10 Microprocessor Lies

Jim Turley explodes some processor myths, starting with the one about too few choices. He writes: “This is the most insidious misconception. If you’re designing an embedded system, how many 32-bit processors can you choose from? 10? 20? In reality, there are more than 100 different 32-bit embedded processors for sale right now. (And that’s not counting different packaging options or speed grades.) Dozens of companies make 32-bit processors, representing more than 15 different CPU architectures and instruction sets. Add in a few hundred more 16-bit processors and a few hundred 8-bit processors and you’ve got an embarrassment of riches.”

So, will there be a shakeout? Don’t expect one anytime soon. “The number of embedded processors is likely to grow, not shrink. Those hundred-odd chips are all in volume production with dozens of happy customers who wouldn’t use anything else. Those chips are around for a reason, and the number of reasons keeps growing. MP3 players, digital-video cameras, automotive electronics, and other new toys are popping up all the time, and they each need a new and different kind of processor. There’s no such thing as a typical embedded system and there’s no such thing as a typical embedded processor. As long as embedded developers invent new devices, new embedded processors will be there to make them tick.”

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