“Standardizing the Datasheet” Towards Auto-Code Generation Efficiency 2009-01-0270
Software programs in non-application areas such as Board Support Packages, Hardware Abstraction Layers, signal processing and data acquisition are more or less very standard and common across many applications. These form a major part of the “platform” software, which changes very little. However, it is seen that many a time, efforts are spent resolving issues in the hardware dependent layers rather than concentrating on the application at hand, despite the fact that the software controlling the hardware has been developed many times. There are many reasons why this section of the software is rewritten many times over: different coding standards, different software architecture and layering concepts, the dreadful cut-and-paste methods, and so on.
Introduction of a tool-based code configurator and generator eliminates access to the code and focuses on configuring a pre-written set of SW procedures. Advantages: Standardization, reuse and high levels of productivity. The levels of savings achieved by NOT concentrating on this aspect of the SW development process are huge. There are of course efforts required to develop the tool and the logic to generate these options, but they are minimal compared to the benefits in the productivity, reuse and performance areas.
From a customer-supplier perspective, this tool should ideally be supplied from a semiconductor manufacturer and/or their supplier or a Tier 2 software services provider. The availability of such a tool with selectable libraries of microcontrollers is a boon to software developers.
This brings up an interesting responsibility of a Semiconductor Manufacturer. Should datasheets and microcontroller specifications be developed in an industry approved format that is recognized and imported by an Auto-code generation tool? If this development process is taken up by the industry, semiconductor manufacturers would develop microcontroller silicon AND its specification in an XML (eXtended Markup Language) or LIB (library) form. The Autocode generation tool would recognize this and import the files based on formats, dictated and approved by the industry, and generate an Auto-code once the engineer has configured it to his/her requirements.