REVIEW - Debugging Embedded Microprocessor Systems


Debugging Embedded Microprocessor Systems


Stuart Ball



Newnes (1998)




Chris Hills


April 1999



This book is a must for students, hobbyists and those without a team to back them up to explain the range of tools and techniques.

This book may seem superfluous to those who have never worked on an embedded system. However you should remember that most embedded systems have no screen or keyboard. They have to be debugged from another machine often running a totally different CPU and operating system. The other problem that this book faces is that no two embedded systems are the same. There are many CPUs and RTOS (or no RTOS) that can be used in limitless combinations. There are, however, several standard methods of debugging for which there are CPU/RTOS specific tools in the market place.

The book has a novel style. Each chapter starts with a scene in a fictitious company with some engineers discussing a problem. There are nuggets of wisdom in these stories if you can see them. That is apart from the main points being made. These engineers are working in an environment where, unlike your environment, there is a shortage of time, equipment and resources.

Part of the text discusses ways of debugging that require things, like LED's and test points, to be designed into the hardware and the software at the beginning. This makes the text useful to designers of embedded systems as well as the testers though in the embedded world they are often one and the same.

The techniques are discussed in such a way as to make them generic whilst in some cases making some very useful CPU specific points. Most readers will pick up useful tips. At the end are several "case studies" that I feel are very closely based on real events. Including one that many will have come across. The system that fails because someone is using an arc welder in the building across the street. (I had that happen to me in 1976!)

This book is a must for students, hobbyists and those without a team to back them up to explain the range of tools and techniques. It will also be of use to engineers moving to the embedded field. I like this book and will keep it on my shelf. Recommended.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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