Difference Between C and Embedded C | C VS Embedded C

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The main difference between C and embedded C is that general-purpose, high-level programming language C is appropriate for creating a wide range of programmes, such as operating systems, hardware drivers, databases, etc. However, embedded C is a development of C. It is used specifically in the creation of embedded systems.

Difference Between C and Embedded C PDF

The difference between C and embedded C is that C creates general-purpose applications whereas Embedded C creates embedded systems. Here, we have provided a brief introduction about C, embedded C, along with the difference between C and embedded C discussed in the upcoming sections.


Difference Between C and Embedded C

Structured programming is possible with the general-purpose programming language C. However, Embedded C is a collection of language extensions for the C programming language created to address difficulties of similarity between C extensions for various embedded devices. The difference between C and embedded C is given in the table below.

Difference Between C and Embedded C


Embedded C

It is a general-purpose, structured programming language that programmers use to create desktop applications. 

Embedded C uses application development for microcontrollers.

It is a high level language.

It is an extension of C.

Programs written in C are completely hardware independent.

Embedded C is totally dependent on hardware.

The operating system is created by C language compilers and is dependent on executable files in order to function.

The hardware-dependent files that must be uploaded in the microcontroller are produced by embedded C language compilers. Additionally, turn on the devices to verify whether a code is functioning or not.

Standard compilers help to compile and execute the program.

Embedded C requires specific compilers.

The OS impacts the C language compilers.

The embedded C compilers are OS independent.

The programme in C is executed using conventional or standard compilers.

In embedded C, we require a particular compiler that can assist in producing results based on microcontrollers.

What is C Language?

A general-purpose programming language called C is frequently employed to create all different kinds of desktop-based apps. Dennis Ritchie created it as a system programming language for the creation of the operating system. Low-level memory access, a small collection of keywords, and a clean style are the fundamental characteristics of the C programming language, which makes it appropriate for system programming like OS or compiler development.

C is a computer language that uses a compiler. It operates more quickly as a result. The entire source code is converted at once by the C compiler into the equivalent machine code. The CPU can do the task specified in the source code because it can understand this machine code.

What is Embedded C?

A system that is capable of carrying out one or more functionalities is called an embedded system. Additionally, this type of system has both mechanical and electrical components. A microcontroller is used in every embedded system to manage and regulate the functionality. A C language extension that aids in the creation of embedded systems is called embedded C. In other words, programming microcontroller-based devices is helpful.

Key Difference Between C and Embedded C

The key difference between C and embedded C is given below.

  • C is typically used for desktop computers, whereas embedded C is utilised for applications based on microcontrollers.
  • C is able to utilise a desktop computer’s RAM, operating system, etc. While using the restricted RAM, ROM, and I/Os on an embedded processor, embedded C must.
  • Embedded C has some ectra features like fixed point types, multiple memory spaces, and I/O register mapping.
  • On a desktop computer, C has free-format programme source code. whereas the format of embedded C varies depending on the embedded processor (micro-controllers/ microprocessors).
  • C (ANSI C) compilers often produce executables that depend on the OS. Compilers must produce files for download to the microcontrollers or microprocessors where embedded C is to be used.
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