Interview with James A. Langbridge, author of “Professional Embedded ARM Development”

Professional Embedded ARM Development Book

The Silicon Labs team received a message last year from an engineer who told us that he planned to publish a book titled “Professional Embedded ARM Development” and that he was interested in testing our EFM32 Gecko microcontrollers (MCUs) for his book.

After a few emails, we appreciated his passion for ARM-based embedded solutions and decided to send him a couple of Cortex-M based EFM32 starter kits to play with. Apparently James liked the EFM32 kits, as both Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ based kits were featured and used as real-life examples in the book published at the end of last year. As we all know, to write and publish a book requires significant effort and great perseverance, so the Silicon Labs team wanted to congratulate him on his achievement and ask a few questions about the process. Here’s what we learned after a chat with James over the phone.

Hi, James. Congratulations on your new book. What a great achievement! Can you briefly introduce yourself and explain how you decided to start writing a book based on ARM development? 

I am a software engineer. I have been working for more than 15 years in the embedded industry as an embedded systems consultant. As I have worked on ARM embedded systems since my previous job, I was familiar with the ARM processor and started to answer questions from students, hobbyists and engineers on engineering forums. While writing answers for others and writing documents for myself, I found that I could make a book out of them for those trying to learn ARM technology.

Could you tell us what your book is about and who your target readers are?

This book is for beginners who want to get started with developing embedded applications without any knowledge and assembly experience. It begins with an overall introduction to ARM systems and covers how to design ARM-based applications through real-world examples. I also included first step instructions like assembly tips and how to write optimized C code to reduce the difficulty of putting theory into practice.  The book would also be useful if you want to increase your knowledge of ARM technology and get the most out of processors.

Was there any specific reason for choosing EFM32 microcontrollers as an example of real-world ARM systems? 

ARM processors were designed to be simple but it is up to the partners to decide how to optimize the processor. Silicon Labs’ EFM32 Gecko MCUs were a great example of minimizing energy consumption by optimizing the use of ARM processor features. The five flexible energy modes especially gave engineers more options to optimize their low power application design.

Besides its extreme low energy consumption, documentation about the EFM32 MCUs was great too. It can be challenging for engineers to understand MCU technology and design an application based on it without well-written documentation. So it was easy to explain ARM architecture when using the Gecko MCU families.

Is there any technology trend that you have noticed in the world of embedded systems using ARM processors?

I think the Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest trend right now. Many people have different opinions about IoT, but to me it’s making things far simpler by connecting different devices. In that sense, I think Silicon Labs has a good position to generate electronic components for various devices needed in the world of IoT. As ARM has been performing well in terms of powerful performance and excellent customer service, I believe applications using the ARM core will continue to be popular in the next few years.

Even though James has just published his book, he hinted to us that he is already preparing for his next book about embedded systems. If you want to get to know more about James, check out his website. Here he has done a proper review of both the ARM Cortex-M0+ based EFM32 Zero Gecko, and its bigger brother, the EFM32 Wonder Gecko with Cortex-M4 CPU. You can find his book on Wiley’s homepage: Professional Embedded ARM Development.

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