There is a growing problem for those who develop embedded applications – their devices are getting more and more complex, yet the development cycle is shrinking. The complexity is growing because embedded devices are doing more. The obvious example is mobile phones. Today's mobile phones do much more than allow you to make business calls. However, this trend is not relegated to mobile phones. Chances are that just about any embedded device you can think of does more today than it did two years ago, and many things that were not intelligent two years ago are intelligent today. As a result of these devices taking on more functionality, they are including more peripherals such as USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth, displays, mass storage and more.
Increasingly, embedded devices are including multiple processors. Often the two processors are of different types. For example, it is becoming common to have a RISC core, such as an ARM, coupled with a DSP core. All of this hardware IP needs software, such as controller drivers and communications stacks, to drive it. The device applications have become complex enough such that a full-blown RTOS, sometimes multiple RTOSes, are needed. A primitive scheduler just won't cut it any more. As a result of this complexity, there is a need for both better development tools and better processes in order to meet the deadlines imposed by a shrinking development cycle. We will talk about some of the issues that come up as a result of this and the solutions that are available to combat this complexity, and maybe take a small peak ahead at some things that are coming.
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