Embedded systems combine both software and hardware and are designed to perform specific tasks. These systems follow certain ways of working, performing, and organizing tasks and are characterized by accuracy, reliability, size, adaptability, and power. Debugging of such systems is as crucial as its designing.
FREMONT, CA: Debugging is defined as the methodical procedure to identify and bring down the presence of bugs within a computer program or an electronic hardware piece, so as to ensure the program or the hardware continues to function as expected. In case of tightly coupled subsystems, a minor change in one of the systems can impact the other systems in line. Consequently, it is difficult to debug embedded systems. A multitude of debugging tools is utilized considering their debugging features and development time.
Embedded systems have become more than prominent in today’s tech world. The embedded systems are quite challenging to design. Every task associated with these systems is unique, with varying requirements and constraints. Debugging of embedded systems is another crucial task and requires a logically designed approach. Embedded systems are tougher to debug, even more than the desktop systems. Embedded systems are becoming tougher, and the advantages are many. However, the primary disadvantage is the debugging and its complexity.
Debugging assumes as much importance in embedded design as that of their designing. The level of difficulty associated with an embedded debugging is usually high. Many times, such processes are not entirely successful, and often fail to tackle the underlying issue and end up merely covering the issue at the surface. Let’s take a look at a convincingly logical approach towards embedded systems debugging.
Devising a Logical Approach into Embedded Debugging
The first task is to identify and reproduce the issue correctly. At times, issues appear locally, and it is a simple task to reproduce it without difficulties. However, this fails to be the case always. At times, the issues are at a customer site or a remote location. This produces a totally different scenario wherein a reliance on available logs arises to comprehend the setup to reproduce the issue. Such an understanding of the issue turns critical here as without it, there are chances of the issue recurring in the imminent or later future. This concern has become evident in many of the embedded debugging cases. What is implied through the recurrence of such an issue is that the right solution was not arrived upon.
Now that the issue is correctly reproduced the next step is to cut down the whole issue into a multitude of fragments. This is the critical step, and it requires a thorough understanding of the entire data flow. The first task is to cut down the data flow at the interface of the firmware layer and application layer, and also at the hardware layer with firmware layer. By employing such an approach, it is possible to review each and every layer, which can, in turn, be tested independently, to check for any issue. The cutting down of data can continue further into many more sub-levels, which will be based on logical thinking and approach.
When these two tasks are completed, the whole data path would have broken down into highly logical blocks for every layer. It is now vital to separately test each block for validating them in different ways. This would be highly helpful in identifying the root cause of the prevailing issue. At times, only a single layer might have to be changed. However, in many cases, several layers might need to be altered. Following this, it would be critical to properly find out the requisite changes to fix them accordingly.
Testing is another important aspect regarding problem-solving, and it is necessary for the issue to be fixed perfectly and in a way that they never arise twice. Consequently, negative testing becomes vital along with the usual testing to fix the underlying issue. Negative testing is carried out to make sure that the issue has been forced into this system and is validated according to the designed solution.