In modern technologies, where the trend is towards mobility and compactness, embedded systems find growing number of applications. If we look carefully, embedded systems are the main core in the construction of all new mobile devices, smart devices, wearables and devices for household and autonomous machines. From an industrial point of view, embedded systems also occupy a significant share of components in production systems, cars, various automated machines and others. We can even say that in the coming years, embedded systems will become a major component of all intelligent devices, robots, cars and machines. Of course, this is due to the advanced development of embedded systems, the increase of their computing power, memory and ability to communicate through various interfaces.
In this short blog, we briefly present what embedded systems are and go into more detail about software and more specifically what steps and phases we have to perform and complete when programming such a system.
What is an embedded system?
Embedded systems are usually electronic systems designed to perform strictly defined tasks and functions in real time. Typically, these systems focus on a small number of tasks to be performed at regular intervals. Often the operation of large and complex systems depends directly on embedded systems or is built on such.
Steps in designing and developing software for embedded systems
We have seen that embedded systems provide many and varied functions. Let us focus on the software implementation. We assume that the embedded system has a designed hardware and it remains to write the software, also called firmware. We can divide the steps of planning and development of the software into two types – selection and preparation for working with software and software development. Going through each step describes the whole process of creating the firmware for the embedded system from creating the first function to the final tests.
- Selection and preparation for working with software:
- The first step is to get acquainted with the needs and requirements that the system must meet;
- The second step is to know the system hardware and all components (so we will know how to program each component);
- Then we must select an appropriate operating system that can perform the set functionalities and support;
- Software development:
- Usually in these systems the software initially describes the used pins of the controller and sets the types of variables for each pin;
- Select and add libraries to work with different sensors and devices;
- Defining and developing all the functions that will work in the system. The functions are usually used for extracting and processing sensor data, calculating and sending control signals and others;
- When developing the functions, it is good to check each function to see if it works properly – tests of the functions;
- Implementation of the basic algorithm for the operation of the system. This is the main program in the system that handles all functions. This is where the basic logic of the whole system works;
- Tests of the basic algorithm – the most important stage of software development is this. Here it is checked whether the system is working properly. In this step there is an opportunity to find additional problems or dependencies, the solution of which will help to improve the algorithm;
When we go through all these steps and finally in the tests we find that the system is working properly, we can say that the programming is successful. We already have the firmware ready for an embedded system. We upload the firmware to the memory of the controller and we are ready.
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