Preventing Flash Corruption

During periods of low VCC, the Flash program can be corrupted because the supply voltage is too low for the CPU and the Flash to operate properly. These issues are the same as for board level systems using the Flash, and the same design solutions should be applied.

A Flash program corruption can be caused by two situations when the voltage is too low. First, a regular write sequence to the Flash requires a minimum voltage to operate correctly. Secondly, the CPU itself can execute instructions incorrectly, if the supply voltage for executing instructions is too low.

Flash corruption can easily be avoided by following these design recommendations (one is sufficient):

  1. 1.If there is no need for a Boot Loader update in the system, program the Boot Loader Lock bits to prevent any Boot Loader software updates.
  2. 2.Keep the AVR RESET active (low) during periods of insufficient power supply voltage. This can be done by enabling the internal Brown-out Detector (BOD) if the operating voltage matches the detection level. If not, an external low VCC reset protection circuit can be used. If a reset occurs while a write operation is in progress, the write operation will be completed provided that the power supply voltage is sufficient.
  3. 3.Keep the AVR core in Power-down sleep mode during periods of low VCC. This will prevent the CPU from attempting to decode and execute instructions, effectively protecting the SPMCR Register and thus the Flash from unintentional writes.