INTechHouse BLOG 22.01.2024 15 min.
Embedded Systems Architecture
INTechHouse BLOG 22.01.2024 15 min.

Embedded Systems Architecture

Krzysztof Niedźwiedź

Embedded systems have quietly become the unsung heroes behind the devices and systems that power our daily lives. These specialized computing systems are the engines driving everything from smart appliances and automotive control units to industrial automation and healthcare devices. Embedded systems architecture is the backbone that makes it all possible, determining how these systems function, perform and interact with the physical world.

In this article, brought to you by INTechHouse, we’ll take you on a journey through the intricate world of embedded systems architecture. We’ll explore its fundamental concepts, delve into the key components, and uncover the innovative ways it shapes the future of technology. Let’s dive deeper!

Basics of Embedded Systems

Embedded systems, often described as the unsung heroes of our technology-driven world, are omnipresent but often overlooked. They power everything from your smartphone and smartwatch to your car, home appliances, and even the industrial machines that keep our world running smoothly.

embedded systems architecture

At their core, embedded systems are specialized computing systems designed for specific tasks or functions. They are integrated into a larger system or product, often with real-time computing constraints, making them indispensable in modern life.

What is Embedded Systems Architecture?

Embedded system architecture refers to the fundamental structure and organization of an embedded system’s hardware and software components. It determines how various parts of the system interact, communicate, and function together to perform their designated tasks.

Bill Gates about Embedded Systems

Building on Gates’ thoughts about unseen technology shaping our world, the embedded system’s architecture is one of those unseen but fundamentally influential aspects.

Types of Embedded Systems Architectures

Embedded systems can employ different architectures based on the specific requirements of the application. Some common architectures include:

4 embedded systems types

  1. Single Microcontroller/Digital Signal Processor (DSP): This architecture integrates the processor, memory, and peripherals into a single chip. It’s cost-effective and often used in simple applications like home appliances.
  2. Microcontroller + External Memory: In applications demanding more memory and processing power, a microcontroller is used in conjunction with external memory, expanding the system’s capabilities.
  3. Microprocessor-Based Systems: These systems use a microprocessor as the core processing unit, with external memory, input/output devices, and sometimes a real-time operating system (RTOS). They are prevalent in devices like smartphones and tablets.
  4. Complex System-on-Chip (SoC): In high-performance applications, complex SoCs combine multiple processors, memory, peripherals, and hardware accelerators on a single chip. They are found in devices like advanced automotive systems and modern gaming consoles.

Interesting Facts About Embedded World You Should Know

Embedded systems are specialized computing systems that perform dedicated functions or tasks within a larger system. They aren’t just found in high-tech areas like computers or smartphones; they’re in everyday items such as washing machines, microwaves, and cars. From medical equipment to aerospace controls, embedded systems are fundamental to modern life.

Embedded Systems are Running

  1. Pervasiveness: It’s estimated that 98% of all microprocessors manufactured are used in embedded systems. That’s billions of devices every year!
  2. Automobiles: Modern cars can have 50 to 100 microprocessors (or more) to manage everything from airbags to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). For luxury cars, this number can jump to over 150 microprocessors.
  3. Consumer Electronics: There are over 30 billion embedded systems in operation worldwide. This includes household appliances, TV sets, game consoles, and more.
  4. Medical Devices: Around 70% of all medical devices use embedded systems. This includes hearing aids, pacemakers, and infusion pumps.
  5. IoT: By 2025, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, most of which contain embedded systems, is expected to surpass 75 billion globally.
  6. Aerospace: An average commercial aircraft might use anywhere between 4 to 7 million lines of code in its embedded systems.
  7. Energy: Smart grids, used for the more efficient transmission of electricity, utilize embedded systems extensively. By 2028, the smart grid technology market was predicted to reach a valuation of over $130 billion.
  8. Safety and Reliability: Given their mission-critical nature, especially in sectors like aerospace or automotive, embedded systems boast reliability rates of over 99.999%.
  9. Market Growth: The global embedded systems market was valued at approximately $86 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 6% from 2021 to 2026, reaching over $115 billion by 2026.
  10. Programming: C and C++ are still the dominant programming languages in the embedded world, with more than 60% of embedded systems developers primarily using them for their projects.

Source: Statista, Precedenceresearch, KBVResearch, Education

Emerging Trends in Embedded Architectures

As technology advances, embedded system architectures continue to evolve. Some emerging trends include:

  1. Edge Computing:
    • Edge computing is a significant trend in embedded architectures. It involves moving computational tasks closer to the data source or “edge” of the network, rather than relying solely on centralized cloud servers. This approach reduces latency, enabling faster decision-making, which is critical in applications like autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, and healthcare devices.
    • Edge devices are equipped with more powerful processors and often incorporate specialized hardware accelerators for specific tasks, such as AI and machine learning inference. This trend allows embedded systems to process data locally and send only relevant information to the cloud, optimizing bandwidth usage and ensuring real-time responses.
  2. AI and Machine Learning Integration:
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are revolutionizing embedded systems. Devices are becoming smarter, and capable of recognizing patterns, making predictions, and adapting to user preferences.
    • Embedded systems are now incorporating AI and ML hardware accelerators, such as GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) and TPUs (Tensor Processing Units), to efficiently run complex algorithms. Applications include voice recognition in smart speakers, image recognition in surveillance cameras, and predictive maintenance in industrial machinery.
  3. Heterogeneous Multi-Core Architectures:
    • Heterogeneous multi-core architectures combine different types of processor cores (e.g., CPU, GPU, DSP) on a single chip. This approach optimizes performance and power efficiency for specific tasks.
    • For example, a CPU core handles general-purpose computing, while a GPU core excels in parallel processing for graphics and AI workloads. These architectures are increasingly common in devices that require a balance between processing power and energy efficiency, such as smartphones and autonomous vehicles.
  4. Secure Embedded Systems:
    • Security is a growing concern, especially in embedded systems that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Protecting data and preventing unauthorized access are paramount.
    • Emerging architectures prioritize security features, including hardware-based encryption and secure boot processes. These measures ensure the integrity of the system, protecting against potential threats and vulnerabilities.
  5. 5G Connectivity:
    • The rollout of 5G networks is driving new embedded system architectures. 5G enables faster and more reliable wireless connections, opening up possibilities for IoT devices that require high-speed data transfer, low latency, and seamless connectivity.
    • Embedded systems are adapting to accommodate 5G technology, which may involve integrating 5G modems and optimizing network protocols for efficient communication.
  6. Quantum Computing Integration:
    • While still in its early stages, quantum computing is an emerging trend that may impact embedded system architectures in the future. Quantum computers offer the potential for solving complex problems, such as encryption and optimization, at speeds unattainable by classical computers.
    • As quantum computing advances, embedded systems may need to incorporate quantum-resistant encryption techniques to maintain data security.

These emerging trends in embedded system architectures reflect the ever-evolving demands of the digital age. They pave the way for more efficient, intelligent, and secure embedded systems, enabling a wide range of innovative applications across industries. As technology continues to advance, staying up-to-date with these trends is crucial for making informed decisions in embedded system design and development.

Embedded Software and Its Importance

Embedded software is specialized programming embedded within hardware components (usually microcontrollers or microprocessors) that drive specific device functions. Unlike general-purpose computer software, embedded software performs specific tasks or functions and is optimized for a particular application.

Significance of Embedded Software:

Embedded Software Importance

 

  1. Optimized Performance: Embedded software is tailored for specific functions, ensuring optimized and efficient performance. This ensures that the hardware functions exactly as required, without unnecessary overhead.
  2. Real-time Operation: Many embedded systems operate in real-time environments, like medical instruments or automotive safety systems. Embedded software can be designed to meet the stringent timing and reliability requirements of such applications.
  3. Resource Efficiency: Given that embedded systems often have limited resources, embedded software is designed to be resource-efficient, utilizing minimal memory and processing power.
  4. Safety and Reliability: In critical applications like aerospace or automotive, the reliability of embedded software can be a matter of life and death. As a result, embedded software in these sectors is subject to rigorous testing and validation processes.
  5. Power Efficiency: Many embedded devices run on battery power (e.g., wearable devices). Embedded software is often designed to be power-efficient, maximizing device uptime.
  6. Scalability: While embedded software is designed for specific tasks, it can also be scalable. As hardware evolves or requirements change, the software can be updated or expanded accordingly.

Want to receive great embedded software? We are ready to help! Just drop us a line with your problem or desire.

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ARM Architecture in Embedded Systems

ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) architecture is a prevalent choice in the world of embedded systems due to its unique advantages, which include power efficiency, scalability, and versatility. ARM processors are used in a wide range of applications, from mobile devices and IoT sensors to automotive control systems and high-performance computing.

Here are some key aspects of ARM architecture in embedded systems:

  1. Energy Efficiency: ARM processors are renowned for their power efficiency. This makes them ideal for battery-powered devices and applications where low energy consumption is crucial. They allow embedded systems to operate for extended periods without frequent battery replacements or recharging.
  2. Scalability: ARM architecture offers a scalable approach, allowing embedded systems to choose the appropriate level of processing power. Whether you need a low-power microcontroller for a simple IoT device or a high-performance multicore processor for a complex application, ARM architecture provides a range of options.
  3. Versatility: ARM processors are versatile, supporting various operating systems, including real-time operating systems (RTOS) and Linux-based systems. This flexibility makes them suitable for a wide array of embedded applications, from automotive infotainment systems to medical devices.
  4. Ecosystem: The ARM ecosystem is extensive and well-established, with a wealth of development tools, libraries, and community support. This ecosystem simplifies the development process and ensures a broad range of hardware and software solutions.

How INTechHouse Can Help

INTechHouse is your trusted partner in navigating the world of ARM architecture in embedded systems. Here’s how we can assist you:

INTechHouse expertise with Embedded Systems Architecture

  1. Expertise: Our team has extensive experience in designing, developing, and implementing embedded systems based on ARM architecture. We understand the nuances of ARM processors and can tailor solutions to meet your specific requirements.
  2. Custom Solutions: We work closely with you to create custom solutions that align with your project’s goals. Whether you need a low-power solution for a portable device or a high-performance system for industrial automation, we can design and build the ideal ARM-based architecture.
  3. Optimized Performance: We have the know-how to optimize the performance of ARM-based embedded systems. This includes fine-tuning software, managing power consumption, and ensuring that your application runs smoothly on ARM processors.
  4. Cost-Efficiency: We understand the importance of cost-efficiency in embedded system design. We can help you make informed decisions to balance performance and cost while leveraging the benefits of ARM architecture.
  5. Prototyping and Testing: INTechHouse offers prototyping and rigorous testing services to ensure that your ARM-based embedded system meets your project’s requirements and standards.
  6. Integration with Emerging Technologies: As technology evolves, we stay at the forefront of emerging trends and technologies, ensuring that your ARM-based embedded system can seamlessly integrate with new developments, such as 5G, AI, and edge computing.

We’re dedicated to helping you harness the advantages of ARM architecture, whether you’re developing IoT devices, consumer electronics, or industrial solutions.

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How to Get Reduced Hardware Costs: INTechHouse Advice

1. Leverage Local Expertise:
Poland has a burgeoning tech scene with a pool of highly skilled engineers and developers. Tapping into this local talent can lead to cost-effective, innovative solutions for hardware design and embedded software development.

2. Optimize Embedded Software:
Streamlining and refining the embedded software can often allow the use of less powerful (and thus, cheaper) hardware without compromising on performance.

3. Partner with Local Suppliers:
Establishing strong partnerships with local component suppliers can lead to discounts, better payment terms, and faster deliveries, all contributing to cost savings.

4. Attend Local Tech Fairs & Expos:
Poland hosts several tech-related events annually. By attending these, INTechHouse can stay updated with the latest trends, tools, and technologies, possibly identifying cost-saving opportunities.

5. Embrace Open Source Solutions:
Utilizing open-source software tools and platforms can offer cost-effective alternatives to proprietary systems.

6. Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement:
By encouraging teams to continually refine processes, methodologies, and designs, INTechHouse can drive efficiency, reducing wastage and associated costs.

7. Automate Testing & QA Processes:
Investing in automation for testing hardware and embedded software can identify defects early, reducing the costs associated with rework or product recalls.

FAQ


Embedded systems architecture refers to the structure and organization of the hardware and software components within an embedded system. It defines how these components interact and work together to perform specific tasks. Embedded system architecture plays a crucial role in determining the system’s performance, power efficiency, and functionality.


An embedded device is a specialized computing system designed to perform dedicated functions or tasks within a larger system or product. These devices are integrated into various applications, such as consumer electronics, industrial machinery, and automotive systems. Embedded devices are typically equipped with microcontrollers, microprocessors, and other components to execute specific functions efficiently.


Embedded systems typically consist of the following core components:

  • Processor or Microcontroller: The central processing unit responsible for executing tasks and managing system functions.
  • Memory: Storage for program code and data.
  • Input/Output (I/O) Interfaces: Connections to sensors, actuators, and external devices.
  • Operating System (OS) or Real-Time Operating System (RTOS): Software that manages task scheduling, resource allocation, and system control.
  • Peripherals: Additional hardware components such as timers, communication interfaces, and more, depending on the specific application.

Self-contained systems are embedded systems that operate independently, without the need for external input or intervention. They are designed to carry out their functions autonomously. Self-contained systems are often used in applications where reliability and independence from external factors are critical, such as in aerospace, medical devices, or industrial automation. These systems are capable of making decisions and executing tasks without relying on constant human interaction.


Embedded Systems Architecture is Crucial!

Dive into the future of technology with INTechHouse! Explore Embedded Systems Architecture now for unparalleled insights. Elevate your expertise – join us on the journey to innovation. Ready to start?

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