Embedded Systems Design

Embedded systems are computer systems designed to perform specific tasks. Some examples might be the computing system for a fitness tracker, barcode scanner, or a set of Bluetooth headphones. Embedded systems consist of electronic hardware firmware code, which is different from software programs found in desktop computers, laptops, or cell phones. Firmware is stored in the device's Read Only Memory (ROM), usually in the microprocessor's onboard memory.

Firmware works behind the scenes and runs on Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). Embedded engineers can program PCBs to perform simple tasks such as turning LED lights on or off, or complex tasks like supporting custom user interfaces.1

The fundamental difference between firmware and software is their purpose. Software controls programs that run on an operating system. Firmware controls low-level hardware functions. Embedded systems design combines the software, firmware, and hardware that make up an electronic device. 1

Engineering Capabilities > Embedded System Design

Firmware design is also an essential part of low-power design. It dictates when the device pulls energy from its power supply and can spell the difference between successful and unsuccessful battery-powered devices.

VPI has designed and developed hundreds of embedded systems over the years. Ranging from single board systems to multi-board systems with thousands of components. Our designs have been used for medical, homeland security, government, commercial, entertainment, aerospace, and industrial applications.

We are a full service embedded systems engineering house.


To support some of the embedded system design work we complete for our customers, VPI offers PC/104 system housings.

VPI offers a wide range of services for embedded systems engineering including:

  • 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit systems
  • Microcontroller, Microprocessor Development
  • DSP Development
  • FPGA and CPLD
  • Operating Systems
    • Linux
    • Windows CE/Embedded/Mobile
    • Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) and Custom RTOS
  • Firmware
    • C
    • C++
    • C#
    • Java
    • Assembly
  • Power Management
  • Memory Integration
  • Testing and System Integration

Developing various types of processor and controller-based systems for military, government, industrial, and commercial clients has given us the opportunity to work with a number of brands and families of microprocessors and microcontrollers. Our engineers can develop systems that incorporate the following components. We are also well equipped to adapt so that we can design products based on other microprocessors and microcontrollers.

Texas Instruments
  • · MSP430 Microcontrollers
  • · Stellaris/Tiva
Analog Devices
  • · Blackfin
  • · PIC Processor Family
  • · AVR Processor Family
  • · SAM ARM processors
NXP and Freescale Semiconductor
  • · LPC
  • · Kinetis
  • · i.MX
  • · HCS08 Microprocessor Family
  • · Coldfire Processors
  • · MPC750 Power PC
  • · x86
  • · x86-64
  • · PSOC
ST Microelectronics
  • · STM32 family
Other Processors and Controllers
  • · ARM7
  • · ARM9
  • · ARM10
  • · ARM11
  • · ARM Cortex M, R, A
  • · 8051