Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

While microprocessors are the controlling unit of a micro-computer that is wrapped within a small chip, microcontrollers are chips that are optimized to control electronic devices. The two differ in their size, functionality, and architecture on which they are based.

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller



Microprocessor is the heart of Computer system.

Micro Controller is the heart of an embedded system.

It is only a processor, so memory and I/O components need to be connected externally

Micro Controller has a processor along with internal memory and I/O components.

Memory and I/O has to be connected externally, so the circuit becomes large.

Memory and I/O are already present, and the internal circuit is small.

You can’t use it in compact systems

You can use it in compact systems.

Cost of the entire system is high

Cost of the entire system is low

Due to external components, the total power consumption is high. Therefore, it is not ideal for the devices running on stored power like batteries.

As external components are low, total power consumption is less. So it can be used with devices running on stored power like batteries.

Most of the microprocessors do not have power saving features.

Most of the microcontrollers offer power-saving mode.

It is mainly used in personal computers.

It is used mainly in a washing machine, MP3 players, and embedded systems.

Microprocessor has a smaller number of registers, so more operations are memory-based.

Microcontroller has more register. Hence the programs are easier to write.

Microprocessors are based on Von Neumann model

Micro controllers are based on Harvard architecture

It is a central processing unit on a single silicon-based integrated chip.

It is a byproduct of the development of microprocessors with a CPU along with other peripherals.

It has no RAM, ROM, Input-Output units, timers, and other peripherals on the chip.

It has a CPU along with RAM, ROM, and other peripherals embedded on a single chip.

It uses an external bus to interface to RAM, ROM, and other peripherals.

It uses an internal controlling bus.

Microprocessor-based systems can run at a very high speed because of the technology involved.

Microcontroller based systems run up to 200MHz or more depending on the architecture.

It’s used for general purpose applications that allow you to handle loads of data.

It’s used for application-specific systems.

It’s complex and expensive, with a large number of instructions to process.

It’s simple and inexpensive with less number of instructions to process.

What is a microprocessor?

Intel 4004
Intel 4004, the first CPU

Microprocessor is a type of computer processor in which both the data processing logic and control are included on a single integrated circuit or on small numbers of integrated circuits. These processors consist of logic, control and arithmetic circuits. Its integrated circuit is capable of interpreting and executing program instructions. These are multiple-purpose, clock-driven and register-based digital integrated circuits that accept input in binary data and process it as per the instruction stored in its memory. 

What is a microcontroller?

ATmega328P Microcontroller

A microcontroller is a small, low-cost microcomputer on a single VLSI integrated circuit (IC) chip. It controls portions of an electronic system through a microprocessor unit (MOU) and some peripherals. Microcontroller contains processor cores with additional peripherals such as serial interface, time, programmable I/O, and memory on the same chip. It interacts with other components due to its functionality resulting from combining digital memory and a digital processor with additional hardware. A microcontroller is also an embedded controller, a single-chip-computer, or a computer on a chip. 

Types of Microprocessor

Important types of Microprocessors are:

  • Complex Instruction Set Microprocessors
  • The Application Specific Integrated Circuit
  • Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessors
  • Digital Signal Multiprocessors (DSPs)

Types of Microcontroller

Here are important types of Microcontroller:

  • 8 bit Microcontroller
  • 16 bit Microcontroller
  • 32 bit Microcontroller
  • Embedded Microcontroller
  • External memory Microcontroller

Similarities between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Microprocessors and microcontrollers are different types of electronic devices that have a number of differences. However, both have a few similarities as well:

  1. Both are available as integrated circuits (ICs).
  2. These are used in different modern electronic equipment to automate processes.
  3. Both consist of ALU, CPU, registers, address bus, data bus, and control bus.


From the above discussion, it is clear that a microprocessor is an electronic component that acts as a processing device in various computing systems such as computers, laptops, smartphones, etc. On the other hand, a microcontroller is a small microcomputer that acts as a controlling device in different embedded systems such as washing machines, microwave ovens, etc.

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