Five Software Development Considerations for Embedded Systems

May 8, 2015

Software development conceptEmbedded systems are always unique and customized for the functions and services they perform. When designing and programming software for embedded systems, development teams must carefully consider all options to ensure the product meets exacting specifications. They need to comprehensively review development options and determine how best to optimize their embedded systems to meet functionality objectives. Let’s outline five software development considerations for embedded systems.

Power Consumption

Embedded systems software developers must often create effective solutions to processing challenges while dealing with system size, weight and power constraints. It can be a challenge to reduce power consumption when system resources are limited and  processing demands are high. Oftentimes, the use of multicore architectures can help meet power consumption challenges, due to their various energy saving mechanisms. Additionally, the ARM architecture deserves some definite consideration, as low power consumption is their main focus.

Memory Allocation

Memory allocation is an important factor in providing strong performance and reliability for embedded systems. Memory storage, organization, and data sharing options must be reviewed and even redesigned to achieve new solutions for particular types of embedded system software. Software designers may employ measures like two-phase memory, which allocates memory to large and long-term objects first so they are guaranteed the required memory, then allocates memory to smaller objects in the second phase to reduce system memory failures.

Semaphores

As the name implies, semaphores are hardware/software flags. They indicate the status of common resources inside a multitasking system. Semaphores can be very helpful in ensuring effective and efficient data processing in industrial embedded systems. These design tools can synchronize the execution of multiple tasks or provide direct access to shared resources within a system. Semaphores can even lock some resources for further analysis by other built-in processes.

Connectivity and Security

Security is always a key consideration. Doubly so with many embedded systems developers now integrating TCP/IP into their designs to achieve connectivity. System designers must always incorporate stronger threat detection and response mechanisms to ensure the integrity of systems data. Designing such software is a continuous process as threats change and increase all the time.

Compiler

A developer’s choice of compiler will affect what families of microprocessors and microcontrollers they can use, as well as which real-time operating system. Due to the challenges and restrictions of developing software for embedded systems, developers must use cross-compilers. They need to consider standard libraries and the compiler’s startup code. While Java is ever-popular, its memory management performance requires a larger system to operate effectively and so many developers choose C++ to compile their designs.

As embedded systems become an ever-more crucial and complex tool in industrial automation and processing, developers never stop creating new software options to help meet evolving performance targets. There are many permutations and the whole consideration can easily become confusing, even overwhelming, for management and IT personnel. This is when it is best to call upon the skilled assistance of consultants specializing in embedded systems.

New Era Electronics Brian LuckmanBrian Luckman is the President of New Era Electronics. He has worked in the industrial OEM market for over 25 years, serving a variety of different industries, gaining a strong reputation for his expertise and a thorough understanding of how to properly service OEM customers. In 2000 he began New Era Electronics and the company continues to grow. He’s a husband and father and enjoys exploring the outdoors.
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