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WHAT IS AN EMBEDDED SYSTEM?

An embedded system is a combination of computer hardware and software, and perhaps additional mechanical or other parts, designed to perform a specific function.
EMBEDDED SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS:
1.

Single-functioned: An embedded system usually executes only one program, repeatedly. In contrast, a desktop system executes a variety of programs, like spreadsheets, word processors, and video games, with new programs added frequently. and reliability requirements than other types of computer systems. Some families of embedded devices have a very high threshold of quality and reliability requirements. For example, if a cars engine controller crashes while driving on a busy freeway or a critical medical device malfunctions during surgery, very serious problems result.

2. Higher quality and Reliability: An embedded system is a computer system with higher quality

3. Tightly constrained: All computing systems have constraints on design metrics, but those on

embedded systems can be especially tight. A design metric is a measure of an implementations features, such as cost, size, performance, and power.
4. Reactive and real-time: Many embedded systems must continually react to changes in the

systems environment, and must compute certain results in real time without delay. For example, a car's cruise controller continually monitors and reacts to speed and brake sensors. It must compute acceleration or decelerations amounts repeatedly within a limited time; a delayed computation result could result in a failure to maintain control of the car. APPLICATION AREAS: Automotive electronics: Modern cars can be sold only if they contain a significant amount of electronics. These include air bag control systems, engine control systems, anti-braking systems (ABS), air-conditioning, GPS systems, safety features, and many more. Aircraft electronics: A significant amount of the total value of airplanes is due to the information processing equipment, including flight control systems, anti-collision systems, pilot information systems, and others. Dependability is of utmost importance. Telecommunication: Mobile phones have been one of the fastest growing markets in the recent years. For mobile phones, radio frequency (RF) design, digital signal processing and low power design are key aspects. Medical systems: There is a huge potential for improving the medical service by taking advantage of information processing taking place within medical equipment. Military applications: Information processing has been used in military equipment for many years. In fact, some of the very first computers analyzed military radar signals. Authentication systems: Embedded systems can be used for authentication purposes. Page | 1

Consumer electronics: Video and audio equipment is a very important sector of the electronics industry. The information processing integrated into such equipment is steadily growing. New services and better quality are implemented using advanced digital signal processing techniques. Many TV sets, multimedia phones, and game consoles comprise high performance processors and memory systems. They represent special cases of embedded systems. Smart buildings: Information processing can be used to increase the comfort level in buildings, can reduce the energy consumption within buildings, and can improve safety and security. DESIGN CHALLENGES: The embedded-system designer must of course construct an implementation that fulfills desired functionality, but a difficult challenge is to construct an implementation that simultaneously optimizes numerous design metrics. A design metric is a measurable feature of a systems implementation. Common relevant metrics include: Unit cost: the monetary cost of manufacturing each copy of the system, excluding NRE cost. NRE cost (Non-Recurring Engineering cost): The monetary cost of designing the system. Once the system is designed, any number of units can be manufactured without incurring any additional design cost (hence the term non-recurring). Size: the physical space required by the system, often measured in bytes for software, and gates or transistors for hardware. Performance: the execution time or throughput of the system. Clock frequency, instructions per second Latency (response time) Time between task start and end Throughput Tasks per second Throughput can be more than latency seems to imply due to concurrency

Power: the amount of power consumed by the system, which determines the lifetime of a battery, or the cooling requirements of the IC, since more power means more heat. Flexibility: the ability to change the functionality of the system without incurring heavy NRE cost. Software is typically considered very flexible. Time-to-market: The amount of time required to design and manufacture the system to the point the system can be sold to customers.

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Time-to-prototype: The amount of time to build a working version of the system, which may be bigger or more expensive than the final system implementation, but can be used to verify the systems usefulness and correctness and to refine the system's functionality. Correctness: our confidence that we have implemented the systems functionality correctly. We can check the functionality throughout the process of designing the system, and we can insert test circuitry to check that manufacturing was correct. Safety: the probability that the system will not cause harm.

REFERENCE: Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis,Embedded System Design: A Unified Hardware/Software Approach, John Wiley ,2002.

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EMBEDDED SYSTEM DESIGN: When approaching embedded systems architecture design from a systems engineering point of view, several models can be applied to describe the cycle of embedded system design. Most of these models are based upon one or some combination of the following development models: The big-bang model, in which there is essentially no planning or processes in place before and during the development of a system. The code-and-fix model, in which product requirements are defined but no formal processes are in place before the start of development. The waterfall model, in which there is a process for developing a system in steps, where results of one step flow into the next step. The spiral model, in which there is a process for developing a system in steps, and throughout the various steps, feedback is obtained and incorporated back into the process.

Embedded Systems Design and Development Lifecycle Model based on a combination of the popular waterfall and a spiral industry model is given below.

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REFERENCE: T.Noergaard, Embedded System Architecture, Elsvier, 2005

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ORGANISATION OF AN EMBEDDED SYSTEM (Example of an embedded system):

Above Figure shows one possible organization for an embedded system.

An embedded system encompasses the CPU as well as many other resources. In addition to the CPU and memory hierarchy, there are a variety of interfaces that enable the system to measure, manipulate, and otherwise interact with the external environment. Some differences with desktop computing may be:

The human interface may be as simple as a flashing light or as complicated as real-time robotic vision. The diagnostic port may be used for diagnosing the system that is being controlled -- not just for diagnosing the computer. Special-purpose field programmable (FPGA), application specific (ASIC), or even nondigital hardware may be used to increase performance or safety. Software often has a fixed function, and is specific to the application.

In addition to the emphasis on interaction with the external world, embedded systems also provide functionality specific to their applications. Instead of executing spreadsheets, word processing and engineering analysis, embedded systems typically execute control laws, finite state machines, and signal processing algorithms. They must often detect and react to faults in both the computing and surrounding electromechanical systems, and must manipulate application-specific user interface devices.
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EMBEDDED PROCESSORS: General Purpose Processors: The designer of a general-purpose processor builds a device suitable for a variety of applications, to maximize the number of devices sold. One feature of such a processor is a program memory the designer does not know what program will run on the processor, so cannot build the program into the digital circuit. Another feature is a general data path the data path must be general enough to handle a variety of computations, so typically has a large register file and one or more general-purpose arithmeticlogic units (ALUs). An embedded system designer, however, need not be concerned about the design of a general-purpose processor. An embedded system designer simply uses a general-purpose processor, by programming the processors memory to carry out the required functionality. Single Purpose Processors: A single-purpose processor is a digital circuit designed to execute exactly one program. An embedded system designer creates a single-purpose processor by designing a custom digital circuit. Using a singlepurpose processor in an embedded system results in several designmetric benefits and drawbacks, which are essentially the inverse of those for general purpose processors. Performance may be fast, size and power may be small, and unit-cost may be low for large quantities, while design time and NRE costs may be high, flexibility is low, unit cost may be high for small quantities, and performance may not match general-purpose processors for some applications. Application-Specific Processors An application-specific instruction-set processor (or ASIP) can serve as a compromise between the above processor options. An ASIP is designed for a particular class of applications with common characteristics, such as digital-signal processing, telecommunications, embedded control, etc. The designer of such a processor can optimize the datapath for the application class, perhaps adding special functional units for common operations, and eliminating other infrequently used units. Using an ASIP in an embedded system can provide the benefit of flexibility while still achieving good performance, power and size.

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REFERENCE: Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis,Embedded System Design: A Unified Hardware/Software Approach, John Wiley ,2002.

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