So I have a project where I will be using an Arduino Leonardo and an external ADC (AD7980) to run a 16-bit (18bit) conversion and transmit it to the Arduino and then out on USB as fast as possible.

The AD7980 can run up to 1 MSPS, and I know I cannot reach that with the ATmega32U4 - but I want to know how to optimize my code for running it as fast as possible and how to measure it.

Right now my code is:

#include <SPI.h>

int CNV= 11; //Convert on pin 11
int Slaveselect=8;
int adcValue;
byte highByte;
byte lowByte;

void setup() {
  SPI.setClockDivider(SPI_CLOCK_DIV2 ); // 8 MHz rate
  pinMode(Slaveselect, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(CNV, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  // SS always high to use 3 Wire mode without busy indicator
  digitalWrite(CNV,HIGH);//starts conversion
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(CNV,LOW); //starts to transmit MSB on data line
  highByte = SPI.transfer(0x00);
  lowByte = SPI.transfer(0x00);
  adcValue = highByte << 8;
  adcValue = adcValue | lowByte;
  Serial.print("analog value =");

The datasheet for the ADC can be found here: Datasheet

2 Answers 2

  1. Don't use digitalWrite().
  2. Don't use delay().
  3. Don't flood your Serial connection with useless junk ("analog value =")

You may also consider using lower level SPI operations instead of the SPI library, which is completely blocking and slows you down. At least consider the use of SPI.transfer16(...) which is more efficient than two SPI.transfer(...) calls.


For fast possible speed, use spi transmission buffer and spi interrupt. The concept is that once there is at least free space in the buffer, it interrupts and you load the next byte into the buffer.

That's assuming that dma isn't available.

Short of that, don't use arduino GPIO functions - they are like 100x slower than that's possible. And use a usartt isr to manage transmission.

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