Microprocessors v/s Microcontrollers

Although basic and a vital difference persists between the two, microprocessors, and microcontrollers are easily confused. In this blog, I will be engaging to effectively solve your this confusion and help you out of this cumbersome situation. Before we begin to list out the difference between the two, let us have an overview of what these two jargons mean.

What are Microprocessors?

To understand what a microprocessor is, let us break the term into two segments: Micro and Processor. Micro here determines the size. So the size of a microprocessor is micro. Got it? Great. Next segment is the processor. Let us travel back to our primary schools and remember where we first encountered this word. The CPU (Central Processor Unit) might be your answer. Do you remember all the functions the CPU performed? Yes, I am talking about the arithmetic and the logical functions. Do you remember any other functions of CPU? A microprocessor is nothing but the CPU of any system it is a part of. It is not built up for a specific function. Rather, it is used to perform multiple varieties of tasks. One should remember that a microprocessor is just the CPU and has no other parts. Other parts (such as RAM, ROM, Input/output ports and other peripherals. A microprocessor is used to solve complex problems, run software, play games, and other cumbersome tasks. You must have heard of Intel Core Processor i3, i5, etc. These are all examples of microprocessors.


Block Diagram of Microprocessors

What are Microcontrollers?

Now, to this term –  Microcontroller. Let us ask, what do you understand by a controller? Something that controls something. Right? Well, you guessed it all right. A controller is a device which is used to control various operations, functions and sometimes even other devices, so a microcontroller can be imagined as a computer embedded onto a microchip! Unlike microprocessors which only had the CPU, a microcontroller has various other parts too. Hence, a  microcontroller is a package of CPU, RAM, ROM, input/output ports and other parts as per the requirement of the task. It does not require any other add-on parts (although parts can be easily added to the controller in order to perform tasks ). A microcontroller can be directly controlled by the users and used according to the requirement. Examples of microcontrollers are 8051, Arduino Board, Atmel Boards, etc

Microprocessors v/s Microcontrollers

  • A major difference is the presence of external peripheral, where microcontrollers have RAM, ROM embedded in it while we have to use external parts in case of microprocessors.

  • As we do not need to add peripherals to the microcontroller, it is compact, while the microprocessor is bulky.

  • Microcontrollers are relatively cheaper to microprocessors as they have built-in parts, while to work on a microprocessor one needs to purchase all other peripherals separately.
  • The processing speed of microcontrollers is comparatively slower than microprocessors.
  • Microcontrollers usually come with power saving modes, while this is not available in the microprocessors. Hence, Microcontrollers are power efficient.
  • Microcontrollers are compact so it makes them efficient for small products and applications while microprocessors are bulky so they are preferred for larger applications.
  • Tasks performed by microcontrollers are limited and generally less complex. While task performed by microprocessors are generally more complex so require more memory and speed so that’s why external ROM, RAM are used with it.
I hope this post has helped to clear your doubts and any confusion related to microprocessors and microcontrollers. In case you would like to ask any question, feel free to comment down below.
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