(processor) can be a powerful yet cost effective solution. However,where a microcontroller [almost by definition] is a computer on achip, an embedded controller might need external components before itis considered a "computer." This is especially true regarding RAM.Since including large amounts of RAM (megabytes) on a processor isnot really practical (due to cost and available silicon real estate)and because many embedded controllers are real powerhouses requiringlarge amounts of RAM, the RAM is often external to the processor.ApplicationsIn addition to the above home monitoring system, embedded processorsand microcontrollers are frequently found in: appliances (microwaveoven, refrigerators, television and VCRs, stereos), computers andcomputer equipment (laser printers, modems, disk drives), automobiles(engine control, diagnostics, climate control), environmental control(greenhouse, factory, home), instrumentation, aerospace, andthousands of other uses. In many items, more than one processor canbe found.Microcontrollers are typically used where processing power isn't soimportant. Although some of you out there might find a microwaveoven controlled by a Unix system an attractive idea, controlling amicrowave oven is easily accomplished with the smallest ofmicrocontrollers. On the other hand, if you're putting together acruise missile to solve the problem of your neighbor's dog barking at3 in the morning, you'll probably need to use processors with a bitmore computing power.Embedded processors and microcontrollers are used extensively inrobotics. In this application, many specific tasks might bedistributed among a large number of controllers in one system.Communications between each controller and a central, possibly morepowerful controller (or micro/mini/mainframe) would enableinformation to be processed by the central computer, or to be passedaround to other controllers in the system.A special application that microcontrollers are well suited for isdata logging. Stick one of these chips out in the middle of a cornfield or up in a ballon, and monitor and record environmentalparameters (temperature, humidity, rain, etc). Small size, low powerconsumption, and flexibility make these devices ideal for unattendeddata monitoring and recording.FlavorsEmbedded processors come in many flavors and varieties. Depending onthe power and features that are needed, you might choose a 4, 8, 16,or 32 bit microcontroller. Standard microprocessors (such as theMotorola 68000 or National 32032) are frequently used as powerfulembedded controllers. In addition, specialized processors areavailable which include features specific for communications,keyboard handling, signal processing, video processing, and othertasks.