What is a Microprocessor?
Microprocessor control units are essentially miniature computers programmed to complete a specific set of tasks.
A microprocessor is a small CPU built into a single ‘chip’
Very powerful microprocessors can be found in PCs (the Core 2 Quad processor made by Intel is one example) but smaller, less powerful microprocessors can be found in many everyday devices in our homes.
Typically, a special type of microprocessor, called a micro-controller, is used in everyday devices.
In a single ‘chip’, a micro-controller contains:
- A CPU
- Some RAM
- Some ROM (Used for storing the devices software)
Often micro-controllers also contain ADCs and DACs to allow easy connection to devices such as sensors and actuators.
Examples of Microprocessor-Controlled Devices
Many of the electronic devices that we use contain a microprocessor…
Some devices are used for entertainment:
- Games consoles
- DVD players
- MP3 players
Some devices help to make our lives easier (labour-saving devices):
- Programmable microwave ovens
- Programmable washing machines
- Home security systems
- Mobile telephones
The Effect of These Devices on Our Lives
Look at the list of devices above. Now try to imagine living without them – washing your clothes by hand! Life would be a lot tougher.
Microprocessor-controlled devices mean that we have more leisure time to relax and enjoy ourselves instead of doing household chores.
We are able to communicate with people very easily using computers, mobile phones, etc. We can become part of online social networks, making friends with people from all over the world.
Computers and Internet connections mean that many of the tasks that involved us leaving the house, for example, shopping for music, clothes or food, can now be done on-line.
Online shopping gives us more choice of products and saves us time. It is also great from those who are unable to get out of the house easily, such as the elderly, or the disabled.