An embedded system is a system designed to operate for a particular end application and perform a set of dedicated tasks. Such systems have been developed for many consumer electronic appliances, from printers and video games to dishwashers, routing equipment PDAs and automobiles. Even with the integration of the functionality across systems (digital cameras and mobile phones, for example), embedded systems remain an attractive option due to their ease of programmability and their ability to provide real-time performance, which many of these systems require.
In most cases, since the scope of operation for such a device is known a priori, system designers are able to achieve high performance and reliability while also being able to optimize it in terms of size and cost. However, fierce competition in the market amongst various vendors results in a demand to offer more features at a lower cost with the ability to reach the market in minimal time.
In this pursuit, the choice of the platform that system designers make for developing their solution plays a crucial role in the eventual success of their product. The term "platform" here refers both to the processor and operating system chosen.
Usually, system designers have multiple platform options and the call to select one of these is not trivial. In this article, we have presented the primary factors, both technical and market driven, which influence this decision making process. We consider which can help developers and architects in making the right choice of platform for their application and includes an example that compares Freescale platforms to those of Texas Instruments for a specific application.
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Puneet Gupta is lead engineer, Video Communications Team, Ittiam Systems