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Some embedded systems require high reliability. Reliability is also known as robustness, which is the ability to continue operating in abnormal or dangerous situations. For example, when an embedded system encounters input errors, network overload, or intentional attacks, the system must be robust enough that it doesn't hang or crash, but operates as usual.

Integrated Hardware and Software

General-purpose computers install software dynamically. The software can be installed and uninstalled according to the users' demands. But for embedded systems, software and hardware are often integrated and sold as a package. This trend is shifting for devices that are always connected via the Internet, such as smartphones and the Internet of Things (wearables, for example). In these cases, original device manufacturers (ODMs) can do regular software updates.

Embedded software is usually built into the hardware ROM and runs automatically when the system is started. Under normal circumstances, the user cannot easily modify or delete the software without the aid of special tools to ensure the integrity of the embedded system. Due to the integration of hardware and software, embedded systems usually do not have the intellectual property rights issues that general computer systems have to address. For example, software piracy on consumer electronics such as mobile phones and digital cameras is almost impossible due to the way the software is installed. However, this feature also leads to slow upgrading of system software, because it is difficult to do so.

Power Constraints

General-purpose computers are often directly connected to AC power. Therefore, general-purpose computer hardware and software designers can assume that the power supply is inexhaustible. But for embedded systems that cannot be directly connected

to AC power—for example, mobile phones, electric toys, and cameras—the only power source is the battery. This means their power consumption is constrained, and so energy efficiency is important. Cooling is another key factor. In general, more power consumption within a certain time period causes more heat to be generated, which can cause problems in some cases such as battery fires, malfunctioning components due to overheating, and quick losses of electricity.

Difficult Development and Debugging

Compared to hardware and software development of general-purpose computers, embedded system development has higher technical requirements. For example, developers of embedded software often must understand the working principles and mechanisms of the hardware and hardware layers during the development stage. To debug the code, these developers often must use online simulations, ROM monitors, and ROM programming tools, which don't occur in the desktop development.

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