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Embedded Ethernet and Internet Complete

From the Introduction

Embedded Ethernet and Internet Complete is a guide to designing and programming embedded systems to communicate in local Ethernet networks and on the Internet.

An embedded system is a device that has computer intelligence and is dedicated to performing a single task, or a group of related tasks. Embedded systems often perform monitoring and control functions such as gathering and reporting sensor readings or controlling motors and switches. They’re called embedded systems because the program code is an integral part of, or embedded in, the devices.

Ethernet is the networking technology used in many offices and homes to enable computers to communicate and share resources. Many Ethernet networks also connect to a router that provides access to the Internet.

For many years, embedded systems and Ethernet networks existed in separate worlds. Ethernet was available only to desktop computers and other large computers. Embedded systems that needed to exchange information with other computers were limited to interfaces with low speed, limited range, or lack of standard application protocols.

But developments in technology and the marketplace now make it possible for embedded systems to communicate in local Ethernet networks as well as on the Internet. Network communications can make an embedded system more powerful and easier to monitor and control. An embedded system can host a Web site, send and receive e-mail, upload and download files, and exchange information of any kind with other computers connected via a network interface.

One development that has made Ethernet feasible for embedded systems is the availability of inexpensive controller chips to handle the details of Ethernet communications. The CPUs that provide the processing power for embedded systems have also gotten faster and more capable of handling the demands of communicating with the controllers. Internet protocols provide standard, well-documented ways of exchanging data. Both Ethernet and the Internet protocols are free and open standards available for use without royalties or licensing fees.

Technologies and Protocols

Designing and programming an embedded system for networking can require skills and knowledge in a variety of areas in electronics, programming, and networking.

To interface an Ethernet controller to a CPU, you’ll need to know about hardware design.

To write the program code that controls the system, you’ll need to know how to write and debug code for your system’s CPU.

To build the network, you’ll need to know how to select and use cables, repeater hubs, switches, and other network hardware.

To enable sending and receiving data over the local network, you’ll need to be familiar with the Ethernet protocol.

To enable sending and receiving data over the Internet and some local networks, you’ll need to be familiar with Internet protocols.

To serve Web pages, you’ll need to know about Web-page design.

To keep your system and its data safe, you’ll need to know how to implement measures that provide network security.

This book brings together all of these fields of knowledge with a focus on how they relate to the networking of embedded systems. Creating a Web page for a major corporation’s Web site is very different from creating a home page for a device with limited resources. But designing for small systems isn’t just a matter of scaling back. For example, a Web page hosted by an embedded system will almost certainly want to display more than basic pages with static, unchanging text. Instead, the pages typically provide real-time information and may want to accept and act on user input as well.

This book shows how to meet the networking and application needs of embedded systems in spite of their hardware and software limitations of small devices. In many cases, you can choose to simplify the tasks involved by using hardware and software modules that do much of the work for you.

Who should read this book?

This book is for anyone who wants to design, program, or learn about networking with embedded systems.

These are some of the questions this book answers:

What are the advantages and limits of using Ethernet with embedded systems? Find out whether Ethernet is the right technology for your project.

What hardware and program code do I need to connect an embedded system to an Ethernet network? There are many options for creating an Ethernet-capable embedded controller, from buying a module with hardware and software support for networking to putting it all together from scratch. This book will help in selecting the components for your systems.

How do I build a network? An Ethernet-capable device can’t communicate if it doesn’t have a network to connect to. Find out how to select network cables and hubs and use them to put together an Ethernet network

How can I connect my device or network to the Internet? An Internet connection can extend a device’s reach to the entire Internet. Find out how to obtain an Internet connection for your device and ensure that your network is configured to enable your device to perform the communications it requires.

How can my devices send and receive messages over the local network or the Internet? The Internet and many local networks use the TCP/IP suite of Internet protocols to send and receive messages of all types. This book will show you how embedded systems can use these protocols to exchange messages.

How can I host a Web site on my embedded system? Even a very basic embedded system can function as a Web server, which responds to requests from other computers for Web pages. Find out what a device requires to function as a Web server and how to create the pages your device will serve.

How can my Web server’s pages include dynamic, real-time content and respond to user input? This book will show how an embedded system can display up-to-date information and respond to text and other input from users.

How can my embedded system send and receive e-mail, exchange files with an FTP server, or host an FTP server that other computers can access? This book includes examples for each of these applications.

How can I ensure that the programming and other information in my devices is secure on the Internet? Good security practices can ensure that unauthorized users can’t change configuration settings or view private information in your device. Security practices can also help to prevent problems due to careless or accidental mistakes. Find out what you need to do to keep your device and the local network it resides in secure and functioning properly.

This book assumes you have a basic knowledge of digital circuit design and microcontroller or microprocessor programming for embedded systems. I don’t assume any knowledge of networking.

About the Example Applications

The example applications in this book use two Ethernet-capable modules: a TINI module from Dallas Semiconductor and a RabbitCore module from Rabbit Semiconductor. Both are capable and well-supported products that will enable you to get your projects up and running quickly. You won’t go wrong using either of these modules.

The TINI examples use the Java programming language. The Rabbit examples use Dynamic C, Rabbit Semiconductor’s implementation of the C programming language for embedded systems. Every application in the book has both a TINI and RabbitCore example. The book also discusses a number of other components that are suitable for many projects.

How This Book Is Organized

Each of the chapters in this book has two sections: Quick Start and In Depth.

The Quick Start section gives practical information and examples that you can put to work right away. The In Depth section has more detail about the protocols and technologies used in the Quick Start examples.

The order that you read the sections may vary depending on your needs and preferences. You can read the book straight through for an understanding of each of the topics in turn. Or to get something up and running quickly, you might read the Quick Start sections first, referring to the In Depth material as needed. Or if you prefer to gain a background in a topic before delving into implementation details, you can read a chapter’s In Depth section before the Quick Start.