Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller : You never knew

Microprocessor vs Microcontroller

There has been a great misunderstanding in difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller since both the IC are designed for Real life use. The Microprocessor and Microcontroller chips do share many common features although they have very important differences.


The difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller can not be simply distinguished by just looking at them. The both ic’s are available in numerous type of packages starting from 6 pins to a large number of pins (Depends upon its features).

The number of people (who are new in embedded system) are not very much aware of the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller and mostly they end up considering both of these as the same thing.

basic architecture of microcontroller

Basic Architecture of Microcontroller


basic architecture of microprocessor

Basic Architecture of Microprocessor

In 1971 world’s first microprocessor (Intel 4004) was introduced which has changed our lives up to a great extent. In the same year 1971 the world’s first micro controller was made by Gary Boone and Michael Cochran.

According to the definition of microprocessor,

It is an electronic IC which works as a computer processor and is present in single or multiple integrated circuits (IC’s). The function of microprocessor is to perform all the functions of the central processing system. Don’t confuse it with Central Processing Unit (CPU), as this resides on single or multiple integrated circuits and doesn’t occupy much space like CPU does.


As per the definition of Microcontroller,

It is an electronic Integrated Circuit (IC) which contains processing unit along with the other required peripheral components with fixed sized RAM and ROM. It is also known as the small computer in an Small IC.

Unlike Microprocessor the Microcontroller has its own memory units which are classified as

  • Program Memory
  • Data Memory
  • Data EEPOM

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Von Neumann Architecture

Von Neumann Architecture

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Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller

You may be clear with the concept of both Microprocessor and Microcontroller.


You might not be aware of the general and very significant differences between microprocessor and microcontroller in points.

  • Microprocessor is considered to be the heart of the computer system, whereas microcontroller is the embedded system’s heart.
  • Microcontrollers are mostly used for its capacity to perform the continuous repeated cycle of instructions such as fetch, decode and execute operations, where as the microcontroller is vastly used for its capacity to perform the task more than fetch, decode and execute which also includes the controlling the operation as per the output of the instruction cycle.
  • You will find the use of microprocessors in your personal computers or laptops, whereas you will see the use of microcontrollers in your home appliances like refrigerator, washing machine, etc.
  • The architecture of microcontroller is done using Harvard architecture and Princeton architecture. Whereas, the architecture of microprocessor is done using Von Neumann architecture.
  • If we see the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller according to the circuit complexity and size, then microprocessor circuits are complex and large, whereas microcontrollers’ circuit is small because all the components are connected internally to one another.
  • The cost of operating microcontroller is much less when compared to the microprocessor.
  • The power consumption of microprocessor is much higher because of the large circuit, whereas the power consumption of microcontroller is less because of the smaller circuit size and it can easily be operated using a battery.
  • The microprocessors which are widely used are core 2 duo, Intel premium series processor, Intel I3 and dual core. And, the microcontrollers which are widely used are manufactured by companies like Philips, ATMEl, etc.

After studying all the major difference between microprocessor and microcontroller, it must be clear to you that both of these can’t replace each other. Both of these electronic components have their usage in wide variety of applications. Do leave your comments if you are aware more difference between microprocessor and microcontroller, we are eager to know.

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Difference Between Microprocessor and Microcontroller
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Join the discussion

  1. Leandra Britany

    not much of things as i’ve had expected, still nice points you’ve explained. If that would come to rate your content, i would give it 65 out of 100.

  2. Ibrahim

    Well we can control things like LED bulb, Motor etc directly with the help of microcontroller. I can not say the same for the microprocessor !

  3. Jeremiah

    Is the term processor and controller isn’t enough to define the difference between them ? I mean that microprocessor processes the signal and microcontroller controls the signal/Things.

    Pardon me, i’m just a newbie..

  4. Deecosta

    I very often hear people saying that the Microcontroller is like the CPU of an embedded system. CPU does process the signal but the microcontroller does controls and manipulates the signal to our need with which we use to control various electronic components.

  5. Mazen Maghraby

    Well i was aware mostly of them. Still nice work 🙂

  6. Kayle

    Very informative. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. Rafail

    Is the term microcontroller and the microcomputer the same or is there any difference ?

  8. Casey

    The 4004 was the first microprocessor, not the 8008… just sayin’

  9. andy

    I think the best way to explain the difference is that a microprocessor can dynamically load and run multiple programs from disk, ssd, or the network, and the programs are stored in RAM while they run. In a microcontroller, the program(s) are stored in ROM, and cannot be loaded dynamically. Microcontrollers usually have much smaller amounts of memory attached – EP]ROM, RAM, and Flash RAM, because it all has to fit onto the microcontroller chip, whereas with a microprocessor, you can add memory as separate RAM or ROM chips.

    Microprocessor systems usually have an operating system to provide a consistent, abstracted set of system facilities to control the hardware – you don’t usually have to know the details of how to control a disk drive, memory device, or temperature probe – the OS gives you a system call you can make to do this for you. With a microcontroller, you don’t usually have an OS, and thus you have know how to control connected devices directly – there are often libraries available, but you still often end up actually writing program code to send the control signals directly to the devices.

    But none of that means that you CAN’T use a microcontroller to make a general purpose computer, but it would be a lot HARDER: to load a new program, you would probably need two Arduinos, one to program the other with a new program; and you can use a Raspberry Pi to do most of the things that you can do with an Arduino, but that has a microprocessor in it, not a microcontroller. When it comes down to it, a microcontroller is best suited to running a single program to directly control some device electronics, whereas a microprocessor is best suited to running as a general purpose computer that can be used to perform multiple tasks.

  10. Ashish

    I need to control the motors, should i use micro processor or microcontrollers ?

    • Farhan Sheikh Ahmad

      You may need a microcontroller as for the most of the other applications, however you’re not so precise with your question so i might doubt. Also there are two thing you can control in a motor that is either its speed or its direction. you can control the motor like this, for controlling the direction you need LM293 or an IC which works similar to it. Although in any of these case you’re gonna need a microcontroler.

  11. Maqsood Siddiqui

    What is in the arduino mother board ? a micro processor or micro controller ?

    • Farhan Sheikh Ahmad

      Arduino board consist of a microcontroller from ATMEL family. The arduino platform is introduced in order to provide you the easiest way for you to learn the embedded system. Also it is an open source platform so you can make almost anything which you think of. The only limitation is now is our imagination 🙂

  12. Malino

    microprocessor is used in signal processing for inside the system where as microcontroller is used in signal processing in order to control things 🙂


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