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Chapter: Embedded Systems

The Embedded System Design Process

Overview of the embedded system design process aimed at two objectives. First,it will give us an introduction to the various steps in embedded system design before we delve into them in more detail.




Overview of the embedded system design process aimed at two objectives. First,it will give us an introduction to the various steps in embedded system design before we delve into them in more detail. Second, it will allow us to consider the design methodology itself.Figure 1.1 summarizes the major steps in the embedded system design process.In this top–down view,we start with the system requirements in the next step comes Specification.

Top–down Design—we will begin with the most abstract description of the system and conclude with concrete details. The alternative is a bottom–up view in which we start with components to build a system. Bottom–up design steps are shown in the figure as dashed-line arrows. We need bottom–up design because we do not have perfect insight into how later stages of the design process will turn out. During the design process we have to consider the major goals of the design such as


manufacturing cost;


performance (both overall speed and deadlines); and


power consumption.


Design steps are detailed below:





Requirements may be functional or nonfunctional. We must capture the basic functions of the embedded system, but functional description is often not sufficient. Typical nonfunctional requirements include:


1. Performance: The speed of the system is often a major consideration both for the usability of the system and for its ultimate cost. Performance may be a combination of soft performance metrics such as approximate time to perform a user-level function and hard deadlines by which a particular operation must be completed.


2. Cost: The target cost or purchase price for the system is almost always a consideration. Cost typically has two major components:


o   Manufacturing cost includes the cost of components and assembly;


o NonRecurring engineering (NRE) costs include the personnel and other costs of designing the system.


3.     Physical size and weight: The physical aspects of the final system can vary greatly depending upon the application. e.g) An industrial control system for an assembly line may be designed to fit into a standard-size rack with no strict limitations on weight. But a handheld device typically has tight requirements on both size and weight that can ripple through the entire system design.


Power consumption: Power, of course, is important in battery-powered systems and is often important in other applications as well. Power can be specified in the requirements stage in terms of battery life.


mock-up. The mock-up may use canned data to simulate functionality in a restricted  demonstration, and it may be executed on a PC or a workstation. But it should give the  customer a good idea of how the system will be used and how the user can react to it. Physical,nonfunctional models of devices can also give customers a better idea of characteristics such as size and weight.


e.g) Requirements analysis of a GPS moving map


The moving map is a handheld device that displays for the user a map of the terrain around the user’s current position; the map display changes as the user and the map device change position.


The moving map obtains its position from the GPS, a satellite-based navigation system.


Ø     The moving map display might look something like the following figure


  Functionality: This system is designed for highway driving and similar uses, not nautical or aviation uses that require more specialized databases and functions. The system should show major roads and other landmarks available in standard topographic databases.


User interface: The screen should have at least 400_600 pixel resolution. The device should be controlled by no more than three buttons.


Performance: The map should scroll smoothly. Upon power-up, a display should take no more than one second to appear, and the system should be able to verify its position and display the current map within 15 s.


Cost: The selling cost (street price) of the unit should be no more than $100.


Physical size and weight: The device should fit comfortably in the palm of the hand.


Power consumption: The device should run for at least eight hours on four AA batteries.



2 B.  Specification


The specification is more precise—it serves as the contract between the customer and the architects. The specification should be understandable enough so that someone can verify that it meets system requirements and overall expectations of the customer. It should also be unambiguous. the specification must be carefully written so that it accurately reflects the customer’s requirements and does so in a way that can be clearly followed during design. A specification of the GPS system would include several components:

  Data received from the GPS satellite constellation.

  Map Data

  User Interface

Operations that must be performed to satisfy customer requests. Background actions required to keep the system running, such as operating the GPS receiver. UML, a language for describing specifications


C. Architecture Design


The specification does not say how the system does things, only what the system does. Describing how the system implements those functions is the purpose of the architecture. Figure 1.3 shows a sample system architecture in the form of a block diagram that shows major operations and data flows among them.

Many implementation details should we refine that system block diagram into two block diagrams: one for hardware and another for software. These two more refined block diagrams are shown in Figure 1.4.The hardware block diagram clearly shows that we have one central CPU surrounded by memory and I/O devices. In particular, we have chosen to use two memories: a frame buffer for the pixels to be displayed and a separate program/data memory for general use by the CPU .


D. Designing Hardware and Software Components


The component design effort builds those components in conformance to the architecture and specification. The components will in general include both hardware—FPGAs, boards, and so on—and software modules. Some of the components will be ready-made. In the moving map, the GPS receiver is a good example of a specialized component that will nonetheless be a predesigned, standard component. We can also make use of standard software modules. One good example is the topographic database.


E. System Integration



The components built are put together and see how the system works. If we debug only a few modules at a time, we are more likely to uncover the simple bugs and able to easily recognize them. Only by fixing the simple bugs early will we be able to uncover the more complex or obscure bugs.

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