AW: PIC power?

Byron G. Jacquot thescum at
Sat Nov 20 03:23:32 CET 1999

>  Without wishing to start a flame war, I beg to disagree with
>you comment about the AVR being behind the i486, its a different
>game.. the 486 is designed to try and do everything, the AVR is
>aimed at ONE market, I wouldnt say its behind, just in a different
>portion of the market.

Another way to look at this is they're different tools for different jobs.
8-bit, simple standalone microcontrollers and desktop PC systems do have
some -little- differences.

Cost is one, but to some degree it's can get a junked PC for next
to nothing, or an 8-bit eval kit starting at $50 or so.

Software tools are another.  To really make an 8-bitter sing, you'll
probably be doing some assembly programming.  You can program a PC with
reasonable results in many languages.  The debugging tools on the Pc are
much easier to use (in my mind), though a good ICE helps.

Hardware construction is another issue.  It's fairly simple to squeeze MIDI
out of a PC with a plain soundcard.  And if you've got drivers, you won't
need to do much low level trickery to make it work.  But you'll need to hook
up optoisolators and line drivers to do MIDI with an 8-bitter, as well as
write the MIDI IO code yourself (or find it somewhere).

Audio IO is similar: a PC soundcard can be used, with reaosnable 8-bitter will need external components.  (If you want to do
much DSP, look into getitng one of Motorola's 56k eval boards.  Good audio
IO and a fair amount of horsepower!)

Power consumption is another issue.  PCs need quite a bit, while a little
micro could run off batteries.

I could also speak about ease of use of the result, but that's really
dependent on how it was programmed to begin with.  In either case, a clean,
thorough design will be more usable.

If you find that one platform offers something you absolutely can't do with
out, then the decision gets easier.  I like that a micro, once finally
working, can be used from in my beanbag chair, without having to stare at a
monitor, while clicking the mouse.

>  Personally I dont care for PIC's, Ive looked at them and there
>is too much conflicting information, the Assembler looks like a
>nightmare and doesnt run at 1 instruction per clock cycle. They
>dont seem flexible enough, maybe this is why there are so many
>varients out there (you seen the latest farnell catalog of pic parts,

I came very near working with the PIC, but went for the AVR.  The in-system
flash programming was what made my mind up!  

As for the question of making a simple sequencer, arpeggiator, or MIDI
delay, a PIC/AVR/8051/HC11 etc will be plenty.  For things that need more
computation, storage, etc a PC system is probably a better bet.  

With a good idea of your requirements before you begin, you could be able to
make a reasonable choice.  And there knowlegdable people on this group who
can offer our thoughts if you're really unsure.


I hope this sheds some light

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