Microchip vs Microcontroller vs Embedded System – Difference and Comparison

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is an organized set of electronic circuits packaged on a semiconductor. The semiconductor is made of silicon. It’s also known as Integrated Circuit, IC, or simply Chip. It is the main part of a computer system.

A microchip is a processor itself. It has no other necessary components to function properly. Microchips are used for complex tasks and calculations. The microchip was built upon the Von Neumann Architecture Model, proposed in 1945.

 They don’t have built-in RAM and ROM. These have to be connected externally. It makes microchips easily programmable. Microchips are highly logical and their increased performance requires more power.

What is a Microcontroller?

Microcontrollers are complete system that has a processor and memory. It is programmed to complete certain tasks. A microcontroller is also known as a microcontroller unit or MCU.

An MCU has a microprocessor, ram and rom, and some other components built in itself to run its logic by itself. The microcontroller was built upon the Harvard Architecture Model. Having a low RAM and ROM, the microcontroller can’t process complex tasks. But its low power consumption makes it suitable for use in an embedded system.

 A microcontroller is the main part of an embedded system. The microcontroller is a bridge between the CPU in it and the embedded system it’s connected to.

What is an Embedded System?

An embedded system is a complete computer system. It includes a processor, memory, and input-output devices. Embedded systems do not have the logic to run the system. They use a Microcontroller or microchip to operate.

Most Embedded systems are used for simple tasks, not complex works. Hence, they use a microcontroller to conserve power.

The microcontroller inside tells the embedded system what to do. The function of an embedded system is non-alterable by the user.

An Embedded System’s key factors are application-specific requirements. They run a single and dedicated application at all times.

Difference Between Microchip and Microcontroller and Embedded System

A microchip is a discrete CPU, with no other peripherals. Microcontrollers contain a microchip and are programmed to do certain tasks. Embedded systems are the entire device that completes the task and has a microcontroller to operate.

One major difference between a Microchip, Microcontroller, and an Embedded System is memory. Microchips do not have any memory in the chip. The Microcontroller has memory built into the same chip. The Embedded system does not have a memory as it does not process any information.

A microchip houses a powerful CPU in it and requires other dedicated components to connect externally. Microcontrollers house these components and peripherals devices in the same chip along with a processor. Because of this reason, microcontrollers have less powerful processing power than a microprocessor.

The Microchips are built upon Von Neumann Architecture Model, where Microcontrollers are built upon Harvard Architecture Model. Embedded systems are just a set of interconnected hardware and have no logical unit. They don’t have any architectural model.

Comparison Between Microchip and Microcontroller and Embedded System

Parameters of ComparisonMicrochipMicrocontrollerEmbedded System
Power ConsumptionHighLowLow
ArchitectureBased on Von Neumann modelBased on the Harvard modelNo architecture model
UsageComplex machines, computers, high-level security systems, etc.Inside embedded systems.Simple machines. Calculators, washing machine, etc.
Clock SpeedMicrochips with speeds up to 5 GHz are available nowadays.Average around 200-300 MHzSame as the included microcontroller
Included peripheralsOnly logical unitsCPU, ram and romEvery component needed to execute the task.


  1. Microchip AVR® Microcontroller Primer: Programming and Interfacing, Third Edition
  2. Embedded Systems Design – Steve Heath – Google Books