8-Bit Microcontroller Summary

It can be confusing to someone trying to decide the best choice for their product or project as 8-bit PIC® microcontrollers come in several core architectures. This page describes the different options to help you make the correct choice.

The 8-bit family has four categories:


The 8-bit PIC microcontroller uses a Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture that has a separate address and data bus. This means they can be separate in size as well. All 8-bit PIC microcontrollers have an 8-bit wide data bus but the program bus will vary in size depending on the family. This can also cause confusion since the memory structure of an 8-bit PIC microcontroller will be reported in words of a size equal to the program bus, not the data bus. A larger program bus allows the device to place more information in one instruction line and thus, more efficient execution. Therefore, memory for each device is reported in words and then a byte reference.

For example, an 8 K program memory on a 14-bit core device contains 8 K words of program space, the equivalent of 14 K of space in bytes.

All 8-bit devices execute assembly commands in one instruction cycle, except for branches and fetches. This makes for a very efficient operating system. The oscillator speed in most devices is divided by four to produce the instruction clock but enhanced parts have a Phase Lock Loop (PLL) feature that allows you to step up the oscillator by four before the divide to get a one to one relationship between the oscillator speed and the instruction clock speed.

The 8-bit family has some of the lowest current draws in the industry and many features that will run in Sleep mode.

8-Bit Peripheral Reference Guide


Baseline PIC microcontrollers utilize a 12-bit instruction word and provide the right amount of features and options to minimize expenses and get the job done right. Baseline has the simplest architecture of the 8-bit family and therefore, are the easiest to work with and understand. They feature:

  • Simple 33 (12-bit wide) instruction set for ease of use and quick development
  • 2 K word (3 KB) addressable program memory
  • 144 bytes RAM (max)
  • 2-level hardware stack
  • One (8-bit) file select register
  • Multiple product options and easy migration
  • Smallest form factors available

The Baseline can be recognized by their part number structure: 10Fxxx, 12Fxxx, and 16Fxxx.

You can see the full line-up of Baseline devices on the Baseline products page.


Mid-Range PIC microcontrollers are the next tier in performance and have features from the Baseline PIC microcontrollers. Utilizing a 14-bit instruction word, these peripheral-rich devices are ideal for many applications that require a higher level of embedded control and more memory.

  • 35 (14-bit wide) easy instructions to learn
  • 8 K word (14 KB) addressable program memory
  • 368 bytes RAM (max)
  • 8-level hardware stack
  • One (9-bit) file select register
  • Hardware interrupt handling
  • Highly integrated feature set: EEPROM, LCD, mTouch™ sensing solutions, and serial communications

The mid-range can be recognized by their part number structure: 10Fxxx, 12Fxxx, and 16Fxxx.

You can see the full line-up of enhanced mid-range devices on the Mid-Range Devices products page.

Enhanced Mid-Range

The newest family is the enhanced mid-range core which builds upon the best elements of the mid-range core and provides additional performance while maintaining compatibility with mid-range PIC MCUs for true product migration. These devices have the latest features and the lowest power in the 8-bit core. The enhanced core adds more program memory and higher operating speeds. They also feature the highest accuracy, highest frequency internal oscillators.

  • 49 (14-bit wide) assembly commands
  • 32 K word (56 KB) addressable program memory
  • 4 KB RAM (max)
  • 16-level hardware stack
  • Two (16-bit) file select registers
  • Hardware interrupt handling with content save
  • Advanced feature set, multiple serial communications, and motor control capability

The enhanced mid-range can be recognized by their part number structure: 12F1xxx and 16F1xxx.

You can see the full line-up of enhanced mid-range devices on the Enhanced Mid-Range Devices product page.


These parts have their own prefix namely, PIC18. This family combines the maximum level of performance and integration with the ease-of-use of an 8-bit architecture. With up to 16 MIPS of processing power, PIC18 Microcontrollers feature advanced peripherals, such as CAN, USB, Ethernet, LCD, and CTMU. They offer the largest pin count and memory size in the 8-bit family of parts. The architecture is optimized for C programming.

  • 83 (16-bit wide) assembly instructions
  • Up to 2 MB addressable program memory
  • 4 KB RAM (max)
  • 32-level hardware stack
  • One (8-bit) file select register
  • Integrated 8x8 hardware multiply
  • Highest performance 8-bit architecture

The High-End devices can be recognized by their part number structure: 18Fxxxx, 18FxxJxx, and 18FxxKxx.

You can see the full line-up of High-End PIC18 devices on the High-End Devices product page.

Development Tools

All the 8-bit devices can be programmed/debugged with the same set of Microchip Development Tools.
They include:

  • MPLAB® X IDE - Single Integrated Development Environment supports all PIC MCUs
  • XC8 - MPLAB X C Compiler for 8-bit devices. Free versions available with no time or memory limitations
  • PICkit™ 3 - Most affordable in-circuit debugger/programmer with simple breakpoints
  • ICD 3 / ICD 4 - High-speed hardware debugger/programmer with complex breakpoints
  • MPLAB REAL ICE™ - High-speed emulator with complex breakpoints and trace capability

 Self-Paced Training

The material in these training modules exists elsewhere on this site in a general reference format. However, the training modules present it in an organized, step-by-step sequence to help you learn the topic from the ground up.

 Frequently Asked Questions

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