Difference between a Microprocessor and Microcontroller

11 Jul

Essentially these two devices are similar, but with a little bit of difference. A CPU which is the heart of
these devices needs a host of external devices to make it communicate with real-world. A typical system
would need a system to read the inputs from keyboard, and write outputs to a terminal,store intermediate processing data into some memory, and to keep permanent information into some safe place. These devices which are independent circuits, work in harmony with the CPU, to make one system. In a typical Personal Computer these devices are attached to the CPU, using hard-wired connections. This makes the system more flexible, that means you can add more  memory, change capacity of hard drives, add or remove CD-ROMs, sound cards etc. A microcontroller on the other hand is made up of most of these devices built exactly within the same package. Your
microcontroller will therefore contain, the CPU, RAM, ROM, Timers, I/O etc. all packed within one integrated circuit. This facilitates the development process, as well as reduce the requirements of external components, however this also means you can not change, the number and type of integrated devices. The applications where a microcontroller
will be used, vary. They are usually quite simple, and do not require as much processing power as a PC
does, so the microcontrollers with varying amounts of RAM, ROM, I/O lines and timers etc have been
made available. Essentially all are almost same, and they only vary in the number of resources available on
them. So for a particular application you chose a microcontroller, not the one which has maximum
resources, but the one which has just enough to do the job.
Thus a microcontroller is a complete, small scale computer with all the necessary devices on-board. All you
need is the external hardware, which you want to drive, like sensors and motors etc.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 11, 2010 in Microcontrollers


One response to “Difference between a Microprocessor and Microcontroller

  1. GuruSantiago

    July 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Great comparison.
    Thank You,

    Want to learn more about electronics?

    The GuruSantiago can help. Checkout his videos here:
    And follow him on twitter @ElectronicsFun


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