Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers – whether 8, 16 or 32bit – are all around us: at home, at work, in our cars and in industrial systems. Reflecting this abundance, the market for microcontrollers is worth more than $16billion a year and growing strongly.

The market was once dominated by 8bit parts, but the price performance advantage of ARM based 32bit devices, along with the need to accommodate more complex software, is starting a move from 8bit to 32bit mcus. And this is accompanied by the appearance of multicore devices.

In this section, New Electronics brings you the latest on the microcontroller market.

Bringing AI to the edge

Artificial intelligence (AI) has kindled the imagination of computer scientists for decades and while the ambition and enthusiasm around AI has tended to clash with the complexity of the task, today’s computational power has risen exponentially and the ambition of general AI has been curbed sufficiently to match that power.

Design a switch mode power supply using an isolated flyback topology

Here, Rich Miron, Applications Engineer at Digi-Key Electronics explores the operation of switch mode power supplies and explores make Vs. buy decision process for power supplies. Miron also investigates the design of a single output supply utilising flyback topology and provides a sample design using readily available parts and components.

Close to the edge

There is a tension that lies at the heart of the software defined network (SDN). Telecom and datacom operators have seized on it because the idea of software-based control makes everything more flexible and it is only natural that demand for more responsive communications services should push technology in that direction.

Under exposure

Chipmakers are set to break the 10nm barrier as they move from the test-chip stage to full production on 7nm processes. The move marks another extension of a lithography technology that was meant to be phased out 15 years in favour of so-called next-generation lithography.

Core competence

It will probably be no surprise to discover that applications are becoming more complex, with connectivity just one of the drivers. And, as applications become more complex, the number of sensors grows, as does the need for more capable user interfaces.

Snapdragon processors for embedded systems

Since its establishment in 1985, Qualcomm has been involved in the mobile communications market, although its Qualcomm Technologies arm has made forays into other areas, such as MEMs based displays and wireless vehicle charging.

Pocket sized avionics computer meets industry’s SWaP needs

The aerospace sector is driven by a four letter acronym – SWaP; written in long hand, it translates to size, weight and power. That’s no real surprise; if you can make aircraft that are lighter, they will be – at least, in theory – more fuel efficient. And if you can make the electronics content smaller and less power hungry, that will also contribute to the overall savings.

The surprising differences between ARM MCU cores that appear to be identical

There are many reasons why the ARM Cortex-M series of processor cores has come to dominate the market for 32bit microcontrollers. Across the many varieties of Cortex-M cores, design engineers can choose from an array of performance, power consumption and communications capabilities, allowing them to find an ARM based MCU which will be suitable for almost any application. And, by standardising on the Cortex-M family, OEMs not only benefit from a common instruction set, but also from an ecosystem of libraries, tools and firmware with which thousands of embedded engineers are already familiar.

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