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Embedded Computer System Design: A Framework

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ECE Capstone and Engineering Practice

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.522.1 - 9.522.17

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Paper Authors

author page

Michael Baladi

author page

P. David Fisher

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3232

Embedded Computer System Design: A Framework P. David Fisher, Michael Baladi Michigan State University


The area of embedded (computer) systems represents a very fertile framework for electrical and computer engineering students to acquire their major design experience. Analog, digital, and mixed-signal technologies continue to evolve at a very rapid pace, with a large gap existing between fundamental topics covered in introductory courses and the integrated knowledge and skills needed by practicing engineers to design embedded systems. Consequently, students involved with design projects that incorporate embedded (digital) computers have the opportunity to learn how to extend knowledge and skills acquired in introductory courses while participating on multidisciplinary teams to formulate realistic solutions to contemporary engineering design problems. This paper is intended for both faculty and students actively involved in coursework associated with the major engineering design experience. It provides background information on embedded systems that builds upon topics typically covered in introductory electrical and computer engineering courses. It then identifies contemporary design methodologies and design constraints for components and systems that contain embedded computers to monitor and control processes. It also describes and illustrates how many of the standard educational program objectives can be fulfilled when students work in teams on projects involving embedded computers. These include the major engineering design experience itself, multidisciplinary teaming, contemporary topics, and lifelong learning. The paper provides a basic model for embedded systems by first defining the embedded computer as a programmable state machine and an embedded system as a physical system that contains one or more embedded computers. Such systems often contain sensors, actuators, communication interfaces, user interfaces, and a human operator. The paper then identifies the generic design criteria and challenges that confront the embedded-system designer. These include: real-time requirements, fault-tolerance requirements, testability requirements, time-to- market requirements, and product life-cycle requirements. These design considerations—coupled with the more traditional design requirements associated with products that do not incorporate embedded computers—are realized by applying an embedded system design methodology that emphasizes a hierarchical design process, the judicious choice of a system specification language, the reuse of intellectual property (IP), and the co-design of hardware and software.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Baladi, M., & Fisher, P. D. (2004, June), Embedded Computer System Design: A Framework Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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