Excuse me flight attendant, does this Boeing 787 use 'on-chip debugging'?

Application testing company Coverity has teamed with embedded and mobile software player Wind River this week.

Now the problem here (allegedly, arguably etc.) is that embedded software application development can come across as a little dull at first, but stay with me — this is the sort of stuff that sits on the common core computer at the heart of the Boeing 787 OK?

Coverity’s branded ‘Static Analysis’ software will now be offered pre-configured for Wind River Workbench, supporting both Wind River Linux and Wind River’s VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS).

NOTE: Workbench is a collection of software development tools for ‘on-chip debugging’ via a set of IDE-based diagnostic capabilities.

Predictably, both companies have revelled in a well-rehearsed “we’re pleased to be partnering” PR street party with plenty of mutual backslapping and shared love.

Coverity’s main twist on this story was the need to bring development testing and security into the software application development cycle EARLY — as well as efficiently and without slowing down developers.

“Traditionally the security audit doesn’t happen until late in the cycle (after QA). This is not effective as the only method of security testing, as it’s too late in the cycle for development to address and isn’t actionable for development since this falls outside of their workflow. By Coverity and Wind River coming together, we are providing an out-of-the-box way for embedded software developers building their products and applications on the Wind River platform to find and fix defects as they are coding. Without Coverity, development teams leveraging Wind River would likely not start security testing until after development was complete,” said Rutul Dave of Coverity, speaking directly to the Computer Weekly Developer Network blog.


OK I promised to talk about how important these systems are in the real world.

Wind River’s Alex Wilson notes that embedded systems have been used extensively in aerospace and defence for years by virtue of their impressive SWaP factor.

SWAP – Size, Weight and Power.

“When it comes to avionics systems, aircraft have a range of devices, from the high end central control computers running multiple applications (such as the common core computer of the Boeing 787) down to remote sensors and actuators that run on 8- or 16-bit processors,” writes Wilson.

This so-called “common core” system is something that we DO arguably want tested EARLY on in the development lifecycle of course. GE Aviation Systems sells extensively in this market.

GE notes that it is a key supplier on the 787 Dreamliner providing aircraft systems from take-off to touch-down, the common core system and the landing gear system.

So — next time you work up some glib response about “not being that interested in embedded software” perhaps you’ll think again.

Just think — next time you board an aircraft you can ask the flight attendant the following question: “Hi there, I’m in 34B with the gluten free meal thanks, oh and does this aircraft’s common core system adhere to early lifecycle functional testing from an embedded specialist?”

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