Re: x86 architecture concepts

From: Robert Kaiser (
Date: 02/26/05

Date: 26 Feb 2005 10:01:03 +0100

In article <lLITd.7192$>,
        Kelly Hall <> writes:
> Just out of curiosity, what are the dominant MCU architectures in the
> embedded field? Are there more elegant alternatives? Why aren't they
> dominant?

Hmm, I don't think there is any dominant MCU architecture in the embedded
market (at least not in the sense that the ia32 dominates the desktop
market). IMO, that the x86 is being used in embedded devices at all
is some kind of spillover-effect from the desktop market: a plethora
of tools and stuff available for cheap, etc. Interestingly, I would rate
the more successful architectures in the embedded market (e.g. ARM, PPC,
MIPS, 68k) to be all far more "elegant" than ia32. But that of course
depends on what one considers to be elegant. For me, it means achieving
a goal in a well thought-through way, without clumsy kludges or
work-arounds. That, applied to an MCU architecture apparently translates
to achieving a certain functionality with less transistors per square
millimeter which is the key reason why these architectures are successful
in the embedded market.

So, apparently, technical elegance does sometimes pay, *especially*
in the embedded market. This may be because the people making decisions
in the embedded market tend to be more technically knowledgable than
the average computer user (just look at the people frequenting this
newsgroup!) and are not so easily caught by FUD campaigns.


Robert Kaiser                     email: rkaiser AT sysgo DOT com
SYSGO AG                
Klein-Winternheim / Germany