Software & Firmware Engineering
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Software engineering is the application of engineering to the development of software in a systematic method.
Notable definitions of software engineering include:
“the systematic application of scientific and technological knowledge, methods, and experience to the design, implementation, testing, and documentation of software”—The Bureau of Labor Statistics—IEEE Systems and software engineering – Vocabulary
“The application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software”—IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology
“an engineering discipline that is concerned with all aspects of software production”—Ian Sommerville
“the establishment and use of sound engineering principles in order to economically obtain software that is reliable and works efficiently on real machines”—Fritz Bauer
The term has also been used less formally:
as the informal contemporary term for the broad range of activities that were formerly called computer programming and systems analysis;
as the broad term for all aspects of the practice of computer programming, as opposed to the theory of computer programming, which is formally studied as a sub-discipline of computer science;
as the term embodying the advocacy of a specific approach to computer programming, one that urges that it be treated as an engineering discipline rather than an art or a craft, and advocates the codification of recommended practices
In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for the device’s specific hardware. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for the device’s more complex software (allowing more hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device’s complete operating system, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, computer peripherals, and others. Almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.
Firmware is held in non-volatile memory devices such as ROM, EPROM, or flash memory. Changing the firmware of a device may rarely or never be done during its lifetime; some firmware memory devices are permanently installed and cannot be changed after manufacture. Common reasons for updating firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device. This may require ROM integrated circuits to be physically replaced, or flash memory to be reprogrammed through a special procedure. Firmware such as the ROM BIOS of a personal computer may contain only elementary basic functions of a device and may only provide services to higher-level software. Firmware such as the program of an embedded system may be the only program that will run on the system and provide all of its functions.
Before the inclusion of integrated circuits, other firmware devices included a discrete semiconductor diode matrix. The Apollo guidance computer had firmware consisting of a specially manufactured core memory plane, called “core rope memory”, where data was stored by physically threading wires through or around the core storing each data bit.
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