chipKIT® Development Platform

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Why is chipkit 32-bit MCU so cheap?

Created Fri, 31 May 2013 06:16:56 +0000 by light


Fri, 31 May 2013 06:16:56 +0000

I checked out the price of the MCU PIC32MX250F128B-I/SO-ND used by chipkit on digikey. I am surprised it costs around USD5. At this price, why are people still using the 8-bit, 16-bit PIC MCUs? Might as well use a more powerful and price-competitive 32-bit MCU. Or did I get my price wrong?


Fri, 31 May 2013 09:17:20 +0000

Price varies with quantity, but $5 is a reasonable value for that chip. It's very much the low-end of the PIC32 range, with the PIC32MX795F512 chip used on the MAX32 costing more like $10, but still it's a good value chip, yes?

People tend to use what they are used to - what they know well. Often that means using an 8-bit chip because it's what they started using and have focussed all their attention on.

Also there are other considerations besides the meatiness of the chip. When you're working with very high volumes of chips a few ¢ per chip can ammount to a very large amount of money.

There is also the power consumption factor - a PIC32 consumes more power than say a PIC18, so for low power projects that don't require the grunt of a PIC32 a lower powered chip is a much better option.

Then you have the actual physical size. Yes, the PIC32 chips get quite small - but the lower powered chips get even smaller. Take the PIC10. A very very low powered chip with only a handful of bytes of RAM and Flash, but adequate for some embedded control applications. Available in an SOT23 package - the size of a small surface mount transistor. You can't do that with a PIC32...

But then, all things being equal, I tend to choose a PIC32 over anything else because they are just so sexy.