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Why 8-Bit Microcontrollers Refuse to Go Away

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Critic
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What are the Correct Figures?
Critic   8/25/2015 9:42:43 AM
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Charles,

The market share figures for the 8-, 16-, and 32-bit microcontrollers add up to 111%!  They should add up to about 99% to allow 1% for 4-bit microcontrollers.  What are the correct market share figures???  According to www.atmel.com/Images/45107A-Choosing-a-MCU-Fredriksen_Article_103114.pdf, the 2014 figures are:

8-bit:  40.3%

16-bit:  21.9%

32-bit:  36.9%

Although not mentioned in your article, I suspect another reason that designers stick with 8-bit microcontrollers is to keep designs simple and avoid the additional complexity of 16- and 32-bit architectures.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: What are the Correct Figures?
Charles Murray   8/25/2015 4:32:40 PM
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Thank you for making that catch, critic (you are aptly named). The first two numbers are correct. 16-bit is indeed 39.7% and 32-bit is 38.5%. However, Gartner tells us that the 16-bit number should have been 21.8%. 4-bit is not mentioned in their study. Thanks again.

Steve Heckman
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Gold
Re: What are the Correct Figures?
Steve Heckman   8/26/2015 8:30:03 AM
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I agree with the simplicity aspect. There may be a legacy software element, but for the most part you don't NEED more than 8 biits to perform most simple tasks. 

DK8PP
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Iron
Re: What are the Correct Figures?
DK8PP   8/26/2015 9:33:24 AM
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and don't forget power consumption. No 16- or 32-bit device can beat an 8-bit processor of the same technology generation. Not only does the CPU core need less power, but also the memories are typically smaller.

philmarchand42
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Iron
keep it simple
philmarchand42   8/26/2015 8:41:55 AM
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The main reason I use the 8bit uP is because they are just perfect for the job. Why use 16 or 32 bit when 8 bit will do. The 8 pin devices are just perfect for for a lot of little applications.

And you make it sound like engineers are glued to the past and are too stupid to keep up and go to 16 and 32 bit. No, we are smart and keep it as simple as we can.

The one thing i like to see is the 8bitters go faster. Current technology can easily make the devices go 5 times as fast as they go now. That would open a lot of appications.(hear hear, go for it mfg.) What about a 100MHz AtTiny device.

Phil

barheine
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Gold
In my humble opinion...
barheine   8/26/2015 9:24:41 AM
It will be interesting to see how the market share of 8-bit microcontrollers will develop in the next few years. With their low power consumption and complexity they are ideal for small wearable devices like medical applications. Maybe we will even have an increase of 8051er, AVR & Co. I believe 8-bit will not disappear so soon. I still like to develop software for them because there is so much support in the internet. And to be honest, for many applications you really need no 32-bit µC.

 

DK8PP
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Iron
Re: In my humble opinion...
DK8PP   8/26/2015 9:38:45 AM
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arrrrgh, go away with the 8051. It is - and always was - a brain-dead architecture. Programming it, at least in assembler, is a nightmare. But otherwise, regarding Atmel, I agree.

fauxscot
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Silver
Re: In my humble opinion...
fauxscot   8/26/2015 9:49:07 AM
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I never liked the Harvard architecture chips, but developed a huge expertise in 8051 using assembly.  Wrote some huge programs for it, too.    What it taught me about micros made it possible for me to pick up high level languages and new micros in a heartbeat.

No such thing as useless experience.    Also.... several million other people did assembly programming on 8051's, etc, and I can now fix all of their stuff, plus re-engineer it to newer hardware based on being able to read their code like a cheap novel.   (Same goes for 8048/9, and all the variants, plus a bunch of newer Atmel stuff. )   Legacy support still pays well.

DK8PP
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Iron
Re: In my humble opinion...
DK8PP   8/26/2015 10:18:52 AM
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well, I guess my 8051 allergy is from the mid and late 1980ies, when HLLs were no alternative. I remember annoyances like the data pointer, whose scope was just 128 bytes and very limited conditional branch target addresses. Now I occasionally program 32-bit RISC machines with Harvard architecture (RH850) in assembler, which is almost as comfortable as programming in "C". The Harvard architecture itself does not make assembly programming uncomfortable. But AVRs I program almost exclusively in C, not in assembler. So the comparison of 8051 to AVR is probably unfair.

Chopperboy
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Pending Review
Chopperboy   8/27/2015 5:56:13 AM
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This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.

philmarchand42
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Iron
Re: In my humble opinion...
philmarchand42   8/26/2015 10:34:21 AM
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All it takes is a little experience. And good C compilers make it easy.

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