For the Love of an MCU: STMicroelectronics Wraps Up STM32 Summit 2021 in China
For the fifth year in a row, STMicroelectronics is hosting their annual STM32 Summit, a curiously specific event in the industry.
Hardware, maybe more than any other tech space, has the ability to be extremely polarizing, with brand favoritism being a continuous debate. Be it Arm vs. x86, Raspberry Pi vs. Arduino, or PC vs. Mac, people in the hardware space tend to choose favorites and defend their side fervently.
An STM32 MCU. Image used courtesy of Mouser
Another professional field in which people tend to pledge allegiances is embedded systems, where embedded developers often have favorites. STMicroelectronics is well aware of this fact and works hard to maintain brand loyalty. In an ongoing effort in this respect, the company is hosting their STM32 Summit this week, an annual event focused on learning about and celebrating their STM32 family of MCUs.
The STM32 Summit
The pinnacle of STM32 fandom is this week at the STM32 Summit, an event hosted in China's preeminent manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.
The event is a two-day affair that focuses on the MCU family and its role in relevant fields including Industry & Security, AI & Sensing, Cloud & Connectivity, and Ecosystem & Innovation. The first day consisted of presentations and panel discussions by ST and industry partners along with demos and workshops showing the ways different STM32 MCUs are being deployed in these fields. Because this is an STMicroelectronics-focused event, speakers were pulled from in-house, primarily consisting of STM executives.
The second day is being called the “STM32 Fans Carnival” including games, prizes, and an inaugural 24-hour Hackathon challenge.
An image of the gathering from STM32 Summit 2019. Image used courtesy of STMicroelectronics
There are plenty of industry events presented by single companies intended to generate interest in and provide resources and workshops for their proprietary services and products (see: AltiumLive or TI's T³IC). But it's worth noting that there are very few events assembled around a specific family of products.
Some other events come close in their dedication to a particular chip architecture (see: Arm DevSummit or RISC-V's World Conference) or computing environment (see: MATLAB Expo), but a line of MCUs? Not even the famously healthy communities around Arduino and Raspberry Pi host gatherings at STM32 Summit's scale, preferring grassroots local gatherings and the occasional Maker Faire.
In this way, STM32 Summit stands as a unique specimen wherein attendees learn about (and evidently geek out about) the STM32 environment in particular.
The STM32 Family
STM32 is a family of 32-bit microcontrollers based on the Arm Cortex-M processor and is one of STMicroelectronics' staple products.
From a hardware perspective, STM32 offers many different options that range well for applications including low power, wireless, and real-time responsiveness. This means that within the same family, there are many options for different applications including a new wave of embedded applications including TinyML and IoT.
STM32 family offerings. Image used courtesy of STMicroelectronics
From a development perspective, the family has a good deal to offer, including the very popular CubeMX platform, compatibility with Arduino, a standard Arm ISA, an integrated USB bootloader, and the ability to change MCUs within the family while keeping the same pinout (allowing designs to be plug-and-play iterable in hardware). People tend to also like the STM32 family because it's cheap for manufacturing orders as compared to competition like PIC32 or AVR32.
On top of this, since STM32 MCUs are a very popular choice in embedded systems, there is a plethora of resources and documentation online from fellow developers, making developing on the STM32 platform much easier.
While many other hardware spaces have had big get-togethers like this (Maker Faire, CES, etc.) this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a hardware carnival.
This definitely takes hardware loyalty to the next level, and, if well received, will certainly be a testament to the growing and continued popularity of the STM32 MCU family.
Would you attend a "Fan Carnival" for your preferred MCU family? Tell us about which hardware has earned your undying love in the comments below.