At the kick-off today of its bi-annual DevCon, Renesas made the selection of MCUs a little bit easier with the announcement of a new website devoted to parametric MCU search, community and tech support. So, is there any room left for independent MCU selection guides?
New MCUs are being announced, literally by the hundreds, by all the main MCU manufacturers, from Freescale and Texas Instruments and Atmel, to Microchip and of course Renesas, which has the largest overall market share. This of course makes the selection of ‘the best’ MCU for a given task at once both likely as well as daunting.
For the average design, the choice may simply be a case of reusing the MCU the developer used last time, but for high-volume, low-power applications, every memory cell, extra pin, redundant I/O port or MHz of operation becomes critical. Hence the variety, and the resultant commoditization of the descendents of that most hallowed and venerable invention: the 8051 microcontroller architecture.
Once a novelty, MCUs are now everywhere, like silicon resistors, and cover the performance, peripheral and software support gamut. Fortunately, the typical engineer pretty much knows what they want here, and with a bit of history with a certain company and their hardware and software support, they’re more than likely to stick with that company and just pick from a palette they know.
However, if those engineers are designing the next generation device, they may have to go ‘off the reservation’ and into uncharted territory. That’s where independent search sites like GruntWare’s Gopher come into their own, with literally thousands of devices at the tips of your fingers, with uploads from all the major manufactuers. Lots of features too, including shared-pin analysis.
That sounds good. But every major manufacturer is busy sprucing up its own search. TI has always led in this area. Now Renesas, with RXMCU.com is hitting the ground running with a site launched as part of the RX line’s official coming-out party here at DevCon in Los Angeles.
The site does full parametric search with easy controls and is supported by blogs, papers and tech support.
With all the companies now with a decent search engine, and much of the MCU choice dependent upon a priori experience in both hardware and software development tools, what is the role or indeed the future of GruntWare, and sites like it.
Is independent MCU search a dead end? Have you use GruntWare’s tool? What do you think?