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The Impact of Software Testing on Embedded Systems

by Michael Stal on Apr 20, 2012 |

In its recent issue the Chip Design Magazine points out that the huge growth of portable and wireless systems combined with the increasing relevance of software in embedded systems poses a challenge. Quality issues need special attention, especially in safety-critical systems. This is why software test tools for software systems will become increasingly important as the Chip Design Magazine concludes.

Vendors of embedded systems are facing an increased relevance of software for their products. Software is the main constituent in Smart Grid applications, automation control systems, and also in mobile devices such as Android phones, iPhones, or tablet devices. Even cars contain a large network of various network nodes driven by middleware technologies such as AutoSAR. If software has gained so much importance, then software architecture and software quality become critical factors. In its recent survey entitled “Global Embedded Software Market 2010-2014“ TechNavio points out this issue. Without availability of appropriate software test tools, the growth of embedded systems markets might be at risk. Especially, in safety-critical systems quality control is of high importance.

As Brian Hunt (COO of Parasoft) emphasizes in the article:

Somehow, your device is connected to something else. So (the developer) might need to know which devices it will connect to. He might need to know about the security of the device. There are a lot more concerns the developer has to worry about.

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Not Just Tools by Dave Rooney

Tools are good, but they're just tools. Developers also need to adopt a testing mindset in addition to using tools to assist them.

For that, I highly recommend that all embedded developers read James Grenning's "Test-Driven Development for Embedded C":

pragprog.com/book/jgade/test-driven-development...

Not only does it deal with the specifics of working in an embedded computing environment, it's just a damn good book about Test-Driven Development!

Dave Rooney
Westboro Systems

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