All of us use these devices on a daily basis: smartwatches, tablets, home appliances, and entertainment gadgets. However, what makes them run and perform complex tasks?
Being one of the most popular software engineering methods, embedded software development lies at the core of many wearable, healthcare, automotive, and household devices. These devices typically include a microcontroller and microprocessor powered by what we call embedded software.
Not as easy as it sounds, embedded system development has its own pros, cons, and challenges. It requires specific components and has compatibility limitations. Also, choosing the development team is not a walk in the park.
This article by Embedded Software Development Services | Lemberg Solutions outlines the components needed for successful embedded development, types of development tools, and challenges. Besides, you will learn which team members you need to make an embedded development run. Stay tuned!
Basic Components of an Embedded System
What is embedded development? Just like any software, embedded systems require hardware and software to operate. Microprocessors, microcontrollers, sensors, input/output ports, and memory form hardware — the backbone of an embedded system. Let’s take a closer look.
- Hardware components consist of microprocessors and microcontrollers that work as the brain of an embedded system. Whereas microprocessors perform calculations, microcontrollers serve as a bridge between microcontrollers, memory, and input\output ports.
- Sensors help measure physical data or environmental parameters and convert them it electrical signals.
- Input/output ports ensure communication between CPU and output devices.
- Memory is responsible for storing data and configuration settings.
Types of Embedded Software Development Tools
As we have already discussed what is embedded system and what components it requires, it’s time to shed light on the tools that help to bring this system to life.
- Editor is the first tool you’ll need, no matter whether it’s the development of an embedded system or another software type. This is where the code for your system is crafted using some low-level programming language like C++ or Assembly.
- Compiler is a program that converts high-level programming language code into machine code. We all know that computer works on binary 0 and 1 combinations, so it’s important to talk to it in an understandable language.
- Emulator is a system allowing developers to test the device properly. It creates an artificial hardware environment and allows running the system to check how it works.
- Debugger is another magic wand in embedded system development. It helps check the code for bugs and address weak spots immediately. This tool goes through the whole code volume and points at the run time or syntax errors in the line where they occur.
Embedded Software Development Challenges
In developing software for embedded systems, many companies face the same challenges. They often have limited resources while embedded software engineering is quite expensive. Besides, the embedded system must directly interact with the hardware, and this interaction must be smooth regardless of any limitations. Let’s take a closer at some other common challenges that may arise:
As a customer, when dealing with embedded development, you’re constantly involved in the process. You receive regular updates at weekly meetings and can track the progress on demo hosting. However, it’s not the case with the hardware that is produced by a 3rd party provider. So, it can be challenging to integrate your current solution into a new device.
The question of what embedded software design has a simple answer: extra expenditures and complexity. Dealing with an ordinary software system, you just need a team of professionals with laptops. However, it’s different for embedded systems. Here you need to budget for hardware like microprocessors, microcontrollers, sensors, and the very device case.
Since embedded systems are constantly connected to the internet, they are vulnerable to hacker attacks. It’s important to implement anti-fraud functionality when dealing with what are embedded systems.
Developers` Team for Embedded Software
Just like any other software, embedded systems require a team of professionals to make them up and running. You’ll need to find a hardware supplier, skilled embedded software engineers, system architects, QA, software designers, and PM to manage all the processes. Let’s take a closer look at the roles of each:
- Hardware supplier is often a 3rd party company specializing in hardware development. It’s important to have a clear vision of the future embedded system to order the device that would fully satisfy the project’s needs.
- An embedded software developer is a skilled person with deep low-level programming language expertise. The most popular ones are C++, Assembly, and Python.
- The system architect will build the core of the system. This person is responsible for defining embedded software components and foreseeing all the possible scenarios of their interaction.
- QA is responsible for spotless system operation. This person will conduct several testing iterations to ensure the system is bug-free and fully meets requirements.
- The software designer will create simple and user-friendly visualizations of the future embedded system. This person relieves developers from pain in the neck by choosing the right font size and lets them concentrate on more complex tasks.
- PM is the person who brings all the gems mentioned above into one team and ensures a smooth development process through planning and regular sync-ups.
In the core of many devices we use in day-to-day life lies what is embedded software development.
- It powers tablets, smartwatches, and home appliances.
- Is used in wearable and stationary medical devices.
- Powers the infotainment, safety, and ADAS systems in automotive.
The reply to the question “What is embedded software” is simple: it’s a program running on a hardware device with the help of a microprocessor, microcontroller, and sensors. Of course, there are certain challenges when adopting an embedded technology, so it’s important to be prepared to deal with strict security regulations, device compatibility issues, and extra expenditures.
Forewarned is forearmed, so knowing the embedded software development peculiarities, you can create another robust system that would make people’s lives even more comfortable.