Embedded system design on a shoestring: Achieving high performance with a limited budget

232 pages • ISBN: 0750676094
Table of Contents

Before you start ñ fundamental decisions
The GNU toolchain
Example firmware walkthroughs and debugging techniques
Portability and reliability considerations
Useful vendors and other Web resources

About the Author
Lewin Edwards was born in Adelaide, Australia and currently works for Digi-Frame Inc. in Port Chester, NY. He has worked for more than four years in security and encryption applications, and he has dabbled in engineering speaking and musical toys. For almost five years he has been implementing digital imaging and multimedia applications on a variety of embedded platforms based around PA-RISC, ARM, Intel, and other 32-bit processors. He was most recently published in Embedded Systems Programming magazine and can frequently be found on Usenet in comp.arch.embedded. For relaxation, he works on simpler 8-bit, real-time control applications such as an ongoing model submarine project.
In the world of embedded system design, there is wealth of knowledge relating to the development and design of the relatively simplistic realm of 8-bit microprocessor architecture. This is not usually the case when dealing with higher performance 16 and 32-bit systems, especially for people or design teams with a limited budget. Parts are hard to harder to obtain in smaller quantities, their development toolchains are fairly expensive, and the devices themselves are generally difficult to design around.

Additionally, two major problems arise for small companies, hobbyists, and individuals without support of a design team:

  • Development hardware and tools are too expensive and not readily available in small quantities
  • Continued and lasting support for all components is lacking or too expensive due to specific development requirements and environments

The objective of Lewin Edwards in Embedded System Design on a Shoestring is to offer some insight and support to people and small businesses that have an interest in high-end embedded system design and microprocessor architecture. In this book, Edwards attempts to illustrate some methods of overcoming obstacles and realizing projects around today’s high-performance chips. In addition, he offers information to assist developers in migrating from one click graphical integrated development environments to command-line tools free of toolchains.

While this book gears more towards a reasonably experienced developer, it does offer much insight into the basics of embedded systems to those who are not very familiar with them. The specific aims of this text are:

  • To describe design and component selection rules specific to engineers on a budget
  • To describe techniques for PCB layout and assembly
  • To provide basic documentation on building and using the GNU toolchain
  • To provide simple examples illustrating how to use GNU tools
  • To provide guidelines on best practices to employ when developing demonstration products

There are many different areas Edwards covers in this text. He starts out with detailed and very helpful introduction and background sections, giving much needed background information to those who are a tad bit unfamiliar with some of the aspects of embedded system design. The support he offers on the GNU toolchain is very concise, and his chapters on debugging techniques and firmware support are extremely detailed, with many different tables and source code examples to clearly impart his message. The last few sections offer a great deal of support on common issues and concerns with portability and reliability issues, as well as a very effective and helpful section that contains a variety of different resources and readily available information to help get a design off the ground.

This book is a great place to look for those with a serious interest in embedded system architecture, or for those who are curious as to what it takes to successfully design such a system. The included CD-ROM also has a nice list of software titles and support programs for help along the way. The entire package includes a wide variety of support, design, troubleshooting, and resource data that will more than come in handy during the design process.

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To obtain a copy of this book, ISBN #0-7506-7609-4, contact: Manager of Special Sales, Elsevier Science, 200 Wheeler Road, Burlington, MA, 01803. Tel.: 781-313-4700, Fax: 781-313-4882.