difference between microprocessor and microcontroller

What is difference between microprocessor and microcontroller? In this article you will get basic understanding of microprocessor and microcontroller. Comparison of microcontroller and microprocessor.

Difference between microprocessor and microcontroller


Microprocessor is a general purpose processor with no external components connected to it. There are many microprocessor available used in computers and embedded system applications. Name of Mostly used microprocessors families are given below:

  • Intel’s microprocessors like x86, family ( 8086, 80286, 80386, 80486 and other Pentium processors )
  • Motorola’s 680×0 series ( 68000, 68020, 68030, 68040 and many others)

Microprocessors are general purpose central processing units of computers and embedded systems. They do not have any RAM, ROM, Input/output ports, serial communication ports and timers in their chips. Therefore one need to connect these peripherals with microprocessors according to their requirement. Therefore microprocessors are also called general purpose processors.  A general purpose block diagram microprocessor is shown below:

comparison between microprocessor and microcontroller
comparison between microprocessor and microcontroller

As shown in figure above, you must need to add I/O ports, serial communication ports, RAM, ROM and timers to general purpose processor to make it functional. Addition of these components makes systems more expensive and bulkier but they make selection of system more versatile. Because one can select RAM, ROM, input/output ports and other features according to his/her requirement.


Unlike microprocessors, microcontrollers have on chip CPU, fixed amount of RAM, ROM, I/O ports, analog to digital converters, timers and counters. This fixed amount of on chips RAM, ROM and input/output ports makes microcontrollers suitable for low cost and low space applications. There are many situations where space is also a issue but use of microcomputer is necessary. Microcontroller is best choice for this kind of situation. There are enormous applications of microcontroller like in TV remote there is no need of general purpose or high-speed microprocessor. Space is also a critical issue in TV remote control. Microcontroller is best fit for this project. Microcontrollers takes less space. In many application, power consumption, price per unit and space are most important consideration while designing any real life product which use micro computer. Microcontrollers are best choice for such products. General purpose block diagram of microcontroller is shown below:

Difference between microprocessor and microcontroller

In cost comparison of microprocessor and microcontroller, microcontrollers are much cheaper and lower in cost than microprocessor. However microcontroller can not be used in place of microprocessor. Microcontroller is used in low power and low-speed applications. It is not recommended to use microprocessor in place of microcontroller. Because it will make your system more costly. Microcontrollers are used in specific applications like telephone, mouse, keyboard etc.

microprocessor and microcontroller are widely used in embedded systems applications. Printer is an example of embedded system. Microprocessor insides printer performs only one task like getting the data from computer and printing it. On other hand general purpose processors used in computers perform various tasks. Like a general computer or PC is respond to keyboard, mouse, printer, LCD and servers etc.

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Advantaged of microcontroller

  • The system cost is less for  microcontrollers because of all peripherals integrated on single chip.
  • It have on chip ROM which provides security of code.
  • Although all microcontrollers have on chip RAM, ROM. I/O ports, But we can also connect additional RAM, ROM and input/output ports externally with microcontroller
  • Microntrollers required less space to install.

Disadvantages of Microprocessor

  • Overall system cost for microprocessor is high.
  • It requires larger space for installation than microcontrollers
  • It requires more time to use because we need to connect external peripherals with it.

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