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Embedded Systems and Information Appliances
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Embedded Systems and Information Appliances

Embedded system is a combination of computer hardware, software and, perhaps, additional mechanical parts, designed to perform a specific function.

Embedded systems are usually programmed in high level language that is compiled (and/or assembled) into an executable ("machine") code. These are loaded into Read Only Memory (ROM) and called "firmware", "microcode" or a "microkernel". The microprocessor is 8-bit or 16-bit.The bit size refers to the amount of memory accessed by the processor. There is usually no operating system and perhaps 0.5k of RAM. The functions implemented normally have no priorities. As the need for features increases and/or as the need to establish priorities arises, it becomes more important to have some sort of decision making mechanism be part of the embedded system. The most advanced systems actually have a tiny, streamlined OS running the show, executing on a 32-bit or 64-bit processor. This is called RTOS.

Embedded Hardware
All embedded system has a microprocessor or microcontroller for processing of information and execution of programs, memory in the form of ROM/RAM for storing embedded software programs and data, and I/O interfaces for external interface. Any additional requirement in an embedded system is dependent on the equipment it is controlling. Very often these systems have a standard serial port, a network interface, I/O interface, or hardware to interact with sensors and activators on the equipment.

Embedded Software
C has become the language of choice for embedded programmers, because it has the benefit of processor independence, which allows the programmer to concentrate on algorithms and applications, rather than on the details of processor architecture. However, many of its advantages apply equally to other high-level languages as well. Perhaps the greatest strength of C is that it gives embedded programmers an extraordinary degree of direct hardware control without sacrificing the benefits of high-level languages. Compilers and cross compilers are also available for almost every processor with C.

Any source code written in C or C++ or Assembly language must be converted into an executable image that can be loaded onto a ROM chip. The process of converting the source code representation of your embedded software into an executable image involves three distinct steps, and the system or computer on which these processes are executed is called a host computer.First, each of the source files that make an embedded application must be compiled or assembled into distinct object files.Second, all of the object files that result from the first step must be linked into a final object file called the relocatable program.

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