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PIC microcontrollers

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

PIC microcontrollers are a family of specialized microcontroller chips produced by Microchip Technology in Chandler, Arizona. The acronym PIC stands for "peripheral interface controller," although that term is rarely used nowadays. A microcontroller is a compact microcomputer designed to govern the operation of embedded systems in motor vehicles, robots, office machines, medical devices, mobile radios, vending machines, home appliances, and various other devices. A typical microcontroller includes a processor, memory, and peripherals.

The PIC microcontrollers appeal to hobbyists and experimenters, especially in the fields of electronics and robotics. Key features include wide availability, low cost, ease of reprogramming with built-in EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory), an extensive collection of free application notes, abundant development tools, and a great deal of information available on the Internet. The PIC microcontrollers often appear under the brand name PICmicro.

Every PIC microcontroller has a set of registers that also function as RAM (random access memory). Special purpose control registers for on-chip hardware resources are also mapped into the data space. Every PIC has a stack that saves return addresses. The stack was not software-accessible on the earlier versions of the PIC, but this limitation was removed in later devices.

 

Continue reading about PIC microcontrollers:

Picprojects describes several projects that PIC enthusiasts can develop and test in their own labs.

Van Ooijen Technische Informatica (Netherlands) answers frequently asked questions about the PIC family.

This was last updated in April 2012

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