microcontroller (MCU, µC) is a programmable small computer on a single integrated circuit. It has a processor, Flash or EEPROM program and data memory, RAM memory, input/outputs and periphals like I²C. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers. They are useful because they combine almost everything a developer needs to control his/her project in one package.
The most popular microcontroller families are:
- Atmel AVR family (containing ATtiny, ATmega and ATxmega subfamilies)
- Microchip PIC
- ARM-based microcontrollers
Somewhat less popular, but with thriving development communities, are these microcontroller families:
- the Cypress PSoC family (including the Cypress PSOC 28 Pin - CY8C29466, and soon to include an ARM-based PSoC)
- the Parallax Propeller
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