The IoT device market is becoming more and more popular. The number of people who use them daily is also increasing. It is expected that 35 billion IoT products will be in operation by 2021. This means that software developers will have to deal with embedded software development. Firmware development is not easy in itself, but embedded systems take it to a new level of complexity.
The software resides in the system’s RAM. Instructions and data are loaded from permanent memory. By changing the data stored in memory, you also change the instructions used by your program.
Firmware is considered “hard” because once loaded onto the hardware platform, it is difficult to change. This also applies to its instructions, which are stored on a physical device.
But the difference between firmware and software has more to do with understanding the functionality. Firmware is a part of the system that can be easily changed and updated to define new functions for the system. However, these functions can only be implemented within the constraints of hardware and firmware.
The development environment for programming embedded systems differs significantly from test and production environments. Developers can use software stacks, different chip architectures, and even operating systems. By using embedded system technology, the circuitry can be simplified, which reduces cost and size.
But the process of developing embedded software is not so different from the process of developing “standard” software. Regardless of the development/management model used, it consists of the following stages:
Anembeddedsystemisacombinationofsoftwareandhardware. TheEmbeddedComputingPlatformcombineshardware (builtonamicroprocessorormicrocontroller) andanembeddedOSthatrunsactuatorsandsensorstoperformtasks.
AstandardOSoffersanenvironmentinwhichhumansandcomputersactivelyinteract. However, anembeddedsystemperformsonlyoneorseveraltypesoftasks, evenwithoutoutsideintervention.
Thesoftwareusedinanembeddedsystemisasetofinstructionsoraprogramforadevice. One or more processing cores drive embedded systems in the form of microcontrollers or digital signal processors, FPGAs or ASIC.Microprocessorsormicrocontrollersofembeddedsystemhardwareare programmed toperformspecifictasksbyfollowingasetofinstructions. Firmwareconvertsmicroprocessorcommandsintosignalsthatareunderstandabletohardwarecomponents, andmicrocontrollersallowfunctionalchangesintheprocess.Itisenoughtorewritethefirmwarecode.
Embeddedsoftwareiswritteninhigh–levellanguages (C++ orPython), andlow–levellanguages (Assembler). Typically, theoperatingsystemisLinux orAndroid. Asmartembeddedsystem (like FreeRTOS) canmanagemanycomponents.
ESvariesdependingonthecomplexityofthehardwareandsoft. Asthenumberofinternalcomponentsincreases, theembeddedsystembecomesmore complicated.
Apps of embedded systems are used in many fields, such as medicine, telecommunications, computer networks, electronics, research equipment, and so on. When an embedded system is connected to a network, it becomes an IoT device. That is, the IoT is made up of physical objects with embedded software and network connectivity. In the era of IoT, almost any purpose can have a connected device that you can control and update remotely. It is worth mentioning SigFox and LoRa (Long Range) energy-efficient network technology standards, designed for collecting data from sensors, IoT applications.
Linuxisanopen–sourceoperatingsystemwithacustomkernel. Itallowsyoutocreateyouroperatingsystemaccordingtoyourneeds. In this case,onlythecriticalsegmentsareused, whichwill enableyoutokeepasmallsizewithoutaffectingthe device’sfunctionality. On thetopofthekernel, youcanwrite yourappcodetocreateanembeddeddevice!
Thissignificantlyreducesdevelopmenttimeandcostscomparedtobuildingan embeddedoperatingsystem. SirinSoftware’sEmbeddedOSSolutionsofferawiderangeofEmbeddedLinux–based products andservices.
Asfarasthebasicconceptisconcerned, Linuxisdividedintokernelmodeandusermode. Accesstoahardware device isonlypossibleinkernelmode, andadrivercanbethoughtofasanAPIprovidedinkernelmodethatallowsuser–modecodetoaccessthehardwaredevice. Thesedriversinteractwiththedeviceusingfunctionssupportedbythekernel. Theperformanceoftheuser–spacedriverswillnotbeasgoodastheperformanceofthedriversrunninginthecore.
Sirin Software develops Linux kernel drivers for embedded devices running on high-power processors. Our engineers have practical experience in modifying and configuring the Linux kernel, creating device drivers, and integrating peripherals for any device and system.
Oneofthebestexamplesofsmartembeddedsystemsisthebassinet, whichreactstoababy’scrywithbuilt–innoisesensorsandautomaticallycalmsthemdown—the cradleworksbasedonamobileapplication, webserver, andfirmware. Theappactsasaremotecontrolandababymonitor. Itallowstheuserto control the bed and set parameters using a smartphone remotely.
Thebackendisimplementedasacombinationofanadminpanel, acloud–basedsinglepageapp, andamicroservicesstack. Itprovidesconstantandstableinteractionbetweenallelementsofthearchitecture: mobileapplication, firmware, andhardware.
Ourspecializationisthedevelopment of embedded systems. SirinSoftwarehasextensiveexperienceindevelopingadvanceduser firmwareforvariouscomponentsofdifferent industries. WeareexpertsinembeddedsolutionsthatspanbothcentralizedradiosystemsandinterconnectedIoTdeviceswithtrackingsoftware. SirinSoftwarespecializesinfirmwaredevelopment, includingBIOSsettings, APIutilities, anddriversupport. Ourengineers canalsomigrateexistingdevicedriverstoanotheroperatingsystemorhardwareplatform.
Embedded systems are used everywhere. They offer automation, security, and availability with minimal maintenance costs. Therefore, it is so important to implement them in complex equipment to increase competitiveness.
SirinSoftwarebrings to reality anycustomer’sideas – fromcreatingaspecificproducttodevelopingcustomfirmware. Thewholeprocessiscarefullymonitoredandcompletedontime. Ifyouarelookingfordeveloperswithhands–onexperience, SirinSoftwareisyourbestbet. Wecreatesolutionsthatmillionsofpeopleneed!