A CDE Definition
Any electronic system that uses a computer chip, but that is not a general-purpose workstation, desktop or laptop computer. Such systems use microcontrollers (MCUs) or microprocessors (MPUs), or they may use custom-designed chips. Deployed by the billions each year in myriad applications, the embedded systems market uses the lion's share of electronic components in the world.
Embedded systems are employed in cars, planes, trains, space vehicles, machine tools, cameras, consumer electronics, office appliances, network appliances, cellphones, GPS navigation as well as robots and toys. Low-cost consumer products can use microcontroller chips that cost less than a dollar. See microprocessor and microcontroller.
All Kinds of Operating Systems
There are embedded versions of Linux, Windows and Mac, as well as other specialized operating systems. Embedded systems typically have limited storage, and an embedded OS is often designed to work in much less RAM than a desktop OS. They also typically work in real time. Small embedded systems may contain their own input/output routines and not require a separate operating system at all.
Programs Are in Firmware
In embedded systems, the software typically resides in firmware, such as a flash memory or read-only memory (ROM) chip, in contrast to a general-purpose computer that loads its programs into random access memory (RAM) each time.
Sometimes, single board and rack mounted general-purpose computers are called "embedded computers" if used to control a single printer, drill press or other such device. See embedded market, smart car, Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, Embedded Linux and embedded language.
Embedded Systems in a Car
Embedded in a Shoe!
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