- The Revolution Began Here!
The microcontroller marketplace is undergoing significant changes. The processor core marketplace has seen dramatic changes in the past five years. While there used to be only a handful of cores that had the bells and whistles to interest good software engineers, today many silicon manufacturers are offering register-based microcontrollers that are truly next generation processors, and are actually cool to use. The market is still dominated by accumulator-based architectures, holdovers from when 4 micron silicon was expensive and manufacturers couldn't afford to duplicate functions on precious silicon space.
Andy Grove's book, "Only the Paranoid Survive", talks about strategic inflection points (SIPs). An SIP is a change in your business that is so profound that it suddenly changes the way you do business. For microcontrollers, a strategic inflection point is occurring that's changing the way companies evaluate and choose microcontrollers:
- The software engineer's "world of the microcontroller" is his/her development PC and all the embedded development tools loaded on it - the compiler, debugger/simulator, In-Circuit Emulator, etc.
- An evaluation of any microcontroller or DSP demands a simultaneous evaluation of the embedded development tools available for the core.
- With the many good cores on the market today capable of handling an engineer's target application, the deciding factor is going to be the embedded development tools used to evaluate the cores.
- Long-term, SW engineers will stop calling XYZ Microelectronics to evaluate their product. Soon, the engineer will instead download from the web a multi-core evaluation compiler from Known Good Software Compilers, Inc., load their code, and compile and test code size & execution time for five or more cores. The semiconductor vendor will hear about the evaluation when it comes time to check for availability.
- New embedded development tools will be increasingly more difficult to enter the market because they will all begin to look the same!
The microcontroller/microprocessor business is the core (ouch!) of the system-on-chip technology changes that are shaping today's world. This web site will help keep up and chart these changes.
Executive Editor, Microcontroller.com