Microcontrollers, or MCUs, are small integrated circuits used in embedded applications. These chips serve as the brain of a system or sub-system and typically contain integrated memory to run their application code and peripherals like serial ports, timers, and PWM digital outputs. Many variations also include non-volatile storage to store code when they’re unpowered.
Microcontrollers tend to have lower processing capability and use 8, 16, of 32-bit instruction sets. Their primary purpose is to automate and control devices.
Processors or microprocessors are different as they focus on performance rather than a specific application. They have fewer peripherals and provide acceleration for specific algorithms like internal memory caches, complex data or instruction busing, and arithmetic instruction units (ALUs).
Select your microcontrollers or processors based on factors like architecture, packaging, power efficiency, memory, processing power, temperature tolerance, and security.