What are Different Types of Processors : Applications and Characteristics

Processors are invented by Marcian Hoff (28th October 1937 in New York). Some of the processor manufacturer companies are Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Motorola, Samsung, IBM, etc. The processors are small size chips made by silicon that are placed inside the devices to perform the task or operation within seconds and its speed is measured in terms of megahertz. The fetching, decoding, executing and write back the instructions are the four main primary functions of the processor. In mobile phones, laptops, computers, washing machines, etc processors are used. In this article, the different types of processors are discussed.

What is a Processor?

Definition: The processor is a chip or a logical circuit that responds and processes the basic instructions to drive a particular computer. The main functions of the processor are fetching, decoding, executing, and write back the operations of an instruction. The processor is also called the brain of any system which incorporates computers, laptops, smartphones, embedded systems, etc. The ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) and CU (Control Unit) are the two parts of the processors. The Arithmetic Logic Unit performs all mathematical operations such as additions, multiplications, subtractions, divisions, etc and the control unit works like traffic police, it manages the command or the operation of the instructions. The processor communicates with the other components also they are input/output devices and memory/storage devices.

Types of Processors

There are different types of processors in the embedded system which include the following.

General Purpose Processor

There are five types of general-purpose processors they are, Microcontroller, Microprocessor, Embedded Processor, DSP and Media Processor.


The general-purpose processors are represented by the microprocessor in embedded systems. There are different varieties of microprocessors available in the market from different companies. The microprocessor is also a general-purpose processor that consists of a control unit, ALU, a bunch of registers also called scratchpad registers, control registers and status registers.

There may be an on-chip memory and some interfaces for communicating with the external world like interrupt lines, other lines for the memory and ports for communicating with the external world. The ports often called the programmable ports that means, we can program these ports either to be acting as an input or as an output. The general-purpose processors are shown in the below table.

S.NOProcessorClock SpeedBus WidthMIPS


1Intel Pentium 111The clock speed of Intel Pentium 111 processor is 1GHzThe bus width of Intel Pentium 111 processor is 32A million instructions per second of Intel Pentium 111 processor is ~900The power of this processor is 97 W$900
2IBM PowerPC 750XThe clock speed of the IBM PowerPC 750X processor is 550 MHzThe bus width of the IBM PowerPC 750X processor is 32/64A million instructions per second of IBM PowerPC 750X processor is ~1300The power of this processor is 5 W#900
3MIPS R5000The clock speed of the MIPS R5000 processor is 250 MHzThe bus width of the MIPS R5000 processor is 32/64NANANA


The clock speed of StrongARM

SA-110 processor is 233 MHz

The bus width of StrongARM

SA-110processor is 32

The million instructions per second of StrongARM

SA-110processor is 268

The power of this processor is 1 WNA


The microcontroller is basically a computer that comes in various packages and sizes. The reading input and responding to output is the basic function of the microcontroller. Generally, it is known as General Purpose Input Output (GPIO). Some of the microcontrollers are Microchip Atmega328-AU, Microchip P1C16F877A-I/P, Microchip P1C16F1503-I/P, Microchip P1C16F671-I/SN, Microchip P1C18F45K22-I/P, etc.

Embedded Processor

An embedded processor is one type of processor which is designed to control mechanical functions and electrical functions. It consists of several blocks they are the processor, timer, an interrupt controller, program memory and data memory, power supply, reset and clock oscillator circuits, system application-specific circuits, ports and interfacing circuits.

Digital Signal Processor

The digital signal processor is one type of processor used for measuring, filtering and/or compress digital or analog signals. The signal processing means analysis and manipulation of signal. This processing can be done via computer or Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) or Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to obtain the clear signal. The DSP processors are used in an oscilloscope, barcode scanners, mobile phones, printers, etc. These processors are fast and use for real-time applications. The typical DSP system is shown in the below figure.


The digital signal processors are shown in the below table

S.NOProcessorClock SpeedBus Width 



1T1 C5416


The clock speed of the T1 C5416 processor is 160 MHzThe bus width of T1 C5416

Processor is 32

The million instructions per second for T1 C5416

The processor is ~600

The price of the T1 C5416

The processor is $34

2DSP 32C


The clock speed of the DSP 32C Processor

is 80 MHz

The bus width of DSP 32C

Processor is 32

The million instructions per second for DSP 32C

Processor is 40

The price of the DSP 32C

Processor $75

Applications of DSP

The applications of the digital signal processor are

  • Speech processing
  • Image processing
  • Medical processing
  • Biometric Processing
  • Seismology
  • Radar

Media Processor

The image/video processor is the media processor that is designed or created to deal with the data in real-time. The voice user interface and professional audio are the applications of the audio processor. Some of the media processors are TN2302AP IP, IN2602 AP IP, DM3730, DM3725, DM37385, DM388, TMS320DM6467, TMS320DM6431, etc

Application-Specific System Processors (ASSPs)

The application-specific system processor is a semiconductor integrated circuit product used to implements a specific function. The performance, characteristics and die size of the application-specific system processor is the same as the ASIC. The ASSP’s are used in various types of industries to perform video encoding or decoding and audio encoding or decoding. In place of embedded software, the application-specific system processor is used to run the application and it provides the solution faster. Example: IIM7100, W3100A

Application-Specific Instruction Set Processors (ASIPs)

The application-specific instruction-set processors are designed for specific applications. These processors have low power consumption, high computational speed, and good flexibility. Due to programmability, the data path utilization is high in ASIPs, and the performance of this instruction set processor is good.

ASIC Processors

The application-specific integrated circuits are built for specific applications. These chips are small in size and consume low power. The design cost of ASIC is high and this is the main disadvantage. The application-specific integrated circuit chips are used in satellites, modems, computers, etc. Some of the top ASICs manufacturer companies are Ams AG. Listed Company, Bitfury. Private Company, XMOS Semiconductor Private Company, Analogix Semiconductor Private Company, EDAptive Computing Private Company, Lumen Radio Private Company, Integrated Device Technology, Hookit. Private Company, etc.


The multiprocessor is a computer with more than one CPU, each shares main memory, a computer bus, and peripherals to simultaneously process the programs and these systems are also known as tightly coupled systems. The advantages of multiprocessors are increased throughput, increased reliability and economy of scale. These processors are used when very high speed is required to process a large volume of data. The symmetric multiprocessor is shown in the below figure.


Characteristics of Multiprocessors

The Characteristics of Multiprocessor are

  • The multiprocessors consist of more than two processors or two processors which are similar
  • Memory and input/output facilities shared by the processors
  • The access time of the memory is the same for each processor because the processors are connected by bus
  • Access to the input/output devices are shared by the processors
  • The same function performed by all the processors


1). What is a microcontroller?

The microcontroller is an IC (Integrated Circuit) which is designed to perform specific functions in an embedded system.

2). What are the types of microprocessors?

There are five types of microprocessors they are DSP (Digital Signal Processor), ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing), CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) and Super Scalar Processor.

3). What is the need of the DSP processor?

The digital signal processors need to filter and compress the signals which are analog and used to detect the errors.

4). What is the core?

The core is the brain of the Central Processing Unit. There are different types of cores they are octa-core, dual-core, quad-core, etc.

5). What is the main memory of the computer?

The Random Access Memory is the main memory in a computer, which is used to store the OS (Operating System) software and the other data files or data for the unit.

In this article, the types of processors are discussed. Here is a question for you, which types of processors are used in smartphones?

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