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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bohdan Tanyhin

Embedded development: legacy technologies only?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Embedded development is one of the core fields of technological progress. It is projected that the market size of embedded computing around the world will reach more than $85 million by 2030. As of now, embedded systems play a crucial role in differentindustries. Also, they have become widespread globally. Concerning legacy technologies, these are outdated embedded systems in need of modernization. The only way these systems can be updated is through updatingthe embedded development technological stack.However, the question is whether embedded development is essential only for legacy systems and what’s there to expect shortlySencury is here to find an answer!

What is Embedded Development?

Embedded development is the process of building software and firmware that is backgrounded on embedded systems. The latter are computer systems that carry out device-specific tasks. These embedded systems focus on a certain function, operate in real-time, and have limited resources.

Embedded development revolves around creating software customized for the target embedded hardware. It includes both programming and design. The core features of embedded development are:

Hardware Understanding

The knowledge of the hardware you are working with is as essential as the knowledge of microcontrollers, peripherals, interfaces, and hardware limitations.

Programming Languages

Embedded development requires C, C++, and related language programming. With C the code interacts directly with hardware. This code is low-level.

Real-time perspectives

Embedded systems need strict timely responses to external events and embedded developers have to be aware of interrupt handling, task scheduling, and timing analysis to provide real-time responses.


Processing power, memory, and energy might be the resources that embedded systems have a limit for. Therefore, it is up to embedded software engineers to optimize the code and ensure the limits of these resources are met as well as the resources themselves are utilized to the possible maximum.

Testing and Debugging

Testing your code is one of the essentials during embedded development. Hence, software engineers might need specific toolsets to carry out this mission (debuggers, emulators, and hardware probes). Tools help find and fix problems existing in the embedded system.


Embedded systems usually belong to the larger operating systems. That’s why they need to be configured and smoothly integrated into these systems as any minor event can produce unneeded crashes to the whole system. Here, proper communication and interoperability are the core pillars of OS workflow continuity.

In 2021, the European Automotive Infotainment market was valued at $5,347.35 million. Today, it is projected to grow to $7,668.59 million, at a CAGR of 6.07%.

Embedded Systems Work and Architecture

Some say an embedded system is like a mini circuit board including a processor, supply of power, memory, and ports connected to the other components of the larger system for communication purposes. This processor can be a microprocessor or microcontroller. Also, there is a System on Chips (SoCs) that is often used in embedded systems of high volume. SoCs work positively in real-time operating environments due to being fast and adjustable to basic variations.

There are five most commonly used architecture types of embedded systems. These are:

  • Simple control loop

  • Cooperative multitasking

  • Interrupt-controlled system

  • Preemptive multitasking or multi-threading

  • Microkernels and exokernels

Applications of Embedded Development

Some industries and enterprises require an operating system to support their critical workflow. This means that a system is developed and customized for an enterprise. However, technologies change once in several years and the internal system becomes obsolete when the technological timeframe runs out.

Businesses that potentially need embedded development include:

  • Consumer Electronics (smartphones, tablets, smart home devices, wearables, and gaming consoles)

  • Automotive (engine control units (ECUs), infotainment systems, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), telematics, and vehicle networking)

  • Industrial Automation (manufacturing, robotics, process control, and monitoring systems)

  • Medical Devices (patient monitoring systems, imaging devices, implantable devices, and diagnostic equipment)

  • Aerospace and Defense (avionics systems, flight control systems, navigation systems, communication systems, and military equipment)

  • Internet of Things (IoT) (smart devices, sensors, gateways, and IoT platforms)

  • Energy and Utilities (smart grid systems, energy management systems, power monitoring devices, and energy consumption optimizers)

  • Telecommunications (network equipment, communication protocols, embedded software for routers, switches, and telecommunication infrastructure)

What is Legacy Technology?

Legacy technology is the term denoting a whole scope of technologies that became outdated due to the introduction of newer alternatives. In the past, legacy technology was widely used but not today. These technologies might include hardware, software, protocols, programming languages, or even entire systems.

To be sure a technology has become a legacy one, consider its:

  • age

  • limited technical support

  • compatibility issues

  • maintenance challenges

  • loss of important data

  • low performance

  • outdatedness

  • higher costs of maintenance

Notwithstanding all of these features, legacy technology is still being used. The main reasons for this exploitation are the cost, stability, reliability, and compatibility with existing systems. That’s why organizations choose to use legacy technologies unless they are replaced by compelling alternatives, or unless they will come to an end of their lifecycle.

Is Embedded Development only for Legacy Systems?

To answer the question of whether embedded development focuses only on legacy technologies, the answer would be rather no. The main reason is the extreme development of embedded systems that are more likely to meet the demands of newer technologies. Therefore, embedded systems adapt to the realities of today. Let’s shed a little more light on it and get to the details.

Embedded development belongs to the development of non-common electronic boards and computer systems (non-regular CPUs). Here, it is also important to mention the GPU chips as they also belong to non-CPU development.

GP GPU is a general-purpose graphics processing unit. This unit performs calculations that are non-specialized. These calculations are done by the central processing unit (CPU). Therefore, the main task of GPU is graphics rendering. GP GPU is now used to carry out tasks that were previously performed by powerful CPUs. These were physics calculations, encryption, decryption, scientific computations, and cryptocurrency generation as it was with Bitcoin.

Graphic cards are built to produce massive parallelism and carry out many parallel tasks at once. Even the best CPU can’t do it. These are the shader cores that can render multiple pixels as well as process multiple streams with data simultaneously. Shader cores have been of great interest and programming languages have been developed to ease GPU computations. Nvidia, which is a giant in GPU development, approach GP GPU with personal APIs, e.g., CUDA, and OpenCL.

As we have triggered GPU-relevant programming languages, the question is whether only C and C++ can be used or the ones that are up to date. Well, it is both, but mostly C and C++ are used. These languages have a history of being used for GPU programming and offer low-level control and efficient access to GPU resources. That’s why C and C++ are chosen for performance-critical applications. Other programming languages appear based on CUDA and OpenCL frameworks.

The Future of Embedded Systems: What’s Next?

Based on the technologies used for embedded systems it is quite unknown what the future holds for us in that direction. However, we are at the point of extreme business automation. Therefore, IoT, data analytics, and AI technologies are being implemented almost everywhere. The ability of embedded systems is limited to producing raw data. So, with the help of AI, IoT, and data analytics, embedded systems can provide valuable insights for future innovations.

Sencury, Embedded Development, and Legacy Systems

Sencury is a software development provider with many years of experience and key tech knowledge. Therefore, our experts have great skills in embedded system development. Sencury’s team can provide you with numerous software development and consulting services, including embedded solutions. Sencury can help you with:

  • Embedded system design (both hardware and software), e.g., based on AUTOSAR stack

  • Technological discovery to select a proper stack. Particularly, the right approach to parallel computing: MPI, GP GPU, or FPGA types

  • Software development for embedded and GP GPU systems

  • Testing and test automation of embedded systems

  • Release management and configuration control of release embedded software (including OTA updates)

If you need an embedded solution, contact us right away, and let’s work on it together!

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