Topics: Microprocessor, Computer, Microcontroller Pages: 5 (1916 words) Published: March 6, 2011
A microcontroller (sometimes abbreviated µC, uC or MCU) is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a typically small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or other general purpose applications. Microcontrollers are used in automatically controlled products and devices, such as automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices, remote controls, office machines, appliances, power tools, and toys. By reducing the size and cost compared to a design that uses a separate microprocessor, memory, and input/output devices, microcontrollers make it economical to digitally control even more devices and processes. Mixed signal microcontrollers are common, integrating analog components needed to control non-digital electronic systems. Some microcontrollers may use four-bit words and operate at clock rate frequencies as low as 4 kHz, for low power consumption (milliwatts or microwatts). They will generally have the ability to retain functionality while waiting for an event such as a button press or other interrupt; power consumption while sleeping (CPU clock and most peripherals off) may be just nanowatts, making many of them well suited for long lasting battery applications. Other microcontrollers may serve performance-critical roles, where they may need to act more like a digital signal processor (DSP), with higher clock speeds and power consumption. Contents * 1 Embedded design * 1.1 Interrupts * 1.2 Programs * 1.3 Other microcontroller features * 2 Higher integration * 3 Volumes * 4 Programming environments * 5 Types of microcontrollers * 6 Interrupt latency * 7 History * 8 Microcontroller embedded memory technology * 8.1 Data * 8.2 Firmware * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 External links| [edit] Embedded design

A microcontroller can be considered a self-contained system with a processor, memory and peripherals and can be used as an embedded system.[1] The majority of microcontrollers in use today are embedded in other machinery, such as automobiles, telephones, appliances, and peripherals for computer systems. These are called embedded systems. While some embedded systems are very sophisticated, many have minimal requirements for memory and program length, with no operating system, and low software complexity. Typical input and output devices include switches, relays, solenoids, LEDs, small or custom LCD displays, radio frequency devices, and sensors for data such as temperature, humidity, light level etc. Embedded systems usually have no keyboard, screen, disks, printers, or other recognizable I/O devices of a personal computer, and may lack human interaction devices of any kind. [edit] Interrupts

Microcontrollers must provide real time (predictable, though not necessarily fast) response to events in the embedded system they are controlling. When certain events occur, an interrupt system can signal the processor to suspend processing the current instruction sequence and to begin an interrupt service routine (ISR, or "interrupt handler"). The ISR will perform any processing required based on the source of the interrupt before returning to the original instruction sequence. Possible interrupt sources are device dependent, and often include events such as an internal timer overflow, completing an analog to digital conversion, a logic level change on an input such as from a button being pressed, and data received on a communication link. Where power consumption is important as in battery operated devices, interrupts may also wake a microcontroller from a low power sleep state where the processor is halted until required to do something by a peripheral event. [edit] Programs

Microcontroller programs...
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