Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are very similar in function to a personal computer or CPU (central processing unit) but they are used to interact with other machines rather than people. They were developed to make the process automatic. They take the input process data according to the memory written in their memory and give the output as a control signal. They are cheap to manufacture and so small that they can be embedded into any device. Microcontrollers are employed in any devices that require a degree of control and so are in any appliance that stores, records, measures or displays information or calculates. They include a CPU, memory, input/output ports, serial ports and timers. They can be 4,8,16,32,64 or 128 bit. Smaller microcontrollers of 8 bits are able to do logic and arithmetic operations whilst 32 bits are necessary for auto-controlled appliances like office machinery. They also have a different Memory Architect and these are often grouped into 'families'. Although memory is usually embedded, it can be external. Microcontrollers are found in all electronic devices including digital watches, domestic appliances like microwaves and mobile telephones. They are also essential for more sophisticated systems such as industrial instrumental devices and fire or security alarms.

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