Updated March 13, 2023
Introduction to Microcontroller
The microcontroller is like a brain. It’s a simple one IC (integrated circuit). Micro means small. Controllers situate on a small chip. In this era of technology, everything getting smaller in size with rapid performance. This is achieved through Microcontrollers. it is nothing but the circuit. This is designed as compact as possible. This is the part that is used in embedded systems. Over the years, there are many devices invented to solve different types of problems.
Usually, it is a thing that includes a processor, memory, input/output (I/O) on a single chip. They are found everywhere. We can say it as a processor. Different applications have different kinds of a processor which is nothing but microcontroller.
Ex. In our computer, we have one processor. Which is the main unit of the overall system? No of companies who designs these kinds of processors. There are microcontrollers differentiated by 4 bit, 8 bit, 16 bit, 32 bit, 64 bit, etc.
They are programmed in a way that it performs human tasks very easily. It’s programmed to work as per situations. i.e. instructions are written for that.
They are mainly used in embedded systems. If you know embedded systems like a washing machine, telephone, PSP, etc. These are a small dedicated system that does not require a lot of computing. Here they are useful.
They are based on two types.
1. Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) :
It has a large no of instructions. A larger instruction set helps the programmer to write effective and short programs. The main aim of CISC is to write few lines of code in machine language.
2. Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC):
RISC requires less hardware implementation because of fewer instructions. A popular example of this is the PIC family of microcontrollers by Microchip.
However, the more important thing is, How fast the chip can execute its instructions and how it runs particular software.
Difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller
The difference between Microprocessor and Microcontroller are as explained.
|This is a chip that does not have its internal memory, I/O, ROM with it. We have to externally attach it with the processor.
|It is integrated with its RAM, ROM, I/O within it.
|It’s a big system and needs more peripherals to work.
|You can use this single chip, and you can ready to implement the task.
|It has one or two-bit handling instructions
|It has many bits handling instructions
|Microprocessor systems are more flexible from the design point of view.
|These systems are less flexible from a design point of view
|It has a single memory map for data and code
|It has a separate memory map for data and code.
How Did Microcontrollers make working so easy?
Today, we are living in an embedded world. Where everything is got mostly automated. Human-related work is designed in a small single chip. TV, Washing machine, Mobile, Camera, fridge, remote, AC, robots, toys, automobile, etc., are the no of devices that has a microcontroller in them. There are a number of companies that manufacture and sell microcontrollers. Some of them are Texas Instruments, Microchip Company, Intel Corporation, Fujitsu Semiconductor Europe, etc.
What can you do with Microcontrollers?
In the last three decades, microprocessor technology has rapidly changed. We are analyzing and controlling the world with microcontrollers. It needs less time to access its memory and I/O devices. It has a separate memory map for data and code. Microcontrollers have its family. It requires different support chips and resources to develop a particular microcontroller system.
There are two ways to use microcontrollers:
- Embedded Microcontrollers
- External memory Microcontrollers
Working with Microcontroller
Initially, we need to write a program for the controller. From ancient times, we are doing it by assembly language. Which we also called machine level language. A binary format that the computer understands. Nowadays, the C language, python, is also used. They are built to work on a small level. The embedded system has these microcontrollers. Embedded means all the features are combined in a single unit. Microcontrollers got very advanced. These also support wifi, Ethernet, etc.
Advantages of Microcontrollers
Following are the advantages listed below.
- It’s very small in size.
- It’s inexpensive
- Low power consumption
- Reliable for small work. There are no. of different ways to make microchips.
Why should we use a Microcontroller?
As I mentioned earlier, it works as the brain of the system. It contains all in one chip like memory, processor, I/O, counter, timer. It is an embedded unit programmed for a specific task to be done as per requirement.
We can say that it is a microprocessor with some extra advantages. When any device needs to communicate and has to make some decisions on its own, at that time, it comes into the picture. It gives intelligence to that device to work as per instructions was written on it.
- Microcontrollers and their applications are mostly focused on the automation of industrial machines and processes. At the starting studying, only one microcontroller is more than enough.
- Automation is required to facilitate the process or mechanism for its operation and control.
- Any System that has a remote controller mostly has a microcontroller in it.
- They have all functional blocks which fulfill the general needs of automation.
Who is the right audience for learning Microcontrollers?
- There is a vision for this question. If you really want to create a system yourself. If you have an idea to implement, then you should go for this.
- Many of us have an interest in chip designing and research. This field helps us to grow in the IT world.
- There are companies that hire people who have an interest in designing systems.
- This technology requires more dedication and hard work.
- Basic knowledge of microcontrollers is mandatory for computer engineers.
How will Microcontrollers technology help you in career growth?
Knowing the basic Microcontroller and having strong programming skills with a low-level language, you are set for this field. All is yours. The world will move as technology changes. This technology is a core part of computers.
In conclusion, I just want to say; if you have an interest in the designing system or something similar to that, you always have a chance to get one step ahead. It is way bigger than we think.
This has been a guide to What is Microcontroller?. Here we discussed the basic concept of working, scope, skills, career growth, and Microcontroller advantages. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –