Electronics > Beginners

Atmel or Microchip

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I'm not new to electronics, but I am new to microcontrollers.  Ive been experimenting with the Arduino as an introduction to micro's, but I'm not sure how far I should take this.  I'm not sure what micro i should spend time with.

Should it be with Microchip's pic family of micro's or the Atmel's.

How can I make a decision on which micro to spend my time on.

I don't want to get into low level assembly, so a c environment is essential for the IDE.

Help please.


oh dear your opening a can of worms and people at this moment are getting their bazuca's out and firing up the nukes....

from what I hear Atmel are supposed to be faster and I stress "supposed to be" but the atmel support for the hobbiest is not so good

Microchip have a large following and a lot of tools out there.

Either way both lines have all the power you could need so really it's not down to technical specs, with 5 MIPS available from even the lower end chips (2MIPS with internal clock) you will be spoilt either way

Both are a good choice. Performance is a non-issue in my opinion, if you cared about performance, you'd be using a 32-bit micro (eg. ARM).

Microchip has better availability (AVR availability currently sucks, especially the models used in the Arduino or to hack game consoles). AVR has better open-source tools (using open source compilers like GCC with 8-bit PIC seems to involve a fair amount of work, it works out of the box with WinAVR). For me the latter was the deciding factor. If you don't mind paying for a compiler or don't need optimizations and use Windows exclusively, PIC is a fine solution. PIC has more available models to choose from, for example they have some parts with USB support in DIP, which might be an advantage for those afraid of SMT.

on the programming environment front you may want to take a look at mikroe.com and see what they are offering, they do numerous programming environments for a number of languages for a number of micro controllers. of course others may have more to offer

AVR availability is fixed now. To tell you the truth, getting into either is easy as pie. The choice between them should really be on which unit does what you want it to do. I like the tutorials on AVRFreaks.net and using avrdude, but both the PICkit and AVRISP/Dragon make programming a breeze if you use the native IDE's (MPLAB, AVR Studio).


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