Distinguishing Between Embedded and General-Purpose Computing


        To understand what falls into the category of embedded computing ,it is instructive to note what is not a requirement for embedded 

devices.Lifetimes of embedded devices are very different from the three-year obsolescence cycle of general-purpose machines.

Some devices are nearly disposable:the average Japanese cellular phone is replaced in less than one year. At the opposite extreme,

infrastructural devices such as telephone switches depreciate on a 30-year schedule.these lifetime differences have concrete effects 

on upgradability and backward  compatibility.Few embedded  devices have upgrade requirements. For example,avid automotive 

enthusiasts change the chips in their cars,but these are usually ROMS,not processors.Most consumer items(e.g,cellular phones and 

pagers)are replaced,not upgraded.

      Backward compatibility is seldom an embedded requirement,as software does not migrate from one device to another.

(An interesting exception is game consoles:to maintain compatibility ,later console chips must be capable of being exactly as fast as 

the early versions despite changes in underlying process technology.in consoles,backward compatibility is often implemented by 

putting a complete copy of the previous-generation console in one small  corner of the next-generation die.)

Because many embedded designs need not be backward compatible with previous implementations,designers are free to switch 

designs with each product generation.Consequently,there is less emphasis on the distinction between architecture and implementation

.if a new version of a chip is slightly incompatible but much better then its predecessors,designers may still be willing to use it.

      Designers of embedded devices face more constraints than designers of general-purpose devices. Power,energy efficiency ,cost 

,and physical dimensions usually have a much bigger in embedded systems.This is not to say that embedded devices are 

more difficult to build than general-purpose  devices;the latter tend to have high overall performance goals and huge compatibility 

requirements.But the overall priorities and the balance among them are different for  embedded devices.  






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