Introduction to Embedded Microprocessors and Its Applications

An embedded microprocessor is a computer chip used inside several devices and equipments to provide added functionality. A microprocessor is a digital-electronic component with transistors integrated on a single semiconductor IC that is small and consumes less power. Due to flexibility, cost, programmability and adaptability microcontrollers are popular to implement various types of controllers that we know from the electronics history. The functions of the microprocessor include fetching, decoding and processing the data.

embedded microprocessor
embedded microprocessor

Embedded microprocessor systems are nothing but computer chips that are integral part of lighting system, home appliances, industrial equipments, etc. Generally, microprocessors are used in signal processing, general computing and real-time computing data. As a signal processor, microprocessors’ uses in digital televisions include decoding of the digital and radio signals. In real-time systems, microprocessors are embedded in security devices like anti-lock breaking system; these systems are widely used in automobiles. Its importance includes:

  • Handling many functions like calculations and word processing at higher speeds
  • Performing operations for the repetitive, continuous, progressive and sequential functions without human labor
  • Communicating with the internet, telephones and other interfacing devices

Block diagram of an Embedded Microprocessor

Block diagram of an embedded microprocessor
Block diagram of an embedded microprocessor

A microprocessor chip is built by using semiconductor devices wherein thousands of transistors are integrated into a single chip for better performance. When we look at microprocessor’s history, the Pentium 4 processors have around 40-50 million transistors.  The major microprocessor’s parts include:

  • ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit)
  • Memory unit
  • Control Unit
  • Registers
  • System Bus

Arithmetic Logic Unit

An ALU is also known as integer unit as it is used to perform logical operations like Not, OR AND, and math calculations like add, subtract, divide, multiply and comparisons like greater then, less than, etc.

Memory Unit

Cache memory is a small amount of memory located on the chip of a microprocessor. A microprocessor stores a copy of data and instructions in its cache memory while executing the program.  Types of microprocessor memory include ROM and RAM.

Control Unit

Control Unit is the brain of a microprocessor as it manages complete operations. It performs the operations like managing input, output devices, storing data and fetching instructions.

Registers

Registers are small, fast memories built into the central processing unit (CPU) to speed up its operation. General purpose registers store arbitrary data and special purpose registers control the processor.

System Bus

System bus is a single wire used to attach different components to communicate with the internal and external parts of the microprocessor. The bus receives data and instructions from the main memory, and then sends them to instruction cache and data cache. Finally these are processed and the results are again sent to the main memory through this bus.

Types of Microprocessors

The classification of embedded-microprocessor depends on several factors like computing performance, availability of memory, type of application, etc., and some of these microprocessors include:

  • Complex instruction set microprocessors
  • Reduced instruction set microprocessors
  • Superscalar microprocessors
  • Application specific integrated circuit (ASIC)
  • Digital signal microprocessors (DSPs)

Applications of Microprocessor

Applications of Microprocessor
Applications of Microprocessor

These microprocessors can be used for general purpose applications or special purpose applications. The applications of microprocessors include the following:

1. General Purpose Applications

Microprocessors for general purpose applications include personal computers, single-board micro computers, super minis and Computer Aided Designs (CAD).

Personal Computers

Personal computers have 8-bit or 16-bit microprocessors. Home computers come with 8-bit microprocessor for learning programs and playing video games, whereas the computers with 16- bit microprocessor are used for business, accounts, word processing, and other purposes.

Single-Board Micro Computers

The single-board micro computers have simple hardware and software configuration and are cheaper. These micro computers are used to build small computer systems and to train students.

Super minis and CAD

32 -bit processors are used in powerful microcomputers. And, as a result, the performance of these computers is far better than the mini computers; and, these are used in engineering side as CAD machines.

2. Special Purpose Application

special purpose application includes control, communication, instrumentation, office automation and publication.

Communication

In telephone industry, microprocessors are used in modems, telephone exchanges, digital telephone sets, and also in air reservation systems and railway reservation systems both at international and national levels. Mobile phones and televisions also use microprocessors.

Instrumentation

In various instruments, microprocessors are implemented as main controllers and also used in medical instruments to measure temperature and blood pressure.

Control

Microprocessors are now available in home appliances like washing machines and microwave ovens; and, in industrial-automation sectors, microcontrollers are used to control various parameters like temperature, speed, moisture and pressure.

Publication and Office Automation

These are used in office to perform spread sheet operations, and storage. In publication, microprocessors are used in LASER printers for good speed and making automatic photo copies.

This is all about the embedded microprocessor systems and their applications. We believe that the information given in this topic is worth considering the importance of microprocessors. Please share your suggestions and opinions about this article or electrical and electronic projects in the comment section.

Photo Credits

  • Embedded microprocessor by fineartamerica
  • Block diagram of embedded microprocessor by hqew


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