What Is A Microprocessor: Complete Guide With Examples

Here we will learn what is a Microprocessor, how does it work, and its advantages, along with a comparison of Microcontroller vs Microprocessor:

This is the heart of the computer system or a server or laptop. It is a small computation unit that is fabricated on a single chip. The components used in building up the chip are transistors, registers, diodes, etc which work together to perform the assigned operation.

The microprocessor is the clock-driven digital integrated circuit that is built up by using VLSI technology and this reduces the overall cost and power of the processor.

It accepts the input in binary form, processes them as per the instruction stored in the memory, and performs the arithmetic logic and sequential digital logic operation, and Here we explore and learn the basic concept and various advantages and characteristics with examples.

Many readers and beginners are curious to know about the difference between the microprocessor and the microcontroller. Therefore we have explained the difference between these two in tabular format.

What Is A Microprocessor

Basics of Microprocessor

We have also explained in short about the no man’s sky microprocessor which is a gaming open platform for the end-users and is crafted using chromatic metal.

Microprocessor Definition

It is a kind of integrated circuit (IC) unit which combines all the basic functions of a central processing unit (CPU) of the computer.

It is a programmable unit that is fabricated on the silicon chip and it consists of an ALU unit, clock, control unit, and register array which accepts the input in binary form (0’s and 1’s) and delivers the output after processing the input data as per the instructions fetched into the memory unit.

Block Diagram Of A Microcomputer

block diagram of micrcomputer

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The basic building blocks of this processor are an ALU, register array, and the main control processing unit. The function of the arithmetic logical unit (ALU) is to perform mathematical and logical operations based on the data fetched from the input units or the memory device.

The register array is a combination of register and accumulator. The control unit handles the overall processing and flow of data in the computer.

Terminologies Used

  • Bus: This processor consists of three types of buses: a Databus, a control bus, and an address bus. It is a combination of conductors proposed for the transmission of data containing address and control information to various elements in it. The data bus is bidirectional and carries to and from the memory. The address bus is the unidirectional bus that carries the address of the input or output port from the CPU towards the memory or I/O port. The control bus carries the clock signal, interrupt signal and ready signal and these are bidirectional and denote the state of the process.
  • Instruction Set: It is a set of commands given by this processor so that it can understand what it is instructed to do. Thus it acts as an interface between the software and the hardware part of this processor. An example of an instruction set is that the instruction can command the processor to perform the OR operation between register A and register B for processing some input data unit.
  • Word length: It is defined as some bits in the internal data bus that a processor can process at an instance of time. For example, the 16-bit processor will have a 16- bit data bus, 16- a bit register and will perform 16- bit processing at an instance of time.
  • Cache memory: It is a kind of RAM that is fabricated in the processor. It is also called the CPU memory and is used to access data from the memory more quickly than the other memory unit. The cache memory stores the instruction set which is used more frequently to perform the repetitive kind of tasks. Thus it enhances the overall speed of the operation.
  • Clock Speed: To control the rate at which the processor executes the instructions, it uses a clock signal. The clock also synchronizes all the components used in this processor. The clock speed is evaluated in hertz, megahertz (MHz), or gigahertz (GHz).
  • Instruction Register: It holds the value of the instruction to be executed.
  • Instruction Decoder: It decodes the instruction received from the instruction register and converts them into the machine language and then sends them to the ALU unit for processing.
  • ALU: It performs all the logical, mathematical, register, and memory operations.
  • Register: It holds the intermediate value for the program output during the processing and then compares it with the test register before generating the final output.

How Does A Microprocessor Work?

This can be called a computation engine which is fabricated on a single chip and is the heart of the computer system.

The native language that this processor understands is the assembly language and it runs the set of machine instructions that tells the processor whose function it needs to perform.

Based on these instructions it performs these below actions:

  • By using arithmetic or logic units, it performs mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The latest technology-based processors are having modern ALU units which can perform complex logical operations even for the large digit floating numbers.
  • Let’s take the example of an 8-bit microprocessor which means that both the address and data bus are 8-bit wide. This implies that it has a memory of 2^8= 256 bytes and it can read or write 8 bits of memory at the same time.
  • This has both kinds of memory RAM and ROM. ROM stands for read-only memory. The ROM is programmed with the pre-set bytes and the address bus directs the ROM chip which byte to take and place on the data bus for further process.
  • The ROM is also known as BIOS (basic input/output system) and when the PC boots, it will start up with the configuration saved in the BIOS memory.
  • Through the BIOS instructions, the computer will go for the hard disk to fetch the boot sector. After learning the instructions from the hard disk, the computer stores the boot sector data in the RAM.
  • RAM stands for the random access memory and it can read or write the bytes depending on the instruction set. The RAM chip forgets whatever is stored on it once the computer power goes off. Thus it is the temporary storage memory.
  • Now let’s see the role of the various components of this processor. The address bus (8-bit, 16- bit or 32-bit) will send an address to the memory. Similarly, the data bus function is to send or receive the data from the memory.
  • The read and write lines play an important role in informing the memory whether it will set or get the address location. The clock line will set the clock pulse of the processor and the reset line will reset the execution of the program by setting the counter to zero.
  • The registers are the flip-flops that are used to perform the Boolean logic functions. Here we are taking an example of an 8-bit processor, so three registers are required to perform the logical operations.
  • The ALU performs the logical operation and the test register will hold the output value for the internal comparisons. The tri-state buffer which permits the various outputs to connect to one line but only allows one of them to pass on 1 or 0 onto the line is also used here.
  • To activate the tri-state buffer, read-line, and data-in line the instruction decoder is used. The instruction decoder as per the clock cycle activates the required buffer and thus latches the instruction into the register.
  • The instruction decoder then decodes the output of the operation performed by the ALU and fetches it with the comparison register.
  • Depending on the set of instructions, it will perform the tasks on each clock cycle and at the end cycle, the program counter is incremented.
  • Since it works on the multiple instructions set which is the set of various bit patterns. This collection of instruction bits is known as the assembly language of the processor. An assembler is used to translate these patterns and the output is stored in the memory for the processor to execute the program.
  • With the help of the below block diagram, we can understand the working of the 8-bit microprocessor.
block diagram of 8-bit microprocessor
Block Diagram


  • Cost-effective: It is fabricated on a small integrated circuit (IC) thus this will reduce the overall cost of the hardware system.
  • High Speed: Itis capable of handling and running millions of instructions and functions per second due to the technology it is using. Thus these chips work at a very high speed.
  • Small size: Due to the use of very-large-scale integrated circuit (VLSI) technologies it is fabricated on a very small area, thus this will reduce the overall size of the chip.
  • Less Power Usage: These processors are constructed using metal oxide semiconductor technology which works in saturation and cut-off modes. Thus the chip uses very low power when compared to other devices.
  • Reliable and portable: It uses VLSI technologies and MOSFET transistor, thus the chip failure rate is very less which makes it a more reliable device. The computer system which uses such chips is portable also as it is compact and generates very little heat than the other devices.
  • Flexible: The same chip can be used to execute various applications by using a different set of instructions. This makes the chip flexible.


#1) RISC Processors

The reduced instruction set computer processor deploys small and optimized instruction set for the execution of commands. In RISC processors, every instruction needs only one clock cycle to execute the output in effecting time.

Characteristics of RISC Processor

  • It uses simple instruction sets.
  • It consists of a large number of registers.
  • It uses simple addressing modes and a fixed-length instruction set.
  • The RAM usage is very high.
  • It supports different data formats.
  • Highly power efficient.

Architecture of RISC

Architecture of RISC Processor

In the above diagram, the block diagram of the architecture of the RISC microprocessor is displayed. The RISC consists of optimized instruction set data and a memory unit that is connected with the cache memory.

#2) CISC Processors

It stands for complex instruction set computer. It aims to minimize the number of instructions per program by overlooking the number of cycles per instruction.

The instructions get into the hardware unit and make the processor slow in operation and complex.

Characteristics of CISC Processors

  • The RAM usage is very low.
  • A huge number of Instructions are used.
  • To execute one instruction, more than one number of cycles is required.
  • Various addressing modes are used.
  • The processor circuitry is very complex.
  • Less number of registers is used.
  • A complex and variable instruction set is used.

Architecture of CISC

Architecture of CISC processor

As shown in the above block diagram, the instruction set is directly connected to the control hardware unit of this processor. The main memory and control memory unit is different and to store complex instruction sets and for execution, the control memory is also connected to the control unit.

#3) Coprocessors

It is the kind of processor that is used with the main processors. For example, a Math processor can work with the main processor like 8086 and can resolve the functions faster than the main processors.

The operations performed by the co-processors are arithmetic, graphics, signal processing, and encryption/ decryption, etc.

#4) Input/ Output Processor

It is a differently designed processor which is designed to control the input and output devices thereby having local memory of their own with minimal CPU utilization. Example of such type of processors is the keyboard and mouse controller, graphic display controller, DMA (direct memory access) controller, etc.

#5) Transistor Computer

It is designed for inter-processor communications and has its local memory. It is used as a single processor unit to connect one transputer to another transputer over links and to perform some special tasks. Examples are 16-bit T212, 32-bit T425 processors, etc.

No Man’s Sky Microprocessor

  • It is an exploration-based survival game. It was released for the play station version 4. The basics of this game are its four towers of strength. Exploration, combat, survival, and trading. The end-users are liberal to play within the whole open universe which is inclusive of over 16 trillion planets.
  • Every planet involved, have its ecosystem with different forms of plant life, wildlife, and different kind of alien species that may engage in trade and combat with the end-users. The advanced level player of the game can build up their strength by the mining resources of power and improving their types of equipment, buying and selling resources, and using credits earned by their planet’s flora and fauna.
  • The processor in this gaming system is a module that is deployed for crafting and specially designed as a tiny microchip that is constructed from treated chromatic metal. This is designed with the help of many specialized terrain metals and deployed in the designing of a vast range of enhanced technology chips.
  • It can be made up of a blueprint and the underlying components:

Chromatic metal *40 + carbon nanotube * 1 = microprocessor

This processor is used as an ingredient for crafting the following products:

  1. Enhanced signal booster = chromatic metal *100 + ion battery *2 + microprocessor *2
  2. Atlas pass v1= copper*200 + microprocessor*1
  3. Atlas pass v2= cadmium *200 + microprocessor *1
  4. Economy scanner = microprocessor *5 + wiring loom *1
  5. Crisis warp unit = warp cell *1 + gold *220 + microprocessor *4
  6. Environment organizer unit= storm crystal *3 + microprocessor*2 + wiring loom *2
  7. Territory pad= metal plating *10 +ion battery *2 +microprocessor *2
  8. Quantum computer= microprocessor *1 + antimatter *1 + chromatic metal *25
  9. Race initiator = metal plating *5 + microprocessor *2 + ion battery *1

This is how many other craftings for no man’s sky microprocessor can be developed by using the same processor as per the requirement of advanced level end-users and selling of the players and planet empowerment to build up an advanced level gaming system for 5th generation games.

Microcontroller Vs Microprocessor

The table below displays the difference between microprocessor and microcontroller:

In Microprocessor, the memory and input and output devices are connected externally.The microcontroller has in-built memory and input/ output components.
The microprocessor circuit is generally very large as the memory components are connected externally.The internal circuit of the microcontroller is not very large.
The microprocessors are not cost-effective.The microcontrollers are cost-effective than microprocessors.
The power consumption of the microprocessor systems is higher than that of microcontrollers due to the presence of external components and technology used which is VLSI.The power consumption of the microcontrollers is low than that of microprocessors as these are built with CMOS technology.
It is used in home computers, laptops, etc.This is mainly used in embedded systems, washing machines, and MP3 music systems.
It is the heart of a computer that is fabricated on a small silicon-based IC.It contains one or many microprocessors with CPU and other peripheral components.
It doesn’t contain the RAM, ROM, timers, and input/output components fabricated within the chip.It has the RAM, ROM, Timers, and other components along with the CPU fabricated on one chip.
To interface between the peripherals and the memory components, an external bus is deployed.It has an internal bus for the interface between the RAM and input/output components.
It is very convoluted and costly to use as required a huge kind of instructions to handle to get the desired output.Its circuitry is very simple and cheaper than microprocessors with fewer instructions to follow to get desired output.
Work at very high speed.These work at a lesser speed than the microprocessors.
The main applications of the microprocessor are calculators, accounting systems, control data, game machines, military applications, computation systems, and traffic lights, etc.The main applications of microcontrollers are compact devices like mobile phones, CD players, cameras, security alarms, OTG and microwave, dishwasher, and watches, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) Are CPU and Microprocessors the same?

Answer: No, it is an integrated circuit on which millions of transistors are fabricated and not all microprocessors work as CPUs.

Q #2) Does the microprocessor have memory?

Answer: Yes It has two kinds of memory i.e. ROM (read-only memory) and RAM (Random access memory). ROM is the permanently available memory.

Q #3) What are buses in such a type of processor?

Answer: These are the connection lines that are used to connect the internal elements of the chip. There are three kinds of buses: data bus, address bus, and control bus.

Q #4) What is an 8085 Microprocessor?

Answer: It is an 8-bit microprocessor that can process, accept and send 8-bit data simultaneously. It operates on a 3MHz clock frequency and has 16 address lines so it has 64-kilo bytes of memory

Q #5) What is the 8086 microprocessor?

Answer: It is a 16-bit microprocessor having 20 address lines and 16 data lines along with 1MB of memory storage. The processing is faster than that of the 8085 microprocessor.

Further Reading =>> Computer Architecture Interview Q&A


This is a very vast topic for readers who have an interest in the field of electronics and instrumentation. Basic knowledge is very useful for chip designing and fabrication processes.

This tutorial will help the readers to gain basic knowledge of the working of such a processor that we have explained with the help of a block diagram and figures.

After going through this tutorial, one can easily understand the concept and terminologies related to this. We have answered the FAQs related to this topic along with the differences between the microprocessor and microcontroller.