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Memfault Beyond the Launch

You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 1)

Nathan Jones April 11, 2024

In this first article, we'll compare our two contenders, the superloop and the RTOS. We'll define a few terms that help us describe exactly what functions a scheduler does and why an RTOS can help make certain systems work that wouldn't with a superloop. By the end of this article, you'll be able to: - Measure or calculate the deadlines, periods, and worst-case execution times for each task in your system, - Determine, using either a response-time analysis or a utilization test, if that set of tasks is schedulable using either a superloop or an RTOS, and - Assign RTOS task priorities optimally.


Are We Shooting Ourselves in the Foot with Stack Overflow?

Miro Samek September 8, 20234 comments

Most traditional, beaten-path memory layouts allocate the stack space above the data sections in RAM, even though the stack grows “down” (towards the lower memory addresses) in most embedded processors. This arrangement puts your program data in the path of destruction of a stack overflow. In other words, you violate the first Gun Safety Rule (ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction!) and you end up shooting yourself in the foot. This article shows how to locate the stack at the BEGINNING of RAM and thus point it in the "safe" direction.


Watchdog Timer Anti-patterns

Alexandru Lazar June 8, 2019

The humble watchdog timer has been an essential part of our reliability tool chest for decades now. The way it works is straightforward and easy to understand, and most practical designs are easy to interface with.

There is a wealth of reference material that covers both the theory behind watchdog timers and practical design tips. But what we'll talk about today is of a slightly different nature.

Despite its straightforward operation and long history, the watchdog timer does occasionally get...


Is it a Bug or an Error?

Michael Barr January 31, 20184 comments

Probably you’ve heard the story of how Adm. Grace Hopper attached a moth that was dislodged from a relay in the Harvard Mark II mainframe to an engineering notebook and labeled it the “First actual case of bug being found.”

Designers of electronics, including Thomas Edison, had been using the term bug for decades. But it was mostly after this amusing 1947 event hat the use of words like “bugs” and “debugging” took off in the emerging software realm.

So why is it that if a...


The three laws of safe embedded systems

Michael J. Pont November 12, 20151 comment

This short article is part of an ongoing series in which I aim to explore some techniques that may be useful for developers and organisations that are beginning their first safety-related embedded project.


Developing software for a safety-related embedded system for the first time

Michael J. Pont October 31, 20151 comment

I spend most of my working life with organisations that develop software for high-reliability, real-time embedded systems. Some of these systems are created in compliance with IEC 61508, ISO 26262, DO-178C or similar international standards.

When working with organisations that are developing software for their first safety-related design, I’m often asked to identify the key issues that distinguish this process from the techniques used to develop “ordinary” embedded software.

...

How to test a Tesla?

Michael J. Pont October 23, 20151 comment

In a previous article, I commented on the fact that Tesla cars with an "autopilot" system are about to be introduced on roads in the UK (and other places).

In the previous article I noted that Nick Reed from the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory is quoted in "The Times" newspaper (2015-10-16) as saying: “It would be legal for a driver to use Tesla’s autopilot mode in the UK, as it’s an advanced version of existing driver assistance systems”.

The


“Smarter” cars, unintended acceleration – and unintended consequences

Michael J. Pont October 20, 2015

In this article, I consider some recent press reports relating to embedded software in the automotive sector.

In The Times newspaper (London, 2015-10-16) the imminent arrival of Tesla cars that “use autopilot technology to park themselves and change lane without intervention from the driver” was noted.

By most definitions, the Tesla design incorporates what is sometimes called “Artificial Intelligence” (AI).Others might label it a “Smart” (or at least “Smarter”)...


Watchdog Timer Anti-patterns

Alexandru Lazar June 8, 2019

The humble watchdog timer has been an essential part of our reliability tool chest for decades now. The way it works is straightforward and easy to understand, and most practical designs are easy to interface with.

There is a wealth of reference material that covers both the theory behind watchdog timers and practical design tips. But what we'll talk about today is of a slightly different nature.

Despite its straightforward operation and long history, the watchdog timer does occasionally get...


Developing software for a safety-related embedded system for the first time

Michael J. Pont October 31, 20151 comment

I spend most of my working life with organisations that develop software for high-reliability, real-time embedded systems. Some of these systems are created in compliance with IEC 61508, ISO 26262, DO-178C or similar international standards.

When working with organisations that are developing software for their first safety-related design, I’m often asked to identify the key issues that distinguish this process from the techniques used to develop “ordinary” embedded software.

...

Are We Shooting Ourselves in the Foot with Stack Overflow?

Miro Samek September 8, 20234 comments

Most traditional, beaten-path memory layouts allocate the stack space above the data sections in RAM, even though the stack grows “down” (towards the lower memory addresses) in most embedded processors. This arrangement puts your program data in the path of destruction of a stack overflow. In other words, you violate the first Gun Safety Rule (ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction!) and you end up shooting yourself in the foot. This article shows how to locate the stack at the BEGINNING of RAM and thus point it in the "safe" direction.


The three laws of safe embedded systems

Michael J. Pont November 12, 20151 comment

This short article is part of an ongoing series in which I aim to explore some techniques that may be useful for developers and organisations that are beginning their first safety-related embedded project.


Is it a Bug or an Error?

Michael Barr January 31, 20184 comments

Probably you’ve heard the story of how Adm. Grace Hopper attached a moth that was dislodged from a relay in the Harvard Mark II mainframe to an engineering notebook and labeled it the “First actual case of bug being found.”

Designers of electronics, including Thomas Edison, had been using the term bug for decades. But it was mostly after this amusing 1947 event hat the use of words like “bugs” and “debugging” took off in the emerging software realm.

So why is it that if a...


“Smarter” cars, unintended acceleration – and unintended consequences

Michael J. Pont October 20, 2015

In this article, I consider some recent press reports relating to embedded software in the automotive sector.

In The Times newspaper (London, 2015-10-16) the imminent arrival of Tesla cars that “use autopilot technology to park themselves and change lane without intervention from the driver” was noted.

By most definitions, the Tesla design incorporates what is sometimes called “Artificial Intelligence” (AI).Others might label it a “Smart” (or at least “Smarter”)...


How to test a Tesla?

Michael J. Pont October 23, 20151 comment

In a previous article, I commented on the fact that Tesla cars with an "autopilot" system are about to be introduced on roads in the UK (and other places).

In the previous article I noted that Nick Reed from the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory is quoted in "The Times" newspaper (2015-10-16) as saying: “It would be legal for a driver to use Tesla’s autopilot mode in the UK, as it’s an advanced version of existing driver assistance systems”.

The


You Don't Need an RTOS (Part 1)

Nathan Jones April 11, 2024

In this first article, we'll compare our two contenders, the superloop and the RTOS. We'll define a few terms that help us describe exactly what functions a scheduler does and why an RTOS can help make certain systems work that wouldn't with a superloop. By the end of this article, you'll be able to: - Measure or calculate the deadlines, periods, and worst-case execution times for each task in your system, - Determine, using either a response-time analysis or a utilization test, if that set of tasks is schedulable using either a superloop or an RTOS, and - Assign RTOS task priorities optimally.


Memfault Beyond the Launch