WARNING: Use of Floating-Point Values in Embedded Applications

From Bendyroad
  1. Precision Limitations: Floating-point numbers have inherent precision limitations. Small rounding errors can accumulate over time, leading to significant inaccuracies in calculations.
  2. Performance Overhead: Floating-point operations, especially on microcontrollers without a dedicated floating-point unit (FPU), can be significantly slower than integer operations. This can lead to performance bottlenecks in time-critical applications.
  3. Memory Consumption: Floating-point variables typically consume more memory than their integer counterparts. This can be a concern in embedded systems with limited memory resources.
  4. Non-deterministic Behavior: Due to the imprecise nature of floating-point arithmetic, results can sometimes be non-deterministic, especially when comparing values for equality.
  5. Complexity in Error Handling: Handling errors or exceptions related to floating-point operations (like underflow, overflow, or division by zero) can add complexity to your code.
  6. Portability Issues: Different microcontrollers or compilers might implement floating-point arithmetic differently, leading to inconsistencies when porting code between platforms.
  7. Power Consumption: Floating-point operations can consume more power, which might be a concern for battery-operated devices.
  8. Limited Support: Some low-end microcontrollers might not support floating-point operations at all, or they might require additional libraries to emulate such operations.
  9. Debugging Challenges: Debugging floating-point issues, especially rounding errors, can be challenging and time-consuming.
  10. Safety and Reliability: For safety-critical applications, the use of floating-point can introduce uncertainties that might be unacceptable. It's essential to thoroughly test and validate any system that relies on floating-point calculations.

Recommendation: If you decide to use floating-point values in your embedded application, ensure that you understand the implications and potential pitfalls. Consider using fixed-point arithmetic or integer operations wherever possible to maintain accuracy, performance, and reliability. Always test thoroughly in real-world scenarios to ensure system stability and correctness.