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I'm looking to shrink-ify my arduino project in the future, and I was wondering if there's anything like an all-in-one 'tiny' ethernet board that'll work with an attiny chip, preferably with the standard arduino ethernet library.

If anyone can name a few such boards/simple ICs, that'd be super! What I want to avoid is horrendous complexities.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be better to address this the other way around: Find all the Arduino Ethernet libraries that you can, and see which shield(s) each of them supports and make your decision on that basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Feb 19 '13 at 0:00
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The Wiznet w5x00 (5100, 5200, 5300) series based shields is what you want. They have a built in TCP/IP stack, which relieves code and ram intensive programming to to ethernet chip, and simple spi interfacing. The w5100 is what is used in some standard arduino shields. The w5200 is newer, has a sleep mode, and wiznet provides changes for the arduino library to make it work with existing code. And the w5300 is the newest, has some bottleneck fixes, but no specific to arduino library is provided yet, though I doubt it would take much changing to get working.

The key part of this being that the built-in tcp/ip stack offloads the heavy lifting from the attiny to the ethernet chip. The ENC28J60 and similar do not have the embedded tcp/ip stack, so you have to code (or use a library), and those libraries are memory and code size intensive.

A comparison, I can't find any attiny ethernet projects, but there is a w5200 based msp430 Launchpad booster pack (Shield equivalent) that targets a msp430G2553, which has 16kb of code space and just 512b ram. Example code includes a fully working server. It uses 4.5kb of code, and 400b of ram.

On the other hand, a ENC28J60 based shield and library has a code space usage of 7KB and 520 bytes RAM, on a arduino atmega328p.

Using the w5x00 (or another with a built in tcp stack) and you should be able to fit it on a attiny85 (8kb code space, 512b ram)

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If you want to avoid complexity, you don't want a separate board but rather as much integrated as possible.

I like the PIC 18F67J60 for small ethernet projects. This chip includes a ethernet MAC/PHY built in. All you need for additional ethernet parts is the connector, magnetics, and a few resistors, caps, and a ferrite bead chip inductor. For simple (as apposed to cheaper), get a RJ-45 jack with the magnetics built in.

Microchip has libraries for various networking and other stuff you should be able to use.

I don't know if Atmel has a chip with as much of ethernet integrated as the PIC 18F67J60. They probably have a parts selector, so look around.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Arduino Due does offer pretty much the same thing - and runs on an Atmel 84 MHz Cortex M3. Again, the same additional parts are needed. This clone of the Due breaks out the ethernet relevant pins, thus doing better than the official Due board. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Feb 19 '13 at 8:13
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If you want to use the Arduino Ethernet libraries, you're forced into the Wiznet 5100 (I think that's the p/n anyway)... and I would expect a pretty significant code/ram footprint at any rate, not sure the ATtiny is suitable to Ethernet functions. You can check out the Nanode for an integrated AVR/Arduino based alternative (it uses the EtherCard library and the ENC28J60 ethernet controller). In the interest of full disclosure, I sell / produce the Nanode.

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