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Microcontrollers are very useful if you have very tight power constraints because they have much less complexity than application processors and thus require much less power. For instance, the CC2538 uses ~1uA when sleeping whereas the best I have seen quoted for a Raspberry Pi (using a SleepyPi module), is ~500uA. [1]

This sort of OS is very useful in situations like wireless mesh networks where the code is more complex than would be suitable for a super-loop architecture, but the system is too resource-constrained to run something like Linux because it is trying to hit power requirements.

[1] http://spellfoundry.com/sleepy-pi/sleepy-pi-faq/#What_Is_The...

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