Browse Prior Art Database

FIRMWARE Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131303D
Original Publication Date: 1978-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Bruce D. Shriver: AUTHOR [+3]


University of Southwestern I,ouisiana

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Bruce D. Shriver

University of Southwestern I,ouisiana

The term "software engineering" was first introduced nearly 10 years ago, at a NATO-sponsored conference held in October, 1968, in Garmish, Germany.' Since that time, a variety of tools to assist in the specification, production, and management of reliable software have been proposed.2 Although we are yet far from the visionary's goal of automatic generation of maintainable code, we are making progress.

At least one of the reasons for this progress is clear: Vast amounts of resources have been spent by government as well as industry, both here and abroad, to develop software engineering tools and techniques. The record of many of these efforts, contained in thousands of pages of tech nical journals and conference proceedings, reflects a long- standing tradition of shared experiences in the problems of software development: From the earliest days of computing, professionals have regularly and freely exchanged their views and insights; even manufacturers and their customers have joined forces in cooperative efforts to debug large, complex software systems.

Firmware, however, has not enjoyed so happy a tradition. Manufacturers are migrating more and more of the user- visible primitives of their systems down into microcode. As a result. both the firmware and the support and development tools which are a part of the microcode production and maintenance process, now typically regarded as proprietary, rarely appear in the public literature.

And yet, in a great many respects micropro" Cramming is not different from classical programming and could profit from the software engineering techniques developed over the past decade. This issue of Computer explores that thesis.

The first paper, by Davidson and Shriver, gives an overview of current firmware engineering practices during microcode design, specification, construction. verification, testing, debugging, and maintenance. It also poses several open questions related to the code production process. Theesecond paper, by Stockenberg and van Dam, develops a method for analyzing the migration of primitives in multilevel interpretive computing systems. A very interesting aspect of this work is the performance prediction aspects of the analysis.

Many early workers in microprogramming...