Modern day technologies are touching new heights every day. With more and more advancements, our lives have become easier and technology-driven. Embedded systems are one of the inventions of technology. The concept of embedded services and systems is nothing new, in fact it dates back to as early as 1960.
What is an Embedded System?
In simple terms, an embedded system is one that is designed to carry out assistive/ supportive functions for larger devices. Such embedded systems are a part of a complete device system which includes hardware like electrical and mechanical components. Unlike the general computer systems, that perform a wide range of tasks, embedded systems are designed for one or two tasks only.
Most of our day to day devices are embedded systems. Some examples are washing machine, AC, mobile, toys, etc. The microprocessor in washing machines or other gadgets is designed to perform only few particular tasks and nothing more than those.
Features of Embedded Systems-
- Embedded systems are made to execute only few pre-programmed functions. They also have a particular set of requirement for functioning.
- Such systems are programmed hardware devices which run on the programmable hardware chips.
- Embedded systems are often not independent devices. In fact, they are a part of larger device that carries out specific functions. Thus, embedded systems carry out several supportive functions for the main device.
- A program is scripted for the embedded system and is called the firmware. It is stored on a read-only or flashy memory.
- Another feature of these systems is that they do not possess a user interface or a high graphical interface. Such factors depend on the purpose of the device or its function. LEDs, LCDs are used by simple embedded devices with simple menu options. Features like touch screens are used by complex devices.
Types of Embedded Systems-
Embedded systems are classified into 7 types depending upon –
- Performance & functional requirement – Real Time, Stand Alone, Networked & Mobile
- Based on the performance of Microcontroller- Small scale, Medium scale & Sophisticated
Let us understand a little more details about the types of embedded systems now.
- Real-time embedded system- As the name suggests this type of embedded system is quick to response in critical situations. They are preferably used in areas like military, medical and industrial applications. In order to develop and design such systems one requires timing analysis, multitasking design, debugging, cross-platform testing and architecture design. Firms providing embedded services need experienced and expert staff to develop a good real-time embedded system. Elevators, lights and doors in buildings, patient monitoring system, etc. are perfect examples of real time embedded systems.
- Standalone embedded system- Microwaves, Mp3 players, digital cameras are all designed on the standalone embedded systems. Such systems are independent and do not need any interconnected computer to function. They take data in the form of analog/digital signals, process them and then displays the output data on screen.
- Networked embedded system- This type of embedded system is connected to networks to give output to the attached resources. The devices are connected to the network with network interfaces, which can be LAN or WAN. Also the connection may be wired or wireless. Such an embedded system is in high demand these days and has gained lot of popularity. An example of this type of embedded system would be security system used in offices or homes where the sensors are connected and run on the protocol TCP/IP.
- Mobile embedded systems-This embedded system is used in portable devices like cell phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, etc. And the same is evident from the name mobile embedded systems.
- Small Scale embedded systems-Designed with a single 8 or 16-bit microcontroller, small scale embedded systems are developed using programming tools like editor, assembler, cross assembler, and integrated development environment.
- Medium Scale embedded- Mediumscale embedded systems are designed with single or 16 or 32 bit microcontroller, RICs, DSPs. Such systems have hardware and software complexities. In order to develop these systems, the programming tools used are C, C++, RTOS, debugger, simulator, IDE, etc.
- Sophisticated embedded systems- Since these systems have enormous hardware and software complexities, they need ASIPs, IPs, PLAsscalable, or configurable processors.
Since an embedded system designing is a specialized area requiring expert knowledge, experience and modern equipment, it is best to consult the experts in the field of embedded services.