embedded computing systems

What is Embedded Computing?

Embedded computing is part of our day-to-day lives through consumer electronics, mobile and industrial devices, automobiles, and many more. Embedded computing is essential to the appropriate functioning of products and applications: communication, medical, aerospace, and more.

These systems are programmed to perform specific tasks. Computing systems can be made up of hardware and software with some which are programmable while others are not. They rely on microprocessors, digital signal processors, and other purposely designed processors to work. In fact, 98% of the microprocessors manufactured today are used in embedded systems.

The most common examples of embedded computing systems are smartwatches and traffic lights. Recently, these computing systems started using system-on-chip as SOCs offer more advanced functionality and computing power compared to microprocessors.


Characteristics of embedded systems

Embedded computing performs a single task in a large system. It is a programmable system for a specific purpose. Below are the elements of these systems:

  • Made up of hardware, software, and firmware
  • Embedded on a larger system to perform a definite function
  • The embedded computing system can be microprocessor-based or microcontroller-based
  • Embedded systems are often used in real-time computing in the Internet of things devices
  • Vary in complexity and function
  • Oftentimes required to perform their function under a specific time frame for the larger system to function properly


The elements of embedded computing

  • Hardware – the hardware components of embedded systems include microprocessors and microcontrollers. These two are very similar to each other which act as CPU which is then integrated to the memory chip and digitals signal processors.
  • Software – industrial-grade microcontrollers run through a software system that requires little memory to run or control machines or devices.
  • Firmware – embedded firmware is usually used in more complex systems to connect the software to the hardware. Embedded firmware applies to more complex applications and operating systems.

Embedded systems must be reliable and efficient. These are crucial characteristics as these systems cannot be programmed and accessed by users. They are time-sensitive, so the system-on-chip must work efficiently within the given time frame.


Different systems categories

There are multiple embedded computing categories depending on their function and use. One type of design is the standalone system. This only requires input and output lines to work. Music players are examples of a standalone system.

Then, there are real-time embedded computing systems and network embedded systems. A common example of a network embedded design is your home security system.

The last and the most popular systems are mobile embedded systems that are used in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

These systems are expected to rapidly grow in the coming years due to the increasing demands of applications in smart transportation, communication, drones, smart cars, smart homes, smartphones, medical equipment, video surveillance, and many more.

With embedded computing systems and integration of system-on-chip, different fields and industries can come up with new and innovative features and capabilities beyond manual work can provide.


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