For our last post on 8-bit MCUs and the IoT, take a look at this infographic exploring why these simpler processors have a big part to play in the future of the IoT. Spoiler alert—it’s all about the nature of IoT devices and versatility.
Today’s interconnected IoT ecosystem favors IC devices with a wide variety of interfaces since the heterogeneous nature of the embedded marketplace requires these devices to be able to converse in as many “dialects” as possible.
A significant number of IoT applications are “thin client” in nature. This is what makes them a natural fit for an 8-bit machine with limited flash and onboard RAM. For example, most sensor applications where voltages/currents must be sensed and operated upon and then transmitted upstream are suited to an 8-bit machine. Examples include gas and oxygen sensors in connected home applications and pressure sensors in commercial/industrial applications.
Simple control applications are also better suited to 8-bit rather than 32-bit machines, especially if complex real-time I/O manipulation is necessary. Specifically, the 8051 architecture allows fast I/O bit manipulation with concurrent logical operations, which is useful in control applications.
These applications are usually very space- and power-sensitive, which also plays to the strengths of 8-bit devices such as the high-speed 8051 MCUs from Silicon Labs. Note that various ARM Cortex-M series devices can also play in these applications, but, given the board area and power and real-time limitations of the systems, an 8-bit machine with a more deterministic execution model will perform better.
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