What Is an Embedded System?

Mark M. Budnik
A free video tutorial from Mark M. Budnik
Brandt Professor of Engineering, Valparaiso University
4.7 instructor rating • 30 courses • 72,470 students

Lecture description

Students will be able to explain what an embedded system is, how they are different from traditional computers, and why they use microcontrollers.

Learn more from the full course

Microcontrollers and the C Programming Language (MSP430)

Create C programs for a microcontroller using inputs/outputs, timers, analog-to-digital converters, comm ports, and LCD.

01:45:27 of on-demand video • Updated May 2020

  • Program microcontrollers with the C programming language.
  • Use timer peripherals
  • Use communication peripherals
  • Use analog-to-digital converter peripherals
  • Use a liquid crystal display (LCD)
  • Use the MSP430 to develop embedded systems
English [Auto] Microcontrollers are programmable computer chips that access the brain's electronic devices, in most cases, the electronic devices that use microcontrollers are categorized as embedded systems, but its systems are electrical or electromechanical systems that contain a programmable computer chip that is a microcontroller but are not intended to be a traditional personal or business computer. Unlike general purpose, computers, embedded systems perform specific, dedicated functions that use both hardware, things you can touch and software instructions to my controller to complete a predefined task. Let's go back to our thermostat example. A thermostat is an embedded system that has inputs like air temperature and humidity and number of push buttons that the microcontroller monitors based upon its instructions. The thermostat microcontroller will then adjust a number of outputs like the display fans, air conditioners or furnace. Now there are different types of thermostats and there are embedded systems brain that is, the microcontroller will have its own unique instructions to monitor and control different types of inputs and outputs. However, regardless of the type of inputs and outputs a thermostat has, it is still a thermostat. This ties directly back to the idea that embedded systems perform dedicated functions. They use both hardware, things you can touch and software instructions for the microcontroller to complete a predefined task. I can't simply turn one embedded system like a thermostat into a different type of embedded system, like a television, simply by changing its instructions. Remember, embedded systems are electrical or electromechanical systems that contain a programmable computer chip for dedicated functions to complete a predefined task. Next, we will introduce the concept of a microcontroller program that is its unique instructions that define what an embedded system does.