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.

32bit mcu demand drives need for support programmes

For the last year or so, there has been a continuing flurry of activity as companies introduce more variants of microcontrollers designed around cores from the 32bit ARM Cortex-M portfolio. Cortex-M based microcontrollers offer users a number of benefits, including performance, cost, connectivity and energy efficiency.

Floating point enabled microcontrollers in embedded designs

Floating point units (fpu) can increase the range and precision of mathematical calculations or enable greater throughput in less time, making it easier to meet real time requirements. Or, by enabling systems to complete routines in less time and to spend more time in sleep mode, it can save power and extend battery life.

Is the hardware engineer becoming an ‘endangered species’?

There is general agreement that software is now the dominant part of the embedded design process. There is also a trend towards platform based design, with variants created by software differentiation, and the use of SoCs and ASSPs as 'black boxes'. So is hardware design becoming less relevant? Is the hardware designer an 'endangered species'? Time to turn to the experts.

How are competitors differentiating Cortex-M3 based mcus?

When ARM launched the Cortex-M3 core in 2004, it opened new opportunities for microcontroller developers. Previously, these companies needed to create and maintain their own mcu core; now, that work would be done by ARM, leaving them free to differentiate their products.

Sensors - A clever touch

Driven by the influence of products such as the iPod, capacitive touch sensing is finding wider application and support. By Graham Pitcher.

Viewpoints: Have you unplugged yet?

A few years ago, the future of the 8 and 16bit mcu was being questioned. As embedded applications grew more and more complex, the hardware scene was likely to be dominated by fpgas, asics, cplds and SoCs. Would the traditional general purpose mcu survive?

Speaking of success: Mouser Electronics

Mouser Electronics is one of the fastest growing catalogue and web based distributors in the world, dedicated to customer focused distribution through the rapid introduction of the newest products and leading edge technologies.

The integration imperative

In today's high mobility society, the car is becoming just another connected device in the web. The driver expects to access the same information in their vehicle as they do in all other areas of life. These expectations will not be met without a significant contribution from electronics.

Setting your priorities

The increasing complexity of today's microcontroller systems is making ever greater demands on the embedded software engineers that bring them to life. At the same time, the latest microcontrollers are achieving higher performance than ever, with more complex peripherals and larger embedded memories.

Pushing the envelope with microelectronics

For many years, the omnipresent hybrid microcircuit or ceramic multi chip module (mcm) has proven its outstanding pedigree for harsh environment applications against conventional pcbs with soldered, surface mount components.

OFDM PLC for smart metering

Seeking to establish the key factors to consider when selecting a suitable PLC technology for smart metering applications, to objectively evaluate established DCSK PLC technology versus proposed OFDM concepts and to conclude from a technical point of view which of these technologies is most suitable.

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