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What is the most pervasive MCU architecture?

Started by Ghazan Haider May 14, 2004
I strongly suspect it is the 8051 core. It has good maturity and is
produced by many many companies.

Yet the 6502 onwards were more popular before the 8051 was (am I
right?). What about the 68H11? is it popular at all? Ive seen many
references to powerpc-based MCUs but never bothered to dive in. Are
they used around much?

I was opening an MP3 player at home and gave myself an exercise to
list probabilities of various chips I might run into. ARM7 was on top
of my list (I think I'd use it in an MP3 player), but found a 16bit ST
chip and an ST MP3 decoder.

And then I see names like the dragonball, rabbit, and other stuff I
feel I really should know about and dont. Has civilization been built
on the bones of the 8051 or am I self-centric?

As a side question shamelessly shoved in, do people really use the
PIC, or does Microchip make its money from students?
Ghazan Haider wrote:
> I strongly suspect it is the 8051 core. It has good maturity and is > produced by many many companies.
Yup, there are more 8051's out there than people on the planet.
> Yet the 6502 onwards were more popular before the 8051 was (am I > right?). What about the 68H11? is it popular at all? Ive seen many > references to powerpc-based MCUs but never bothered to dive in. Are > they used around much? > > I was opening an MP3 player at home and gave myself an exercise to > list probabilities of various chips I might run into. ARM7 was on top > of my list (I think I'd use it in an MP3 player), but found a 16bit ST > chip and an ST MP3 decoder. > > And then I see names like the dragonball, rabbit, and other stuff I > feel I really should know about and dont. Has civilization been built > on the bones of the 8051 or am I self-centric?
Well, 8 bit western civilization has.
> As a side question shamelessly shoved in, do people really use the > PIC, or does Microchip make its money from students?
Oh yes - Microchip claim to have shipped 3 Billion Pics. You forgot 4 bit MCUs - they still churn out ~1Billion pcs/yr. -jg
>Yet the 6502 onwards were more popular before the 8051 was (am I >right?)
The 6500 series was certainly popular, yet the 8051 (and the 8048 before it) became popular because they integrated memory and I/O on the same chip. I don't remember any 65XX that were like that.
>And then I see names like the dragonball, rabbit, and other stuff I >feel I really should know about and dont.
Rabbit is based on the old Zilog Z80. There are actually two Dragonballs these days, both aimed at the PDA market. The first was based on the 68000 and the current is based on ARM. Dragonball has built-in LCD controller, analog inputs for a touch screen, programmable chip selects, and UARTs.
>do people really use the >PIC, or does Microchip make its money from students?
I know of a company that is using PICs for several new products. I also know of one popular car alarm system that used the PIC.
Gary Kato wrote:
>>Yet the 6502 onwards were more popular before the 8051 was (am I >>right?) > > > The 6500 series was certainly popular, yet the 8051 (and the 8048 before it) > became popular because they integrated memory and I/O on the same chip. I don't > remember any 65XX that were like that.
There was a modem maker that did OTP 65xx devices, IIRC. SST also recently released data and sampled a FLASH 6502 variant (65P543R) that has since 'gone quiet'. -jg
4-bit Asian uPs.  Nothing else comes close.

Ghazan Haider <ghazan@ghazan.haider.name> wrote:
> Yet the 6502 onwards were more popular before the 8051 was (am I > right?). What about the 68H11? is it popular at all? Ive seen many > references to powerpc-based MCUs but never bothered to dive in. Are > they used around much? >
HC11 is pretty much a dead duck. Motorola want you to use the new generation of HC08 for very low-end or the Star12 for slightly higher-level work. And yes, PowerPC is used a lot in higher-end embedded systems. There are a lot of PPCs in networking equipment (routers, switches, etc) - the PowerQUICCs are very much aimed at that - and also in automotive - the MPC5xx series are aimed at that and have a lot of applications in the powertrain... pete -- pete@fenelon.com "there's no room for enigmas in built-up areas"
> I strongly suspect it is the 8051 core. It has good maturity and is > produced by many many companies.
I don't know that you should ask the question so broadly. In terms of jellybeans shipped, I'd put my money with you on '51 variants. But the application is everything. Shipped volumes of, say, PowerPC micros are much smaller than shipped volumes of 8051s, but when was the last time you tried to design a gigabit Ethernet crypto board around an 8051?
> list probabilities of various chips I might run into. ARM7 was on top > of my list (I think I'd use it in an MP3 player), but found a 16bit ST > chip and an ST MP3 decoder.
My guess would have been an ASSP containing a DSP core and possibly a separate micro, maybe 8-bit, maybe 16-bit, doing the control and user interface. This is a very mainstream application and it uses well-understood protocols, storage and encoding schemes. Look at DVD players and digital cameras.
> And then I see names like the dragonball, rabbit, and other stuff I > feel I really should know about and dont. Has civilization been built > on the bones of the 8051 or am I self-centric?
Lots of meat on those bones yet. The [averaged] advice given in cae when people ask "what should I learn" is invariably that it doesn't matter, because you won't spend your whole life on one core, and skills you learn on one are easily applicable to another, it just gets more complicated as you add bigger address spaces, pipelines, caches, bus interfaces and so on. Oh, and more expensive/harder to prototype by hand as the pin count goes up. If you're already working in the field, then it pays to read release announcements and browse feature matrices occasionally, so you have them in the back of your mind. When a project seems to call for a given feature set, you can pull down the full datasheets and decide if the processor is right for the job. And ask here about toolchain support and known quirks. But aimlessly learning gory details about MCUs that might be discontinued by the time you ever need to use them? Not worth it.
> As a side question shamelessly shoved in, do people really use the > PIC, or does Microchip make its money from students?
I've asked the same question. The answer I've generally received is that Microchip has just one or two very very very large customers (Visteon, for instance), and the remainder of their sales are apparently for very small-volume projects, like contract one-off jobs, niche market stuff. But I've seen their parts in applications I'd characterize as "quite high volume", such as smart batteries in laptops. Oh, and PlayStation modchips, of course ;) Of late, I've cast my vote with the AVR crowd and left the PIC field. I really enjoy working with AVR, the architecture is very tidy and the peripherals are easy to understand. The only real complaint I have (apart from the usual price and second-source whines) is that sometimes the pin multiplexing isn't exactly what I want. For instance, I wanted to use the USI _and_ the hardware PWM channels on the tiny26L, but they overlay each other. *sigh* So, software PWM it is.
Jim Granville <no.spam@designtools.co.nz> wrote in message news:<pFXoc.1914$FN.207205@news02.tsnz.net>...
> Ghazan Haider wrote: > > I strongly suspect it is the 8051 core. It has good maturity and is > > produced by many many companies. > > Yup, there are more 8051's out there than people on the planet.
Why is this so popular? How/why is it better than other MCUs? Cheers, JonB
"Jon Beniston" <jon@beniston.com> wrote in message
news:e87b9ce8.0405140530.1c6530c7@posting.google.com...
> Jim Granville <no.spam@designtools.co.nz> wrote in message
news:<pFXoc.1914$FN.207205@news02.tsnz.net>...
> > Ghazan Haider wrote: > > > I strongly suspect it is the 8051 core. It has good maturity and is > > > produced by many many companies. > > > > Yup, there are more 8051's out there than people on the planet. > > Why is this so popular? How/why is it better than other MCUs? >
It isn't better. It's just been around for ages and for many applications, nothing more fancifull is needed. Besides, many companies have know-how on using MCS-51 which makes it cost-effective for them to keep using it. For higher-end applications, ARM is the norm. For the low-end stuff 8051. AVR and PIC are also good contenders for the low-end stuff but AVR seems superior. MSP430 is nice also since it has built-in LCD drivers, a must for mass produced products (intelligent LCD displays are too expensive for mass produced stuff).
Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com> wrote in message news:<Y8udnbX4-J5YGTndRVn-tA@speakeasy.net>...
> 4-bit Asian uPs. Nothing else comes close.
I don't doubt you'd be right if you put them all in one basket, but these really aren't a unified architecture, are they? I never really looked deeper than the assembly-langage level, but it seemed from the information (say) Winbond gave me, that these devices were often radically different. Chips from different manufacturers? Forget it. No family relationship, just similar feature-sets. Code compatibility and second-sourceing are no kind of issue for these one-time dead-end projects. '51, by contrast, is reasonably standard-ish from one person to another (clock details, peripherals, extended RAM/ROM addressing, etc vary of course, but that's not major).