Microprocessor vs Microcontroller – An Overview

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Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: Selecting a suitable device on which to base the new design can be intimidating. The need to make the proper equilibrium of price, performance and power utilization has numerous implications.

In the first place, there will be prompt technology contemplations for the design you can embark on.

However, suppose a Microcontroller (MCU) or Microprocessor (MPU) becomes the basis of a platform approach. In that case, the decision can have long-lasting consequences.

At this point, the difference between microprocessors and microcontrollers becomes a critical point of debate.

Furthermore, it is reasonably challenging to spot the difference between them as these two terms are the soul and core of programmable electronics.

Let this confusion go well and now for forever.

Here is all that you really want to have some familiarity with about these two core components, so buckle up your grey cells and let the learning begin on Logic Fruit Technologies.

What is a Microprocessor?

A microprocessor (sometimes called an MPU or Microprocessor Unit) is a controlling unit of a micro-computer, fabricated on a small chip capable of performing ALU (Arithmetic and Logical Unit) and communicating with the other devices connected to it.

Its utility ranges a vast space from controlling elevators to searching the web. We are very aware that instructions describe everything that a computer does, and these instructions are carried out by? Guess who? The one we are talking about—the Microprocessor.

Microprocessors are not made for a specific task. They are helpful where tasks are complex and tricky, like the development of software, games, and other applications that require high Memory and where input and output are not characterized.


What is a microcontroller?

A microcontroller (sometimes called an MCU or Microcontroller Unit) is a single Integrated Circuit (IC) typically utilized for a particular application and designed to execute specific tasks over and over.

It basically contains Memory, processor, and programmable I/O. Essentially, a microcontroller gathers input, processes this information, and outputs a specific action based on the data collected.

Products and gadgets that should be automatically controlled in certain situations, like appliances, power tools, automobile engine control systems, and computers, are great examples.

However, microcontrollers reach much further than just these applications.

Block Diagram – Micro-processor

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller - An Overview

Block Diagram – Microcontroller

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller - An Overview

History of microprocessor

Here are the vital landmark from the history of Microprocessor

  • The first generation Microprocessor 4004 was created by Intel in 1971 that would run at a clock speed of 108 kHz.
  • From 1973 to 1978, second-generation 8-bit microprocessors were manufactured  by Intel like Motorola 6800 and 6801, INTEL-8085, and Zilog’s-Z80.
  • In 1978, Intel released 8086, the first 16-bit Microprocessor.
  • In the early 80s, Intel released fourth-generation 32-bit processors.
  • Further, in 1995, intel released its fifth-generation 64-bit processors, which are used until now pertaining to its high performance.

History of micro-controller

Here are fundamental milestones from the historical backdrop of Microcontroller:

  • Intel invented the first micro-controller named Intel 8048 in 1975
  • The introduction of EEPROM happened in 1993
  • That very year, Atmel presented the first Microcontroller utilizing Flash memory.


Types of Microprocessor:

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: Microprocessors are classified into five types-

#1. CISM – Complex Instruction Set Microprocessors:

CISM or Complex Instruction Set type is equipped for executing single instructions using several low-level functions. Several operations like load from Memory, store in Memory, or arithmetic operations can be performed using these low-level functions. Also, it can likewise perform complex computations.


#2. RISM – Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessors:

While working with fewer instructions than CISM, one can utilize RISM or Reduced Instruction Set type. It is comprised of a set of simple instructions and is also optimized for regular instruction pipeline flow. RISM is the most commonly used processor.


#3. ASIC – Application-Specific Integrated Circuits:

This type of integrated circuit is used for explicit purposes only. They can be used in a digital voice recorder or a bitcoin miner. The design is highly modern, and they may include the entire Microprocessor in a single chip.


#4. DSPs – Digital Signal Processors:

Digital Signal Processor requires several components like the term memory, input/output, and program memory. We can use this processor to process analog signals to digital signals and vice-versa. It is also used for encoding and decoding videos.


#5. Superscalar Processors:

Superscalar Processor is capable of implementing instruction-level parallelism  and that too within a single processor. It can execute more than one instruction  per clock cycle. As a result, this kind of processor is quick and gives more throughput  than primitive scalar processors.


Types of Micro-controller

Microcontrollers are classified into various categories based on Memory, bits, and instruction sets. Following is the rundown of their types −


In light of bit configuration, the Microcontroller is additionally divided into three categories.

  • 8-bit Microcontroller − This type of Microcontroller executes arithmetic and logical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication division, etc. For instance, Intel 8031 and 8051 are 8 bits microcontrollers.
  • 16-bit Microcontroller − This type of Microcontroller is used to perform arithmetic and logical operations where higher accuracy and performance are required. For example, Intel 8096 is a 16-bit microcontroller.
  • 32-bit Microcontroller − This type of Microcontroller is generally used in automatically controlled appliances like automatic operational machines, medical devices, etc.



In light of the memory configuration, the Microcontroller is additionally divided into two categories.

  • External memory microcontroller − This type of Microcontroller is designed such that they do not have a program memory on the chip. Hence, it is named as external memory microcontroller. For example- Intel 8031 microcontroller.
  • Embedded memory microcontroller − This type of Microcontroller is designed so that the Microcontroller has all programs and data memory, counters, and timers, interrupts, I/O ports embedded on the chip. For example- Intel 8051 microcontroller.


Instruction Set

In light of the instruction set configuration, the Microcontroller is additionally divided into two categories.

  • CISC − CISC stands for complex instruction set computer. It allows the user to insert a single instruction as an alternative to many simple instructions.
  • RISC − RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computers. It reduces the operational time by shortening the clock cycle per instruction.

Features of Microprocessor

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: Here is a list of some of the prominent features-

  • Diversity- Microprocessors have a high computational capacity with no storage constraints. Also, it offers a built-in monitor/debugger program with interrupt capability.
  • Versatility − The microprocessors can be used for various purposes by configuring the software program, so it is considered versatile.
  • Reliability −As the microprocessors use semiconductor technology, so the chances of failure are significantly less. Hence, the microprocessors are very reliable.
  • High Speed – A microprocessor can execute millions of instructions per second. As a result, they can work at a very high speed.

Features of micro-controller

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: Here is a list of some of the prominent features-

  • Small Size: A microcontroller is more compact in size.
  • Efficiency: A microcontroller is more efficient because of its compact size.
  • Clock speed: The clock speed of the Microcontroller is less as compared to a microprocessor.
  • Structure: The structure of a microcontroller is fixed.
  • Power Consumption: The power consumption for the Microcontroller is less. It also offers Power saving mode.


Microprocessor vs Microcontroller:

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller


Application of Microprocessor

Microprocessors are mainly used in devices like:

  • Calculators
  • Games machine
  • Complex industrial controllers
  • Defense systems
  • Military applications
  • Control data
  • Traffic light
  • Accounting system
  • Computation systems

Application of microcontroller

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: Microprocessors are mainly used in devices like:

  • Mobile phones
  • Automobiles
  • Washing machines
  • Security and Fire alarms
  • Keyboard controllers
  • Watches
  • Mp3 players
  • Microwave oven
  • Cameras
  • LEDs
  • Chimneys
  • Volt Meter

If you have come this far, you would have probably understood that both microprocessors and microcontrollers are meant to serve vastly different types of applications.

It is basically different ways of organizing and optimizing a computer system based on a CPU. Microprocessors, which houses a more powerful CPU on a single chip and connect to external peripherals, are meant for applications like graphic control, motherboard, or intense-data processing systems because of their high processing power and versatile computing operations.

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller: which put the CPU and all peripherals onto the same chip, are used to target compact, specific, low-power applications like music players, drones, or robotic applications.

Regardless of choice, both microprocessors and microcontrollers have their design challenges. Microprocessors usually have large pin counts, with many of them forming the system bus; hence there is a need to ensure the data and address bus are routed in equal length to prevent timing issues.

If a Microcontroller is used, there is a concern about the operating reliability of mixed signals on a compact PCB, ensuring signal integrity for analog channels while ensuring the digital signals are not coupling noises to adjacent components Microprocessor vs Microcontroller.

I guess every brief aspect, be their applicability or structure, I have covered it all, well and good. Nevertheless, if you still have any questions, send them our way. You can reach out to us at info@logic-fruit.com.


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