Embedded Systems are not as easy as it seems. There is often curiosity among the youngsters on which if the two to make a good career in. It is to be understood that both Hardware and Software engineers stand indispensable in creating fully functional and error free machinery.  Usually, the students aspiring to be computer Engineers will be given training in both the niche but according to their interests either of the two a student can select for to specialize in.

What is Hardware?

In layman’s language, the hardware is just a piece of metal. Any physical component including the wiring and coils etc. is Hardware; a component of the machinery that builds it. CPU, Monitor, Keyboard, drive, motherboard and printed circuit board design etc. are some of its examples. To sum it up physical parts of any machinery is called Hardware.

What is Software?

The embedded codes in the hardware, which one can build by using any computer languages (C++, Java, SQL, .Net etc.) is called the software. Without the software, the machinery cannot run. The circuit without the embedded coding will be unable to perform the functions to carry out a specific task intended. The computer will not function if there is no operating system. The CPU will only be able to function if the processor is correctly coded.

To explain in simple words, you will not be able to read this article if your computer did not have software supporting the web browser. Internet surfing would have been impossible.

So now that we have established the basic, let’s crack the codes for the understanding of PCB and Firmware Development:

Embedded System is built by putting both hardware and software together. It can work as a separate entity or in the coordination of other components to work as a single device. For example; CPU is composed of Control Unit and Arithmetic Logic. It includes input and output devices and auxiliary storage units; ROM and RAM. Here, the embedded system is working in the coordination of several components, which helps one to see and carry out operations on a computer screen.

As a single embedded system, one can make different gadgets and machinery for example; stopwatches, DVD Players, household appliances like microwave, ovens, washing machines etc.

To makes any embedded system which is functional and carry out operations successfully; it requires PCB and Firmware Development.

What is the Printed Circuit Board Design (PCB)?

PCB Designing is an artwork, to be honest. An important component of any system which makes it possible to run any kind of machinery is what PCB is all about. The construction of the circuit is where the hard work lies and to make it efficient, one needs to have a thorough understanding of microprocessors and micro-controllers..

PCB is an electronic circuit which is made of materials that cannot conduct electricity but the copper tracks that one sees on the boards are electronically charged that conducts electricity among the components interchangeably. Automotive, wireless devices, user-interface gadgets, and for a machine to machine communication etc. are the examples which cannot run with a PCB.

To create a well working, bug-free PCB is no less than an art. It is the masterpiece of the developer on which the working of the device full depends. Once can design PCB in multiple ways by using all the techniques of drilling, plating, punching and finally fabrication of the process that ensures it working rightfully. From plastic imaging of the circuit, then to selection of the material and finally the finished product; it takes a lot of time and effort to create a Printed Circuit Board Design. After the PCB is built it goes for stripping and etching which is the process of clearing out unwanted copper by chemical solutions like ammonium persulphate or ferric chloride etc. and thorough cleaning then it is put for the test.

What is Firmware Development?

Firmware is a non-volatile memory that is embedded in the hardware to save the device from loss of programme in case of electricity is unavailable or the system shuts down abruptly. Embedded firmware helps in controlling the system functions that are part of operating systems which forms the software. Embedded firmware is in everything that we use. Any electronic device cannot function without the embedded firmware. All the functions of machinery from read-only to random access memory, all operations are carried out by the operating system and forms an integral part of firmware development.

There is a slight difference between embedded software and embedded firmware. The embedded software run on ROM and is often used only in computers carrying out different functions but embedded firmware is much flexible and can refer to processing of any kind out of the computer mechanism as well. It is used in Industrial automation system and user-interface gadgets to be more precise.

For any gadget to function PCB and firmware development is a process that works together. It is the hardware and software of the system that is embedded in coordination and one cannot function alone. Without the software, the machinery won’t work. Both are co-dependent.

What is happening today in the field of “computing and automation”?

Engineers today are working on finding new ways of making the systems efficient; to match up with day to day requirements and innovate something spectacular. There are so many gadgets and devices hitting the market like power banks, LED lighting embedded systems, robotic devices, house control systems, electronic devices that are working with Command-line interface and much more. The field is skyrocketing and one idea is all it takes. With the help of hardware and software engineering, one gets a platform to explore invent or bring out the best by updating the prevalent models. When we talk of technology, smart gadgets, and computer systems; there is always a scope for improvement. New technology will overcome the old and innovation is bound to happen irrespective.

According to the requirement and need, one can create an appliance, machinery or anything of the sort that can attract the customer that will help in sufficing the need in one way or the other.

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