8-bit PIC® MCUs

Last modified by Microchip on 2023/11/22 16:28



History of PIC® MCU

The first Peripheral Interface Controller (PIC®) was developed in 1975. It was a 16-bit core, created to handle the input/output tasks of larger Central Processor Units (CPUs) to improve overall system performance. It offered Read-Only Memory (ROM), Random Access Memory (RAM), and a simple but efficient CPU. 

Microchip's first 8-bit microcontroller (MCU), was the PIC1650. Over time, 8-bit PIC expanded from 12-bit instruction words to 14 and 16. Non-volatile program and data memory were introduced along with more package options and many new digital and analog peripherals. Improvements to power consumption, performance, and cost also became available. 

Since 2014, Microchip Technology's 8-bit microcontrollers have been the best-selling solution on the market. Microchip continues to release innovative products and grow in popularity. 

Benefits of 8-Bit PIC MCUs

The PIC10, PIC12, PIC16 and PIC18 product families feature:

  • Easy migration - scale your designs up or down
  • Performance to meet your application needs ranging from lowest power up to 100 Dhrystone Million Instructions Per Second (DMIPS)
  • Complete portfolio from 384B to 512 KB of program memory as your code requirements grow
  • Upward compatible architectures to preserve investment in code development
  • Pin compatibility in multiple packages facilitates drop-in replacement from six to 144 pins

8-bit PIC Families

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

* bit PIC families

The 8-bit family has four categories:

  • Baseline (12-bit wide program memory)
  • Mid-Range (14-bit wide program memory)
  • Enhanced Mid-Range (enhanced 14-bit wide program memory)
  • High-End (16-bit wide program memory)

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 8K program memory on a 14-bit core device contains 8K words of program space, the equivalent of 14K 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.


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, is the easiest to work with and understand. It features:

  • Simple 33 (12-bit wide) instruction set for ease of use and quick development
  • 2K 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 family can be recognized by their part number structure: 10Fxxx, 12Fxxx, and 16Fxxx.


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
  • 8K 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: Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM), LCD, mTouch™ sensing solutions, and serial communications

The Mid-Range family can be recognized by their part number structure: 10Fxxx, 12Fxxx, and 16Fxxx.

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 and 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 family can be recognized by their part number structure: 12F1xxx and 16F1xxx.


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 Charge Time Measurement Unit (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.