• Dhanush kumar S

Embedded Systems: An Integrated Framework

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

In our day to day life, we would have come across many complex appliances starting from television sets, video game consoles to #electronic voting machines. Have you ever wondered about the functioning of all these? It's all because of microcontrollers.


Microcontrollers are the building blocks of #embeddedsystems as they possess #integrated memory and peripheral components. The usage of the embedded systems ranges from mobile phones, digital watches to traffic light controllers, and avionics.

In this article, we are going to see in detail the embedded systems, application and it's future.


Introduction:

An embedded system 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 first single-chip microprocessor ( Intel 4004) was developed by Federico Faggin in 1971 using silicon-gate MOS technology. At the core level, it is an integrated circuit that has been designed to perform some real-time operations. The complexity of an embedded system depends on the task to which it has been assigned.


The embedded system mainly consists of three components. They are hardware units, software applications, and the Real-Time Operating System (RTOS).


Hardware unit:

An embedded system requires a hardware platform to perform the operation. Microcontrollers are the core of embedded systems. The basic unit is followed by #memory space, input/output interfaces, timers, and display units. It also consists of serial communication ports and SASC (System Application Specific Circuits). Hardware for embedded systems is much less standardized. Due to the huge variety of embedded system hardware, it is impossible to provide an overview of all types of hardware components.

Software applications:

Depending upon the device, the embedded system's software is written to perform a function repeatedly. It is usually written in a high-level setup and compiled down to offer us a specific code. The code can be placed within the non-volatile memory of the hardware. Embedded system software should be constructed in a way that would satisfy the following attributes.

  • Based on the processor's speed.

  • System memory.

  • Depending on power dissipation for actions like stop, speed up.


RTOS:

The RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) helps in the proper function of the microcontrollers in association with the software application. It is responsible for managing different hardware resources associated with the embedded systems. This operating system designed in such a way to run various applications at a particular time with a high level of consistency. This can be more significant in industrial automation systems where a delay in the implementation of code can cause a safety hazard.


Characteristics of an embedded system:

  • This is a single-functionality system.

  • Embedded systems have tight design metrics. Design metrics is nothing but a measure of certain features such as cost, power, size, and performance. This system should fit on a single chip and perform fast enough to process the given data.

  • Embedded systems possess low manufacturing cost and low power consumption, as they are designed to perform only a particular task and not all.

  • They should possess some memory space, as it's software generally inserts in ROM. It does not require any secondary memory.

  • It should possess connection peripherals to connect input and output devices.

  • The hardware part is assigned for performance and security whereas the software unit is for features and flexibility.

  • This system should continuously react to the real-time environment and compute the results without any delay. Example: Traffic light controller.

Advantages of an embedded system:

The embedded systems can be employed in various work environments that can offer enhanced performance. The total power consumption of an embedded system is less than 1 W, which is very low when compared to other devices.


Embedded products are designed to perform only particular operations in their lifetime. The components required to design these products are very small in size and so the size of the product is also small. The price of embedded devices is very low when compared to other computational devices.


The credibility of the embedded system is very high. They are also called as real-time devices. There are many situations where the device has to respond in real-time, such as the airbag system in cars and SUVs, the missile tracking system. The embedded system can also be interfaced with other systems. As they are designed in a simple format, they can be easily handled. Embedded systems can work in the speed of GHz so that they can finish the task within Nanoseconds.


Accuracy of the embedded device is an important factor to perform its operation correctly. Let us consider an insulin injection pump. The amount of insulin to be injected must be accurately calculated and injected otherwise, it can lead to an impact on human life. In the medical field, pacemakers, and patient #monitoring systems at the Intensive Care Unit [ICU] are made up of embedded systems.


Disadvantages of an embedded system:

  • The embedded systems are hard to maintain and difficult to identify the error if any damage occurs.

  • In the case of embedded systems, there is no room for any improvement in the constructed #technology.

  • It is complicated to take back up of the files involved in the embedded devices.

  • The embedded systems have less power durability if they are operated by batteries.

  • It is difficult to transfer data from one system to another.

  • Since the embedded systems possess limited processing resources, it is a bit harder to program and simulate.

Future of embedded systems:

The global market for the embedded systems industry was valued at $68.9 billion in 2017 and is expected to rise to $105.7 billion by the end of 2025. This rise depicts the existence of a strong future for the industry of embedded systems.


The embedded systems are highly customizable and the structure can be modified based on our requirement. Embedded systems will be the heart of some concepts like cloud connectivity, reduced energy consumption, mesh networking, and #deeplearning applications. The industry of embedded systems is expected to grow rapidly because of the development of #ArtificialIntelligence (AI), Augmented Reality(#AR), and Virtual Reality (#VR).


Healthcare is one of the fast-developing applications of embedded systems. As the size of processors in embedded systems used in healthcare decreases, it's functionality and intelligence is increasing exponentially. As a result of this, a new generation of medical devices can intervene inside the organs of the human body in new and innovative ways.


#Cloud connectivity tools will be an important future market for embedded systems. These tools are designed to simplify the process of connecting embedded systems with cloud-based services by reducing hardware complexities.


See also:

Structure of Embedded Systems

The Architecture of Embedded Systems

Tools in Embedded Systems




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