Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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http://www.embedded.com/215801676?cid=NL_embedded

and of course, Hi-Tech will no longer supply compilers for competing
processors:
http://www.htsoft.com/HI-TECH%20Customer%20Letter_Final.pdf

Dave.



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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When I used it last (about 2001) Microchip's C compiler was about as
bug-free as summer in Rimouski (or in Blue Bayou, for all the
non-Canucks out there).  Switching to Hi-Tech saved my project, but the
libraries were different enough that that wasn't a trivial job.

I gather that Microchip is quietly deep-sixing its own compilers?

Cheers

Phil Hobbs

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Yes, the Microchip compilers are notoriously bad and inefficient.
Hi-Tech have always made excellent stable compilers that produce very tight
and fast code, even on the smallest PIC's.

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I hope so.
Although I also hope they don't remove the "free" versions. It's nice having
free (albeit performance crippled) C compilers that everyone can use.
At present (or last I looked) the free versions of Hi-Tech compilers only
supported a very restricted number of devices.

I can only presume that the Hi-Tech programmers will still be based in
Australia?

Dave.



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
On Thu, 12 Mar 2009 01:08:39 -0400, Phil Hobbs

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Couldn't agree more. I started off with the Microchip compiler about
10 years ago. It drove me mad so I tried CC5X and then CC8E from
Knudsen and I haven't looked back. They simply work and generate tight
code.

I'm thinking of using their Leanslice multisker for the next project.
Has anybody tried it?

Richard

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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Hi-Tech just sold out, and they make really GOOD compilers.

I guess Microchip had plenty of money on hand after the Atmel deal fell
through, a drop of which could buy out Hi-Tech 10 times over, or perhaps
Hi-Tech weren't in the best of shape?, or perhaps the owners were tired and
just wanted to get out?
Anyone know what went down?

Dave.



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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Yes, but that was the 2nd time around. 20/20 hindsight ;-)

It was mostly just Clyde, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got jack of it
and grabbed a sweet offer to retire.

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Good question. The traditional PIC is soon to be overtaken by the ARM
derivatives. The hobby scene worked very well for Microchip, but they
are quickly losing ground.

An excellent version of GCC is available for the PIC32 (MIPS based)
platform. So why bother buying a compiler manufacturor?

--
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indicates you are not using the right tools...
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Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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For some markets, sure... but in many commodity items like remote controls it
doesn't make sense to use a $1 32-bit ARM when a $0.10 8-bit PIC still works
just fine.

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GCC for microcontrollers has never been as good as the best commercial
compilers in code size or performance... and typically "customer support,"
although I'd grant that's a very difficult quantity to define.  (E.g., there's
no guarantee anyone will answer your GCC questions, but on the other hand,
there's at least a chance the guy answering them is the guy who wrote the code
in question, whereas that's almost never the case with commercial vendors.)



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Ah, but we are now in an era where the "microcontrollers" of today
have the cores of the 32 bit processors that GCC was written for.

I would certainly trust GCC on a 32 bit machine, over something
derived from, say, some line of "PIC compilers"!

--

John Devereux

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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Good point.  I also meant to point out that typically the "GCC penalty" on
8-bit CPUs is often not more than 10% or so in code space requirements and
execution speed, and for many, many products that's just fine.

Plus the interface between C and assembly is pretty darned cool.



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Do you think that 8-bit uCs are about to disappear?



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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No, but the sub-thread thread was about the PIC32, which (AIUI) is
based on a MIPS core. MIPS was designed for *high-end workstations* in
the 80's, wasn't it? Now it's in a "PIC"!

8 bit uCs *have* in fact all but disappeared from my own designs,
where I can easily justify the (very low) hardware cost overhead. I
have not had to do ultra-low power or ultra-high-volume as yet.

--

John Devereux

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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M68K was used in small un*x servers.

ARM started out on the desktop too.


Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Yes, all good GCC targets, and all now mostly used as microcontroller
or embedded microprocessor cores.

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John Devereux

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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Yes, but you'll need to sell quite a few units to make up for the
price difference between free GCC and a $$$ toolkit. For high volume
stuff, you're better off slapping an Asic together with some uC core
inside. The 8051 core is probably even cheaper (almost free).

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GCC for ARM and MIPS platforms is pretty darn good. Most commercial
compilers will perform less. Just look at some independant
comparisons. The problem with compiler manufacturor's benchmarks is
that they usually compare their product with full optimisations on
against GCC with all optimisations off.

GCC also works fine with most 16 bit controllers (like the Renesas H8
and the TI MSP430 series). Its the oddball controllers like the 8051
and PIC that require a more specific approach towards converting C
into machine language.

Another advantage of using GCC is that you'll have one dialect and one
development environment (for example Eclipse) for all your platforms.
This makes changing to/porting to other/using multiple platforms a lot
easier since you don't have to invest time in learning new tools.

--
Failure does not prove something is impossible, failure simply
indicates you are not using the right tools...
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Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
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I would factor it into NRE -- when you have, say, 2 programmers spending 3
months developing some widget, that's probably $100k on salaries, do whether
you choose a free tool or one for, e.g., $3k is pretty much irrelevant.

Granted, if GCC can do the job for you, by all means use it.

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Agreed, GCC is quite competitive on 32-bit CPUs.

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Heck, many commercial compilers are just GCC with proprietary support
libraries for the hardware in question. :-)

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Yeah, there's something to that, but of the various programmers I've known,
only a small percentage actually used the more sophisticated features of the
tools provided.  I once had to explain to a programmer that there is more to
the default "DEBUG" vs. "RELEASE" profiles than just "whether of not it
#defines DEBUG". :-(  You might be surprised at how many people ship DEBUG
builds with zero optimizations, symbol tables included, etc. -- I even once
had a programmer tell me that, "[he] ships DEBUG build executesbles because
you should ship what you test, and since all testing is done with a DEBUG
build, that's what we should ship."  Wow.  Although I suppose there is a
certain perverse logic there that's true...

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IAR likes to use this line of reasoning to promote their tools too -- their
one IDE covers both 8- and 32-bit compilers.

Last time I used GCC my "IDE" was a command line and make files...

---Joel



Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
On Fri, 13 Mar 2009 11:34:29 -0700, "Joel Koltner"

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Not to mention pinout.  When they start packing 32-bitters into
SOT23-6 -- at similar pricing to 8-bit versions -- let me know.  I'd
be interested.  I'm getting them at about 25 cents each and I buy in
very small qtys.

Jon

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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   So, you're using '2 bit' processors?


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Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software
On Sat, 14 Mar 2009 13:27:48 -0400, "Michael A. Terrell"

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Hehe.  I wonder how many younger folks will understand.  Which reminds
me that I'm getting too old, that I even know what you mena.

Jon

Re: Microchip buys Hi-Tech Software

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it
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works
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   Most of them would freak if they ever looked at the 8008 and what
little it actually did, for the price.  Or the early 'S100' 4K * 8
memory cards that were $1000.  I bet 99% of them never heard of the
Exorcisor bus.


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