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Embedded System Design : Embedded Systems, Foun... !!HOT!!

Modern embedded systems are often based on microcontrollers (i.e. microprocessors with integrated memory and peripheral interfaces), but ordinary microprocessors (using external chips for memory and peripheral interface circuits) are also common, especially in more complex systems. In either case, the processor(s) used may be types ranging from general purpose to those specialized in a certain class of computations, or even custom designed for the application at hand. A common standard class of dedicated processors is the digital signal processor (DSP).

Embedded System Design : Embedded Systems, Foun...

Since the embedded system is dedicated to specific tasks, design engineers can optimize it to reduce the size and cost of the product and increase its reliability and performance. Some embedded systems are mass-produced, benefiting from economies of scale.

Embedded systems range in size from portable personal devices such as digital watches and MP3 players to bigger machines like home appliances, industrial assembly lines, robots, transport vehicles, traffic light controllers, and medical imaging systems. Often they constitute subsystems of other machines like avionics in aircraft and astrionics in spacecraft. Large installations like factories, pipelines and electrical grids rely on multiple embedded systems networked together. Generalized through software customization, embedded systems such as programmable logic controllers frequently comprise their functional units.

One of the first recognizably modern embedded systems was the Apollo Guidance Computer,[citation needed] developed ca. 1965 by Charles Stark Draper at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. At the project's inception, the Apollo guidance computer was considered the riskiest item in the Apollo project as it employed the then newly developed monolithic integrated circuits to reduce the computer's size and weight.

An early mass-produced embedded system was the Autonetics D-17 guidance computer for the Minuteman missile, released in 1961. When the Minuteman II went into production in 1966, the D-17 was replaced with a new computer that represented the first high-volume use of integrated circuits.

Since these early applications in the 1960s, embedded systems have come down in price and there has been a dramatic rise in processing power and functionality. An early microprocessor, the Intel 4004 (released in 1971), was designed for calculators and other small systems but still required external memory and support chips. By the early 1980s, memory, input and output system components had been integrated into the same chip as the processor forming a microcontroller. Microcontrollers find applications where a general-purpose computer would be too costly. As the cost of microprocessors and microcontrollers fell, the prevalence of embedded systems increased.

Today, a comparatively low-cost microcontroller may be programmed to fulfill the same role as a large number of separate components. With microcontrollers, it became feasible to replace, even in consumer products, expensive knob-based analog components such as potentiometers and variable capacitors with up/down buttons or knobs read out by a microprocessor. Although in this context an embedded system is usually more complex than a traditional solution, most of the complexity is contained within the microcontroller itself. Very few additional components may be needed and most of the design effort is in the software. Software prototype and test can be quicker compared with the design and construction of a new circuit not using an embedded processor.

Telecommunications systems employ numerous embedded systems from telephone switches for the network to cell phones at the end user. Computer networking uses dedicated routers and network bridges to route data.

Consumer electronics include MP3 players, television sets, mobile phones, video game consoles, digital cameras, GPS receivers, and printers. Household appliances, such as microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers, include embedded systems to provide flexibility, efficiency and features. Advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems use networked thermostats to more accurately and efficiently control temperature that can change by time of day and season. Home automation uses wired- and wireless-networking that can be used to control lights, climate, security, audio/visual, surveillance, etc., all of which use embedded devices for sensing and controlling.

Embedded systems are used for safety-critical systems in aerospace and defense industries. Unless connected to wired or wireless networks via on-chip 3G cellular or other methods for IoT monitoring and control purposes, these systems can be isolated from hacking and thus be more secure.[citation needed] For fire safety, the systems can be designed to have a greater ability to handle higher temperatures and continue to operate. In dealing with security, the embedded systems can be self-sufficient and be able to deal with cut electrical and communication systems.

Miniature wireless devices called motes are networked wireless sensors. Wireless sensor networking makes use of miniaturization made possible by advanced integrated circuit (IC) design to couple full wireless subsystems to sophisticated sensors, enabling people and companies to measure a myriad of things in the physical world and act on this information through monitoring and control systems. These motes are completely self-contained and will typically run off a battery source for years before the batteries need to be changed or charged.

Embedded systems are designed to do some specific task, rather than be a general-purpose computer for multiple tasks. Some also have real-time performance constraints that must be met, for reasons such as safety and usability; others may have low or no performance requirements, allowing the system hardware to be simplified to reduce costs.

Embedded systems are not always standalone devices. Many embedded systems consist of small parts within a larger device that serves a more general purpose. For example, the Gibson Robot Guitar features an embedded system for tuning the strings, but the overall purpose of the Robot Guitar is to play music.[9] Similarly, an embedded system in an automobile provides a specific function as a subsystem of the car itself.

The program instructions written for embedded systems are referred to as firmware, and are stored in read-only memory or flash memory chips. They run with limited computer hardware resources: little memory, small or non-existent keyboard or screen.

Embedded systems range from no user interface at all, in systems dedicated only to one task, to complex graphical user interfaces that resemble modern computer desktop operating systems. Simple embedded devices use buttons, light-emitting diodes (LED), graphic or character liquid-crystal displays (LCD) with a simple menu system. More sophisticated devices that use a graphical screen with touch sensing or screen-edge soft keys provide flexibility while minimizing space used: the meaning of the buttons can change with the screen, and selection involves the natural behavior of pointing at what is desired.

Some systems provide user interface remotely with the help of a serial (e.g. RS-232) or network (e.g. Ethernet) connection. This approach extends the capabilities of the embedded system, avoids the cost of a display, simplifies the board support package (BSP) and allows designers to build a rich user interface on the PC. A good example of this is the combination of an embedded HTTP server running on an embedded device (such as an IP camera or a network router). The user interface is displayed in a web browser on a PC connected to the device.

Examples of properties of typical embedded computers when compared with general-purpose counterparts, are low power consumption, small size, rugged operating ranges, and low per-unit cost. This comes at the price of limited processing resources.

Numerous microcontrollers have been developed for embedded systems use. General-purpose microprocessors are also used in embedded systems, but generally, require more support circuitry than microcontrollers.

PC/104 and PC/104+ are examples of standards for ready-made computer boards intended for small, low-volume embedded and ruggedized systems. These are mostly x86-based and often physically small compared to a standard PC, although still quite large compared to most simple (8/16-bit) embedded systems. They may use DOS, Linux, NetBSD, or an embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) such as MicroC/OS-II, QNX or VxWorks.

In certain applications, where small size or power efficiency are not primary concerns, the components used may be compatible with those used in general-purpose x86 personal computers. Boards such as the VIA EPIA range help to bridge the gap by being PC-compatible but highly integrated, physically smaller or have other attributes making them attractive to embedded engineers. The advantage of this approach is that low-cost commodity components may be used along with the same software development tools used for general software development. Systems built in this way are still regarded as embedded since they are integrated into larger devices and fulfill a single role. Examples of devices that may adopt this approach are automated teller machines (ATM) and arcade machines, which contain code specific to the application.

However, most ready-made embedded systems boards are not PC-centered and do not use the ISA or PCI busses. When a system-on-a-chip processor is involved, there may be little benefit to having a standardized bus connecting discrete components, and the environment for both hardware and software tools may be very different.

One common design style uses a small system module, perhaps the size of a business card, holding high density BGA chips such as an ARM-based system-on-a-chip processor and peripherals, external flash memory for storage, and DRAM for runtime memory. The module vendor will usually provide boot software and make sure there is a selection of operating systems, usually including Linux and some real-time choices. These modules can be manufactured in high volume, by organizations familiar with their specialized testing issues, and combined with much lower volume custom mainboards with application-specific external peripherals. Prominent examples of this approach include Arduino and Raspberry Pi. 041b061a72


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