Top 6 Hardware Design Challenges of the Embedded Internet of Things (IoT)
There are some major challenges facing hardware design for embedded IoT devices.
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When it comes to developing embedded IoT devices, the hardware design is viewed as a critical component for the success of the IoT product. In order to ensure the embedded IoT product meets the required function, consumes low power, and is secure and reliable, a lot of challenges are faced by the embedded IoT device manufacturers during the hardware designing phase of these devices. Below are a few hardware design challenges of the embedded IoT devices.
With the advent of the IoT, there has been a massive growth in the embedded systems market due to the speedy development of the connected devices. The embedded intelligent connectivity continues to increase at a phenomenal rate as a result of the Internet of Things.
Role of Embedded Systems in IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as a process in which objects are equipped with sensors, actuators, and processors that involve hardware board design and development, software systems, web APIs, and protocols, which together create a connected environment of embedded systems. This connected environment allows technologies to get connected across multiple devices, platforms, and networks, creating a web of communication that is revolutionizing the way we interact digitally with the world. These connected embedded systems are changing interactions and behavior with our environment, communities, and homes, and even with our own bodies.
There are embedded systems around us in the form of commercial systems like vending machines, smart kiosks, AC controller, connected cars, hotel bill printers, etc., which are capable of performing a unique variety of operations. Hence, when it comes to designing of these embedded IoT systems, they need to be designed for specific functions, possessing qualities of a good product design like low power consumption, secured architecture, reliable processor, etc. However, designing an embedded IoT hardware system is not easy.
Challenges of Designing an Embedded IoT Hardware System
Designing a hardware for embedded devices in the IoT ecosystem requires a deep thoughtful planning. The reason being that there are several challenges embedded designers face in designing a hardware system for IoT enabled devices. Listed below are a few challenges of designing embedded IoT hardware system:
Lack of Necessary Flexibility for Running Applications Over Embedded Systems
With the rising demand for connected devices, embedded systems need to work with heterogeneous devices and adapt to different networking architectures to cope-up with new functionalities and performances in the real-time environment. Due to this situation of increasing technology adoption and deployment of new applications, embedded system designers face several problems in terms of flexibility while developing embedded IoT systems such as:
- Problems in ensuring smooth integration of new services
- Difficulty in adapting to new environments
- Frequent changes in hardware and software facilities
- Issues in packaging and integration of small size chip with low weight and lesser power consumption
- Carrying out energy awareness operations, etc.
The Security Crisis in Embedded System Design
All the IoT hardware products need to perform securely in the real-time embedded environment. Since all the embedded components operate in a highly resource-constrained and in physically insecure situations, engineers often face problems in ensuring the security of these embedded components. These systems have to be designed and implemented to be robust and reliable and have to be secure with cryptographic algorithms and security procedures. It involves different approaches to secure all the components of embedded systems from prototype to deployment.
High Power Dissipation of Embedded System Design
Another increasingly aggravating limitation is power dissipation of microprocessor hardware design for getting the best performance out of real-time applications and devices. The persistent challenge is how to deploy an embedded system with an increasing number of transistors and with an acceptable power consumption ratio. There are two causes of high power dissipation in designing low-power embedded systems:
First, because the power dissipation per transistor is increasing with the increase in gate density, the power density of system on chips is set to increase. Thus, the engineers must reduce overall embedded systems’ power consumption by using efficient system architecture design rather than relying on process technology alone.
Second, engineers focus on better performance with low power consumption by increasing the frequency of the system, which burns more power. Engineers need to pay more attention to design choices as well.
Problems of Testing an Embedded System Design
For ensuring a reliable product design, conducting in-depth testing, verification, and validation is another challenge.
- Embedded Hardware Testing: This is similar to all the testing types where embedded developers use hardware based test tools. This refers to the embedded hardware tested for the system’s performance, consistency, and validation as per the product requirement.
- Verification: Ensuring whether functional verification has been implemented correctly or not.
- Validation: Referring to ensure whether the product matches with the requirement and passes all the quality standards.
Inadequate Functional Safety of Safety-Critical Embedded Systems
Functional safety is considered a part of a product’s overall safety. Embedded systems are considered as generalized control systems, which perform various control functions that require autonomy, reconfiguration, safety, fault-tolerance and need to eliminate all the unacceptable risks to meet functional safety requirements. These considerations highly influence their use in applications, where many functional loops are competing for the design of computational resources due to which, a number of timing and task-scheduling problems arise.
Increased Cost and Time-to-Market
Apart from flexibility and security, embedded systems are tightly constrained by cost.
In embedded hardware design, the need originates to derive better approaches from development to deployment cycle in order to handle the cost modeling or cost optimality with digital electronic components and production quantity. Hardware/software code-designers also need to solve the design time problem and bring embedded devices at the right time to the market.
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