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What is the difference between a Microprocessor and Microcontroller?

Surrounded by electronic equipment and gadgets all around, have you ever thought of the getting past the outer casing and look into the working a particular device. If yes, you must have seen a microcontroller or a microprocessor inside these devices. All the devices require a brain to process and perform specific tasks. These brains are microprocessors and microcontrollers.

A microprocessor is the brain of a computing device that is installed on an IC or motherboard. It communicates with other attached devices and performs arithmetic and logical computations. Microprocessor comes in many forms such as an 8-bit or 16-bit processor and an embedded processor, among many others. Depending upon the needs, you can select a processor, but you will have to get the other hardware devices and peripherals compatible with your microprocessor.

Microcontrollers are tiny computers made on a single IC. The various tasks performed by it are done by the processor core, ROM, RAM, and I/O pins. These are generally used where the user can directly control the application. It does not require any external circuits and hence is widely used in embedded systems. Some examples of microcontrollers include 8051, AVR, PIC series of microcontrollers.

Here we compare microprocessors and microcontrollers on seven different parameters below. Read on to know the differences.

Also read:  NodeMCU vs Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller

Raspberry Pi Microcontroller
  • Integrated Circuit: Microprocessor is a standalone CPU, while the microcontroller is an integrated circuit housing all the required circuitry on a single circuit.
  • Peripheral Devices: Since the microprocessor is a computation device, it requires external memory and peripheral devices alongwith circuits to join all the components. The microcontroller contains internal memory and input-output device ports, making it a self-sufficient computation device on which different components can be plugged in to increase the usage and productivity.
  • Architecture: Microprocessor is based on the Von Neumann model, while a microcontroller is based on Harvard architecture.

  • Control Bus: Microprocessor uses an external bus to interact with peripheral devices such as RAM. On the other hand, a microcontroller uses an internal bus to interact with components.
  • Speed: Microprocessor can run at high speeds as compared to a microcontroller that can run at a speed of 200 MHz or more depending on the architecture.
  •  Power Consumption: Microprocessor alongwith its other components requires more power while the power consumption for a microcontroller is less as there are few additional components. A microcontroller can also run on batteries, while you need an AC power source for a microprocessor.
  • Usage: Microprocessors are used in computers, smartphones, tablets, and other computation devices. Microcontrollers have a much wider field of applications and are used in embedded systems, smart devices and daily use appliances.

Also read: Arduino UNO vs Arduino Mega

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