Posts Tagged ‘networking’

16 January, 2017

For many years, I would regularly be asked about networking options for embedded systems. Commonly, the query was about real time systems and how they might be connected straightforwardly. Most often, the question was “Can I use Ethernet?” This was an obvious enquiry, as Ethernet is a very well established standard. Also the hardware is widely available and competitively priced and it may be used as a vehicle for TCP/IP etc., which is familiar to many developers. The answer was never totally straightforward … Read the rest of this entry »

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22 June, 2015

I have another article published over at This time I am looking at an interesting adaptation of technology, where investment in one context is yielding benefits in another. It can be a significant overhead adding a user interface to a deeply embedded system, but there is an interesting option which is worth investigating … Read the rest of this entry »

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15 June, 2015

Computers have had operating systems almost since the beginning – 60 years or so anyway. Embedded systems are a bit newer, of course, and it was the early 1980s when the first OS products appeared. Naturally, they were real time operating systems [RTOSes], as this matched the needs of the systems being built, as it often does today. The first commercially available RTOS was [probably] VRTX [pronounced “vertex”], which was developed by a company called Hunter & Ready, which became Ready Systems. They were acquired by Microtec Research, where I was working at the time. We got acquired by Mentor Graphics, where I still am today. VRTX was mothballed a few years ago and we moved on to selling the Nucleus RTOS after the acquisition of Accelerated Technology.

The RTOS market has always been interesting, with lots of options. There are around 200 products on the market, but still there are more companies trying to get in on the act … Read the rest of this entry »

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6 April, 2015

I am a strong advocate for not “reinventing the wheel”. Doing something from scratch, unless you really have a novel approach that will yield some improvement over what has been done before, is rarely sensible outside of an educational context.

But sometimes it can be useful to understand some of the underlying principles of something that you plan to utilize … Read the rest of this entry »

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28 October, 2014

When I made the very first posting  to this blog, more than five years ago, I made the observation that the world of embedded software is very fashion conscious. I certainly do not mean that embedded software developers are renowned for their dress sense! I am talking about the way that a particular technology is really “hot” at any one time … Read the rest of this entry »

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30 April, 2012

I was having some trouble with my Internet connection recently. I will probably never know exactly what was wrong [as ADSL is, for intents and purposes, magic], but investigating the problem was interesting. I am not a networking specialist, so I would expect that messing with the settings inside a router would be hard, but the manufacturers have made it very simple.

I began to wonder why there are not many devices that work in the same way … Read the rest of this entry »

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13 February, 2012

For quite a few years, the need to update the primary protocol used by the Internet – the Internet Protocol or IP – has been apparent and has been becoming increasingly urgent. There are a number of reasons why a protocol designed in the 1970s is inadequate for the 21st Century, but addressing capacity is the really urgent issue. I think it’s amazing that IPv4 [I have no idea what happened to versions 1 to 3] has lasted so long.

But IPv6 is going to fix everything … Read the rest of this entry »

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29 August, 2011

I am not a networking specialist. If you are an expert in this area, this posting will be teaching a grandmother to suck eggs [strange expression – I wonder what it actually means]. Obviously, over years of working with embedded systems, I have learned quite a lot about protocols, so learning about a new one is not starting from scratch. For many, networking begins and ends with TCP/IP. However, there are lots of other Internet protocols – FTP, UDP and HTTP, for example. There are also other kinds of connectivity that may or may not be thought of as networking – WiFi, Bluetooth and USB, for example.

It was while studying the operation of the last of these, USB, that I came across a technique that was familiar in form, but unfamiliar in application: bit stuffing … Read the rest of this entry »

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18 April, 2011

I was recently approached for help by a Mentor Graphics customer, who was planning a new project and needed to select an operating system. They wanted guidance with that choice. Of course, one is tempted to say that it does not matter which of our products they chose [as, between them, Nucleus RTOS and Mentor Embedded Linux do cover most possibilities], but I felt they needed something more objective.

There is actually a huge choice. Given that it is decided to purchase an OS, instead of developing something in-house [an expensive option which rarely makes sense], there is the choice between the “heavyweight” OSes, like Windows CE and various flavors of Linux, and around 200 other, mostly real time [RTOS], products. What the customer was after was a simple decision driven process, like a flowchart … Read the rest of this entry »

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14 February, 2011

Multicore is a hot topic at the moment. The subject crops up in numerous articles and I have written about it before. Surveys suggest that, before long, more than half of embedded designs will be implemented using multiple CPUs.

There are broadly two hardware architectures: homogeneous multicore, where there are numerous identical cores, and heterogeneous multicore, where the cores differ in architecture. Then, as I have described in a previous post, there are generally two software architectures: SMP [Symmetrical Multi-Processing], where a single operating system instance executes across a number of cores, and AMP [Asymmetrical Multi-Processing], where each core runs its own operating system instance [each of which may be different]. But I recently learned that this is not the whole story … Read the rest of this entry »

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19 July, 2010

I have always for medical electronics interesting and I have blogged about it from time to time [here and here, for example]. Part of the reason for my interest stems from an occasional feeling that so much of the electronics around me is ultimately pointless. Many Mentor Embedded customers are making consumer devices, cell phones and other gadgets. Do we really need all of these? Aren’t they really just toys – harmless toys, but toys nevertheless? [Except for my iPad, of course, which is a positive influence on my productivity and overall wellbeing.] Worse still, some customers are actually making weapons and they are not harmless at all!

However, we have many customers who make medical devices. I only have to look at a medical instrument and I have a warm feeling inside that maybe electronics can do some real good. The other aspect of medical instrumentation, that I find intriguing, is the extent to which its implementation clearly tracks the latest trends in embedded system development … Read the rest of this entry »

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24 May, 2010

In the early days of PCs, the software was very fragile – from a security point of view. Virus software could easily infiltrate a system and it was common practice to be very careful with the use of media from non-trusted sources. Then, everyone started to be connected to the Internet and the problem became orders of magnitude worse and we all have a justifiable paranoia about the security of our online lives. Now it seems that cars are going the same way … Read the rest of this entry »

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25 January, 2010

There are two aspects of any product that give me great pleasure: good design and quality of manufacture. This applies to just about anything: a pair of shoes, a car, a house , a piece of software … Assessing both these parameters can be hard. A pair of shoes must look good, be comfortable to wear and last well; this takes time to evaluate. A car needs to be enjoyable to ride in, drive well and offer long term reliability and economy; again, not something to be measured quickly. A house can be even more difficult, as you need to live in it through a full year of seasons at least and, even then, you may still be evolving the way that you use the space, which will establish how good the original design was.

In many ways, software can be the most difficult product of all to assess, as programs represent the most complex “machines” mankind has ever produced … Read the rest of this entry »

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20 May, 2009

I will be straight with you. I am not a networking specialist. I look at the long list of protocols that we support with Nucleus OS and I recognize a large proportion of them. I probably know what they are used for and may even know what the arcane abbreviations and acronyms stand for. But I have little clue about their inner workings. That is fine. Nobody can be an expert in everything and I have colleagues in Mentor Graphics who know this stuff inside out. A lot of the time it is more useful and important to know who can answer a question than it is to know all the answers oneself.

Read the rest of this entry »

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