Microcontrollers and Processors

Arrow.com has a wide selection of microcontrollers and processors in-stock from industry-leading manufacturers including Microchip, NXP, Cypress, Texas Instruments, Renesas, AMD, FTDI Chip, Infineon, ST Microelectronics and more. Shop the newest and most popular microprocessors and application processors as well as SoCs and embedded system dev boards and kits to evaluate and prototype for IoT, sensors, RF and wireless, Bluetooth, audio and video applications and more.

Microcontrollers and processors are semiconductor devices that contain a central processing unit (CPU) and other supporting circuitry. They are used in computers and similar products where computation is required (for example, a cellphone). They are found today in a vast array of products—anything from microwave ovens to satellites and are usually in a circuit referred to as the digital board, main board, controller or motherboard.

A microcontroller is a special type of CPU oriented chip that is usually intended for use in embedded applications driven by cost, power consumption and size. They tend to have integrated memory for running their application code, and embedded peripherals like serial ports, timers, and PWM digital outputs. Many incorporate non-volatile storage (EEPROM and Flash) to store their code even when unpowered. They typically have lower performance processing capability, lower CPU instruction cycle clock rates, and have are 8, 16 or 32-bit instruction sets.

A processor is most often referred to as a microprocessor. They are distinguished from a microcontroller in that they focus on performance rather than application. They tend to have fewer peripherals and often have internal functionality that provides acceleration for their particular algorithms. This may include internal memory cache, complex data and instruction busing, complex internal instruction units (pipelines), arithmetic instruction units (ALUs) and supervisor circuits. Modern microprocessors can contain hardware accelerators for particular algorithms (for example H.264 video codecs) or graphics processing. They may even handle special instruction sets and interfaces for multiprocessor architectures. Instruction sets can be 32, 64 or even very long word instruction sets in the hundreds of bits wide.

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