Industry Experts Speak on Trends for 2010

By Cameron Bird

As silicon prices continue to slide, 8- and 16-bit designers are focusing their scalpels system-wide. For most, bringing power consumption in line with more energy-efficient standards has taken over as a prime concern. And within that modus operandi, features that have never before seemed fit for diminutive microcontrollers are fast becoming integrated selling points - oscillators, USB, and touch-sensing, to name a few. On the other hand, some MCU manufacturers, seeing the draw of more complex MCUs, are marketing 32-bit architectures to OEMs as robust replacements for the 16-bit variety. EE Catalog put these points to Joe Yu, director of strategies and innovation at NXP Semiconductors, Pete Jones, general manager and business unit head for microcontroller and touch Solutions at Atmel Corporation; Fanie Duvenhage, director of product marketing for security apps and architecture at Microchip Technology, Inc.; and Mike Salas, director of marketing for microcontrollers at Silicon Systems. What follows are excerpts.

EECat: What trends are shaping the 8- and 16-bit MCU markets?

Yu: Embedded system developers are facing mounting challenges in addressing higher performance requirements their applications demand while at the same time reducing energy consumption and cost in order to meet tighter power and cost budgets. Application form factors also continue to shrink driving increased demand for microcontroller solutions in miniaturized packages.

Duvenhage: The major ones you always see and that really don’t change frequently are an ongoing effort to cost reduce in all of those spaces, reduce power consumption, smaller package sizes, more advanced technologies, peripheral integration for some new markets. Some of it just serving the existing markets. That keeps happening by us and our peers.

Jones: The 16-bit MCU market is at crossroads. We’re seeing 32-bit MCUs taking market share away due to improving priceto- performance ratios. There is a wider acceptance of 32-bit architecture than cost and a low-cost tool chain than previously available.

Salas: We are also seeing a growing market interest in wireless MCUs –single-chip devices that combine powerful yet lowpower MCU cores with high-performance wireless transceivers. Such MCU/transceiver combinations are ideal for battery-powered applications, such as smart meters, home security systems and personal medical devices that also require wireless connectivity.

To read more, please visit: http://eecatalog.com/8bit/2010/04/22/industry-experts-speak-on-trendsfor-2010/