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An embedded processor is a microprocessor designed especially for handling the needs of an embedded system. Embedded systems require less power, so these processors are very small and draw less power from the source. An ordinary microprocessor only comes with the processor in the chip. The peripherals are separate from the main chip, resulting in more power consumption.
There are two main types of embedded processors: ordinary microprocessors and microcontrollers. Embedded processors are used for those systems which do not require the processing power of standard devices such as desktops, laptops or workstations.
An embedded processor can be programmed specifically for the work it is intended to do. Thus, it can have many different CPU architectures. Often the Harvard architecture is used in such processors. RISC and non-RISC type architectures are common amongst them. The most common word length in these processors is in the 8-16 bit range. Embedded processors are even differentiated on the basis of their clock speed, storage size and voltages. Usually, embedded processors have a storage capacity of 4 kB to 64 kB, but some systems require more storage. Microcontrollers are generally considered more useful as they require less support circuitry than microprocessors. For such systems, microcontrollers with storage space up to 320 kB are available. These are used in portable devices like cameras, GPS systems and MP3 players.