What is an Embedded System?

Embedded systems are designed to perform a specific task, such as controlling the temperature in a building or keeping track of inventory in a warehouse. They often use real-time operating systems and rely on custom hardware, which can include microcontrollers and sensors.


The two main components of an embedded system are software and hardware. The software provides the logic to run the system, while the hardware allows the software to interact with its environment.


Although an embedded system may sound like an innovative product of the future, they have been integrated into our lives for many years. In 2009, it was estimated that 98% of all microprocessors were manufactured with embedded systems.

How Does an Embedded System Operate?

In some cases, an embedded system is synonymous with a computer, but this is not always the case. When it comes to consumer technology, it’s important to recognize that most of the objects we interact with daily may have some computer-like functions, but they have no user interface – something computers are required to have.

An embedded system is managed by microcontrollers or digital signal processors (DSP), application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA), GPU technology, and gate arrays.

While computers require user interaction to function, embedded systems receive operation instructions from their firmware, which is input through read-only (or flash) memory chips. This allows the embedded system to launch quickly and completely reset as needed. Flash memory has a limited number of writes, which makes it unsuitable for storing data and code that will be modified over time but an excellent option for returning malfunctioning systems to their original state.

A flash memory chip will hold its data as long as it is attached to a power source. However, sometimes issues occur, and the system needs to be reset. For example, when a video streaming app on your television freezes and you need to wipe the slate clean, so you can try again to watch your favorite show.

This is precisely why troubleshooting often requires unplugging a device for 30 seconds and plugging it back in – you are essentially wiping the flash memory, so you can start from the beginning.

High-Quality Embedded Systems for Your Devices

The research and development team at Real Time Embedded Solutions combines unparalleled experience and comprehensive capabilities to develop software for embedded systems and the real-time OS industry. We provide turn-key solutions, end-to-end system development, integration, and quality assurance to face and overcome new challenges. Contact us today to get started.