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The bigger picture

Is the need for more reliable code changing the landscape for embedded software development? By Philip Ling

One of the most endearing qualities of embedded electronics is its accessibility; with the right knowledge and a small investment, an individual or a small team of engineers can develop incredible applications. That demonstrates the enabling nature of electronics, integrated devices and the semiconductor industry in general.
While this accessibility remains endearing, it may not be quite as enduring. It’s true that accessibility to technology is still as open as it ever was, as availability is increasing with each generation and fabrication node. However, with so much more of the configuration now based in the software domain, it is becoming increasingly necessary to apply stricter parameters to the development of that software.
While software has been an important factor in embedded electronics since the first programmable device was introduced, a term that is being used more frequently in the industry is ‘software defined’, implying the underlying hardware platform depends totally on the software to create a useful application.
Responsibility for the reliability of the hardware falls upon the Independent Device Manufacturers (IDMs). With so much dependency on the software, it’s becoming more important to ensure its reliability, too. By its very nature, software presents both flexibility and frustration; quality assurance and software development aren’t necessarily two terms that sit comfortably together. In certain sectors, reliability – in all its forms – is essential; a lesson that is beginning to penetrate mainstream areas, wherever software presents the greatest point of failure.

Philip Ling

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