Microcontrollers (MCU) are complete computer systems on a chip. They combine an arithmetic logic unit (ALU), memory, timer/counters, serial port, input/output (I/O) ports and a clock oscillator. Most microcontrollers include a 4-bit, 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit, or 128-bit data bus. The number of serial channels and I/O ports varies among devices.   Serial interfaces include controller area network (CAN), inter-integrated circuit (I2C), serial peripheral interface (SPI),...
Learn More about Microcontrollers (MCU)


Q & A on Microcontrollers (MCU)

We asked our users for their input on Microcontrollers (MCU). Here are the results of 245 users familiar with Microcontrollers (MCU).

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice |

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing microcontroller design?
34 answers
Answers:
Design tools that abstracts the hardware from the software through ready made libraries and provide low level function source code. This allows porting of software to different microcontrollers/FPGAs.
~Ilias A, HW & Systems Engineer, Athens, Greece
Technologies like USB interface, high clock speed, high ram size, high number of bits, more timers and counters.
~Amit S, Student, Jaipur, India
Their architecture is improving Analog channel with high speed Sampling rate with small size
~Muhammad S, Design Engineer, Islamabad, Pakistan
See More Answers
Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative microcontrollers?
39 answers
Answers:
I use PIC. If you weigh everything they always end up winning the debate. In the end a PIC you can't purchase isn't worth using or learning. Their cost to get a PIC on a board blinking an led is <5$. NXP is super awesome, as the price per board depicts.
~Engineering, Other, Villa Park, IL
GE TI ( =Siemens) Fanuc ( separated the Joint Venture from GE ) Allan Bradley Siemens, although their way of thinking is odd.
~/fred G, Design, test and implement new systems within QS or ISO, Salem, U.S. of A.
As for i am concern i used so far Microchip , Atmel 8051, Ateml AVR, I Like and Love to do work in Microchip Microcontroller
~Muhammad S, Design Engineer, Islamabad, Pakistan
See More Answers

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used microcontrollers for?
52 answers
Answers:
Control panel for medical device, AC servo motor driver, DC servo motor driver, step motor driver, power supply, UPS, remote control system, energy counter, battery charger, DC-DC converter, navigation system for autos, smart home system ....
~Ahmad Kab, Design Engineer, Damas, Syria
Automotive ECU. Electric vehicle body control. Electric vehicle retrain control, commercial vehicle cooling system control, position sensors, ignition timing control, battery management systems, data logging applications
~Nik S, Engineer, Newcastle, Uk
Design of the Internet Car manufacturing Steel Production Hot Strip Mill production Interlinking with SCADA , DCS , DMC Food Processing Security Systems Oil & Gas storage and production
~/fred G, Design, test and implement new systems within QS or ISO, Salem, U.S. of A.
See More Answers
Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that microcontrollers have been used for.
24 answers
Answers:
Hmmm.. an odd one.(older). The TI 545 or 555 with an internal 16 bit ADDRESS and BUS interface with an PC to let the PC do the complex calculations and return the results to the PLC.
~/fred G, Design, test and implement new systems within QS or ISO, Salem, U.S. of A.
I have used Microcontroller in one non standard application using my OWN SPI interface controller does have its own SPI interface. In this application i used PIC with ADIS sensor
~Muhammad S, Design Engineer, Islamabad, Pakistan
I think microcontroller application can be optimized for Industrial Process Control such as PID function, Fuzzy Logic Function or Neural Integrated Network on the next.
~Budi Batubara, Engineer, Jakarta, Indonesia
See More Answers
Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of microcontrollers?
18 answers
Answers:
My worst experience fortunately with a happy ending was a specialized Z80 based microcontroller and my estimation that the program will fit on its internal memory. However in the middle of the project we discovered that this was not the case. Fortunately we managed to find another family member with similar I/O that we could retrofit on a small board to do the job.
~Ilias A, HW & Systems Engineer, Athens, Greece
Yes it was a critical project and a wrong output from one of the pin costed me a lot of money due to destruction of something that was dependent on that output.
~ADITYA R, Engineer, MOUNT SAINT AIGNAN, FRANCE
Did you ever hear about a NON disclosure clause in a contract ? If yes then you know, If no you haven't got a clue about company or firmware.
~/fred G, Design, test and implement new systems within QS or ISO, Salem, U.S. of A.
See More Answers

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
31 answers
Answers:
I wish Atmel AVR will design a microcontroller that has a lot of Interface such as Ethernet and USB with a big Internal RAM Size, Fast Clock Speed in 32-bit processing in one chip.
~Budi Batubara, Engineer, Jakarta, Indonesia
A simple way of debugging in VR of all functions as designed in the Ladder/AD/DA for the project. (A personal wish list is to own a decent one of my own lab to test the limits)
~/fred G, Design, test and implement new systems within QS or ISO, Salem, U.S. of A.
1. Integration of small programmable logic inside the microcontroller. 2. I/O configurable to any pin (like CPLDs/FPGAs) 3. Unified hardware interface across multiple vendors
~Ilias A, HW & Systems Engineer, Athens, Greece
See More Answers

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using microcontrollers?
23 answers
Answers:
1. Check what the application really needs to do or might need to do. 2. Once you select an architecture you will probably stick with it for a while. 3. Better solutions might exist afterwards but knowing better a medium CPU is better than using an not well understood better architecture. 4. Get the Toolchain and use it for a while. 5. See if you can find code examples on the internet or the microcontroller company website. You might need it.
~Ilias A, HW & Systems Engineer, Athens, Greece
Start by making sure you understand the functional requirement of the design fully before selecting a micro. Reduces risk of placing an overly expensive part in the design. Same goes for under specifying the part. The available toolchain for the micro you wish to use should be looked at carefully. Depending on development budget, certain toolchains will render a micro unviable commercially.
~Nik S, Engineer, Newcastle, Uk
Selection of MCU is beyond the part price, the consideration should inclusive the software packages (SDK) and development supports, service & maintenance supports rendered.
~Bryan Tee, Category Manager for Micro-Controller Unit, Singapore, Singapore
See More Answers
Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of microcontrollers?
24 answers
Answers:
1. Do not hear the buzz words (clk rate, MIPS etc) from the microcontroller companies. The best way to determine performance is: a. By the internal hardware architecture b. By your own testing in relevance to your application. 2. Some times we see how easy is to endorse a new architecture but in the end this architecture may prove limiting in advanced programming. See the forest and not the tree when you select a new architecture. 3. To use or not use RTOS? My experience says that the critical limit of this difficult to answer question is: a. Is your MCU able to make a round robin loop under worst case conditions, meet it's timing constraints with a proper safety margin? If yes then probably you don't need to add the complexity of an RTOS. b. A second criteria depends of how many threads you need to service and if your application will be far more easy to develop using multi-tasking. Then you should go with an RTOS.
~Ilias A, HW & Systems Engineer, Athens, Greece
In choosing a microcontroller you should check the situation where the controls are placed. Things that should be checked are temperature and vibration. If you select a microcontroller with a difficult programming. make sure spare parts are sold, easy reference in the search.
~Yoyok imam Santoso, Electrician haultruck ac drive, Samarinda, Indonesian
Flexibility and scalability are very crucial factors to be considered when selecting MCU products. Should avoid a product which is designed in too narrow specification as this will limit the future expansion of these MCUs for new applications down the road.
~Bryan Tee, Category Manager for Micro-Controller Unit, Singapore, Singapore
See More Answers

Related eNewsletters
See More

Also on GlobalSpec...
  • Receive email updates on new products and suppliers of interest to you
  • Online, interactive conferences / trade shows featuring latest news and industry trends
  • CR4
    Q&A and discussion for the engineering, scientific, and technical community
  • Engineering and scientific news from hundreds of sources
  • Industrial manufacturers and distributors