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'[EE] Alternative small MCUs to AVR and PIC'
2005\08\12@014950 by Chen Xiao Fan

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Right now my colleagues in Germany are looking for small
MCUs to replace Atmel AVR. We are again facing delivery
problems with Atmel AVRs even though the price is good
and we have lots of code base for AVR. Somehow Atmel
is always fulfilling the requirements of big white
goods company first and ignore smaller customers. This
situation is quite similar to last time when the
price of Flash was hot back 4 or 5 years ago.

Of course I suggest them to use PIC and Silabs MCU just
as we use here in Singapore but they seem to not quite
like PIC (because they like AVR?) and Silabs MCU is on the
higher side of the price range.

Requirement: to replace AtTiny 26, AtTiny 2313, AtMega48/88
1) maxim 5x5mm QFN, 14 to 32 pin package
2) similar in features to the AVR parts. Industrial temperature.
Essential requirement is with built-in comparators and/or ADCs,
internal oscillators and low cost (<=US$2 in 10k quantity)

Any suggestions?

Regards,
Xiaofan

2005\08\12@020251 by PicDude

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I know I asked about this quite some time ago, so the archives should have
some info.  I don't know the specifics of those Atmel chips, but the MSP430
line comes to mind as being in a similar category.  Can't say much about
pricing at 10k pieces, but it's always been my impression that the 12F and
16F PICs are some of the lowest-cost MCUs around.

BTW, I believe that there is a tag for [AVR] as well.

Cheers,
-Neil.


On Friday 12 August 2005 12:49 am, Chen Xiao Fan scribbled:
{Quote hidden}

2005\08\12@031302 by Luis.Moreira

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Hi Xiaofan,
I am using the Freescale mc68hc908 for some projects. I am sure you will
get what you need from that family try the MC68HC908QY4, Very powerful
too. Not sure about the price but for me they are well worth it.
Best regards
               Luis



{Original Message removed}

2005\08\12@041018 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 13:49:47 +0800, you wrote:

>Right now my colleagues in Germany are looking for small
>MCUs to replace Atmel AVR. We are again facing delivery
>problems with Atmel AVRs even though the price is good
>and we have lots of code base for AVR. Somehow Atmel
>is always fulfilling the requirements of big white
>goods company first and ignore smaller customers. This
>situation is quite similar to last time when the
>price of Flash was hot back 4 or 5 years ago.
>
>Of course I suggest them to use PIC and Silabs MCU just
>as we use here in Singapore but they seem to not quite
>like PIC (because they like AVR?) and Silabs MCU is on the
>higher side of the price range.

Availability seems to have been a persistent problem with Atmel over the years...

Microchip have always had a policy of good availability of parts once released, and a track record
to back it up. The wide range of parts means that there are often pin- and code-compatible
alternatives in the unlikely event of a shortage on one part.
They have always appreciated and supported the business of the lower-volume user, unlike every other
MCU maker, all of whom have had severe availability problems at some point in their past.
Any manufacturer who targets a few very-high volume customers will be at risk of availability
problems when those customers change their mind. The fact that Microchip target a large number of
lower-volume users means they are much less susceptible to large unexpected demand spikes.
They now have a dedicated test cell at one of their fabs that allows them to do rush-builds of a
part on demand, albeit at a price premium.




2005\08\12@041251 by Chen Xiao Fan

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The price is okay but the active current consumption is
much higher than Atmel or PIC if using the internal oscillator.
We are looking at parts which consume 2mA at low speed and
up to 5 to 10mA at high speed.

That is exactly the reason that we are not looking at Freescale.
HCS908 is much better but smaller parts are not available.

MSP430 is interesting but the range is not as good and I
do not know the price.

Regards,
Xiaofan  

-----Original Message-----
From: spam_OUTLuis.MoreiraTakeThisOuTspamjet.uk [.....Luis.MoreiraKILLspamspam@spam@jet.uk]
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 3:13 PM

Hi Xiaofan,
I am using the Freescale mc68hc908 for some projects. I am sure you will
get what you need from that family try the MC68HC908QY4, Very powerful
too. Not sure about the price but for me they are well worth it.
Best regards
               Luis

2005\08\12@041457 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 08:12:59 +0100, you wrote:

>Hi Xiaofan,
>I am using the Freescale mc68hc908 for some projects. I am sure you will
>get what you need from that family try the MC68HC908QY4, Very powerful
>too. Not sure about the price but for me they are well worth it.
>Best regards
>                Luis

Freescale (Motorola) have always been in the high-volume market, and I'd be as nervous about
designing them in as Atmel. They have had some horrendous availability problems in the past, no idea
if they are any better these days.

http://www.findchips.com is a very useful indicator of general part availability.


2005\08\12@044238 by Bob Axtell

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Mike Harrison wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Agreed. I had a tremendous parts availability problem with Motorola /
Freescale in the early 90s, forcing me to redesign
many projects into the (then new) PIC. As a consequence of this setback,
which was a heavy financial loss to me, I have
since NEVER designed-in another Motorola component. I consider Motorola
a third-rate player in the uController
marketplace.

--Bob

--
Note: To protect our network,
attachments must be sent to
attachspamKILLspamengineer.cotse.net .
1-866-263-5745 USA/Canada
http://beam.to/azengineer

2005\08\12@050050 by Luis.Moreira

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Hi Mike,
I never used the Motorola uControllers for volume production as that is
not the nature of my business, so I can not comment on availability.
What I can say is that Freescale as changed a lot recently, offering
tools samples and support that they never offered before. About two
years ago I started using Freescale's uControllers and they are very
powerful, peripheral rich and very nice to work with, I rarely use PICs
now days.  Maybe they have changed...
Best regards
               Luis

Luis Moreira
.....luis.moreiraKILLspamspam.....jet.uk
tel. 01235464615
JET PSU Department
UKAEA Culham Division
J20/1/55, Culham Science Centre
Abingdon
Oxfordshire
OX14 3DB


{Original Message removed}

2005\08\12@051719 by Chen Xiao Fan

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Agreed. They have changed a lot and they even come out
cheap tools similar to ICD2. Still the current consumption
issue can not be helped. In terms of "non-availability",
I think nobody can beat Atmel. :) Therefore I still
suggest them to use PIC which has the best long term
availability in a reasonable price. Still Microchip
does not have the best volume pricing now. :(

Regards,
Xiaofan

{Original Message removed}

2005\08\12@052324 by Chen Xiao Fan

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I think [AVR] tags are not really used so often.
Therefore I prefer to "contaminate" the [EE] tag. :)

Regards,
Xiaofan

-----Original Message-----
From: PicDude
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 2:04 PM
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
Subject: Re: [EE] Alternative small MCUs to AVR and PIC

BTW, I believe that there is a tag for [AVR] as well.

Cheers,
-Neil.

2005\08\12@062848 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 17:17:17 +0800, you wrote:

>Agreed. They have changed a lot and they even come out
>cheap tools similar to ICD2. Still the current consumption
>issue can not be helped. In terms of "non-availability",
>I think nobody can beat Atmel. :) Therefore I still
>suggest them to use PIC which has the best long term
>availability in a reasonable price. Still Microchip
>does not have the best volume pricing now. :(

Low price is no use if you can't get the parts....
The cost of stopped production due to parts shortages probably outweighs any cost difference in the
parts.
Think of it like an insurance policy!

2005\08\12@105547 by Paul Hutchinson

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: EraseMEpiclist-bouncesspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmit.edu On Behalf Of Chen Xiao Fan
>
> Right now my colleagues in Germany are looking for small
> MCUs to replace Atmel AVR. We are again facing delivery
<snip>
> 1) maxim 5x5mm QFN, 14 to 32 pin package
> 2) similar in features to the AVR parts. Industrial temperature.
> Essential requirement is with built-in comparators and/or ADCs,
> internal oscillators and low cost (<=US$2 in 10k quantity)
>
> Any suggestions?
>
> Regards,
> Xiaofan

Check out Zilog's offerings, I think the Z8encore! and Z8Encore!XP lines
have everything you're looking for.

Paul

2005\08\12@205254 by Russell McMahon

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> Check out Zilog's offerings, I think the Z8encore! and Z8Encore!XP
> lines
> have everything you're looking for.

Zilog may do an excellent job for you.
I chose a Zilog single-source part several years ago on the basis of
it doing the job better than anything else in the price range and
cheaper than anything else available.

After my subsequent experiences with out of spec processor problems
which occurred several times when batches changed, and Zilog's
response to those problems, I would never again design with Zilog
processors if it could be reasonably avoided. I'm not suggesting that
their average product is bad or that my problems were typical of what
you can expect with other of their products. Just that the experience
was so bad and so expensive that I'll try to avoid it ever happening
again. The processor I used was the Z8plus Z8PE003. Problems related
to bad startup under certain conditions which affected some batches of
processors and not others. Most worked as per spec sheet. Others
didn't. The problem was trivially easily reproducible "on the bench"
without using my circuitry but Zilog never managed to convince
themselves to believe me. The problem quite probably related to
internal reset issues, and on a processor with no external reset pin
that gets "important".




       Russell McMahon

2005\08\12@205316 by Mike Harrison

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On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 10:55:45 -0400, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

You might want to see how this pans out before committing to Zilog though http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=2018&mcparam=en024239

MICROCHIP TECHNOLOGY FILES

PATENT INFRINGEMENT SUIT AGAINST ZILOG, INC.

CHANDLER, Ariz., Aug. 12, 2005 — Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHP) of Chandler, Ariz., today
filed a complaint for patent infringement against ZiLOG, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZILG) of San Jose, Calif. The
suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that ZiLOG’s 8-pin Z8
Encore! XP® 4K series of microcontrollers infringes three Microchip patents covering 8-pin
microcontrollers and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages.


The patents look pretty flimsy but I suspect Microchip may have deeper pockets....

2005\08\12@211853 by Mike Harrison

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On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 12:44:24 +1200, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

When I first saw these parts I was highly suspicious of the lack of reset pin - looks like my
caution was justified....!

2005\08\14@194425 by Chen Xiao Fan

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Interesting development.

Zilog has come to us to promote their new MCUs. However they
do not have the packaging that we want (smaller or equal to 5x5mm).

One thing to note is that Zilog's 8-pin and Freescale's 8-pin are really meant to be "pin-compatible" with Microchip's but not
Atmel's 8-pin.

Regards,
Xiaofan


{Original Message removed}

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