We sat down with Dr. Edward Lamie, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, whose book, Real-Time Embedded Multi-threading Using ThreadX and MIPS, was recently published by Elsevier-Newnes publishers. Here is what he had to say about the new textbook.
What is the purpose and scope of this book?
This is a book that emphasizes the development of real-time embedded multithreaded systems. The book begins with a discussion of general concepts and terminology, moves on to a specific demonstration system for illustration, investigates the salient features of the MIPS processor, explores thoroughly the services and features of ThreadX, and culminates with a major case study. In the book, I discuss pitfalls and problem areas, and also offer possible solutions. The book examines many ways in which MIPS and ThreadX can be optimally combined.
Who is the intended audience for this book?
This book is intended for people who develop embedded systems, or for those who would like to know more about the process of developing such systems. Typically, this includes embedded system programmers, software engineers, electrical engineers, or firmware engineers. The reader should have a programming background in C or C++.
The book addresses the needs of three groups of people: (1) those developers who will develop a system based on MIPS and ThreadX, (2) those developers who are using a different RTOS and processor, but who want to gain a better understanding of real-time embedded systems, and (3) students who desire to learn the fundamentals of this discipline.
How is this book different from other books on the market?
There are many books published that deal with real-time systems and/or embedded systems, but virtually all of them do so in a generic manner. That is, they discuss general concepts, but don’t attempt to address or implement specific systems.
By contrast, this book includes a hands-on component for each concept that is introduced. It is based on actual classes taught to developers of real-time embedded systems. Consequently, we present the topics in a logical, but progressive manner. The reader learns by understanding the concepts, then implementing them through a series of hands-on activities.
What are the chapter titles for this book?
Chapter 1 - Embedded and Real-Time Systems
Chapter 2 - First Look at a System Using an RTOS
Chapter 3 - RTOS Concepts and Definitions
Chapter 4 - RTOS Building Blocks for System Development
Chapter 5 - Introduction to the MIPS Microprocessor
Chapter 6 MIPS Interrupt Handling
Chapter 7 - The Thread - The Essential Component
Chapter 8 - Mutual Exclusion Challenges and Considerations
Chapter 9 - Memory Management: Byte Pools and Block Pools
Chapter 10 Internal System Clock and Application Timers
Chapter 11 - Event Notification and Synchronization With Counting Semaphores
Chapter 12 - Synchronization of Threads Using Event Flags Groups
Chapter 13 - Thread Communication With Message Queues
Chapter 14 - Case Study: Designing a Multi-Threaded System
Are many developers using ThreadX and MIPS?
According to a recent CMP Market Study, 14.4% of those surveyed will be using or are considering using ThreadX during the next 12 months. This would mean that there are approximately 57,600 potential developers who might be interested in this book (assuming that there are approximately 400,000 embedded systems developers). With over 600 million deployments, ThreadX is one of the most widely-used RTOSes in the embedded systems area.
While MIPS doesn’t publish figures regarding the specific number of developers that are using its technology, they number in many thousands. The company has more than 250 corporate customers around the globe who manufacture chips that power some of the world’s most popular products for the digital entertainment, home networking, wireless, and portable media markets. IP from MIPS Technologies is found in 60% to 90% of high-performance consumer electronics products such as set-top boxes, HDTVs, DVD players, etc., currently shipped worldwide.
Are there any code samples in the book? How can I get a free ThreadX demo copy?
The book contains seven complete sample systems and one major case study. We provide a CD with the book that contains a free, fully-functional Win32-based ThreadX demonstration system capable of processing all the sample systems, end-of-chapter projects, and the case study. Thus, the book and CD constitute an ideal learning package.
What’s your background in embedded computing?
I am a Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, having served 31 years in higher education. My academic emphases were in the areas of software engineering and operating systems. During my tenure as a professor, I wrote two computer programming books and co-authored a book analyzing science fiction works. Since 1999 I have worked with real-time embedded systems and am currently employed by Express Logic, Inc. as Director of Educational Services. I authored the first edition of Real-Time Embedded Multithreading in 2004.
Where can I get a copy of the book?
Copies of the book are available through Amazon.com and www.newnespress.com.