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That’s a Lot of Candles

In case you missed the ticker-tape parade, Microchip just shipped its 10-billionth PIC microcontroller. That’s a whole lot of silicon out the door, especially considering how small those guys are.

What’s even more remarkable is that the product line just passed its 9 billionth birthday late last year, about 10 months ago. That’s more than 3 million PICs per day.

Remarkably, that doesn’t make the PIC the most popular MCU ever. That distinction probably goes to the 6805, although I can’t be sure. It so happens I have the 6-billionth 6805 ever made sitting on my desk, and that device was minted more than ten years ago, so the total must be into eleven figures by now.

These big numbers prove four things: there are a whole lot of embedded systems (but you knew that); the number of such systems is accelerating; the PIC is a very popular MCU family; and longevity is a benefit in the embedded-processor business. Unlike music and clothes, embedded processors never go out of fashion. In fact, the oldest ones are often the best sellers.

It also proves that, no matter how many PICs you’re buying from Microchip right now, you’re not making much of a dent in the company’s total shipment numbers. With that kind of popularity, nobody is a big customer. But that’s okay. There’s security in numbers, and the PIC family certainly has the numbers to make its customers secure. Happy birthday, PIC,

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