Nowadays chips, tags and applications are all around us, embedded into cars, medical devices and home appliances, all to ensure a more comfortable life. As users we enjoy the increased functionality and how it makes our lives easier, providing entertainment possibilities, power saving features or even features that can save lives.
Behind the scenes, these devices are very complex, requiring embedded software to support these new features. The design and development of devices with such complexity generates more headaches along with increased risk and each additional problem incurs greater costs for producers than previously. Each new generation of devices increases complexity.
Let us briefly discuss the challenges of embedded system development.
- In the embedded world, many different requirements must be fulfilled and these are different to those in enterprise application development. In enterprise application development, at least the platform, operation system and server infrastructure are usually well-known factors in the design phase. In embedded software development, requirements regarding the hardware and platform are not so standardized, are usually not determined in advance, and often change.
- Embedded software development provides less flexibility in development language, database and tools used by the development team. Usually the selection of those elements strongly depend on the hardware manufacturer.
- Embedded technology has to face more constraints in resources. Due to the limitations of the hardware’s power, CPU, processor capacity or storage limitations, developers have to consider the frames of resources as early as in the design phase. As the hardware has to work together with the software harmoniously, keeping the limits of available resources influences the size of software, usage of processor, the number of parallel running tasks etc.
- There is an increased pressure on performance and resource availability. Reliable operation without malfunctions is essential for devices with embedded software, especially applications used for safety critical systems. Therefore, embedded software development is usually more standardized and regulated by legal frameworks and ISO standard, even more so in the case of applications that are to be used in mission critical situations.
- Integration and requirements based testing have high importance. Due to the complexities of developing the suitable software that fits the hardware and supports the safety critical use of some embedded application, testing is even more important in embedded product development than in enterprise application. As an example, the responsibility of testing a defibrillator is far greater than perhaps that of a website.
In summary, the style and processes used in developing embedded systems are much more complex than those used for developing software for enterprises. Lifecycle Management, including the hardware and software, plays a crucial role in achieving high quality products. The critical elements of the processes are requirements definition and design, approval, integration, testing and verification.
The codeBeamer Application Lifecycle Management solution offers all features required for embedded system developers to achieve the delivery of high quality products, and lower the risks of development by addressing all the challenges listed above.