Which Surprising Everyday Objects Have CPUs and Which Don't?

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  • #1
kyphysics
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I'm just trying to get a sense of how common (or not) CPUs are in every day objects/life.

Beyond the obvious, such as your personal computer and mobile smart phone, I'm wondering what else has one and what may not have one that you may think does.

For example, do the following have CPUs?: refrigerator; digital calculator; microwave; TV remote; Apple Watch; electric hair shaver; automobile stereo system; video cameras; hoverboards; vacuum cleaners; automatic garage door system; dehumidifier; electric instruments . . .etc.

It'd be interesting to think of things that you really thought MUST have one, but actually are not built that way. . . .

eta: Also, what TYPE of CPU are we talking about? Super simple to very complex...?
 

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  • #2
Baluncore
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A microcontroller embeds a CPU into many devices.
 
  • #3
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@kphysics you can find this out with google searches. Please don't waste our time with this stuff.

Your post is like the kids "I SPY" game:

Most any appliance that gets plugged in lights, refridgerators, washer/dryer, dish washer... Many things with batteries ... (left to the OP)

https://raisingchildren.net.au/pres...ho starts picks,someone gets the right answer.
 
  • #4
kyphysics
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^^^Thanks for wording things in such a classy manner and making me feel great about myself.
 
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  • #5
256bits
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^^^Thanks for wording things in such a classy manner and making me feel great about myself.
Rolf.
The obvious question would be what doesn't have a mpu.
Let's see.
My hammer to let me know that I am using the correct end with which to hit the nail.
A 2x4 to let me know which end is up.
In this day and age of 'stupid gadgets that people can't live without, but did before'. the list is getting shorter and shorter.
 
  • #6
kyphysics
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Rolf.
The obvious question would be what doesn't have a mpu.
Let's see.
My hammer to let me know that I am using the correct end with which to hit the nail.
A 2x4 to let me know which end is up.
In this day and age of 'stupid gadgets that people can't live without, but did before'. the list is getting shorter and shorter.
That's a good perspective (asking what doesn't have them), but I feel we're still quite a ways away from Star Trek-like computerization.

Getting closer, though.
 
  • #7
kyphysics
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@kphysics you can find this out with google searches. Please don't waste our time with this stuff.

Your post is like the kids "I SPY" game:

Most any appliance that gets plugged in lights, refridgerators, washer/dryer, dish washer... Many things with batteries ... (left to the OP)

https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/play-learning/low-cost-play-ideas/i-spy-turn-taking-and-talking-activity-for-children-3-6-years#:~:text=The player who starts picks,someone gets the right answer.
Thanks for the polite PM exchange, jedishrfu.

I will try to be more cognizant of overly "basic" questions in the future.

As I said to you in PM and which I'll repeat here, I was a triple undergrad major in the humanities and social sciences, so I don't have a science background at all. This means what is "basic" to you all is new/fascinating to me. But, I realize this is more of a forum for people who already have a science-y background and I should avoid overly simple topics!
 
  • #8
rbelli1
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Many products today contain computers since the cost of using a general purpose programmable part is almost as low as using a few basic electronic circuits.

For example. If you want your shaver to turn on and off by a button press you can use a few transistors to make a flip flop or even use a purpose built one. This costs only a few cents to make. It may even be cheaper or more reliable than a simple mechanical switch.

For a few cents more you can design in a CPU. This gives almost unlimited options. You can add a timer to shut off after a certain amount of time. You can monitor current and voltage to add safety and battery management. You can add a special button pattern to lock the device off so you can pack it in luggage and be certain it will stay off during transit. Maybe speed control is desirable. Battery level indicator? Cleaning reminder? Toast? Eggs? ?

Adding these goodies as separate circuits will almost certainly be much more expensive than adding a computer. This applies to many of the examples @kyphysics mentioned in the OP. This may be good or it may be only useful for emptying your wallet and filing the landfill.

The apple watch is by definition a computer you wear on your wrist so that needs a rather powerful computer inside.

BoB
 
  • #9
kyphysics
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Many products today contain computers since the cost of using a general purpose programmable part is almost as low as using a few basic electronic circuits.

For example. If you want your shaver to turn on and off by a button press you can use a few transistors to make a flip flop or even use a purpose built one. This costs only a few cents to make. It may even be cheaper or more reliable than a simple mechanical switch.

For a few cents more you can design in a CPU. This gives almost unlimited options. You can add a timer to shut off after a certain amount of time. You can monitor current and voltage to add safety and battery management. You can add a special button pattern to lock the device off so you can pack it in luggage and be certain it will stay off during transit. Maybe speed control is desirable. Battery level indicator? Cleaning reminder? Toast? Eggs? ?

Adding these goodies as separate circuits will almost certainly be much more expensive than adding a computer.
Very amazing. I did not know that:

a.) a CPU can be so cheap to make
--Is it really ONLY a few cents?
b.) such a cheap CPU can do so many things
 
  • #10
FactChecker
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Very amazing. I did not know that:

a.) a CPU can be so cheap to make
--Is it really ONLY a few cents?
b.) such a cheap CPU can do so many things
I don't think they are that cheap yet. I think that the cheapest computer that does not take special skills to run a program on is probably the Raspberry Pi Pico series. It costs $4 and up.
 
  • #11
Baluncore
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Very amazing. I did not know that:

a.) a CPU can be so cheap to make
--Is it really ONLY a few cents?
b.) such a cheap CPU can do so many things
The correct term for an embedded programmable system should be microcontroller, not CPU.
Here is an example; https://au.mouser.com/c/?q=ATTINY202-SSN
 
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  • #12
Rive
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I don't think they are that cheap yet.
The topic kind of includes (low power/capability) microcontrollers too, as it was mentioned above.
Once it's not through distributors and bought in bulk, they can be dirt cheap.
 
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  • #13
kyphysics
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The correct term for an embedded programmable system should be microcontroller, not CPU.
Here is an example; https://au.mouser.com/c/?q=ATTINY202-SSN
Yes, I will Google these terms, but for the record, I have no idea what an "embedded programmable system" or "microcontroller" is and how they differ from a CPU. :smile:

Learning technology stuff is like learning a foreign language!
 
  • #14
Vanadium 50
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I don't think they are that cheap yet
You can get a 68030 for 98 cents. I wouldn't call it a "few", but some people might.

The industry trend is single chip computers, that have the CPU, memory and support circuitry. I suspect you will see that trend continue - single chips will have more non-CPU features rather than cheaper CPU-only chips.
 
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  • #15
anorlunda
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alibaba.com has my altime favorite CPU, the 6502, for $0.10
 
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  • #16
rbelli1
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This one Goes for 3 cents in quantity one. Is that a few? That sounds like a few to me.

BoB
 
  • #17
Baluncore
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Goes for 3 cents in quantity one.
Normal price is $3. They have zero stock at 3 cents, must be a typo.
 
  • #18
rbelli1
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OK, the chinese seller may not be selling genuine Cypress parts but it might microcontrol at least somewhat sort of maybe.

Dave found some and bought them a while back in the few cents range.

BoB
 

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