Talk:List of common microcontrollers

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summary comparison[edit]

We need a good summary comparison of the DIY programmable microcontrollers -- the ones such as BASIC Stamp, PICAXE, and Arduino that can be developed for no more than about $100 (if you already have a general-purpose computer to host the development). It should list the power supply voltage range, the minimum power consumption, the max clock speed, the min cost for a development system (quan. one), the min cost for a target system (quan. one), the programming languages, and whether a complete open-source development set is available (no proprietary assembler-compilers etc). And the range of RAM and EEPROM available. (See also [1] and [2]) - 19:51, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

No mention of Analog Devices[edit]

? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:29, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing this out.
Fixed. -- 15:19, 2 October 2007 (UTC)


Should the SigmaTel (now Freescale) SOC's be covered here? STMP35xx, STMP36xx, etc. [3] I couldn't seem to find them in the list, but I might have missed them. Zodon (talk) 09:43, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Common microcontrollers are not one-off DIY kit semiconductors[edit]

My background is 1.) I like to tear apart embedded stuff from DOCSYS modems to Linksys WRT54 to phones to Car Computers (yes they can be reprogrammed for better performance via JTAG or serial port for older ones, against the Law per EPA), DVD players and Set top boxes and Printer, et al. and 2.) I worked at Phillips and John Fluke Manufacturing which made test interfaces: in-circuit emulators (ICE), Meters, Oscilloscopes, etc.).

This section should be for embedded microcontrollers found when you take apart a DVD player or Refrigerator logic board, for example. Classic definition is CPU, RAM, ROM/PROM (that is NOT "user" programmable), RAM, Clock?, self-contained I/O to control surroundings.

Chips NOT enumerated here but have been extensively used as microcontrollers are:

  • Fairchild 3870 (also made by Mostek)(everything from video games to vending machines), similar programming model to CP1650/Microchip
  • TI TMS-1000 series (calculators, home appliances, cars), introduced 1972.
  • The original Rockwell PPS-4, was introduced in the third quarter of 1972.
  • TI TMS 9940, based on TMS9900 which was based on TI 990 Minicomputer.
  • GI PIC1650 (not very popular but became the Microchip forerunner), also PIC1670, PIC1645, PIC1655.
  • Synertek "6502" series (Rockwell, Harris Semiconductors, Conexant Systems, their CPU handbook said they were second source) e.g. R6501 with RAM/IO but Ext ROM),
  • RCA CDP1804 (also Intersil and Harris Semiconductor), the 1802 was the go to processor for Military and Space missions due to radiation resistance.
  • Intel 8020/8022 microcontrollers
  • HD6301 CMOS, used in Epson HX-20, my portable thermal printer (Brother 600), Fluke Meters, etc.
  • AMD ELAN series

Less used but still were prevalent in some sectors:

  • TI TMS7000 series (short lived?, 8-bit)
  • National Semiconductor NSC807x (NSC8073 had Basic interpreter in ROM, predated Z8 8671-Basic and i8052-Basic chips)
  • General Instrument PIC1650 I/O processor (minor part of the CP1600 MCU peripheral chipset) for all the simple people who like Microchip. The Wiki Microchip article revises history. My information is from Adam Osborne's (a person of note who lived in that era) "An Introduction to Microprocessors". General Instruments 16xx MCUs were common in Set Top Boxes and External Modems among other uses (G.I. only supported volume users).

Re: microcontroller definition as self contained embedded system. The original IBM Super VGA was an add on "8514A" card containing TMS32020 DSP(controller)(had "host interface". IBM 8514 video accellerator commands sent to the card were adopted as VESA command set, and these Video Controllers diverged to TIGA(TMS32040 to TMS32096) and S3 types. I have one system with Chip and Technologies CT69030 with internal ROM and 2 MB RAM on chip, basically a dedicated microcontroller with a host interface. ATI Mobility is similar. Newer video products allow user retasking e.g. dedicating video stream processors to join a Linux cluster.

References (other than wikipedia) search tms9940 etc. Adam Osborne, "An Introduction to Microprocessors" Microcontroller programming: the microchip PIC By Julio Sanchez, Maria P. Canton in Google Books pg 130 "a 1970 microcontroller" Shjacks45 (talk) 02:25, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

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Which microcontroller (architecture) would be most popular? And which dead?[edit]

Sorry for asking here (but maybe it would be useful information in this article). I have a feeling that the ARM architecture would be about the most popular architecture by now, except some 8-bit candidates. Who could they be? I expect people to decide based on cost, performance and in some cases what you know. How many here are just a historical curiosity that noone uses anymore or at least can be excluded? Or other way around who could be more popular? comp.arch (talk) 11:45, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Which kind of popular? ELAN/EMC, WinBond, and GeneralPlus/SunPlus all ship more units than ARM, but there are many many times more engineers and programmers working on ARM, and ARM almost certainly ships a larger dollar volume. Unless you are making talking toys or $1 four-function calculators you probably never heard of them or any other uC with masked ROM and minimum orders of 100,000 or so, but some of the toys I have worked on were produced at rates of 100,000 per hour. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:10, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Hmm.. That's a lot.. I'm still not sure ARM could be better for this. Might be overkill, but at $0.36400 at quantity of 3,880 it might be too expensive for a $1 toy? I'm not sure what kind of discount you could get if you bought 100,000 or what you get for other microcontrollers and maybe I'll never find out (NDA?). comp.arch (talk) 17:49, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
I can say this much; Not found in any catalog (work for Mattel or Hasbro and they will find you), cost is well under a nickel, 4-bit processor, 64 nybbles of RAM, no external components such as crystals required, bare die (you wire-bond it to the PWB and cover with a blob of epoxy), and of course if your program has a bug you discard 100,000 parts, re-order, and wait a month or two. And Christmas comes whether your toy is ready or not. -Guy Macon (talk) 18:34, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
Still not convinced that 4-bit architecures dominate (let alone any one). Unless things have changed much, my sources (from the past, and current do not mention 4-bit) say 8-bit space is much bigger than 4-bit. Are you working with 4-bits currently or in the past? Even if you or others use 4-bits currently, 10 billion ARM processors produced in the last year alone is a lot and even if every PERSON on earth got a cheap toy (just one that is - or calculator. Note also "starting with the HP-49g+ model the calculators use ARM CPUs that emulate the Saturn architecture" [4-bit]) then that alone is not enough. As the example you mentioned is hardly useful for much else than what you mentioned(?) then I assume there is no huge market for 4-bits besides the toys. Still intrigued, I'm not too familiar with 4-bits (only know about 4004), could you hazard a guess to how many (still popular) (incompatible) architectures? Are there any dominant ones? And having to order this quantity must be offputting to many (or you just develop in an emulator)?
Even going to 8-bit (or 16-bit) I'm not sure they challenge the ARM (any one 8-bit architecture). 8051 seems to be the only contender for the big numbers (but it seems fewer). Some say PIC, but unless there are clones Microchip Technology has produced so far fewer chips than the above 10 billion ARM in one year. Many think TI MSP430 is the most popular (not familiar with it?). [4] Most popular cumulative over the years would also be interesting, but then there have been 50 billion ARM processors, and I'm not sure it cuts it..
Besides cost (that doesn't seem to do it for popularity), is there any reason ARM could not be most popular? I'm looking into Low Pin Count, but more bits use(d) to require more pins, but for microcontrollers with memory integrated is there any reason for that? And 32-bit (ARM) doesn't have to use more power. And for code density 32-bit used to hurt but in microcontrollers not really (16-bit Thumb code). Besides if memory is not tiny some part of the code could be 8 or 4 bit (see Saturn above).
"Today's microcontroller market is really divided into three segments, 8-, 16-, and 32-bit cores (the 4-bit microcontroller segment today is so small that we will ignore it in this comparison). Each of the three segments is roughly the same size. Traditionally, the 8-bit segment has been the largest. [..]
Depending on which analyst report you read, the 32-bit segment is by far the fastest growing segment and may have surpassed the 8-bit segment in size. [..]
If you use one of these 8-bit microcontrollers today, then tomorrow you can migrate to the company's 32-bit version and still be able to use the same printed circuit board. One such example is the recently announced PSoC 3 and PSoC 5 architectures from Cypress Semiconductor.
These two architectures have the same peripheral sets, packages and pin outs. A board designed for the PSoC 3 architecture, which uses a new single-cycle per instruction 8051 running at up to 67 MHz, can easily work with its PSoC 5 counterpart. The PSoC 5 uses an ARM Cortex-M3 processor running up to 80 MHz. Products like this make moving from one architecture to another painless
The belief that you are going to have to re-write all of your code for the new 32-bit product is worth challenging as well. Many of these new products that match peripherals between 8-bit and 32-bit cores also are firmware compatible. [5] See also Talk:ARM architecture#Most popular unqualified? comp.arch (talk) 15:12, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
I would guess today (June 2014) that if you exclude the extreme-low-cost market, such as dirt cheap toys and trinkets, then ARM is most likely the most popular architecture. • SbmeirowTalk • 15:48, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
As I said above, I don't think that matters and my sources (not just one and over time - I've lookup up a lot of stuff) do indicate that at least the 4-bit market as a whole is less than 8-bit one or the 32-bit one. If you are saying the dirt cheap stuff would use 8-bit, it doesn't seem to matter, but why would you use a 8051 at $0.25 (lowest number I've seen) if you could use get a $0.05 4-bit? [I see that remote controls use 4-bit also.] I assumed lowest price would be most popular, but there just seems to be more demand for more powerful microcontrollers that make up for this (or you CAN get a good discount..). When you are speaking about powerful microcontrollers are there really any good contenders to ARM (they have DSP instructions). There are I think still some more powerful DSPs but that segment seems also be small(er) and ARM powerful enough. comp.arch (talk) 16:18, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Does anyone have any sources on how many 4-bit CPUs are sold, and any sources on how many 32-bit CPUs are sold? Please, comp.arch and other readers, if you have such sources, please add them to this article as references. My source tells me that, out of all CPUs sold, about 55% are 8-bit, about 15% are 4-bit, and about 8% are 32-bit -- i.e., 4-bit CPUs outsell 32-bit CPUs roughly two to one. Turley, Jim (18 December 2002). "The Two Percent Solution". Embedded Systems Design. TechInsights (United Business Media). 

Most of the people I mention this to[6] can't believe that anyone still makes 4-bit CPUs, much less that they outsell 32-bit CPUs, and insist that I must be wrong or at least out of date, but so far no one has actually supplied a reliable source to back up their assertions. I suspect there is a large unwritten history of 4-bit CPUs, some of which would be encyclopedic enough to go into 4-bit and other Wikipedia articles. I hope Guy Macon and others will tell their piece of the story before it is forgotten. --DavidCary (talk) 20:17, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Well, they do make (or have in stock..) 4-bits.[7] I overlooked them when first looking this - as they are more expensive than ARM and 8-bits and 16-bit. I stopped reading when I hit ARM on page 8? I'll find the link later, very recent that says 4, 8, 16 and 32 bit are about the same. I assumed by volume. By units doesn't make sense given Figure 3.[8] comp.arch (talk) 21:15, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Those 4-bit uCs listed all have some sort of nonvolatile memory (QzROM, EEPROM). The masked ROM parts are a lot cheaper. As for applications, car-locking keyfobs, toasters, garage door openers, talking greeting cards, the door openers for most businesses, flashing bicycle safety lights, automatic cat feeders, RF ID badges, aftermarket CPU fan speed controls, watches, kitchen timers, spark igniters for stoves, flashing Christmas tree light strings, tire pressure gauges, coffee makers, blenders, intermittent windshield wipers... Pretty much anything that used to be done with two or three 7400/4000 logic chips or a 555 timer can be done cheaper with a cheap uC, but only if your quantities are high enough.
Another aspect is this: When your favorite chip starts using smaller geometries (with considerable cost reduction and/or performance boost) or larger wafers, what happens to the equipment for making the old chips? It gets bought at pennies on the dollar by small no-name companies in Asia that then use it to make huge numbers of really cheap, low performance uCs.
Alas, nobody seems to really know how many parts per year we are talking about. I know that as a consultant working with multiple toy manufacturers, I often work with parts and even manufacturers that are not found when you do a web search, and have no web page, not even a Chinese-language one.
While the above might be interesting, this being Wikipedia, we have to report what we can find sources for, meanwhile keeping an eye out for sources for those round black blobs that you find when you tear apart electronic toys. --Guy Macon (talk) 23:36, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Semico from 2011: "Automotive MCU sales grew 46.2% in 2010 [..] As a whole, MCU market revenues will continue riding the momentum gained in 2010, with a 36.5% growth [..] This data-rich study includes both a Word document and an Excel workbook with all the data and charts easily accessible.
Different segmentations of the MCU market are included:
Units, Revenues, and ASPs, 2004-2015
by 4-bit, 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit+"[9]
Microcontroller: "About 55% of all CPUs sold in the world are 8-bit microcontrollers and microprocessors. According to Semico, over four billion 8-bit microcontrollers were sold in 2006". This was sourced but only to Just assuming this constant high 36.5% growth rate, the number of ARM processors in 2013 only (10 billion ARM processors) would account about a quarter. Is Semico not credible?
Now, I was told a while back that a luxury car has 300+ microcontrollers. Not sure what the average is for cars or for a low end cars (dozens?). Unless they are very much fewer (and many 4-bit) I think we can exclude the 4-bit segment as a leader at least from the modern household and just look at cars to look for the dominant architecture (any idea how many microcontrollers for households vs. businesses/public space?). I've "bought" my share of $1 toys included with Happymeals but nowhere near to 300 or even 50.. (one kid). comp.arch (talk) 13:54, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
In 2010: "Jack Ganssle recently asked me about 4-bit microcontrollers. He noted that there are no obvious 4-bit microcontrollers listed in the Embedded Processing Directory – but that is partly because there are so few of them that I “upgraded” them to the 8-bit listing a few years back. In all the years I have been doing the directory, this is the first time someone has asked about the 4-bitters. [..]
In contrast, the humble 4-bit gets even less to no attention than the 8- and 16-bitters – but the 4-bit microcontroller is not dead either. Epson just posted a new data sheet for a 4-bit microcontroller a few weeks ago (I am working to get them added to the Embedded Processing Directory now)." [10]
I would assume that at some point 4-bits stops getting used (much). Just as 1-bit onces are outdated (right) and bit sliced ones. Would your argument with the old machines in Asia not work as well for 8-bits (eg. 8051) as for 4-bits? How many transistor does it take to make 4/8/32 bits? With ARM you have to pay a license (unless maybe with Amber) but not 8-bits. 4-bits seem illogical now to me as the lowest end (all other things equal). comp.arch (talk) 14:15, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I think you are most likely correct in your conclusions.
According to this blog post, Semico lists "Units, Revenues, and ASPs, 2004-2015 by 4-bit, 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit". It looks like the latest might be this one. I wonder how much the report costs? Possibly a lot, but maybe they will make an exception if we say it is for a citation on Wikipedia. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:39, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
"How many transistor does it take to make 4/8/32 bits?"
If you know the answer to this, please fill in the details at the transistor count article, rather than here.
"Unless they are very much fewer (and many 4-bit) I think we can exclude the 4-bit segment as a leader" -- huh? Are you saying that "Assuming that they don't use 4-bit microcontrollers, we can conclude that they don't use 4-bit microcontrollers"? Surely that's not what you meant.
"4-bits seem illogical ... all other things equal ... is there any reason ARM could not be most popular?"
How can we improve Wikipedia to avoid perpetuating the myth that anything less than 64 bits is obsolete and illogical?
Cost was once the main reason to use processors narrow than 32 bits. I am very happy to learn that cost alone is no longer an issue for designing-in 32 bit processors.
However, yes, there are other non-illogical reasons to use processors narrower than 32 bits.
Rather than list them here, I went ahead and stuck some of them into the microprocessor article,[11] with a reference that lists a few more reasons.
"unless there are clones" -- I've been told that HT48RXX I/O type series (as shown in "EEVblog #297 - Canon LANC Bus Reverse Engineering") are clones of Microchip PIC microcontrollers used in lots of low-cost devices.
As comp.arch (quoting Robert Cravotta) mentioned, the Embedded Processing Directory lumps 4-bit processors into the "8-bit" section. Anyone can download the "8-bit entries" section of the Embedded Processing Directory from[12] after giving them one's email address, and see some 4-bit microcontrollers from EM Microelectronic.
But, oddly enough, even though Cravotta mentioned adding Epson 4-bit processors to the EPD list, I can't find any Epson processors on the EPD list, even though the Epson microcontrollers page[13] seems to imply they still manufacture 4bit, High 4bit, 8bit, 16bit, and 32bit microcontrollers.
I can't find any Samsung processors on the EPD list either, although I hear they have several families of 4-bit microcontrollers and several families of 8-bit microcontrollers,[14][15] such as the 4-bit S3C7xxx (KS57) series, which according to the Samsung microcontroller Parameter Selector[16] is still in mass production.

Where are and how can you get the cheapest (4-bit) microcontrollers for 5 cents (or 0.1 cent..)?[edit]

Now in the section above Guy Macon mentioned 5 cent 4-bits. 4-bits at any price are just very hard to find (in the USA, and those are more expensive than the 8 or 32 bit I found). I went looking and found some interesting stuff: "A prototype design of the Microdot 4-bit microcontroller for space applications is presented [..] A brief history of 4-bit microcontrollers"[17] and Alibaba 4-bit search.. that gave 8-bit results mostly, and no 4-bits with prices (on the first page) except higher than the 8-bit with "Tags: 4 Bit Microcontroller | 1 Square Bit | 1 Diamond Bit" and:

New Original IC ATMEGA16-10AU -bit Microcontroller with 128K Bytes In-System Programmable Flash
FOB Price: US $0.1 - 100 / Unit Get Latest Price
Min.Order Quantity: 1 Unit/Units
Supply Ability: 10000000 Unit/Units per Day[18]

Microchip ICs EPROM-Based 8-Bit CMOS Microcontrollers MCP6L04T-E/SL
FOB Price: US $0.01 - 1,000 / Piece Get Latest Price
Min.Order Quantity: 10 Piece/Pieces

1.MCP6L04T-E/SL 12+
2.Brand: Microchip
4.Descreption:IC MCU 8BIT 3.5KB EPROM 18CDIP[19]

If you want to go this route there is no reason to limit yourself to 8-bit (or 4-bit) when 32-bit is same price..:
IC CHINA components parts ic parts STM32F103RET6 STM 12+ LQFP64 ARM Microcontrollers - MCU 32BIT
US $0.01-100 / Piece ( FOB Price)
1 Piece (Min. Order)[20]

Unless this one finally is the genuine article:
Smart Bes High Quality!! AT89S52-24PU AT89S52 DIP-40 89S52 8-bit Microcontroller with 8K Bytes In-System Programmable ic Chip
FOB Price: US $0.001 - 10 / Piece Get Latest Price
Min.Order Quantity: 1 Piece/Pieces
Supply Ability: 30000 Meter/Meters per Month[sic]

Packaging Detail: vacuum package
Delivery Detail: 7days[21]..

or the US$ 0 I found.. comp.arch (talk) 17:55, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

I know of no cheap 4-bit processor that doesn't have masked ROM and a minimum order quantity of at least 50,000 units, and in my experience if you are making that many they will contact you. And, alas, I cannot disclose exact prices because of a confidentiality agreement. I don't see any cheap 4-bit processors on Digikey, etc., just pricy ones with programmable ROM. If you are only making a thousand or so of your product, something like a PIC, Atmel or ARM make a lot more sense. In the end, our readers don't care what Mattel or Hasbro use -- they care about chips that they can actually buy. Nonetheless, I would really like Wikipedia to have a sourced estimate of who makes the most chips by unit volume and by dollar volume. I think that would be of interest to most readers. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:13, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
"there is no reason to limit yourself to 8-bit (or 4-bit) when 32-bit is same price"
Huh ? Yes, there are other non-illogical reasons to use processors narrower than 32 bits.
Rather than list them here, I went ahead and stuck some of them into the microprocessor article,[22] with a reference that lists a few more reasons. --DavidCary (talk) 17:14, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Alibaba prices are meaningless until you actually try to order the parts. I've seen lots of typos and mistakes in price and minimum order quantities. Also, you must take shipping into consideration unless the items says "free shipping". • SbmeirowTalk • 18:18, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

The IXYS Corporation article has some references that mention "significant sales" of 4-bit microcontrollers and implies that all Samsung 8-bit and 4-bit processors will be available from Zilog. --DavidCary (talk) 18:57, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

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