An embedded system is a computer system with a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electrical system, often with real-time computing constraints. It is embedded as part of a complete device often including hardware and mechanical parts. Embedded systems control many devices in common use today.
The internet of things builds on an embedded systems base
While some embedded systems can be relatively simple, a growing number either supplant human decision-making or offer capabilities beyond that which a human could provide. For instance, some aviation systems, including those used in drones, are able to integrate sensor data and act upon that information faster than a human could, permitting new kinds of operating features.
Debugging embedded systems
One area where embedded systems part ways with the operating systems and development environments of other, larger-scale computers is in the area of debugging. Whereas programmers working desktop computer environments have systems that can run both the code being developed and separate debugger applications that monitor the actions of the development code as it is executed, embedded system programmers generally are afforded no such luxuries.
Embedded systems market is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 13% over the period, rising from $32 billion in 1998 to nearly $67 billion in 2004.Software for embedded applications, which includes realtime operating systems and portable operating systems, will see the second highest growth, with an AAGR of over 16% through the period. Market heavyweights Microsoft and Sun have entered the embedded systems marketplace, their Windows CE and Java offerings, respectively.
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, of course, to play music. Similarly, an embedded system in an automobile provides a specific function as a subsystem of the car itself.