Embedded systems are in a huge variety of modern products and applications, including electronic devices, industrial machines, cars and so much more. Their use dates back to the 1960s, and their hardware and software have been extensively improved over the years.
The Basics of Embedded Systems
Embedded systems are systems that control a specific function or functions within a larger system. They are comprised of both hardware/mechanical parts and software and can be either programmable or fixed in their capabilities. This makes them useful in driving down the size and cost of products and applications as well as increasing their reliability and performance.
Embedded systems can also have anything ranging from simple user interface (UI) to a more complex graphical user interface (GUI). This, along with the variety of other options that can be included in an embedded system, makes choosing the right one an important task.
Customizing Embedded Systems
Embedded hardware is very customizable —custom input/output (I/O) modules and other additions can be integrated — allowing it to be tailored to match a certain performance level or price point, but this requires extensive development and electrical design expertise to accomplish.
The automation software used by embedded systems can also be customized, but doing so requires the installation of I/O drivers, the creation of board support packages and the adaption of embedded operating systems beforehand. It’s also necessary to revise the hardware of the embedded system during the development process, making these custom modifications time-consuming for businesses to deploy.
If you are going to customize your embedded system, it’s highly recommended that you ensure you have the internal mechanical and development resources to accomplish the task, or the budget to outsource the development and deployment of the system.
Choosing the Right Embedded System
Choosing an embedded system over a traditional automation system (PAC, PLC, etc.) is entirely dependent on the application it will be applied to, but there are several considerations that should be made. Embedded controllers offer the following benefits to a system:
- High flexibility and customization
- Ideal for applications that require high-speed control
- Ideal for applications that need advanced signal processing and analytics
- Ideal for applications that run on custom protocols or algorithms
- Can be used in larger applications alongside traditional automation systems
Although embedded systems are highly customizable, they can also be quickly deployed to hardware, meeting its precise budgetary and performance requirements. If you choose to customize your embedded system, it can then be deployed to many control platforms without having to change the hardware or develop new software. If heavy customization is needed for your application, an embedded system may be ideal for you.