Difference Between C and Embedded C Language

In this article, we will discuss the difference between the C language and embedded C. First of all, we will provide a brief introduction and history of C and embedded C. We always use the C language on the processor, which has an operating system installed on it. It means the design of the C language is to run systems with high memory. But embedded C design is particularly suited to run on microcontroller-based applications. So we can get an idea that the C language executes on systems that have high resources, unlike embedded C, which runs on microcontrollers and has limited resources like RAM, ROM, and program memory. When we compile a C program, it is an operating system-dependent file that the compiler generates, but embedded C code executes on microcontrollers only. PIC16F877A is a major microcontroller of Microchip Technology.

Introduction and History of C Language

C is basically a general-purpose, vitally important high-level programming language that is best for firmware development. The application is used for portable purposes. It supports improving the quality of computer programming and solving problems in a short amount of time. It is a procedural language, and its design revolves around compiling using a very useful compiler to feed a very low-level memory. By using a compiler, we can convert the C language into a machine-level language. It is useful for many applications, such as those in which machine code writing is so difficult that, using C, we can easily develop it. The C language uses the following keywords: for, if/else, while, switch, do/while, and a large number of arithmetic and logic operators such as +, +=, and ++. It was developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs for the operating system Unix.

Introduction and History of Embedded C

Embedded C is actually an extension of the C language. It consists of C language sets that we can utilize for different purposes. This was an extension by the standard committee C in 2008 for solving the issues provided by C language. It mostly uses syntax and standard C semantics. This language has so many features in comparison to the C language, such as fixed point arithmetic, spaces between managed address and hardware input, and output addressing. As we look around ourselves, we see so many embedded systems, such as washing machines, digital cameras, and mobile phones. These are all examples of embedded systems, and in all these things, embedded C language is used. So many extra characteristics have been added to embedded C, such as the operation or mapping register, the number of memory areas, and the representation of a fixed point.

difference between c language and embedded c

Major Difference Between C language and Embedded C

In this section we will discuss differences between the C language and embedded C with the help of features, advantages and their disadvantages.

C Language Features

  1. C is a very high-level language.
  2. It has a free program-coding format.
  3. It is necessary for a functioning operating system.
  4. It is used for desktop computer applications.
  5. It does not care about memory resources because the whole memory is available in the CPU.
  6. The C language program runs on the console, but the output of this program can be seen on the desktop LCD, etc.
  7. During the running of the application, it also supports various types of other programming languages, either indirectly or directly.
  8. When the program is running, input can be given to the program.
  9. Software system programs and logical programs are some examples of C languages.

Advantages of C

  1. The C language is actually a building block for many different types of current languages, and it has powerful operators and a variety of data types.
  2. It has a portable program, meaning if we write a program on any computer, we can easily transfer this program to another computer without any change.
  3. This language has a variety of functions that we can use for the development of programs.
  4. It is flexible, meaning its programs can be easily extended.
  5. In this language, program making, debugging, and testing are so easy.

Disadvantages of C

  1. The C language does not have object-oriented programming (OOP); therefore, C++ has developed.
  2. We can’t check the run-time errors in C.
  3. It does not have strict type checking; for example, we can easily pass the integer value.
  4. In the C language, there is no namespace concept.
  5. It does not have any constructor or destructor concepts.

Features of Embedded C

  1. It is only an extension of the C language and nothing more.
  2. It has a source code format that depends on the kind of microcontroller or microprocessor that has been used.
  3. Through embedded C, high-level optimization can be done.
  4. It is used in microprocessor or microcontroller applications.
  5. It has limited resources for use, meaning the embedded system has only memory locations.
  6. In embedded C, constraints run in real time, and output is not available on the operating system.
  7. It only supports an adequate processor or controller.
  8. In embedded C, only pre-defined programs can run.
  9. It requires a compiler for embedded C that has compatibility with all the embedded system resources.
  10. Some examples of embedded C language system applications are digital cameras, DVDs, digital TVs, etc.
  11. The major advantage of embedded C is that its coding speed and size are very simple and easy to understand.

Advantages of Embedded C

  1. It is easier to understand.
  2. It performs the same task all the time, so there is no need for any hardware changes, such as extra memory or space for storage.
  3. It performs only one task at a time, which means it is the dedicated task.
  4. The hardware cost of embedded C systems is usually very low.
  5. Embedded applications are very suitable for industrial purposes.

Disadvantages of Embedded C

  1. It performs only one task at same time so many can’t perform the multi task at same time.
  2. If we change the program then must be need to change the hardware.
  3. It only supports the hardware system.
  4. It also have issue of scalability mean it can’t easily have scaled up as scope change or demand.
  5. It have a limitation such as limited memory or computer compatibility.


In conclusion, this article provides an in-depth overview of C and embedded C. It covers their introduction, history, features, advantages, and disadvantages to help us better understand the concept. So if we only talk about programming, then the programming of C and embedded C is almost the same. The only difference between these two is the resources, how we use them, and some kind of code effectively.

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