An overview of myths and prejudices about C++ in embedded programming and what are the reasons behind them.

As I started working in an embedded environment, I was astonished that there was so much prejudice against the usage of C++ in embedded programming. Most of them are based on the wrong understanding of the C++ programming language.

Some Common Myths

  • Templates cause code bloat
  • Objects have to be created on the heap
  • Exceptions are expensive
  • C++ is slow and needs too much memory
  • C++ is too dangerous in safety-critical systems
  • You must write object-oriented code in C++
  • C++ can only be used for applications
  • The iostream library is too big; the STL library too slow

In summation:

C++ is a cute toy but it cannot handle the challenging tasks.


The list of prejudice is long consisting partially of half-truth and untruth statements often stated by experienced C programmers. I will only refer to the untruth statements. The half-truth statements are, to a large extent, questions due to the right usage of C++ and, to a small extent, questions of the implementation of the core and the libraries of C++.

  • Objects must live on the heap.

    • Objects can be created on the stack or at an arbitrary position with the help of placement new.
  • C++ is too dangerous in safety-critical systems

    • Of course, it depends on the experience of the developer. But whoever uses C strings instead of C++ strings; uses C arrays instead of C++ arrays; uses macros instead of constant expressions or templates, can not argue that C++ is not well suited for safety-critical systems. Honestly, the contrary holds. C++ has a lot to offer in safety-critical systems.
  • You must program object-oriented in C++

    • C++ is a multi-paradigm language, meaning you can solve your problem in an object-oriented, structured, functional, generic, or generative style.
  • C++ can only be used for applications

    • C++ can be used for many different kinds of products for example, fire extinguishers, defibrillators, and cars.

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