What is the difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Choosing the correct device to base your new design on can be difficult. The requirement to strike a good price-performance-power-consumption balance has a lot of effects.  First, there will be the immediate technology considerations for the design you are able to embark on. However, deciding whether to use a microcontroller (MCU) or a microprocessor (MPU) as the foundation of a platform approach can have long-term consequences. At this stage, the distinction between a microprocessor and a microcontroller becomes crucial.

In this blog, we are going to discuss the difference between Microcontroller  & Microprocessor in detail. 


  • Microprocessors only have a Central Processing Unit, whereas Micro Controllers have a CPU, memory, and I/O all on one chip.
  • In a personal computer, a microprocessor is used, however, in an embedded system, a microcontroller is used.
  • A microprocessor connects to RAM, ROM, and other peripherals via an external bus, whereas a microcontroller connects to RAM, ROM, and other peripherals via an internal controlling bus.
  • The Von Neumann Architecture is used in microprocessors. Harvard architecture is used in microcontrollers.
  • Microprocessors are complicated and expensive to use because they must process a huge number of instructions, but microcontrollers are affordable and simple to use since they have fewer instructions to execute.

What is a Microprocessor?

A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) wrapped inside a small chip. It communicates with the other devices attached to it and performs Arithmetic Logical Unit (ALU) operations. It is a single Integrated Circuit that combines numerous functions.

Microprocessors are not designed for a single purpose, but they are useful in situations when tasks are complex and difficult, such as the development of software, games, and other applications that demand a lot of memory and have undefined input and output.

What is a Microcontroller?

 A microcontroller is a single-chip computer that incorporates all of the functions found in a microprocessor. It has a high concentration of on-chip facilities such as RAM, ROM, I/O ports, timers, serial ports, clock circuits, and interrupts to support various applications. Microcontrollers are utilized in remote controls, vehicle engine control systems, medical devices, power tools, office machinery, toys, and other embedded systems, among other things. 

Generally, a microcontroller collects data, processes it, and then performs a specific action based on the data collected. Microcontrollers typically operate at lower speeds, in the 1MHz to 200 MHz range, and must be engineered to consume less power because they are embedded inside other devices that may demand more power elsewhere.

e.g. Calculator, Washing Machine, ATM machine, Robotic Arm, Camera, Microwave oven, Oscilloscope, Digital multimeter, ECG Machine, Printer so on

Difference between microprocessor and microcontroller:

The microprocessor is the heart of the Computer systemThe Microcontroller is the heart of the Embedded system
It is only a processor, so memory and I/O components need to be connected externallyMicroController has a processor along with internal memory and I/O components
Memory and I/O have to be connected externally, so the circuit becomes largeMemory and I/O are already present, and the internal circuit is small
The cost of the entire system is highThe cost of the entire system is low
You can’t use it in a compact systemYou can use it in a compact system
We can connect external memory in ranges of Mbytes and even Gbytes. But speed is lessThe inbuilt finite memory helps to improve the speed of operations.
Microprocessors are based on the Von Neumann modelMicrocontrollers 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 chipIt 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 involvedMicrocontroller-based systems run up to 200MHz or more depending on the architecture.
It’s complex and expensive, with a large number of instructions to processIt’s simple and inexpensive with less number of instructions to process
It’s useful for general-purpose applications that allow you to handle loads of data.It’s useful for application-specific systems
The microprocessor has a smaller number of registers, so more operations are memory-basedThe microcontroller has more registers. Hence the programs are easier to write

Which is Better Microcontroller or Microprocessor?

Both of these processes are good. However, which one you should use is determined by your needs. Microcontrollers are primarily utilised in small applications such as washing machines, cameras, security alarms, keyboard controllers, and other similar devices. Personal computers, complex industrial controllers, traffic lights, and defence systems all employ microprocessors.

Hope this blog helps you to understand the key differences between the Microprocessor and Microcontroller in detail. We, MATHA ELECTRONICS  will come back with more informative blogs.

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