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Shrinking solutions

MCU developers drive to smaller packages, more integration and lower power consumption. By Graham Pitcher.

Embedded systems used to be easily defined. They tended to be contained in relatively large enclosures and, almost without exception, were powered by mains electricity.
But the consumer revolution has changed all that. Today, we are carrying embedded systems around with us – mobile phones, portable media players and so on. As these devices become more important, users are becoming more demanding – they want smaller devices; they want more functionality and, above all, they want longer battery operating life. And it’s often the microcontroller that is required to meet these seemingly diverse requirements.
So it’s no surprise to see microcontroller developers unveiling devices which, they claim, fit the bill. Some of the ‘magic’ is provided by process technology; running devices on smaller nodes allows more integration and helps reduce costs. But there is a need for innovation as well.

Author
Graham Pitcher

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