While having multiple components / micocontrollers will help break down a large and complex project into smaller, and more manageable, pieces, the addition of more components also increases the complexity of the PCB layout, an additional components in the JTAG scan chain, additional configuration management of the firmware for multiple micro's, etc. That being said, I still agree with this technique of adding additional "brain dead" processors for managing the project complexity.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.