What is Microcontroller: Definition and 107 Discussions

A microcontroller (MCU for microcontroller unit) is a small computer on a single metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) integrated circuit (IC) chip. A microcontroller contains one or more CPUs (processor cores) along with memory and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of ferroelectric RAM, NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or other general purpose applications consisting of various discrete chips.
In modern terminology, a microcontroller is similar to, but less sophisticated than, a system on a chip (SoC). An SoC may include a microcontroller as one of its components, but usually integrates it with advanced peripherals like a graphics processing unit (GPU), a Wi-Fi module, or one or more coprocessors.
Microcontrollers are used in automatically controlled products and devices, such as automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices, remote controls, office machines, appliances, power tools, toys and other embedded systems. By reducing the size and cost compared to a design that uses a separate microprocessor, memory, and input/output devices, microcontrollers make it economical to digitally control even more devices and processes. Mixed signal microcontrollers are common, integrating analog components needed to control non-digital electronic systems. In the context of the internet of things, microcontrollers are an economical and popular means of data collection, sensing and actuating the physical world as edge devices.
Some microcontrollers may use four-bit words and operate at frequencies as low as 4 kHz for low power consumption (single-digit milliwatts or microwatts). They generally have the ability to retain functionality while waiting for an event such as a button press or other interrupt; power consumption while sleeping (CPU clock and most peripherals off) may be just nanowatts, making many of them well suited for long lasting battery applications. Other microcontrollers may serve performance-critical roles, where they may need to act more like a digital signal processor (DSP), with higher clock speeds and power consumption.

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  1. andymag

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  2. Y

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  3. PhysicsTest

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  4. M

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  5. M

    Comp Sci Interrupts on pic18f452 not shooting in mplab X, help? C language

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  6. Tone L

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  7. George Young

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  8. vukhanh97na

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  9. T

    B Why do microcontrollers fail in a Vacuum?

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  10. G

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  11. thegreengineer

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  12. T

    Circuit breaker using microcontroller project

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  13. G

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  14. Z

    Need help with my project -- microcontroller for DC motor controller

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  15. C

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  16. MacLaddy

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  17. T

    Microcontroller ADC Interrupt Not Working in Proteus Simulation?

    I am using proteus to simulate an atmega32. I load the code but I don't think the interrupt is firing #include <avr/io.h> #include <avr/interrupt.h> #ifndef F_CPU #define F_CPU 8000000UL #endif #define BAUD 9600 // define baud #define BAUDRATE...
  18. cnh1995

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  19. SSGD

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  20. S

    Python Microcontroller: Learn How to Use It

    Hello, I ahve used C and C++ assembly lang introduction and few codes. which processor or microcontroller use phyton??
  21. ramzerimar

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    I'm enjoying playing around with Arduino. It's very nice and intuitive, and it was a great introduction to electronics for me. But I've heard some people complaining that Arduino makes you lazy, and that you should learn how to program PIC instead. Thing is: apart from undertanding better the...
  22. Gliese123

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  23. ramzerimar

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  24. 1rel

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  25. B

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  26. A

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  27. A

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  28. U

    About Crystals in microcontroller......

    I have a question that if we use external quartz crystal in Microcontroller and connect it to battery... Crystal gives regular and very accurate electrical frequency... But it should get mechanical vibration from somewhere to give electrical pulses... From where it receives mechanical vibrations?
  29. A

    Simple C code and PIC microcontroller: need it looked at

    Homework Statement I'm using a PIC 16F877A microcontroller. An LDR and moisture sensor connect to the ADC. The main body of the code is ''void main'', and there is also a sub-code called "void light_the_led'' which is read inside the 'void main code'. I cannot get access easily to hardware or...
  30. estv

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  31. Superposed_Cat

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  32. A

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  33. C

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    I'm looking for some textbook for learning microcontroller(MCU), especially AVR, Atmega series. Does the electrical and computer engineering department in some university teach this devices? If so, what is the basic textbook for university students to learn MCU?
  34. L

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  35. T

    8051 Microcontroller Descending Order

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  36. D

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  37. I

    MHB What is the Purpose of a Microcontroller in a Computer?

    can someone give like a brief one paragraph explanation of what a microcontroller is and what it does. i understand that its a microcomputer on a circuit but i don't understand its purpose. please keep it very simple. this is my first engineering class after a bio switch so ill get VERY confused...
  38. A

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    I'm trying to use the function pinMode so that I can use an analog pin as a digital output pin. But when I debug the source file, it states that OUTPUT and PIN_AO is undeclared, and that pinMode and digitalWrite are implicit declarations. I assume I'm missing a library which i should include...
  39. Z

    What Microcontroller Should I Choose for a Summer Project?

    Hey guys. I'm completing my Year 2 in E&E engineering next month, and due to some logistic reasons, I won't be able to do any internships this summer, instead I'll be doing it next summer. I've decided to work on some project during the summer. I could get something productive on my CV and...
  40. vead

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  41. A

    Microcontroller kit for a beginner embedded systems hobbyist

    I am interested in learning how to design embedded systems. I have a solid background in high level C++ (primarily for modelling and visualisation), but my knowledge of computer hardware is somewhat limited. I am interested in starting an embedded system design project to educate myself on the...
  42. V

    Should I Use A Microcontroller Or A Microcomputer?

    I am working on, with some friends, a small project. It is to take a toy radio-controlled car and put a rotating electronic rangefinder on it in order to have it drive itself around SIMPLE obstacles. We all have a slight background in electronics (not much) and lots of experience in computer...
  43. J

    Best programming language for a microcontroller?

    So I've taken a course in java and gotten a solid grasp on it, I've learned using the arduino assembly language and messed around with it making some gadgets, and now I wan't to go further. I want to buy a pure microcontroller or processer without a board, and start programming simple stuff...
  44. S

    Laptop to Microcontroller through RS232-USB Converter

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  45. Magna Visus

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    Hello guys! The following question is related to the P18F2520 series. Suppose you have 2 defined variables var1 and var2 each containing 8 bits from a certain source. However I only need the 4 least significant bits from var1 and the 4 most significant bit from var 2 in order to fill up a new...
  46. M

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  47. Magna Visus

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  48. S

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  49. N

    I bought a Microcontroller Experiment Board

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  50. A

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