6 Steps of the embedded system design process

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Embedded devices are computer systems designed and optimized to perform a specific task. Such systems imply minimal human intervention or autonomous operation.

 Embedded systems vary in purpose, size, and complexity. They can connect to the Internet, like fitness trackers, or work offline, like washing machines or microwaves. They can be equipped with simple microcontrollers, or have a complex arrangement. They can be standalone or built into a larger system. Yet, the embedded system design process contains roughly the same steps.

  • Defining the purpose and requirements of the project

At this stage, the manufacturer, together with the customer, evaluates the idea of the product and decides whether to develop it or not.

Analysts conduct market research and determine the competitive advantages of the device. At this stage, the approximate cost of the product is defined.

  • Technical documentation

Successful product development requires detailed technical specifications with a description of the functions to be performed by the product, and analysis of production requirements.

  • System architecture design

It is necessary to choose the right combination of hardware and software components for an embedded device to ensure its high performance. Selected hardware components will assess capacity, the functionality of the product, its size, and lifetime. Engineers at this stage must determine the appropriate microprocessor or microcontroller for the product and peripherals. Designers build a basic prototype (especially, if the product is new or unique) to determine all technical aspects and assess hardware and component compatibility. They also have to choose appropriate OS (real-time or not, according to requirements) and all necessary software development toolkits, including the programming language selection.

  • Final prototype development

At this stage, the final design and characteristics of the product are determined, the compatibility and correct functioning of all selected components are assessed.

  • Testing

Testing is a vital part of embedded system development. Designers pay attention to the embedded device check, as they want to be confident that indicators of its functionality are within allowed values, and the product is carefully made.

Testing, to some extent, is carried out at every stage of the development process. This approach helps to optimize time, financial and human resources. Tests can be carried out by special laboratories or by the developers themselves. Additionally, field trials may be conducted.

But at the final stages, there is rigorous testing and preparation for the necessary certification. Testing affects the verification of both software and hardware components. Engineers test and debug the code, and check that software code can operate correctly within the system. If embedded products are intended for mass production and sale, it is necessary to pass the certification procedure. You can read more about the certification of electronic devices here.

  • Product launching and mass production

Before launching the product, it is necessary to make sure that all technical documentation is under the established rules, the product has passed the necessary checks, and is fully ready for mass production.

The process of embedded device development requires competent and experienced specialists at all stages of work. Only in this case, it is possible to guarantee the product’s reliability and safety, the accuracy of fulfilling the requirements of the client, and adherence to the agreed budget.

When outsourcing embedded system development, you need to trust established and reputable teams. An electronic design development company providing full-cycle embedded development services will always be the focus of attention of a potential customer.