• Dhanush kumar S

Microprocessors in Embedded Systems

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

An #embeddedsystem is defined as the integration of computer memory, processor, and input/output peripheral devices designed to perform a particular task in a given time. The Embedded system is the basic unit of the #electronics industry. The usage of the embedded systems ranges from mobile phones, digital watches to traffic light controllers, and avionics. For designing an embedded system, the knowledge of both microprocessors and microcontrollers.

In embedded systems, microprocessors take the response from sensors in digital form and process it to produce the output in a real-time environment. This article explains the concepts, types, and working of the microprocessors in embedded systems.


It is also a single VLSI chip with an association of additional units such as pipelines, coaches, and floating-point arithmetic units for the fast processing of signals. It operates with a clock frequency of about 2 GHz. #Microprocessors are meant for multi-processing and RAM, ROM, I/O ports can be connected externally. Processors inside a system consist of two essential units namely, a control unit and an execution unit.

A microprocessor chip is constructed with the help of #semiconductors especially thousands of #transistors which are integrated into a single chip for better performance. Microprocessors consist of various units such as control unit, execution unit, memory unit, registers, and system buses for data transmission.

Control unit: This unit controls the program flow operation in embedded systems. It can also be employed as the fetching unit to fetch the set of instructions stored inside a memory.

Execution unit: This unit is employed for executing various tasks inside the processors. It consists of Arithmetic Logical Unit (ALU) and also a circuit that helps the control unit to perform its functions.

Memory unit: The memory unit of microprocessors can be RAM or ROM. Other than this, there is a memory space called cache memory. It is nothing but a small amount of memory located on the chip of a processor. The microprocessor stores a copy of data and instructions in its cache memory while executing the program.

Registers: The registers are small but fast memory space which is built inside the Central Processing Unit(CPU) to speed up its operations. Special purpose registers control the functions of the processor whereas the general-purpose registers store the arbitrary data.

System bus: It is nothing but a wire used to attach different components to communicate with internal and also external parts of the processor. It receives the data and instructions from the main memory and allocates them to their respective cache memories. Processed data is again transferred to the main memory.

Types of Processors:

The processors employed in the manufacturing of the embedded system can be broadly classified into three types. They are,

Application-Specific System Processor(ASSP):

This is an application-dependent system processor used for processing the signals involved in the embedded system. Therefore, for performing unique tasks the corresponding processor is required.

Application-Specific Instruction Processor(ASIP):

This is also an application-dependent but instruction driven processor. This is used for processing various instructions set inside a combinational circuit of embedded systems.

General Purpose Processor(GPP):

GPP is used for processing the signal from input to output by controlling the operation of the data bus, address bus, and system bus inside an embedded system. This GPP includes microcontrollers, microprocessors, embedded processors, media, and digital signal processors.

Advantages of microprocessors:

  • The speed of the microprocessor is very high when compared to other components. For example, the processor with a speed of about 3 gigahertz can perform 3 billion tasks per second.

  • The microprocessor can quickly move data between the various memory locations.

  • It can perform complex mathematical operations involving floating-point numbers.

  • Microprocessors are available at low cost because of integrated #circuit technology.

  • They are fabricated in a very less footprint. Hence, the size of the system is greatly reduced.

  • Microprocessors are usually manufactured using metal oxide semiconductor technology, in which MOSFETs are working in saturation and cutoff modes. So the power consumption is very low.

Disadvantages of microprocessors:

  • These processors often get heated too much which is one of the major drawbacks.

  • It has certain limitations on the size of the data.

  • The operation of the microprocessor can only be designed by using the machine language.

Applications of microprocessors:

  • Microprocessors are employed in accounting systems and data acquisition systems.

  • They are used in LASER printers to produce good quality automatic photocopies.

  • The programmable thermostats are used to control the temperature inside our home. A microprocessor along with a temperature sensor adjusts the heat production in this system.

  • Other household appliances such as high-end coffee makers, washing machines, alarm clocks, DVD players, ovens, and home lighting systems.

  • Some industrial items such as gasoline pumps, heavy machinery, computer servers, surveillance systems, credit card processing units, and high-tech medical devices.

  • In vehicles such as buses, cars, and trucks microprocessors are integrated to communicate important information throughout the vehicle and also to enable the Global Positioning System(GPS) #technology.

  • All types of computers ranging from microcomputers to supercomputers, microprocessor-drives technology is employed.

  • Mobile phones, televisions, and gaming platforms also contain microprocessors in them for executing complex instructions and tasks.

  • In the medical field, devices such as insulin pumps are controlled by processors to maintain their accuracy. They also perform functions such as processing data from bio-sensors, storing measurements, and analyzing the results.

  • In instruments such as function generators, frequency counters, spectrum analyzers the microprocessors are used as controllers.

The microprocessors are almost used each and every second by us in our lives. They simplify the task and also consumes less time to perform it. The researchers are still working on reducing the size of the processors at the micro-level and all the future trends and technologies in science are going to be based on the processors.

See also:

  1. Tools in Embedded Systems

  2. Microcontrollers in Embedded Systems

  3. Structure of Embedded Systems