SECTION I-3: x86 PC Embedded Applications

SECTION  I-3: x86 PC Embedded Applications

Micro-controllers are the preferred choice for many embedded systems. Micro-controllers some times inadequate for the task. Many manufacturers of general-purpose microprocessors such as Intel, Free scale semiconductor, Motorola, and AMD advanced Micro Devices, Inc. have targeted their microprocessor for the high end of the embedded market. Intel and AMD push their x86 processors for both the embedded and microprocessors 604, 603, 620, etc in place of the 680x0 for the Machintosh. The power PC microprocessors is a joint venture between IBM and Motorola, and is targeted for the high end of the embedded ,market as well as the PC market. When a company targets a general-purpose microprocessor for the embedded market it optimizes the processor used for embedded systems. The processors are often called high-end embedded processors. Another chip widely used in the high end of the embedded system design is the ARM microprocessor. The terms embedded processors and micro-controllers are used interchangeably.

One of the most critical needs of an embedded system is to decrease power consumption and space. This can be achieved by integrating more functions into the CPU chip, All the embedded processors based on the x86 and Power PC 6xx have low power consumption in addition to some forms of I/O, COM port, and ROM, all on a single chip. In high-performance embedded processors, the trend is to integrate more and more functions on the CPU chip and let the designer decide which features to use. This trend is invading PC system design a well. In designing, the PC motherboard we need a CPU plus a chipset containing I/O, a cache controller, a flash ROM containing BIOS, and finally a secondary cache memory. New designs are emerging in industry, like many companies have a chip that contains the entire CPU and all the supporting logic and memory, except for DRAM. In other words, we have the entire computer on a single chip.

Linux, MS-DOS and windows standardization, many embedded systems use x86 PC's. Using x86 PC's for the high-end embedded applications not only saves memory but also shortens development time because a vast library of software already exists for the Linux, DOS, and windows platforms. The fact that windows and Linux are widely used and well-understood platforms means that developing a windows-based or Linux-based embedded product reduces the cost and shortens the development time considerably.


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