Somebody asked what was the cheapest MCU (Microcontroller) available on Google+, so I thought it would be fun to find the cheapest one regardless of specifications. It turns out there an older thread with this very question on StackExchange, and at the time (2011) Microchip PIC10F200 8-bit MCU with 256B RAM in SOP-23 package was the cheapest one among the answer, and somehow the price has not changed as it’s still $0.32 per unit for 1k orders.
Let’s look at what we get for that outrageous price:
- 8-bit RISC MCU @ 8MHz
- 1K x 14-bit ROM (OTP)
- 64 x 8-bit RAM data memory
- 6x I/O including 1x external interrupt pin, and 1x 8-bit timer
- Two oscillators – Internal high-speed RC: HIRC; Internal low-speed RC: LIRC
- Low voltage reset function
- Operating Voltage – 2.3 to 5.5V
- Package – 8-pin DIP/SOP
Since this MCU has an OTP (One Time Programming) memory, you’d need an ICE (In-Circuit Emulator) to develop for the micro-controller in assembly, and once you’ve debugged your code, which should not be too complex considering the available RAM and storage, you’d have the factory burn the firmware to the device before or during mass-production. More details including the instruction set can be found in the datasheet.
Do you have other candidates to claim the “cheapest MCU” crown?
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
15 Replies to “What’s the Cheapest MCU? My Try: Holtek HT48R002 8-bit MCU Selling for $0.085”
Similar but with Flash memory instead of OTP memory. Holtek HT68F002.
0.80 RMB (12c US) -> https://detail.1688.com/offer/531680744462.html
Way cheaper then an AT Tiny85.
Holteck seems to use a patched version of GCC: http://www.holtek.com.tw/tools_latest_news
But I don’t know if it is for that chip.
None can beat the 48MHz Cortex M0 STM32F030F4P6 for less than $0.4 in performance/price
You just can’t do anything cool with just 1K OTP ROM and 64 bytes ram, so practically this can’t be compared to the stm32f0 or even attiny’s
well, you could blink LEDs… lol
STC Micro is also an interesting source for ultra cheap MCUs: http://www.stcmcu.com/
Yeps. I use them . Easy to program, dirt cheap, and they do the job. They are often used on chinese devices, even on kits on aliexpress. The documentation, as always, is the weak point. Not always uptodate, rarely in English..
Maybe a transient error. It’s working for me right now.
Waouw, that’s a website 🙂
STM8S003F3P3 ( http://www.st.com/content/st_com/en/products/microcontrollers/stm8-8-bit-mcus/stm8s-series/stm8s003-005-007-value-line/stm8s003f3.html ) is also very cheap (~0.15USD) and quite powerfull for this price.
When you think back to what 8 bit computers like Atari, Comodore, Spectrum, Dragon and Oric use to cost it is amazing how cheap these things are.
Surprisingly we are still in the RISC fever when everything is RISC.
This ISA is accumulator-memory, how is that RISC?
Found some pricing on Alibaba for one of their 8-bit chips at $0.01 (this model http://www.sinowealth.com/en/softdown.asp?soft_id=327&class_id=110&cat_id=32). They mostly make MCU’s for AC remotes and kitchen appliances, so these guys are dirt cheap.
Pricing on Alibaba is just “for show”, but they do seem pretty cheap on 1688, although the model you pointed to is “higher end” 🙂 and the price is about $0.3.
Others have price similar to the Holtek one with more I/Os -> https://detail.1688.com/offer/525629281594.html
I saw the datasheet and it looks very similar to PIC 16F family.
Only one register , program memory based on 14bit size.
Most commands run in 1 cycle
4 clock per cycle , the same of PIC 16F.
For me is the copy of PIC 16F