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Definition of microcontroller

A microcontroller (also abbreviated as C, uC or MCU or mCU) is defined as a small


computer, which uses a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, a memory
and programmable input/output peripherals (peripherals means different devices
connected to a computer). The program memory is generally a flash memory or OTP
ROM (One Time Programmable ROM). It is also used within the chip and it may contain
a small amount of RAM, too.
Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications. On the other hand, the
microprocessors are used in personal computers or other general purpose applications.

Definition of microprocessor
It is defined as the integrated circuit or a semiconductor chip that performs bulk
operations of processing and controlling the parts of a system. Thus a microprocessor
functions as the central processing unit of a microcomputer. For example, a disk drive of
say a CDROM, contains a microprocessor to handle the internal functions of the drive.

Differences between microcontroller & microprocessor


Microcontrollers are used in automatically controlled products and devices, such as
automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices, remote controls, office
machines, appliances, power tools, toys, embedded systems and a number of others. By
reducing the size and cost compared to a design that uses a separate microprocessor,
memory, and input/output devices, microcontrollers are very economical for digitally
controlled machines, even more devices and processes.
There is also one more type of microcontroller. It is called as mixed signal
microcontroller. It uses common, integrating analog components for controlling nondigital electronic systems.
A microprocessor and a microcontroller are virtually the same devices; however,
microcontroller is referred to as a microprocessor that contains other functions and other
extra hardware.
For example, a microprocessor chip which also contains PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)
and on board serial data communication chips is known as a microcontroller.
And microcomputer, is computing units that are smaller in size, such as your cell phone.
A microprocessor is a hardware that can processes logical codes.
A microcontroller is a specialized form of microprocessor that is designed for selfsufficient working. It is also cost-effective.

But a microprocessor is typically designed for general purpose (particularly used in a


PC). Microcontrollers are frequently found in automobiles, office machines, toys and
some other appliances.
The microcontroller is the integration of a number of useful functions in a single IC
package. These functions are:
It has the ability to execute a stored set of instructions to carry out user defined tasks.
It has the ability to be able to access external memory chips to read and write the data
from and to the memory.
A microcontroller is a device which integrates a number of the components of a
microprocessor system onto a single microchip.
So a microcontroller combines onto the same microchip:
The CPU core (microprocessor), Memory (both ROM and RAM), some parallel digital
I/O
Also, a microcontroller is part of an embedded system, which is actually the whole circuit
board itself.
The difference is that microcontroller uses features of microprocessor (CPU, ALU and
registers) along with the presence of some more features like presence of RAM, ROM,
IO ports, counter etc. Here microcontroller controls the operation of machine using fixed
program, which is stored in ROM.