The main difference between microprocessor and microcontroller is that a microprocessor is used for applications that require intensive processing while a microcontroller is used to perform a specific task.
Microprocessor and microcontroller appear similar, but they are different in many aspects. One can observe the differences between microprocessor and microcontroller in their processing power, power consumption, and applications. A microprocessor is suitable for applications that require more processing. Usually, a microprocessor operates faster and requires more memory. It is more extensive and consumes more power. On the other hand, a microcontroller performs a particular task. It operates at low clock speed and requires less memory than a microprocessor. Microcontrollers are widely used for light and temperature sensing devices, process controlling and for industrial automation.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is a Microprocessor
– Features, Usage
2. What is a Microcontroller
– Features, Usage
3. Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller
– Comparison of Key Differences
Microprocessor, Microcontroller, Operating Systems
What is a Microprocessor
A microprocessor is a component used for high processing applications. It operates at a high speed. The clock speed can differ from 1GHz to 4GHz. It uses more RAM and can vary from 512MB to 32GB. The hard disk can have 128GB to 2TB for more storage. Moreover, a microprocessor has peripheral interfaces such as USB, UART, and high-speed Ethernet.
In a microprocessor chip, the memory elements and the IO devices are connected externally to the CPU. In other words, RAM, ROM, serial interfaces, IO ports, timers are connected to the CPU externally. Some common applications that use microprocessors are computers and laptops. Their applications perform multiple processing activities such as web browsing, mathematical calculations, document creation, gaming, image editing and many more.
What is a Microcontroller
A microcontroller performs a specific task. The microcontroller receives inputs and provides the output according to the given input. The inputs can be user inputs, or they can be obtained from sensors. A microcontroller does not operate on very high clock speed. It can be from 1MHz to 300MHz. The RAM can be either from 2KB up to 256KB. It can have a flash memory of 32KB to 2MB. Moreover, a microcontroller contains peripheral interfaces such as I2C, UART, and SPI.
In a microcontroller, CPU, RAM, ROM, IO ports, serial interfaces and timers are integrated into a single chip. Overall, microcontrollers are used for embedded systems such as microwave ovens and washing machines. These devices are designed to perform a particular task.
Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller
A microprocessor is a component that performs the instructions and task involved in computer processing. A microcontroller is a compact integrated circuit designed for a specific operation in an embedded system.
A microprocessor is used for applications that require intensive processing while a microcontroller is used for an application that performs a particular task.
In a microprocessor, the memory, IO ports, timers etc. are connected to the CPU externally. In a microcontroller, the CPU and all other elements are integrated into a single chip or a board.
An application that uses a microprocessor is not predefined. On the other hand, the task of an application that uses a microcontroller is predefined.
Microprocessor based applications perform multiple tasks. Therefore, it requires more memory. A microcontroller performs a single task. Therefore, it does not require more memory and IO ports.
The clock speed of a microprocessor higher than a microcontroller.
Microprocessors are 32bit or 64bit. A microcontroller can either be 8 bit, 16bit or 32bit.
A microprocessor uses USB, UART, and high-speed Ethernet as the peripheral interfaces. A microcontroller uses I2C, UART and SPI for the peripheral interfaces.
Compared to microcontroller, a microprocessor consumes more power.
A microprocessor cost more than a microcontroller.
The size of the microprocessor board is large than a microcontroller chip.
Personal computers and laptops are applications that use a microprocessor. Microwave oven, washing machine are some examples for applications that use microcontrollers.
The difference between microprocessor and microcontroller is that a microprocessor is used for applications that require intensive processing while a microcontroller is used to perform a specific task. The user can choose a microprocessor or a microcontroller depending on the task of the application.
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2. “Microprocessor.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 July 2018, Available here.
1. “Ignite Ia microprocessor” By Mirko Raner – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Atmel 89c2051 gfdl” By User Bb3cxv on en.wikipedia – Copyright (c) 2005 Geoff Martin (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia