Comparison between VLSI and Embedded system

  • June 6, 2023

    author: Ramya

In the field of integrated circuits, the emergence of embedded systems is highly felt. This has happened both from an implementation and design perspective. These systems come with dedicated computational capabilities as well these days. Any system that handles data with the help of application-specific software is an embedded system. It is possible to implement this system at a hardware-specific level with the help of VLSI.

There is an aspect of programming in both design methodologies. VLSI pays attention to translating programming instructions into a structure. It does it for an integrated circuit. On the other hand, an embedded system design pays attention to writing codes that are implemented on a piece of hardware that is flexible. When it comes to digital systems, you might wonder how VLSI and embedded systems differ from each other. Before getting into a comparison, let us gain some fundamental knowledge of these systems:

  1. Embedded Systems – A Basic Understanding:

An embedded system is a computer system designed to perform a specific function. Otherwise, it can also perform a set of functions within a larger system. It typically includes a microprocessor or microcontroller. This processor or controller is programmed to perform specific tasks. Also, it is designed to work within a specific environment or application.

Embedded systems are found in a wide range of devices. Yes, right from simple household appliances like coffee makers and washing machines to complex systems like aircraft and industrial control systems embedded systems are used. They are also commonly found in automobiles and medical devices. Even, they are part of consumer electronics like smartphones and digital cameras.

One of the key characteristics of embedded systems is their real-time operation. They are designed to respond quickly to changes in their environment or inputs from sensors. Their response time is typically measured in milliseconds or even microseconds. This is critical for applications like safety-critical systems in automobiles or medical devices.

Another key feature of embedded systems is their low power consumption. They are designed to operate on minimal power. Also, they often use batteries or other low-power sources to extend their lifespan. This is especially important for portable devices like smartphones and wearable technology.

Embedded systems also often have limited resources in terms of memory and processing power. They are designed to perform specific tasks efficiently. They may not have the same level of functionality as a general-purpose computer. However, they are highly optimized for their specific applications. Also, they can often perform their tasks more efficiently and reliably than a general-purpose computer.

In short, embedded systems are specialized computer systems. They are designed to perform specific functions within larger systems. Their real-time operation, low power consumption, and optimized performance make them an essential component of modern technology.

  1. VLSI Systems – A Basic Understanding:

VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) systems refer to the design and fabrication of integrated circuits (ICS). They  contain millions of transistors, resistors, capacitors, and other electronic components on a single chip. These chips are used in a wide range of electronic devices. For instance, they are used from smartphones and computers to automobiles and aerospace systems.

VLSI systems can be classified into two types: analog and digital. Analog VLSI systems are designed to process continuous signals. Examples include audio and video. Analog systems are used in applications such as data converters and signal processing. Digital VLSI systems, on the other hand, are designed to process discrete signals. They are used in applications such as microprocessors and memory chips.

The design of VLSI systems involves several stages. Some of these stages include design specification, circuit design, layout design, verification, and testing. The design specification stage involves defining the requirements and functionality of the VLSI system. The circuit design stage involves designing the individual circuit blocks that make up the system, such as logic gates and flip-flops. The layout design stage involves arranging the circuit blocks on the chip to optimize performance and minimize power consumption.

Verification and testing are crucial stages in the design process. The reason is that they ensure that the VLSI system meets the design specifications and operates as intended. Verification involves simulating the system and analyzing its behavior under different conditions. Testing involves physically testing the system to verify its functionality and performance.

The fabrication of VLSI systems involves a complex manufacturing process. the process includes steps like photolithography, etching, and doping. The process involves depositing multiple layers of materials on a substrate and selectively removing parts of the layers to create the desired circuit pattern.

In short, VLSI systems are complex electronic systems. They bring together millions of electronic components on a single chip. They are used in a wide range of electronic devices. Also, they involve a multi-stage design and fabrication process. The design and fabrication of VLSI systems are critical for advancing technology and creating smaller, faster, and more powerful electronic devices.

  1. VLSI Vs. Embedded System:

Before we get into a detailed comparison of these two systems, you can get a general idea from the table below:

S. No.

Point of Difference

VLSI Systems

Embedded Systems



VLSI is the short form of the term Very Large Scale Integration. This term denotes the intricacy of an integrated circuit by evaluating the number of transistors or semiconductors present.

Embedded System is a term used for denoting any computing system that is used for achieving a restricted or specialized task.


How is it Used?

VLSI is widely used by IC Designers. The reason is that with VLSI, they are able to use less space in their designs.

Embedded systems are used exclusively in a wide range of applications including military-based, economic and industrial applications.


What does it deal with?

VLSI deals with the software components of any system

Embedded systems are associated with the hardware components


Coding Languages Used by Designers

VLSI Designers use coding languages like Python, Rust, C and C++

Experts in embedded systems should have hardware and networking knowledge. No programming knowledge is required.


Career Prospects

Lesser when compared to Embedded System experts

More when compared with VLSI Experts



  • Python Language knowledge

  • Dubugging Skills

  • C and C++ Programming Knowledge

  • Ability to operate communication protocols with ease.

  • Comprehensive knowledge of microprocessors

  • Linux Operating System Knowledge

  • Ability to write and operate a schematic

  • Well-versed with assembly programming language


Subjects Covered

When you take a VLSI Course, it will provide you knowledge on the following key areas:

  • VLSI Design lab

  • Testing and fault tolerance

  • Digital Signal Processing

  • ASIC Design and FPGA

In Embedded Systems course, the following are the key topics covered:

  • VLSI Technology

  • Semiconductor devices & Modeling

  • Analog VLSI Design

  • Digital System Design

  1. Detailed Comparison:

  • When you take the case of embedded systems, they are computing platforms. They perform a specialized task. On the other hand, VLSI is a measure of the complexity of an integrated circuit

  • VLSI Integrated circuits find common place in embedded systems.

  • A huge majority of integrated circuits that embedded systems use are VLSI. So, both of them go hand in hand in many instances.

  • When embedded systems deal with the hardware part of the system, VLSI is responsible for modulations and software part

  • When you take the case of embedded systems, the hardware network is the core. On the other hand, the core of VLSI is software program like Python, C and C++

  • Embedded systems study circuits and semiconductors. On the other hand, VLSI deals with UI Designing and internet networking

  • Embedded systems are created to perform specific tasks or purposes. But, VLSI is a measurement of the intricacy of an integrated circuit.

  • In the embedded system market, the leading companies are NVIDIA, Intel and AMID. The VLSI Market is ruled by Samsung, Qualcomm and LSI.

  • The design of Embedded systems pays attention to writing code that is implemented on a flexible piece of hardware. The focus of VLSI is on the translation of programming instructions into a structure for an integrated circuit. 

  • The role played by embedded systems is on semiconductors and their design. On the flip side, VLSI deals with a programming language to make networking and UI Design functional.

  1. Embedded System or VLSI – Which Course to Take?

When you intend to get into the electronics industry, you should take VLSI Course. On the other hand, if you wish to work in the microprocessor or semiconductor industry, you should take a course on embedded systems. But, the market demand for professionals in both these fields is high. So, you can confidently look for a reputed institution to take any course of your interest.

  1. Conclusion:

The demand for VLSI professionals and embedded system engineers has increased considerably over the past decade. With the recent advancement in the internet and development in micro-processing technology, the demand for professionals with appropriate training in both these fields is increasing at a faster pace. So, if you feel that electronics is your cup of tea, you can very well opt for the best VLSI Course.