All technology in our lives has some or the other form of computer system embedded in it. Ranging from varying devices like smartphones, car controls, digital cameras, music players to washing machines, embedded computers can be found everywhere.
But what is embedded computing or embedded computer systems?
Computers incorporated, installed, combined, or embedded into any device, rather than only a single computer exclusive system, is what can be perceived broadly as embedded computing.
In other words, computers embedded into devices are constructed so to perform the desired functions. Presently, devices using embedded computers have reached technological sophistication and advancement to levels surpassing stand-alone computers.
Why use embedded computers?
With increasing expectations of users from technology and applied science, even in seemingly minor sectors like digital watches, embedded computers help reach the desired simplified user interface, and ease of use. With more and more urgent need to get the unattainable, the technology uses embedded systems as an answer to all complexly growing demands.
Using a blend of hardware advancement and software designs, and processing devices like microcontrollers, microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSP), and other task-specific processors.
All these processors combinedly provide a seemingly tireless computer system that manages specific tasks like accessing, storing, and processing data, hence, getting ease of control relating to task management over digital devices and controlling the data.
All these specifications then help bring otherwise hassled jobs like agriculture, automation, aeronautics, digital device control, and even medical technology to an easy user interface platform. The complexity of the design of the embedded computers or the embedded computer systems leads to a fluid, simple device for any user to work.
Embedded computer user interface variations
Embedded computer systems fall into a varying spectrum of use, design, innovation, and complexity. While some devices have no User Interface (UI), others feature a complex case of Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Based on these variations, we get devices capable of performing a single task and devices capable of multitasking. Common everyday multitasking devices used presently are smartphones, digital cameras, etc. Interestingly, household appliances like microwave ovens, dishwashers, and presently, even refrigerators use embedded computer systems.
Understanding embedded GUI
Embedded GUI or embedded graphic user interface is an advanced undertaking over the user interface of electronic devices using visual elements, like in smartphones, etc.
Using embedded GUI softwares have majorly changed the touch-screen technology, making it better than ever and also much easier to sell due to exceedingly better graphic user interface.
CrankSoftware is one of the leading names in the industry. They make designing and developing embedded GUI much easier with coding-less tools, while development experts handle all the coding for you. The award-winning software platform, trusted by companies like CocaCola, helps with easy optimization and excellent user experience.
Classifying embedded computers based on components
Microprocessor – Compact, power-efficient, and less costly, microprocessor devices can control small microcomputers using small chips. Able to perform arithmetic operations ALU (Arithmetic Logical Unit) and aiding communications, microprocessor embedded computers are highly used in accounting systems, military communications, gaming consoles, etc.
Microcontroller – Self-contained computers on a chip or system on a chip are compact, low cost embedded computing systems. Used in lawnmowers, office equipment like keyboards, mouse, car engines, etc.
Further classified into 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit microcontrollers, these embedded systems are also used in medical equipment, office machines, and other devices. These energy-efficient devices are oriented around the application and are currently being innovated to meet the needs of energy-saving and high performance and functionality.
Digital Signal Processors – Highly used in the cell phone industry, digital signal processors, apart from processing digital signals, perform mathematical functions. Used in industrial and automation electronics, electronic medical equipment, digital communications, etc.,
Digital Signal Processors are chief produce of Motorola, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Lucent Technologies. Digital Signal Processors (DSP) are expected to see a major uprise in the coming years due to the high demand of multimedia computers, cellular telephones, and high-fidelity music reproduction.
Application-Specific Integrated Circuits – Specifically designed for particular applications, Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) are widely used in emission control, PDAs or Personal Digital Assistants, etc. Chips running in digital voice recorders, etc are ASIC.
The production cost of Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) is relatively very high, and thus, the chips are produced in large batches using a single-chip like for smartphones, etc. ASIC chips are also used for crypto-currency mining.
Memory and software – Memory, an important element of embedded computers, is of two types – volatile and non-volatile. RAM ( Random Access Memory ), an example of volatile memory, helps understand that volatile memory is only retained until the system is switched on.
The non-volatile memory can be better understood as the memory that is retained even when the power supply is not connected, for example – ROM (Read Only Memory).
Embedded C, C, C++ are some of the programming languages of the software of embedded computers. The software is written instructions that set the complexity of the device. Complexity and sophistication of the software of the embedded computing system further depend on the functions, and control of the device that they are used within.
Embedded Computing Systems as the backbone of various industries:-
- Embedded systems are the main reason that all devices of the new age work so perfectly, and are so easy to be understood by the users.
- A core component of the automobile industry, embedded computing systems, provides the industry with its durability, and versatility. The advancement, now, is responsible for reduced fuel usage, and other automated devices used in public transport, etc.
- Luxury vehicles are known to use about 70-80 microcontrollers ranging from modifying braking systems, black box, satellite radio, navigation systems, night vision, collision sensors, climate control, etc.
- Industrial use of embedded computers ranges from controlling and driving vehicles, machine control, and monitoring, networking equipment, etc.
- All communication sectors ranging from phones, radios, satellite TVs, Radars, and GPS use embedded computers.
The embedded computing technology has come forwards as a great boon to advancement sectors and other critical industries like medical equipment manufacturing, communications, etc. The constant demand for innovative devices and easy consumer interface can be facilitated further by using and implementing embedded computer systems into all niches.