At it’s root, a microcontroller is a flexible, “jack of all trades” electronic component. Microcontrollers (MCUs) are seen servicing a wide variety of applications ranging from simple handlings of inputs/outputs, all the way to managing entire systems. On average, an electronic design contains up to three MCUs. That number is growing significantly as electronics become more pervasive.
The stand alone microcontroller is characterized as lower power than the processor side of embedded processing, simpler data rates and often times the closest interaction to analog (real world) signals--either through the integrated analog peripherals or through external stand-alone analog components. Microcontrollers add digital processing "smarts" to the analog/physical world and are even being embedded into larger more complex heterogeneous processor cores such as the processor on BeagleBone. If you will be designing any sort of electronic hardware, programming a microcontroller will be a skill set you will need to have.
TI MCU in Education
TI MCU's offer the broadest range of options. We offer the spectrum of low power, low cost, entry level processors to the higher power, highly specialized application specific processor. For more information about the MCU families and applications, visit TI's MCU portal.