How-to: Embedded Software Testing

Each product needs to pass a series of specific tests before it hits the market, to ensure its readiness and top quality. The constant testing process during production is essential for every level and every part of the end system. Today, we’ll explore what tests are necessary for embedded software.

A Few Words About Embedded Software

Before we jump into the importance of testing and its variants, it is essential to understand what embedded software is, especially if you’re only at the beginning of your firmware journey.

Embedded software is a type of computer software used to control embedded systems. Embedded systems are simply devices that aren’t usually associated with a typical computer but still need to be programmed to work and deliver specific functionalities. They require dedicated components, and their operation is connected with the hardware.

Embedded software is commonly used in cars, airplanes, home appliances, security systems, smartwatches, and a variety of other day-to-day equipment. Interestingly, the end-user often doesn’t have a clue that the embedded system makes the device run.

Why is Testing Important?

Embedded testing is a critical process aimed at finding potential errors in functional and non-functional aspects of software and hardware, which eventually leads to ensuring a defect-free final product compliant with the client’s requirements. The purpose of software testing in particular is to verify its quality and guarantee security. This is crucial, particularly in the case of applications designed for industries such as aviation, banking and medical equipment.

Levels of Embedded Software Testing

In principle, there are a few levels of testing that should be applied to embedded software. These are:

  • Software unit testing checks if software separate units (such as functions, procedures and methods) perform as they should. It is usually performed in a peer-review model by an experienced developer.
  • Integration testing verifies the interaction between different software components, as well as the interaction between the hardware domain and software components. It reduces risks and prevents errors or defects from entering the next testing levels.
  • System testing inspects whether the created system is compliant with given requirements and builds up the trust put into the system quality as a whole, for example, verifying the quality of the data or results.
  • Acceptance testing is the final stage of embedded software testing. As a process, it resembles system testing a lot. However, it validates whether the whole product or system complies with the client’s or user’s requirements. Additionally, compliance with laws, standards and norms is verified. During this level, there shouldn’t be any more errors as they may jeopardize the whole project.

During each level of testing, possible defects are found and resolved to improve the software quality. Early testing is essential, because the sooner any issues are discovered, the easier and cheaper it is to overcome them.

Now You Know Where to Start

Knowing the essence of embedded software and the fundamental levels of its testing, you’re now equipped with a solid base to expand your knowledge. However, you need to keep in mind that there are a few potential challenges on the way, such as:

  • Unavailability of a specific hardware platform, which leads to the necessity of using software simulators and hardware emulators
  • Stability and reliability of the test environment
  • Complex and demanding reproduction of bugs and defects
  • Test automation frequently requires using stubs and test rigs and also additional tools
  • Interoperability testing
  • Open source software components that require special attention especially during the integration work
  • Strict certification criteria for various industries.

If you need any assistance in testing your products, or you’d like to discover a variety of software and hardware services solutions offered by Comarch, visit our website or contact us using the dedicated form.