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I have seen different micro controllers have different output file formats for flashing like 8051 has .hex file format, some have .out file format some have .s12 format and etc. What are the factors on which this output file format depends like the controller architecture or it is up to the micro controller manufacturer to choose the format he wants to flash into the controllers?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ bits is bits. They are just different file formats that hold for the most part the same content. Some may have more debugging information than others, some may make it easier to contain different blobs of data that go to different addresses in the target than others, etc. But it has nothing to do with the destination of the target, it has to do with what the tools you have available and/or want to create will support. \$\endgroup\$ – old_timer Jul 1 '16 at 15:11
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It all depends on the tool, i.e. software, you use to program the microcontroller.

The tool on the other hand might depend on the microcontroller manufacturer. But there may be more than one possible tool or one tool may work with several formats.

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The file format does not correspond in any way to the µC itself. It just stores the data on the PC for programming software to read. It is this software which is responsible to provide data and instructions in a format suitable for both the programmer hardware and the target device, not the input file. - Analogy: You don't need .docx files for laser printers and .odt files for ink jets; it's just the storage format for the content and the corresponding software makes sure it generates the specific required output from that.

Maybe note that you will probably never see the data that actually gets sent to the µC during programming, nor the data that gets sent to the programmer hardware, because it's not stored in files. - Just like the data stream sent to a printer by the word processor.

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