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uC selection

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Jon Slaughter, Mar 15, 2008.

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  1. Currently I use microchip pics but I'm looking possibly to switch, but what?
    Is Atmel worth it? What about TI? I'm looking for something similar to
    microchip but more of a commercial aspect. I have never seen any commercial
    device that uses a pic and I assume there are reasons for this? It seems
    that pic's are only for hobbiests so using them in a commercial product is a
  2. Ok, no one is telling me to use it cause its my decision. I use PIC's cause
    its easy to get free samples and most of the dev tools are free. But I guess
    you get what you pay for. I'm interested in moving on if there is something
    better. I want a modern IDE and modern dev tools and not something from the
    80's that still uses win3.1 based code(can tell from the interface).
  3. BobW

    BobW Guest

    What do you mean "seems that PICs are only for hobbyists"? What data do you
    have to support that conclusion?

    In my opinion, you use the component that meets your requirements.

    For example, I recently started a project with an Atmel AVR. It seemed to
    fit my needs until I discovered a really nasty characteristic in its
    interrupt latency response. Now, I'm using a PIC (24F family) and it works

    At another company, I needed an inexpensive uC. One of the PICs suited my
    needs. That company shipped tens of thousands of units with the PIC in it.

  4. sycochkn

    sycochkn Guest

    People use what they are comfortable with or what they are told to use.

  5. Guest

    It's spelled "hobbyist". Just like "lobbyist".
    PICs are used in cheap, high volume applications where you won't even
    see the part number or logo.
    What language do you program in? What kind of applications? Simple
    button-LCD-I2C or more complex signal processing?
  6. I have programmed in a large number of languages and thats not really the
    issue(python, php, C/C++/C#, java, assembly, pascal, etc..). The main thing
    is the funcitonality and scalability.

    I'm looking at TI's chips right now and trying to see how consistent the
    chips are. I am not doing any advanced uC system's yet(just adc and pwm
    stuff ATM) but eventually I'd like to get into dsp(audio processing) and
    other stuff. I don't want to have to learn a new chip every time I move to a
    new application or be limited by the architecture. PIC's seem more like
    entry level more than anything else and I feel like the time invested in
    learning them might not pay off in the long run.

    The only reason I'm using pic's now is cause of how easy was to get started
    and the majority of it was free/low cost(tools, chips, programmer, etc...).

    atmel AVR's seem similar to intel chips which I am used too as I used to do
    a lot of programming(although its been years) in x86. I'm not at all sure
    about TI and AD chips but looking at TI's now.
  7. Dave Platt

    Dave Platt Guest

    Microchip seems to be selling around $1 billion of inventory per
    year... I imagine that a goodly fraction of it is their
    microcontrollers. I've read that the PICs have traditionally been one
    of the top few in the "total number of processors installed per year"
    for quite some time.

    The PIC chips have an admittedly quirky architecture, but I believe
    they're one of the better bang-for-the- buck chips in many niches.
    The Atmel micros I've worked with have been pretty nice to work
    with. In particular, the instruction and register sets are quite
    C-and-compiler-friendly, and the generated code is usually quite
    compact. Distinctly better than the PIC or 8051 in that respect, and
    better IMO than the X86.
  8. Frank Buss

    Frank Buss Guest

    I've used the PIC18F252 in a commercial product, which is still selling.
    This chip provides a lot more than "entry level" chips.
    Take a look at some 8051 chips. I like the architecture much more than the
    PIC architecture and there are lots of companies who produces 8051
    compatible chips. A nice website for searching for microcontrollers is this

    The right microcontroller depends on many things. First define your
    requirements (technical requirements, like low power, required interfaces,
    ADC/DAC etc. and other requirements, like produced by multiple companies,
    like some 8051 chips, free development tools, price etc.) and then choose
    the chip which meets all requirements. Hobbyist requirements may be other
    than commercial requirements (e.g. for most commercial projects it doesn't
    matter to buy a good IDE and compiler).

    If you just want to play a bit with a new architecture, Silicon
    Laboratories has some nice chips and development boards. I've bought one
    for evaluating the 8051 architecture:
  9. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    What does it need to do ?

  10. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    That figures !

    I have NEVER found an 'IDE' to be even remotely of interest but then with an
    8051 you're worried about simulating the chip's defects.

  11. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    I find 'notepad' entirely satisfactory for writing PLM/51.

  12. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Since DSP chips work on an entirely different basis to general purpose
    processors, you WILL have to learn them about their operation anyway.

  13. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Lord above !

    Decisions being taken based on whether the miserable C compiler makes decent
    code for the target MCU. What HAVE we come to ? !!!

  14. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    The 8051 family is wickedly GOOD. My fave. And I have a copy of PLM/51 so I don't
    have to use that stupid 'C'.

  15. MK

    MK Guest

    The main problem with 8051 and derivatives (even Silabs nice single cycle
    25MHz and 100MHz parts which I have used in several designs) is that they
    are so slow and so limited compared with the latest 32 bitters.

    Look at ST STM32 range (ARM Cortex) - fast, free software tools if you want,
    damn good tools if you pay, cheap processors , lots of flash and RAM and
    more coming. (But there are also Atmel, NXP and Luminary parts worth looking
    at too.)

    Unless you need a fancy peripheral you can't get on a flash based ARM they
    offer a much lower total design-in cost for small volumes (ie production
    runs up to 1000) than the 8 bit processors.

    (Like all generalisations this one is subject to exceptions).

    Michael Kellett
    Hash: SHA1

    Sure if the chips suit.
    Again, sure if the chips suit the job.
    Oh, there's plenty of commercial use for them! The Dell laptop I have
    recently disassembled used a PIC for the mouse pad. You'd probably find
    them in all kinds of appliances (dishwashers, tumble driers, etc.) if you
    took some of those apart.
    Why wouldn't you? If the chip performs the function and the price is
    right, what is there to loose?

    - --
    Brendan Gillatt | GPG Key: 0xBF6A0D94
    brendan {a} brendangillatt (dot) co (dot) uk
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
  17. Guest

    Totally absurd.
    I'v read the thread, and you carry on about win3.1, IDE what not.
    I'v done video processing with an 8 pin PIC, with as only tool a scope
    the gnu assembler..

    A good musician can play wonderful music on a child's flute, a bad
    will still sound horrible on a Steinway,

    You are too vague, look for a project first, then select a suitable
    THAT is the way the professionals work.
    There is always a cost issue too.
    PICs win here many times.
    For more complex things the next step is more likely a small Linux
    based board,
    whatever processor does not matter, as you then program in C anyway.
  18. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    Not sure how 32 bits helps much for the typical uC application.

    What do you need more speed than a 33/40 MHz 8051 for anyway ?

  19. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    #include <two_cents.h>

    I finally got tired of the PIC's paging and banking schemes, not to
    mention the single "working register." That said, some apps match up
    pretty well with that architecture and it does show up inside many
    commercial products, especially white goods -- my outside HVAC unit is
    PIC-controlled. You probably have more PICs at home than you realize.

    In the 8-bit world, I find the AVRs to be a comfortable architecture,
    especially with the deep set of general purpose registers and a nice
    instruction set. Handy for home/hobby, also, given that many parts are
    still available as 5V and DIP. In-system programmable with an
    inexpensive programmer (roll-yer-own is possible).

    However, I'd recommend that you take a good look at the ARM family if
    you're interested in trying something new. No DIPs, so you'll need a
    dev board but fortunately these are available and cheap. Olimex has a
    bunch and they're distributed by Sparkfun. ARM cores also support
    multiply-and-accumulate (MAC) so, while they're not dedicated DSP
    chips, they're not incapable of DSP functionality.
  20. john jardine

    john jardine Guest

    Upto the other month I'd used Pics for over 10 years, resulting in large
    numbers being used in a mainly industrial environment. Surely that's
    commercial use?.
    If quantities are vast ('consumer', e.g. mice) then Pics in the form of
    (say) Holtek parts turn up but are then not directly recognisable.
    Look in suppliers catalogues under "micros". There's maybe 10 micro types on
    offer and that's what industry will be using in it's products. Quantities
    out there inversely proportional to page pricing.
    I recently changed to the Atmel AVR series and found it a vast improvement
    on the Pic. Not a commercial decision, just that the AVR is clean enough to
    not have to waste intellectual effort wrangling with Pic style
    idiosyncrasies, hence leaving more quality time with the
    'reason-for-the-product-the-first-place' analogue bits.
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