Making Sense of 8 bit MCU Usage
There is a strong debate raging about whether 8 bit MCUs have been eclipsed by 32 bit MCUs. It is assumed that just like snail mail was replaced by email and the horse drawn buggy was replaced by the automobile, one day the 8 bit MCU will also be replaced by 32 bit MCUs in embedded development. While that may happen in the future, as of now there is no indication that the 8 bit MCU is going to be replaced by the 32 bit MCU any time soon.
On the contrary, it is found that 8 bit MCUs and 32 bit MCUs are complementary. Each excels in a particular task and they perform equally well in certain others. The trick is finding out which embedded application is more suited for a particular architecture(8 bit or 32 bit).
If you compare a 8 bit MCU from 30 years back to an 32 bit MCU now, obviously the latter is going to perform better. Some companies have actually upgraded 8 bit MCUs to make the technology future worthy. And these upgraded MCUs are holding well against 32 bit MCUs. There are many cases where these upgraded 8 bit MCUs have even performed better than 32 bit MCUs. So the question of whether 8 bit MCUs can compare to 32 bit MCUs is redundant.