C Programming Language in Embedded Systems

Why is C considered better than C++ for embedded systems?

Disclaimer: views expressed in this article are based on my personal research & experience in embedded domain. I do not intend to convey that C++ is a bad language by any means, but when it comes to embedded systems C is better choice by its nature.

The footprint of C is one of the key reasons. Why it is often considered a better choice for embedded systems. In embedded systems, memory, and storage space are a very scarce resources, and every byte counts. C has a smaller runtime footprint compared to C++. As it does not require the overhead of features such as virtual functions, dynamic memory allocation, and exception handling. These features are not needed in many embedded applications, Their absence reduces the size of the runtime library and the memory required to execute the program reduces drastically.

Moreover, C’s simplicity and straightforward syntax make it easier to write efficient and optimized code. That can run on small and resource-constrained embedded systems. This results in a smaller memory footprint, allowing more code to fit into the limited memory available on the embedded systems. Improving its performance and responsiveness.

Simplicity And Predictable Performance:

C is a procedural language that is straightforward and easier to understand than C++. An object-oriented language with a more complex syntax and features.

Simplicity and straightforward syntax make it an ideal choice for low-level system programming and embedded systems. Where the focus is on direct control of hardware and real-time performance. Where the output of the system needs to be predictable as many applications are very sensitive such as medical devices. It’s self-evident and straightforward syntax reduces the chances of bugs.

This is important in embedded systems, as bugs can cause stability and security issues in the system.


The well-established usage of C is another reason why it is often considered a better choice for embedded systems. C has a long history of use in system programming and embedded applications, dating back to the 1970s. This has resulted in a vast collection of libraries and tools available for use, which is well documented.

The wide usage of C has also led to its support on a variety of platforms, including microcontrollers, DSPs, and other embedded systems applications. This support makes it easier for C programmers to port their code between different hardware platforms, ensuring compatibility and reducing the time required to develop and maintain code.

The availability of a large pool of experienced C programmers and a vast collection of libraries and tools make it easier for embedded systems developers to find the resources they need to develop their applications. This reduces the time and effort required to develop and maintain code, ensuring the stability and reliability of the embedded system.

In Conclusion, C is a low-level language, which means it is easier to interact directly with the hardware. Such as accessing peripheral devices, controlling I/O operations, and manipulating memory. This is crucial in embedded applications where real-time performance and low latency are essential requirements.

Another advantage of C is that it is widely supported and available on a variety of platforms, including microcontrollers, DSPs, and other embedded systems. This allows for easier portability and compatibility between different hardware platforms.

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