Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers, also referred to as MCUs (microcontroller units), are embedded semiconductor devices used in circuit board design. They are essentially a computer within an integrated circuit (IC). Microcontrollers are mostly used in single-function embedded applications, unlike microprocessors which are designed for general-purpose work in Personal Computers, Tablets and Smartphones. Microcontrollers are limited in their clock speed compared to microprocessors by the relative slowness of their non-volatile Flash program memory.

What are they made up of?

Microcontrollers contain single or multiple processors (sometimes referred to as CPUs), plus memory and I/O peripherals. These peripherals include timers, ADCs (analogue-to-digital converters) and DACs (digital-to-analogue converters).

What does 8-bit mean?

Microcontrollers have a data bus width which describes the amount of data the MCU can process at a time. For example, an 8-bit microcontroller can process 8 bits at one time. Popular data bus widths include 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs.

What packages are there?

MCUs come in standard chip packages with various pin counts. Package types include:

  • LQFP
  • PDIP
  • QFN
  • SOIC
  • SSOP
  • TQFP
  • TSSOP

What are ARM processor cores?

Microcontrollers often contain an ARM microprocessor core. ARM represents an architecture developed by ARM Holdings, which is used by other companies to manufacture microprocessors and other devices such as System-on-Chip (SoCs).

  • Cortex-M0
  • Cortex-M0+
  • Cortex-M1
  • Cortex-M3
  • Cortex-M4
  • Cortex-M7
  • Cortex-M23
  • Cortex-M33
  • Cortex-M35P

Where are microcontrollers used?

  • Computers
  • Automotive
  • Robotics
  • Automation
  • Medical equipment
  • Home appliances

...
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PIC18F TQFP Surface Mount 44 PIC 8bit 64 kB 64MHz 3.648 kB - 1, 4 11 1 1.8 → 5.5 V
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ATmega PDIP Through Hole 28 AVR 8bit 1 kB, 32 kB 20MHz 2 kB - 3 6 1 1.8 → 5.5 V
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PIC16C SOIC Surface Mount 20 PIC 8bit 4K x 14 words 20MHz 256 B - 1 6 1 4 → 5.5 V
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PIC24HJ TQFP Surface Mount 44 PIC 16bit 64 kB 40MIPS 8 kB - 4 13 2 3 → 3.6 V
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PIC16C SOIC Surface Mount 20 PIC 8bit 4K x 14 words 20MHz 256 B - 1 6 1 4 → 5.5 V
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PIC24HJ TQFP Surface Mount 44 PIC 16bit 64 kB 40MIPS 8 kB - 4 13 2 3 → 3.6 V
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PIC16F TQFP Surface Mount 44 PIC 8bit 4096 words 20MHz 256 B - 2 14 1 2 → 5.5 V
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PIC16F TQFP Surface Mount 44 PIC 8bit 4096 words 20MHz 256 B - 2 14 1 2 → 5.5 V
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PIC16F SOIC Surface Mount 28 PIC 8bit 16384 words 32MHz 1.024 kB 1 1 11 1 2.5 → 3.6 V
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PIC18F SPDIP Through Hole 28 PIC 8bit 32 kB 40MHz 1.536 kB - 2 5 1 4.2 → 5.5 V
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PIC32MX TQFP Surface Mount 64 PIC 32bit 64 kB 100MHz 16 kB - 1 28 2 2.3 → 3.6 V
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PIC12F SOIC Surface Mount 8 PIC 8bit 1 kwords 16MHz 128 B 1 3 4 - 5.5 V
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PIC18F SPDIP Through Hole 28 PIC 8bit 32 kB 40MHz 1.536 kB - 2 5 1 4.2 → 5.5 V
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PIC32MX TQFP Surface Mount 64 PIC 32bit 64 kB 100MHz 16 kB - 1 28 2 2.3 → 3.6 V
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PIC18F SPDIP Through Hole 28 PIC 8bit 32 kB, 256 B 40MHz 1.536 kB - 2 10 1 4.2 to 5.5 V