Microprocessor and Microcontroller are the typical programmable electronic chips used for distinct purposes. The significant difference between them is that a microprocessor is a programmable computation engine consist of ALU, CU and registers, commonly used as a processing unit (such as CPU in computers) which can perform computations and make decisions. On the other hand, a microcontroller is a specialised microprocessor considered as “computer on a chip” as it integrates components like microprocessor, memory and parallel digital I/O.
The microcontroller is primarily designed for managing the real-time task, unlike microprocessor.
Content: Microprocessor Vs Microcontroller
|Basis for comparison||Microprocessor||Microcontroller|
|Basic||Made up of a single silicon chip comprising an ALU, CU and registers.||Consist of microprocessor, memory, I/O port, interrupt control unit, etc.|
|Characteristic||Dependent unit||Self-contained unit|
|I/O Ports||Does not contain built-in I/O port||Built-in I/O ports are present|
|Type of operation performed||General purpose in design and operation.||Application oriented or domain specific.|
|Targeted for||High end market||Embedded market|
|Power consumption||Provides less power saving options||Includes more power saving options|
Definition of Microprocessor
The microprocessor is silicon chip works as a central processing unit (CPU). It can perform functions including logical and arithmetic as per the pre-defined instructions, specified by the manufacturer. A CPU is consist of the ALU (Arithmetic and Logical Unit), register and control unit. A microprocessor can be designed in many ways depending on the instruction set and system architecture.
There are two system architectures are provided for designing a microprocessor – Harvard and Von-Neumann. The Harvard type processor incorporated with isolates buses for program and data memory. In contrast, processor based on the Von-Neumann architecture shares a single bus for program and data memory.
The microprocessor is not an independent unit it relies on other hardware units such as memory, timer, interrupts controller, and so forth. The first microprocessor was developed by Intel in the year of 1971 and named as Intel 4004.
Definition of Microcontroller
The microcontroller is the technology developed after the microprocessor and overcome the shortcomings of the microprocessor. The microcontroller chip is highly integrated enabled with CPU, memory (RAM and ROM), registers, interrupt control units, and dedicated I/O ports. It seems to be a superset of the microprocessor. Unlike microprocessor the microcontroller is not dependent on other hardware units, it contains all the essential block for the proper functioning.
A microcontroller is more valued than the microprocessor in the field of embedded systems because it is more cost effective and easily available. The first microcontroller TMS 1000 was developed by Texas Instruments in 1974. The basic design of the TI’s microcontroller resembles to the Intel’s 4004/4040 (4-bit) processor in which developers have been added up RAM, ROM, I/o support. Another advantage of the microcontroller is that we can write custom instructions to the CPU.
Key Differences Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller
- A microprocessor is composed of a silicon chip having an arithmetic logical unit (ALU), a control unit (CU) and registers. Conversely, microcontroller incorporates properties of a microprocessor, along with RAM, ROM, counters, I/O ports, etcetera.
- The microprocessor requires a group of other chips such as timers, interrupt controllers and program and data memory which makes it dependent. As against, the microcontroller does not require other hardware units as it is already enabled with it.
- Implicit I/O ports are provided in the microcontroller while microprocessor does not employ built-in I/O ports.
- The microprocessor performs general purpose operations. In contrast, microcontroller performs application oriented operations.
- In microprocessor the main emphasis is on performance hence it aims for the high-end market. On the other hand, microcontroller target for the embedded market.
- Power utilisation in the microcontroller is better than the microprocessor.
A microprocessor can carry out general-purpose operations for several different tasks. On the contrary, a microcontroller can perform user-defined tasks where it handles the same task for the whole life cycle.