How do you select an AC adapter to safely power your microcontroller (MC) development board? Most people don’t think much about the AC adapter (power supply) for their development platform, especially if it is included in the development kit. But more often these days, kits come in small boxes with minimal accouterments, perhaps following the […]
Microcontrollers with Neural Networks: What are they?
Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are silicon-based processor architectures inspired by, and very simply patterned after, the human brain, which learns by example and “prunes” connections that don’t get used anymore. What exactly is an artificial neural network? Dr. Robert Hecht-Nielson, Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at USCD, was paraphrased by Maureen Caudill as […]
Optimizing power efficiency in microcontrollers
Power efficiency is more important now than in the past, as portable, battery-powered devices compete for market share on features and battery life. Battery technology has not improved radically in the recent past, and attempts at innovation can wreak havoc with overheated batteries that sometimes burst into flames. Therefore, using less energy to do more […]
Real time clock (RTC) vs. clock: What is the difference?
Microcontrollers act upon instructions a few bits at a time, collecting the next batch of bits at regular intervals. Those regular intervals need to have a regular cadence for the MCU to be predictable, so MCUs have at least one clock to keep timing going at a regular pace, much like you would use a […]
Trade-offs in choosing 8-bit vs. 16- and 32-bit architectures
Besides the advantage of higher performance in performing calculations and faster data transfers, what are the advantages of working with an MCU that has a larger bus width? MCUs with higher data bus widths enjoy higher performance in terms of faster operations, often more powerful development tools, more features, and better power efficiency. In general, […]
How to wire a switch to a microcontroller with pullup resistors
If you want a button or switch as an input on a microcontroller (MCU), you can use a “pullup resistor” so that the input is seen as a logical high when the (normally open) switch or button is closed. A pullup resistor is connected to Vcc, or logical high for your input, and therefore “pulls […]
What do you look for in MCUs, by application, across various vertical markets?
Embedded engineers design and develop electronics hardware and software for many different market segments, often called “vertical markets.” Major vertical markets include automotive, medical, industrial, military/aerospace, and consumer electronics. Of these major markets, some commonly desired attributes of electronics emerge. Automotive requirements include small size, low weight, low cost, power efficient, reliable electronics with ratings […]
What does Real-Time mean and when is it used?
“Real-time” essentially means “happening now or immediately responsive.” In engineering, real-time refers to systems that not only need to calculate the correct response, but they must respond instantly, often in continuous interaction (dynamically) with the system’s environment. Real-time is an expression used in two main areas with respect to software and electronics. Real-time can refer […]