By Trevor Martin, Hitex UK Ltd
Embedded Europe (10/07/09, 03:49:00 AM EDT)
Many microcontroller architectures have a long history, with most 8 and 16 bit architectures being designed more than 20 years ago. Over the years these architectures have been re-shaped several times to incorporate new technological developments and keep pace with the industries ever-increasing demands.
This lack of dominant microcontroller architecture has effectively prevented a common embedded microcontroller platform from developing, unlike the standards we rely on in the desktop PC world.
I have been working in the embedded systems industry for almost two decades now and it is safe to say that there is a genuine sea change under way. Over the last five years many low cost 32-bit microcontrollers have come onto the market.
This cost reduction and easy of use has been a great leveller and has made the traditional 8/16/32-bit distinction irrelevant. At the same time the number of competing 32-bit architectures has dramatically shrunk. In 1992 there were some eleven different architectures, today there are four. This is likely to shrink even further, probably down to two.