Python is gaining  popularity nowadays. According to RedMonk ranking, it has reached the second position among the most popular programming languages after JavaScript. However, C/C++ firmly holds the lead in dealing with embedded systems. Barr Group has found out that around 95% of embedded system developers use C/C++ as a primary language for writing the majority of their code. This article covers the merits and drawbacks of these programming languages and explains why Python can become a serious competitor in embedded systems for C/C++.

The Case For Python

Python is an easy-to-understand and easy-to-work scripting language. Python in embedded systems relieves developers from many programming burdens offering some attractive benefits. Here are some of them.

  • Automated testing. Python provides developers with automated testing due to its ability to control tools that send and receive information from the embedded system. Moreover, the language provides regression tests that can be used to check the system.
  • Data analysis. The ability to receive and store information from the embedded system allows programmers to use Python to develop methods for real-time data visualization or to leave some of that information for later analysis.
  • Easy-to-learn. Although being a relatively new programming language Python has become wide-spread due to its readability and comprehensibility. This language lets programmers complete sophisticated tasks without long hours of studying.
  • Extensive libraries. Python offers rich libraries with a vast number of modules that significantly ease the process of development making it faster as well.
  • Object-oriented. As an object-oriented programming language Python supports classes, inheritance, and objects. It’s easy to import code from any library or to extend the class.
  • Python doesn’t use pointers in comparison to C/C++. It lets developers manage the problems in the code easier.
  • As it follows from its other benefits Python is a highly-efficient language that makes the development process faster.


When it comes to shortcomings, the main issue that leaves Python behind C/C++ is its slow speed. Python is an interpreted language thus the code is executed at the runtime slowing down the performance in general. Due to its dynamic nature Python needs high memory. What is more, some variables can be changed at runtime causing unexpected errors.

Despite its cons, Python development services for embedded systems are expected to grow and become a serious contender for C/C++ in the nearest future.

The Case For C/C++

C is a programming language created in 1972 which was extended to C++ in 1985. Both C and C++ are used by such tech giants as Google, Oracle, and Microsoft giving some more trust in these programming languages. Here are some reasons why C/C++ have become so favored in embedded systems.

  • Runtime speed. C and C++ are compiled languages. In comparison with Python, they don’t need to interpret the code at runtime. Thus C/C++ programs operate much faster.
  • C/C++ code is easy to control making the language highly-efficient. A C/C++ program built in one machine can operate in another one without any difficulties.
  • By using C/C++ developers can create more compact programs. It is crucial as embedded devices usually have little memory and lower-powered CPUs.
  • Object-oriented. Many companies use C/C++ development services as they offer OOP features such as classes and objects, abstraction, inheritance, and a rich-featured library.


Although C/C++ are chosen by a large number of developers, some specialists think that Python can overtake them and take a lead in embedded software development Here are some C/C++ disadvantages that provoke such ideas.

The most serious drawback that deters developers from using C and C++ is their complexity. Programmers have to meet many challenges while dealing with them. Moreover, these languages can be difficult to learn even for experienced developers. Although C/C++ runtime is much faster than Python’s, C/C++ development time pulls down. What is more, as a result of language complexity it is also difficult to maintain already-built programs.

How to Improve Python Speed For Embedded Systems

Having considered the main aspects in Python vs C/C++ competition it becomes obvious that if Python achieves better runtime there is a chance for it to overtake such widespread and popular languages as C/C++. There are some options to do that.

  • Python provides developers with a big choice of optimizing extensions. One of them is Cython that compiles the code to C/C++ and runs at their speed. However, using Cython can be complicated as it requires deep knowledge of C/C++.
  • Just-In-Time. JIT compiler transforms Python functions to highly-productive CPU and GPU allowing the code to operate faster. When it comes to using Just-In-Time compilers it is crucial to have enough space which is quite limited in embedded systems.
  • Improved algorithms. Another way to accelerate Python’s execution is to improve code structure and algorithms. However, it is one of the most complicated ways.

Using Python to Communicate With Embedded Systems

Python can be a mediator between the user and the embedded system. As it was mentioned before, one of its merits is to send messages to the embedded system and to receive them back. This feature opens new possibilities of testing since Python can create various set configurations and test all the possible scenarios. The data received from the embedded system can be later used for the analysis.

Choosing What’s Right For You

Choosing between two rivals can be difficult. C/C++ provide significantly faster performance while Python stands out with its fast and easy development process. Python attracts developers being a modern and easy-to-learn language while C/C++ have gained popularity due to their consistency and reliability.

When opting for one of them it is necessary to concentrate on the main objectives and preferences of a specific project. A company can benefit from both Python and C/C++ if it focuses on their strengths.