Embedded Systems

Embedded systems are systems or devices that consist of computers but aren't general purpose computers themselves. They usually consist of both hardware and software, and are usually a part of a larger system. Embedded systems have a plethora of possible hosts, including cars, cameras and everyday household appliances. Embedded systems are named as such since they are embedded in devices to provide functionality. Embedded systems are used since they're generally cheap, small and consume very low amounts of power when compared to full-scale computing systems intended for general purposes. They were designed to be the way they are to maximise efficiency. These embedded systems are expected to function without human input or intervention and are essentially the metaphorical gears of a larger system. The consequence of the properties of embedded systems is that it has very limited programming resources, which may make it tricky for programmers to work with them. Generally, embedded systems are designed in order to perform a specific task. When multiple embedded systems that perform different tasks come together, they become part of a larger, more functional system. Embedded systems make use of a whole variety of sensors to communicate with the outside world and react to external stimuli. They also have hardly any user interface and usually have none at all. The embedded systems of today are often based on either microcontrollers and microprocessors.A large majority of microprocessors are built to function as components of embedded systems. In the 1960's, one of the first modern embedded systems was born, the Apollo Guidance Computer, which was intended to be used on spacecrafts that were part of the Apollog program. Understandably, it wasn't cheap or easy to make these back in those days. However, since then, embedded systems have gone down significantly in price and have significantly higher computing capabilities.

Embedded systems have three components: Hardware, application software, and RTOS (Real Time Operating System). The RTOS administrates the software and provides an algorithm or mechanism to allow the software to execute it's function according to a very precise schedule that's designed to minimise latencies. Embedded systems consist of sensors, A-D converters, processors, D-A converters and actuators. The sensor reacts to the external stimuli, converts it to an electrical signal to be passed along to the rest of the system and stores it to memory. An A-D converter converts the analog signal received by the sensor to a digital signal, which is then processed by the processor. The digital data is then converted to an analog signal by the D-A converter and is sent to the actuator which compares the output received to a calculated ouput and stores the appropriate output.






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