Bridging the gap between custom ASICs and ARM-based MCUs

by Mark Saunders , TechOnline India - October 05, 2010

One perspective for thinking of the embedded world is as a spectrum of complexity ranging from ASIC to MCU. ASIC designs are enormously expensive and take years to complete but the potential for innovation is almost unbounded. MCU projects are almost free in comparison.

One perspective for thinking of the embedded world is as a spectrum of complexity ranging from ASIC to MCU. ASIC designs are enormously expensive and take years to complete but the potential for innovation is almost unbounded. MCU projects are almost free in comparison and take months or even just weeks to finish, but they are limited by the third-party chips they run on.

However, as different as these approaches are technically, there are many similarities in both their end-products; they both predominantly use ARM CPU cores, include standard communications interfaces, integrate significant amounts of analog functionality on-chip, and support low power operation and fast wakeup times.

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