Selecting the Right Microcontrollers for Embedded Applications

Selecting the right microcontrollers for embedded applications can be a crucial task. Not only are there a variety of technical options to contemplate, there are also business case problems like price and lead-times that may cripple a project. At the beginning of a project or embedded system application, there is a great temptation to jump in and start selecting a microcontroller before the details of the embedded system has been hashed out.

Before any thought is given to the microcontroller, the software and hardware engineers should work out the high levels of the system, block diagram and flowchart them and only then is there enough data to begin creating a rational choice on the selection of microcontroller.When that point is reached, there are some easy steps that can be followed to make sure that the proper selection of microcontroller is formed.

How to Select the Right Microcontrollers for Embedded Applications

There are several reasons to select the microcontrollers for embedded applications, namely low cost, higher integration level, increased reliability, space savings, etc.

Prepare a List of Required Hardware Interfaces

Using the basic hardware block diagram of the microcontroller, prepare a list of all the peripheral interfaces that the microcontroller will need to support. There are two common types of interfaces in the microcontroller that need to be listed. The first is communication interfaces, these are peripherals like USB, SPI, I2C, UART, and so on. These are greatly disturbing how much program space in the microcontroller will need to support. The second sort of interface is” digital inputs and outputs“, (A to D) analog to digital inputs, pulse width modulations, etc. These two types of interfaces will command the number of pins that will be essential by the microcontroller.

Required Hardware Interfaces
Required Hardware Interfaces

Select the Architecture

The selection of architecture can greatly affect the microcontroller for embedded applications. From the above information, an engineer should be able to start getting an idea of the microcontroller architecture that will be required. Don’t forget to keep in mind possible future requirements and feature creep. Just because you could presently get by with an 8-bit microcontroller doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study a 16-bit microcontroller for upcoming features or even for easiness of use. Don’t forget that selection microcontroller selection can be an iterative procedure. You may choose a 16-bit part in this step but then in a later step find that a 32-bit ARM portion works well. This stage is simply to start getting an engineer to look in the correct direction.

Select the Architecture
Select the Architecture

Recognize Memory Requirements

The two very critical memory components of microcontrollers are RAM and flash. Ensure that you don’t run out of spaces for variable and program is definitely of highest importance. It is far simpler to choose a portion with too much of these features than not sufficient. After all, you can constantly start with more and then later move to a more controlled part in the same chip family. Using the software architecture and the communication peripherals comprised in the application, a designer can guess how much memory will be needed for the application.

Recognize Memory Requirements
Recognize Memory Requirements

Observe Costs and Power Limitations

This is a great time to observe the power necessities and the cost of the microcontroller. If the microcontroller will be powered by a battery & mobile, then making sure the portions are low-power is absolutely dangerous. If it doesn’t meet power necessities, then keep preparing the list down until you have a choice few. Don’t forget to observe the part price of the processor either. While prices are gradually been approaching $1 in the volume of several parts, if it is highly focused then the price might be dangerous.

Pick a Development Kit

One of the best portions of choosing a microcontroller is, discover a development kit to play with and observe the internal working of the microcontroller. If a kit isn’t existing then the particular part is most likely not a good choice and they should go back a few steps and discover a better part. Most of the kits today cost under $100. Paying any more than that is just too much. Another portion may be a better choice.

Development Kit
Development Kit

From the above information, finally, we can conclude that there are many features to consider while choosing a microcontroller for embedded applications. Before starting an embedded project which needs a microcontroller, one should effort on technical aspects will assist you to select a microcontroller for specific embedded applications. They are a list of hardware’s, data transfer, PWM ports, packaging, power consumption, memory size, cost, etc. We hope that you have got a better understanding of this concept. Furthermore, any doubts regarding this concept or to implement any microcontroller based projects, please give your feedback by commenting in the comment section below. Here is a question for you, what is the function of a microcontroller?

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