It really struck me looking at a demo board from TI.
Now, this little board has a bunch of stuff on the right side of it. All of that is nothing more than the support hardware for debugging and programming and all the stuff that you as a developer want to use when you’re developing.
The stuff on the left is the processor. Nearly nothing more than a plain MSP430FR5969.
Supporting it is a fully optioned up set of passives. There’s a crystal with a pair of capacitors to its left. A few more decoupling capacitors and a pair of pull-up resistors is all it takes to get this working.
And it’s cheap.
I can buy them in 1-unit quantities for around $6.00. In real quantity it’s $2.64375/each from DigiKey (as I write this).
Sure, I could spec something smaller… but for the quantities I’m dealing with saving the buck isn’t as important.
It’s still pretty amazing I think.