Is it correct to refer to a microcontroller as processor?

I know microcontroller is different than microprocessor. But is it the same as processor?

The whole point of this question is to verify if there is a difference between these two "definitions": microprocessor and processor core.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you try to google? Or search in this forum? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did, it's all about the difference between micro controller and microprocessor \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Sep 4 '16 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. And what exactly do you mean by word "processor"? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 3:43
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the terms are used with very little attention to whatever distinction may exist between them. I think "processor" is kind of a general term for anything that fetches instructions and executes them. It could include a desktop CPU, or a mobile phone microprocessor or an embedded microcontroller. \$\endgroup\$
    – mkeith
    Sep 4 '16 at 3:54
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Your question is the same as asking what is the difference between apple and fruit. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 4:06


A microcontroller (or MCU, short for microcontroller unit) is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals.

  • A processor processes computer instructions.
  • A microprocessor is a very small (micro) processor, using a single chip to store all the transistors to process computer instructions.
  • The MegaProcessor is a very large (mega) processor, that uses multiple 1m x 2m stands to hold individual transistors to, together, process computer instructions.
  • A microcontroller is a very small (micro) processor, that processes computer instructions but also has a number of pins dedicated for controlling and sampling peripherals. It could have any number of the following:
    • General Purpose Input pins (with or without pullups);
    • General Purpose Output pins (with or without tristate capability);
    • General Purpose Input/Output [GPIO] pins - a combination of the above two;
    • Analog input pins, using Analog-to-Digital Converters [ADCs];
    • Analog output pins, using Digital-to-Analog Converters [DACs];
    • Pulse Width Modulation output pins, using inbuilt timers;
    • Universal Asyncrhronous Receiver/Transmitters [UARTs], for serial communications;
    • Universal Synchronous/Asyncrhronous Receiver/Transmitters [USARTs], for serial communications;
    • Serial Peripheral Interconnect [SPI] pins;
    • Inter-Integrated Circuit [IIC, I2C, I²C] pins;
    • Internal timers;
    • Internal Read Only Memory [ROM];
    • Internal Random Access Memory [RAM];
    • Internal Flash memory;
    • Internal Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory [EEPROM];

So a microcontroller is a microprocessor plus other things.


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