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Beyond PCB Assembly Services, Board Support Package Development

Beyond PCB Assembly Services, Board Support Package Development

What is a Board Support Package?

A board support package (BSP) is a collection of essential low level software applications configured for a specific microprocessor and its associated hardware. It supplies the drivers for all the hardware in the system andcontainsa bootloader to initialize the microprocessor and hardware prior to loading the operating system. The package may contain additional low level software to assist the developer in initializing the operating system. The BSP can also include a root file system, and a utility to configure the microprocessor and other hardware.By using PNC to develop the BSP, it will allow them to design around their circuit board fabrication capabilities and process.

Board Support Packages are specific to a family of microprocessors and to a specific operating system.  A typical BSP may contain drivers and initialization code for:

  • Initializing the microprocessor
  • The parallel and serial buses
  • The volatile and nonvolatile memory
  • The display and graphics card,
  • Digital and analog I/O
  • Camera, wireless modules, user input devices etc.

While a BSP for the hardware is the first requirement for developing a product with embedded software, this doesn’t mean that every company developing embedded software needs to develop their own BSP with the drivers for their specific hardware configuration. There are five reasons to let an outside BSP developer like PNC develop the BSP for your embedded application.

1. The BSP supplied by the microprocessor manufacture is an incomplete solution

The microprocessor manufacturer will typically supply a rudimentary BSP with their evaluation board.   This is because manufacturers know that making it easier for the developer to work with the microprocessor is helpful to being selected for the final design and pcb assembly process.   However, the manufacturer’s BSP may not have the drivers for the specific hardware in your design – the only way to ensure a BSP fully supports your hardware design is to have it customized for you.

2. Developing device drivers is a specialized skill

Developing the drivers and initialization code BSP requires detailed knowledge of the microprocessor and its peripheral hardware.  Most developers writing applications running on an OS do not have the requisite expertise to write the hardware driversunderneath that OS.  On the other hand, a group focused only on BSP development like the team at PNC obtains that expertise by working with many hardware platforms every year, and by developing robust tested reference code for common peripherals such as displays and USB ports.

3. A BSP is needed only once for a product

A BSP is needed near the beginning of an embedded software product to allow the developers to work with the target hardware instead of an evaluation PC board or emulation software. Once all drivers are debugged, however, the BSP rarely needs to be touched again except for occasional updates to address hardware end-of-life issues.  This is different than the product’s application, which may see multiple releases over the life of the product.  Since BSP updates are so infrequent it does not make sense for an organization to maintain that highly specialized expertise for the months or years between BSP updates.

4. The BSP and associated drivers are invisible to the customer

Application software that meets customer needs is a close collaboration between developers, product management, marketing, and sales.  Any time spent by the in-house team developing a BSP is time not spent developing features the customer will see and use.  Outsourcing the invisible aspects of the product like the BSP allows the development team to stay focused on the customer.

5. Outsourcing the BSP can accelerate product development

Handing off the BSP to an outside supplier like PNC means that the team’s developers are not tied down developing it internally.  The BSP supplier can develop the BSP incrementally starting with core functionality followed by drivers for some of the less critical hardware once the development team is ready for it.  The outside supplier also brings deep expertise to the driver development, meaning driver development takes less time, and works the first time. The most beneficial reason for PNC to develop your BSP is that they can also fabricate PCB’s as well having in house pcb assembly services.

Talk to the software team at PNC the next time you have a time critical embedded project.  Let PNC help you with your Board Support Package, device drivers, operating systems porting, or protocol stacks development.

Written by Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani is the President & CEO of PNC Inc., a Nutley, NJ based Printed Circuit Board manufacturer. Sam graduated from L. D. Engineering College with a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also continued his education and graduated from Steven’s Institute of Technology where he acquired a Master’s degree in Computer Science.

After completion of his BS, Sam worked as a QC Manager, for Xerox, Romania and London. He was responsible for the Quality Control of Cable and Wire Harness imports from Romania. After completing his Master’s Degree, he worked as a Senior Programmer with IBM, Tucson, Arizona. Sam was responsible for leading the Mainframe System Programming Team.

In 1997, Sam acquired PNC INC., a Nutley, NJ based PC Board fabrication Shop. From 1997-2013, Sam has made tremendous improvements and changes within PNC INC., as he added many new Products and Technologies in PNC’s portfolio. With his proven track record and leadership, PNC has never had an unprofitable year and has continued its growth yearly since 1997.

His current responsibilities are Strategic Planning, Corporate Management, New Business Ventures, Sales & Marketing, Trade Shows, Professional Services and leading productive teams to achieve peak potential. He has also utilized Lean Management techniques which have built a foundation for PNC’s high-paced growth. Sam also enjoys real-estate investing, web design & SEO, trading stocks, options, futures and Forex markets.

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Printed Circuit Boards

PNC Inc. offers every solution in the PCB arena. This includes design, fabrication, assembly and a number of value-added services. With these capabilities and our facilities around the country, we are able to provide quick-turn prototypes and large-scale production all under the same roof. We pride ourselves on constant improvement and invest millions each year into making sure we have the latest technology to make our processes as efficient as possible.

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