Here's a what if. Say your application is a straightforward industrial process that can be handled by an 8 bit MCU. However, when upset conditions occur then suddenly all sorts of interrupts happen, complex software decisions need to be made, real time response is required. Would it be feasible to design a system with a seperate MCU, maybe 32 bit, to deal with the more complex software environment, rather than trying to cram everything into a one big MCU? Especially considering that upsets should be very rare..
If you are as interrupt-intenseve as you say, you have two options:
1) A 16-bit microcontroller. Why? because you have extra proessing power and don't have the interrupt overhead of a 32-bit MCU
2) Go like you said - an 8-bit as a dedicated interrupt processor, interfacing to a larger 32-bit or 26-bit system controller. I see this a lot
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