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Home > Embedded Events > VLSI VS Embedded Systems: What are Differences

VLSI VS Embedded Systems: What are Differences

Date: 15-11-2023 ClickCount: 638

Introduction to VLSI

Very Large Scale Integration Circuit (VLSI) is an integrated circuit that combines a large number of transistors into a single chip with a greater degree of integration than a large-scale integrated circuit. The number of transistors integrated varies in different standards.


The research and development of integrated circuits began in the 1970s with the development of complex semiconductors and communication technologies. The microprocessor, the control core of a computer, is the most typical example of a very large-scale integrated circuit. Very large-scale integrated circuit design (VLSI design), especially digital integrated circuits, is usually carried out by means of electronic design automation, which has become one of the important branches of computer engineering.


At present, the integration degree of ultra-large-scale integrated circuits has reached 6 million transistors, with a line width of 0.3 microns. Electronic devices made with ultra-large-scale integrated circuits are small, lightweight, low power consumption and highly reliable. The use of ultra-large-scale integrated circuit technology can be an electronic subsystem and even the entire electronic system "integrated" on a chip, complete information acquisition, processing, storage and other functions.


For example, the entire 386 microprocessor circuits can be integrated on a chip, the integration degree of 2.5 million transistors. Ultra-large-scale integrated circuits developed successfully, is a leap in microelectronics technology, greatly promoting the progress of electronic technology, thus driving the development of military and civilian technology. Ultra-large-scale integrated circuits have become an important symbol of a country's level of scientific and technological and industrial development, but also the world's major industrial countries, especially the United States and Japan, one of the most competitive areas.


1. Features of VLSI

  • High Integration Density: One of the primary features of VLSI is the high level of integration, allowing a large number of transistors and other components to be packed onto a single chip. This density is measured in terms of the number of transistors per unit area.
  • Small Size: VLSI technology enables the creation of compact and lightweight electronic devices. The small size is crucial for applications where space is limited, such as in mobile devices, wearables, and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
  • Low Power Consumption: VLSI chips are designed to be power-efficient, which is especially important for portable devices that run on batteries. Power management techniques, low-power transistors, and advanced circuit design contribute to minimizing power consumption.
  • High Performance: The integration of a large number of transistors on a single chip allows for the creation of powerful and high-performance electronic systems. This is critical for applications such as processors, memory devices, and other computational tasks.
  • Complex Functionality: VLSI technology enables the implementation of complex functions and entire systems on a single chip. This includes microprocessors, memory units, signal processors, and other specialized circuits.
  • Advanced Manufacturing Processes: VLSI chips are produced using advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes, such as photolithography and etching. These processes allow for precise and intricate patterning of the semiconductor material, leading to the creation of tiny features on the chip.
  • Digital and Analog Integration: VLSI chips can integrate both digital and analog components on the same chip. This is essential for applications that require both digital signal processing and analog functions, such as communication systems.


2. Top Manufacturerr of VLSI

"Superscale" is a phrase that's been around for years. The most advanced manufacturing processes are in the order of 7 nanometers, and most of the actual mass-produced processes are at 14 and 22 nanometers. In order of sales, the top three companies are Intel (US), Samsung (Korea), and TSMC (Taiwan). Most of the other companies are European, American, Japanese and Taiwanese companies.


Introduction to Embedded Systems

Embedded system consists of hardware and software. It is a device that can operate independently. Its software content only includes the software running environment and its operating system. Hardware content includes signal processor, memory, communication modules and other aspects of the content.

Embedded system

Compared with the general computer processing system, embedded systems have greater differences, it can not realize the large-capacity storage function, because there is no matching high-capacity media, most of the storage media used are E-PROM, EEPROM, etc., the software part of the API programming interface as the core of the development platform.


1. Category


Embedded Microprocessor

Embedded Microprocessor Unit (EMPU) is a microprocessor that takes the standard CPU in a general-purpose computer and assembles it on a specially designed circuit board, and only retains the motherboard functions related to the embedded application, constituting an embedded system. Compared with general-purpose computers, their system size and power consumption are reduced significantly, while the range of operating temperature, the ability to resist electromagnetic interference, and the reliability of the system are improved.


In EMPU, the microprocessor is the core of the whole system, which usually consists of 3 major parts: the control unit, the arithmetic logic unit and the registers.


Embedded Microcontroller

Embedded Microcontroller Unit (MCU) is also known as microcontroller. It takes a certain kind of microprocessor as the core, and the chip integrates a certain capacity of memory (ROM/EPROM, RAM), I/O interface (serial interface, parallel interface), timer/counter, watchdog, pulse-width modulation output, A/D converter, D/A converter, bus, bus logic, etc. inside the chip. Compared with embedded microprocessors, the most important features of microcontrollers are monolithic, small size, low power consumption, and higher reliability. Microcontrollers are the mainstream of the embedded systems industry.


Embedded Processor

Embedded Digital Signal Processor (EDSP) has a special design for the system structure and instructions to make it suitable for the execution of DSP algorithms, high compilation efficiency, and faster execution of instructions. DSP algorithms have been widely used in embedded fields in digital filtering, FFT, spectral analysis, etc., and DSP applications is transitioning from realizing DSP functions with ordinary instructions in microcontrollers to adopting EDSP.


Embedded System-on-Chip

Embedded System on Chip (SoC) is a system-on-chip that combines system performance on a single chip. It usually contains one or more microprocessor IP cores (CPU), according to the demand can also increase one or more DSP IP cores, the corresponding peripheral special function modules, as well as a certain amount of memory (RAM, ROM), etc., and for the performance required by the application will be designed and integrated on the chip, become the system operating chip. Its main feature is that the embedded system can run on a variety of different types of microprocessors, good compatibility, small operating system kernel, good results.


2. Features


Embedded system hardware and software must be selected according to the specific application tasks, with power consumption, cost, volume, reliability, processing power and other indicators. The core of the embedded system is the system software and application software. Due to the limited storage space, the software code is thus required to be compact and reliable, and there are strict requirements for real-time.


From the composition, the embedded system is a set of hardware and software in one, can work independently of the computer system; from the appearance, the embedded system is like a "programmable" electronic "device"; from the functional point of view, it is the target system (host object) to control, make it intelligent controller. From a functional point of view, it is a controller that controls the target system (host object) and makes it intelligent. From the different perspectives of users and developers, compared with ordinary computers, embedded systems have the following characteristics.


(1) Strong specialization. Since embedded systems are usually oriented to a particular application, the hardware and software of embedded systems, especially the software, are designed for a particular group of users and are usually characterized by some kind of specialization.


(2) Miniaturization of size. Embedded computers integrate many of the tasks accomplished by boards in a general-purpose computer system inside the chip, thus facilitating miniaturization and making it easy to embed the embedded system in the target system.


(3) Good real-time. Embedded systems are widely used in production process control, data acquisition, transmission communication and other occasions, mainly used to control the host object, so the embedded system has more or less real-time requirements. For example, the real-time requirements for embedded systems in weapons, control systems in certain industrial control devices are extremely high. Some systems do not have very high real-time requirements, for example, palmtop computers, which have been developing rapidly in recent years. But in general, real-time is a universal requirement for embedded systems, is an important indicator that designers and users should focus on.


(4) Good Tailorability. Embedded systems from the point of view of the characteristics of the specialization of embedded systems, embedded systems suppliers should provide a variety of hardware and software for selection, and strive to achieve higher performance in the same silicon area, so as to be more competitive in specific applications.


(5) High reliability. As some embedded systems undertake computing tasks related to the key quality of the controlled product, personal equipment safety, and even national secrets and other important matters, and some embedded systems host object work in unattended occasions, such as in the dangerous industrial environment and harsh field environment monitoring devices. Therefore, compared with ordinary systems, embedded systems have extremely high requirements for reliability.


(6) Low power consumption. There are many embedded systems host object is a number of small applications, such as cell phones, MP3, digital cameras, etc., these devices are not possible to configure the AC power supply or a larger capacity of the power supply, so low power consumption has been the goal of the embedded system.


(7) Embedded system itself does not have its own development capabilities, must be developed with the help of general-purpose computer platform. After the design of the embedded system is completed, ordinary users usually have no way to modify the program or hardware structure therein, and must have a set of development tools and environments to do so.


VLSI VS Embedded Systems: What are Differences

VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) and Embedded Systems are related fields in the realm of electronics and computer engineering, but they refer to different aspects of electronic design and serve different purposes. Here are the key differences between VLSI and Embedded Systems:


Here's the video,





Embedded Systems

Scope and Purpose

Design and fabrication of integrated circuits with a high level of integration.

Integration of hardware and software for specific functions within a larger system.

Design Level

Low-level design of individual integrated circuits.

Higher-level design incorporating hardware and software.

Scale of Integration

Achieves a high level of integration on a single chip (thousands to millions of transistors).

Focus is not solely on maximum integration; involves various components like microcontrollers, sensors, etc.

Components and Abstraction

Deals with individual components like logic gates and flip-flops.

Works at a higher level of abstraction, integrating various components such as microcontrollers, sensors, etc.

Development Process

Involves detailed circuit design, physical layout, and manufacturing processes.

Involves system-level design, software development, and integration of hardware and software components.


Used in microprocessors, memory chips, digital signal processors, and custom ICs.

Used in automotive control systems, medical devices, consumer electronics, industrial automation, etc.

  • Interfacing STM32 Blue Pill Board based on STM32F103C8T6 MCUs
  • Why are Crystals Not Integrated Into Microcontrollers?


  • How are VLSI and Embedded Systems related?
  • VLSI technology is often used in the design and fabrication of chips that are components of embedded systems. The integration of VLSI circuits allows for the creation of compact and powerful embedded systems.
  • What is the role of VLSI in Embedded Systems?
  • VLSI technology enables the integration of complex functions, including processors, memory, and peripherals, into a single chip. This miniaturization is critical for the development of small and efficient embedded systems used in various applications.
  • Can an Embedded System work without VLSI?
  • Yes, an embedded system can work without utilizing VLSI technology, but the functionality and performance might be limited. VLSI allows for the creation of more sophisticated embedded systems with higher processing power, reduced power consumption, and smaller form factors.
  • What are some examples of Embedded Systems that use VLSI technology?
  • Examples include microcontrollers in consumer electronics (like washing machines and microwaves), automotive control systems, medical devices, industrial automation, and smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • How does VLSI contribute to the efficiency of Embedded Systems?
  • VLSI enables the integration of multiple functions on a single chip, reducing the physical size of components and improving power efficiency. This integration also facilitates faster communication between components, enhancing the overall performance of embedded systems.


Kristina Moyes is an experienced writer who has been working in the electronics industry for the past five years. With a deep passion for electronics and the industry as a whole, she has written numerous articles on a wide range of topics related to electronic products and their development. Kristina's knowledge and expertise in the field have earned her a reputation as a trusted and reliable source of information for readers interested in the latest advancements in electronics.

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