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What Is An Embedded System? Definition, Basics, & Components

By June 14, 2023October 31st, 2023No Comments

Another direction was related to the development of secure embedded systems. In particular, we explored the possibility of testing techniques to exploit the vulnerability toward side-channel attacks. Over the recent years, there have been a number of works, which analyze non-functional behavior to perform side-channel (security related) attacks.

As the cost of microprocessors and microcontrollers fell, the prevalence of embedded systems increased. Microprocessors or microcontrollers used in embedded systems are generally not as advanced when compared to general-purpose processors designed for managing multiple tasks. They often work on a simple, less-memory-intensive program environment [20].

Types of embedded systems

Their criticality for services on all fronts and for technological and thus economic growth has led to significant efforts to address the challenges placed by embedded systems development and deployment. One important effort is the ARTEMIS initiative of the European Commission [1]. Figure 1-2, a figure from the ARTEMIS SRA [8], shows one view of the embedded systems area organized by research domains and application contexts.

  • Embedded systems typically have similar constraints in terms of computational power and memory.
  • The processor interprets this data with the help of minimal software stored on the memory.
  • An embedded system contains a microprocessor or microcontroller that is typically designed to perform computation for real-time operations.
  • The communication interface and the data are used to process and calculate the results.
  • On some SOC devices the MPU also controls whether a memory region is cacheable.

Embedded System is a system composed of hardware, application software and real time operating system. System is a set of interrelated parts/components which are designed/developed to perform common tasks or to do some specific work for which it has been created. Sometimes, single board and rack mounted general-purpose computers are called “embedded computers” if used to control a single printer, drill press or other such device. See embedded market, smart car, Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, Embedded Linux and embedded language. In MMU-less devices, there is often the need to provide some form of protection between different aspects of the system. This level of protection is provided by the provisions of a memory protection unit (MPU).

What is embedded systems programming?

Thus much of the software used for embedded systems can be used for smart objects and vice versa. If the device needs to be very small or will be sold in very big numbers (“high-volume”), it makes sense to make a custom or specialized chip that does exactly what is needed. This is a system on a chip (SoC) which holds a complete system – processor, floating point unit, memory cache and interfaces on a single integrated circuit. SoCs can be made as a special-order application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or by using a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) which is programmed by the people building the embedded system. Communication interfaces enable embedded systems to establish communications with each other and other components within the larger system.

We need an approach somewhere in between that of Esterel and that of today’s real-time operating systems, with the safety and predictability of Esterel and the adaptability of a real-time operating system. An embedded system consists of a processor, memory, and input/output units and has a specific function within a larger system. Embedded systems have applications in the consumer, home entertainment, industrial, medical, automotive, commercial, telecommunication, military, and aerospace verticals.


Consider earning a certificate from an online specialization like Introduction to the Internet of Things and Embedded Systems. The average base salary for an embedded systems engineer in the US is $128,603 per year, according to Glassdoor. Embedded systems engineers also report an additional average annual pay of $41,323. definition of embedded system These figures combined equal a total estimated yearly compensation in the US of $169,927 [2]. Embedded systems are crucial in several technologies, including the internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices. Almost every smart device today uses this versatile technology in some capacity or the other.

what is an embedded system definition

General-purpose microprocessors are also used in embedded systems, but generally, require more support circuitry than microcontrollers. Embedded systems are used for safety-critical systems in aerospace and defense industries. In dealing with security, the embedded systems can be self-sufficient and be able to deal with cut electrical and communication systems. Most embedded devices operate in an uninterrupted manner and have a high degree of fault tolerance. Despite their independence and limited capabilities, they do contribute to the overall capabilities of a larger system.

Advantages and drawbacks of embedded devices

Not all standalone embedded systems are mobile embedded systems, but all mobile embedded systems are standalone embedded systems. This article will give you a thorough detail on what is embedded system is, starting from microcontrollers to their complex applications. Internet of things (IoT) devices cannot function without embedded systems. Learn more about their operation, their parts and how to choose the correct embedded system for an IoT device. Depending on the complexity and use of the device, the software layer might include a variety of components.

what is an embedded system definition

Once the code is prepared in the text editor, the machine must understand it. This is achieved with the compiler’s help, translating the written code into low-level machine language. Examples of low-level languages include machine code, assembly language, and object code. A text editor is the first software component needed for building an embedded system. This editor is used to write source code in C and C++ programming languages and save it as a text file.

Differences from application software

The hardware and all the software in the system are available to and extensible by application programmers. The advantages and disadvantages are similar to that of the control loop, except that adding new software is easier, by simply writing a new task, or adding to the queue. There are several different types of software architecture in common use. He is an accomplished SEO expert with a keen interest in driving organic traffic and optimizing website performance. His forte is building high growth strategies, technical SEO, and generating organic engagement that drives long-term profit.

what is an embedded system definition

Embedded systems are useful in applications with size, power, cost, or weight constraints. In addition to the core operating system, many embedded systems have additional upper-layer software components. These components include networking protocol stacks like CAN, TCP/IP, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS, and storage capabilities like FAT and flash memory management systems.

Safety and Reliability[change change source]

These motes are completely self-contained and will typically run off a battery source for years before the batteries need to be changed or charged. A general-purpose computer such as Pentium PC or Intel Industrial PC is not embedded systems as it doesn’t perform any specific embedded function. A PC itself is connected to many embedded systems, such as a printer, keyboard, mouse, scanner, modem and many others.

These are mostly x86-based and often physically small compared to a standard PC, although still quite large compared to most simple (8/16-bit) embedded systems. They may use DOS, FreeBSD, Linux, NetBSD, or an embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) such as MicroC/OS-II, QNX or VxWorks. Some systems provide user interface remotely with the help of a serial (e.g. RS-232) or network (e.g. Ethernet) connection. This approach extends the capabilities of the embedded system, avoids the cost of a display, simplifies the board support package (BSP) and allows designers to build a rich user interface on the PC. A good example of this is the combination of an embedded HTTP server running on an embedded device (such as an IP camera or a network router). The user interface is displayed in a web browser on a PC connected to the device.

Embedded systems are not adapted as easily, but they are built to perform their tasks much more reliably. Because the hardware is simpler, it is also often cheaper to build and runs faster. An embedded system is a computer that has been built to solve only a few very specific problems and is not easily changed.[1] The word embedded means it is built into the system. It usually does not look like a computer, often no keyboard or monitor or mouse. An embedded systems engineer is responsible for designing, developing, and managing embedded systems in products.