If you are reading this post, there are high chances that you already know what embedded systems are. Just to recap, an embedded system is a combination of hardware and software designed to perform a particular task. So, are embedded systems in mobile phones typical of other embedded systems? Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Read on to get a clearer picture and our opinion.
The software brings everything together in embedded systems. So, how similar are software in traditional embedded systems and mobile phones? Quite a lot to be honest. IOS and Android developers having knowledge of embedded programming will definitely notice the similarities. Moreover, IOS is heavily dependent on code that uses processors and memory as efficiently as possible. That is one of the key aspects of embedded programming too. So both sets of programmers will be familiar with this aspect.
However, there are plenty of differences between the two as well. For instance, there are extensive API libraries to separate hardware and low-level drivers. Furthermore, the processing capacity of the CPU and other vital components is way higher than what typical embedded systems require. Therefore, embedded systems in mobile phones are much more capable than single-purpose devices running on embedded programming.
To begin talking about this aspect, first, let us list out the important hardware components of a general embedded system. They are the power supply (battery), processor, memory units (RAM & ROM), I/O ports etc. Even if you have basic knowledge of smartphones, you will know that all the components listed are also used in smartphones. Also, factor in the software needed to coordinate between these components and you get the perfect example of an embedded system right? Well, not completely. Let us understand why that is the case.
Smartphones have a fixed shape and every manufacturer tries to make a better form factor than their competitor while following the same guidelines. On the other hand, the general embedded system form factor is designed according to the purpose. Each one will look completely different from other systems that perform different tasks. Additionally, the processors used in smartphones will be of much higher capacity than single-purpose embedded systems. While seeing 16-bit processors is common in some general systems, embedded systems in mobile phones need at least 32-bit architecture. Also, the memory capacity will be much higher in smartphones than typical embedded systems, In fact, thousands of times higher.
So, after all the fact-checking, are smartphones worthy to be called as embedded systems? The answer can never be a definitive yes or a definitive no because of the intertwined nature of the components and software. However, we can say that smartphones lay at the crossroads between embedded systems and personal computers. From a hardware perspective, you can say that they are embedded systems with high-end components. But, from a software perspective, there are fewer similarities overall.
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