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Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex

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rfengr
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2011/09/16 08:40:44 (permalink)
5 (1)

Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex

I keep visiting Microchip website every week to see if they have come up with a plan to compete against the ARM Cortex M family of microcontrollers. So far, no news... and it doesn't look like they have plans to acquire an ARM company (after Atmel deal failed).

I know many of you are going to recommend the MIPS-based PIC32, but its the only MIPS based micro, so there is no market competition advantage to the customer. Also, the ARM cortex has CMSIS (HAL) software support.

I have a dream:  PIC32ARM128F16, 128K ROM, 16K SRAM, CMSIS support, 64-pin, QFN/LQFP, USB, ultra low power, low price.

Honestly, I have gradually moved from PIC16F ->PIC18F ->PIC24F ->MSP430 -> ARM cortex M3, so I have PAID my dues for many years to Microchip, but I will never come back unless they have an ARM device, and has to better than:
1) EFM32G230F128
2) STM32L151RBT6

Good luck Microchip .. and let me know when you are ready.
#1

91 Replies Related Threads

    rmteo
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/16 11:36:10 (permalink)
    0
    The interesting thing is that ATML (an ARM licensee) is now 22.7% bigger than MCHP in terms of revenues ($1.84B vs $1.50B) and is growing at more than 4x (21.70% vs 4.90%).
    post edited by rmteo - 2011/09/16 11:37:33

    Why pay for overpriced toys when you can have
    professional grade tools for FREE!!! mr greenmr green
    #2
    rfengr
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/16 11:46:31 (permalink)
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    I agree, there is no great advantage to Microchip by offering an ARM based microcontroller. In fact, they would be competing against many (and many more to come) vendors offering ARM micros. However, it is not a matter of what is convenient to Microchip, but a matter of business survival strategy (evolve/adapt or die). ARM is doing great in the Tablet market, and Intel and AMD will not just ignore that because ARM will just slowly move into laptops, desktops, servers, and supercomputers. Slow and steadily progressing business models are the ones that end up on top in the long run. Previously, ARM was doing great in embedded and cellphone systems. Now, ARM is doing great in the ultra low power and low cost microcontroller domain, what should Microchip do ? It is a fast paste moving market, and doing nothing about it is the worse thing to do especially that investors are watching carefully (look at the recent stock dip in NASDAQ for MCHP). If a common and widely used core architecture is used, the benefit here is for the consumer/developers (me), then for ARM, and then the chip vendor. I guess you can say the table has turned around for the benefit of the developer. The advantage here is a common hardware architecture, easy hardware porting, code interoperability, and more by having a common standard architecture. Developers will follow what is best for them because they are much more vulnerable to future changes (1-10 years). To me, the reputation of ARM in the embedded market is important, their long term market plan is important, and if I don't have to be stuck with one particular vendor and their proprietary architecture then I wont. You know the ARM Cortex M family does not only compete in the 32-bit market, but competes against the 8-bit market as well. 

    Sure, it is time to serve the gold-diggers, rather than the gold-diggers serving the company providing the digging tool.

    Microchip has always had a come-back plan in the past, but if their come-back plan here is the MIPS-PIC32, then good luck with that.

    #3
    rfengr
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/16 12:09:02 (permalink)
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    Sometimes the solution is so simple: PIC32ARM, but its a slippery slope, and I realize that might piss-off a lot of PIC32-MIPS users, but it will attract a lot more.

    PIC32ARM, its good for us, and microchip.
    #4
    horkesley
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/18 23:13:05 (permalink)
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    Hi,

    Interesting reading.

    I have completed several projects using PIC32, but have no experience of the ARM device.

    Are there advantages in performance using the ARM device?

    I am starting a new project, with some 3D graphics processing, but at this stage it is difficult to know it the PIC32 is suitable.

    Would there be advantages having look at ARM?

    I would be grateful for any comments.

    Regards,


    Horkesley Electronics
    #5
    Aiden.Morrison
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/19 08:37:48 (permalink)
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    I've only ever dipped my toe in with ARM chips by using an ARM7 from ADI for a project, and trying to use an ARM7 from Oki for some educational purposes.  In both cases I found the tools to be the biggest obstacle, be it due to the open source ones never working for me, or the commercial ones being murderously expensive.

    Add to that the fact that the simulators at that time had no attempt at simulating peripherals since everyone had their own welded onto the ARM core and one was in a situation of frustrated development.

    To me the biggest advantage that microchip still has is a low cost, easy to use development environment that spans *all* of their chip families.  If they added arm based controllers and supported them with their typical libraries, free (unoptimized) compiler, and simulation tools I think they would take a strip off of the competition.


    #6
    horkesley
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/19 11:52:31 (permalink)
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    Hi,

    Thanks guys for your comments.

    As I am familiar with PIC32 I will use for the next project, here goes.

    Many thanks.



    Horkesley Electronics
    #7
    horkesley
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/19 11:52:33 (permalink)
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    Hi,

    Thanks guys for your comments.

    As I am familiar with PIC32 I will use for the next project, here goes.

    Many thanks.



    Horkesley Electronics
    #8
    leon_heller
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/20 02:25:33 (permalink)
    0
    What about MPLAB X?

    Leon Heller
    G1HSM

    #9
    DarioG
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/20 07:28:59 (permalink)
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    forget about java, it's crap :))

    I'm trying to install Android SDK, and it's a nightmare as usual with "that"...

    GENOVA :D :D ! GODO
    #10
    ericvic
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/20 13:00:06 (permalink)
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    DarioG

    forget about java, it's crap :))

    I'm trying to install Android SDK, and it's a nightmare as usual with "that"...



    Not sure why everybody thinks Java is crap. I have been programming in Java for many years and it works pretty well. Can people make crap code in Java, absolutely. Just like they can in any other language. But well written Java code can run just about as good as C++ code.


    Eric
    #11
    albertodonda@libero.
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/20 13:00:46 (permalink)
    3 (2)
    well, talking about ARM VS MIPS is so generic that everyone can tell a different version and everyone is right or wrong about it...

    First off all, as states before, programming in C makes few differences if your uP is ARM, MIPS or ARM Cortex. It makes great difference how core is interfaced with the rest of resources to avoid bottlenecks. RISC cores are very prone to lose speed if poorly interfaced with memory and pheriperals.

    What I can tell is when PIC32 came out (years ago) it was clearly faster than any other uP (ST, Luminiary and Atmel )
    The reason was not because "MIPS" is better than "ARM" but because Microchip equipped it with a super large 128 bit memory bus, with a full speed pheriperal bus and with a 256 byte cache system.
    I dont know if today competitors have better equipped chips for the same money, anyway there would be a problem comparing a PIC32 from 2007 with a processor of today. So It would be more a fact of updating a bit the PIC32, not to switch to ARM.

    Also I look around and I see PIC32 at very low prices. Never found another giving 128K of RAM under 10$ like Microchip do.

    One real problem with PIC32 is the semi-failed attempt to replace 8 bit in the hobbistic world. Most hobbists still use a PIC16, even if cost more and gives much less. The fact is ALL 32 bit architectures failed in this effort because all brands understimated the "friendly-factor". It's true a 32 bit is 10 times better then a 8 bit ... but also small packages impossible to solder, complicates programming languages and rather expensive debugging tools makes it 10 times more complicated to use.

    #12
    DarioG
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 01:29:03 (permalink)
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    FDan & Eric, of course I was just "shouting loud" grin (I also do it in here as usual
    http://clientidimerda.wordpress.com/la-merda-di-java-reloaded
    )
    so definitely java does work, it's just a pain and generally slow, but it's inherent to its goals.

    I am complaining about the "heavy" Eclipse, I am thinking about the "java versions nightmare" (a variation on the DLL inferno...) that people seem to be facing with MPLABX... and I am also complaining about the complexities in setting up the Android SDK (in this case of mine) due to the lack of a wizard etc...

    Then, I have to agree, I know better C++ Smile
    post edited by DarioG - 2012/12/04 11:37:01

    GENOVA :D :D ! GODO
    #13
    ytlee
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 05:30:14 (permalink)
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    DarioG:
    forget about java, it's crap :))

    I'm trying to install Android SDK, and it's a nightmare as usual with "that"...

     
     
     
    It took me a while to get the correct  development bench setup. but once the setup is done, cranking up the app or changing the os is piece of cake. I turn a $99 reader from Walgreen into a full function tablet in no time.  Now, if I can find a way to replace battery, I can throw away my notebook PC.

    post edited by ytlee - 2011/09/21 05:32:12
    #14
    DarioG
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 06:04:49 (permalink)
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    Yesterday I could compile my "hello world" app Smile

    Then I tried a multi-tab demo and it hangs with an exception... Spent some 2 hours, the code is simple and straightforward but not hope. Then I found a note in a androd page saying that "multi-tab is deprecated and I should use fragments" ...
    !
    Now I am considering a simple app. for home automation. Basically I need some subwindows: lights, general settings and cameras, say...
    am thinking about it.

    GENOVA :D :D ! GODO
    #15
    Aiden.Morrison
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 10:28:59 (permalink)
    3 (2)
    fdan00


    You may argue that the educational market, from a long-term perspective, is much more important. But then it is not clear to me that the MIPS architecture, under the current product roadmap, can last that long to benefit from the investment there.





    Just to provide a counter point, the undergraduate processor architecture courses I had back in 2006 were teaching... wait for it... the Mips r4k architecture.


    So for what it's worth Mips still has a foothold in the education world .
    #16
    p.erasmus
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 10:43:41 (permalink)
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    MIPS will Be around for many years to come !!They are well used in Automoitve along side Infineon TRICORE !!
    although ARM users hope that they will disappear .
    post edited by p.erasmus - 2011/09/21 10:45:41

    Automotive Engineering

    #17
    rmteo
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/21 14:49:26 (permalink)
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    To put things in perspective, here are some financial highlights.

    Attached Image(s)


    Why pay for overpriced toys when you can have
    professional grade tools for FREE!!! mr greenmr green
    #18
    erupter
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/24 02:57:39 (permalink)
    5 (1)
    I fail to see the exact point here.
    What would be the major diff that would move anyone to buy Pic32ARM?
    Why would you technically prefer it to the actual?
    What benefits would the new core bring?
    I come from PIC16 and PIC18 and a bit of dsPic, I still have to grasp what all this 32 is about.
    It's quite complex and there isn't that much material about it as there is for other older platforms.
    But I think there are two different ways to see it:
    coder/progammer, hardware designer.
    The coder wouldn't even know the difference as coding in C is coding in C (provided you have the libraries and you can forget about underlying technicalities).
    Interfacing the hardware may (i stress the may) be different and involve different knowledge or different elements that go with the processor.

    There is a scale in my opinion and you move on that scale:
    lowest step is the 8-bit mcus, highest step is the 64bit multicore GHz x86 (leave niche architectures where they are).
    Each step requires different scales of knowledge for implementation in hardware and in software.
    Programming an hello world in windows/unix is far easier then doing it on any mcu.
    But getting an mcu to work is far easier then any x86 (which is impossible at home or anyway without multiple layer boards and the relative design knowledge).

    So the 32bit is a higher market with respect to the 8 and 16bit, but as long as there are the same programming and hardware requirements, what makes the difference?

    In my opinion the accessory services: IDE, libraries, debugging tools. And for these main interest points are: cost, ease of deployment, cross-platform compatibility.

    Microchip has all of these, albeit their IDE is in dire need of a refresh (and MPLAB X is a greate step forward, give it a try if you can, it reminds of Visual Studio, albeit it's still far from there).

    So if there would be almost no difference in changing core, why would they go down that (expensive) road?

    I think the only reason they could do it, would be to offer a Pic33 or 36 with multicore tech relying on the Cortex A9 in a design implementing all the peripheral expertise Microchip has.
    Otherwise having to redesign the chip at the transistor level, just to jump on the ARM wagon seems useless to me.

    But again I'm not an expert in the 32bit so I may be wrong.
    #19
    p.erasmus
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    Re:Microchip vs the world of ARM Cortex 2011/09/24 06:29:20 (permalink)
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    there are many compelling reasons for users to "standardize" on 32bit chips, for economy of scale, for product maintenance, for life cycle management, etc.

     
    This is true many product manufaturers are working  to use only 32bits for the software reasons you mentioned , Microchip knows this as good as we do, this is one of the main reasons they are working on the low cost PIC32 (small pincount PIC32 with the M14K core 100Mhz ) which will be released early next year if I understood the road map correctly which was presented by MC to us in the beginning of this year ,you will beable to replace your 8 bits with an 32bit mcu at 
    virtually  the same cost .The soultion is definetly not only replaceing 8bit mcu's with ARMs, Microchip is also gearing to replace 8 bits with PIC32's

    Automotive Engineering

    #20
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