Embedded systems have long been used across industries such as aerospace, automotive, industrial machinery, and consumer electronics. However, recent developments—automation, connectivity, analytics, and IoT—have moved embedded systems to centerstage in these industries. The complexity of embedded software is rising exponentially, with the current tens of millions of lines of code projected to expand to hundreds of millions of lines by the end of the decade. This highlights the urgent need to improve how we do things and simplify complexity.
To achieve the full potential of agility and flexibility offered by software, it is imperative to make changes in the embedded software development approach using Workbench.
Complexities in Embedded Software Development
- Hardware dependencies: Embedded software is tightly coupled with the hardware it runs on. This means that developers must have ready access to hardware and a deep understanding of the hardware to develop software that works correctly.
- Testing and debugging: Testing and debugging embedded software can be challenging due to the limited resources and real-time constraints. It can be difficult to simulate real-world scenarios and identify and fix bugs.
- Security: Embedded systems are often used in critical applications such as medical devices, automotive systems, and industrial control systems. This makes security a critical concern, and developers must ensure that the software is secure and protected from cyber threats.
- Compliance: Embedded systems are subject to various regulations and standards, such as safety standards, environmental regulations, cyber security and industry-specific standards. Developers must ensure that the software complies with these standards.
- Limited resources: Embedded systems often have limited resources such as memory, processing power, and storage. This makes it challenging to develop software that is efficient and optimized for the hardware.
- Real-time constraints: Many embedded systems require real-time processing, which means that software must respond to events within a specific time frame. This can be challenging to achieve, especially when dealing with complex systems such as autonomous vehicles, surgical robots, etc.
Workbench: Simplifying Embedded System Development
Embedded software development is a complex process that requires a lot of attention to detail and precision. To make the process easier, developers use workbenches that provide a comprehensive environment for software development. Here, we discuss the workbench for embedded software development and how it benefits developers.
A workbench is a software development environment that provides a comprehensive set of tools for developers to create, test, and debug software. Workbenches are designed to make the software development process easier and more efficient by providing a single platform for all development activities.
Workbench for Embedded Software Development
Embedded software development requires a specialized workbench that is designed to handle the unique challenges of developing software for embedded systems. It typically includes the following features:
1. Integrated Development Environment (IDE): An IDE is a software application that provides a comprehensive environment for software development. It includes a code editor, debugger, and other tools that help developers create, test, and debug software.
2. Compiler: A software tool that converts source code into machine code that can be executed by the target hardware. A workbench for embedded software development includes a compiler optimized for the target hardware.
3. Debugger: A software tool that helps developers find and fix bugs in their code. A workbench for embedded software development includes a debugger optimized for the target hardware.
4. Simulator: A software tool that emulates the target hardware, allowing developers to test their software without the need for physical hardware. A workbench for embedded software development includes a simulator optimized for the target hardware.
5. Code libraries: Pre-written code that developers can use to speed up the development process. A workbench for embedded software development includes code libraries optimized for the target hardware.
A workbench for embedded software development provides:
- A virtual environment/virtual machine loaded with pre-requites.
- A simplified (reduces time in) environment setup procedure for developers and testers.
- Consistency in tools/dependencies across and within teams—Development and Validation teams.
- Effective utilization of compute resources.
Benefits for Developers
- Increased efficiency: A workbench provides a comprehensive environment for software development, which can help developers work more efficiently.
- Improved quality: A workbench includes tools that help developers find and fix bugs in their code, which can improve the quality of the software.
- Shorter development time: Using a workbench can help developers speed up the development process by providing pre-written code libraries and other tools to speed up development.
Keeping Pace with Changing Demands
With advent of wireless communications, networking, cognitive and cloud computing embedded systems around us are becoming more interconnected than ever before.
Some of notable advancements are automotive sector is witnessing significant technological advancements in embedded systems, with major manufacturers partnering with top technology companies to create self-driving vehicles. Healthcare industry reaping benefits with technology breakthroughs by developing sophisticated solutions like Robotics, Telemedicine, AI-powered diagnosis etc.
Using reusable and proven platforms via workbench helps to create efficient solutions, improve the quality of their software, and shorten development cycles.
About the Author
Name: Praveen Kumar Vemula
Designation: Embedded Systems Principal Architect, Technology Group
With 20+ years of experience in solutioning interdisciplinary technology and collaborating on complex engineering solutions, Praveen’s expertise lies in collaborative leadership skills with strong product management, product development, and design thinking for Software Defined everything (SDx) and Software container transformation. He provides thought leadership to business stakeholders with market research and go-to-market strategies for new offerings. He is a core member of the Intelligent Product Platform (IPP) initiative at Cyient.