INTechHouse BLOG 13.12.2023 14 min.
What is Embedded System Design: Steps in the Design Process
INTechHouse BLOG 13.12.2023 14 min.

What is Embedded System Design: Steps in the Design Process

Krzysztof Niedźwiedź

In today’s fast-evolving tech landscape, staying ahead of the competition requires more than just embracing the latest innovations – it demands a deep understanding of the fundamental principles driving these advancements. At the heart of this understanding lies Embedded System Design, a crucial pillar in product development for tech-driven enterprises. For Project Managers and decision-makers, delving into the realm of Embedded System Design extends beyond technical knowledge; it means making well-informed choices that align with their company’s strategic objectives.

Let’s read to understand more about embedded system design and its importance!

What are Embedded Systems?

Embedded systems are specialized computing setups dedicated to specific tasks, embedded within larger devices, central to modern automation via IoT and smart technology, impacting sectors like industrial automation, consumer electronics, and medical equipment.

Embedded System Market Growth

Source: Globenewswire

Environmental Sustainability

Shifting towards environmental sustainability, embedded systems with energy-efficient designs play a crucial role in conserving energy and boosting the environmental sustainability of electronic devices.


Applications Across Sectors

Ubiquitous across sectors, embedded systems are essential in both household and industrial appliances. Continuous IoT advancements foresee an expansion of embedded systems applications, including traffic monitoring systems and broader automation realms.

What are the Functions of Embedded Systems?

Embedded systems, specialized computing units, are engineered for specific tasks within larger devices or systems. They meld hardware and software to execute precise operations across various fields. Here’s a synopsis of the functions served by embedded systems:

Embedded System Functions

Real-Time Processing

Embedded systems excel in real-time processing, reacting to external stimuli almost instantaneously. This is pivotal in automotive, aerospace, and industrial automation for tasks like anti-lock braking and flight control systems.


Control Systems

Acting as control systems, embedded systems regulate certain aspects or features within larger systems, such as engine operations and airbag systems in automotive applications.


Monitoring and Feedback

These systems are crucial for monitoring environmental conditions or other critical parameters and providing feedback, ensuring optimal performance in applications like HVAC systems.


Signal Processing

Embedded systems are central in signal processing, filtering, and analyzing input data to yield meaningful output, extensively used in digital signal processing applications.


User Interfaces

They facilitate user interactions in consumer electronics through user interfaces like touch screens on smartphones or control panels on appliances.



Embedded systems play a key role in enabling communication between different systems or components, crucial in networking and data transmission.


Data Storage and Management

They manage data storage and retrieval efficiently, vital in databases, telecommunications, and consumer electronics.


Automation and Robotics

Embedded systems drive modern automation and robotics, bringing innovations in manufacturing, healthcare, and beyond.


Technological Advancements

Technological leaps, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), along with IoT integration, are propelling embedded systems into a new era of smart, interconnected operations.

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Analysis and Requirement Definition

Embarking on the path of embedded system design requires a methodical approach, starting with a comprehensive analysis and precise definition of requirements. The roadmap to designing embedded systems hinges on a clear understanding of the problem at hand and the needs it aims to address. This stage is integral to the embedded system design process, setting the blueprint for what follows. Here’s a delve into the Analysis and Requirement Definition phase:

Understanding the Problem Domain

Grasping the problem domain is the first stride in the embedded system design process. It entails understanding the challenges, goals, and the environment where the embedded system will function. This fundamental knowledge shapes the basis for defining accurate and relevant requirements, ensuring the system serves its specific function efficiently under tight constraints.


Stakeholder Engagement

Engagement with stakeholders is pivotal at this juncture to ensure that the requirements are aligned with the expectations and needs of all parties involved. This collaborative effort aids in bridging any gaps between stakeholder expectations and project deliverables, fostering a conducive environment for feedback and iterations.


Defining Functional and Non-Functional Requirements

The core of this phase is defining the functional and non-functional requirements of the embedded system. Functional requirements outline the tasks the system should perform, such as data processing, control functions, and communication, while non-functional requirements address attributes like performance metrics, reliability, security, and compliance standards. The specification models for these requirements serve as a guide through the design process.


Market Research and Trend Analysis

Conducting market research and analyzing new trends in the embedded systems domain are indispensable steps. They provide a glimpse into the competitive landscape, technological advancements, and market demands, aligning the project goals with market realities.


Regulatory Compliance and Standards Adherence

Adhering to regulatory compliance and industry standards is imperative, especially in domains like medical or industrial automation where cyber-physical systems are prevalent. Ensuring the embedded system complies with relevant laws, regulations, and standards, including cybersecurity measures, is crucial for the successful deployment of such systems.


Feasibility Analysis and Risk Assessment

A thorough feasibility analysis evaluates the technical and financial viability of the project, assessing the necessary components, technologies, and budget required. Concurrently, identifying potential risks, assessing their impact, and devising mitigation strategies are crucial for navigating through challenges that may arise during the embedded system design process.


Documentation and Specification

Meticulous documentation and specification of requirements are essential. They serve as a reference guide for the project team and stakeholders, ensuring everyone is aligned regarding the expectations and deliverables. This step also discusses evaluation and validation techniques crucial for ensuring that the system meets the defined requirements.


Prototype Development and Testing

Developing a prototype and conducting rigorous testing is a part of the evaluation process to validate the design against the defined requirements. Testing encompasses various aspects including functionality, performance, power consumption, and thermal issues, ensuring the system’s reliability and readiness for production.


Software and Hardware Co-Design

Embedded system design often involves a co-design approach where both software and hardware are designed concurrently. Optimization techniques are employed to ensure energy efficiency, and the seamless integration between hardware devices, multi-core platforms, and system software.


Graphical User Interface (GUI) Design

Designing a user-friendly graphical user interface is crucial for systems where user interaction is required. A well-designed GUI enhances the user experience, making interaction with the embedded system intuitive and straightforward.

Choosing Hardware Architecture and Components

In the embedded system design process, selecting the right hardware architecture and components is a pivotal step. This phase lays the groundwork for the system’s functionality, performance, and reliability. Here’s a brief overview:

Understanding System Requirements

Initially, a thorough review of the system requirements is essential to align the hardware selection with the functional and non-functional requirements previously defined.


Evaluation of Hardware Architectures

Evaluating different hardware architectures based on processing power, memory capacity, and energy efficiency is crucial. The choice between single-core processors and multi-core platforms should resonate with the system’s demands.


Selection of Core Components

Core components like microcontrollers, memory chips, and interfaces are selected based on processing requirements, data storage needs, and communication protocols necessary for the system’s operation.


Addressing Interface and Connectivity Requirements

Ensuring seamless communication and interaction with other systems and hardware devices necessitates addressing the interface and connectivity requirements adequately.

This stage is fundamental in the design process, ensuring the embedded system has the necessary components to operate efficiently and meet the intended goals.

Software Design

Software design is an instrumental phase in the embedded system design process. It translates the defined system requirements into software architecture and components, ensuring the system will meet the specified functionalities and performance criteria. Here’s a brief overview of this stage:

Architectural Design

The architectural design defines the software’s structural framework, outlining how the system’s components will interact. It lays out the system’s high-level structure, ensuring a robust foundation for developing the software components.


Component Design

Component design delves into designing the individual software components. It focuses on defining the logic, data structures, and interfaces for each component, ensuring they align with the system’s overall objectives.


Algorithm Design and Optimization

Algorithm design and optimization are crucial for ensuring efficient operation. This step involves developing algorithms and applying software optimization techniques to enhance performance and reduce resource utilization.


User Interface Design

Designing the user interface is vital for systems requiring user interaction. A well-designed graphical user interface enhances the user experience, facilitating smooth interactions between the users and the system.


Data Management Design

Data management design focuses on how the system will handle data storage, retrieval, and processing, ensuring efficient data management, which is crucial for performance and reliability.


Security Design

Security design addresses the system’s security requirements, ensuring the embedded software is protected against potential threats and vulnerabilities.


Testing and Validation

Designing for testability is essential, and this phase also includes planning for the testing and validation techniques to ensure the software meets the defined requirements.

Integration and Testing

Integration and Testing are critical steps in the embedded system design process, ensuring the complete system operates as intended. Here’s a brief insight into this phase:

Component Integration

Component integration involves combining the individual hardware and software components, ensuring they work together seamlessly to meet the system’s objectives.


System Testing

System testing is conducted to evaluate the system’s overall performance, functionality, and adherence to the specified requirements. It encompasses a range of testing methodologies to identify and rectify any issues.


Performance Testing

Performance testing evaluates the system’s performance under various conditions, ensuring it meets the defined performance criteria, like speed, responsiveness, and stability.


Security Testing

Security testing is conducted to identify any security vulnerabilities and ensure the system is protected against potential threats.


User Acceptance Testing

User acceptance testing evaluates the system from the users’ perspective, ensuring it meets the users’ needs and expectations.


Validation and Verification

Validation and verification are crucial for ensuring the system meets the defined requirements and is ready for deployment.


Debugging and Troubleshooting

Debugging and troubleshooting are ongoing activities during this phase, identifying and rectifying any issues that arise during integration and testing.


Documentation and Training

Documentation of the testing and integration process, along with training for end-users and maintenance personnel, is crucial for a successful transition to the deployment phase.

Both the Software Design and Integration and Testing phases are essential for ensuring the embedded system meets the defined requirements, performs efficiently, and is ready for deployment, marking crucial steps towards the successful completion of the embedded system design process.

INTechHouse has 20 years of expertise and tailored solutions with high reliability in embedded design. If you are interested, please, contact us for more info.

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