# cheaper alternative to microcontroller

What options would I have for a cheaper alternative to using a micro controller like the Atmega for mass production products?. I just want something cheaper and smaller than an Atmega micro controller.

Because I can get them from China for cheaper price but they maybe fake or something as they are half the price than a authorized dealer. See if I buy from a reseller they cost about $2 each I need for under$1 each. I would prefer 10,000 pcs at 0.80 cents each for example. How can this be done? or could I deal with Atmel direct to get at right price?

• electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/8676/… – Toby Jaffey Aug 24 '12 at 8:49
• Please pay attention to fake chip from china, only use authorized distributors to minimize risk – user11747 Aug 24 '12 at 10:37
• Atmel offers a large range of µCs in various sizes, features, and prices. While the ATmega are their top of the line for 8-bit µCs, below those you will find the tinyAVR series; have a look at their feature matrix to find a suitable device. Obviously, the key to finding the cheapest µC is to determine the features you need it to provide and then go for the smallest controller that offers them. - Some features can be implemented either as hardware or as software inside a µC, so that may be worth a consideration. – JimmyB Aug 24 '12 at 12:36

There are plenty of legitimate microcontrollers available for under $1 if you buy them from the right place. I am more familiar with Microchip PICs, but I'd be real surprised if Atmel doesn't have a few sub$1 offerings too, especially at 10k quantity. By the way, 10k quantity isn't all that high, but high enough so that you should talk to your local manufacturer's rep or sales guy to find out how to buy them to get the good price.

Of course, don't expect a ethernet MAC/PHY, 80 pins, 16 channels of 12 bit A/D, two UARTs, and the like for under \$1, but there are some reasonably capable ones. If you're not locked into a particular product line yet, check out the PIC 10F, 12F, and the 16Fxxxx (4 digit part number) from Microchip.

You'll have to be more specific about the type you need, but you can get ATmega48 for USD 1.08 each at 10 000 at Digikey. But for quantities like this I would go to a distributor, that's where the manufacturer also would send you to. Atmel sells through big ones like Arrow, Avnet and EBV. For 10 000 pieces you'll also get support, which I don't know you'll get from resellers. Personally I find EBV very good.

I use the NXP Cortex M0 devices for my products. Some can be had for around 80 cents in the 10k quantity range.

Might even get a better price going through NXP directly at that quantity.

• Not likely. In my experience manufacturers don't want to be bothered for a miserly 10 k/yr. They'll send you to a distri; come back when you need 1 M/yr. – stevenvh Aug 23 '12 at 23:50
• For some reason the link in my answer doesn't go to the right place. Try this: digikey.com/product-search/… – MX21 Sep 28 '13 at 0:07
• @MX21: You do know that you can edit your answer, don't you? – Johan.A Sep 30 '13 at 13:40
• It won't let me edit after 5 minutes have passed. – MX21 Oct 1 '13 at 17:18

You may use ATTINY Microcontroller from ATMEL AVR sereies which unit price of one ic is 0.8 ATTINY13A-SSU From DigiKey.

All ATTiny Series controller are much cheaper among all other microcontrollers of different manufacturers. From DigiKey you may get maximum quantity, but from Chinese distruber you will get your required quantity at very lower price. I am also using ATmega series for my products, and before oddering full quantity, alwasy order some sample chips from China. In this case you will get trusted Chinese Supplier

Well it just depends what you capabilities you need in your micro but you can get MSP430F2001 for 50 cents in 2000 qty @ digikey. But again those are extremely simple and flash limited devices and they are available in the 16-QFN package too.

Discrete logic can be cheaper than a microcontroller, depending upon how much is required; application-specific chips can be cheaper if one makes enough of them to recoup one's engineering and tooling costs. Programmable logic is usually more expensive, though, because the elements which store the configuration must be scattered around the chip near the things they control (meaning they don't pack as efficiently as simple addressable flash memory), and because its higher cost tends to limit its uses to applications where microcontrollers would be too slow.

Note also that even a comparatively simple chip like a 16V8 (the simplest common programmable logic device) has 64 rows of fuses, with 32 fuses per row, plus a few mode-select fuses. That's over 2,048 fuses in total. A cheap microcontroller like the PIC 10F200 has 3,072 bits of flash. Given that flash memory packs more tightly than the control bits in programmable logic, it may be possible for the 3072 bits of flash needed by the PIC, plus everything else in the controller, to take less die space than the fuses-and-logic block of a 16V8 (it would probably be pretty close). The next larger CPLD (20V8) would have over 2,560 fuses, and the one after that (22V10) would have over 5,500. Programmable logic may seem simple, but microcontrollers are often smaller and simpler.