Types of Embedded Systems: Components, Uses, Merits

embededded system

Have you ever go to an electronic shop? If yes, then you definitely saw a lot of electrical appliances. And the majority of them, are good examples of different types of embedded systems. In short, these are the systems that perform a specific task.

In this post, we are going to discuss various types of embedded systems along with their common components, characteristics, applications, advantages, and disadvantages. And later in this post, we had also listed down a few questions that people generally search on google.

What is an Embedded System?

What is embedded systems

You can call an embedded system as the employee of a company. This is because they are designed to do specific tasks within a larger system. Moreover, all embedded system is made up of a combination of input/output devices, a computer processor, and memory.

However, the extent of use depends upon which type of software and hardware component is employed in that system.

But, with the improvement of the technology day by day, these different types of embedded systems are designed sophisticatedly which reduces the overall cost and sizes. In addition, it also increases the safety and performance of these systems.

There are many examples of different types of embedded systems that we are using in our daily life such as printers, cameras, industrial machines, washing machines, traffic light controllers, digital watches, MP3 players, hybrid vehicles, automobiles, medical imaging systems, and many more.

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Characteristics of Embedded System

These are the following characteristics of different types of embedded systems:

1. Low Cost and require less power: Because of its small size, they mainly require less power. Moreover, they aren’t that much expense but its cost depends upon the quality of the product and which company you are buying from. However, it is specifically designed to increase productivity levels.

2. High Security: Embedded systems are developed by combining hardware and software. This is why their hardware can’t be altered easily. Additionally, the software-too works effectively in managing not only the security of the embedded system but also connected the system.

3. Task-Specific: All embedded systems are task-specific i.e. they are designed to perform the same tasks repeatedly or regularly throughout their operational times. For example, the MP3 player will only work as an MP3 player.

4. Minimal user interface: This requires minimal or sometimes, no user interface (UI). As they are generally automatic. And any automated machine requires a minimal user interface because it can perform its tasks on its own. However initially, the user interface is required to boot the embedded system and make them stop after their task gets finished.

Components of Embedded Systems

components of embedded system

In different types of embedded systems, there are the two main components i.e.

  • Hardware Components  
  • Software Components

So, let’s take a close look at the hardware, common architecture, and software of different types of embedded systems.

Hardware Components 

These are the following hardware components that are usually present in the various types of embedded systems.

1. Power Supply: The power supply plays an important role in any embedded circuit. There are two means by which the current is provided to the system i.e through a battery and a power supply. But, its usage depends on its application and requirement.

2. Sensor: It helps in measuring the physical quantity and converting it into an electrical signal. In addition, it also collects and measures the amount of memory.

3. Analog to Digital Converter: A-D converter is a converter in which an analog signal, such as light entering a digital camera, is converted into a digital signal.

4. Memory: In simple terms, memory means a device that is used to collect information. It mainly of two types:

  • Volatile Memory: A volatile memory is basically a computer memory that needs the power to maintain the stored information.
  • Non-volatile Memory: A type of computer memory that has the capacity to hold saved data even when the power is turned off.

5. Processor & ASICs: In this, the component processes the data and stores it to the memory.

6. Digital to Analog Converter: In various embedded systems a digital-to-analog converter is required to convert the digital data supplied by the processor into analog data.

7. Actuator: It compares the output given by digital to analog converter with the actual output stored in it.

Software Components

There is a wide range of software tools available for coding and programming. As you know, a system without software is just a dead machine, as there is no one who can instruct them to work in order.

So, in spite of hardware, the software is a must thing that can manage and governs the working of an embedded system. This software specifies the way to do a specific work.

And for developing a software program for an embedded system, there are some tools that are required. These are assembler, emulator, debugger, and compiler. 

Types of Embedded Systems

Types of the Embedded System

Embedded system can be classified into two broad categories:

  • Performance and functional requirements
  • Performance of the microcontroller

Based on Performance and Functional Requirements

Based on the performance and functional requirements, an embedded system may be categorized into four subcategories. These are the following types of embedded systems based on performance and functional requirements.

  • Real-Time Embedded Systems
  • Mobile Embedded Systems
  • Networked Embedded Systems
  • Stand-Alone Embedded Systems

Real-Time Embedded System

A Real-Time Embedded System is a system that is specially designed and created to serve real-time output within a specified period of time. Real-Time Embedded Systems are further categorized into:

  • Soft Real-Time Embedded Systems
  • Hard Real-Time Embedded Systems

Network Embedded Devices

As the name suggests, this embedded system requires some kind of network to perform its function. These devices required some networks that we are using in our daily lives such as LAN, WAN, or other protocols.

These generally have some components such as sensors, controllers, etc. which are interconnected. Examples of network embedded systems are IoT devices, ATM machines, and card swipe machines.

Mobile Embedded Systems

One of the most advantageous pointers for these types of embedded systems is their availability. They are usually small in size and can be used as devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, wireless cameras, and personal digital assistants.

Stand-Alone Embedded Systems

These types of embedded systems are self-sufficient as these systems don’t require any host system to perform its task. The system is constructed in such a way the input is firstly received, then processed and finally, the desired output is produced.

Inputs can be received through keyboards, sensors, and after that, it shows output on display. Digital wristwatch, doorbell, calculator, microwave oven, and MP3 player are examples of stand-alone embedded systems.

Based on Performance of the Microcontroller

types Based on performance of microcontrollers

The following are the three types of the embedded system which are based on the performance of the microcontroller.

  • Small Embedded Systems
  • Medium Embedded Systems
  • Sophisticated Embedded Systems

Small Scale Embedded System

Small scale embedded systems can be easily designed with a single-bit or 16-bit microcontroller. These microcontrollers consume very less amount of electrical energy to function which can easily operatable with the help of a battery.

These small scale types of embedded systems have an editor, assembler, and a cross-assembler as their major components.

Automatic lock doors, washing machines, photocopy machines, multitasking toys, television remote controllers, keyboard controllers, printers, hard disk drive controllers, etc. are some examples of small-scale types of embedded systems.

Medium Scale Embedded System

Medium-scale embedded systems consisting of a 16-bit or 32-bit microprocessor. Due to having a greater number of bits in processors, it provides better speed and performance than small-scale embedded systems.

Apart from hardware, to make these types of embedded systems workable, programming is required which can be achieved by C ++, RTOS, Debugger, JAVA, Simulator, and many other software programming languages.

As these types of embedded systems have a lot of complexity because of its complex circuitry hardware and also hardcore software development. That is why this embedded system is not operatable by many people.

Sophisticated Embedded Systems

Sophisticated embedded systems are designed to perform many functions. These types of embedded systems often operate on multiple algorithms based on complicated hardware and software programming.

These types of embedded systems generally require ASIPs, IPs, PLAs, and scalable or configurable processors with some key components such as graphical user interfaces, communication ports such as CAN, Ethernet, or USB.

Application of Embedded System

application of embedded system

Different types of embedded systems play a vital and different role in our daily life. To make you easy to understand, we had listed down different types of embed systems based on their usages.

Consumer Electronics

The following are the example of consumer electronics embedded systems:

● Television/ High Definition TVs● Digital cameras
● Computer printers● Video game consoles, and PS4 
● Set-top Boxes● Displays and Monitors
● Computer networking Systems● DVDs Video Player
● Network cards and printers● Image Processing

Household Appliances

● Microwave oven● Washing machine
● Air conditioner ● Refrigerator

Medical Equipment

  • Scanners — MRI, and CT scan
  • Infusion Pumps
  • ECG machine — equipment for blood pressure and heartbeat monitoring (Cardiac Monitor)
  • Dialysis Machine
  • Prosthetic Device

 Automobiles and Car Equipment

● Body or Engine safety● E-Com and Mobile access
● Fuel injection systems● Air-conditioner control
● Parking Assistant System● Displays and Monitors
● Robotics in an assembly line● Air Bags
● Music and entertainment systems● Anti-lock braking systems(ABS)

Networking and Communications Devices

  • Routers
  • Satellite
  • Hubs
  • Gateways
  • Electronics Instruments

Other Major Uses of Embedded System

  • Robotic Science: Ground vehicles, underwater vehicles, and drones
  • Defense and Aerospace: Navigation, GPS, missiles, satellites, nuclear reactors, shuttles, and space stations 
  • Security systems in Smart Cards, Missiles, and Satellites
  • Telephone and banking modules

Advantages of Embedded System

Advantages of Embedded System

Embedded systems cover a wide range of our living places. So, here are some advantages of using different types of embedded systems:

  • Usually, embedded systems consume a low power operation
  • Its systems are very stable and highly reliable. So, it optimizes the use of system resources in fast processing
  • Performance is good and has fast operational values
  • It is small in size, so it can be carried and loaded anywhere
  • Has a variable cost but in the majority of cases, they have a low overall cost
  • These systems are easily customized
  • It provides better efficiency and is useful for mass production of other equipment which improves the quality of production.
  • The interconnections are very few.

Disadvantages of Embedded System

Embedded systems have some disadvantages too. So, let’s check some major drawbacks of using embedded systems:

  • Difficult to maintain the backups of the files of embedded systems
  • The initial high developmental effort is needed
  • Long time marketing is required to sell a new embedded system
  • These are usually designed to perform only specific tasks. So, it cannot be the program for different tasks.
  • They cannot be changed once configured, and users cannot upgrade or alter them by themselves
  • Troubleshooting is very difficult for such devices. It is also a daunting job to transfer data from one device to another

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Here our topic of different types of embedded systems ends. Now let’s check some frequently asked questions that users usually search on Google.

General FAQ 

Is ATM an embedded system?

Ans. Yes, an ATM is an embedded system. The ATM machine is a mobile embedded system as a computerized device used in banking. They are available in a wide range and require networks to interchange information between a bank computer and an ATM machine. So, with this interchangeable data, the ATM machine verifies, processes, and stores data on the host servers.

What are the common features of embedded systems?

Ans. Task-specific, time-specific, requiring less power, minimal user interface, low cost, high stability, efficiency, and reliability are the common features of embedded systems.

Which software is used for the embedded systems?

Ans. It mainly depends on the device or hardware selection that is used for the embedded systems. Therefore, the choice of software depends on the requirement to complete the specific task and also depends on the types of embedded systems and the company that is manufacturing.

Is TV an embedded system?

Ans. Yes, TV is an embedded system because it requires various other types of embedded systems such as a set-top box (called STB), DVDs, music player, and video game consoles, etc. to work.