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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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​​Difference between C and Embedded C

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C programming language is used to design a type of desktop based application, whereas embedded C is the extension of C language which is utilised to develop microcontroller applications. It also helps to readability modifications, and bug fixing is simple in C language programs.

Difference Between C and Embedded C

What is C Language?

The C language is a high-level programming language initially developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in the early 1970s. It is widely used for system programming, application development, and embedded systems. C is known for its efficiency, portability, and flexibility, making it a popular choice for programming various software applications, operating systems, compilers, and utilities. It features a structured approach to programming, offering constructs for procedural, modular, and object-oriented programming paradigms. 

Applications and Uses of C Language

  • The majority of desktop-based programs use this general-purpose language.
  • The.exe files are generated by it.
  • This programming language has limitless memory resources.
  • It uses the operating system's RAM.
  • It adheres to a simple and open style of program coding.
  • The optimization is common in C.
  • The C programming language is simple to alter.
  • Bug fixes are simple in the C programming language.
  • We can provide input to the running application in the C programming language.
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What is Embedded C?

Embedded C is a C language extension used to create microcontroller applications. The fixed-point arithmetic operations, I/O Hardware Addressing,  accessing address spaces, etc., are enhancements in the Embedded C language from the standard C programming language. There are five layers of basic structures in an embedded C program. As follows:


These are straightforward passages of text that anyone can read and understand, written in code. Comments are often written in // or /* */.

2. Pre-processor directives

The Pre-Processor directives instruct the compiler on where to seek to locate missing symbols from the program.

3. Global Declaration

The section of code that defines global variables.

4. Local Declaration

The section of code that defines local variables.

5. The Main function

Each C program has a main function that controls the entire program. The execution component and the declaration part make up the bulk of it.

Whereas the execution component specifies the overall structure of program execution, the declaration part is where all variables are defined.

It is cross-platform, meaning that the application it develops can be utilized on many platforms and is platform-independent.

You can also read about C dynamic array

Applications and Uses of Embedded C

  • This is primarily used to create applications that employ microcontrollers.
  • The .hex files are produced by it.
  • It has specific RAM and ROM resources.
  • High levels of optimization are present.
  • It is difficult to modify programs written in embedded C.
  • The task of resolving bugs in an Embedded C application is challenging.

Difference between C and Embedded C

Feature C Embedded C
Purpose General-purpose programming language Specifically tailored for embedded systems
Target Platforms Can run on various platforms including desktops, servers, and microcontrollers Primarily used for programming microcontrollers and other embedded systems
Libraries Uses standard libraries like stdio.h, stdlib.h, etc. May have specific libraries and functions optimized for embedded systems
Memory Usage Memory management may not be as critical Requires careful memory management due to limited resources in embedded systems
I/O Operations Supports standard input/output operations Often involves low-level I/O operations for interfacing with hardware peripherals
Language Features Provides a wide range of language features and standard functions Sometimes restricts usage of certain language features or standard libraries to optimize performance and resource usage
Portability Relatively portable across different platforms Code may need to be customized or adapted for different embedded architectures and toolchains
Development Tools Can be developed using standard compilers and IDEs Often requires specialized tools and IDEs tailored for embedded development

Why are Microcontroller Used in Embedded System?

Microcontrollers are used in embedded systems for several reasons:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Microcontrollers are cost-effective solutions for embedded systems due to their integration of CPU, memory, I/O ports, and other peripherals on a single chip, reducing overall system cost.
  • Low Power Consumption: Microcontrollers are designed to operate efficiently on low power, making them suitable for battery-powered or energy-efficient embedded applications.
  • Compact Size: Microcontrollers are compact and come in small packages, making them ideal for applications where space is limited, such as consumer electronics, medical devices, and automotive systems.
  • Real-Time Processing: Many microcontrollers offer real-time processing capabilities, allowing embedded systems to respond quickly to external events and meet stringent timing requirements.
  • Integration of Peripherals: Microcontrollers often integrate a wide range of peripherals such as timers, UARTs, ADCs, DACs, PWM modules, and communication interfaces like SPI, I2C, and CAN, reducing the need for external components and simplifying system design.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to learn C before Embedded C?

Yes, you need to learn C before Embedded C. The majority of real-life embedded projects will utilise C, and the majority of the code created for embedded projects is written in C.

What is advantage of embedded C?

The advantages of embedded C are:

  • It is simple to comprehend.
  • It only carries out one task at a time.
  • The hardware used in embedded software is often very inexpensive.

What is the main difference between C and Embedded C?

Embedded C is a subset of C, tailored for embedded systems with emphasis on low-level programming, memory management, and hardware interfacing.

What is the use of C in embedded?

C is used in embedded systems for its efficiency, portability, and ability to interface with hardware peripherals, making it ideal for developing firmware and control software.


In the article “Difference Between C and Embedded C”, we have extensively discussed C Language. Then we saw the applications and uses of the C language in the article “Difference Between C and Embedded C.” Then we learned about Embedded C and then its application and uses in the article “Difference Between C and Embedded C.” Finally we have discussed “Difference Between C and Embedded C.”

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Topics covered
What is C Language?
Applications and Uses of C Language
What is Embedded C?
Applications and Uses of Embedded C
Difference between C and Embedded C
Why are Microcontroller Used in Embedded System?
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to learn C before Embedded C?
What is advantage of embedded C?
What is the main difference between C and Embedded C?
What is the use of C in embedded?