What is meant by embedded software development?

Using specific programming languages (like C and C++) to write code for a specific hardware device in which it runs is called embedded software development. It makes the device smart by performing actions based on user's input which improves the user experience. They are designed to perform function-specific tasks rather than doing multiple tasks like computers. The embedded system is incredibly intuitive. An embedded software system could be a system developed and organized on any device, apart from an old-fashioned computer. It is the brain of a specific device; however, it is a solely useless tool and simple to elucidate what software system is embedded.

The image represents embedded system

Examples of embedded software

The simple embedded package examples could be an old calculator, that was used before this feature is engineered into smartphones. Another simple example is that a television (TV) device or photographic camera. They are all supercharged by embedded systems.
The question is, "Is there an embedded system concerning computer code development? "The solution is always "no". Generally, the term code is employed for less complicated devices just like the ones we tend to list often. However, a coffee maker with embedded technologies could be more complicated. Few creative examples for the embedded system as follow as:

Software for attached cars

Attached cars are the new technologies, that must adhere to certain standards and security standards. Such systems are complex to design.

Digital photographic cameras

Cameras with facial identification and authentication features have face recognition software embedded inside. Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques are used in this type of camera.

Built-in smart parking software

Smart vehicle with embedded software can park itself in the parking lot without human intervention with a single button press.

About embedded software

The first embedded system was created fifty years ago. These days embedded system is surrounded everywhere and it is at each flip. They are the vital part of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The method of making the embedded software package has its own complexities. That is why we tend to determine to inform the additional regarding the methods and process of making these systems.

Embedded system’s common features

  • Embedded system is designed to perform repetitive specific functions on certain single-purpose devices.
  • Their operations need to be done quickly, sometimes within a certain period.
  • Depends upon microprocessors as well as the microcontrollers. The microcontroller is an Integrated circuit(IC) that governs a particular function or operations in an Embedded system. A ordinary microcontroller has Input/output(I/O) pins, processor, memory, etc.
  • May work without an operating system (OS) or might use a special operating system (like real-time OS).
  • Work with bounded memory, power, and computing resources that may/may not have a keyboard, screen, user interface, and connectivity.
The image represents the structure of embedded system

Embedded system's basic components

The embedded system has three layers with the operating system to handle/control the system. To make the system work, an embedded system requires both hardware and software.


The user interface could be a set of features, buttons, and actions that need to be available to the user are,

  • Hardware could have Random Access Memory (RAM)/Read only Memory (ROM).
  • The system charges with a power supply; that is, either with a power outlet or a battery.
  • Some embedded systems are capable of measuring the time with its timer. For example, the IoT system based on a home can turn off the light after waiting five minutes and making sure there is no movement in the rooms or the complete house.
  • Communication ports the way that a computer communicates with other systems/devices or computers. The Universal Serial Bus (USB) port is a great example. However, there are still many ways to communicate between the embedded system and few other devices are,
    • Controller Area Network(CAN).
    • Inter-Integrated Circuit(I2C).
    • SAE J1587/J1708.
    • Serial Peripheral Interface(SPI).
    • Universal Serial Bus(USB).
    • Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter(UART).
    • Firewire.


The programming languages (like C and C++) are involved in creating machine codes. The code layer might contain numerous parts looking at the device’s complications and purpose. A whole embedded code package has 4 constituents starting from firmware to program

Firmware: A in-built code written for assured hardware. Firmware is held in ROM, Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM), or flash memory which is non-volatile. During manufacturing firmware is added to execute the codes on the device.

An operating system: Software for setting rules and controlling computers resources. This has device drivers that give APIs for top software elements and create them to act with hardware elements. There are general-purpose and real-time operating systems.

Middleware: An intermediary that helps to communicate between the top and bottom software levels. Middleware was generated for a specific operating system and is between OS and program.

Programs: Software that performs computer functions directly and communicates with the end-users.

Large complex embedded systems have all of these components; while simple embedded solutions may lack some software components, for example, operating systems: A real-time operating system is required for the embedded software development.

Embedded software development tool types

Embedded systems engineering is not easy. That is why embedded software engineers use different tools to design these solutions. The following are some of the highlights:

  • An editor is used in creating the code in C/C++.
  • A compiler is a tool for converting high-level programming language code into a low-level machine.
  • The assembler is required if the programming code is written in machine language and it does the same job similar to the compiler.
  • A debugger prevents bugs and mistakes.
  • A connector gets a program, that can run code pieces and blocks together.
  • A prototype is a tool that enables an embedded computer engineer to verify the workings of the program in a triggered real-life environment and improves the future user experience in this situation.

Challenges for embedded software development

Embedded software is at the center of popular and fast-growing IoT devices. However, embedded software development and the IoT also have some specific challenges.


Unexpected behavior is unacceptable; when it comes to devices that endanger the lives of users and other people. The system's behavior must be predictable and it should deliver the expected performance always for it to be sustainable.


Devices with embedded systems must be secure and the system must be designed so that there are no problems with life-saving operations in critical environments.


The embedded software is directly connected to a particular device and could be controlled by the mobile application. This is an issue with embedded solutions, so it is necessary for assuring that there is no chance of data or information being transmitted.

Context and Applications

This topic is important for postgraduate and undergraduate courses, particularly for Bachelors in Computer Science Engineering, and Associate of Science in Computer Science.

Practice Problems

Question 1: RTOS stands for ______.

A. Real-Time Operating System

B. RAM-Time Operating System

C. ROM-Time Operating System

D. Run-Time Operating System

Answer: Option A is correct.

Explanation: RTOS is the special operating system over which the embedded applications are built. On top of the RTOS, embedded applications are built.

Question 2: Select the appropriate class of stimuli.

A. Management stimuli

B. Periodic stimuli

C. Software stimuli

D. Hardware stimuli

Answer: Option B is correct.

Explanation: Periodic stimuli occurs at expected time intervals. For example, for every 60 milliseconds the system inspects the sensor, and taking the sensor values it takes action.

Question 3: By which time must the stimuli be processed and the system produces some response?

A. Frequency

B. Compile time

C. Deadlines

D. Execution time

Answer: Option C is correct.

Explanation: The system fails if it does not meet the deadline. It causes Degraded System Service (DSS) in a real-time system.

Question 4: __________ design reuses the software components and hardware components.

A. Peripheral design

B. Input design

C. Output design

D. Platform-based design

Answer: Option D is correct.

Explanation: In creating embedded systems, to manage the increased complexity platform-based design is used to reuse the hardware components and software components.

Question 5: During embedded design ________ uses both software and hardware.

A. Peripheral design

B. Software/hardware codesign

C. Output design

D. Platform-based design

Answer: Option B is correct.

Explanation: To give an efficient product it combines both software and hardware in the right proportions. The embedded design considers both the software and hardware designs.

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