1 Embedded System Design
Embedded processors and system are becoming ubiquitous. There has been an industry trend towards incorporating computing resources into products. Done properly, this can increase value and differentiate a product from its competitors. In other cases, embedded computing is used replace older technologies such as analog processing. The result can be reduced power, improved capabilities and lower cost.
While the promise of embedded computing is impressive, without careful design, the reality can disappoint. Specifying, selecting, designing and implementing the right solution are essential to realize the full potential of embedded computing.
1.1 Selecting the right architecture–it starts with a good system design
Unlike other computing devices, the embedded market is highly fragmented. Although the ARM processor have become increasingly the standard for embedded processing, there are still plenty of other processor architecture with large markets. Furthermore, ARM processors are supplied by dozens of vendors such as Texas Instruments and NXP.
Selecting the right embedded device for an application can be challenging. This proliferation is the direct result of a wide range of requirements that fit within the umbrella of the embedded industry. Some devices need tight integration with wireless networks. Others are geared towards ultra-low power. For systems that require major computing resources, such as video processing, the industries supports a continuum of system performance options.
Another design issue to consider is the available of development tools (CASE). The quality and capabilities of the design tools vary widely. The perfect hardware solution is of little value without the right development tools. Firmware development is often the most expensive line item in embedded projects. Some vendors provide extensive libraries and quality CASE tools, which can accelerate a development project. To achieve schedule and budget goals, it is essential to consider how different tool chains will impact the development of required IP.
2 Some systems developed by Lithe
Lithe Technology has developed numerous embedded systems for a wide range of requirements. The following is some general information we have gleamed from this experience.
2.1 Wifi-based systems
Wide availability of wifi (more accurately called IEEE 802.11) was an enabling technology for the IoT revolution. By removing the need for wired connections, coupled with low power devices that can operate from a battery, a new world of applications became possible.
Lithe developed a battery power sensor package that sent measurements to a tablet computer via wifi. The sensor used a Texas Instruments CC3200 processor with integrated wifi capabilities. It included an integrated ARM to implement a custom real-time application that measured force. It also had non-volatile storage to keep provisioning options and configurations. Critical elements of the design included low-latency delivery of sensor reading and low-power.