The ATmega8A features a 10-bit successive approximation ADC. The ADC is connected to an 8-channel Analog Multiplexer which allows eight single-ended voltage inputs constructed from the pins of Port C. The single-ended voltage inputs refer to 0V (GND).

The ADC contains a Sample and Hold circuit which ensures that the input voltage to the ADC is held at a constant level during conversion. A block diagram of the ADC is shown below.

The ADC has a separate analog supply voltage pin, AVCC. AVCC must not differ more than ±0.3V from VCC. See section ADC Noise Canceler on how to connect this pin.

Internal reference voltages of nominally 2.56V or AVCC are provided On-chip. The voltage reference may be externally decoupled at the AREF pin by a capacitor for better noise performance.

Figure 1. Analog to Digital Converter Block Schematic Operation

The ADC converts an analog input voltage to a 10-bit digital value through successive approximation. The minimum value represents GND and the maximum value represents the voltage on the AREF pin minus 1LSB. Optionally, AVCC or an internal 2.56V reference voltage may be connected to the AREF pin by writing to the REFSn bits in the ADMUX Register. The internal voltage reference may thus be decoupled by an external capacitor at the AREF pin to improve noise immunity.

The analog input channel is selected by writing to the MUX bits in ADMUX. Any of the ADC input pins, as well as GND and a fixed bandgap voltage reference, can be selected as single ended inputs to the ADC. The ADC is enabled by setting the ADC Enable bit, ADEN in ADCSRA. Voltage reference and input channel selections will not go into effect until ADEN is set. The ADC does not consume power when ADEN is cleared, so it is recommended to switch off the ADC before entering power saving sleep modes.

The ADC generates a 10-bit result which is presented in the ADC Data Registers, ADCH and ADCL. By default, the result is presented right adjusted, but can optionally be presented left adjusted by setting the ADLAR bit in ADMUX.

If the result is left adjusted and no more than 8-bit precision is required, it is sufficient to read ADCH. Otherwise, ADCL must be read first, then ADCH, to ensure that the content of the Data Registers belongs to the same conversion. Once ADCL is read, ADC access to Data Registers is blocked. This means that if ADCL has been read, and a conversion completes before ADCH is read, neither register is updated and the result from the conversion is lost. When ADCH is read, ADC access to the ADCH and ADCL Registers is re-enabled.

The ADC has its own interrupt which can be triggered when a conversion completes. When ADC access to the Data Registers is prohibited between reading of ADCH and ADCL, the interrupt will trigger even if the result is lost.