REVIEW - Embedded Systems Design - An Introduction to Processes, Tools, and Techniques


Embedded Systems Design

An Introduction to Processes, Tools, and Techniques


Arnold S. Berger, Arnold H. Berger



Focal Press (2002)




Chris Hills


October 2002



The problem with embedded systems is that no two are the same. Therefore a book on embedded systems is either covering a very wide field or looks at a particular aspect of it. Most look at a single development on a specific architecture. This book manages to cover a very wide field but feels as though it is looking at your project!

The text basically goes through an embedded system lifecycle as the subtitle says ' introduction to process tools and techniques '. Therefore, there is virtually no source code nor a single circuit diagram. There are no hex or ASCII tables nor lists of compiler or development kit vendors.

This book is one of the first I have come across that sensibly describes an almost generic embedded system development. It does not go into enough detail to discuss the use of interrupts and or a specific processor design, but will guide you through the choices and pitfalls of being a project manager or engineer on an embedded system. Which paradoxically does mention interrupts and processor choice. The author has obviously been there and accordingly a lot of the text is anecdotal, but real world, with problems and solutions.

Due to the author having been employed by a silicon vendor, as well as being development engineer and a college lecturer, there are some fascinating insights into the industry that many others will not have picked up and so I enjoyed reading this book.

This is a book that many graduates or new engineers who want to go into embedded work should read. It is difficult to quantify as it gives advice on process and methods without diagrams. One example is development tools such as ICE. The author explains in broad terms what an ICE is and what you can do with it. He then goes on to explain the views and philosophy of development tools as seen from the view of the silicon vendor, the tools vendor and the project management (and accountants). Absolutely fascinating and from my experience, very accurate.

The other main sections are selection process of processor/rtos/tools. The hardware/software partitioning decisions. The development environment, tools, debuggers and testing. The book is not as big as you would think but it's all in there.

So this book will help with the politics of embedded system development. Politics and economics usually intrude into embedded systems far more than any 'normal' development because the embedded system is usually a sub-part of something else. The book will help you to see why the tool/silicon vendor is taking the stance that they are and why sometimes the obvious technical answer may not be the right one.

There are some interesting comments and ideas that could save you a lot more than the cost of this book. The author lists all his references on a per chapter basis, which I found helpful to find source material for a specific aspect of the book. Many are available on the web.

This book has been clearly written by someone who has been there. Useful for students and engineers moving to embedded systems and also for managers. Highly recommended.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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