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Keywords: Firmware, hardware, embedded devices
Title: USB Mass Storage
Author: Jan Axelson
Level: Introductory USB devices
Verdict: Useful, clear and informative
Jan Axelson has made a name for herself writing readable and accessible books on embedded systems and hardware interfacing (serial and parallel ports, for example). In this latest book she looks at USB mass storage devices, both from a hardware and software point of view. As with Embedded Ethernet and Internet Complete, previously reviewed here at TechBookReport, this is a book that packs in a lot of technical material in a manner that is easy to digest and, more importantly, easy to follow.
The book opens with a chapter that looks at the basics of USB mass storage, looking at usage scenarios, media types, hard drives and flash memory technologies (including MMC, SD memory cards and CompactFlash). The second chapter delves into the architecture of USB storage and discusses how to select the right device controller. It also introduces the PIC18F4550 chip, which includes a USB device controller. This is the chip used as the example throughout the rest of the text, including the development of the firmware using the Microchip MPLAB C18 C compiler.
Subsequent chapters describe the USB mass storage class, accessing flash memory cards, the MMC protocol and SCSI commands. Then there are four chapters that look more closely at media structure, file systems (the different flavours of FAT), directory and file-level operations. The final chapter in the book looks at embedded hosts.
As with Embedded Ethernet, this is a book that does a good job at demystifying a subject that is still perceived as something of a black art. The writing is clear and to the point, with plenty of resources listed on the publisher's web site to back it all up.
In all this provides a lot of useful technical know-how and should appeal to anyone wanting to create USB mass storage solutions.