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The Ubiquitious Embedded System 9


Like the familiar Microwave Oven, an Embedded System is designed to perform some dedicated function. A
combination o f hardware and software, it forms an embedded part of a complete device. Since an Embedded
system has a limited range of applications, design engineers face no problem t o optimize both size and cost or
enhance rel~abilityand quality of performance.

Embedded systems range from portable devices such as digital watches and MP3 players, t o large stationary
installations like traffic lights, factory controllers, or the systems controlling nuclear power plants. Complexity
varies from low, with a single microcontroller chip, to very high with multiple units, peripherals and networks
mounted inside a large chassis or enclosure.

Typically, Embedded systems are Reactive and Real time systems. A Reactive system is one, which is in continual
interaction with its environment and executes at a pace determined by that environment.

The functioning of a digital camera can b e taken as an example for Real time and Reactive Embedded systems.

The charge coupled device (CCD) contains an array of light sensitive photocells that capture an Image. The APD
and DPA circuits convert analog images to digital and digital to analog, respectively. The CCD preprocessor
provides commands to the CCD to read the image. The JPEG CODEC compresses and decompresses an image
using the JPEG compression standard, enabling compact storage of images in the limited memory o f camera.
The pixel coprocessor aids in rapidly displaying the image. The memory controller controls access to a memory
chip, while the DMA controller enables direct memory acess b y other devices while the microcontroller is
performing other functions. The UART enables communications with a PC's serial port for uploading video frames,
while ISA bus interface enables a faster connection with a PC's ISA bus. The LCD control and display control
circuits control the display o f images o the cameras LCD device. The Multiplier /Accumulator circuit performs a

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10 The Ubiquitious Embedded Systerr

particular frequently executed computation faster than the microcontroller could. At the heart of the system is
the microcontroller, a programmable processor that controls the activities o f all the other circuits. We can think
of each device as a processor designed for a particular task.

The above example illustrates the characteristics of an Embedded system

1. It performs the function repeatedly.

2. The system always acts as camera wherein it captures, compresses, stores frames, decompresses and
displays frames and uploads frames.

3. It is tightly constrained

4. It must b e o f l o w cost, fast, and small in size.

Other Examples of Embedded Systems

Audio like mp3 players and telephone switches for interactive voice response systems

Avionics, such as inertial guidance systems, flight control hardwarelsoftware and other integrated systems
in aircraft and missiles

Cellular telephones and telephone switches

Electric or Electronic Motor controller for Brushless DC motors, Induction motors and DC Motors

Engine controllers and antilock brake controllers for automobiles

Home automation products, such as thermostats, air conditioners, sprinklers, and security monitoring systems

Handheld calculators

Household appliances, including microwave ovens, washing machines, television sets, DVD players and

Medical equipment

Personal digital assistant

Videogame consoles

Computer peripherals such as routers and printers

Industrial controllers for remote machine operation

Digital musical instruments (digital synthesizers and digital pianos).

Security applications such as DVR and video server

3 d e d Systerr -ne Ubiquitious Embedded System 11

:7e system 1s Characteristics

-Ve can think
1) Embedded Systems are designed t o d o some specific task, rather than b e a general-purpose computer
for multiple tasks. Some also have real-time performance constraints that must b e met, for reason such as
safety and usabil~ty;others may have low or no performance requirements, allowing the system hardware
t o b e simpllfled to reduce costs.

9) Embedded Systems are not always separate devices. Most often they are physically built-in t o the devices
messes and they control.

3) The software written for embedded systems is often called firmware, and is stored in read-only memory
or Flash memory chips rather than a disk drive. It often runs with limited computer hardware resources:
small or no keyboard, screen, and little memory.

4) Must b e dependable. Reliability R (t) = Probability of system working correctly provided that it was working
at t=O. Making the system dependable must not b e an afterthought, it must b e considered from the very

5) Maintainability M (d) = Probability of system working correctly d time units after error occurred
:2d Systems
6) Availability A (t): Probability o f system working at time t.

7) Safety: No harm t o b e caused.

8) Security: Confidential and authentic communication. Even perfectly designed systems can fail if the
assumptions about the workload and possible errors turn out t o b e wrong.

9) Must b e efficient
: ng systems
Energy efficient

Code-size efficient (especially for systems on a chip)

layers and
Run-time efficient

Weight efficient

I Cost efficient

10) Dedicated towards a certain application. Knowledge about behavior at design time can b e used t o minimize
resources and t o maximize robustness.

11) Dedicated user interface. (No mouse, keyboard and screen)

12) Many Embedded System must meet real-time constraints

13) Frequently connected to physical environment through sensors and actuators, Dortmund

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12 The Ubiquitious Embedded Syster

Growing importance of Embedded systems

Worldwide mobile phone sales surpassed 156.4 rnln units In Q 2 2004, a 35% increase from Q2 2003,

The worldwide portable flash player market exploded in 2003 and is expected to grow from 12.5
rnln units in 2003 to over 50 rnln units in 2008

Global 3G subscribers will grow from an estimated 45 rnln at the end o f 2004 to 85 rnln in 2005,
according t o Wireless World Forum

The number of broadband lines worldwide increased by almost 55% t o over 123 rnln in the 12
months to the end of June 2004, according to Point-Topic.

Today's DVR (digital video recorders) users - 5% of households will grow to 41% within five years

Embedded chips form the backbone of the electronics driven world in which w e live they are part of
almost everything that runs on electricity

79% of all high-end processors are used in embedded systems

Application areas





Medical systems


Military applications


Sensor technology

' Mobile phones

Mobile base station

Telecom switch

Optical O copper connections

Smart welding machine

Sewing machine

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:edded Syster --z Ubiquitious Embedded System 13

Challenges for Embedded Systems

'om Q2 2003, The obvious ones are security, real-time, scalability, and high availability, but other key challenges exist, such as
what w e call performance-based interoperability. Although these complex, ubiquitous systems are glued together
3w le5 with layers of protocols, they still have time constraints and other performance demands that impact how the
system will perform. and thereby h o w it will b e accepted b y the public. For example, if we have a deadline for
mln in 2005, sending videos across multiple links, is it really going to get to the people wanting to watch the video in a
manner that they can view the video properly? Solving this issue requires meeting time constraints and going
through layers of protocols, software mappings, and switches from one kind of network to another, and through
in the I * layers of software. If the result is a poor quality video, people won't accept the product. Also, for embedded
systems to b e universal they must be easier to use, and we're starting to see that. For example, with e-mail-
In five years enabled phones, you might want to go through the Internet and download your e-mail; but you still have to
punch in a URL using the keypad on the phone and then the result is three tiny lines of text on the screen, which
ley are part of is not too exciting. Yet some people like it, and they're using it. Better interfaces will make this application more

Another challenge for smart environments is safety. For example, in a smart Institution, you won't want to see
doors opening and closing at the wrong times, or windows slamming on somebody's hand. Smart environments
must be safe environments. In the end, people won't want them if they're not safe, available, and reliable. In
fact, smart environments must b e as reliable as, say, the power grid. We come in every day, we turn on the
I~ghts,and the electricity is there. We need the same kind of performance from these smart spaces Interoperability
is an even bigger challenge. The diversity of embedded devices in my opinion, the main challenge is t o define
a distributed computing model for networked embedded systems. Networking these devices is just the first

The ultimate goal is to make them cooperate t o combine or aggregate their functionalities or resources. Their
number and variety is so large that a traditional distributed model simply cannot b e applied without causing an
overwhelming programming overhead. To keep programming at such a scale manageable, the new computing
model must tolerate incomplete results, partial synchronization, and weak consistency. So far, researchers have
proposed scalable solutions for simple cooperative tasks such as routing using content-based addressing which
w e rely will make our everyday life extremely difficult, if we cannot have these devices silently cooperate b y
exchanging data and tasks.

Finally, fault tolerance and security are traditional challenges for any distributed system, and they will ultimately
determine the acceptance of embedded technologies by society. Being able to provide an environment that is
secure and highly available while still delivering deterministic real-time characteristics is very important.
Correctness-getting systems software and applications to run correctly, especially because they're used in
many safety critical areas. Another big issue will b e scalability, meaning that the industry must face the challenges
of designing complex software that scales well with existing Microcontroller solutions for embedded systems.

, Conclusion:
Embedded Systems will play a key role to drive the technological evolution in the next decades. In this respect
they stand on the same level as Nano technologies, bioelectronics, and photonics. The central role of Embedded
systems in the economy grows stronger and stronger. The starting point is the convergence between storage,

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security, video, audio, mobility and connectivity. Systems are converging and ICs are more and more converging
with systems. This poses a number of challenges for designers and technologists. A key issue is the definition o f
the right methodologies t o translate system knowledge and competences into complex embedded systems,
taking into account many system requirements and constraints. The key factor t o win this challenge is to build
the right culture. This means t o b e able t o build the right environment t o exploit existing design, architectural
and technological solutions, and t o favor the transfer of knowledge from one application field into another.


A Unified Hardware/ Software Introduction

-Frank Vahid / Tony Givargis

-John Wiley O Sons, INC 2002

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