Fujitsu Semiconductor has fortified its FM2 family of 32-bit microcontrollers (one of which is pictured here) with 38 new products, including components for high-capacity memory, low-pin-count packaging, and low power. (Source: Fujitsu)
Strangely, the 4/8 bit market continues to climb, although their market share has finally started to slip. In terms of market share by units 4/8 bit has 37%, 16 bit has 42% and 32 bit has 21% (source, IC Insights). The 32 bit machines fetch a larger ASP and are predicted for faster growth, so even though the 32 bit processors are shipping fewer units, the manufacturers are really chasing after the 32 bit market segment with new products.
With the small appliances I design in code space less than 8K, I never look at the processor's bus width, just the peripherals, pricetag and availability. That said, in the last few years most of my designs have been 16 bit because that's what's available and competitive.
I agree with Rob's comment. Perhaps Fujitsu had designed those boards with components they already had, and with minimal production, costs are able to market them in areas that gain a marginal upgrade but pay a premium price.
I'm a little surprised to hear that 32-bit MCUs are targeted toward household appliances. I would expect those applications to use less costly devices. I would say this is a sign that eight-bit is faltering, but that' been said so many times before, and it never seems to happen.
Hey Elizabeth, is this a high volume play? Seems like Fujitsu is taking existing technology and creating applcations that are appropriate for consumer applications that don't require the complexity of high tech, industrial, or military use. Seems like a smart play.
As devices get more sophisticated and cater to a range of options and user needs, components vendors are providing more options for microcontrollers and other embedded systems. Fujitsu's updates to its microcontroller line are evidence of this. The low-power additions are especially interesting, as energy efficiency is a key design goal right now for electronics.