I don't know about you, but I've certainly got some very strong opinions about this topic.
I was just meandering my way around the EDN website, (edn.com), perusing the various columns, when one article in particular jumped out at me shouting Read me! Read Me!
The column in question was Slideshow: The most-popular MCUs ever. Well, I don’t know about you, but I've certainly got some very strong opinions about this sort of topic.
Of course, now I come to think about it, I pretty much have strong opinions about just about every topic… even (especially?) ones I know nothing about. In fact, if the truth be told, I often have multiple, contrary opinions and can happily argue from different sides (No you can't! Yes I can!), but I digress…
Some of the items in this slideshow weren't particularly surprising, such as the fact that the 8051 made an appearance. Having said this, I guess I was a little puzzled by the fact that the author, Stephen Evanczuk, mentioned only the C8051F33x family from Silicon Laboratories. There have been so many incarnations of the 8051 by so many companies that I would have preferred to have been presented with some juicy nuggets of knowledge and tidbits of trivia, such as the total number of 8051-based off-the-shelf chips that have been sold since its inception circa 1980 (and similarly for 8051-based ASIC/SoC cores).
Another thing that wasn't surprising was to learn that 8-bit MCUs had a strong presence in the early years, but that 32-bit ARM Cortex M-series-based devices (especially M0, M3, and M4) are steadily increasing in popularity.
What did surprise me was to hear that Microchip has sold more than 7 billion units of the PIC16 MCU series and that we expect to see strong growth in this series for several years to come. Also a surprise was the fact that Cypress Semiconductor has shipped over 1.7 billion units of its PSoC 1 Programmable System-on-Chip, which combines programmable analog blocks and programmable digital blocks with an 8-bit M8C CPU core.
Good grief -- 1.7+ billion units -- I would never have guessed! Now I'm wondering how many units they've sold of their PSoC 3 (with an 8-bit 8051 core) and how many of their PSoC 4 and PSoC 5 (with 32-bit Cortex M0 and M3 cores, respectively). I'm also wondering why there is no PSoC 2 family in the lineup (but I'm far too polite to ask).
Also of interest is the spirited debate that is taking place in the comments associated with Stephen's article. (Click here to see the slideshow and join the debate.)