editor's blog
Subscribe Now

The Countess of Lovelace Strikes Back

Safety and security are big concerns in the embedded-systems world these days. Problem is, few of us really know how to add “security” to our products when nobody can even tell us what that means. We’re also finding out it’s hard to patch security into an existing system. It’s easier to design it in from the outset.

That’s where Ada comes in. Ada is a programming language (some would call it a religion) that was designed to create safe, secure, and reliable embedded systems. Think military electronics, missiles, and airplanes. If you want a dead-reliable system (so to speak), you probably want to program it in Ada. In fact, your government may require you to program it in Ada.

One of the bigger suppliers of Ada tools is AdaCore. Its GNAT (Gnu Ada Translator) product had been arming Ada aficionados for many years. AdaCore’s original GNAT software is open-source, so you can download it for free from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) if you like. AdaCore will also happily sell you its more-advanced GNAT Pro, which is a pre-configured “shrink wrap” version for various platforms. Your call.

Either way, AdaCore offers 24/7 technical support for GNAT and its spinoff products in return for an annual subscription fee. Of the company’s 100 employees, fully 80% of them are engineers and all of them are dedicated to technical support first and foremost. In other words, AdaCore has no tech-support staff; the engineers are it. When you have a technical question, one (or more) of AdaCore’s programmers will get back to you.

The company offers three “flavors” of Ada tools, depending on which government safety/reliability standard you’re trying to hit. There’s a DO-278 version; a DO-178B version (for avionics); and a MILS (multiple independent levels of security) version. Depending on the version you use, your Ada code may run on top of a normal operating system, or it may need a specially certified secure operating system. Just depends on what you’re trying to do.

Because GNAT is all open-source, you can keep the source code handy for code inspection or just as a safety net. And that adds a whole extra level of security.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Dec 9, 2018
https://youtu.be/M_d-K4yE_n4 Made on Cadence pathways (camera Sean) Monday: ICCAD and Open-Source CAD Tuesday: Clayton Christensen on the Prosperity Paradox Wednesday: Benedict's Christmas... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site. ]...
Dec 7, 2018
That'€™s shocking! Insulation Resistance and Dielectric Withstanding Voltage are two of the qualification tests that Samtec performs in-house during part qualification testing. These tests will ensure that when a connector is used in environmental conditions at the rated wo...
Nov 28, 2018
Wearable tech is officially the next big innovation in technology, and its popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years. It seems like every few months......
Nov 14, 2018
  People of a certain age, who mindfully lived through the early microcomputer revolution during the first half of the 1970s, know about Bill Godbout. He was that guy who sent out crudely photocopied parts catalogs for all kinds of electronic components, sold from a Quon...