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Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Last Updated on April 17, 2023 by Prepbytes

Microprocessors and microcontrollers are considered to be the most used components in any electronic device. In fact, both of them are essential for the working of electronic equipment. Both devices are based on modern Digital ICs and are used for performing computational tasks. Although in day-to-day life, these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are significantly different from each other. Here we will discuss the difference between microprocessors and microcontrollers.

What is Microprocessor?

As evident from the name, the microprocessor is used for the purpose of processing the data. It is an integrated circuit that consists of a CPU (for executing the instructions and performing the arithmetic and logical operations) and some other small circuits including memory interfaces, input/output interfaces, and some other support functions.

The microprocessor is designed to work with external memory and I/O devices. It can access the memory and I/O devices through a set of dedicated lines called the address bus and data bus. The address bus carries the address of the memory or I/O device the microprocessor wants to access, and the data bus carries the actual data.

Microprocessors have a wide range of applications which includes

  • Personal Computers
  • Servers
  • Mobile Devices, etc.

Microprocessors are used in applications that require high processing power, complex calculations, and multitasking capabilities.

What is Microcontroller?

Microcontroller is defined as a digital Integrated circuit that has its own microprocessor, memory, and I/O devices. It also contains various support circuits such as Timers, A/D Converters, serial Input-Output, and other circuits. All these are shown in the figure given below.

The main motive of the microcontrollers is their usage in the embedded system. Embedded systems are electronic systems that are dedicated to performing specific functions. Examples of embedded systems include home appliances, automotive systems, medical devices, and industrial control systems.

Microcontrollers are particularly suitable for applications that require low power consumption, real-time control, and compact size. Since all the essential components are integrated into a single chip, microcontrollers can reduce the cost and complexity of the overall system.

Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

The given table shows the Microprocessor and Microcontroller differences in detail.

Microprocessor Microcontroller
It is only a CPU and requires external memory and I/O devices for its operation. It consists of all microprocessors, memory, and I/O devices on the same chip.
Designed to work with a wide range of devices. It is designed for working with specific types of hardware devices.
It is more expensive as it requires external components for processing. Comparatively, less expensive.
Power Consumption is more than the microcontroller. Microcontrollers consume low power for their operation.
They are used in applications that have high computational needs. Microcontrollers are used in applications that require low power consumption.
Microprocessors are generally larger in size because of the need for external components. Comparatively, smaller in size as everything is available on the same chip.
It has a higher clock speed. Lower clock speed.
Used in Complex systems. Used in simpler systems.
There is no Power Saving Mode in Microprocessors. Generally, microcontrollers come with a power-saving mode.
They are generally used in Personal Computers. They are used in small systems such as washing machines, ovens, etc.
Examples of Microprocessors involve Intel 8085, 8086, etc. Examples of Microcontrollers involve 8051 and PIC Microcontroller.

In this article, we have learned about the difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller. Both of them are computing devices employed in modern-day electronic equipment and machines They have different architectures which means they have different I/O, cost, power consumption, performance, and memory limits. We use microprocessors when we require high processing power and complex computations and microcontrollers are used in embedded systems where we need low power consumption and compact size.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions on the “Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller”.

Ques 1. Enlist the main difference between a microprocessor and a microcontroller.
Ans. The main difference between a microprocessor and a microcontroller is:

  • Microprocessor:A microprocessor is a processing unit used for only processing purposes.
  • Microcontroller: The microcontroller is a complete computer system that is embedded on a single chip.

Ques 2. Which is more powerful in terms of processing power, a microprocessor or a microcontroller?
Ans. In terms of processing power, Microprocessors are more powerful than microcontrollers.

Ques 3. Which one is used in more complex systems?
Ans. Since microprocessors have more processing power and are suitable for working with different hardware, Microprocessors are used in more complex systems.

Ques 4. Which one is more commonly used in embedded systems?
Ans. Microcontrollers are used in the embedded system because they are complete computers and are designed only for specific applications.

Ques 5. What is the difference between the microprocessor and microcontroller in terms of memory?
Ans. Microprocessors have more memory as they have to handle more complex tasks.

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