What is an Embedded System?

Learn: What is an embedded system, where it is used and what are the examples of an embedded system?
Submitted by Vandana Sharma, on June 23, 2017

An Embedded System employs a combination of hardware & software (a "computational engine") to perform a specific function; is part of a larger system that may not be a “computer works in a reactive and time-constrained environment. Software is used for providing features and flexibility Hardware = {Processors, ASICs, Memory...} is used for performance (& sometimes security).

An embedded system is a special purpose of system in which the computer is completely encapsulated by the device it controls. Unlike a general purpose computer, such as a PC, an embedded system performs predefined task’s usually with very specific tasks design engineers can optimize it reducing the size and cost of the product. Embedded systems are often mass produced, so the cost savings may be multiplied by the millions of items.

The core of any embedded system is formed by one or several microprocessor or micro controller programmed to perform a small number of tasks. In contrast to a general purpose computer, which can run any software application, the user chooses, the software on an embedded system is semi-permanent, so it is often called firmware.


  • Automated tiller machines (ATMS).
  • Avionic, such as inertial guidance systems, flight control hardware / software and letter integrated system in aircraft and missile.
  • Cellular telephones and telephonic switches.
  • Computer network equipment, including routers timeservers and firewalls.
  • Computer printers, Copiers.
  • Disk drives (floppy disk drive and hard disk drive).
  • Engine controllers and antilock brake controllers for automobiles.
  • Home automation products like thermostat, air conditioners sprinkles and security monitoring system.
  • House hold appliances including microwave ovens, washing machines, TV sets DVD players/recorders.
  • Medical equipment.
  • Measurement equipment such as digital storage oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and spectrum analyzers.
  • Multimedia appliances: internet radio receivers, TV set top boxes.
  • Personal digital assistants (PDA’s), i.e., small hand held computer with P1M5 and other applications.
  • Programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) for industrial automation and monitoring.
  • Stationary video game controllers.
  • Wearable computers.


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