How are microcontrollers and microprocessors different?

Standard programmers are useful for development projects. Things get harder when you attempt to update firmware in the field. Even more problems arise when moving products to production. The solution here is to use handheld programmers. They allow you to work with a large variety of microcontrollers.

People often confuse microcontrollers with microprocessors but the two are distinct. We want you to understand why. To this end, we’re going to reveal some of the differences you should be aware of.

What are they?

Microcontrollers are programmable digital processors. They have obligatory peripherals. Microprocessors on the other hand are integrated chips. They’re meant to carry out specific tasks. Examples include arithmetic and logistical operations. Many refer to them as central processing units.

Architecture and design

In terms of architecture most microprocessors use Von-Neumann and CISC. Microcontrollers on the other hand tend to use RISC and Harvard. The designs of the two are also different. Microprocessors have counters, timers and I/O peripherals. In addition they have RAM and ROM. You place all of these on a board and they link through buses. For microcontrollers, you merge all the peripherals so they become one sole integrated circuit.


There are differences with costs too. Microprocessors can be very expensive. Implementing systems based on them isn’t cheap as a result. Most of the controller-based systems are compact ones. This means they’re not as costly to develop. Finally, you need less development time to create microcontrollers. Working with microprocessors is trickier and more time consuming.

At Kanda, we have SAMD, XMEGA, PIC, and AVR handheld programmers. Customers can use them for applications that require mobile programming. They are also quite simple to allow production engineers to use them with little training.

If you would like to know more, please contact us. We love helping clients to choose the right products and can offer lots of useful tips. In addition, we have lots of resources on our website that you may need when you use the programmers.

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