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More mcu part numbers than makes sense?

A few years ago, Luminary Micro (now part of TI) started a trend by launching an ARM Cortex-M based mcu family with about 80 variants. That was a new approach and other manufacturers followed suit. Today, it's quite possible there are more than 1000 Cortex-M based variants on the market.

That's a significant number, but that number is set to grow significantly. The reason? More than 100 companies have taken a license to use one of the Cortex-M cores in their products – more than 50 of those are for the Cortex-M0. But relatively few have announced products – only 10 have announced M0 based products, for example.
With the prospect of thousands of part numbers, has the time come to take a different approach? One leading mcu developer is having a serious think about the problem and may be changing its strategy.
But will it happen? Luminary set a trend which will be hard to reverse and it will be a brave company that shows a slimmed down portfolio to a market that seems to be rating suppliers by the thickness of their catalogues.

Graham Pitcher

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