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Most electronic boards nowadays are using factory programmable chips. It simplifies the electronic engineering effort and allows to reduce the cycle of redesigning Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) and thus reducing development time, effort and costs. Such software which is programmed into electronic components is called Firmware. Firmware Engineering is a meta discipline which requires adequate knowledge in Software and Electronic Engineering. We develop Firmware for all kinds of scenarios and electronic components. Typical electronic components are:

  • Microcontrollers are small microprocessors, which are intended as programmable general purpose control units of electronic circuits. They are usually produced as a single chip, which already encapsulates typical computer components like CPU, RAM and I/O interfaces. Even though they run with much lower clock rates than famous PC and Mac processors, they are able to react on events and process them much faster than a big computer system could do, since microcontrollers are not running an Operating System and are much more dedicated to small tasks on an electronic board. You can find them in almost any electronic product nowadays, even in toasters and the most simple coffee machine. Since microcontrollers are produced in much larger quantities than other microprocessors of i.e. PCs, microcontrollers are quite inexpensive electronic components, available on the market starting from few cents.
  • DSPs or Digital Signal Processors are microprocessors specialized for very fast processing of digital signals. Whereas microcontrollers are usually utilized for simple controlling tasks, which usually only requires a small amount of computational power, DSPs are rather used for applications where more complex mathematical algorithms have to be applied to incoming digital data streams. They are especially used in cases where signals have to be processed in a very limited range of time, thus in time-critical low latency scenarios.
  • Configurable ASICs: Besides such general purpose components listed above, there are numerous application specific ICs on the market, which allow to be configured for various scenarios by programming an EEPROM component appropriately, i.e. ICs for PCI cards, which can be configured for the exact purpose of the card.

Related topic:
» IC Design
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