5.5 MICROCONTROLLERS AND DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSORS (DSPS)
This section presents an approach for forecasting the life cycle stage and the years to obsolescence of microcontrollers and DSPs. A microcontroller is a highly integrated chip that contains all the components comprising a controller.
As defined by the WSTS, a microcontroller is a stand-alone device that performs a dedicated or embedded computer function within an electronic system without the need of other support circuits (McClean et al., 2007). Typically, a microcomputer includes a CPU, RAM, some form of ROM, I/O ports, and timers. Unlike a general-purpose computer, which also includes all of these components, a microcontroller is designed for a very specific task—to control a particular system. Microcontrollers are sometimes called embedded microcontrollers. They are a part of an embedded system—that is, one part of a larger part or system. Microcontrollers are primarily used in control-oriented applications that are sensing and controlling external events. In 1971, Texas Instruments invented the single-chip “calculator on chip,” later called the first microcomputer (Texas Instruments, 2010a). Digital signal processors (DSPs) are a subcategory of microcontrollers, which are traditionally found in systems that require the precision processing of analog signals (Giovino, 2001).
Microcontrollers can be used in any part that measures, stores, controls, calculates, or displays information to control objects, processes, or ...