All AVR ports have true Read-Modify-Write functionality when used as general digital I/O ports. This means that the direction of one port pin can be changed without unintentionally changing the direction of any other pin with the SBI and CBI instructions. The same applies when changing drive value (if configured as output) or enabling/disabling of pull-up resistors (if configured as input). Each output buffer has symmetrical drive characteristics with both high sink and source capability. The pin driver is strong enough to drive LED displays directly. All port pins have individually selectable pull-up resistors with a supply-voltage invariant resistance. All I/O pins have protection diodes to both VCC and Ground as indicated in the following figure. Refer to Electrical Characteristics – TA = -40°C to 85°C for a complete list of parameters.

Figure 1. I/O Pin Equivalent Schematic

All registers and bit references in this section are written in general form. A lower case “x” represents the numbering letter for the port, and a lower case “n” represents the bit number. However, when using the register or bit defines in a program, the precise form must be used (i.e., PORTB3 for bit 3 in Port B, here documented generally as PORTxn). The physical I/O Registers and bit locations are listed in Register Description.

Three I/O memory address locations are allocated for each port, one each for the Data Register – PORTx, Data Direction Register – DDRx, and the Port Input Pins – PINx. The Port Input Pins I/O location is read only, while the Data Register and the Data Direction Register are read/write. In addition, the Pull-up Disable – PUD bit in SFIOR disables the pull-up function for all pins in all ports when set.

Using the I/O port as General Digital I/O is described in Ports as General Digital I/O. Most port pins are multiplexed with alternate functions for the peripheral features on the device. How each alternate function interferes with the port pin is described in Alternate Port Functions. Refer to the individual module sections for a full description of the alternate functions.

Note that enabling the alternate function of some of the port pins does not affect the use of the other pins in the port as general digital I/O.