n. A microcomputer on a single chip, used to control some device such as an automobile engine or a toy.
A microcontroller (or MCU, short for microcontroller unit) is a small computer ( SoC) on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of Ferroelectric RAM, NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a typically small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or other general purpose applications consisting of various discrete chips.
Microcontrollers are used in automatically controlled products and devices, such as automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices, remote controls, office machines, appliances, power tools, toys and other embedded systems. By reducing the size and cost compared to a design that uses a separate microprocessor, memory, and input/output devices, microcontrollers make it economical to digitally control even more devices and processes. Mixed signal microcontrollers are common, integrating analog components needed to control non-digital electronic systems.
Some microcontrollers may use four-bit words and operate a frequencies as low as for low power consumption (single-digit milliwatts or microwatts). They will generally have the ability to retain functionality while waiting for an event such as a button press or other interrupt; power consumption while sleeping (CPU clock and most peripherals off) may be just nanowatts, making many of them well suited for long lasting battery applications. Other microcontrollers may serve performance-critical roles, where they may need to act more like a digital signal processor (DSP), with higher clock speeds and power consumption.
Usage examples of "microcontroller".
Now, though, in the cool of the Martian evening, even at their landing site near the equator the temperature dropped to forty degrees below zero, and the microcontroller monitoring the suit's environment was sending electrical currents through thin-film heaters pressed against the thin inner lining of the suit.