Software dominates the embedded system design process; according to some estimates, software development can now consume up to 70% of a project’s resources.

Traditionally, software development started when the hardware arrived, but not any more: software designers are using virtual prototypes to get their projects started in time to meet the deadlines.

But there are also operating systems, which manage this growing complexity. The choices are numerous and have an impact at the system level, as well for deeply embedded products. And C is no longer the only programming language.

Whatever the complexity of the embedded system you’re developing software for, New Electronics addresses the issues regularly by looking at the latest tools and techniques available.

Key attributes to consider when choosing high bandwidth probes

High speed digital applications are pushing probing solutions to the limit. As system bandwidth increases, the edge speed of the signal gets faster, the size of the chipsets and components becomes smaller and PCB layout becomes more complex. These trends challenge probing solutions and the higher the performance, the more care is needed in selecting probes.

Move to 3D flash memory set to boost prospects of SSDs

Developers of memory devices of all types have generally been the first customers for the latest process technology. A combination of the need to make memories with greater capacity at lower prices has pushed manufacturers to the ‘bleeding edge’. That combination of dynamics has also pushed some manufacturers ‘over the edge’ and the remainder into joint ventures that can cope with the commercial and technical challenges.

1D to 3D HMI solutions

Just a few years ago Touch revolutionised input: mechanical buttons, keyboards and sliders were replaced by static plastic or metal surfaces. It meant that operator interfaces could be incorporated into a device, and unobtrusive and modern design became increasingly common on the factory floor. Capacitive touch is based on a capacitor whereby the human finger acts as the actuator for the capacitor. Ingenious designs also enable proximity switches to be implemented as well. In this case the control system is only active shortly before it is activated, reducing energy consumption. This is known as ‘1D’ input.

Partnership set to ease the safety critical software verification process

Multicore processors are nothing new to electronics designers and have many features which make them attractive in a range of applications. But those developing software for safety critical systems may not view multicore devices with such fondness. The reason? Proving that the software written for multicore processors meets the requirements of the various standards is a complex and time consuming business.

You want to add security to your system, but where do you start?

Growing awareness of the Internet of Things has brought with it a desire amongst those building embedded systems to include some form of connectivity. But, as some of those designers have already found out to their cost, providing connectivity is one thing; providing security for such a system is another.

How to make sure the IoT is as secure as it should be

Attacks on Sony and Target suggest current enterprise security, in many companies, is not fit for purpose. The Internet of Things means that almost anything can now be connected to the Internet, but that also means that anything connected to the Internet can be hacked. Most of the information isn't transmitted securely and many apps have vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by anyone with the necessary skills.

A recently developed board format is being targeted at low power, high performance applications

There is no shortage of board formats available to product designers – and it seems there is always room for a new configuration to be introduced. One of the more recent formats to be unveiled is SMARC – short for Smart Mobility Architecture. The format was developed by SGET, the Standardisation Group for Embedded Technology. SGET was launched at Embedded World in 2012, with founding members including Advantech, congatec, Data Modul, Kontron, MSC and SECO.

How to ensure your SCM system is fit for purpose in today's electronics design industry

A couple of decades ago, version control – often referred to as software configuration management (SCM) – was largely unheard of outside the software development industry. Then the sheer volume and variety of the different elements which electronics designers have to keep track of began to increase. That pushed the electronics industry to adopt version control, to the point where, today, the approach is pretty much ubiquitous.

The critical importance of Sicherheit in embedded software

Any system providing an interface to the outside world has the potential to contain security vulnerabilities. In particular, any accessibility via the Internet not only requires a strategy to with a few malicious specialists, but also with a whole world of hackers. In the field of safety critical embedded software, such security concerns are often perceived to be a separate domain from the core business of functional safety. Yet when security researcher Barnaby Jack used a modified antenna and software in 2011 to wirelessly attack and take control of Medtronic's implantable insulin pumps, he demonstrated how such a pump could be commanded to release a fatal dose of insulin. Clearly, this vulnerability puts the safety of dependent diabetics at risk and, in this situation, safety and security are indistinguishable.

Embedded software development roundtable

Embedded systems development is seeing a number of key changes as the software in devices becomes an increasingly fundamental part of their differentiation. In a roundtable discussion convened by New Electronics, experts pointed to how the rise in software is changing the approaches to development.

Why do multicore systems make it harder to find and diagnose bugs?

Concurrency takes on a new dimension in multicore platforms, since true parallelism comes into play and communication between threads is often achieved using shared memory. Writing a correct concurrent program is notoriously difficult and the advent of multicore architectures makes it significantly harder again due to their added complexity.

Software tool finds bugs in real time

Getting bug free code can be time consuming. The loop created between a developer passing over code for testing, only to get it back for revision, can be a long one. It becomes longer when more developers are working on the same project – as the matrix which becomes the solution shifts with every new input from a member of the team.

Software development: Cost vs. value

Depending upon who you talk to and the scale of the design, software development can represent around 60% of the cost of of an embedded system project. With costs rising and budgets stretched, some companies may choose to look at less expensive tools. How can the industry help developers to measure the benefits of particular tools?

How the Automata architecture could boost processing efficiency

Micron Technology appeared at the 2013 Supercomputing conference, where it claimed the development of a massively parallel architecture built around its memory technology could provide a huge speed boost for some of the applications that today need supercomputers. At the same time, the memory maker said it is setting up a research centre based at the University of Virginia to focus on what it calls the Automata architecture.

New Electronics roundtable: The issues involved in embedded software development

Developing software for embedded systems isn't getting any easier. As systems offer more functions, code size grows and checking that code becomes a challenge. Software is also being developed for multiple processor platforms and for different operating systems. Meanwhile, security is growing in importance, particularly as more systems include wireless connectivity.

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