What are Microcontrollers and their types?

Learn: What are Microcontrollers? Where they used and what are their types?
Submitted by Vandana Sharma, on July 16, 2017

Microcontrollers are broadly utilized in Embedded System products. An Embedded product uses the microprocessor (or microcontroller) to do a single task only. A printer is an instance of embedded system as the processor in it performs single task only namely receiving the data and printing it.

Computer can be utilized for many applications like word processor, network serve and video game player.. The reason that a PC can carry out multiple task is that it has RAM memory and an operating system which loads the application software into RAM & allows the CPU to run it. In an Embedded system, there is single application software, which is typically burn into ROM. An x86PC has different Embedded Products such as keyboard, printer, modem, Disc controller, Sound card, CD-Rom Driver, Mouse & so on. Every peripheral mentioned here has microcontroller in it for the specific task to be performed by that peripheral device.. For example within every mouse there is microcontroller to execute the task of searching the mouse position and transferring it to PC

Although microcontrollers are chosen for many embedded systems, there are times that a microcontroller is inefficient for the task. For this cause, in recent years many manufactures of general purpose microprocessors such as INTEL, Motorola, AMD and Cyrix have targeted their microprocessors for the high end of Embedded market. While INTEL, AMD, Cyrix move forward their x86 processors for both the embedded and desktop pc market, Motorola was firm to keep the 68000 families alive by targeting it chiefly for high end of embedded system.

One of the most significant requirements of the embedded system is to reduce power consumptions and space. This can be achieved by incorporating more functions into the CPU chips. All the embedded processors from the x86 and 680x0 family, have low power consumptions in additions to some forms of I/O, Com port & ROM all on a single chip. In advanced performance Embedded system the trend is to involve more & more function on the CPU chip & let the programmer come to a decision that which feature he/she wants to utilize.

Various types of microcontrollers

1) 8 bit Microcontrollers- These can handle 8 bit Instruction set. Ex-Intel 8031/8051, PIC1x and Motorola MC68HC11 families

2) 16 bit Microcontrollers- These can handle 16 bit Instruction set. Ex-extended 8051XA, PIC2x, Intel 8096 and Motorola MC68HC12 families

3) 32 bit Microcontrollers- These can handle 32 bit Instruction set.Ex- Intel/Atmel 251 family, PIC3x.

Basically these types of Microcontrollers are popular,mainly 8051,PIC,AVR and ARM microcontrollers.In the next article we will learn about all the mentioned Microcontrollers.


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