A microcontroller is the smallest computer unit. It is also the most basic unit of a computer that runs on a single chip with a CPU, interfaces, and memories. A microcontroller is different from a microprocessor because it is designed to serve a specific application, unlike microprocessors that serve general functions.
A microcontroller is used in many applications, ranging from kids’ toys to household appliances. They are also used in telecommunication devices and medical instruments. In an industrial setting, a microcontroller can be used to regulate temperature and pressure, count time, activate breaks, and measure different metrics. Since they are designed for specific tasks, it is crucial to choose a microcontroller that is most appropriate for your projects.
- 1 How Do You Choose The Best Microcontroller?
- 2 What are the factors to consider when choosing a microcontroller?
- 3 How Do You Choose a Microcontroller Manufacturer?
- 4 Picking a microcontroller
- 5 Conclusion
How Do You Choose The Best Microcontroller?
The answer depends on what you want to do. There is no such thing as the best microcontroller. Instead, you have to choose what is best for your applications because they are all designed for a specific job. Accordingly, be ready to make tradeoffs between some aspects. For instance, it is very hard to get top speed and power efficiency in the same unit. Some of the fastest chips use more power.
This guide will help you understand how to choose a microcontroller that is most suitable for your applications.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a microcontroller?
Here are important factors to look out for whenever you want to buy a microcontroller:
Before you buy a microcontroller, you should examine your project to determine all its requirements. List all external interfaces that you will connect to the microcontroller and other technical specifications. Accordingly, check the required connections, inputs and outputs, and the communication interface for your project.
After taking care of the hardware, turn to the software part. Figure out your software requirements, such as processing speed, power, and time. Accordingly, you will want to check factors such as high-frequency sensors and algorithm requirements.
After figuring out your hardware and software requirements, the next thing to look into is the design or architecture you need. Here, you will have to choose from two designs, namely Von Neumann Architecture and Harvard Architecture.
Microcontrollers are associated with different memory capacities. Consider factors such as RAM, ROM, Flash, and EEPROM. You will not want to run out of space when using a microcontroller.
Before you choose a microprocessor, you will want to determine the amount of processing power you want for your projects. Does what you have need a single-core processor or dual-core processor? If you want more speed, you should consider a multicore processor. However, the faster you go, the more energy you need.
Power requirement and cost
Power efficiency is always critical. However, you have to understand that you will make tradeoffs when it comes to this aspect. For instance, the fastest chips always consume a lot of power. Therefore, if you want a faster microcontroller, you need to overlook the power aspect.
On the other hand, costs vary significantly. If you run a project that requires complex functions, you will need to spend more on a microcontroller.
Microcontrollers can be found in 8-bits, 16-bits, 32-bits, and 64-bits. The performance of the microcontroller depends on the bit size. Therefore, if you need a microcontroller for complex tasks, you should go for the highest bit rate.
Before you choose a microcontroller, you will need to look into the availability of support and supporting documents, such as forums, after-sales support, and code samples. These things will help you diagnose and solve problems without running into much trouble. Accordingly, a good development kit will help you learn some working aspects of the microcontroller, making it easy to use.
Currently, many hackers target IoT devices since owners tend to be a bit lazy in terms of security and privacy. Therefore, you should always be on the safer side by going for a microcontroller with a security layer such as cryptography. Ensure you purchase a microcontroller that meets certified security standards or ones with on-chip secure hardware for the security of your systems.
Various projects run under extreme temperatures, meaning that you need a microcontroller that can withstand such temperatures. However, you will have to make tradeoffs between temperature tolerance and cost. The best microcontroller in terms of temperature tolerance will be costlier.
How Do You Choose a Microcontroller Manufacturer?
Many companies manufacture and sell microcontrollers. These are primarily semiconductor companies. It is recommended that consider a manufacturer that emphasizes microcontroller categories. This way, you will have access to many designs and resources, including code samples, app notes, an integrated development environment, and appropriate programming hardware and software.
Accordingly, you need a manufacturer with a more extensive product line. This aspect will ensure you can fine-tune your choices depending on the requirements of your applications. You do not need to switch between manufacturers due to unavailable part numbers. If you can get everything from a single manufacturer, it will save you time ad stress.
Picking a microcontroller
It is always a good idea to consider all microcontrollers in the market. However, this can be time-consuming and tedious. Here is a quick route to picking the right microcontroller for your applications. Ask yourself these questions, and they will help you make an informed buying decision.
- Are the microcontrollers easily available?
- Which toolchains do the microcontroller use?
- How old is the design? Has it gone through plenty of testing to certify its use?
- Which pinouts does it have?
- How much memory is necessary?
- How many general-purpose input/output pins do I need?
- Can it replace the one I am currently using with hardware or software changes?
- What development kit do I need?
Buying a microcontroller can be an overwhelming task due to the many options available in the market. However, the key is always to select one that is most suitable for your projects and get started straight away. You may need an evaluation kit to help you choose the right microcontroller. This guide has provided a list of factors you should consider and questions you should ask yourself before you choose a microcontroller.
To sum it all, if you are looking forward to purchasing a Microcontroller, talk to us at ICRFQ, we are the best electrical components manufacturers in China.