Microprocessors have been one of the most used methods of incorporating intelligence into automated devices. Their general-purpose nature, speed, and size have made them one of the most common components in Computer Science Engineering. It is, therefore, necessary to develop a good understanding of their operation and how they can be used as building blocks for automated systems and control applications. A microprocessor is a controlling unit of a micro-computer, fabricated on a small chip capable of performing ALU(Arithmetic Logical Unit) operations and communicating with other devices connected to it.
Introduction to MicroProcessor
The microprocessor consists of an ALU, a register array, and a control unit. ALU performs arithmetical and logical operations on the data received from the memory or an input device. Register array consists of registers identified by letters like B, C, D, E, H, L, and accumulator. The control unit controls the flow of data and instructions within the computer.
The microprocessor is a programmable integrated device that has computing and decision-making capability. the work programmable specifies that the microprocessor can be instructed to perform different operations according to a given program. ‘Integrated’ means a microprocessor is a combined unit of different blocks that perform various operations. The basic block diagram of a microprocessor is shown below with its three internal segments – ALU, Register Array (RA), and Control Unit (CU).
Block Diagram of a Basic Microcomputer
Arithmetic Logi Unit (ALU)
This block of the microprocessor is responsible to perform arithmetic operations addition, subtraction, etc., and logical operations (AND, OR, EX-OR, Complement, etc). ALU is the unit that decides the capability of any microprocessor.
Register Array (RA)
The microprocessor consists of various registers. the collection of registers is named register array. these registers are primarily used to store data temporarily during the execution of a program. same registers are used to hold the input and output data and are accessible to the user through the instructions.
Control Unit (CU)
The control and timing signals are generated by the control unit. it controls the flow of data between the microprocessor and others like memory and peripherals.
The microprocessor takes the instruction and data from the memory and input unit respectively. after processing, the result is given to the output unit. the main processing job is done by the microprocessor but this, it requires the association of memory and I/O units. there are three basic components that comprise a microprocessor system to perform a given task.
- Input/Output devices
Working of Microprocessor
The microprocessor follows a sequence: Fetch, Decode and Execute.
Initially, the instructions are stored in the memory in sequential order. Th microprocessor fetches those instructions from the memory, then decodes them, and executes those instructions till the STOP instruction is reached. Later, it sends the result in binary to the output port. Between these processes, the register stores the temporary data, and ALU performs the computing functions.
List of Terms used in a Microprocessor:
Here is a list of some of the frequently used terms in a microprocessor-
- Instruction Set – It is the set of instructions that the microprocessor can understand.
- Bandwidth – It is the number of bits processed in a single instruction.
- Clock Speed – It determines the number of operations per second the processor can perform. It is expressed in megahertz(MHz) or gigahertz(GHz). It is also known as Clock Rate.
- Word Length – It depends upon the width of the internal data bus, registers, ALU, etc. An 8 – bit microprocessor can process 8-bit data at a time. The word length ranges from 4 bits to 64 bits depending upon the type of microcomputer.
- Data Types – The microprocessor has multiple data types formats like binary, BCD, ASCII, signed, and unsigned numbers.
Features of Microprocessor:
Here is a list of some of the most prominent features of any microprocessor –
- Cost-effective – The microprocessor chips are available at low prices and resulting in their low cost.
- Size – The microprocessor is of a small size chip, hence is portable.
- Low Power Consumption – Microprocessors are manufactured by using metal oxide semiconductor technology, which has low power consumption.
- Versatility – The microprocessors are versatile as we can use the same chip in a number of applications by configuring the software program.
- Reliability – The failure rate of an IC in microprocessors is very low, hence it is reliable.
A microprocessor can be classified into 3 categories ( types of the microprocessor ) –
RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computer. It is designed to reduce the execution time by simplifying the instruction set of the computer.
CISC stands for Complex Instruction Set Computer. It is designed to minimize the number of instructions per program, ignoring the number of cycles per instruction.
These are the processors which are designed for some special purposes. For example – Coprocessor, I/O Processor, Transputer(Transister Computer), and Digital Signal Processor.
Development in microprocessor
The advent of microprocessors was accidental. Intel corporation founded by Moore and Noyce in 1968 was initially focused on creating semiconductor memory. Ted Hoff, an intel engineer felt that a general-purpose logic device could replace the separate multiple components. this idea led to the development of the first microprocessor.
Federico Faggin and Stanley Mazor realized this idea in hardware at Intel. the result was the intel 4000 family comprising the 4001 (2K ROM), the 4002 (320-bit RAM), the 4003 (10-bit I/O shift register), and the 4004, a 4-bit central processing unit (CPU). Intel introduced the 4004 microprocessor to the world in November 1971. It was not truly a general-purpose microprocessor as it was basically designed for a calculator.
The continuous development in integration technology made it possible to accommodate more and more gates in a single chip. as a result, it is possible for a small microprocessor chip to perform more operations with a high degree of complexity. intel after its first microprocessor, subsequently came out with 8008, 8080, 8085, 8086/88, 80186/188, 80286, 80386, 80486, and Pentium series of microprocessors, each with more capabilities than its predecessor. The below table gives the intel’s journey of microprocessors from 4004 to Pentiums.
|Microprocessor||Year||Word size||Memory Capacity||Clock Speed|
|4004||1971||4-bit||1 KB||750 kHz|
|8008||1972||8-bit||16 KB||800 kHz|
|8080||1973||8-bit||64 KB||2 MHz|
|8085||1976||8-bit||64 KB||3-6 MHz|
|8086||1978||16-bit||1 MB||5-10 MHz|
|8088||1980||8/16-bit||1 MB||5-8 Mhz|
|80186||1982||8/16-bit||1 MB||6-8 MHz|
|80188||1982||8/16-bit||1 MB||6-8 MHz|
|80286||1982||16-bit||16 MB real 4 GB virtual||6-12.5 MHz|
|80386 DX||1985||32-bit||4 GB real 64 TB virtual||20-33 MHz|
|80386 SX||1988||16/32-bit||16 MB real 64 TB virtual||20 MHz|
|80486||1989||32-bit||4 GB||20-100 MHz|
|Pentium||1993||64-bit||4 GB||60-133 MHz|
|Pentium Pro||1995||64-bit||64 GB||150-200 MHz|
|Pentium-MMX||1997||64-bit||64 GB||166-233 MHz|
|P-II||1997||64-bit||64 GB||233-450 MHz|
Motorola is another manufacturer of microprocessors. Motorola has its very popular 68 series microprocessor. below given shows the various microprocessor by Motorola.
|Microprocessor||Year||Word size||Memory Capacity||Clock Speed|
|6800||1974||8-bit||64 KB||1 MHz|
|6809||1979||8-bit||64 KB||4-8 MHz|
|68000||1979||16/32-bit||(232 new version)||10-25 MHz|
|68020||1984||32-bit||4 GB||12.5-33 MHz|
|98030||1987||32-bit||4 GB||20-33 Mhz|
|98040||–||64-bit||4 GB||20-25 MHz|
|98060||–||64-bit||4 GB + 16K Cache||–|
|Power PC||–||64-bit||4 GB + 32K Cache||–|
Other better-known microprocessors are Toshiba’s T3472 (4 bit), NEC’s mueCOM4 (4 bit), Zilog Corporatio’s z80 (8 bit), Fairchild’s F8 (8 bit), Texas instrument’s TMS 9940 (16 bit) and Zilog’s Z8000 (16 bit).