As for other software, embedded system designers use compilers, assemblers, and debuggers to develop embedded system software. However, they may also use some more specific tools:

• In circuit debuggers or emulators (see next section).

• Utilities to add a checksum or CRC to a program, so the embedded system can check if the program is valid.

• For systems using digital signal processing, developers may use a math workbench such as Scilab / Scicos, MATLAB / Simulink, EICASLAB, MathCad, or Mathematica to simulate the mathematics. They might also use libraries for both the host and target which eliminates developing DSP routines as done in DSPnano RTOS and Unison Operating System.

• Custom compilers and linkers may be used to improve optimisation for the particular hardware.

• An embedded system may have its own special language or design tool, or add enhancements to an existing language such as Forth or Basic.

• Another alternative is to add a Real-time operating system or Embedded operating system, which may have DSP capabilities like DSPnano RTOS.

Software tools can come from several sources:

• Software companies that specialize in the embedded market

• Ported from the GNU software development tools

• Sometimes, development tools for a personal computer can be used if the embedded processor is a close relative to a common PC processor

As the complexity of embedded systems grows, higher level tools and operating systems are migrating into machinery where it makes sense. For example, cellphones, personal digital assistants and other consumer computers often need significant software that is purchased or provided by a person other than the manufacturer of the electronics. In these systems, an open programming environment such as Linux, NetBSD, OSGi or Embedded Java is required so that the third-party software provider can sell to a large market.

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