Thanks to Microchip, the future of the 8-bit MCU looks assured

Quite understandably, problems across the semiconductor supply chain in 2021-22 set off alarm bells in the design laboratories of Europe’s tens of thousands of electronics OEMs. One category of users had particular cause for concern: designers who use 8-bit microcontrollers. That’s because the semiconductor industry’s tendency is to plough investment into the most advanced fabrication processes at nodes of 10nm or less, while 8-bit MCUs are built in much older fab processes.

The fear was that despite continuing healthy demand, the 8-bit MCU would be phased out by the leading manufacturers to make space for more expensive products built at more advanced nodes.

It turns out that users of Microchip 8-bit MCUs had no need to worry. Microchip produces a huge portfolio of 8-bit products across its PIC® and AVR® architectures, and these products made up a substantial portion of Microchip’s $8.5bn in sales in

This explains why Microchip is bucking the industry trend, and investing large amounts both in fab capacity for building 8-bit MCUs, and in new product development. So users of Microchip 8-bit MCUs who want to carry on designing with these popular, easy-to-use products, know this: your choice of products is set to expand, and supply is growing as new production lines come on stream.

Microchip has shared information with Future Electronics about the new PIC and AVR developments, so we can give a taste of the new products set to be released in 2024. They include:

  • New security-enhanced MCUs which will prevent malicious access to the device’s programming/debugging pins
  • New families of AVR MCUs that meet the functional safety requirements of automotive and industrial applications
  • An AVR MCU that can control a three-phase brushless dc motor
  • PIC MCUs that reduce component count and simplify board designs, with features such as an enhanced I3C bus, and a new Configurable Logic Block which offers greater customization and supports more complex designs than the popular Configurable Logic Cell (CLC) module


In the hands of Microchip, then, the future of the 8-bit micro is healthy and secure. Designers who feared that they would have to migrate designs from an 8-bit to a 32-bit architecture, even when 32-bit functionality was not required – fear no more!