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'[OT]: Why PIC?'
2004\06\24@090329 by rrc124+

picon face
I have a really stupid question to ask, but it's been bothering me for a while so I'll just ago ahead and ask it:

Why is the PIC uC so popular?

When I look at the specs of the competition, I see nothing but seemingly better products. Now I don't want everyone to get mad.. please. I'm simply a lowly computer science student who is still very new to this little hobby.. and I've only ever used PICs, so I really can't compare fairly. But the things I see are: AVRs and SXs are much faster w/MIPS, offer things such as lots of SRAM, etc.
Are PICs cheaper? Is it because there are just so damn many to chose from? Is it because they are simpler to understand, so many engineers learned on them and still hold them dear? Is it because they have such a huge base of code/developers already and the momentum keeps them going? I guess the main thing I see is that these other uC's have such an awesome MIPS advantage... so why not use them? Are they more expensive?

I don't know why I'm asking this because the answer is probably a combination of all of the above. But I keep wondering if there is one huge advantage that I'm not seeing. Anyway, just a thought.

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2004\06\24@091958 by Mike Harrison

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On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 09:02:04 -0400, you wrote:

>I have a really stupid question to ask, but it's been bothering me for a while so I'll just ago ahead and ask it:
>
>Why is the PIC uC so popular?
>
>When I look at the specs of the competition, I see nothing but seemingly better products. Now I don't want everyone to get mad.. please. I'm simply a lowly computer science student who is still very new to this little hobby.. and I've only ever used PICs, so I really can't compare fairly. But the things I see are: AVRs and SXs are much faster w/MIPS, offer things such as lots of SRAM, etc.
>
>Are PICs cheaper? Is it because there are just so damn many to chose from? Is it because they are simpler to understand, so many engineers learned on them and still hold them dear? Is it because they have such a huge base of code/developers already and the momentum keeps them going? I guess the main thing I see is that these other uC's have such an awesome MIPS advantage... so why not use them? Are they more expensive?
>
>I don't know why I'm asking this because the answer is probably a combination of all of the above. But I keep wondering if there is one huge advantage that I'm not seeing. Anyway, just a thought.

For mid-high volume applications, cost is by far the most important parameter, and PICs really score
there, especially for those apps that don't have the volume to justify mask-rom devices. The vast majority of low-end embedded apps simply do not need speed, tons of RAM or fancy features,
so having them wastes money.
Microchip do a huge range of parts, giving designers the flexibility to choose the part that will
just do the job, with no excess unused capability (i.e. cost).

Probably the second most important parameter is availability & leadtime - Microchip have a track
record of consistently been way ahead of all the competition on this.
Once you get out of college and into industry, you'll see that datasheet specs are only a small part
of choosing what part to design in. Commercial issues like the above usually come first.

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2004\06\24@092203 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> Why is the PIC uC so popular?

- http://www.piclist.com
- availability
- because they are popular (no joke!)

Now for the technical arguments: when you mix (flash) PICs, AVRs, SXes
and a lot of others you get a nice mix of alternatives. Each particular
application will end up with a different preferred choice from this mix.
IMHO the PICs are technically or price/performance wise not much better
or worse than the alternatives, but there simply are so much types to
choose from that the chance of a PIC fitting you needs is high. SX rules
when you need to execute lots of simple instructions, megaAVR rules when
you need lots of RAM, etc, but the various PICs fill much of the
remainder of the spectrum.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\06\24@092616 by Josh Koffman

face picon face
I don't know about others, but I got into the PIC because of the NOPP
programmer article by Michael Covington (Popular Electronics, or one
of the sister publications). Making the programmer was cheap, and it
opened up a whole new world. The chips are easy to program for (well,
in my mind anyways), and readily available. Programmer hardware is
abundant, as is sample code.

I've worked with the SX and recently, the PSoC, and I continually wish
for a place like the excellent http://www.piclist.com website with
sample code, tips, tricks, etc.

Of course, I'm sure others have differing reasons :)

Josh
--
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fools.
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On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 14:20:37 +0100, Mike Harrison <.....mikeKILLspamspam.....whitewing.co.uk> wrote:
> >Why is the PIC uC so popular?

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2004\06\24@092825 by hael Rigby-Jones
picon face
{Quote hidden}

The PIC's were there way before the competition, so they had a lot of
installed units and a lot of people with experience of PIC by the time some
viable competition came along.  Also Microchip are very hobbiest friendly,
they supply samples, and basic programmers can be built for pennies.  Lots
of tools available, for Linux, MAC, DOS and Windows.  Easy to learn the
instruction set. It blows the standard 8051 out of the water in terms of
performance, which would have been on of it's competitor originaly.

The SX is effectively a fast PIC clone, but although it's fast in terms of
MIP's, it uses the older 14 bit instruction set.  The AVR is good, but Atmel
shot themselves in the foot a few years back by being unable to supply
enough devices into the market, leading to huge lead times.  People don't
forget those things very quickly.

Motorola have traditionaly never been interested in small quantity users,
samples were virtualy impossible to get unless you were an automotive
manufacturer or simmilar large quantity customer.  Better these days, and
very much alive and kicking for hobby robot controllers.

The rest of the devices are relatively new such as the Texas MPS430 and the
Cypress PSOC devices.  There isn't nearly as much information and code
samples availble on the net as the PIC.

Regards

Mike




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2004\06\24@094039 by Martin Klingensmith

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rrc124+@PITT.EDU wrote:
> I have a really stupid question to ask, but it's been bothering me for a while so I'll just ago ahead and ask it:
>
> Why is the PIC uC so popular?
>

For myself it is because they are inexpensive and [afaik] they are all
available in DIP packages which makes it much easier to play with one
for the cost of requesting a sample. A $24 Wisp628, PIC1xFxxx, and
you're all set.

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2004\06\24@095911 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 09:02 AM 6/24/2004 -0400, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Way back when..
Microchip recognized that OTP microcontrollers represented a potential
paradigm shift in the industry- the other manufacturers grudgingly
produced small quantities of OTP erasable chips for prototyping in
wait for the real orders of mask programmed units. Motorola also
recognized this to some degree, but being a much larger company
played it somewhat differently.

Microchip produced extremely cheap usable development hardware and
free software (at the time assemblers could cost hundreds of dollars). It
thus got a broad user range and became popular with small scale users
and eventually even hobbyists. At about the same time, Motorola reportedly
screwed these small users big-time by diverting a huge number of chips from
thousands of small customers who needed these single-sourced parts for
their high
value-added products to their few "real" customers in the automotive business.
Microchip's product itself was pretty awful at that time (16C54 level stuff, no
interrupts even),  but it was good enough for many simpler applications.
At least it was CMOS- which opened a few doors compared to the old NMOS parts.
Microchip seemed to have made a business decision to keep availability high
on their products, even at the cost of some profit. I suspect that Digikey
carrying
their products in the US was part of their success strategy as well.
Intel priced their 87C51 at a REAL premium price (I recall about $40 in
smallish
quantities) and, IMHO, lost the advantage that their tremendous head start
in the MCS-48 and MCS-51 architectures had in the industry. Cheap 87C51 and
89C51s came MUCH later, and STILL are probably the market leader over all other
8-bit types when taken in total.

You can often get better value, higher performance or other advantages
by going with competitor's units, but Microchip has a pretty good lineup
for 8-bit applications that don't push the envelope. Sure, by specing a
Philips LPC2xxx you can get a 60MHz 32-bit processor with 128K of flash and
16-64K
bytes of RAM (!) for the price of an 18F with very little math capability
and piddly
RAM... or a TI MSP430 16 bit processor (with 16 x 16 multiplier) and a real
LCD driver, but not every application needs the highest performance. Sure
you can get a mask-programmed hard-to use processor for 1/5 of the price
of a Microchip unit for a toy, but not every application needs the lowest
cost or has the volume to support it.

In conclusion- a "good enough" product, available in quantity and enough
variety, and very aggressively marketed to a broad range of less demanding
customers.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
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Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com

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2004\06\24@100741 by Future

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Subject: Re: [OT]: Why PIC?


> rrc124+@PITT.EDU wrote:
> > I have a really stupid question to ask, but it's been bothering me for a
while so I'll just ago ahead and ask it:
> >
> > Why is the PIC uC so popular?
>
> For myself it is because they are inexpensive and [afaik] they are all
> available in DIP packages which makes it much easier to play with one
> for the cost of requesting a sample. A $24 Wisp628, PIC1xFxxx, and
> you're all set.

It is the same for me, build a $5 serial programmer, download mplab 6,
ic-prog and start building microcontrolled applications.

The speed is sufficient for most applications.

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2004\06\24@100742 by llile

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Topic changed to PIC

About 10 years ago I sat down and did a broad analysis of the
microcontroller industry.  The question was, which line of processors
would give my company the most bang for the buck?

The criterion were:  Cost per performance, Depth of technical support,
parts availability and lack of "allocation"*.

I looked at a number of companies, got volume quotes for similar scopes of
features.  Yes, there are cheaper micros available, usually masked rom 4
bit parts.  Ever tried to use one? Ever tried to get samples?  Ever tried
to read the data sheet?  Ever seen a factory rep?  Does the Pope ever bow
to Mecca? Unless you know technical Japanese, you are screwed with these
parts.

There are a lot of micro companies out there that don't have any tech
staff out in the field, don't have a PIClist, don't have a quarter million
hobbyists pumping out designs with them.  ST for example, makes a pretty
good line of micros with some signifigant cost advantages.  They were #2
or #3 on my list.

Cost, of course, is the cost at the volumes my company does, and those
numbers are big, some products in the millions.  If you want an idea what
prices look like on this end of the telescope, just take Digikey's 100
piece price and divide by four as a rough guess.

There were a number of other companies considered.  For my criteria, I
decided Microchip was a good horse to bet on and I have never regretted
it.

There is also the investment of my own time.  Each micro has different
quirks and  a different learning curve.  Each one has its own development
tools, languages (all "claiming" to be ANSI compliant C - HUH!)  I wanted
to pile on to one of them and get good at it.

I still want to branch out and learn some other microcontroller
architectures.  For instance, there are some lines that have a better
selection of USB support.  And, though it is a neat trick to put a 16F PIC
on ethernet, really there are other micros that are a lot better at this
sort of trick.

This conclusion would be different in a different industry - I am down in
the mud with $12 appliances, if you want to design internet gizmos or
things with video screens this is the wrong train to hop.



*Allocation:  The practice in electronics of limiting the amount of supply
of a certain component and then preferentially selling the scarce supply
to the largest customers.  Often smaller customers are promised parts,
then are put on long wait lists with many delays.  See Motorola.


-- Lawrence Lile
Senior Project Engineer
Toastmaster, Inc.
Division of Salton, Inc.
573-446-5661 voice
573-446-5676 fax







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06/24/2004 08:28 AM
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       Subject:        Re: [OT]: Why PIC?


>{Original Message removed}

2004\06\24@101402 by David VanHorn

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>
>It is the same for me, build a $5 serial programmer, download mplab 6,
>ic-prog and start building microcontrolled applications.
>
>The speed is sufficient for most applications.

Then the AVR would fit that bill entirely, give you vectored interrupts, no "holes" in your ram, no pages, the equivalent of 32 "W" registers, and four instructions to every one on the pic, at the same clock.

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2004\06\24@102648 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> Sure, by
> specing a
> Philips LPC2xxx you can get a 60MHz 32-bit processor with
> 128K of flash and
> 16-64K
> bytes of RAM (!) for the price of an 18F

You can, but in my experience only when you want 100+, which stresses
one of the advantages of PICs: availability (in small quantities, around
the corener, etc).

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\06\24@104350 by Mike Harrison

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On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 09:14:24 -0500, you wrote:

>>
>>It is the same for me, build a $5 serial programmer, download mplab 6,
>>ic-prog and start building microcontrolled applications.
>>
>>The speed is sufficient for most applications.
>
>Then the AVR would fit that bill entirely, give you vectored interrupts, no "holes" in your ram, no pages, the equivalent of 32 "W" registers, and four instructions to every one on the pic, at the same clock.

But all the above are pretty minor advantages for volume products. Remember when Atmel were quoting 20++ week leadtimes.....
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2004\06\24@123741 by Philip Pemberton

face picon face
In message <3e0a4bc4040624062669da6550STOPspamspamspam_OUTmail.gmail.com>>          Josh Koffman <spamBeGonejoshybearSTOPspamspamEraseMEGMAIL.COM> wrote:

> I don't know about others, but I got into the PIC because of the NOPP
> programmer article by Michael Covington
I started after reading the EPE (Everyday Practical Electronics) "PIC
Tutorial". My first PIC was a 16C84 - I later bought another three of them. I
think I've still got one left - one is in an IR receiver, the one got binned
after the program memory went bad.
Now I've got a WISP628 and I'm using PIC16F628s and PIC18F252s. At some point
I really should get a PIC18F452 in DIP format, but I'm in no mad rush. Again,
an ICD would be nice, but my budget for tools and testgear got spent on a
second-hand logic analyser. BTW, if there's anyone here with about 50MB of
spare webspace, I've got copies of all the files that Agilent used to have on
their FTP site relating to the 165xy (as in 1650A/B, 1651A/B, 1653A/B)
analysers. Yes, even the Inverse Assembler toolkit :)

> The chips are easy to program for (well,
> in my mind anyways), and readily available.
And not too expensive either.

> Of course, I'm sure others have differing reasons :)
Not really. I like the instruction set - it's easy enough to memorise. The
chips tend to be quite power-efficient, too, which is nice for battery based
designs.

> A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
> completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
> fools.
>         -Douglas Adams
Too true...

Later.
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2004\06\24@125503 by M. Adam Davis

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As others have said, they were first to be cheaply available with cheap
tools to the average hobbyist, and were promoted as a step up from the
basic stamp by Parallax.

So with about $50 invested in 1995 one could have a few 16c84 chips
which did not require a UV lamp to erase, could be erased and
reprogrammed in seconds, and were /easy/ to use and /hard/ to break.
The assembler, simulator, programming software were free.  The
programmer was cheap.  You could prototype in the '84 and if careful
port it to a '54 if you needed cheaper chips.

With so few simple instructions, one accumulator (W), and high current
pins you couldn't help but learn assembly in one afternoon for simple
projects.

It was simply a configurable TTL type chip for me (at first) and became
much more later.  Instead of making large ttl circuits for light
sequencers I could use one chip.  Later it was simple to make a digital
light dimmer.

-Adam

rrc124+@PITT.EDU wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2004\06\24@145711 by Robert B.

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I got into it because I saw (and immediately wanted to play with) a basic
stamp, but they were $$$$$$!  I couldn't believe that every remote control
or washing machine had a $60 chip in it, so I looked into the field of
programmable chips and found PICS to be the simplest ones, with tons of
literature based around the old 16f88 that were easy to understand for a
digital-illiterate.  Even an expensive PIC is only a fraction of the cost of
a basic stamp, and they run faster with more peripheral features.  Lately
I've been migrating to the AVRs though..

{Original Message removed}

2004\06\24@164233 by Ben Hencke

picon face
Why PIC? Because of pricing/value and the ranges of compatible chips
therin. A recent AVR post might have me reconsider though ;-)

BTW whats up with Mchip pricing? The savings seem to stop at QTY 100,
even for the large distributors. I assume it is possible to talk
directly with Mchip to get a better deal, but Is it possible to get
significantly (1/2, 1/4) better prices for 1000s or 10000s?

Thanks,
 Ben

On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 14:56:39 -0400, Robert B. <.....piclistspam_OUTspamnerdulator.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> {Original Message removed}

2004\06\24@214053 by Ishaan Dalal

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For hobbyists and students (me being both :-)), I would say the
extensive documentation, ready availibility of free samples and cheap
DIY programmers (although I began with the PICSTART in the school
lab...) clinch the deal.

I first became interested in uCs the summer after freshman year, because
I wanted to make my digital logic project, a sort of analog synthesizer
spread over 20+ breadboards, into a much sleeker project with more
features. I read up about uCs, and decided to try a few. I ordered
samples from Microchip, Atmel and Maxim (some 8051 cousin).

Atmel was (and is) horrible with samples, at least to US university EE
students. Nothing came, and I had to try thrice before a shoddy, *brown
shopping bag-paper wrapped* package came from the local reps with the chips.

I didn't go with the 8051 because of the lack of authoritative
documentation (though lots of good, unofficial stuff is out there).

The PIC's app notes/ref manuals were mesmerizing. Our school lab, in
addition to "universal" programmers, also had a few PICSTARTs. And
that..was it.

Cheers,
-Ishaan

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2004\06\25@012015 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:09 AM, Spehro Pefhany wrote:

> Microchip produced extremely cheap usable development hardware and
> free software (at the time assemblers could cost hundreds of dollars).'

Don't forget parallax.  They were selling PICs in 1s to hobbyists back
when the only other microcontrollers you could get (as a hobbyist) were
$30 8051s.  It probably didn't hurt that their "basic stamp" was based
on a PIC as well.  It seemed to me like a lot of people grew from the
stamp into PICs in general...

Nowdays...  Microchip and Atmel are still pretty much duking it out for
design wins in the 'simple and robust microcontroller' arena.  Most of
the competitors don't do anywhere NEAR the ~20mA output drive of the
AVRs and PICs.  Which can be a PITA...

BillW

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2004\06\25@012428 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:14 AM, David VanHorn wrote:

> Then the AVR would fit that bill entirely, give you vectored
> interrupts, no "holes" in your ram, no pages, the equivalent of 32 "W"
> registers...

The AVRs are nice, but those 32 registers aren't nearly as "general
purpose" as Atmel would have you believe.  They are a bit nicer than
PICs, but they're also a bit more expensive and harder to find, and
their "pin compatible ranges of parts" are not nearly so broad as
the PICs.  And they appear far less often at bargin prices on eBay.
(and for some reason, there don't seem to be nearly as many cheap build
it yourself programmers for the AVRs, although I can't see any reason
why there shouldn't be...)

BillW

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2004\06\25@013533 by Liam O'Hagan

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All AVR's can be programmed with 5 lines directly connected to the parallel
port. No programmer needed as such.

{Original Message removed}

2004\06\25@033918 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Jun 24, 2004, at 10:34 PM, Liam O'Hagan wrote:

> All AVR's can be programmed with 5 lines directly connected to the
> parallel port. No programmer needed as such.
>
Almost all AVRs.  The low end (used to be AT90S1200) needed a more
complicated programmer.  And there still seems to be a relative
scarcity of programming SOFTWARE compared to the PIC (perhaps because
the standard SW just works, perhaps other reasons.)  There's LOTS of
different versions of PIC programming SW....

It's very interesting that Atmel, having clearly targeted the PICs,
made so many mistakes (the lack of ISP in early chips, and the problems
of their first 8-pin efforts, for instance.)  But they're fixing them
pretty rapidly, too.  It's been ... interesting to watch.

BillW

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2004\06\25@060137 by Mike Harrison

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On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 22:21:09 -0700, you wrote:

>On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:09 AM, Spehro Pefhany wrote:
>
>> Microchip produced extremely cheap usable development hardware and
>> free software (at the time assemblers could cost hundreds of dollars).'
>
>Don't forget parallax.  They were selling PICs in 1s to hobbyists back
>when the only other microcontrollers you could get (as a hobbyist) were
>$30 8051s.  It probably didn't hurt that their "basic stamp" was based
>on a PIC as well.  It seemed to me like a lot of people grew from the
>stamp into PICs in general...
>
>Nowdays...  Microchip and Atmel are still pretty much duking it out for
>design wins in the 'simple and robust microcontroller' arena.  Most of
>the competitors don't do anywhere NEAR the ~20mA output drive of the
>AVRs and PICs.  Which can be a PITA...

20mA from a an AVR, you're kidding, right? PICs have WAY better output swing under load.
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2004\06\25@063108 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Jun 25, 2004, at 3:03 AM, Mike Harrison wrote:
>
> 20mA from a an AVR, you're kidding, right?
Isn't that the  spec?  Maybe sink only?

> PICs have WAY better output swing under load.

I believe it, but I'm comparing the two of them to things like the
MSP430 and Motorola parts which sometimes offer ONE pin that has 10mA
drive, with the others being something like 1-5mA...

BillW

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2004\06\25@084417 by Byron A Jeff

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On Thu, Jun 24, 2004 at 10:21:09PM -0700, William Chops Westfield wrote:
> On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:09 AM, Spehro Pefhany wrote:
>
> >Microchip produced extremely cheap usable development hardware and
> >free software (at the time assemblers could cost hundreds of dollars).'
>
> Don't forget parallax.  They were selling PICs in 1s to hobbyists back
> when the only other microcontrollers you could get (as a hobbyist) were
> $30 8051s.

That's not exactly how I remember it Bill. 8031s were available in the
$2 to $3 range. But it required infrastructure to use, You had to add
EPROM, RAM, address latches and input and output just to get a basic system
going. Same with the others. One of the last non PIC systems I built was based
on a 68340. Same deal, RAM and EPROM were required to get it going. You then
had to work on a bootloader for development.

>  It probably didn't hurt that their "basic stamp" was based
> on a PIC as well.  It seemed to me like a lot of people grew from the
> stamp into PICs in general...

Yup.

>
> Nowdays...  Microchip and Atmel are still pretty much duking it out for
> design wins in the 'simple and robust microcontroller' arena.  Most of
> the competitors don't do anywhere NEAR the ~20mA output drive of the
> AVRs and PICs.  Which can be a PITA...

Another point is that the parts still work at 5V. The TI MPS430 is excellent
and inexpensive. But it's 3.3V only and IIRC only comes in surface mount
packages. As much talk that has been bandied about solderless breadboards,
for the hobbyist it's still nice to be able to plug a dip into one.

BAJ

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2004\06\25@092101 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 08:45 AM 6/25/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>On Thu, Jun 24, 2004 at 10:21:09PM -0700, William Chops Westfield wrote:
> > On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:09 AM, Spehro Pefhany wrote:
> >
> > >Microchip produced extremely cheap usable development hardware and
> > >free software (at the time assemblers could cost hundreds of dollars).'
> >
> > Don't forget parallax.  They were selling PICs in 1s to hobbyists back
> > when the only other microcontrollers you could get (as a hobbyist) were
> > $30 8051s.

Parallax with their MCS-51 type assembler was a factor in the hobbyist market,
and small business too, I suspect. I never dealt with them. I'm not sure
about the educational market. Motorola seemed to have a good handle into
that because their architecture wasn't nearly as ugly.

>That's not exactly how I remember it Bill. 8031s were available in the
>$2 to $3 range.

An 8031 is a microprocessor, not a microcontroller, at least by my definition.
Some would argue with that, but it's also the definition Microchip uses for
their units that have both modes.

>But it required infrastructure to use, You had to add
>EPROM, RAM, address latches and input and output just to get a basic system
>going.

External RAM is not required- there's more built into the 8031 than in many
PICs (128 x 8 for the 8031 and 256 x 8 in the 8032). The one external latch
chip
was usually used but there were also some (unpopular) EPROM chips with the
address latch built-in. Similarly, there's a bit of I/O.

>  Same with the others. One of the last non PIC systems I built was based
>on a 68340. Same deal, RAM and EPROM were required to get it going. You then
>had to work on a bootloader for development.
>
> >  It probably didn't hurt that their "basic stamp" was based
> > on a PIC as well.  It seemed to me like a lot of people grew from the
> > stamp into PICs in general...
>
>Yup.

I think their PIC development stuff preceded the "Basic Stamp" by some
time (years?).

> Nowdays...  Microchip and Atmel are still pretty much duking it out for
> > design wins in the 'simple and robust microcontroller' arena.  Most of
> > the competitors don't do anywhere NEAR the ~20mA output drive of the
> > AVRs and PICs.  Which can be a PITA...
>
>Another point is that the parts still work at 5V. The TI MPS430 is excellent
>and inexpensive. But it's 3.3V only and IIRC only comes in surface mount
>packages.

The supply voltage range (1.8-3.6V) and the package are not really issues for
non-hobbyists (often they are advantages), but the lack of 5V-tolerant I/O
causes complexities to arise in system design.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
TakeThisOuTspeffKILLspamspamspaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com

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2004\06\25@105345 by David VanHorn

flavicon
face
At 10:25 PM 6/24/2004 -0700, William Chops Westfield wrote:

>On Jun 24, 2004, at 7:14 AM, David VanHorn wrote:
>
>>Then the AVR would fit that bill entirely, give you vectored
>>interrupts, no "holes" in your ram, no pages, the equivalent of 32 "W"
>>registers...
>
>The AVRs are nice, but those 32 registers aren't nearly as "general
>purpose" as Atmel would have you believe.

Ok, I was being brief.

The lower 16 work with almost all instructions, and the upper 16 work with all instructions.  LPM (sort of equivalent to RETLW) outputs to R0 in lower end parts.
The top two (ZH/ZL) are used as pointers for LPM, and the next two down are general purpose 16 bit registers/pointers.

Also, when I build tables, I can build them anywhere, with no worries about page boundaries. I know you can work around it in the pic, but in the AVR, it's a total non-issue.

The way I generally allocate the registers is like this:

R0 = LPM so I remember it's sort of tied up. Most of my apps use the LPM instruction.
R1 = SREG   for saving the SREG during ISRs (where needed)

R16 = TEMP
R17 = TEMP2
R18 = ITEMP dedicated ISR temp, to avoid pushing and popping
R19 = LOOP  Local use loop counter.

R26 = XL GP 16 bit register pair
R27 = XH
R28 = YL GP 16 bit register pair.
R29 = YH
R30 = ZL Pointer for LPM and other 16 bit ops
R31 = ZH

That works out to 10 "W" register equivalents, plus 14 slightly less capable registers in the low page, plus the fact that I can put a lot of vars that I need in the ISRs in those low page registers. When the ISR hits, I can "inc Counter" directly, rather than load it into W, inc, then save it back.  With the AVR running typically four times faster at the same clock, my ISRs can be unbelievably fast.  Vectored ints helps as well, unless you only have one Int source active.

I also didn't mention the lack of "pages" in I/O and RAM.


> They are a bit nicer than
>PICs, but they're also a bit more expensive and harder to find

?? http://www.digikey.com, Arrow, etc.

>, and their "pin compatible ranges of parts" are not nearly so broad as
>the PICs.

Does it need to be?

> And they appear far less often at bargin prices on eBay.

That's never been an issue for me. I mostly get mine from distribution, or digikey.  I've never understood why someone would put themselves through much trouble at all, to save $1 on a one-off or hobby project.

I just did a one-day project for a guy, two systems that needed to behave a bit differently than stock. I wrote some code for a tiny-26 because A: I had them on hand, and B: they had enough pins to handle the job.  I could have selected a slightly less expensive part, but there wasn't any point to it. I would have saved maybe $1. It's a gnat fart in a hurricane. (someone will no doubt work this out mathematically and show that I'm off by a couple orders of magnitude :)

Your time looking for the less expensive part is worth more than $1, and then you have the time you spend dealing with it. :-P


>(and for some reason, there don't seem to be nearly as many cheap build
>it yourself programmers for the AVRs, although I can't see any reason
>why there shouldn't be...)

The BA1FB programmer works nicely on the earlier parts.
Atmel's AVRISP at $29 does everything else, and there are many clones, how many alternatives for the same thing do you need?

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