Board Support Package Basics
Whenever there’s a need to test a new device, particularly a processor, semiconductor and embedded products companies provide an evaluation board or development kit so that you can properly test the product before you commit to investing time and money into it. However, using these boards is simply not enough as they are largely software controlled and offer a wide range of functionality. A certain amount of programming is typically necessarily to put the new device through its paces. Not to mention, if something doesn’t go as planned you need a way to make sure that you can quickly identify whether it lies with the code or the hardware. For this purpose and others, a Board Support Package becomes invaluable.
What is a Board Support Package?
A board support package (BSP) is an important set of code for a given hardware computer device that helps make the device work with the specific operating system of the computer. It is generally built with a bootloader that features minimal device support to properly setup the hardware to load the operating system so you can test the hardware’s and software’s functionality. The contents a Board Support Package may vary depending on the operating system and hardware.
A BSP acts as a standard interface between an operating system and hardware. It performs several key operations and tasks. These include (but not limited to) the following:
- Initializing the interrupt controller(s)
- Initializing the bus(es)
- Initializing the CPU or processor
- Initializing the clock(s)
- Initializing Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Loading and executing the bootloader and Operating System
Apart from these, a BSP can also effectively configure the operating system through various hardware and compilation parameters.
There are a number of key advantages to using a BSP:
- It significantly reduces time of deploying certain applications and helps you avoid the hassle of worrying about most of the hardware, memory, register specific implementation details so you can focus on algorithm development.
- BSPs are customizable. This means you can determine which drivers and routines will be included in your build depending on your choice of hardware and software options.
- BSPs helps reduce the likelihood of writing incorrect code when it is offered by reliable vendors.
- BSPs provide an abstraction for high-level programming and code readability. This makes it easier for you to work with the board.
- When building a new board, you can use BSP to assemble a custom image of your desired operating system. The BSP can initiate peripherals and set some of the essential environmental parameters so that your embedded operating system works properly.
- BSPs give you a starting point to begin developing your application without spending extra time in developing the framework.
Beacon EmbeddedWorks includes a BSP as part of our development kits as a key component of beginning SOM development activities. In other situations, the development coast of a BSP varies depending on the required number components that need to be developed or adapted from scratch for the operating system. Required certifications that the system must have is another key factor that influences the development cost. Apart from these, the hardware/board itself represents the starting point of the development cost of any BSP. The more complex the board and its associated peripherals are, the higher the development costs. Overall, there is no direct answer on how much a Board Support Package development costs. It all depends on what you wish to achieve as well as your short-term and long-term goals.
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