If an 8bit microcontroller is needed

If an 8bit microcontroller is needed, Microchip normally comes up first. STMicroelectronics, a company more commonly associated with 32-bit processors, also offers quite a bit of eight bit technology.

The STM8S903K3T6C, which we are going to introduce today, is a classic member of the family. First of all, take a look at its pricing and let us compare it to a similarly specced Microchip part (PIC16F18875).

As can be seen by the OEMsecrets pricing, SGS stays true to its promise of being cheap – the part is, by and large, more affordable than parts from other vendors. When looking at the integrated peripherals, the STM8S903K3T6C gives you everything – one interesting detail is that STMicroelectronics does not use HEF, but instead provides real EPROM memory for user data. Other than that, Microchip provides more in the peripherals department – features such as the configurable logic cell, standard even on very low end PICs, are not available. However, developers do not need to worry about the development environment; both Microchip and SGS provide IDEs. ST Visual Develop, however, is a custom development not based on the recently-required Atollic.

Keep in mind that the chip is not nearly as wide-spread as PIC and AVR – getting help with an AVR problems is much easier, especially due to the large community grown by various projects such as the Arduino.

What to choose?

When working on a use case with a small or medium amount of production volume, micro-controller pricing usually is but a small part of the bill of materials. Use our price comparison engine to find a cheap source of a chip you know well, stick to it and run to Venezuela – the man hours needed to learn a new design will not, in most cases, be amortised. If volumes are medium to large (or you have a good relationship to SGS), the STM8 is a sensible choice. However, in many cases, an STM32 can be had for an equal amount of money – ST did an amazing job at keeping their 32bit ARM cores cheap.

Author: Tam Hanna
Published: March 12, 2021