Microcontroller manufacturer differences - for comparable chips

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HeavyThumper

Joined Dec 19, 2022
7
I'm sure this has been asked ad-nauseum - but as I'm just getting started in the world I haven't seen any recent comments. If there's some existing threads I should read please point me at them.

I know the question of which microcontroller to use is to open-ended - the requirements need to be specified and from that it's easier to narrow things down. So let's pick an arbitrary controller that multiple vendors have some variation of - for argument's sake I'll say a Cortex-M33. Since just about all the "big names" have at least one if not 10 versions of this - is there something about the manufacturer(s) that make them stand out? All else being equal - how do I pick from a list like Silicon Labs, Renesas, ST, NXP, TI, etc. if there's no special sauce for a given chip? Are any of these more/less reliable, supportive, available when compared with others? Or do I just pick whichever one is either cheapest, more available, or has a friendlier sales rep?
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
12,821
Today the elephant in the room is availability. The controller peripheral set and functionality for the required job is of prime importance. Things like documentation, software compiler/library support, trouble ticket access are also important things for vendor selection.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,514
Availability is the most important factor at the moment. Buy the processors first, then design the circuit. If you find after they have arrived and during the design stage that they won’t do the job, that‘s a bet you‘ve lost; but keep them on the shelf until the right project comes along! (Or sell them, you might even make a profit).
The presence or absence of suitable peripherals is the next factor for consideration. Manufacturers will try to catch you out. For instance, the datasheet of the LPC5502 says it has 9 ADC inputs, but two of them are on the same pins as the programming interface, so really, it only has 7.
You have to delve quite deeply into the pin allocations to make sure that the peripherals you require are all available simultaneously - and they are not allocated to the same pins.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,501
Before the lack of availability problem my criteria would have been features and working experience. Not in any order of importance, I would be looking at:

memory size
number of pins
package style
GPIO pins
peripherals
clock speed
supply voltage
power consumption in active and sleep modes

Working experience comes down to selection of development boards and software support. You need to try different manufacturers and discover which one best fits your criteria. For me, it is STM32.
 

EnzoEngr

Joined Nov 7, 2022
5
Before the lack of availability problem my criteria would have been features and working experience.
Good point! Here are my considerations (not in any specific orders as well): core, clock frequency, memory size, input/output, power mode, communication protocol, and security.

After the process of trial and error, I usually go for Cortex-M and 8051 series.
 
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