A few days ago, David Blaza, VP of electronics at UBM Tech, and Alex Wolfe, editor-in-chief of EE Times, presented the results of the eagerly awaited Embedded Market Study 2013 to embedded electronics executives attending the DESIGN West exhibition. The UBM Tech comprehensive report covers all aspects of embedded development and had over 2,000 respondents worldwide but perhaps the most interesting finding comes from the Microprocessors section, where the highest number of respondents said they would use the MIPS-based Microchip PIC32 32-bit family for their next embedded project.

This affirms our partner’s Microchip success in the 32-bit space where they offer high performance, low power microcontroller solutions for a wide range of embedded markets from wireless and automotive to audio processing.

A brief overview of the Microchip 32-bit PIC32 microcontroller family

Microchip’s PIC32 32-bit microcontrollers are based on Imagination’s MIPS32 M4K CPU IP which offers a high performance and power efficient solution for a broad range of embedded applications.

MIPS32 M4K PIC32 Microchip Overview Architecture

Both Microchip and Imagination recognize the value in building a strong ecosystem. Therefore, the PIC32 family comes with all the tools needed to develop an embedded project, including free software and low cost development tools. Furthermore, PIC32 is pin and peripheral compatible with previous product lines, shortening time to market and allowing designs to continually evolve and improve in performance, power and area.

The PIC32MX1/MX2 series includes Microchip’s smallest 32-bit MCUs, with sizes down to 5 mm x 5 mm and a 0.5 mm pitch. These low cost PIC32 microcontrollers start at just $1.74 each in 10,000-unit quantities, include up to 128K Flash and 32K RAM, and integrate peripherals for touch-sensing, audio-processing and advanced-control applications.

Imagination’s MIPS M4K CPU on which the PIC32 architecture is based on provides industry leading performance (1.65 DMIPS/MHz and 3.2 CoreMark/MHz) while requiring only 0.04 – 0.15 mW/MHz of power, depending on various configuration options. It enables a diverse and advanced range of applications from responsive graphics and UIs, connectivity (Ethernet/USB/CAN), to multitasking embedded control or high performance audio.

Using MIPS M4K-based CPUs like Microchip’s PIC32 microcontroller family for your next embedded design therefore becomes a natural choice as it provides a low cost, high performance solution that is easy to integrate and develop for.

32-bit embedded trends and patterns filtered through the ecosystem

The 2013 Embedded Market Study had other interesting results. According to the latest version of the annual survey, Android was the OS of choice for 16% of embedded projects with Ubuntu (12%) and FreeRTOS (13%) close behind although 24% of companies still rely on an in-house or custom OS. Unsurprisingly, C/C++ is still the programming language of choice for a vast majority of embedded projects.

Code reuse is at an all-time high; therefore backwards compatibility between platforms is a must, especially since the industry feels debugging tools require continued and significant improvement going forward, since they are one of the most important parts of an embedded project.

When looking at microprocessors, 63% of embedded solutions use a 32-bit processor, while 16-bit and 8-bit based solutions see a decline in popularity compared to previous years. Microchip was also among the top five best embedded ecosystems, coming in 3rd after Texas Instruments and Freescale. This is a very important achievement, as the availability of software development tools counts as the most important factor in choosing an embedded processor.

UBM Tech again observed an increase in the number of projects (27%) which are currently using a Microchip processor compared to last year. Even though there are still debates over choosing an in-house designed RTOS over Embedded Linux, it seems the market is steadily moving more and more towards adopting 32-bit solutions.

Imagination is strategically placed to provide a complete portfolio of 32-bit embedded solutions to address these needs, including the MIPS M4K, MIPS M14K and microAptiv™ cores which deliver a flexible, compact and unified MCU/MPU and DSP embedded processor platform. Our partners looking to quickly scale up in the dynamic microcontroller space can benefit from Imagination’s high performance, low power MIPS32 architecture to create proven low cost solutions that target the widest area of applications.

For more information on our Aptiv line of processors and future updates on our MIPS architecture and roadmap, follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR and @MIPSGuru) and keep coming back to our blog.


  • abner fernandez

    Love it!

    To the point, articulate and very interesting,