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Posts Tagged ‘C++

As computers (and sensors) get smaller, smarter and connected, our everyday objects, from clothing to lavatories to cars, get more intelligent. By so doing embedded software is essential to the operation of today’s smart devices.
 

Embedded systems control many devices in common use today. Ninety-eight percent of all microprocessors are manufactured as components of embedded systems. Manufacturers ‘build in’ embedded software in the electronics of e.g. cars, telephones, modems, robots, appliances, toys, security systems, pacemakers, televisions and set-top boxes, and digital watches, for example.

Embedded systems are not always standalone devices. Many embedded systems consist of small parts within a larger device that serves a more general purpose.

 
Specifics of embedded development:

  • The development of embedded systems requires a good combination of industry knowledge, up-to-date technology expertise and excellent quality and project management skills.
  • Code is typically written in C or C++, but various high-level programming languages, such as Python, JavaScript and even the Go programming language, are now also in common use to target microcontrollers and embedded systems. However the complexity is not in the lines of code, most of the times, since embedded software is more focused towards controlling and managing the system (or hardware).
  • Programmers spend nearly all of their time using their embedded software development environment, which is an integrated collection of software development tools that manage the entire embedded software development process: analyzing, designing, documenting, writing, compiling, debugging, testing, optimizing, and verifying software. The choice of an embedded software development environment is the most important determinant of the productivity and effectiveness of programmers.
  • Today’s embedded systems development spans sensor, device, gateway, and cloud. This dramatically increases the complexity of development, troubleshooting, and fault isolation.
  • Unlike smartphones and personal computers, which sells in millions, most embedded products such as ECG machines, PoS machines, Laboratory and Test equipment, Ticket vending machines, etc. have low sales volume.
  • Furthermore, the product life of embedded devices ranges to 7+ years in contrast to the 15-18 months life for smartphones and to 4-6 years life for laptops. Due to this limited sales volume and long product life, custom or chip-based development of embedded devices adds significant overheads in terms of supply chain inefficiencies, platform obsolescence, non-optimal cost structure, and barriers to adopt latest technologies.

 
Embedded vs. application software development
 

Embedded software development

Application software development

Embedded software is physically part of a device, loaded by the manufacturer, and cannot be changed or removed by the user.

Application software is an optional program that the user chooses, installs and can remove.

It’s important to consider not only algorithm performance, but also the overall system robustness, reliability, and cost in the architecture and design. It’s closely associated with hardware manufacturing. You can’t write embedded software in your bedroom and unleash it on the world. Either you make a device yourself, or you work for someone who does.

Application software is similar and different. You can do it for yourself or for The Man, with the difference that no manufacturing is involved so there is much less capital outlay.

Embedded software however is often less visible, but no less complicated. Unlike application software, embedded software has fixed hardware requirements and capabilities, addition of third-party hardware or software is strictly controlled. To manage quality risk, as well as to meet tighter standards for software certification, embedded software engineers need to leverage software simulation tools and certified code generators.

Application software is usually less complex than embedded devices. It has more flexible requirements and solutions.

Embedded systems often reside in machines that are expected to run continuously for years without errors and in some cases recover by themselves if an error occurs. Unreliable mechanical moving parts such as disk drives, switches or buttons are avoided.

Therefore the application software for personal computers is usually developed and tested less scrupulously.

Embedded software may use no operating system, or when they do use, a wide variety of operating systems can be chosen from, typically a real-time operating system. This runs from small one-person operations consisting of a run loop and a timer, to LynxOS, VxWorks, BeRTOS, ThreadX, to Windows CE or Linux (with patched kernel).

Standard computers generally use operating systems such as OS X, Windows or GNU/Linux.

 

Hot trends for Embedded s/w development: Big Data, Internet of Things, Connected Cars and Homes

The amount of data that’s being created and stored on a global level is almost inconceivable, and it just keeps growing, yet only a small percentage of data is actually analyzed.

The importance of BD doesn’t revolve around how much data you have, but what you do with it. You can take data from any source and analyze it to find answers that enable cost and time reductions, new product development and optimized offerings, and smart decision making. When you combine big data with high-powered analytics, you can accomplish business-related tasks such as:

  • Determining root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time.
  • Generating coupons at the point of sale based on the customer’s buying habits.
  • Recalculating entire risk portfolios in minutes.
  • Detecting fraudulent behavior before it affects your organization.

Big data affects organizations across practically every industry, from Banking, Education and Government to Health Care and Retail industry, etc.

The Internet of Things is yet another ubiquitous word in the world of embedded technologies. The core of IoT is the availability of the application or thing and its data to be a connectable ecosystem.

– For example, the Connected Home also known as the Smart Home, uses modern automation systems to provide a practical way of controlling electronic devices in the home. Connected Homes technology can include but is not limited to the scheduling and automatic operation of heating, security systems and lighting. This advanced technology allows these vital home functions to be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world using an internet connected device.

– The race to build the fully Connected Car, and ultimately the completely Autonomous vehicle, is also under way. Drivers around the world are getting used to the increasing amount of digital technology in their cars. Many of the normal features of the car such as monitors of performance data like speed, fuel efficiency, and gas tank levels; heating and air conditioning; and the audio system — all have been digitized in hopes of providing the driver with easier operation and better information. And the car, including smartphones and other devices carried onboard by drivers and passengers now reaches out to the surrounding world for music streamed from the cloud, real-time traffic information, and personalized roadside assistance. Recent innovations allow automobiles to monitor and adjust their position on the highway, alerting drivers if they are drifting out of their lane, and slowing down if they get too close to the car in front of them.

Naturally, smart homes, smart cars, and other connected products won’t just be aimed at home and private life. They’ll also have a major impact on business.

 
Conclusion

We’re just beginning to imagine the possibilities of embedded systems. Innovations in sensors, big data, and machine learning now make it possible for engineering teams to develop smarter and more autonomous systems that have the potential to dramatically improve designs and create new categories of products and services previously unimaginable.

Embedded software engineers develop embedded hardware and software solutions, custom-made for applications in various target markets. With capabilities that span the complete system and software lifecycle, Altabel Group is placed to manage entire projects from start to finish, working closely with customers to understand their needs and deliver excellent results. For more information on our work in the industry, please click here.

Thank you! And you’re always welcome with your questions.

 

Victoria Sazonchik

Victoria Sazonchik

Business Development Manager

E-mail: victoria.sazonchik@altabel.com
Skype: victoria_sazonchik
LI Profile: Victoria Sazonchik

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

cog

If you are a techie person, you, of course, know the tradition to write a little program to print the text “Hello, world!” to the screen when learning a new language. So today I would like to say “Hello, Rust!” to relatively new system programming language that runs blazingly fast, prevents segmentation faults, and guarantees thread safety.

Rust gives many of the same benefits as traditional systems languages while being highly reliable, more approachable, safer and often more productive.

Although Rust development is sponsored by Mozilla, it is an open community project that strives to be a warm, welcoming and inclusive network of people, who act together to build something awesome. Today, Rust has a worldwide audience with its users in Europe, Japan and Australia. And what is more, Rust jumped to the first place in Stack Overflow annual survey for being Most Loved Programming Language of 2016.

Now we’ll go a little bit deeper into Rust and find out why this programming language grows in popularity and stays focused on three main goals: safety, speed and concurrency.

History

Mozilla employee Graydon Hoare started developing Rust as a personal project in 2006. In 2009 Mozilla began sponsoring the project. In 2010 Rust was officially announced on Mozilla Summit 2010. After several years of active development the first stable version (Rust 1.0) was released on May 15, 2015. Thereafter the release of new version is available every six weeks.

Nowadays we see more companies dealing with Rust. Each one has its own reason to do this.

  • Mozilla. The company has developed Rust code to replace the C++ code that currently handles complex media formats.
  • Dropbox. While much of Dropbox’s back-end infrastructure is historically written in Go, some key components were rewrote in Rust.

Aside from above mentioned tech giants, the other companies that use Rust in production are Skylight, Terminal and MaidSafe.

Peculiarities

Let’s review how Rust can solve the problems and what type of solutions best flow from it.

  • The goal of Rust is to be a safe language that means ‘doesn’t do anything unsafe’.
  • Rust lets us control the costs and guarantees of a program. Rust is a compiled language. Its compiler adheres to strict safety rules, thanks to which additional costs for code execution are missed. As a result of that it’s needed minimum time for implementation or in some cases this time isn’t required at all. So Rust can be used in a real time mode or as an add-in project.
  • There are only two kinds of statements in Rust: ‘declaration statements’ and ‘expression statements’ and everything else is an expression. So Rust is primarily an expression-based language.
  • It is also important to have a well-defined interface, so that some of your functionality is private, and some is public. To facilitate these kinds of things, Rust has a module system.
  • Like most programming languages, Rust encourages the programmer to handle errors in a particular way. That’s why return values are responsible for error handling here.
  • If you know C, C++ or even Java, you will become familiar with the language without any problems.
  • The Rust project uses a concept called ‘release channels’ to manage releases. It’s important to understand this process to choose which version of Rust (Nightly, Beta or Stable) your project should use. New ‘Nightly’ releases are created once a day. Every six weeks, the latest ‘Nightly’ release is promoted to ‘Beta’. Six weeks later, the ‘Beta’ is promoted to ‘Stable’, and becomes the next release of 1.x. Generally speaking, unless you have a specific reason, you should use the stable release channel. These releases are intended for a general audience.
  • Rust is a good solution for: middle and large-size developers team; long-term usage in production; a code with regular support and/or refactor; a great number of existed unit-tests.

Rust was developed with aim to work on various programming platforms. And now it operates on Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, Android, и iOS. Thanks to Rust wide functionality this language can be used for diverse tasks, such as:

  • front-end applications and interfaces;
  • device driver, games and signal handlers;
  • server-side applications;
  • real-time mode systems (e.g. operating system kernel);
  • embedded systems;
  • robotechnics;
  • web-frameworks;
  • large-scale, highly-productive, resource-intensive and complex software systems.

What’s the difference between Rust programming language and the other ones?

1) Rust is a safe alternative to C++ to make systems programmers more productive, mission-critical software less prone to memory exploits, and parallel algorithms more tractable.
2) The syntax of Rust is similar to C and C++. But despite the syntactic similarity, Rust is semantically very different from C and C++.
3) Rust object orientation isn’t as obvious and advanced as in Java, C#, and Python. Since Rust has no classes.
4) Rust’s more sophisticated than Go. In comparison with Go, Rust gives you larger control over memory and resources. This equates to writing code on a lower level.
5) Swift and Rust are both considered as substitution of C, C++ and ObjectiveC. Swift developers spend more time to make the code readable adding majority of syntactic sugar into the language. While Rust is more distant, it deals with minimum things.

Let’s observe how the competition of mentioned above languages can improve technical picture in the future. And we hope it will do a power of good.

Minuses

It’s impossible to imagine any programming language without drawbacks. If it was so, we’d live in an ideal world. So, let’s back to reality and quickly determine the gaps in Rust.

  • Rust cannot prevent all kinds of software problems. Buggy code can and will be written in Rust. These things aren’t great, but they don’t qualify as unsafe specifically.
  • As a systems language, Rust operates at a low level. If you’re coming from a high-level language, there are some aspects of systems programming that you may not be familiar with.
  • It’s a pretty new language. So using it in development still brings the risk that Rust won’t survive for long and in a few years you need to rewrite it.
  • Considering the previous point, Rust tutorials are quite poor. But Rust’s still a comprehensive language. You can’t become familiar with it quickly and start writing professional code in just several weeks. It’s often needed to peruse RFC, blogs and even GitHub comments to find out necessary information. And still there is no dead certainty in it.
  • Rust isn’t as fast from the beginning as it is often told to be. You can write a fast code, but this still needs good optimization of your algorithms and program structure.
  • Rust compiler is rather strict. People call it a disciplinary language. Everything that isn’t obvious for Rust compiler you should specify on your own. Interestingly enough, when start coding with Rust you can be not aware of your intentions at all. So this learning barrier (altogether with the other ones) leads to the fact that the first Rust impression turns out to be frustrating.

Updates

And yet Rust itself hasn’t been standing still. So I’m pleased to mark an important milestone: with Firefox 48, Mozilla’s shipped its first Rust component to all desktop platforms in August, 2. Ralph Giles and Matthew Gregan implemented the component. For the Rust community as well, this is a real achievement: Rust code shipping to hundreds of millions of Firefox users. Seeing Rust code ships in production at Mozilla feels like the culmination of a long journey. But this is only the first step for Mozilla. For instance, Android support’s coming soon. And more to come! The latest ‘Stable’ version of Rust, 1.11 was announced in August 18, 2016.

There’s a lot more to say about what’s happened and what’s coming up in the Rust world. I however tried to dwell on the most essential and valuable details.

Now that you have Rust introduced, Altabel Group will help you start your first Rust project. And I personally would encourage you to play with this programming language. It’s a great time to get started, and increasingly, to get involved with something safe, speed and concurrent.

So are you ready to give Rust a try? We’d love to hear your comments!

 

Victoria Sazonchik

Victoria Sazonchik

Business Development Manager

E-mail: victoria.sazonchik@altabel.com
Skype: victoria_sazonchik
LI Profile: Victoria Sazonchik

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com


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