[vcf-midatlantic] Semi-OT: microcontollers (?)

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Thu Jun 29 15:59:32 EDT 2017

On 06/29/2017 03:45 PM, - - wrote:
>     This is dangerous territory. There are plenty of absolutely current
>     processors which just happen to be 8-bit architectures. 8-bits doesn't
>     imply anything at all about age. (I know YOU know this, this is mainly
>     for the benefit of folks here who might be stuck on certain assumptions)
>     And I sincerely hope nobody here actually considers RPi to be a
>     "microcontroller"...with its video, keyboard/mouse interface, network
>     interface... Wow. ;)
>     There are a lot of gray areas and certainly quite a bit of overlap.
> 8035/8047/8051 Familes - Microcontroller (love the 8052, a ton of RAM at
> 256Bs!)

  No argument here.

> 8018x - Microcontroller

  There are full-blown MS-DOS PCs built around these.

> Z180 - Microcontroller (my Circuit Cellar/Micromint boards run on these)

  There are full-blown CP/M desktop systems built around these.

> Z8 - Microcontroller (I think)


> 6800 - Microprocessor (no internal RAM/ROM)
> 6802 - Microcontroller (? has RAM, no ROM)
> 6807 - Microcontroller (I have one with a piggy back for EPROM)
> 68HC11 - Microcontroller (I have the A0 which has the ROM disabled)
> AVRs - Microcontrollers

  No argument.

> PIC32 - Microcontroller (well that's what they're call by Microchip
> though some could be SoC)

  ...until you put UNIX on one, which has been done.

> ARM - Oh I give up ;-). Many are Microcontrollers but since ARM is
> licensed IP and not hardware it's up to the manufacturer.

  So as I said, gray areas.  For several of them, I think whether or not
it's reasonable to consider it a microcontroller may be based on its use
in a given application.  Z80s are used in plenty of embedded applications.

  The metric that I usually use (as an embedded systems designer) is
whether or not it has on-chip RAM and ROM.  But then some of the
microcontrollers I use don't, so..

  Much like the "firsts", we're splitting hairs and trying to rigidly
define something that's fairly fluid.


Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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