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Title:Embedded System Design on a shoestring:

Achieving High performance with a limited budget


Review Date, July 2003
Author: Lewin A. R. W. Edwards
Pub: Newnes
ISBN: 0-7506-7609-4
Cover: soft
Keywords: embedded, Linux, arm
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations.
Source: - Publisher

The title is a little miss leading it is not a general embedded book. It is specifically on the ARM7 using Linux & Gnu. To use this book you will also the Atmel AT91EB40 evaluation board. Actually this book will probably end up being supplied with the Atmel kit (this was a “probable” in August 2003) so check with your Atmel supplier before buying the book. That said the first two chapters, about a third of the book, are very good advice for all embedded developers. After that it goes in to Cygwin and the Gnu tool chain for the middle third of the book, which restricts it’s usefulness a little and the final third of the book is debugging on the Arm7 AT91EB40 board. My resident ARM engineer said it was not bad as an introduction to the GNU tool chain.


It is a relatively short book: I have longer texts on my web site (but not on this subject). Initially, I was not taken by the book when I first looked through it as much of the information is in the GNU tool chain manuals and other freely available places but then again so is almost everything else if you look for it. However as a guide to a first time user of Gnu tit will be useful. I warmed to the book more when I read the first two chapters as these have a lot of useful information for the student (and indeed new working engineers) on how to make decisions in industry. This is not the same as the theoretical choice you might make in academia. There are some very useful tips pm some pitfalls that could kill a project. Actually there are some useful insights through out the book.


The author bought all the equipment personally without telling the suppliers it was for a book. Thus he knows the real costs and the level of support available to the average user. If the author could add more meat to the book and some more advanced topics it would be a good book. That is not to say there are not some useful things in it now, writing to a port to flash an LED for one. That is always one of the first problem areas to be encountered after you get the compiler to actually compile something and get it down on to the board and run. One of the nice points is that there are instructions on running the program from RAM and then from ROM. This requires different linker instructions because data has to be placed differently..


From the comments in the book the author certainly understands the industry and has clearly done the work for real. Also whilst this book, written in the US is, like most, US centric the author, an Australian, has made the book as accessible to others and not assumed that we all know what Marshal’s is. I like the style and way the book is written. As a plus point the full text is on the CD as a pdf. This is a very good idea and a brave decision by the publishers.


As an to the Atmel kit it would be perfect as a stand alone book I am not sure. So on the whole, sadly, only recommended for Atmel EB40 users. Note to author: please do an expanded second edition!