In a world dominated by connected devices, it has become essential to build the core properly. IoT projects are growing exponentially. At the heart of every project lies a functional and friendly embedded system that connects the hardware to the software with real-time management. 

To build the embedded system, you need to know the system’s core components and what elements are essential.

Let’s dive deeper into embedded systems.

What is an Embedded System?

Embedded systems are machines that are developed to trigger specific tasks. It is the collaboration of hardware and software, which is defined to perform a particular task. 

For example, the AC application is devised to control the AC and no other device. Similarly, the smoke detector system raises the alarm whenever there is smoke. 

Some commonly known embedded systems include microprocessors, microcontrollers, GPUs, power supplies, and memory.

Components of an Embedded System

The embedded system, as described earlier, is made of both hardware and software. It is essential to know some of the ideal system’s components.

Hardware

All the hardware components enable the device, which is connected with the software over the Internet.

1. Processor

The processor is the soul of your embedded system. It is the brain that computes and executes the tasks. 

The processor defines the performance of the system you will develop. In the case of a high-performing solution, you will need to include high-end multiple microcontrollers or microprocessors. The generic processors have – 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit. 

2. Power supply

The power supply is crucial to power up the circuit inside an embedded system. You will need somewhere between 1.8V to 3.3V and sometimes up to 5V supply. You can use an adaptor or a battery to power these devices. You should ensure that the systems get continuous and uninterrupted supply for the ideal performance. The power supply should offer dissipation and be very efficient. 

3. Timers/counters

You might need an unavoidable delay between triggering the systems in specific applications. The timer and counters are used to create these delays. The LEDs will display the numbers which need to be programmed to meet your system’s needs. 

It will help if you fit your logic into the systems. You can use the crystal oscillator and system frequency to cause the delays.

4. Input and output

Inputs are essential to interface requirements. It is the input rendered into a query sent to the software solution. Once the input is computed, the software provides an output displayed on the device.

It helps ensure that the ports are connected and logic is defined for the perfect rendering and proper inputs and outputs. 

5. Memory

The memory is part of the microcontroller. It comprises RAM and ROM. While RAM is volatile, ROM is used for storing the programs into the chip, which is then used to trigger the application. 

6. Communication ports

The communication port enables communication between the different parts of the embedded system. You will need to use ports like USB, Ethernet, UART, and others to establish seamless communication. 

Software

You should select and use the apt software components to develop your embedded system.

1. Emulator

It is the tool generally used to execute and test the functions saved within an embedded system. The idea is to identify if the software function is running correctly or not. It is then used to transfer the code to the system within the target container.

2. Compiler

The function of the compiler is to convert the code from a high-level language to a machine-interpretable language. The idea is to help the machine understand the program and act accordingly. It could be converted to assembly language, object code, or even machine code. 

3. Debugger

This tool identifies and removes the bugs that can hurt your system. It helps improve the functions of the system. The debugger works on mitigating the risks involved with working with a system.

4. Assembler

It is used to design the assembly language that the machine understands. Further, this code is converted to HEX code, which is processed. The chip is then inserted into the system, where the programmer will insert the machine’s interpretable code. 

Real-Time Operating System (RTOS)

You need RTOS components when the execution of the code is time-bound. This lightweight and small component are segregated into three parts.

Hard Real-Time Operating System

When the timelines are crucial for a system, it is considered a hard RTOS. In this case, you should not miss the deadlines, and every execution must be done within the specified timelines. If the timings are omitted or there is any real-time execution issue, it will be considered a system failure.

Soft Real-Time Operating System

In this case, the timelines help enhance the user’s experience while using the device. However, a lag is not considered a failure of the system. In this system, being time-bound and executing the software in the said time may not always be possible.

Firm Real-Time Operating System

While errors are acceptable in the case of a firm RTOS system, you will notice that delays are considered the system’s degraded performance. There is a possibility that these systems may miss the deadline. However, you need to ensure that they recover from this failure and the deadlines aren’t missed too frequently for smooth performance.

Classification of Embedded Systems

The embedded systems are generally classified based on performance or functional requirements. Apart from this, you can also organise them while considering the performance of the microcontrollers. Here, we will look at the types of embedded systems under both categories.

Based on Performance and Functional Requirements

It is essential to know your device’s performance and functional chip requirements. For example, are you fine with delays, or do you want a high-performing chip? Here are some of the systems quoted under this category:

1. Real-time embedded systems

The real-time embedded systems are present to avoid time delays and ensure the applications are executed within the timeframe. They consider the time restriction and facilitate the functions to perform smoothly. They are used to detect the lags in the system and evaluate the system’s failure.

2. Standalone embedded systems

As the name suggests, they don’t need another device to produce outputs; they can deliver the outcome independently. Examples include digital watches, temperature measurement systems, and music players.

However, not all standalone systems will function without another component. If they are dependent on the core system for functioning, its outcome may not be entirely standalone. A music player inside a car is dependent on the vehicle to operate. 

3. Network, or networked, embedded systems

These embedded systems are dependent on the network for their operations. For example, in intelligent home automation systems, the functions and performance rely entirely on the Internet. If the internet is not available, you may not be able to command the devices to function.

4. Mobile embedded systems

Mobile embedded systems are those that can move swiftly and are portable. Devices such as laptops, phones and calculators can be categorised as mobile embedded systems.

Performance of Micro-controllers

The other type category of the embedded system depends on the microcontroller’s performance.

1. Small Scale Embedded Systems

These embedded systems contain either an 8-bit or a 16-bit microcontroller generally activated by a battery. You will need the system IDE, an editor, and a cross-assembler to build these systems.

2. Medium Scale Embedded Systems

They are slightly high-performing embedded systems. You will need a 16 or 32-bit microcontroller chip to build these systems. You will need to define the hardware and software components for this chip. You might also need to implement the software programming tools to make this system.

3. Complex Embedded Systems

These embedded systems come with various complexities and are advanced in nature. PLAs, IPs, and ASIPs are examples of embedded systems that fall in this category.

The Architecture of the Embedded System

The significant parts within the architecture include the sensor, memory, the convertors, actuator, and processor.

1. Sensor

The sensor is used to sense the physical attribute. It will take the input and convert it into an electrical signal that can be processed. It will also send the signal to the memory.

2. A-D Converter

The input is analogue, while you need a digital signal for the processor. Hence, the analogue-to-digital converter is a must at this point.

3. Memory

This input signal is now stored in the memory. These systems possess two types of memory- volatile and non-volatile.

4. Processor & ASICs

When the processor and the chip receive the signals, it is computed at this point. The brain of the embedded system will work on the different functions and send output.

5. D-A Converter

As you need to send back an analogue signal, the digital-to-analogue converter is used at this point.

6. Actuator

Before sending out the output, you should compare if the D-A converter and the actual output are the same. 

How Does an Embedded System Work?

  • The embedded system comprises a PCB (circuit board) programmed with the software.
  • When an external source triggers the hardware, the software within the circuit starts performing.
  • This software will dictate the next move for the hardware. The entire computing after the trigger takes place within the embedded system’s software.
  • The software will manage this computing using microcontrollers and the in-built memory.

Also Read: Embedded Software Development – Benefits, Challenges, and More

Conclusion

system ably, you will get a highly experiential system that will work within the timeframe and remove the lags.

When you are planning a project involving embedded systems, you should choose a good partner who will 

  1. Identify the embedded system that will work for you
  2. Help with software development and setting up communication

It is essential to research well and find a solid partner for your following project requirements. 

Also Read: Embedded System Development Tools