Microcontrollers are very often used in Low cost embedded devices. They are categorized as 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit according to their data execution capabilities. Here I am going to describe 2 powerful 16-bit controller series available in the market which can be used in many industrial as well as portable applications.
1. The first one on my list will be MSP430 Series of controllers, manufactured by Texas Instruments.
All the controllers in this series are of 16-bit. These controllers have I/O, Flash Memory, EEPROM, FRAM,
I2C, SPI, ADC, DAC Comparators and other features. What makes the series unique is their power consumption in Idle Mode, the ICs take less than 1 uA of current in the mode. This feature makes the series ideal for battery operated applications, where power consumption is a deciding factor.
For a student, to buy the IC is also a pocket-friendly one. You can get MSP430 Launchpad boards from Amazon within 1500/-. The board comes with USB port through which you can easily program the IC and pin headers are available to test the logic. If you are planning to explore 16-bit controllers then this board can help you in your prototyping works.
Compilers: TI Code Composer Studio, Energia.
2. The second controller series is also very important in industrial market as far as stability and reliability is a concern. My second choice is dsPIC series manufactured by Microchip Technology. This series has all the features stated above and apart from those it has a built-in DSP engine. The DSP engine is very powerful to execute complex tasks with ease. The DSP engine has barrel shifter, 16×16 bit direct Multiplication capability, Hardware multiply-accumulate, DMA etc. It has also motor control PWM capabilities built in for controlling single as well as 3-phase induction motors.
If you want to start programming using dsPIC, you can buy PANTECH dsPIC starter boards which are good enough to simulate your logic.
Compilers: Microchip’s MPLAB XC16 Compiler, MikroC for dsPIC.
There are other 16-bit Microcontrollers available in the market by Atmel, Cypress, NXP etc. I should have given their names also, but in my opinion, these are best among others to start with.