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Embedded System Designing Tools.

EmmaAshely
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We have been discussing embedded systems lately in our previous article, the one we are going to discuss today is about the tools for designing an embedded system.

By now, you might have a clear idea about the basic structure of an embedded system which compromises the following parts;

  • Hardware parts of the embedded system
  • Embedded software

The hardware of an Embedded System

The hardware of the embedded system consists of SOM or SOC, system on a microcontroller or system on a chip, having a microcontroller, microprocessor, timers, and other peripheral parts required for the functioning of the embedded systems, these parts are mostly predesigned i.e you can get the one you need for your system.

The hardware of an Embedded System

Basic Tools for Designing an Embedded System Software

Designing an embedded software is the real task at hand which doesn't come prepackaged, you have to design it yourself according to your system requirements. These tools are required for designing different applications of embedded systems. The basic tools include;

  • Editor
  • Compiler
  • Assembler
  • Debugger
  • Linker
  • Simulator

Editor

  • The writing editor leads the first step in the process of writing the embedded software.
  • We use an editor for writing source code.
  • The source code for the application or we can say embedded software is written in C, C++ language according to the requirement and complexity of the embedded system you are going to make.
  • Your Notepad++ can act as your text editor meanwhile more advanced options include Geany, Atom, Sublime Text and Coffee Cup among many others.

Compiler

  • After we are done with writing the source code for the application, the second step for designing the embedded system software is carried out with the help of a compiler, which is an important embedded component.
  • Compiler acts like a convertor, as it converts high-level programming language code into an object code.
  • Object code is easily digestible for the computer to process because it is written in a low-level programming language.
  • You can use Keil C51 for this purpose, it is immensely famous among its users.

Assembler

  • The assembler takes its name for converting the object code which was previously written in assembly language into machine language.
  • This conversion marks the third step in designing the embedded system's software.
  • Now you must be thinking, why we converted the object code into machine language? The answer is simple, our computer functions on binary language, which is made up of 0 and 1 digit only. To process the source code into the language understandable by the system, we need to convert it into machine language.
  • GNU assembler, FASM assembler, NASM assembler are popularly used by the programmers for this purpose.

Linker

Block diagram of a Linker tool used for designing embedded system software

  • The linker is another tool used for designing embedded system software, it is used for linking several different object codes into a single executable program.
  • You must be thinking, why we write the object code in chunks? Why don't we write it as a whole? The answer is really simple, to make the task of writing a program easier, we write it in chunks, codes for different tasks or functions are written separately and then linked together at the end with the help of a linker to convert it into a single program.
  • On the other hand, some of the object codes are already present in the library, you can pick the one you need, and use it accordingly. Don't worry, we are going to discuss it in detail next.
  • GNU Linker is free software available for this purpose

Libraries

  • Let me ask you first, do you know what a library is? Not the one in your school, college or University! The one that we use for developing software!

We define a library as a pre-written volatile resource containing templates, codes, configuration data, documents, classes and many other related things used for the development of software or any other computer program.

  • In embedded system software development libraries can be found in C, and C++ , we can use them for writing our own program.
  • You simply need to download the library you need, search out the code you need, copy the syntax and you are good to go!

Debugger

  • Before talking about a debugger, let's first discuss, what is a bug? Not the bug from the animal kingdom, but the one in coding!

A bug is a flaw or error in the code of the computer program, which can cause runtime errors and syntax errors in the system making it behave abnormally.

  • Now you can easily tell, what is the job of a debugger? A debugger goes through the entire written program looking for the errors.
  • After testing the whole program, a debugger identifies the wrong code with the help of BreakPoints.
  • You can later fix the Breakpoints and test your program again if your program for the embedded system is working well or not!

Simulator

  • This is the last tool for developing embedded system software.
  • What do you do, when you want to check how your written program is interacting with the hardware of your embedded system for executing the designated task? You run a simulation with the help of a simulator!

Simulator and checking for bugs

  • A simulator provides information about how the written program i.e your code would perform in a real-time situation.
  • You can test your system by altering the input values and analyze the outcomes.
  • Results are generated in the form of written data when a simulation is run.
  • Simulators prove quite helpful especially in designing real-time embedded systems.
  • Software available for simulation includes Analogic, Matlab, Simio, and Arena among many others.

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

  • Now we are done with the basic tools used for the development of embedded systems, basically the software portion. In the next segment of our discussion, we will be discussing the software available for this purpose. The first and foremost thing in this regard is an Integrated Development Environment IDE, let's have its brief introduction first;

Diagram of Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

  • If you have ever used the Adobe Creative Cloud, it contains all the necessary tools for creative artists, from Photoshop to Lightroom to the Adobe Illustrator and a lot more combined in a single space. The same is the case with Integrated Development Environment (IDE), it contains all the necessary tools you need to design an embedded system software.
  • An IDE comprises a text editor, compiler and debugger for writing and error correction of the program.
  • There are several IDE software available in the market which supports several programming languages and has their specific libraries as well.

Some of the integrated Development Software include;

  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Pycharm
  • MPLAB X
  • Matlab
  • QT Creator
  • Net Beans
  • Eclipse
  • Arduino

So, friends, it was all about the tools used in designing an embedded system, you can mention the one you have used and found best in the comment section below, it might help someone looking for an alternative or a suggestion. A good suggestion can make someone's day better and productive.

HI, I am a student of Electrical Engineering. I am currently working for an electronic store. I work at the electrical components there. I am learning many useful practical concepts there. On the other hand, I give online tuitions to some students of high school I love electrical and electronics devices and have a plan to have a Master's Degree in Electronics.

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