Overview: Embedded System Architecture

August 7, 2023

Embedded systems architecture involves the integration of a microcontroller and embedded software. This design process includes the thoughtful selection of hardware components and embedded software, as well as the seamless assembly of hardware to create a fully functional embedded system.

An Embedded System consists of several layers of components that operate based on predefined rules. It is worth mentioning that it can function independently with specific tasks or as part of a larger system, aligned with its overall objectives. Typically, embedded systems have two primary components, although larger-scale systems may include up to three layers of components.

  • The Fundamental Hardware Layer plays a vital role in the system’s architecture. It serves as the bedrock on which the entire system is constructed, ensuring stability and seamless functionality.
  • The Application Software Layer is responsible for incorporating the required software components for processing. This layer plays a crucial role in guaranteeing the seamless functioning and optimal efficiency of the entire system.
  • The Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) is an essential component in embedded systems, serving as a critical layer responsible for overseeing applications and enforcing regulations.

Components of Embedded Systems Architecture

Processor: The processor is a crucial component of an embedded system that executes instructions and manages the system’s functions. It can be in the form of a microcontroller, microprocessor, or digital signal processor (DSP). Its role is essential in ensuring efficient operation and control within the embedded system.

Memory: Memory plays a crucial role in embedded systems as it is responsible for storing both program code and data. Two commonly used types of memory are RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read-Only Memory). While RAM is used for temporary data storage, ROM serves as a permanent repository for both data and program code, making it an integral component of embedded systems.

Communication Interfaces: Embedded systems often require communication interfaces to facilitate seamless data exchange with other devices. These interfaces can be in the form of wired or wireless connections, such as Ethernet, USB, SPI, I2C, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi.

A-D Convertor: This device  converts analog signals into digital signals. It efficiently converts the input from analog to digital, enabling more effective processing and transmission.

D-A Convertor: This device is utilized to convert digital signals into analog signals.

Power Management: Embedded systems often require power management techniques to minimize power consumption and extend battery life. These techniques include sleep modes, power gating, and dynamic voltage scaling. By implementing these strategies, system designers can achieve optimal power efficiency and improve overall performance.

Operating System: Embedded systems utilize operating systems for purposes such as facilitating a user interface, managing resources, and controlling system functions. In this domain, commonly used operating systems include Linux, Windows CE, and FreeRTOS.

Types of Embedded Systems

Embedded systems can be categorized according to their performance and functional needs, as well as the capabilities of the microcontroller on which they depend. The microcontroller plays a crucial role in the operation of an embedded system, as it handles hardware communication and manages the necessary processors. By taking these aspects into account, we can guarantee the best possible performance and efficiency in embedded systems.

Standalone Embedded Systems: Standalone Embedded Systems function autonomously without relying on a host device like a computer or processor. They effortlessly process input data in both digital and analog formats and generate an output that can be displayed through a connected device. This self-sustaining characteristic eliminates the requirement for external dependencies, making it an efficient solution.

Real Time Embedded Systems: Real-time embedded systems are highly valuable in situations that demand precise output within a specific timeframe. These systems play a crucial role in meeting time-sensitive tasks. By utilizing computer systems, we can exercise control over external environments by connecting them through sensors or other input/output interfaces. The scheduling of output can be accomplished using either static or dynamic approaches, affirming the significance of real-time embedded systems.

Network Embedded Systems: Embedded systems of this kind comprise a network that includes multiple microprocessors or controllers collaborating to attain optimal performance. These systems can be programmed, and their communication protocols can be customized to enhance efficiency. Primarily utilized in industrial automation, they also find application in diverse fields like automotive, medical, and consumer electronics.

Mobile Embedded systems: Mobile embedded systems refer to small, portable embedded devices, such as cellphones, laptops, and calculators.

Small-scale, Medium scale and Sophisticated Embedded Systems: These embedded systems are classified based on the performance of microcontrollers:

  • Small-scale embedded systems usually make use of microcontrollers that have either 8-bit or 16-bit architecture.
  • Medium-scale embedded systems generally utilize a microcontroller that operates on a 16-bit or 32-bit architecture.
  • Sophisticated embedded systems frequently utilize multiple microcontrollers, usually 32-bit or 64-bit, to guarantee effective and smooth operation.

Embedded system architecture is a crucial aspect of designing efficient and functional embedded systems. It entails meticulous selection of hardware components and seamless integration of software to create fully operational embedded solutions. The multi-layered structure, consisting of essential hardware, application software, and real-time operating systems, guarantees seamless functionality and compliance with predefined guidelines.

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