In the past, the major concerns of the VLSI designer were area, performance, cost and reliability; power consideration was mostly of only secondary importance. In recent years, however, this has begun to change and, increasingly, power is being given comparable weight to area and speed considerations. Several factors have contributed to this trend. Perhaps the primary driving factor has been the remarkable success and growth of the class of personal computing devices (portable desktops, audio- and video-based multimedia products) and wireless communications systems (personal digital assistants and personal communicators) which demand high-speed computation and complex functionality with low power consumption.
An embedded processor is a processor that has been “embedded” into a device. It can be programmed to interact with different pieces of hardware. Performance wise, an embedded processor can outperform a microcontroller, but does not have as much performance as a general-purpose microprocessor.