$1 MCU review — looking for AVR part suggestions

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Hey everyone! I'm reviewing $1 (@ 100 QTY) general-purpose 8/16/32-bit MCUs from a wide range of vendors (NXP/Freescale, Microchip/Atmel, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, Renesas, ST, Infineon), and I'd like to include an AVR part. The review will include quantitative comparisons between feature sets, benchmarking, power analysis, plus more qualitative stuff (development environment, SDKs, compiler choices, development/debugging experience, etc).

 

The Atmel SAM D10 was an obvious choice (and might end up leading the pack when all is said and done), but, somewhat to my surprise, I'm really struggling to find an AVR part that seems comparable to the rest of the field. The part I'm testing with is the ATTiny84, but it's pretty spartan on peripherals, only runs at 10 MHz at 3.3V, and doesn't even have an internal oscillator that can run the part at full speed. While I bet it was great when it came out, it seems like an older part that probably shouldn't be used in new designs.

 

The brand new 417/814/816/817 should help (especially with the internal oscillator issue), but the part doesn't seem like it's widely in production yet, and I can't seem to find it at any retailers, so I don't think I'll want to include it in my write-up.

 

Are there any parts you suggest looking at that I've glossed over? Or is the <$1 market not something Atmel is invested in for its general-purpose 8-bit line? (which is totally understandable — just wanted to check)

​Thanks for the feedback!

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Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 04:08 AM
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Actually, the SAM D21 seems to be the "sweet spot" of Atmel ARMs these days.

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Really? All the under-$1 D21s have been obsoleted, and all the other ones seem like they're no longer normally stocked by vendors.

 

I was under the impression that the D21 was a bit long in the tooth. Again, I'm not a regular Atmel user, so if you know something I don't, please chime in! Thanks for the feedback!

This reply has been marked as the solution. 
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jaycarlson wrote:
... and I can't seem to find it [tinyAVR 1-series] at any retailers, ...
tiny1617 is at several distributors; tiny1616 and tiny1614 are only at a few.

Don't know when tiny3217 and etc will be announced; it is in-work.

 

https://octopart.com/search?q=attiny1617&avg_avail=(1__*)&start=0

https://octopart.com/search?q=attiny1616&avg_avail=(1__*)&start=0

https://octopart.com/search?q=attiny1614&avg_avail=(1__*)&start=0

 


http://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/attiny417-attiny814-attiny816-attiny817

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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jaycarlson wrote:

Really? All the under-$1 D21s have been obsoleted, and all the other ones seem like they're no longer normally stocked by vendors.

 

I was under the impression that the D21 was a bit long in the tooth. Again, I'm not a regular Atmel user, so if you know something I don't, please chime in! Thanks for the feedback!

 

Yeah, you're right, they are from rev. A, which is obsolete. My bad. Anyway, don't forget to check Chinese stuff from Holtek and Nuvoton.

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jaycarlson wrote:
Are there any parts you suggest looking at that I've glossed over?
PIC32MM and recent PIC18.

There may be some PIC24 that would be low price but I didn't look.

 

http://www.microchip.com/design-centers/32-bit/architecture/pic32mm-family

http://new.microchipdirect.com/ProductSearch.aspx?Keywords=PIC32MM0064GPL028-I/SO (slightly over the price requirement)

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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gchapman wrote:

tiny1617 is at several distributors; tiny1616 and tiny1614 are only at a few.

Don't know when tiny3217 and etc will be announced; it is in-work.


Wow — I swear these weren't on DigiKey when I first shopped three weeks ago. If they were, must have totally glossed over them. Thanks a bunch for the recommendation! Buying a few 1616s right now!

gchapman wrote:

PIC32MM and recent PIC18.

There may be some PIC24 that would be low price but I didn't look.

El Tangas wrote:

 

don't forget to check Chinese stuff from Holtek and Nuvoton.


 

 

Thanks for the suggestion. If you're curious about the selection so far, I've got the SAM D10, PSoC 4000S, Freescale KE04 and KL03 (very different beasts), Infineon XMC1100, PIC16 (one of the new ones with the core-independent peripherals), the PIC32MM, the LPC811 (old, but only LPC part in the price range), the Renesas RL78/G12, the Silicon Labs EFM8LB11, the STM8, STM32F0, the STC 15W, and the MSP430FR. You're right that I can squeeze in a PIC24 — the F04KL100 comes in at just under $1 (which is a hard and firm rule for this review).

​I've worked with the Nuvoton ARM stuff, but couldn't find anything in stock on this side of the ocean in the <$1 price range. I'd love to get a Holtek chip if you have any recommendations!

One thing I'm struggling with is getting debuggers and IDEs for some of these industry/automotive-heavy parts. For example, I'd love to get a Cypress (Fujitsu) F2MC-8FX, but I can't seem to get access to the IDE / toolchain (even after emailing them). On Semi now has the Sanyo LC87, but I can't get a debugger for it (it's also out of the price range for this write-up).

 

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 10:49 PM
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Are there any parts you suggest looking at that I've glossed over?

 ATmega8, ATmega32a, and even ATmega128 seem to be available for about $1, from gray-market suppliers (aliexpress, eBay)

(these are relatively "old" chips)
I don't know whether that "counts", but it's an interesting phenomena from a hobbyist PoV....

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westfw wrote:

Are there any parts you suggest looking at that I've glossed over?

 ATmega8, ATmega32a, and even ATmega128 seem to be available for about $1, from gray-market suppliers (aliexpress, eBay)

(these are relatively "old" chips)
I don't know whether that "counts", but it's an interesting phenomena from a hobbyist PoV....

 

Thanks for the recommendation; even on DigiKey, you can get a few megaAVR MCUs for under a buck. Definitely thought about it. I should back up and explain that I'm testing all MCUs with their internal oscillators only (it's 2017, people — external oscillators are for RTCs and RF), so I doubt these older guys would look good, especially compared to the new Tiny1616 I just ordered. Also, there's not much of an overall difference between the Tiny and the Mega, as the ecosystems are identical (Atmel Studio, AVR Dragon, AVR-GCC, avr/io.h, etc).

 

I *am* reviewing the Kinetis KE04 and the KL03, which are both Cortex-M0 MCUs from Freescale/NXP, but I'm doing this because they have very, very different peripherals and power numbers — and they have totally different development environments. The KE04 uses the old-school Processor Expert (CodeWarrior-style) in Kinetis Design Studio — while NXP is pushing MCUXpresso for the KL03 (which is a much newer part, and isn't supported by classic Processor Expert components). Otherwise, I'm trying to find one chip representative of the architecture; I'm not reviewing PIC10, PIC12, and PIC16 parts separately, for example.

 

Thanks for the idea, though!

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Infineon XMC1100?

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jaycarlson wrote:
Also, there's not much of an overall difference between the Tiny and the Mega, as the ecosystems are identical (Atmel Studio, AVR Dragon, AVR-GCC, avr/io.h, etc).
fyi, tinyAVR 1-series have UPDI instead of debugWIRE; UPDI is not in AVR Dragon.

Will need an Atmel-ICE for the tiny1616.

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Katman wrote:

Infineon XMC1100?

 

Already on the list! Cute little part!

 

gchapman wrote:

jaycarlson wrote:
Also, there's not much of an overall difference between the Tiny and the Mega, as the ecosystems are identical (Atmel Studio, AVR Dragon, AVR-GCC, avr/io.h, etc).
fyi, tinyAVR 1-series have UPDI instead of debugWIRE; UPDI is not in AVR Dragon.

Will need an Atmel-ICE for the tiny1616.

 

Ugh. You're killing me, Atmel. It was hard enough for me to get that AVR Dragon up and running. I'll order one of those Xplained boards for the 817 — that supports debugging, right?

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Yes

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Microchip Technology    ATMEGA168PB-MU       16KB FLASH 32QFN    on DigiKey

 

This one clocks in at just over $1 per unit.  But, it is 16K flash with a good array of peripherals.  It also has support [this website and hundreds of thousands of Arduino users],  a cheap programmer (USBASP devices on eBay for  $2-3), and a free high-quality AVR-GCC compiler.  It's documentation is clear and well-written.  There are thousands of libraries for every peripheral device available for download. 

 

Sure, you might find a BOZO XKE processor for $0.97 with the same range or even slightly better specs.   But then you have to buy a $200 compiler and a $200 in-circuit emulator.  And the compiler has some little bug that the seller is reluctant to fix because they've only sold 350 copies of the software in the past two years.  And then you have to wade through a 300-page datasheet (with the most challenging parts written in REMOVED  "....ADC part supplys most 12-bit sequence for extra service detail range in low motion....).   And it may be cancelled next year.   Then your technician leaves to get a job where he doesn't have to deal with BOZO XKEs any more, and you have to bring a new guy up to speed.

 

Removed Poor choice of wording

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 02:14 AM
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Simonetta wrote:

 

Sure, you might find a BOZO XKE processor for $0.97 with the same range or even slightly better specs.   But then you have to buy a $200 compiler and a $200 in-circuit emulator.  And the compiler has some little bug that the seller is reluctant to fix because they've only sold 350 copies of the software in the past two years.  And then you have to wade through a 300-page datasheet (with the most challenging parts written in Chinglish  "....ADC part supplys most 12-bit sequence for extra service detail range in low motion....).   And it may be cancelled next year.   Then your technician leaves to get a job where he doesn't have to deal with BOZO XKEs any more, and you have to bring a new guy up to speed.

 

...well that spiraled down quickly. I'm sure your comment is well-intentioned, but there's not much you wrote that has any basis in reality. First of all, many of the MCUs I'm looking at aren't $0.97 — they start as low as 20-30 cents, even in fairly low volumes. If you consult my list, you'll notice I don't mention any BOZO XKE processors. Every vendor I listed has shipped 100 million units or more of the part that I reviewed. All of these architectures have been around for a while, and are well-supported. 

 

The USBASP is not an ICE, so I would never consider buying it. I don't know why you mention it when you're discussing ICEs. While working on this review project, I've purchased nearly a dozen debuggers for ARM, EFM8, Renesas, STM8, and Microchip. Most manufacturers have "open-enough" debuggers, which allow low-cost clones to be purchased in the $5-20 range (ST-Link, Silicon Labs USB Debug Adapter, Microchip PicKit3). At $55, the most expensive debugger I've purchased so far is the AVR Dragon — the cheapest debugger you can buy for the AVR (and, as @gchapman pointed it, not capable of debugging new tinyAVR devices). Even my J-Link EDU edition was cheaper (though admittedly I bought it on sale), and it's much more powerful and flexible. If you're talking about programming-only, many of the MCUs I tested (Kinetis, EFM8, STC15, LPC811) actually have a factory-programmed UART bootloaders, requiring no programmer at all. I'm not sure how AVR wins the ICE debate in your head?

 

As for compilers, I would not call AVR-GCC "high quality" — I would call it completely average, when compared to other platforms and compilers I've tested so far. Without the optimizer on, it produces fairly mediocre code (a bit-set operation was compiled into 9 instructions, in my testing), and with the optimizer configured to do anything useful, the code is very difficult to debug — I'm often forced to use assembly breakpoints, as Atmel Studio can't seem to figure out what I'm trying to do. I didn't experience this problem on any other platform or IDE I tested. Atmel Studio's disassembly-view-as-an-afterthought exacerbates this problem, by not showing me side-by-side views at all times, as literally every other platform does.

 

On your second note about compilers being expensive and buggy, I'm not exactly sure what you're comparing AVR to, but all of the vendors I tested have excellent, free compilers that work much better than AVR-GCC out-of-the-box. ST partnered with Cosmic to give away free, unrestricted, lifetime licenses of their STM8 compiler. Silicon Labs gives away the full version of Keil ($3300!!) for free to anyone who downloads Simplicity Studio, their free, cross-platform, Eclipse-based IDE for their EFM8. Most of the ARM vendors use ARM-GCC (Atmel included), but it's important to remember that ARM-GCC is much more reasonable than GCC versions targeting 8-bit platforms. Also, MDK's free version works fine for up to 32 K of flash — more than most Cortex-M0 parts have, and plenty for most hobbyist projects. Again, how does AVR come out ahead in terms of compilers? When they start bundling IAR with Atmel Studio, let me know!

 

Also, I find your comment about "Also Removed" in the datasheets absurd, racist, and really uncalled for. Almost ironic to your comment, I found the STC15W datasheets some of the most pleasant documentation to read, so far in my testing. And this is a company that didn't even have an English web site two years ago.

 

For what it's worth, I agree with you that there's a nice, large, Atmel community, so it's easy to get help quickly. And, yes, there's lots of peripheral libraries out there, in the internet. But it'll be interesting to explore how that balances against many of these other devices — which also have communities — but also have excellent code-generation tools, well-documented header files, and other resources that make MCU programming extremely productive.

 

I know I probably won't change your mind, but there's a big MCU world out there, and from your comments, I feel like you're missing out on a lot of the changes that have happened in the last 5-10 years. Just my two cents.

 

Repeat of poor choice of wording...agreed innapropriate - Moderator.

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 02:16 AM
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By the way, this ATtiny161x is a beast. I can't wait to get mine in the mail to play with! 

 

It has a strange resemblance in density and peripheral selection to some of the higher-end EFM8 parts from Silicon Labs (16K flash/2K RAM, 20-24 ADC channels, three DACs, configurable logic block, timer configuration, etc). I wonder if it was designed to be a direct competitor? Anyone know the scoop on this new part?

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 02:43 AM
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jaycarlson wrote:

​I've worked with the Nuvoton ARM stuff, but couldn't find anything in stock on this side of the ocean in the <$1 price range. 

Nuvoton now have a direct store, and in the 8-bit sector, they have N76E003/N76E885/N76E616.

Octopart shows stocks of N76E003, the price was around 22c/1k for 18kF/12b ADC/UART/i2c/PWM/SPI

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jaycarlson wrote:

... If you're talking about programming-only, many of the MCUs I tested (Kinetis, EFM8, STC15, LPC811) actually have a factory-programmed UART bootloaders, requiring no programmer at all. 

I found the STC15W datasheets some of the most pleasant documentation to read, so far in my testing. And this is a company that didn't even have an English web site two years ago.

If you are looking at STC micros, and also somewhat to the future,  look at their STC8F - a much faster core version of STC15.

The errata around this makes 'interesting reading', given they have been making MCUs for a long time, some of the oops are a bit fundamental.

Still, revision letters are ticking up quickly, so this could be a good family for 2018 ?

Price and road maps are in http://www.stcmcu.com/STC8F-DATA...

 

If you want to cast a broad net, the Zilog Z32F series just sneaks inside that $1/100 threshold, it's another Wide Vcc ARM, similar to XMC1xx series.

If you want USB, the Silabs EFM8UB1 series is the lowest cost USB MCU I've found.

Some Atmel ATSAMD11 USB members also come under $1

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 03:21 AM
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Who-me wrote:

 

Nuvoton now have a direct store, and in the 8-bit sector, they have N76E003/N76E885/N76E616.

Octopart shows stocks of N76E003, the price was around 22c/1k for 18kF/12b ADC/UART/i2c/PWM/SPI

 

Wow! Super cool! Thanks for the info. I had no idea they made 8051s, honestly — I'm excited to try their on-chip debugging in Keil. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to the (really wonderful) SiLabs Simplicity Studio experience I've had thus far. Need to pick up some of their Cortex-M0s, too.

 

It's crazy that they have an M4 that's under $2 @ 100 QTY (but if I need an M4, I probably need more than the 22 MHz it can run at internally. I'd probably stick to the $2.20 Kinetis K02 — runs at 100 MHz!)

 

Anyway, definitely time to go shopping :-)

 

 

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jaycarlson wrote:

It's crazy that they have an M4 that's under $2 @ 100 QTY (but if I need an M4, I probably need more than the 22 MHz it can run at internally. I'd probably stick to the $2.20 Kinetis K02 — runs at 100 MHz!)

I think some of their parts have PLLs ?

I have their NUC505 tagged as the lowest priced MCU with HS-USB I can locate.

Have you looked at CooCox ? That has good Nuvoton support in ARMs.

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ATMEGA168PB ... clocks in at just over $1 per unit.

Oh!  Good point.   The 88pb and 48pb are both under $0.90 at digikey...

 

 

I would not call AVR-GCC "high quality" — I would call it completely average, when compared to other platforms and compilers I've tested so far.

Without the optimizer on, it produces fairly mediocre code

Why would you run it without the optimizer on?  All you get is meaningless results...

 

and with the optimizer configured to do anything useful, the code is very difficult to debug

 Oh.  That.  Yes, the optimizer tends to be so good that tight correspondence with HLL source code is lost, and source-level debuggers don't seem to be very good at figuring it out.

Have you tried the (new) "-Og" optimization level?

 

 

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There is also that obscure company Logic Green Technology that makes AVR clones. Finally I found a cheap board to play a bit, I think I'm going to order a couple:

https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=TTGO+XI

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And remember that the 417/814/816/817 ...........   

Don't have a crystal osc, so if you sometimes need time precision there is nothing saved.

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I just checked on digikey and 100 ATMEGA16-16MQR cost $26 , is that about obsolete or what?  because that is cheap! 

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http://www.semiconductorstore.com/cart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=64222http://www.semiconductorstore.com/cart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=64222http://www.semiconductorstore.com/cart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=64222http://www.semiconductorstore.com/cart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=64222

Who-me wrote:

If you are looking at STC micros, and also somewhat to the future,  look at their STC8F - a much faster core version of STC15.

I briefly looked at the STC8F, but wasn't able to find much English documentation. I really wish I would have taken Chinese in high school instead of Latin — that was dumb of me frown

 

Who-me wrote:

If you want to cast a broad net, the Zilog Z32F series just sneaks inside that $1/100 threshold, it's another Wide Vcc ARM, similar to XMC1xx series.

I think I'm good on ARM parts for now — unless they have a particularly interesting IDE / ecosystem?

 

Who-me wrote:

 

If you want USB, the Silabs EFM8UB1 series is the lowest cost USB MCU I've found.

Some Atmel ATSAMD11 USB members also come under $1

I do a lot of USB projects and I'm a big fan of the EFM8UB1. For this review, I'm using the LB1, since I'm trying to get as close to $1 without going over, and Symmetry (SiLabs' distributor) squeezes several of them in at that price point (e.g. http://www.semiconductorstore.co...).

 

While I've just started preliminary benchmarking, the LB1 should hold up well — its 72 MHz core clock is much faster than the 48 MHz Cortex-M0s in the round-up, and it should put up good active-mode power figures.

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sparrow2 wrote:

 

And remember that the 417/814/816/817 ...........   

Don't have a crystal osc, so if you sometimes need time precision there is nothing saved.

Yes, but for everything other than weirdo projects​1, "time precision" really means "a good RTC" — typically, once you're in active mode running on the main oscillator, you don't care how fast you're running; just as long as it's as fast as possible, so you can get your work done as quickly as possible and go back into sleep mode. The new Tinys have finally caught up with everyone else in that they have an internal 1%-ish RC oscillator that can run the chip at full-speed.

 

The New Tinys look good peripheral-wise, but I was really disappointed that they still have crazy-high active-mode current (10 mA??). Hopefully Microchip/Atmel will get a core internal regulator into their design sometime soon, otherwise it's going to get eaten alive in power benchmarks compared to.... well, everyone else. It's good to see standby power consumption with the RTC running in the 700 nA range, though.

 

1 I recently required a very precise 48 MHz time base for some ultrasonic wind measurement time-of-flight work.

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 05:29 PM
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jaycarlson wrote:
... I really wish I would have taken Chinese in high school instead of Latin — that was dumb of me....
You might like to read this, which may help with any buyer's remorse.

- John

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jaycarlson wrote:
At $55, the most expensive debugger I've purchased so far is the AVR Dragon — the cheapest debugger you can buy for the AVR ...
An alternative to AVR Dragon is the Atmel-ICE board though AVR Dragon has some functionality that's not in Atmel-ICE.

jaycarlson wrote:
... actually have a factory-programmed UART bootloaders, requiring no programmer at all.
Microchip is adding more AVR that can be programmed at Microchip; otherwise, some distributors will program AVR.

AVR application notes will have source code for a UART bootloader.

jaycarlson wrote:
Again, how does AVR come out ahead in terms of compilers?
For 8-bit MCU, computer languages (BASIC, Pascal, Ada) in addition to C and C++.

An advantage for some 32-bit MCU and one 16-bit MCU architecture is Python is available (might not meet the MCU price requirement)

 


http://new.microchipdirect.com/productsearch.aspx?Keywords=ATATMEL-ICE-PCBA (there was stock there a few days ago)

https://octopart.com/search?q=atatmel-ice-pcba&avg_avail=(1__*)&start=0

http://new.microchipdirect.com/ProductSearch.aspx?Keywords=ATAVRDRAGON

http://new.microchipdirect.com/programming/CPNPricingFrame.aspx?type=menu&mid=2

http://start.atmel.com/#examples/boot

https://www.mcselec.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=103 (1 of 2 or 4 for AVR BASIC)

http://www.e-lab.de/AVRco/index_en.html (1 of 3 for AVR Pascal)

https://sourceforge.net/projects/avr-ada/ (1 of 3 for AVR Ada)

https://github.com/micropython/micropython

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Its price may be a typo though the price might be true (better to sell to customers than sell the lot to a NRND/EOL distributor)

ATMEGA16 is NRND.

 

http://www.microchip.com/wwwproducts/en/atmega16

http://www.microchip.com/wwwproducts/en/atmega16a

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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jaycarlson wrote:
Hopefully Microchip/Atmel will get a core internal regulator into their design sometime soon, ...
An internal regulator is another source of failure (reverse current, surges cause cumulative damage to the pass transistor, over-voltage, stability is likely conditional)

RF AVR are 1.8V AVR that have an internal voltage regulator (and significantly lower active and etc currents)

jaycarlson wrote:
I recently required a very precise 48 MHz time base for some ultrasonic wind measurement time-of-flight work.
fyi, a recent arrival at Mouser is the Microchip MEMS oscillators that are 25ppm or 50ppm max (48MHz in stock) :

http://www.mouser.com/new/microchip/microchip-dsc6-oscillator/

MEMS oscillators are vibration and impact resistant though not "low" power (other than the 32KHz MEMS oscillators)

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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jaycarlson wrote:
The New Tinys look good peripheral-wise, but I was really disappointed that they still have crazy-high active-mode current (10 mA??).
XMEGA's active current is about a third of that but XMEGA's price is about double the tinyAVR 1-series.

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Before you decide I guess you should answer this kind of questions:

1: is the for general AVR jobs, or the best for one specific job?

2: which voltage?, to avoid step up/down which other things will be on the PCB?

3: does power matter? (powered from AC no, battery yes) 

4: how accurate does you timers etc. need to be ?(about 1ppm 100ppm 1%(10000ppm) )

5: do you need eeprom, ADC(how good),UART etc.

6: how fast?

7: how big programs(flash ,RAM needs) and which language do you want to use ?

8: numbers of IO's and the speed of those?

 

I guess that there are more but if we know those I guess that we have a good picture of what you relly need. 

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9. EEPROM? (that sets AVR apart from quite a lot of others)
.
PS loved the joke above about GCC optimiser! A bit like the one about the guy who bought a Ferrari but never used anything but 1st gear.

Last Edited: Sat. Jul 22, 2017 - 07:44 PM
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jaycarlson wrote:

Who-me wrote:

If you want to cast a broad net, the Zilog Z32F series just sneaks inside that $1/100 threshold, it's another Wide Vcc ARM, similar to XMC1xx series.

I think I'm good on ARM parts for now — unless they have a particularly interesting IDE / ecosystem?

I trialed the Z51F (8051) systems, and they worked quite well, with a HS-USB link helping ICE Debug response times.

 

However, just looking at the Z32F EVALS, they look expensive, ($60+) and under-resourced.

Unlike Nuvoton's ~$25 eval boards, or Infineon's, or Atmel's, or SiLabs....,   Zilog Z32F have no included Debug at all, just a USB-UART. You have to add a 20pin external ARM debugger.

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At $55, the most expensive debugger I've purchased so far is the AVR Dragon — the cheapest debugger you can buy for the AVR ...

You can get asssorted "Xplained Mini" evaluation boards that include a debugger for about $10.  One of these has an ATtiny817, and one has a ATmega168pb - two of the "under $1" chips we have been discussing...

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sparrow2 wrote:

1: is the for general AVR jobs, or the best for one specific job?

2: which voltage?, to avoid step up/down which other things will be on the PCB?

3: does power matter? (powered from AC no, battery yes) 

4: how accurate does you timers etc. need to be ?(about 1ppm 100ppm 1%(10000ppm) )

5: do you need eeprom, ADC(how good),UART etc.

6: how fast?

7: how big programs(flash ,RAM needs) and which language do you want to use ?

8: numbers of IO's and the speed of those?

 

All of those things, balanced equally, under $1. In other words, a modern, general-purpose, 16-32 pin MCU that you would drop in entry-range, current-generation products. If you look at my list of other controllers I've selected thus far, that means 3.3V, internal oscillator, low active current, lots of timers, 10-14 bit ADC with tons of channels, 6+ PWM channels, 8-16 K of flash, 1K+ of RAM, one or more UART/SPI/I2c modules, and maybe some secret sauce — programmable logic, waveform generators, DACs, etc.

 

@gchapman pointed me to the ATTiny1616, which I think I'm essentially settled on as the AVR representative for this round-up I'm doing. Unless you've got an alternative idea?

 

Sounds like now the discussion is moving onto other non-AVR parts to consider — which I'm totally open to!

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clawson wrote:
9. EEPROM? (that sets AVR apart from quite a lot of others).

 

Yeah, I don't know why EEPROM sort of went away. The AVR, PIC16, and STC15W parts have it, but I'm not sure anyone else does. I think, these days, MCUs in this price range have enough RAM that you can just read/modify/write a 64-byte bank of flash memory, and it's no big deal. Obviously not as convenient as byte-addressable EEPROM, but if we're just talking about user configuration options or something like that, storing it in Flash is totally reasonable.

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Thank you for your extended response.  AVR is the only CPU that I've dealt with in the past 20 years.  Before that I did assembler in 8051 and 6502.   Until the Internet appeared, embedded systems was done either by professional engineers with budgets to buy compilers, debuggers, and in-circuit emulators, or "islands" of lone individuals groping blindly in the dark.   Until Arduino appeared and stablized, I couldn't learn C because I couldn't understand the multitude of error messages that I received from compilers.  I am not a student, nor am I an employee now, nor have I ever been an employee of a company that had the resources to invest the professional development of their workers.  Every single little detail about the entire subject of microcontrollers, I've learned on my own research and reading.  Nor have I ever worked with any other electronic technicians that had any interest in microcontroller systems.

 

  A "high quality" compiler, by my definition, is one that is free: easy-to-get functional, and doesn't often crash for some incomprehensible reason on Windows.  In the 20th century, there were few high quality compilers.  As for today, I don't know.  I use Arduino.  I believe that sooner or later, everyone will use it for the same reason that everyone uses Windows: it works well enough, and it is cheap enough.  "BOZO XKE" is my general term for over-hyped and somewhat ridiculous technology.  I did not know about any other microcontroller companies linkages with compilers.  I welcome all development tools for all microcontrollers.  But if these microcontroller companies were serious about promoting their devices, then they would develop versions of Arduino for their company's CPU products.  Arduino is becoming the world standard for microcontroller development.  

   

   I have a dragon and an ICE-200.  Both are fragile, expensive and hard-to-use.  I bought them about ten years ago.  I haven't bought any hardware ICE product since.  The only exception is the USBasp for $3.  If it plugs into a PC on side and a microcontroller on the other side, then it's close enough to being an ICE as far as I'm concerned.  I hope that ICEware continues to improve; but I'm still not buying any more it.  I debug with a serial port, LED blinkers, and a digital oscilloscope.

 

   Removed and Chinese-language-only data sheets are a reality in today's world.  Sometimes a company's part datasheet are the cut-and-pasted output of Google translate.  These web-based language translators do a reasonable job with European languages.  But going from English to Chinese and back coherently is just beyond their present abilities.  If you've never had to deal with

incomprehensible data sheets for a complex part, well, I envy your good luck.  Try studying the data sheets for various TFT display controllers.  I assumed that some of the CPU datasheets would as bad, but I must be wrong here.   To be considered racist for quoting Removed datasheets is absurd.  It doesn't help solve the real-world 21st-century problem of incomprehensible machine language translations.

 

Good luck in your continued market research.   A 20 cent microprocessor is a wonder of the modern age.  But if you give someone a quarter and get a microchip in return, you won't be able to do anything with it.  But spending $2.50 for an Arduino Nano clone on eBay, you have a real CPU development system, ready to rock and roll.  Plug it into a PC and you have the same capacities for CPU development that one had to pay $3000+ for back when I got my Electronic Technology degree.

Last Edited: Mon. Jul 24, 2017 - 12:39 AM
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Take a look at ATMEGA328PB...I bought  10  for $1.11 each at Arrow, I think in 1000's they hover around $1....but Mouser wants >$2.50 for the same part!

Has extra 16 bit timers, dual UART, 32K flash, 2K RAM....they are outta stock, but more will be had between now & 2018

 

https://www.arrow.com/en/products/atmega328pb-au/microchip-technology

 

 

 

When in the dark remember-the future looks brighter than ever.

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Simonetta wrote:

AVR is the only CPU that I've dealt with in the past 20 years.

This is abundantly obvious.

 

Simonetta wrote:

Every single little detail about the entire subject of microcontrollers, I've learned on my own research and reading. 

Yup, same as many of us.

 

Simonetta wrote:

A "high quality" compiler, by my definition, is one that is free: easy-to-get functional, and doesn't often crash for some incomprehensible reason on Windows. 

It's miraculous that in the last 20 years, compilers other than AVR-GCC have figured out how to meet these requirements.

 

Simonetta wrote:

if these microcontroller companies were serious about promoting their devices, then they would develop versions of Arduino for their company's CPU products.

Many do (NXP, Atmel, Nuvoton, etc). It's annoying. Give me a small break-out board I can put on my breadboard and get on with my life.

 

Simonetta wrote:

Arduino is becoming the world standard for microcontroller development.  

Arduino has shipped 4 or 5 million units total. Microchip ships a billion PICs a year. Go take apart things around your house. AVRs are rare to encounter, and if you do encounter one, it's probably not an ATMega328p. It would be a logical fallacy to conclude that they're consequently bad parts — but it certainly doesn't seem like Arduino/AVR is making much of a dent in the global MCU economy. I hand them out to all my non-engineer / artist friends, though, and their kids. They're groovy little boards if you want to build simple interactive projects.

 

Simonetta wrote:

"BOZO XKE" is my general term for over-hyped and somewhat ridiculous technology.

I'd argue that a $25 dev board with a 16 MHz microcontroller and a USB-to-UART on it is over-hyped and ridiculous — but that's just me. 

 

I tried to be nice. When you stuck your head in this thread and wrote up your "ATMega is good enough, there's really no need for anything else" comment, I tried to be polite. But seriously, we're having a great discussion about current/new MCUs out there — I've been getting caught up on the AVR ecosystem by @gchapman (thanks!), and learning about all the stuff Nuvoton is doing, and really enjoying the conversation.

 

...but then you come in and start making racist comments about the Chinese and their products. I read a few of your other posts, and look, I'm sorry that the cheap TFT you bought on eBay was made in Shenzhen and not Chicago, but when you buy products from people who live in different countries than you do, language barriers are going to happen. We all deal with it. You could have dropped $70 at Newhaven Display's web site and chose to support an American company who might have supported you back, but you didn't go that route.

 

And instead of, you know, actually choosing a proper microcontroller to drive a 320x240 TFT (like one that actually has an LCD controller on it, perhaps?), you're trying to string together some random Arduino code you found on the internet with some random display you found on the internet, without investing in the time required to understand how these displays operate at the register level. And you're upset about the grammar in the datasheet!?

 

If you would ask for MCU recommendations in this thread instead of using it as a soapbox for your disparaging remarks about Chinese products, someone would have pointed you to an MCU that has a parallel RGB LCD interface, which is a much better way of driving large pixel-array displays (such as full-color 320x240 TFTs, like the ones you mentioned). Because these MCUs have LCD controllers built-in, you can use $4 "dumb" RGB displays; the only thing you need to look up in the datasheet is the timing parameters. It turns a display into a commodity product that can be easily swapped out. Higher-end Kinetis, LPC, and STM32 parts support it, along with I'm sure many others.

 

You've admitted you aren't up-to-date on anything we're talking about — why not use it as an opportunity to ask questions and listen?

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Keep this civil please. 

 

Moderator

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Like others I would go with a MEGA328PB but again it depends.

 

If you want a lot of cheap IO's (but no EEPROM or ADC), look at something like AT89LP52-20MU, but perhaps the future for atmel 8051 chips are unclear in microchips hands. (but in small numbers they used to be about $0.75 and that is one of the cheapest chips with 32+ IO's (it has 36))

Last Edited: Sun. Jul 23, 2017 - 02:25 PM
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Go take apart things around your house. AVRs are rare to encounter

I actually have seen many AVR's (and other types); perhaps excepting toys & remote controls where the volume supports a custom 10 cent chip.

 

Here are some rankings (take this with a grain of salt---since it is published by Microchip/Atmel).  See page 20

 

https://www.microchip.com/investor/Pressrelease/Investor%20Presentation%20June%202017.060617.pdf

 

 

When in the dark remember-the future looks brighter than ever.

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Atmel have sold millions of tiny28 for remote controls. 

 

add:

and back then (about 15 years ago), it was what you call a 10 cent chip.

Last Edited: Sun. Jul 23, 2017 - 06:01 PM
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And totally forgot this 2$ thing, but you have wifi aswell:

 

http://linuxgizmos.com/tiny-low-...

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Now I'm curious. Does anyone knows any MCU based on the Xtensa architecture, apart from the ones from Espressif (like the ESP8266)? Weren't they supposed to try to rival ARM?

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You'll find the xtensa in a lot of ASICs. The license cost is supposedly cheaper than ARM. The first time I'd come across the architecture was in a job interview 5 years ago for a company that did their own ASIC. Then a couple of years later i see it in the esp8266.

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I doubt these older guys [atmega32a, etc] would look good [because they don't have a full-speed internal clock]

If you're insisting on a full-speed internal clock, you're getting awfully judgemental, rather than the "quantitative review" you implied in your first message.

A 40pin DIP $1 processor is an "interesting" chip with a lot of potential applications, almost regardless of clock speed.   (look at all of the <1 MIPS 8051 chips that are still being deployed...)

 

 

>> free: easy-to-get functional, and doesn't often crash

It's miraculous that in the last 20 years, compilers other than AVR-GCC have figured out how to meet these requirements.

 Which non-gcc compilers are you thinking of that meet those requirements?

 

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westfw wrote:

A 40pin DIP $1 processor is an "interesting" chip with a lot of potential applications, almost regardless of clock speed.   (look at all of the <1 MIPS 8051 chips that are still being deployed...)

The DIP package is quietly being retired, and the prices reflect that. You now pay more for DIP.

 

The cheapest 44~48 pin MCUs for IO expansion type use I've found, are Atmel AT89LP51MU  (71c/100) and N76E616 (83c/100, 53c/1k) - both are 8051 cores, but not < 1MIP.

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Simonetta wrote:
A 20 cent microprocessor is a wonder of the modern age.

 

 

Holtek Semiconductor's HT66F0025 8-bit MCU is about $0.19 in 10K quantities programmed with your code, and placed in Reels.  It's a few cents less if you simply order the Micros.  The smaller HT66F002 is a couple cents less same quantity and programming and packaging.

 

I will throw some water onto the fire before it starts.

 

1) the IDE is over 12 years old, and is not digitally signed, and is clunky.

 

2) the ICE is primitive, but it does work.  Once you order the special IC's for I.C.E....This reminded me of the old PODS from NOHAU with the "HOOKS MODE" or "BONDOUT MODE" micros on the PODS

 

3) the Datasheets are tough to understand due to the language barriers, but they are not horrible either compared to some datasheets I have read.  It took a few reads, and some experimentation. 

 

4) there is little to no support although the rep in the Americas office does a decent job trying to get answers.

 

 

You get what you pay for.  But the micros do what they are advertised as.

 

It's by no means a speed demon, large flash, big SRAM et. al.  but for super simple stuff, or a glue logic replacement they have their niche.

 

Jim

If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue! - Kartman

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB user

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jgmdesign wrote:

Holtek Semiconductor's HT66F0025 8-bit MCU is about $0.19 in 10K quantities programmed with your code, and placed in Reels.  It's a few cents less if you simply order the Micros.  The smaller HT66F002 is a couple cents less same quantity and programming and packaging.

...

It's by no means a speed demon, large flash, big SRAM et. al.  but for super simple stuff, or a glue logic replacement they have their niche.

As Micros trend down, and the 20~30c price band gets quite capable MCUs, I've noticed glue logic/MSI parts are going up in price.

 

Highest volume logic can be close to 10c, but it's surprising how fast prices climb 'on the skirts', with some HCMOS Counters, shift registers, Oscillators,  landing in the 50~70c band.

 

Silego have some interesting glue-logic replacement parts, and the larger package Atmel ATF16V8Bxx is similar in price to some of those MSI parts. 

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