A few years ago, system control functions were implemented using logic components and were usually large, heavy boxes. Later on, microprocessors were used and the entire controller could fit onto a small circuit board. As the process of miniaturization continued, all of the components needed for a controller were built right onto one chip. By only including the features specific to the task, cost is relatively low.

A typical microcontroller has bit manipulation instructions, easy7 and direct access to I/O, and quick and efficient interrupt processing. Therefore, a microcontroller is a highly integrated device which includes, on one chip, all or most of the parts needed to perform an application control function. This article describes the basic features of microcontrollers.

For more information on microcontrollers, visit STMicroelectronics’ Web site. Paper courtesy of STMicroelectronics.