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Microcontroller - its Types, Working, Advantages & Disadvantages

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

A #microcontroller is an integrated circuit designed to control and govern a particular task or an operation in an embedded system. It is also known as the brain of the system as it gives instructions regarding what the system has to do. Microcontrollers are found in many electronic devices such as laptops, mobiles, robots, etc.

Essential components of a microcontroller

a) CPU:

A central processing unit is a microprocessor that interprets and processes the data input and executes the instructions. It has two main components:

  • Arithmetic logic unit(ALU): It performs all the arithmetic and logic operations.

  • Control unit(CU): It handles instruction executions of the processor.

b) Random-access memory(RAM):

#RAM is a component used for storing the data temporarily and can be accessed easily by the microcontroller during program execution. Its content is always erased when the microcontroller is shut down.

C) Flash memory:

Flash memory is a component that stores the data for a longer period as compared to RAM and retains the data when the microcontroller is shut down. This is where the program uploaded from the computer is saved.


#EEPROM is similar to that of flash memory. The only difference is that EEPROM devices can erase any byte of memory at any time whereas flash memory can only erase a particular block of the memory at a time.

e) Serial bus interface:

It is a serial communication interface that sends data one bit at a time. It is used for connecting integrated circuits on printed circuit boards. In ICs serial bus interface is used for data transfer to reduce the number of pins and make them cost-effective.

f) Input-output ports:

I/O ports are used by the microcontrollers to connect to the physical world. Inputs receive data from the real world with the help of sensors. The data from the inputs are manipulated and processed by the CPU and the manipulated data is sent to the output ports. Output ports allow the microcontroller to control actuators like LEDs, motors, etc.

g) Clock generators:

It is an integral part of a microcontroller. It ensures the synchronous functioning of the microcontroller and other components.

Working of microcontrollers

A microcontroller is embedded inside a device to control a particular function. It does this by interpreting the data received from the sensors at the input port with the help of a central processor. The data that the microcontroller receives is stored in its data memory which is easily accessed by the central processor. The CPU manipulates the data and sends it to output ports. This manipulated data is used to control actuators like LED, motors, etc.

Types of microcontrollers

a) PIC microcontroller:

#PIC stands for peripheral interface controller. It is the smallest microcontroller in the world and is programmed for performing a large range of functions. It is faster than other microcontrollers. It was invented by microchip technology in 1989.

b) ARM microcontroller:

#ARM stands for advanced RISC machine.It is one of the most extensively used processor cores in the world. The first ARM processor was developed in 1978 by Cambridge University, and the first ARM RISC processor was produced by the Acorn Group of Computers in 1985.

c) 8051 microcontroller:

It was created by intel in 1981. It is an 8-bit microcontroller. It is built with 40 pins DIP (dual inline package), 4kb of ROM storage and 128 bytes of RAM storage, 2 16-bit timers. It consists of four parallel 8-bit ports, which are programmable as well as addressable as per the requirement.

d) AVR microcontroller:

#AVR stands for Alf and Vegard's RISC processor. It was developed in 1996 by Atmel. It has several advantages over other types of microcontrollers.

e) MSP microcontrollers:

#MSP stands for mixed-signal processors. They were developed by Texas instruments in 1992. They are 16-bit microcontrollers. They are used for low-cost and low-power applications.

Advantages of microcontrollers

  • They are Cost-effective.

  • They are easy to use.

  • They take less time to perform the operation.

  • They perform all the tasks effectively.

  • They are small in size and are flexible

Disadvantages of microcontrollers

  • They have complex structures.

  • The number of executions is limited.

  • Once programmed, they cannot be reprogrammed.

  • They cannot be interfaced with high-power devices directly.

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Author - Akshara Ganeshram

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