Firmware Development requires that engineers work close to the hardware on which their software is running. Because of this, a Firmware Engineers tends to have more intimate knowledge of digital circuit design, hardware clock signals, timing diagrams, and other such things. Having said that the demand for Firmware Engineers worldwide is increasing rapidly driven by the Internet of Things and M2M computing. It is not necessary to notice, that to find outstanding firmware developer, who has strong skills as on hardware as on firmware is a highly challengeable task.
The following major activities and tasks we perform during this process:
Identify the requirements
Before we can begin to architect an embedded system or its firmware, we must have precise requirements. Adequately written requirements define what does the product do for the user, individually. Testability is key. If a requirement is written correctly, a set of tests can be easily constructed to verify that requirement is met.
Distinguish architecture from design
Architecture describes persistent features; the architecture is hard to change and must be got right through careful thinking about intended and permissible uses of the product.
The architecture does not include function or variable names. A firmware design document identifies these fine-grained details, such as the names and responsibilities of tasks within the specific subsystems or device drivers, and the details of the interfaces between subsystems. The design documents class, task, function/method, parameter, and variable names that must be agreed upon by all implementers.
Most products feature a mix of non-real-time, soft-real-time, and hard-real-time requirements. Soft deadlines are usually the most challenging to define unambiguously, test, and implement. With deadlines identified, the first step in architecture is to push as many of the timeliness requirements as possible out of the software and onto the hardware.
Design for test
Every embedded system needs to be tested. Generally, it is also valuable or mandatory that testing is performed at several levels. The most common levels of testing are:
- System tests verify that the product as a whole meets or exceeds the stated requirements. System tests are best developed outside of the engineering department, though they may fit into a test harness developed by engineers.
- Integration tests verify that a subset of the subsystems identified in the architecture diagrams interact as expected and produce reasonable outcomes. Integration tests are best developed by a testing group or person within software engineering.
- Unit tests verify that individual software components identified at the intermediate design level perform as their implementers expect. That is, they test at the level of the public API the component presents to other components. Unit tests are best developed by the same people that write the code under test.
Plan for change
To plan for change, we must first understand the types of changes that occur in your specific product. Then architect the firmware so that those sorts of changes are the easiest to make. If the software is architected well, feature diversity can be managed through a single software build with compile-time and/or run-time behavioral switches in the firmware. Similarly, new features can be added easily to a good architecture without breaking the existing product’s functionality.
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