The October 2006 issue of Embedded System Design magazine has the result of their annual processor survey.  It is full of interesting highlights:

  • 4-bit processors are still used!
  • 8-bit and 16-bit processors have about the same share of designs
  • 32-bit processors are used in the majority of designs!
  • 64-bit processors are used in 6% of designs (good grief!)
  • Most processors run at less than 100Mhz

The most quoted reason for selecting a specific CPU? The software development tools available.  Note to processor makers: Don’t supply non-standard C compilers!

Who rules the embedded processor market?  It depends on your slice of it!  The 8-bit undisputed champion is Microchip, with over 70% of respondant using it! Next are Atmel, Freescale and Intel.  Note that since Intel has announced they will discontinue the 8051 line, I would bet their new design wins will be scarcer than hen’s teeth, but since the 805x line has so many vendors, the processor will be around for a good long time.

For 16-bit designs, Freescale rules at 50%, but the x86 architecture is giving them a run for their money! The 32-bit arena has essentially seen a consolidation of architectures.  ARM wins in aggregate, followed closely by the PowerPC architecture. The x86 achitecture is still a viable choice.  MIPS (once a hot architecture when I was involved with emulators) has all but dissapeared.

Of course, none of this is a surprise if you have been reading Embedded System Design. You are aren’t you?