Embedded System


Isha Budhiraja
B.Tech, MBA, M.Phil (Computer Science)
K.R. Mangalam Institute of Management
Kailash Colony, New Delhi

Working Title:-   " Embedded System"

We are living in the embedded world. Our lives become more dependent on 'embedded systems, digital information technology that is embedded in our environment. This includes not only safety-critical applications such as automotive devices and controls, railways, aircraft, aerospace and medical devices, but also communications, 'mobile worlds' and 'e-worlds', the 'smart' home, clothes, factories etc. All of these have wide-ranging impacts on society, including security, privacy and modes of working and living and we are habituated to use them easily and flawlessly to our advantage. Common examples are TV Remote Controllers, Mobile Phones, Fax machines, Xerox machines etc. However, we seldom ponder over the technology behind each of them. Each of these devices does have one or more programmable devices waiting to interact with the environment as effectively as possible. These are a class of "embedded systems" and they provide service in real time i.e. we need not have to wait too long for the action. So,

What is this Embedded System?

An embedded system is a special-purpose computer system designed to perform one or a few dedicated functions, often with real-time computing constraints. It is usually embedded as part of a complete device including hardware and mechanical parts. Embedded systems control many of the common devices in use today. Since the Embedded system is dedicated to specific tasks, design Engineers can optimize it, reducing the size and cost of the product, or increasing the reliability and performance. Some embedded systems are mass-produced, benefiting from economies of scale.

Embedded systems have been extensively used in various markets. These systems can be found in household electronics, office equipments, handhold and mobile devices, and industry control systems. It is estimated that the embedded processors occupy more than 90% of entire processor market, far more than their general-purpose counterparts. Moore's law, which states that the number of transistors integrated on a single chip doubles about every two years, has been holding true for the past forty years. As shown in Figure 1.1. Chips with billions of transistors are becoming into reality in the past two years. The previous board-level systems now are shrinking into chip-level systems, which are called System-On-a-Chip (SOC). The proliferation of nanometer technologies with ever decreasing geometry sizes has led to proportionally unprecedented levels of SOC integration. The large number of transistors and the high- speed clock frequency have provided powerful computation capability to the SOC platform. As the direct result, more and more application tasks can be mapped into one SOC, which brings the system complexity to an unprecedented high level. The tasks include data computation, communication and signal processing, real-time control and various other types of applications, which show large diversity in terms of application property and system requirements.

                                                                   Fig. 1.1

Future Trends in Embedded System:-

How would you like to live in a house that recognizes your fingerprints and opens the front door automatically? A fridge that checks your food supplies and places orders to replenish them; or intelligent lights and air conditioners that adjust their settings automatically according to the light and heat available at various times of the day. What about a microwave oven that can send a message to your PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) saying that the cake you kept to bake is done? These are all possible in the near future. In fact, many of these devices have already made their debut using embedded systems for controlling them and the Blue tooth technology for communication. And they will also be connected to the Internet in most cases. Today, we already see products like credit cards with security chips inside or car tires that wirelessly communicate with the vehicle about road conditions, tire inflation and temperature.  Embedded solutions are everywhere, and most people don't even know it. Soon, even engineers won't be able to tell. In the next two years, various advances in embedded electronics will combine, creating some highly integrated products that look as though they lack all the necessary electronics due to the tiny nature of the circuitry in addition to the seamless integration into the product.

Medical Technologies:-

  • In the medical field the pacemaker will be able to monitor parameters like blood pressure, blood flow, pulse rate, temperature, etc, using micro sensors planted in various parts of the body. It will also transmit data using wireless transmission, thus enabling a doctor to constantly monitor its operation. In most cases, ireless transmission is likely to be done by a transmitter implanted near the surface of the skin.
  • Embedded chemotherapy treatment of cancer with time-released, variable and highly targeted drugs would be possible as well as monitoring of organs from inside the body without any cuts or surgery. Chips are so small and dependable that they will soon be able to function in the tough environment of the human body with complete reliability.

Innovative Equipment:-

  • A mobile in the form of a ring or an earring. This can soon be a reality. IBM is already working on the prototype of a mobile phone that can be worn as jewellery. The components of the phone will be distributed among different pieces of jewellery like earring, necklace, ring and bracelet.
  • Embedded in a Shoe!:- The microprocessor embedded in this Adidas running shoe calculates the pressure between the runner's foot and the ground five million times per second and continuously changes the cushioning to match an adjustable comfort level. The computer controls a motor that lengthens and shortens a cable attached to a plastic cushioning element.

                                                       Embedded in a Shoe!

Today we are poised for a whole slew of new applications and drastic improvements to existing applications. Advances in chip sizes, packaging technology, non-volatile memory technologies, power consumption and analog integration have enabled designers to go where they have never gone before with the most miniscule, versatile and durable devices. These advances and the growing demand for a smarter and more secure environment have already led to chips being embedded in all sorts of places that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

The above technology trends will likely to change the face of the world and improve the lives of nearly everyone in it.


1. Rajkamal, Embedded Systems Architecture, Designing and Programming Tata Mgraw Hill, 2008.

2. Arnold S. Berger, Embedded System Design: - An Introduction to Processes, tools, Trends and Techniques - CMP Books, 2001.

3. Embedded systems By Wikipedia.

4. Peter Marwedel, Embedded System Design - Springer, Netherlands, 2006.

5. Wayne Wolf, High-performance Embedded Computing; Architectures, Applications and Methodologies, Morgan-Kauffman Pub., 2007.

Isha Budhiraja
B.Tech, MBA, M.Phil (Computer Science)
K.R. Mangalam Institute of Management
Kailash Colony, New Delhi

Source: E-mail April 27, 2010


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