Embedded Systems Trends and Technologies

Author photo: Dick Slansky
ByDick Slansky
ARC Report Abstract

Executive Overview

The broad, diverse, and highly fragmented embedded systems market consists of software, development platforms, and hardware.  Many industries, products, and services rely on embedded systems.  The industrial market for embedded systems includes communications, automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, military systems, to industrial controls, and other sec-tors.

An embedded system is typically some combination of hardware and software, either fixed in function or programmable.  An embedded system could be designed to support a specific function, or specific functions with-in a larger system.  Examples include industrial control systems and ma-chines, automobiles, military systems such as avionics and weapons system, medical equipment, consumer products, smartphones, and building automation.

For simple, high-volume embedded devices for the consumer market, the embedded system cost could be 99 percent hardware and 1 percent soft-ware.  But for highly specialized, low-volume embedded systems used for aircraft, automobiles, or highly reliable industrial controls, the software could represent 95 percent of the embedded system cost when testing and compliance to standards on complex applications are included.  A further complication is that there is no clear boundary between embedded systems and computers.  Even today, there is some debate about whether a smartphone or a smart IoT gateway is an embedded system or a standalone computer.  Where conventional IoT gateways collect wireless sensor data and push it to the cloud, new smart IoT gateways and edge devices can support LANs, WANs, and general-purpose computing applications such as analytics or process control.

Market research (third party) puts the total market for embedded systems at about $170 billion for 2017, including hardware (silicon, PCBs, firmware, target devices, etc.) and software (development platforms, RTOSs, testing, etc.).  Of course, the overall market for the devices and machines these embedded systems empower is much larger.  The software-only component of the embedded systems market is estimated at about 6 percent of the total market, or $10 billion.

Embedded devices are typically powered by software integrated with hardware, such as systems on a chip (SoC), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA), an integrated circuit (IC) designed to be programmed by an embedded developer for a specific function, and other firmware variations. 

Embedded Systems

Many Different Products Depend on Embedded Systems embeddedds.PNG

Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview
  • Embedded Systems in the Industries
  • Trends and Technologies in Embedded Systems
  • Conclusions

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