Author Topic: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?  (Read 20843 times)

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Offline ez24

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From  2012 until 2014 Professor Bruce Land

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgpQgWLXEZWSplxs1eB9Gvw

http://people.ece.cornell.edu/land/courses/ece4760/

used AVR micros, and for 2015 he switched to PIC32

I assume all were in DIP packages to be used in breadboards. 

Any theories why he would switch in an academic environment?  In 2012 he said that students typically blow 40 chips so the DIP is easy to replace.  I think his ATmeg644 (used in 2012) was in 40 pin dip and the ATmega1284 is 40 pins and the PIC32 comes in 28 pins.  I wonder if the reason is it is easier to replace a 28 pin DIP vs a 40 pin DIP?  I also find it interesting to see that a 8 bit is 40 pins and 32 bit is in 28 pins.  I do not know microcontrollers, just that there are two major players in the field: AVR and PIC.

Any other reasons why in an academic environment he would switch from AVR to PIC?  I imagine he would have to learn a lot of new things to make the change so there must be a good reason.  I just cannot think it is cost.




« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 06:26:15 pm by ez24 »
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Offline westfw

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2015, 04:45:54 am »
PIC32 is an "industry standard MIPS" architecture, as well as being 32bits.
A lot of schools seem to teach MIPS in their architecture and/or assembler classes.  It's pretty straightforward and understandable.
(You might think to use ARM, but by the time you're restricted to the "compressed" THUMB instructions (for cortex M), it's no longer nearly as straightforward.)

Quote
there are two major players in the field: AVR and PIC.
That is a VAST over-simplification (starting with: there are three different PIC architectures, and two AVR architectures.  Plus multiple vendors worth of 8051 and ARM that should be considered, at the minimum.)   Atmel and Microchip are just the two vendors who have attracted the most "hobbyist" interest.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2015, 04:48:33 am »
Yes, my first guess would also be that they are using MIPS elsewhere and wanted to standardize on an architecture. MIPS is really common academically, both of the schools I've been to used it quite extensively.
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Offline Bruce Abbott

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2015, 07:18:11 am »
Atmel and Microchip are just the two vendors who have attracted the most "hobbyist" interest.
Not quite true. Renesas is the top manufacturer of MCU's overall, but Microchip is definitely a major player (rated 4th in 2014) and so was Atmel until a few years ago.

OK, so Microchip and Atmel aren't the top 2 sales-wise, but does that mean they aren't "the major players in the field"? Depends what field you are talking about. I bet that far more developers (not just "hobbyists") are using Microchip or Atmel  than Renesas.       

BTW Microchip is the king of 8 bit.   
Microchip Reclaims Top 8-bit Microcontroller Revenue Ranking
Quote
“We are pleased to report that Microchip has regained the #1 position for 8-bit microcontrollers,” said Steve Sanghi, Microchip’s president and CEO. “Four years ago, it took the merger of three Japanese semiconductor giants—NEC, Hitachi and Mitsubishi in the form of Renesas—to knock us off the #1 spot for 8-bit MCUs. We said at the time that we would work relentlessly to gain market share and wrest back the #1 spot. Following their merger in 2010, Renesas’ 8-bit MCU business was 41% larger than ours. In every year since 2010, we closed the gap, and in 2014 we regained our leadership position, finishing 10.5% higher than Renesas.

But 8 bitters are only a small segment of the market, right? Wrong!
Quote
In terms of device shipments, 4/8-bit MCUs overtook 16-bit devices in 2013 to regain their historic position as the largest unit-volume category in the market.  The outlook shows 4/8-bit MCUs remaining the largest unit-volume category in microcontrollers during the next five years
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 07:22:31 am by Bruce Abbott »
 

Offline andersm

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2015, 08:18:38 am »
Atmel and Microchip are just the two vendors who have attracted the most "hobbyist" interest.
Not quite true. Renesas is the top manufacturer of MCU's overall, but Microchip is definitely a major player (rated 4th in 2014) and so was Atmel until a few years ago.
Renesas basically don't exist in hobbyist circles, at least in the west. In Asia, they have eg. their own Arduino clone, but outside of a few half-hearted attempts at cheap starter kits they just don't seem interested to push their products over here.

We can only speculate behind the reason for the switch. The MIPS architecture is used a lot in education, not least due to the almost industry-standard computer architecture textbooks by David Patterson and John Hennessy. It may also be because the school got a good deal on boards and other equipment from Microchip.

Offline westfw

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2015, 08:46:04 am »
Quote
Microchip and Atmel aren't the top 2 sales-wise, but does that mean they aren't "the major players in the field"?
Subtle semantics.  I didn't mean to imply that Atmel and Microchip aren't AMONG the major players in the field, I just object to them being labeled THE major players in the field.

I should have been more careful; I've seen people who seem to believe that Atmel and Microchip service ONLY hobbyists, which is simply not true.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 08:48:46 am by westfw »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 08:55:18 am »
Academia is a completely different world to industry, reasons for selecting parts are completely different.

My guess is they wanted to move to 32 bit, and PIC32 is the only 32 bit range of any significance available in DIP, which makes breadboarding easy and cheap. It also has a decent on-chip RC osc, so fewer parts needed on a breadboard.

It may also be that Microchip donated parts and devtools.

I doubt architecture had much to do with it (other than being 32 bit).
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Online NANDBlog

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 09:51:38 am »
Academia is a completely different world to industry, reasons for selecting parts are completely different.

My guess is they wanted to move to 32 bit, and PIC32 is the only 32 bit range of any significance available in DIP, which makes breadboarding easy and cheap. It also has a decent on-chip RC osc, so fewer parts needed on a breadboard.

It may also be that Microchip donated parts and devtools.

I doubt architecture had much to do with it (other than being 32 bit).
I've seen a lab in a university, which was donated entirely by Microchip to the university. Including the computers and the projector, and like 200 development boards. They also made scholarships for the students and conferences for anyone free of charge in the lab. This is a very good reason to teach on their devices. Makes total sense for them, the total cost is marginal, and hundreds of people (big university) every year familiarize themselves with their products. Best ad campaigns.
 

Offline gmb42

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2015, 11:38:33 am »
And selected excerpts from this years McClean Report (http://www.icinsights.com/news/bulletins/Microcontroller-Sales-Regain-Momentum-After-Slump/)

Quote
The new edition of The McClean Report also shows unit shipments of 32-bit microcontrollers surpassing 4 /8-bit MCUs for the first time in 2015 as demand increases for higher levels of precision in embedded-processing for clusters of sensors and systems that know their locations and automatically react to operating environments.

and where do all those MCUs end up (somewhat surprisingly to me at least):

Quote
While smartcards account for about half of all microcontrollers shipped worldwide, this segment represents less than 20% of total MCU revenues due to razor-thin ASPs for smartcard MCUs.
  my add emphasis.

 

Offline madires

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2015, 12:14:16 pm »
Renesas basically don't exist in hobbyist circles, at least in the west. In Asia, they have eg. their own Arduino clone, but outside of a few half-hearted attempts at cheap starter kits they just don't seem interested to push their products over here.

Freescale is another one unknown in the hobbyist market. About 20 years ago I've played with 68HC11 (asm) and 68332 (C) at the university. 68HC11 was THE 8 bit MCU back then.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2015, 12:43:03 pm »
I agree with everyone here that academics seem to love MIPS. Personally I don't really get it, sure it's simple but I think it's a bland and boring architecture compared to the rest.

NXP has some ARMs in DIP too (LPC series).
 

Offline timb

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2015, 12:46:39 pm »
Don't forget the MSP430, which is also available in DIP, and has cheap as dirt dev boards (plus an Arduino compatible IDE called Energia)! Also, they're 16-bit.


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Offline andersm

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2015, 12:55:41 pm »
Freescale is another one unknown in the hobbyist market. About 20 years ago I've played with 68HC11 (asm) and 68332 (C) at the university. 68HC11 was THE 8 bit MCU back then.
Judging by old issues of Elektor, the HC11 and HC12 were pretty popular back then. Freescale have had a slight resurgence with the Kinetis Freedom boards.

I agree with everyone here that academics seem to love MIPS. Personally I don't really get it, sure it's simple but I think it's a bland and boring architecture compared to the rest.
MIPS came from academia. John Hennessy, now president of Stanford University, headed the research project that begat the MIPS architecture, and was one of the founders of MIPS Computer Systems. It is also a very simple architecture, which makes it useful as a teaching tool.

Offline coppice

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2015, 01:02:38 pm »
Freescale is another one unknown in the hobbyist market. About 20 years ago I've played with 68HC11 (asm) and 68332 (C) at the university. 68HC11 was THE 8 bit MCU back then.
20 years the biggest volume MCU family from Freescale was the HC05.
 

Offline madires

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2015, 01:11:08 pm »
My guess is they wanted to move to 32 bit, and PIC32 is the only 32 bit range of any significance available in DIP, which makes breadboarding easy and cheap. It also has a decent on-chip RC osc, so fewer parts needed on a breadboard.

That seems to be the most compelling reason. But abandoning the 8 bit MCU might be a little bit too early. It's also a good starting point for teaching MCUs. Possibly just a prejudice, I'm a little bit afraid that we'll get more bloatware developers.
 

Offline madires

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2015, 01:23:17 pm »
20 years the biggest volume MCU family from Freescale was the HC05.

Sure, HC05 was commonly used for control boards and such stuff. The HC11 together with the 68HC24 was more interesting.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2015, 03:24:40 pm »
My guess is they wanted to move to 32 bit, and PIC32 is the only 32 bit range of any significance available in DIP, which makes breadboarding easy and cheap. It also has a decent on-chip RC osc, so fewer parts needed on a breadboard.

That seems to be the most compelling reason. But abandoning the 8 bit MCU might be a little bit too early. It's also a good starting point for teaching MCUs. Possibly just a prejudice, I'm a little bit afraid that we'll get more bloatware developers.
The problem with teaching on small MCUs is you quickly hit limits that need working around. 8 bit C compilers often have various non-standardnesses to work around with limitations.
PIC32 with the Microchip tools isn't really much more complicated to get into, than 8 bit, and very easy to migrate to from 8 bit as many of the peripherals are very similar and the IDE and programmers are the same.
e.g. the linker by default is set to just work if you don't have an explicit linker script , until you start messing with bootloaders you don't even need to know it exists. 
Similarly with a single #include <xc.h>, the compiler automatically pulls in the device-specific includes based on the IDE's part type setting.
This makes the process of getting up & running with a part very quick & easy.
The only fiddly bit comes when you start using peripherals & need to do the pin mapping stuff, but most modern MCUs have that in some form.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2015, 08:03:36 pm »
Any other reasons why in an academic environment he would switch from AVR to PIC?  I imagine he would have to learn a lot of new things to make the change so there must be a good reason.  I just cannot think it is cost.
Probably because 8 bit is ancient and 32 bit is the future. I assume Microchip has provided the materials for free because there are so many better choices out there with an ARM cpu. Having a DIP package available doesn't seem logical to me because you'll still need decoupling and a good layout for it to work. Putting a microcontroller running at tens of MHz in a breadboard is just asking for problems.
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Online IanB

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2015, 08:31:35 pm »
I agree with everyone here that academics seem to love MIPS. Personally I don't really get it, sure it's simple but I think it's a bland and boring architecture compared to the rest.

Surely this is a strong positive from the point of view of engineering? Sound engineering should emphasize simplicity, not complexity. There's nothing worse than an engineering project where the designers have decided to make it "interesting".
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Offline Howardlong

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2015, 08:57:25 pm »
Any other reasons why in an academic environment he would switch from AVR to PIC?  I imagine he would have to learn a lot of new things to make the change so there must be a good reason.  I just cannot think it is cost.
Probably because 8 bit is ancient and 32 bit is the future. I assume Microchip has provided the materials for free because there are so many better choices out there with an ARM cpu. Having a DIP package available doesn't seem logical to me because you'll still need decoupling and a good layout for it to work. Putting a microcontroller running at tens of MHz in a breadboard is just asking for problems.

That's my bread(board) and butter: pretty much every day I'm breadboarding something new, and as counter intuitive as it may seem, breadboarding 50MHz PIC32 MIPS (fastest you can go in DIP) is simplicity itself as long as you are sensible. That means decoupling caps adjacent to the power pins, on breadboard regulators, short high speed connections, plenty of attention to power decoupling and distribution, etc. Even the crystal oscillator and full speed USB work fine when breadboarded.

Remember that the maximum speed outside of the chip is rather less than 50MHz, all the high speed stuff is on the die, but I've also had no problem breadboarding 140MHz clocked PIC24s and dsPIC33s too. Running 20MHz SPI breadboarded on a PIC32 MIPS isn't a problem for example.

I do agree though that unless reasonable care is taken, you are indeed asking for trouble, but it's not at all hard once a few key considerations have been addressed.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 10:40:33 pm by Howardlong »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2015, 10:28:30 pm »
I lash up sketchy breadboards  all the time with DIP PIC32's at 48MHz (The on-chip PLL runs at 96MHz) , throwing out SPI data at 24MHz and lots of IO toggling, never had an issue. The only thing that upsets it is forgetting the Vcore decoupling cap, and if that's missing it won't even program, so fairly obvious.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2015, 10:32:08 pm »
- freebies.
Microchip is very good for academia with handing out free stuff.

- MIPS architecture, which is one of the big standards ( together with ARM ) as opposed to closed vendor architectures like PIC and AVR
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2015, 10:58:03 pm »
- freebies.
Microchip is very good for academia with handing out free stuff.

- MIPS architecture, which is one of the big standards ( together with ARM ) as opposed to closed vendor architectures like PIC and AVR
Though as with industry, for practical work in education the core architecture doesn't really matter. Having something that's affordable (free is good), readily available, easy to get started with (both SW and HW) and has plenty of resources, examples etc.  is more important.

If anything it would be better to each theory on one (or ideally more than one) architecture and practicals on another to add some variety.

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Offline ez24

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2015, 11:50:22 pm »
OP response:

Quote
PIC32 is an "industry standard MIPS" architecture, as well as being 32bits.
I do not know what MIPS is so I need to read up on it.  Maybe 32 looks better than 8 on a course description so the school may have put pressure on him to change.
Quote
It may also be because the school got a good deal on boards and other equipment from Microchip.
The prof said that Atmel donated stuff so I assumed Microchip did also.  Unless Microchip donated other equipment like scopes - I think this is a draw.
Quote
My guess is they wanted to move to 32 bit, and PIC32 is the only 32 bit range of any significance available in DIP, which makes breadboarding easy and cheap. It also has a decent on-chip RC osc, so fewer parts needed on a breadboard.
I think these are the answers.  In his AVR class he talks about the crystal and students can change it and remove it, so he warns students to check it before each lab.  I assume the PIC32 does not use a crystal.
Quote
I've seen a lab in a university, which was donated entirely by Microchip to the university.
I am impressed.
Quote
Having a DIP package available doesn't seem logical to me because you'll still need decoupling and a good layout for it to work. Putting a microcontroller running at tens of MHz in a breadboard is just asking for problems.

He uses this

http://www.microchip.com/Developmenttools/ProductDetails.aspx?PartNO=DM330013-2

I assume the Microstick II takes care of the decoupling problems ?
Quote
breadboarding 50MHz PIC32 MIPS (fastest you can go in DIP)

another good reason
Quote
Vcore decoupling cap

Is this on the Microstick II  ? or would I have to add one on the breadboard?

Thanks for all the good answers.
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Offline MT

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Re: Why do you think this professor went from AVR to PIC in his class?
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2015, 12:31:40 am »
Noone remebers the Z80, once akademias lover boy and  the most sold 8bitter in the world!
Anyho, i would be  interessted to know what the professor will chose 10years time, about 2025!
2025 sound so futuristic!:)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 12:38:15 am by MT »
 


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