Cheap Microcontrollers

Many applications, such as toys or low cost consumer electronics items, require the lowest cost microcontroller. Tracking down the cheapest microcontroller can be a challenge, because of the multitude of manufacturers. Small I/O limited microcontrollers can be expanded in I/O capability by interfacing them with a serial shift register, such as a 74HC595, which only costs $14 cents in moderate quantity. Some chips can be bought as dies and then can be directly wire bound to a PCB with an epoxy covering. This further reduces costs, because the chip package can contribute up to near 50% of the cost.

Part Number Manufacturer Cost Qty 1000 Notes
MSP430F2101 TI $1.17 Very powerful 16 bit microcontroller, with low cost development tools, Comes in small 20 pin packages. Has an on board comparator which can be used to simulate an ADC, and a software UART. This is a great part!
PIC16F630 Microchip $1.26 Decent processor and easy to use tools. 14 pin packages
PIC16F676 Microchip $1.47 Similar to the PIC16F630, but with ADCs.
PIC10F200 Microchip $0.61 Very cheep, and very small with 8 pin SOIC and 6 pin SOT-23 packages.
AT89C2051 Atmel $1.05 20 pin package.
ATTiny11L Atmel $0.35 8 pin package, limited functionality but very cheep. Has low cost development tools.
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