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An embedded system is a computer system with a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electrical system, often with real-time computing constraints. Modern embedded systems are often based on microcontrollers (i.e. CPU’s with integrated memory or peripheral interfaces), but ordinary microprocessors (using external chips for memory and peripheral interface circuits) are also common, especially in more-complex systems.
Embedded systems are commonly found in consumer, cooking, industrial, automotive, medical, commercial and military applications. Consumer electronics include MP3 players, mobile phones, videogame consoles, digital cameras, GPS receivers, and printers. Household appliances, such as microwave ovens, washing machines and dishwashers, include embedded systems to provide flexibility, efficiency and features. Transportation systems from flight to automobiles increasingly use embedded systems. New airplanes contain advanced avionics such as inertial guidance systems and GPS receivers that also have considerable safety requirements. Other automotive safety systems include anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC/ESP), traction control (TCS) and automatic four-wheel drive. Medical equipment uses embedded systems for vital signs monitoring, electronic stethoscopes for amplifying sounds, and various medical imaging (PET, SPECT, CT, and MRI) for non-invasive internal inspections.
A new class of miniature wireless devices called motes are networked wireless sensors. Wireless sensor networking, enabling people and companies to measure a myriad of things in the physical world and act on this information through IT monitoring and control systems. Embedded Wi-Fi modules provide a simple means of wirelessly enabling any device that communicates via a serial port. More sophisticated devices that use a graphical screen with touch sensing or screen-edge buttons provide flexibility while minimizing space used: the meaning of the buttons can change with the screen, and selection involves the natural behavior of pointing at what is desired. Computer software has immensely revolutionized the world. Software has replaced functions that were previously carried out by electronic circuits and allowed new functionalities never imagined possible.
To code for an embedded system, one must have knowledge of the microprocessor in use. There are several microprocessors in the market used on embedded systems. Intel microprocessors used for general-purpose on computer systems. However, a few of its older chips such as the 8085 used in embedded systems.
Several tools and strategies exist that may be used throughout the embedded software lifecycle, which help to facilitate the verification and testing of the system. Each tool or strategy has inherent strengths and weaknesses, which are discussed in this section.
Developing quality software for an embedded device presents a unique set of challenges over and above normal challenges faced when developing software for a more robust, higher powered system. Overall, not one single approach or method alone is capable of ensuring quality software is produced, rather the individual project should be analyzed in detail in order to determine the requirements for the particular product, and the combination of the discussed techniques employed that enable the necessary level of testing coverage. While others like aspect-oriented design should only be used in small projects, or when it has the potential to vastly improve the design, implementation, modularization and maintenance of the software code.
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