Embedded systems used to be deeply embedded inside end products. They were only rarely connected to the outside world. The microcontroller worked in a fairly closed system polling peripherals, collecting data, performing simple processing and turning switches and LEDs on and off. There was limited data manipulation or data transfer. They were not connected to a LAN or the Internet. Security was not an issue. That’s changed. Today, embedded systems are frequently networked using CAN, 802.15.4 or even Ethernet protocols. These local networks are in turn connected to other networks and to the rest of the world via the Internet. As embedded control systems become more networked, embedded microcontroller architectures will have to adapt to provide the bandwidth, connectivity and security mandated by any extensively connected system. This article takes a closer look at today’s networked embedded system and the critical role the microcontroller architecture plays in connectivity, power management and security.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 4, No. 4, 2005