5 Best Tools to Improve Embedded Software Testing

The development of embedded systems typically unfolds through several consistent stages: requirement analysis, design and prototyping, implementation, and commercial launch. Testing is an integral part of this entire process. Without thorough verification, achieving the desired outcomes in any project is highly unlikely.

There are numerous embedded testing tools available that quality assurance (QA) experts and software engineers utilize to identify and resolve issues. In this article, we will examine five popular tools that can enhance the efficiency of testing in embedded software development.

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Embedded Software Testing Is Essential

In embedded software development, testing is crucial. Much like in civil engineering, where the structural integrity of buildings and bridges is checked for safety, the reliability and functionality of embedded systems must be verified under various conditions.

Embedded software operates hardware in critical systems, such as medical devices, automotive control systems, and aerospace technology. The goal of embedded testing is to ensure that the software performs as expected, allowing the hardware to operate safely and effectively, which is vital for preventing malfunctions that could lead to dire consequences.

For instance, testing in automotive systems ensures that the software controlling airbags, braking, and engine management functions correctly under all circumstances, similar to how trials and verification in civil engineering ensure a bridge can withstand loads and environmental stresses. 

The main argument for testing, as highlighted in Jeremy Main’s “Quality Wars,” is cost reduction. In 1990, Hewlett-Packard, commonly shortened to HP, conducted an analysis on the financial impact of software errors over the course of a year. 

The findings were staggering: $400 million in losses, prompting HP to overhaul their development approach to minimize errors. This amount represented a third of the company’s entire R&D budget and, if saved, could have boosted the company’s earnings by nearly 67%.

For over three decades, SaM Solutions has been providing software testing and QA services, both as integral components of software development projects and as stand-alone offerings.

Top Embedded Software Testing Tools

Embedded testing has much in common with application software testing, yet a comparison between the two reveals notable differences. These differences largely stem from the unique characteristics of systems with built-in software, which often necessitate the use of specialized, hardware-based testing tools not typically found in app development.

For instance, tests and trials are frequently conducted within or very close to the actual hardware environment that the software will control. This involves simulating the physical conditions under which the software operates, which may include temperature variations, mechanical movements, and other environmental factors.

Below is a list of the top five embedded systems testing tools that help companies enhance their software development processes. Please note that these tools are commercial products, requiring a purchase or subscription for use. 


Created by Razorcat Development GmbH, TESSY is a powerful tool for automated unit and integration testing of embedded systems. It focuses on verifying modules written in C and C++, supporting a variety of microcontrollers and compiler environments. TESSY facilitates the entire QA cycle, from project setup and test design to execution and results analysis. 

With the integrated Test Environment Editor, engineers can customize test project structures using collections and folders, set environment variables, and configure compilers/debuggers. Coverage and results are directly displayed within the project structure, enabling the storage of past results for reporting while facilitating ongoing test case and data management.

The Classification Tree Method (CTM) allows engineers to design cases and implement them through the graphical interface of the Classification Tree Editor (CTE) integrated within TESSY. This integration simplifies setting necessary values, such as inputs and outputs, directly in the CTE for the TESSY checking process.

The tool also supports code coverage analysis, including MC/DC, statement, and branch coverage, which is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of tests. The Call Pair Coverage (CPC) metric, which verifies that every call point is executed at least once, complies with ISO 26262 standards for safety-critical software development, serving as an alternative code coverage method to function coverage (FC) in integration testing.

2. Eggplant (TestPlant)

TestPlant was the company behind Eggplant, a GUI-based automated test tool. In 2020, Eggplant was acquired by Keysight Technologies. Although still under the Keysight brand, Eggplant now focuses more broadly on software test automation, not just embedded systems.

Eggplant is a versatile tool that excels in automating the testing process for embedded systems. Its unique approach employs image recognition and machine learning to interact with the examined solution just as a human would, allowing it to function across any device or operating system. 

Eggplant’s capabilities extend to checking user interfaces, APIs, databases, and entire systems, ensuring comprehensive coverage. It emphasizes load and performance testing to ensure that embedded applications operate efficiently under stress. Moreover, Eggplant can simulate various network conditions to examine embedded systems in different environmental scenarios, making it particularly effective for ensuring robustness and reliability in critical applications.

3. Parasoft DTP

Parasoft DTP (Development Testing Platform) is an integrated tool that enhances software quality by providing a comprehensive testing and reporting environment. Designed to support a continuous quality process across the entire software development lifecycle, Parasoft DTP offers a wide range of capabilities, including static code analysis, unit testing, and coverage analysis. One of its key features is its ability to aggregate data from various practices and tools, which enables centralized management of test configurations, policies, and results.

The platform integrates with Parasoft C/C++test, which is specifically designed for examining C and C++ applications, including those used in embedded systems. This integration facilitates static analysis, unit testing, and code coverage specifically tailored for embedded software development. Parasoft’s tools are known for helping ensure compliance with industry standards relevant to embedded systems, such as MISRA, AUTOSAR, and ISO 26262, making it a suitable choice for rigorous embedded software checking.

Accelerate response times, detect issues proactively, and enhance user satisfaction with top-notch performance testing by SaM Solutions.

4. Klocwork Insight 

Klocwork Insight, now part of Perforce Software, Inc., is a powerful static code analysis tool used to enhance the quality and security of embedded software. This tool is widely utilized in industries where reliability and compliance are critical, such as automotive, aerospace, and telecommunications

By carefully examining source code, Klocwork Insight detects potential vulnerabilities, bugs, and non-compliance with coding standards such as MISRA, CWE, and CERT. It offers real-time analysis, providing instant feedback as developers write code, which helps to identify and resolve issues early in the development cycle. 

Additionally, Klocwork Insight supports integration with popular development environments and continuous integration systems, streamlining the testing process and improving team collaboration. Its capability to handle large codebases efficiently makes it particularly valuable for complex embedded systems that require rigorous examination to ensure safety and functionality.

5. VectorCAST

Vector Software’s primary product, VectorCAST, is an automation platform widely used in embedded systems testing, particularly for safety-critical applications. It is highly regarded in industries where safety and reliability are paramount, such as aerospace, automotive, transportation, medical devices, and industrial controls.

VectorCAST facilitates a variety of methodologies, including unit, integration, and system testing, making it a versatile tool for developers aiming to ensure the robustness and compliance of their software.

Integrated solutions

  • VectorCAST/C++ — an efficient solution for C/C++ embedded systems, significantly reducing the time, effort, and cost required for validating safety and mission-critical software.
  • VectorCAST/Ada — a dynamic tool that automates unit and integration testing for Ada programs, crucial for ensuring the reliability of safety- and mission-critical embedded systems.
  • VectorCAST/QA — streamlines test management and execution with automated processes that enhance consistency and repeatability. It supports all execution frameworks and offers integrated white-box system testing.
  • TESTinsights — enhances VectorCAST by aggregating all software examination results into a collaborative service. Participants can analyze these results together through web dashboards, allowing for diverse insights from various perspectives and levels of abstraction.

Moreover, VectorCAST integrates seamlessly with other development tools and continuous integration environments. This integration capability enhances its utility in a DevOps approach, promoting continuous development, testing, and delivery. The tool also provides detailed reporting features that help teams monitor progress and assess the quality of the software throughout the development lifecycle.

Choose the Right Embedded Testing Tools

Selecting the perfect embedded testing tool involves more than just comparing features — it’s about matching your specific technical needs and business goals with the right capabilities. Ensure that your choice aligns seamlessly with your company’s resources and requirements to drive effective and efficient outcomes. Choose wisely to empower your development team to succeed.

Leave a comment
  • No mention of open source tools? I would have loved to see Robot framework in this list, as it is one of the most widely used generic testing frameworks and has very good extensibility for embedded systems.

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