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Can an optical mouse sensor chip (System On Chip) which has a digital signal processor, Serial I/O, and a set of registers be considered as a Micro-controller?

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IMHO As long as they have a CPU, memory, peripheral units and are programmable can be considered as micro-controller. But as captcha mentioned today most of them are a not programmable or so little programmable-configurable that only let companies to vary their products with little tricks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For it to be a microcontroller, and not a microprocessor, it should have some physical world interfacing (analog or digital) as well as the things you mention. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jul 11 '14 at 12:27
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It probably started out as one in the development stage but I guess that nowadays these chips are purpose-built chips that are far less flexible than the average micro is. To answer your question.. No.

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Yes and no. There are many dedicated ICs which are not specially built parts, but really generic controllers with specific programming. Anything with a 8051 core is one example. Or a more specific example is MicroChips mcp2000 (p/n?) Usb to serial IC. Its well known to be a PIC18fxxxx, a usb capable microcontroller with Microchips USB to Serial firmware, but licensed for general use. It even registers as a pic when hooked up to a pic programmer.

But would you call it a microcontroller? Technically, it is. In practice and marketing, it is not. You would not reflash it with custom software, and will always cost more than a blank mcu.

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