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Embedded System Design

December 10, 2008

Book: Embedded System Design – A Unified Hardware / Software Introduction 

Authors: Frank Vahid, Tony Givargis

Publication: John Wiley and Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, Singapore, 2002

ISBN 9971-51-405-2

Pages: 324.

 

[Reviewed by Prachi  A. Deshmukh] 

 

Once, there was a conversation going on between three ladies. They were discussing on something very seriously. Each of them was telling her own experience and others were listening to the speaker very carefully. They were neither discussing about some TV serial, nor about the latest fashions. Their topic was regarding cooking. (But they were not discussing culinary recipes!). The three ladies were from three different generations – the first an 80 years old Granny, the second her 56 years old mother and the third the 28 years old daughter. They were discussing how the kitchen has been changed. Conclusion of their discussion was that, now cooking is a task of few minutes. Mixer, food processor, microwave oven, dishwasher etc. are there waiting for your orders!

 

Not only in kitchen, but everywhere one can see things are becoming easier and simpler. Those who are born after 1980s can experience the changes happening around themselves. Now there is no need to make your hands panic by washing the clothes. Washing machine will do it for you!

 

Do you want to listen to music of your choice? An MP3 player can store thousands of songs of your choice. If you want to convert your beautiful moments into sweet memories, then digital camera is there for your help.

 

Are you planning to go for shopping? No need to carry money with you. Credit card will maintain your account.

 

All these examples look unrelated to each others, but there is some relation in them. ATM, barcode scanner, cell-phone, digital camera, fax machine, home alarm system all are totally different from each others but they do have one thing common in them. All of them are embedded systems. Now the question arises ’What does an embedded system actually mean?’

 

In simple words, Embedded System is a computing system which does a specifically focused job. It’s nearly any computing system other than a desktop computer. We can not be unaware of it because embedded systems are part of our day to day life. We find them almost everywhere.

 

That’s why one must study about embedded systems, especially if you are aspiring to be an Electronics, Communications, Computer Engineer or IT Professional. For those who really want to know about embedded systems, a good book to start off with is ‘Embedded System Design- A Unified Hardware/ software Introduction ’ by Frank Vahid and Tony Givargis.

 

The book is actually an introductory book which makes us familiar with the basics of embedded systems, the hardware for them, the software, peripherals, memory and interfacing. This book is also helpful for those students who are going to take more specialized courses. To understand this book one needs the basic knowledge of electronics, flowcharts and algorithms.

 

The book shows its usefulness and applications starting from the cover itself. The picture on the cover shows all the applications in our day-to-day life which we find in home as well as outside our homes. A simple picture tells us how important to study the embedded systems.

 

The content in the book is divided into 11 Chapters. The first chapter introduces us with the basics of embedded systems. We become familiar with the Optimizing Design Metrics, processor technology, IC technology, design technology and trade offs.

 

In second chapter we learn about custom single purpose processors: Hardware. We learn about the combinational logic, sequential logic, custom single purpose processor design, RT level custom single purpose processor Design and the optimizing custom single purpose processors. If the reader knows about the transistors, logic gates and flowcharts then it will be easier to understand this chapter.

 

In third chapter the authors introduce us with the General Purpose Processors: Software. Here we learn the basic architecture of the general purpose processor, its operation, developing environment, ASIPs, General Purpose processor Design and about the selection of a processor.  

 

In fourth chapter we study the Peripherals of standard Single-Purpose Processors like Timer, Counters, Watchdog Timers, UART, PWM, LCD controllers, Keypad controllers, Stepper motor controllers, ADC and RTC.

 

There are different types of memory like ROM, PROM, OTOROM, EPROM, EEPROM, FRAM, RAM, SRAMDRAM, PSRAM NVRAM etc. We learn different types of memories as well as cache memory and MMU in the fifth chapter.

 

In sixth chapter we study the different types of interfacings to the processors as well as arbitration, multiple Bus architectures and advanced communication principles. Here we come to know about the different types of protocols.

 

Digital camera is an important and interesting example of embedded systems. In seventh chapter this example is explained very briefly. Here we learn about the requirements as well as the design of an embedded system very detail. Chapter no 8 and 9 are about the state machine and concurrent process models as well as the control systems.

 

Chapter 10 introduces us with the IC technology. Here we learn about the VLSI IC technology, ASIC IC technology and PLD IC technology. This chapter teaches about the IC technologies briefly.

 

In last chapter of the book, chapter 11 we learn about the techniques like Automation, Verification, Reuse, Design Process Models. At the end of this chapter we find the book summary. It gives us summary of the entire book in few words.

 

In appendix A the website is given which includes important information regarding the embedded systems. Also included are chapter wise lab resources. As embedded system is combination of both- hardware and software, it is very important to perform the practical experiments to understand the concepts.

 

This book is not just a simple basic book but is adequate for a complete course in embedded systems. The authors have maintained a smooth flow throughout the book. The language is easy to understand. One special feature of this edition of the book is that it has been designed specially for the students in developing countries.

An ideal textbook, this book may prove even more useful to understand the importance of embedded systems if some more applications of embedded systems were illustrated. Maybe further editions can be made more attractive by adding the photographs of the examples of embedded systems.

 

The summary at the end of every chapter give the important part of each chapter in brief. The review questions are helpful to prepare for the subject. The References and further reading are useful for those interested in a more detailed study of the subject.

 

We feel that this book may be extremely useful for students, engineers, technologists and professionals interested in the fascinating field of Embedded Systems. 

 

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