11 Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

11 Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

11 Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Microprocessor and microcontroller are the basic electronic components. Based on the architecture both the components are different. They are widely different from each other but hardly many people know about it.

Both have their own importance and uses.

In this post, we will see all the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller. Before to that, you should know the definition and warking detail of each component.

Table of Content:

What is Microprocessor?

The microprocessor is the electronic components. It is kind of computer processor that resides on single or multiple integrated circuits (IC). This IC contains many other electronic components such as a resistor, transistor, diode…

The microprocessor performs all the functions of the central processing system. One way it differs from CPU as it occupies small space and resides on only a couple of integrated circuits.

It does not have I/O peripheral component and internal memory. It requires external components such as RAM, ROM, timmer, Serial interface, I/O port to operate.

Below is the block diagram of the microprocessor architecture.

microprocessor architecture

In the above image, we can see that RAM/ROM (and other components) are externally connected to the microprocessor.

How does Microprocessor work?

Microprocessor holds the number of instruction. Every instruction consists of multiple steps such as fetch, decode, executes and store.

While running instruction in the microprocessor, it executes multiple steps as Fetch the input, Decode instruction, Execute instruction, Store result back in the memory.

Here, Instruction gets fetched and input is given externally using I/O components. The microprocessor executes an instruction. The result gets stored in the externally connected memory unit.

Now, another story…

What is Microcontroller?

The microcontroller is the electronic device. It has processing unit along with fixed sized ROM, RAM, and other required peripheral components. These all the components are embedded on the single chip.

As it has all the components required to process and store data, it is also called as minicomputer or computer on the single chip.

Below is the block diagram of the architecture of microcontroller.

microcontroller architecture.


It is widely used in embedded system.

This is all about definitions of microcontroller and the microprocessor. Now we see, the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller…

Comparing Microprocessor and Microcontroller:

How is microprocessor different from the microcontroller? What are the more specifications about microprocessor and microcontroller?

I elaborate this in the discussion of the microprocessor vs microcontroller below…

11 difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller…

  1. Computer System Vs Embedded System:

    Microprocessor widely used in the computer system. And microcontroller is used in embedded system.
    If the microprocessor is the heart of computer system then microcontroller is the heart of the embedded system.

  2. Architecture:

    The microprocessor uses Von Neumann architecture where data and program present in the same memory module.
    The microcontroller uses Harvard architecture. In this module, data and program get stored in separate memory.
    The microcontroller can access data and program at the same time as it is in a separate memory. This is one of the reasons microcontrollers is faster than the microprocessor.

  3. Memory and I/O Components:

    The microprocessor cannot operate without peripheral components. It hs only processing unit and we have to attach all the required components externally to operate.
    Whereas the microcontroller has small processing unit along with internal memory to store and I/O components to give input. So it can work independently.

  4. Circuit Size and its Complexity:

    As we have to connect components externally, microprocessor circuit becomes large and complex. In a microcontroller, all the components are internally connected, so the circuit becomes too small.

  5. Efficient Techniques to use in Compact System:

    The microcontroller can be used in the compact system as it has a small size. It provides better and efficient technique in the compact system than the microprocessor.

  6. Cost:

    Microprocessor requires external components to operate. So, the Cost of the microprocessor is higher than the microcontroller.

  7. Power Consumption:

    Microprocessor requires external components and its circuits also complex.  It requires more power consumption. So it is difficult to operate microprocessor using battery power.
    The microcontroller has very low external components. it manages all its operation inside the single chip. So it consumes very low power supply as compared to the microprocessor. We can operate microcontroller on the externally connected stored power such as a battery.

  8. Power Saving Feature:

    The microcontroller can have multiple modes of operation such as higher performance, balance, idle or power saving mode. So if we operate microcontroller in power saving mode, the power consumption reduce even more.
    Most of the Microprocessor does not have this power saving feature.

  9. Processing Speed:

    The microprocessor has very less internal registers. It has to rely on external storage. So all the memory operations are carried out using memory-based external commands.  Results in high processing time.
    The microcontroller has many registers for instruction execution.  Fetching data and storing data require internal commands. So its execution and processing time are lower than the microprocessor.

  10. Examples:

    Intel Pentium series processor, core 2 duo, dual-core, Intel i3, i5 are the examples of Microprocessor that are widely used.
    Microcontrollers are produced by many hardware manufacturer companies such Motorola, Philips, Microchips, ATMEL…

  11. Uses:

    The microprocessor is used in desktop personal computer, laptop…
    The microcontroller is used in an embedded system such as MP3 player, Television, Refrigerator, Washing Machine…

Hope you have cleared all your doubts about microprocessor and microcontroller. If you are preparing for placement interviews or any computer science examination, understanding the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller is very important. Many of the company interviewers asked questions about it.

If you have any question, feel free to comment below. I will try my best to get your question resolved.


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