Help me debug my documents

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I wrote a Microcontoller Family Selection Guide for newbies, students, and hobbiests:

http://www.ericengler.com/downloads/microcontroller%20family%20selection%20guide.pdf

I just started accumulating infomation for the follow-up document on tools. This is AVR specific at this time, at it has a bunch of bits I gleaned from the documents on Atmels web site, and also in this forum:

http://www.ericengler.com/downloads/avr%20programmers.txt

Most of my experience is with the 68hc12 and I have helped a lot of students and college professors over the years. In light of the recent market trends, I think it's best to move colleges away from the 68hc12 and towards the AVR or other newer families.

Help me find any bugs that may exist in these documents. I'll expand these documents to cover more ground if you give me enough details.

Eric

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I read the whole thing and it reads nice and smooth, and I basically couldnt find anything to quibble with.

Imagecraft compiler user

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The AVR section mentions ATMEGA and ATTINY families, but is entitled "AVR Mega".

Now, the MSP430 is >>the<< yardstick to measure against for power consumption. Are you sure that "though not quite as good as MSP430 in this regard" still applies, for a similarly-configured app? Perhaps it is because once I get below 1uA or so, I'm in battery shelf-life territory so it doesn't matter. MSP430 has nice features, certainly, like the clock "shifting gears". (You think people have problems with the AVR clock fuses--hang around on the MSP430 Yahoo group for a while.)

In the Maxim MAXQ2000 (not mentioned in your list) benchmark study based on TI's benchmarks, the Mega8 did quite well against MSP430, only "losing" a couple sections such as FFT (IIRC) where 16-bittedness took over.

Are Analog Devices ADuC and ST's ST7 unique cores, or x51?

Several posters on this site have had good results with Cypress PSoC.

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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theusch wrote:
Now, the MSP430 is >>the<< yardstick to measure against for power consumption.

I had to individually program 450 boards with a MSP430F1xx embedded in each board today. It was a long day!!!

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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theusch wrote:
The AVR section mentions ATMEGA and ATTINY families, but is entitled "AVR Mega".

Thanks, I'll change that.

theusch wrote:
Now, the MSP430 is >>the<< yardstick to measure against for power consumption. Are you sure that "though not quite as good as MSP430 in this regard" still applies, for a similarly-configured app?".

I have trouble testing the Picopower vs the msp430 because it takes time to set up and debug the separate applications to prove the bottom line. But in my reviews of the specs, I think Picopower is probably "good enough" in most similar applications, but I still give the 430 the nod.

theusch wrote:
In the Maxim MAXQ2000 (not mentioned in your list) benchmark study based on TI's benchmarks, the Mega8 did quite well against MSP430, only "losing" a couple sections such as FFT (IIRC) where 16-bittedness took over.

I saw that paper but it seemed odd to me. Most chip makers have these kinds of comparisons that make their own devices look a lot better than others. In Maxim's case they clearly saw the msp430 as their main competitor so they wanted it to come out bad. I wish their were more reference designs that were similar enough to serve as valid comparisons.

theusch wrote:

Are Analog Devices ADuC and ST's ST7 unique cores, or x51? Several posters on this site have had good results with Cypress PSoC.

I see Cypress mentioned a lot. I could include info on them if someone can give me enough material to use.

I'm pretty sure ST7's are unique to ST Micro. I don't know much about them. Likewise for Analog. ST is making noise with the STM32 devices lately and that is the first exciting thing to come from them in years. Like Freescale, ST is involved with too many families and too many variations. If they were both more focused I think they could do a lot better, both for us and for their stock holders.

Eric

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theusch wrote:
The AVR section mentions ATMEGA and ATTINY families, but is entitled "AVR Mega".

Thanks, I'll change that.

theusch wrote:
Now, the MSP430 is >>the<< yardstick to measure against for power consumption. Are you sure that "though not quite as good as MSP430 in this regard" still applies, for a similarly-configured app?".

I have trouble testing the Picopower vs the msp430 because it takes time to set up and debug the separate applications to prove the bottom line. But in my reviews of the specs, I think Picopower is probably "good enough" in most similar applications, but I still give the 430 the nod.

theusch wrote:
In the Maxim MAXQ2000 (not mentioned in your list) benchmark study based on TI's benchmarks, the Mega8 did quite well against MSP430, only "losing" a couple sections such as FFT (IIRC) where 16-bittedness took over.

I saw that paper but it seemed odd to me. Most chip makers have these kinds of comparisons that make their own devices look a lot better than others. In Maxim's case they clearly saw the msp430 as their main competitor so they wanted it to come out bad. I wish their were more reference designs that were similar enough to serve as valid comparisons.

theusch wrote:

Are Analog Devices ADuC and ST's ST7 unique cores, or x51? Several posters on this site have had good results with Cypress PSoC.

I see Cypress mentioned a lot. I could include info on them if someone can give me enough material to use.

I'm pretty sure ST7's are unique to ST Micro. I don't know much about them. Likewise for Analog. ST is making noise with the STM32 devices lately and that is the first exciting thing to come from them in years. Like Freescale, ST is involved with too many families and too many variations. If they were both more focused I think they could do a lot better, both for us and for their stock holders.

Eric

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Market share numbers are hard to come by for common folk without subscribing to the research reports, but IIRC Renasas (sp) is the #1 shipper of microcontrollers.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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Eric,
Nice paperwork. Accurate, and well written. Just a couple of tidbits you can do with as you please.

In your first URL you mention that the microcontroller is for I/O controll applications and not pure data processing like a PC. I beg to differ.

Todays microcontrollers have integrated UARTS, A/D converters, SRAM, external SRAM management, USB, and a myriad of other devices INTERNAL to themselves. Therefore, while the MICROPROCESSOR does number crunching better, the MICROCONTROLLER is a far better microcomputer as it manages it's peripherals internally, as opposed the microprocessor that needs to do this externally. Incidentally, the AVR's are quite adept at processing raw data depending on the programming.

Also, scan the freaks site regarding the cables for all the development devices. All of us have found in one fashion or another that the length matters. I have noticed that 10 inches is the longest that the JTAG will work reliably.

Otherwise GREAT WORK!!

Jim

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

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

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

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

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Quote:

All of us have found in one fashion or another that the length matters.

That MUST be true, as I receive several dozen emails every day stating that same fact.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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Hi,

I'm pretty new on the microcontroller scene (getting into it mainly via the Arduino) and learned a bit from reading your doc, thanks. :-)

englere wrote:
Help me find any bugs that may exist in these documents.

A couple of comments:

* It might be good to mention for which platforms (e.g. Windows, OS X, Linux) specific free IDE or compilers are available.

* Not sure what your final destination media is, but might be nice to add representative photos of each device.

Hope this feedback is useful.

--Phil.

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theusch wrote:
Market share numbers are hard to come by for common folk without subscribing to the research reports, but IIRC Renasas (sp) is the #1 shipper of microcontrollers.

That's probably true but they aren't very popular among students, hobbyists, and newbies outside of the old Lego brick. Now that Lego has moved on to the Arm there's little new interest in Renasas among this potential group of users I'm targetting.

Eric

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follower wrote:
It might be good to mention for which platforms (e.g. Windows, OS X, Linux) specific free IDE or compilers are available.

I'm afraid the results of that list would not be very long. Most families with gcc ports are linux-friendly, but mostly at the commandline level only. Eclipse works with some families but I don't even remember seeing it used with the AVR, does anyone know if this has been used with the AVR?

The real big limitation with linux is typically the visual debugger. We've recently seen good success with Arm debugging using OpenOCD and Eclipse but I haven't seen a good debugging solution for other families yet. There are some Coldfire options, but their BDM debug device is just plain expensive and does not have an open interface.

On a nonvisual debugging front, the gdb debugger works for many families but not the AVR. But maybe it does with Avarice? Has anyone here used Avarice?

The msp430 has some debugging options provided via gdbproxy, but it's very hard for me to recommend that right now. It seems to be good for hackers (I mean that in the good sense) but bad for newbies.

Rowley is a commerical vender friendly to linux, and they have Arm, msp430, and AVR support (but I think they are just getting started with AVR?). I don't know if they have Mac support. They have recently introduced lower cost personal and educational licenses.

If you nose around my web site you'll see that I have an interest in making IDEs. I have done that for college students using the 68hc12 platform using assembler and gcc, and I even made an visual debugger for assembly language. I didn't make the C level debugger yet, but that's on my plate (did I mention that I hate parsing DWARF2 debug symbols - yuck). My new code base will hopefully work on linux and Windows, but I don't have a Mac. And none of that will be ready soon because I'm busy with some big projects for my job.

follower wrote:
Not sure what your final destination media is, but might be nice to add representative photos of each device.

Pictures would be great! I don't have digital camera that can do nice macro work, though. In fact, it's not really able to do anything nice. If past years are representative, Santa probably won't help that situation much.

Some Camtasia desktop videos of IDEs might be real cool (as flash and WMV files). That would be a good way to introduce something like AVR Studio to total newbies. Has anyone done anything like that yet?

Eric

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Eric, just a typo to point out. Excellent paper, I learned a lot.

"Lastly, the fee AVR Studio IDE" I am sure that "fee" should be "free". Misleading typo, that.

Jim Lake