Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Embedded Software Risk Areas -- Implementation -- Part 2

Series Intro: this is one of a series of posts summarizing the different red flag areas I've encountered in more than a decade of doing design reviews of industry embedded system software projects. You can read more about the study here. If one of these bullets applies to your project, you should consider whether that presents undue risk to project success (whether it does or not depends upon your specific project and goals). The results of this study inspired the chapters in my book.

Here are some of the Implementation red flags (part 2 of 2):
  • Ignoring compiler warnings
Programs compile with ignored warnings and/or the compilers used do not have robust warning capability. A static analysis tool is not used to make up for poor compiler warning capabilities. The result can be that software defects which could have been caught by the compiler must be found via testing, or miss detection entirely. If assembly language is used extensively, it may contain the types of bugs that a good static analysis tool would have caught in a high level language.
  • Inadequate concurrency management
Mutexes or other appropriate concurrent data access approaches aren’t being used. This leads to potential race conditions and can result in tricky timing bugs.
  • Use of home-made RTOS
An in-house developed RTOS is being used instead of an off-the-shelf operating system. While the result is sometimes technically excellent, this approach commits the company to maintaining RTOS development skills as a core competency, which may not be the best strategic use of limited resources.

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