Overview of 8-bit MCUs in the IoT

Today’s IoT connected device applications need a broad array of MCUs in order to address complex communication challenges in multi-protocol environments. Often, a multitude of MCU interfaces and connectivity technologies have to co-exist on the same die just to accommodate the diverse IoT ecosystem. If you’ve ever deal with RF integration in particular you know how crucial it is to be able to combine varied IoT capabilities, like ultra-low power and wireless communication.

In light of this increasingly complex set of requirements, let’s take a deeper look at how 8-bit MCUs fit into the IoT.

Communication interfaces can generally be divided into two use-case types: machine-to-machine (M2M) and human-machine interfaces (HMI):

  • M2M interfaces come in various flavors ranging from garden-variety SPI/I2C/UART serial interfaces to more exotic custom serial interfaces and crystal-less USB and radios.
  • HMI capabilities frequently found in microcontrollers (MCUs) include capacitive touch sense, LCD, graphics drivers, and gesture and proximity sensing.

An 8-bit engine offering M2M and HMI interfaces may not be the optimal solution for all embedded system use cases, especially for those systems that are computationally intensive. If your requirements include 32-bit code size and large flash options, you’ll want to choose ARM-based MCUs. However, applications that require deterministic behavior and hard, real-time control may benefit from a high-performance 8-bit engine coupled with these communications interfaces.

While 8-bit MCUs may not be the right fit for every IoT connected device application, they are good choices for cost-sensitive applications requiring small packages, small memory footprints, high functional density, determinism and speed of response. The high-performance 8051 8-bit architecture, coupled with the plethora of interfaces available today, provides an ideal solution for many IoT applications.

Stay tuned as we offer a series of posts elaborating on available M2M and HMI technologies, culminating in a discussion of the pros and cons of using these interfaces in your IoT designs.

Visit our 8-bit MCU page to learn more.

Continue to Part 2.

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