Embedded software is written for a particular piece of non-PC hardware into which it's embedded. The software programming is generally limited to the hardware it runs, such as robotics and GPS devices. In essence, embedded software is to some devices what an operating system is to a computer. Here's a basic embedded software tutorial to give you an overall view of what embedded software is, what it isn't, and how people use it.
How Does Embedded Software Work?
Almost any device can have embedded software, and the software's functions are typically limited to the hardware it operates. A simple light bulb and a more complex smartwatch might use embedded software to operate. The software doesn't require direct interaction with a user to activate it, but instead, it runs either by external controls or remote controls. It can also be simple or complicated, depending on the device it works for.
Embedded Software vs. Firmware
Embedded software and firmware are terms that people often use interchangeably. However, the difference between the two is that firmware is a type of embedded software. It's one written in non-volatile memory. That means it can't be changed, or, in other words, it remains firm. The job of firmware is generally to boot up a device, whereas embedded software is responsible for running the device overall.
Embedded Software vs. Embedded Systems
A distinction also exists between embedded software and embedded systems. Embedded systems are made up of embedded software combined with hardware. Embedded systems are kind of like microcomputers that work inside larger systems for mechanical or electrical products or other devices.
Who Uses Embedded Software?
Various careers in the field of technology require an understanding of embedded software programming and embedded systems software, but the career most immersed in this applied science is an embedded software engineer. This person develops code for specific hardware platforms, including those that have security constraints. Running tests and debugging are also parts of an embedded software engineer's duties. A person in this career field might work in a nearly limitless variety of industries, from autonomous aircraft to online shopping to transportation.
Take Udacity's Embedded Systems Free Course
Learn more about embedded systems through Udacity's 16-week, free online course called Embedded Systems. Topics include embedded processor architectures such as pipelining, VLIW encoding, and Scratch-pad. Also covered are topics on software optimizations such as register allocation for embedded processors, data and code compaction, and network processors. A strong background in C and/or C++ and a knowledge of computer architecture are recommended for this course.
The Embedded Systems course is part of Udacity's Flying Cars Nanodegree program. Take just the course to learn more, or build your career in drone robotics and flying cars by enrolling in the four-month Nanodegree program.