Hi guys i am new to the microprocessor world. Well i have this project am supposed to work on and i need a few ideas from anyone willing to help. I am supposed to design a microprocessor-based system for controlling a car parking lot. I need to know which kind of microprocessor is most suitable for the project, a few tutorials on how to program it and any other ideas you may think of. Any help provided will be highly appreciated. Thanx
Posted on 2008-11-03 02:49:19 by wagatyne
What you need is called "controller" (or "microcontroller" or "programmable microcontroller" etc.), not processor. Processors can't do anything alone.

As for your question: EVERY microcontroller is suitable for any task. Of course, the better (read: the more expensive) a microcontroller is, the better. Please specify what you mean by "controlling a car parking lot". If it's not uber-complicated then you'll be OK with Atmel's ATtiny or ATmega8/16 - about $1.00 a piece. They use Atmel's AVR architecture. Or you can use ARM architecture-based ones since they are becoming more and more popular these days (many modern cellphones use them, for example). I don't know about other manufacturers selling ARM-based controllers, but on Atmel's site they can be bought for about $10. And yes, they can do virtually every job thanks to their advanced support for external interfaces.

Almost every company provides their own C compiuler, so you can program microcontrollers in C if you don't want to learn ASM. Many tutorials are available on the internet for both the AVR-based microcontrollers and the ARM-based ones.
Posted on 2008-11-03 05:55:26 by ti_mo_n
There are also Microchip's PIC microcontrollers (though maybe they're actually too pricey now).
A really thorough explanation/specs of the project are necessary for making the decision. And whether the thing will be mass-produced. But since you have been given the task of choosing a "microprocessor", then I bet it's just a one-time thing, almost a hobby startup project.

With certainty, I suggest you use an ARM-based microcontroller. Start prototyping with the most expensive (but still affordable) one you can find. (expect to shell-out minimum $150 for a devkit, max $1000) . ARM's awesome characteristics are:
- it's a cpu, that is very similar to our beloved PC's x86. Meanwhile, PIC and other microcontrollers are pure horror (They are unimaginably limited, and you must re-read the whole 500+ page PDF a few dozen times to make a hello-world project)
- ARM  MCUs (microcontrollers) usually have much RAM (so they're also pricy), unlike their laughable cousins.
- can work at higher MHz
- you can use GCC4.x for them, instead of working with a crippled compiler or paying $1k for an OK one.
- ARM asm is pure bliss, compared to the other MCUs' ISA.
Posted on 2008-11-03 12:48:32 by Ultrano