Difference Between Microcontroller And Microprocessor


Microcontroller and Microprocessor are the components which are very essential and important in designing various kinds of electronic devices. thus, Microcontrollers and Microprocessors are complex sequential digital circuits meant to carry out a job according to the program or instructions. But we always have some questions regarding them.

The most common questions are:


So, in this blog, we are going to discuss these three questions along with some additional information on Microcontroller and Microprocessor in detail. Let’s start by answering the first question that is What is a Microcontroller?

What is a Microcontroller?

A microcontroller is a programmable digital processor. thus, It has all the necessary peripherals. so, It does not require any additional ICs for operations and functions as a stand-alone system.

therefore, Microcontrollers have Central Processing Unit(CPU), Random Access Memory(RAM), Read-Only Memory(ROM), Input/ Output Ports(I/O ports), Timers and Counters, and Serial I/O.

Some of the most common microcontrollers are 

  1. 8-bit Microcontroller
  2. 16-bit Microcontroller
  3. 32-bit Microcontroller
  4. Embedded Microcontroller
  5. External memory Microcontroller

however, Microcontrollers are used in Embedded systems which is a combination of hardware and software both designed for some specific application. Microcontrollers are also known as Computer-On-A-Chip.

What is a Microprocessor?

A microprocessor is defined as a multipurpose, programmable logic device that has the capability to read binary instructions from memory, accepts binary data as input, and thus processes that data according to instructions to provide results as output.

Microprocessors have Arithmetic Logic Unit(ALU), Registers, Timing, and Control Units.

thus, Some of the Microprocessors are: 

  1. CISC(Complex Instruction Set Microprocessors)
  2. RISC(Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessor)
  3. Superscalar Processors
  4. ASIC(Application Specific Integrated Circuit)
  5. DSP-Digital Signal Microprocessor.

Microprocessors are also known as CPU-On-A-Chip.

Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

1. Microprocessors are mainly used in computers. It is the CPU of the computer.e.g 8085,8086 etc.1. Microcontrollers are used in Embedded Systems. thus, It is like a mini-computer that performs its own tasks. e.g. 8051,8951 etc.
2. Since it is only a processor hence memory and other peripherals are connected externally which makes the processor bulky.2. Peripherals such as RAM,ROM, I/O ports and Timers, are In-Built in a Microcontroller. All these things are available on a single chip.
3. however, The overall cost of the system is High.3. thus, The overall cost of the system is less.
4. Since Microprocessors have external components,total power consumption is high. Due to this fact,they should not be used with devices running on batteries.4. Since Microcontrollers do not have many external components, total power consumption is low. so, Due to this fact, they can be used with devices running on batteries.
5. Microprocessors are based on the Von Neumann Model.5. Microcontrollers are based on the Harvard Architecture
6. Microprocessors use external busses to access RAM, ROM, and other peripherals.6. Microcontroller uses an internal controlling bus.
7. Microprocessors have a small number of registers due to which operations are memory-based.7. Microcontroller has more registers due to which programs are easier to write in them.
8. Microprocessors do not have power-saving features.8. Microcontrollers have power-saving features.
9. Microprocessor requires an External Memory for program and data storage.9. Microcontrollers have an On-Chip memory embedded. Hence, it does not require any external memory for program and data storage.
10. thus, Systems based on Microprocessors run at a very high speed.10. therefore, Systems based on Microcontroller run at speeds of 200Mhz or more depending on the Architecture.
11. Microprocessor is complex and expensive and requires a large number of instructions to process.11. Microcontroller is simple and inexpensive, requiring less number of instructions to process.
12. Microprocessors are also used for general purpose applications that allow us to store large amounts of data.12. Microcontrollers are thus used for application-specific systems.
13. Volatile Memory (RAM) of a Microprocessor is in the range of 512MB to 32GB.13. Volatile Memory (RAM) of a Microcontroller is in the range of 2KB to 256KB.
14.  Hard disk (ROM) for the microprocessor is in the range of 128 GB to 2 TB.14. Hard disk (ROM) for the microcontroller is in the range of 32KB to 2MB. 
15. Microprocessor is available in 32-bit and 64-bit.15. Microcontroller is available in 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit.
16. Peripheral Interface for microprocessors is USB, UART, and high-speed Ethernet.16. Peripheral Interface for microcontrollers is I2C, SPI, and UART.

Applications of Microcontroller: 

The microcontroller is used in :

  1. Smart Phones
  2. Automobiles
  3. Camera
  4. Security Alarms
  5. Watches
  6. Keyboards

Applications of Microprocessor:

A microprocessor is used in :

  1. Desktops
  2. Laptops
  3. Workstations
  4. Server
  5. SuperComputers
  6. Routers


Before answering these questions, first let’s summarise the key differences between microcontroller and microprocessor:-

  • thus, Microprocessors do not have any in-built peripherals. On the other hand, Microcontrollers have in-built peripherals due to which the Microprocessor is quite bulky whereas the Microcontroller is light weighted.
  • The cost of a Microprocessor is more than that of a Microcontroller.
  • The power consumption of a Microprocessor is more than that of a Microcontroller.
  • The speed of the Microprocessor is more than that of a Microcontroller.
  • A Microprocessor requires a large number of instructions to process whereas a Microcontroller requires fewer instructions to execute a process.
  • The Microcontroller has a power-saving feature that is not present in a Microprocessor.
  • A Microprocessor requires an Operating System to work on while Microcontroller does not require any Operating system to work.
  • A Microprocessor needs External memory to store data and instructions while a Microcontroller has Embedded memory in it.

From the above points, it is clear that both Microcontroller and microprocessor have their pros and cons. A microprocessor will be a better choice when you want to process a high amount of data at a very high speed.


On the other hand, a Microcontroller will be a better choice if you want to work on some tasks cost-effectively.

But out of both of them, a Microcontroller should be the first choice because we can implement any project idea cost-effectively with the help of a Microcontroller.

In the end, we can conclude that Microprocessors cannot take the place of Microcontrollers and vice versa, since both of them are useful in various applications. so, I hope this blog helps you in the differentiation between Microprocessors and Microcontrollers.

Written By: Utkarsh Pathak

Reviewed By: Vishal Rathod

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