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Comparison of the difference between MCU, ARM, DSP, module, and CPU

Fred Morgan

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01 What is MCU?

MCU is a PC-like chip. It is not a chip that completes a certain logic function, but integrates a computer system into a chip; it is just not as powerful as a PC, but it can Embedded in other equipment to control it.

In a word: a chip becomes a computer The multi-computer application system of the single-chip microcomputer can be divided into a function collection system, a parallel multi-computer processing and a local network system.

02 Advantage

It is small in size, light in weight, and cheap in price, which provides convenient conditions for learning, application and development.

At the same time, learning to use a single-chip microcomputer is the best choice to understand the principle and structure of the computer.

03 Application

The use of MCU has been very extensive, such as smart meters, real-time industrial control, communication equipment, navigation systems, household appliances, etc.;


01 What is ARM

ARM is a well-known company in the microprocessor industry and has developed RISC processors, related skills and software.

ARM can be considered as the name of a company or as a general term for a class of microprocessors. This article mainly refers to the first RISC microprocessor designed for the low-computing market with the ARM architecture.

The ARM core is an embedded system. The instructions, registers and pipeline features of the RISC architecture make it very suitable for parallel computing

02 Advantage

Low power consumption, energy saving, high functionality, 16-bit/32-bit dual instruction set, low price, and many partners; Rich embedded on-chip resources;

03 Application

Most of the application areas are small household appliances and terminal equipment;


01 What is DSP

DSP is a unique microprocessor, a device that uses digital signals to process a large amount of information. It not only has programmability, but also runs at a speed of tens of millions of complex instruction programs per second, far exceeding general-purpose microprocessors. The device is an increasingly important computer chip in the digital electronic world.

02 Advantage

Powerful data processing capability and high operating speed

03 Application

At present, the main applications of DSP applications are graphics and images, instrumentation, automatic control, medical, household appliances, signal processing, communication, voice, etc.

Wireless module

01 What is wireless module?

Most of the modules involved in the Internet of Things are wireless communication modules, referred to as wireless modules. The principle of the wireless communication module is to send or receive electromagnetic wave signals and convert them into information that we can understand. The role of the wireless communication module is to connect things with things, so that all kinds of Internet of Things terminal devices can realize information transmission capabilities, and all kinds of smart devices have an Internet of Things information interface. Hardware integration and software design integrate a variety of communication methods.

02 Advantage

Low cost, short construction project period, good adaptability and good scalability.

03 Application

Agriculture, security, industry, smart home, mobile payment, smart community, industrial applications, etc.


Central Processing Unit: A very large-scale integrated circuit, which is the core and control unit of a computer. Mainly interpret computer instructions and process data in computer software. Just like the human brain, it processes thousands of data. The main frequency of the CPU, the number of cores, and the cache are the three major factors that determine the computing power of the CPU. The higher the CPU frequency, the more cores, and the larger the cache, the stronger its computing power.

From the perspective of realizing operations, single-chip microcomputer, ARM, DSP can all be called CPU.

Difference between MCU, ARM, DSP and CPU

Although MCU, ARM, and DSP are all called CPUs, there are still obvious differences between them.

1. The MCU is a chip with a complete computer system, suitable for simple measurement and control systems, and its functions are relatively simple.

Both ARM and DSP can do the work of single-chip microcomputer. The MCU has much fewer instructions for digital calculation. In order to perform fast digital calculations and improve the efficiency of commonly used signal processing algorithms, DSP adds many instructions, such as single-cycle multiply-add instructions, Reverse order addition and subtraction instructions, block repeat instructions, etc., even a sequence composed of many commonly used operations is specially designed for one instruction to be completed in one cycle, which greatly improves the speed of signal processing. Because the amount of readings and write-backs in digital processing is very large, in order to increase the speed, the instruction and data spaces are separated, and two buses are used to access the two spaces respectively.

At the same time, there is generally a high-speed RAM inside the DSP, and data and programs are required. Load into the high-speed on-chip ram before running.

2. ARM is a microprocessor with powerful transaction processing functions and can be used with embedded operating systems.

The biggest advantage of ARM lies in its fast speed, low power consumption, and high chip integration. Most ARM chips can be counted as SOC. Basically, a small system can be made by adding power and drive interfaces to the periphery. Based on the ARM core processor Embedded systems are more and more used in various embedded systems that require complex control and communication functions due to their rich resources, low power consumption, low price, and numerous support manufacturers.

At present, microprocessors with ARM cores, which we usually call ARM microprocessors, have spread across various product markets such as industrial control, consumer electronics, communication systems, network systems, and wireless systems. Microprocessors based on ARM technology Processor applications account for more than 75% of the market share of 32-bit RISC microprocessors, and ARM technology is gradually infiltrating all aspects of our lives

3. DSP is suitable for digital signal processing, such as FFT, digital filter algorithm, encryption algorithm and complex control algorithm.

The real-time running speed of DSP can reach tens of millions of complex instruction programs per second. DSP devices are 8 to 10 times faster than the single instruction execution time of a 16-bit single-chip microcomputer, and 16 to 30 times faster to complete a multiplication and addition operation. The design adopted is that the data bus and the address bus are separated, so that the program and data are stored in two separate Space allows the fetch and execution of instructions to completely overlap. Its working principle is to receive analog signals, convert them to 0 or 1 digital signals, then modify, delete, and enhance the digital signals, and interpret the digital data in other system chips. Back to the simulation data or actual environment format, its powerful data processing capabilities and high operating speed are the two most commendable features.

DSP chip, because of its strong computing power, high speed, small size, and high flexibility of software programming, it provides an effective way for engaging in various complex applications. Its main application is to realize various digital signal processing algorithms quickly in real time.

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