Hello, Folks! Today’s article is about hardware/software trade-offs. Make sure to check other articles of mine for other topics.

Speaking of design trade-offs today, I can say that it is impossible not to mention hardware when talking about software trade-offs, or vice versa. It is almost impossible not to think of the two of them together. There are territories of the compromise which are the sole preserve of the manufacturer and his hardware/software group. Various regions of the compromise are the duty of the client or autonomous hardware producers. Trade-offs can be found in almost any area of computer design and application. Some computers are micro-programmed and those microprograms are referred to as firmware.

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Microprogramming, Process of writing microcode for a microprocessor. Microcode is low-level code that defines how a microprocessor should function when it executes machine-language instructions. Typically, one machine-language instruction translates into several microcode instructions. On some computers, the microcode is stored in ROM and cannot be modified; on some larger computers, it is stored in EPROM and therefore can be replaced with newer versions.

There are several trade-offs.

The trade from hardware to software: Such a trade-off may involve transferring whole functions, such as memory protection from one system to the other.

The trade from software to firmware: As I said earlier, some computers are micro-programmed. Sometimes, instead of offering users new hardware, trade is created between software and firmware to increase system speed. This can be done by avoiding fetch cycles in the main memory.

The trade from firmware to hardware: In the case of micro-programmed devices, the designer decides which functions are under the control of the hardware, or which functions will be broken down into smaller micro-instructions. The designer must also decide what fundamental data paths and functional units will exist within the machine.

There are several reasons for performing hardware/software trade-offs:

  • Achieve the unachieveable performance goal — This cycle goes from the consideration of inward highlights, for example, gliding point number-crunching and list registers through the expansion of specific processors, for example, sorters and quicker Fourier change processors. These processors might be added to either to the input/output system, the memory interface, or the CPU. Nowadays, these advanced features and trades are decided by the designer or manufacturer.
  • Minimize overal system cost — In today’s system, cost is actually very important. Let’s not forget that in addition to hardware costs, there are also software costs. Many systems offer optional features such as floating point arithmetic which may be performed either by hardware or by software. Two patterns are obvious in the commercial center today. One pattern is to give frameworks in which a lot of capacity is being allotted to the firmware in inclination to software and the other pattern is to grow little quick PCs with negligible instruction sets.
  • Reduce software complexity — This goal and feature is accomplished by adding more hardware components and features which reduce the overall code, provide enhanced run-time support, and save the programmers from concerns about limitations of memory space.
  • Increase overall system reliability — As for software, it suffers from over-writing problems or quick changes. Therefore moving critical functions to more secure locations. The most secure location is in the firmware or hardware. Another trend relevant to reliability is moving I/O recovery functions from the software to peripheral controllers or channels.
  • Extend system life — As for the computing field, this criterion is measured by adaptability. This is achieved by assigning hardware functions to software and firmware.
  • Enhance debugging assistance — Software errors are costly to handle only with software, however, debugging can help if this monitoring feature is built into the software. Other hardüare aids include firmware monitors, which perform flow tracing and intterupt schemes, which monitor violations of system conventions.
  • Accomplish compatibility — An emulator consolidates hardware, software, and firmware to execute guidelines for a machine other than the machine on which the emulator is run. The choice of the limit between the three parts can altogether influence the presentation of the emulator. The similarity might be accomplished by methods for up-product exchanges the lower execution end of a computer family.
  • Accomplish market position — One is directed to estimate that inspiration for performing equipment/programming compromises is to accomplish item separation and make hostage clients who rely upon the presence of an extraordinary component. These clients can only with significant effort move to an alternate PC. Advertising contemplations have driven a large number of the minicomputer makers to give system software that was not needed when the principal minicomputers were presented. It is sensible to estimate that this necessity will animate new and imaginative equipment/programming compromises for these little machines.

Thank you very much for your time and patience. I hope, you gained new knowledge. Peace ✌🏼

Master of Computer Science and Data Analytics at ADA/GW Universities, Researcher, Psychology-lover, Meme-maker, Musician, Writer, AI & Sarcasms!

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