A quick introduction to embedded systems

What is an embedded system?

An embedded system is a computer system or a piece of hardware that is embedded in another device. An embedded system is distinct from a general-purpose computer in that it has limited intelligence and typically performs only one task. The term “embedded” comes from the fact that it was first used to describe a person who had been embedded into another unit (usually military), i.e., an army having soldiers embedded into their units.

An embedded system can be thought of as any device with a processor and memory that lies within another product such as an automobile, aeroplane or home appliance. It may also be found within machines such as industrial robots and even medical devices. So now that you understand what embedded software and system let’s understand some of its characteristics.

What are the characteristics of an embedded system?

1. Single-functioned

An embedded system is a single-purpose device with a specific set of functions. The function of an embedded system may include, but is not limited to, processing data and controlling the behaviour of a machine or other device.

2. Tightly constrained

A tightly constrained embedded system is one that has very few resources available for its design. In contrast, a loosely constrained system has many resources available for its design and can be used to solve more complex problems than a tightly constrained one. The design of an embedded system must enable it to fulfil its intended purpose without being overly complicated or expensive to build and maintain. The more functions that are added to the computer, the higher the cost will be because more components are required to support those additional features (i.e., more chips). Furthermore, if too many features are added, then reliability and maintenance costs will increase as well — these costs may outweigh any performance gains from having extra features!

3. Reactive and Real-time

Everything in an embedded system is a network of interacting physical devices. Data must be transferred between these devices and stored in memories, but the amount of data required to do this is often too much for a single processor to handle. A microprocessor can only process one instruction at a time, so it cannot access all the memory or perform all the calculations needed by an embedded system. In order to overcome this problem, it requires multiple processors (or processor cores) that work together to complete the task.

4. Microprocessors

Microprocessors are the brains of an embedded system, controlling all other parts of the system. The microprocessor must have enough memory and processing power to process data quickly and efficiently. Microprocessors are available in many different types and manufacturers. They can be used as stand-alone processors or can be combined with other components such as memory and I/O devices. Some microprocessors have multiple cores (e.g., eight cores on a multi-core chip) that can be used simultaneously for processing different tasks, such as handling data from sensors or driving motors.

Microprocessors are usually packaged on a printed circuit board (PCB), which provides electrical connections between the processor and other components of the system (such as memory controllers, I/O buses, etc.). A PCB is also used to connect multiple microprocessors together so that they share resources such as buses, memories, etc. Since microprocessors are so important for embedded systems, hence they are one of the most important parts of a reliable embedded systems course with placement guarantees.