Fast PWM Mode

The fast Pulse Width Modulation or fast PWM mode (WGM13:0 = 5, 6, 7, 14, or 15) provides a high frequency PWM waveform generation option. The fast PWM differs from the other PWM options by its single-slope operation. The counter counts from BOTTOM to TOP then restarts from BOTTOM. In non-inverting Compare Output mode, the Output Compare (OC1x) is cleared on the Compare Match between TCNT1 and OCR1x, and set at BOTTOM. In inverting Compare Output mode output is set on Compare Match and cleared at BOTTOM. Due to the singleslope operation, the operating frequency of the fast PWM mode can be twice as high as the phase correct and phase and frequency correct PWM modes that use dual-slope operation. This high frequency makes the fast PWM mode well suited for power regulation, rectification, and DAC applications. High frequency allows physically small sized external components (coils, capacitors), hence reduces total system cost.

The PWM resolution for fast PWM can be fixed to 8-, 9-, or 10-bit, or defined by either ICR1 or OCR1A. The minimum resolution allowed is 2-bit (ICR1 or OCR1A set to 0x0003), and the maximum resolution is 16-bit (ICR1 or OCR1A set to MAX). The PWM resolution in bits can be calculated by using the following equation:


In fast PWM mode the counter is incremented until the counter value matches either one of the fixed values 0x00FF, 0x01FF, or 0x03FF (WGM13:0 = 5, 6, or 7), the value in ICR1 (WGM13:0 = 14), or the value in OCR1A (WGM13:0 = 15). The counter is then cleared at the following timer clock cycle. The timing diagram for the fast PWM mode is shown in the figure below. The figure shows fast PWM mode when OCR1A or ICR1 is used to define TOP. The TCNT1 value is in the timing diagram shown as a histogram for illustrating the single-slope operation. The diagram includes non-inverted and inverted PWM outputs. The small horizontal line marks on the TCNT1 slopes represent compare matches between OCR1x and TCNT1. The OC1x Interrupt Flag will be set when a Compare Match occurs.

Figure 1. Fast PWM Mode, Timing Diagram

The Timer/Counter Overflow Flag (TOV1) is set each time the counter reaches TOP. In addition the OCF1A or ICF1 Flag is set at the same timer clock cycle as TOV1 is set when either OCR1A or ICR1 is used for defining the TOP value. If one of the interrupts are enabled, the interrupt handler routine can be used for updating the TOP and compare values.

When changing the TOP value the program must ensure that the new TOP value is higher or equal to the value of all of the Compare Registers. If the TOP value is lower than any of the Compare Registers, a Compare Match will never occur between the TCNT1 and the OCR1x. Note that when using fixed TOP values the unused bits are masked to zero when any of the OCR1x Registers are written.

The procedure for updating ICR1 differs from updating OCR1A when used for defining the TOP value. The ICR1 Register is not double buffered. This means that if ICR1 is changed to a low value when the counter is running with none or a low prescaler value, there is a risk that the new ICR1 value written is lower than the current value of TCNT1. The result will then be that the counter will miss the Compare Match at the TOP value. The counter will then have to count to the MAX value (0xFFFF) and wrap around starting at 0x0000 before the Compare Match can occur. The OCR1A Register, however, is double buffered. This feature allows the OCR1A I/O location to be written anytime. When the OCR1A I/O location is written the value written will be put into the OCR1A Buffer Register. The OCR1A Compare Register will then be updated with the value in the Buffer Register at the next timer clock cycle the TCNT1 matches TOP. The update is done at the same timer clock cycle as the TCNT1 is cleared and the TOV1 Flag is set.

Using the ICR1 Register for defining TOP works well when using fixed TOP values. By using ICR1, the OCR1A Register is free to be used for generating a PWM output on OC1A. However, if the base PWM frequency is actively changed (by changing the TOP value), using the OCR1A as TOP is clearly a better choice due to its double buffer feature.

In fast PWM mode, the compare units allow generation of PWM waveforms on the OC1x pins. Setting the COM1x1:0 bits to 2 will produce a non-inverted PWM and an inverted PWM output can be generated by setting the COM1x1:0 to 3. Refer to table Table 2. The actual OC1x value will only be visible on the port pin if the data direction for the port pin is set as output (DDR_OC1x). The PWM waveform is generated by setting (or clearing) the OC1x Register at the Compare Match between OCR1x and TCNT1, and clearing (or setting) the OC1x Register at the timer clock cycle the counter is cleared (changes from TOP to BOTTOM).

The PWM frequency for the output can be calculated by the following equation:


N represents the prescale divider (1, 8, 64, 256, or 1024).

The extreme values for the OCR1x Register represents special cases when generating a PWM waveform output in the fast PWM mode. If the OCR1x is set equal to BOTTOM (0x0000) the output will be a narrow spike for each TOP+1 timer clock cycle. Setting the OCR1x equal to TOP will result in a constant high or low output (depending on the polarity of the output set by the COM1x1:0 bits.)

A frequency (with 50% duty cycle) waveform output in fast PWM mode can be achieved by setting OC1A to toggle its logical level on each Compare Match (COM1A1:0 = 1). This applies only if OCR1A is used to define the TOP value (WGM13:0 = 15). The waveform generated will have a maximum frequency of fOC1A = fclk_I/O/2 when OCR1A is set to zero (0x0000). This feature is similar to the OC1A toggle in CTC mode, except the double buffer feature of the Output Compare unit is enabled in the fast PWM mode.