There’s one element that’s a part of just about every design -- a processor element. That’s a fancy way of saying the microprocessor or microcontroller. While it’s easy to say that most MCUs are similar, there are differences among the various architectures (and sometimes very subtle differences) that can make or break your design.
What is the peripheral mix? How much memory is embedded? How do you relate to the tool chain? Is there an upgrade (or downgrade) path to migrate to for future generations? And so on. Those questions just scratch the surface of how to choose the right processor, because generally, each of the processor vendors can answer those questions within its own offerings.
As a way to assist you in this crucial development stage, we’ve put together a series of classes in our Continuing Education Center that looks at the PIC family of microcontrollers. The lecture series is named Pick (and Implement) the Right PIC MCU. If you’re considering this architecture for your project, I highly recommend you take the time to sit in on this week’s lectures. (Note that the classes are archived, so you don’t have to be there when the live classes occur.)
Find out more about the Digi-Key Continuing Education Center and earning IEEE professional development hours here.
I agree, The 8051 is an excellent device to learn how a microcontroller works. To gain a true understanding of microcontrollers, Assembly Language allows students to explore the inner workings of a chip by observing registers, RAM and ROM memory locations quite easily. With the help of Keil uVision 4 IDE, students have access to all of the 8051 internal architectural circuit blocks.
I agree. The students are learning lot about an MCU's architecture by programming and experimenting with an 8051 microcontroller. The transition to other mcus is seamless because most of them have the basic registers, I/O ports, timers, RAM, and ROM circuit blocks like the 8051. I always enjoy teaching this class and students have a great time writing coding and building some really cool devices using the 8051.
Danial,I would also like to mention that it is an iterative process. To be really good at designing an embedded system you have to be constantly in touch with the market. Although to have knowledge of designing the embedded systems is crucial but to keep yourself updated with the new tecnhnology and the latest components is equally important.
Exactly taimoortariq. Not only does it help us for the upcoming new projects, but the knowledge itself opens new doors for us. Once we have all the required knowledge of PLCs, we can use the right PLC for our projects and also innovate and design new possibilities for them, covering the defects and drawbacks in the previous versions. In this way you might be able to invent something useful for yourself in particular and the community in general.
Danial for an embedded engineer knowing the architecture and coding knowledge is just the part of the whole package. It is essential to know all of the components that are needed for the embedded project. Most of the applications will require you to design an embedded system with best suited components. Like you must know how much RAM your application will take? what best interface will give you the optimal response? whether you want a real time OS or not?
Having Such knowledge will definitely help a lot in professional environment where new projects are coming in everyday.
You are certainly right. We also in our Undergrad started of with the 8051 controller and shifted to AVR and Arduino later. But we learned alot from the 8051 course, we got to know almost everything that was needed to know about the MCUs and their basic operation. I am sure that the students are learning a lot in your class.
Thanks for the information. Again, your project sounds interesting. I'll look over the Wiki page you provided. It might be something I can use in a future class discussion for my microcontroller class.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.