Master/Slave SPI Serial Interface
  • Programmable Watchdog  Timer with Separate On-chip Oscillator
  • Interrupt and Wake-up on Pin Change
  • On-chip Analog Comparator

Applications of ATmega 32u4

ATmega 32u4 is a low power microcontroller ideal for many applications. Some consumer electronics feature this microcontroller board.

  • Automation and control process
  • Sensors and instrumentation
  • Consumer electronics
  • Appliances
  • Circuitry to control processes
  • Monitoring medical equipment
  • Rectification
  • Motor control
  • DAC applications
  • Power regulation

Boards Based on the ATmega32u4 Microcontroller

There are several boards based on ATmega32u4 microcontroller. Examples of such boards are the Arduino Leonardo board and The Micro.

Arduino Leonardo board

This board operates based on ATmega32u4. It features a power jack, a micro USB connection, 20 I/O pins, and in-circuit serial programming. The Leonardo works in a different way from other Arduino boards. This is because of its inbuilt USB 2.0 communication.

Arduino Leonardo board integrates a single microcontroller to communicate with your personal computer. This makes Leonardo a more flexible option for communicating with a computer.

The Micro

This microcontroller board is also based on ATmega32u4. The Micro has an ICSP header, a reset button, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, and 20 digital I/O pins. This board shares some similarities with Arduino Leonardo due to the built-in USB communication of ATmega32u4. With this, the Micro appears to a computer as a keyboard or a mouse.

The ATmega32u4 integrated in this board is already preprogrammed using a bootloader. This enables users to upload new code without the need for an external hardware programming. Also, users can ignore the bootloader and use the ICSP header to program the microcontroller. You can use a USB connection to power the Micro.

What is the Difference Between Arduino ATmega32u4 and ATmega328P?

The ATmega32u4 and ATmega328P both belong to the AVR family. These two microcontroller boards share some similarities. However, they have some differences. One of the differences is that the ATmega32U4 features a USB device peripheral while the 328P doesn’t.

Furthermore, ATmega32u4 is more expensive than the ATmega328P. The ATmega32u$ offers support to serial while ATmega32u4 only works with USB. If you need a keyboard, the ATmega32u4 is a great option. However, there are some applications that require the use of serial.

For programming, the ATmega328P requires a USB-to-serial converter. This is because this microcontroller board doesn’t communicate with a USB cable. The biggest benefit of ATmega32u4 is the built-in USB which enables it function like a USB keyboard, MIDI or a mouse. Also, ATmega32u4 is widely integrated in Aduino Leonardo and other compatible boards.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a bootloader be written for ATMEGA32U4?

The built-in USB interface of Arduino ATmega 32u4 is one of its great features. This feature makes it very easy to program. All you just need to do is to connect a USB cable and voila! The Arduino bootloader will need to be burnt to the Arduino sketches to help upload the sketches. You can make use of the Arduino Uno if there is no programmer.

How can a keyboard be connected to the ATMEGA32U4?

The Human Interface Device (HID)is one of the defined USB device classes. Each USB device has a device class. The device class specifies the general purpose of the USB device. There are a wide variety of classes which include speakers, hubs, webcams, and printers among others.

Which microcontroller board is based on ATMEGA32U4?

The Micro is a microcontroller board that integrates the ATmega32u4. It comes with 20 digital I/O pins, a reset button, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, an ICSP header, and a micro USB connection. The Micro features every important element required to support the microcontroller. All you need to do is to connect the Micro to a computer using a micro USB cable.

How can I recognize the ATmega32U4 via USB?

The ATmeaga32u4 allows the connection of USB pins to a special hardware to perform USB signaling. The hardware pretty supports the electronics, but, it doesn’t control the received or sent data. Also, you need to send and receive the data to identify the device. If the chip has no software, it won’t send any data. Windows will most likely reveal that one of the connected USB devices has malfunctioned. However, it might not be able to detect it.


Since the Arduino ATmega 32u4 controls its USB connection, this makes it a more flexible option compared to 328P boards. The ATmega 32u4 can be easily programmed to function as a mouse, MIDI controller, or a keyboard when connected to a computer. These capabilities aren’t possible with 328P boards.




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