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What Are Micro-Controllers??

posted Jul 31, 2017, 6:14 AM by Rohit Bhaskar   [ updated Jul 31, 2017, 7:42 AM ]

I am going to be writing about Micro-controllers today. Micro-controllers are used in a variety of operations, most of which you wouldnt even know about. Its almost as if they run your world from the shadows (sic)!!
Even though the previous statement may be completely un-beleivable, its somewhat true…
Micro-controllers have a variety of applications in our daily life. More than we can even count!

Getting to the point, micro-controllers are basically a small IC (Integrated Circuit) that either can be made for only a particular task, or can even be flexible and be used for many variying tasks. A microcontroller (sometimes abbreviated µC, uC or MCU), by definition, is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals.

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A lot of us would have heard of the term ‘ micro-controllers ‘ before this. Almost all the devices that we see, like home appliances, automobiles, and other gadgets that form an integral part of our life, all make the use of micro-controllers. Micro-controllers can be coded for set of tasks, thus find intense applications in machinery of factories and industries.

Micro-controller manufacturing falls under the scope of VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) , which is a method of making or manufacturing chips (dont worry if you dont know know what it means. I will definately make a post on it. But more of that some other time :p).

A microcontroller can be considered a self-contained system with a processor, memory and peripherals and can be used as an embedded system. The majority of microcontrollers in use today are embedded in other machinery, such as automobiles, telephones, appliances, and peripherals for computer systems. A microcontroller usually comprises of a CPU, ROM, RAM and I/O ports, built within it to execute a single and dedicated task. What that means is that it contains within itself, circuitry for processing, ROM for storage of data, RAM for process time use, and also all I/O pins that can be used directly to interface other devices!! All that into one single chip!

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The applications of microcontrollers are endless and are used in a variety of devices. TVs, VCRs and high-end stereo systems all fall into this category. Nice SLR and digital cameras, cell phones, camcorders, answering machines, laser printers, telephones (the ones with caller ID, 20-number memory, etc.), pagers, and feature-laden refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers (the ones with displays and keypads)… You get the idea. Basically, any product or device that interacts with its user has a microcontroller buried inside. Even the arduino development board uses the AtMega range on microcontrollers. Microcontrollers are often low-power devices, thus making them extremely useful in many ways. The AtMega series by Atmel and the PIC controllers are the most widely used microcontrollers.

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Thats basically brings us to the end of this post…. I hope this gives you an insight into what microcontrollers actually are, and how they work. The next post will mostly explain all about microprocessors and also the key differences between these two will become even more clearer!!
Till next time!

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