VDC Reviews Embedded Systems Conference

VDC recently attended the 2007 Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose. This release presents a summary of the event.

This year’s show was relatively well attended, with estimates of the number of attendees around 11,000. An accompanying keynote by Al Gore on “The Democratization of Technology” was popular and well attended. On the whole, announcements around multi-core systems development were an even bigger focus than last year, and in VDC’s estimation this should have resonated well with the many engineers that anticipate moving to a multi-core platform on their next project. Intel’s Virtualization Technology also had an influence on the moves of a number of tools vendors, with many looking to take advantage of this hardware extension technology to improve the functionality/effectiveness of their solutions.

Best of Show
Micrium’s uC/Probe-STD – Micrium announced the availability of a low-cost universal tool enabling embedded developers to monitor embedded systems in a live environment. This product is designed to work with any 8-, 16-, 32-, 64-bit or DSP processor, any compiler that can generate an .ELF file, and is RTOS independent and agnostic. The result is a versatile product that enables embedded developers to monitor any global variable, any memory location, and any I/O port in the embedded target in a live environment.

Best Demo
This year’s show featured a “Prius Teardown” event, split up into six sessions, allowing attendees to get a closer look at the dash user interface; navigation/telematics; and engine, airbag, electric, and traction control systems of the popular hybrid vehicle.

An honorary mention also goes to another noticeable demo – the Indy car video game displayed prominently outside the BPM Microsystems booth. The attraction continued to draw a crowd for most of the show, with a long line of attendees late Wednesday afternoon trying to beat the 29.87 second mark set earlier in the day.

Best Giveaway
Intel not only brought American Chopper’s Teutul Family to town, but also gave away free photos with the customized Intel bike built by the boys from Orange County Chopper themselves. The custom ride featured a ruggedized PC (run of course by an Intel Core Duo processor), GPS, and finger print recognition.

Hot off a significant announcement about the acquisition of FSMLabs’s IP earlier in the year, Wind River Systems was the first of many to address the issue of multi-core development. The company announced a series of improvements to its development tool line with the Workbench 2.6.1, OCD Edition. The new solution offers additional support for complex multi-core and Linux debugging and additional JTAG development environment Eclipse plug-ins. The company has also expanded support for a number of additional processor types.

LynuxWorks announced LynxOS version 5.0, the company’s marquee RTOS, and Luminosity 3.0, the company’s companion Eclipse-based IDE. Both are currently available in beta and are scheduled for general release over the next several months. Among other advancements, LynxOS 5.0 adds new support for symmetric multiprocessing, POSIX compliance with the PSE53 profile, and a new Linux Application Binary Interface (ABI) allowing Linux applications to run unmodified along with POSIX applications. In addition to the LynxOS and Luminosity announcements, the company had announced earlier in the month the release of BlueCat Linux Micro Edition, supporting Xilinx processors and providing support for processor architectures without an MMU.

Green Hills Software announced the release of the Green Hills Probe V3. The new debug probe offers a complete range of capabilities through various host interfaces and enables increased responsiveness through higher-speed download in support of a number of 32- and 64-bit processor targets. The company also announced a probe for manufacturing based on the Probe v3 release. As usual, the Green Hills booth continued to draw substantial crowds throughout the event.

In close proximity was Express Logic, a company that also tends to draw big crowds at these events. The company announced that ThreadX had passed 450 million device deployments and support for IPv6 within its Netx TCP/IP stack. The company also noted ThreadX support for the AMCC PowerPC 405EZ and the Atmel AVR32 UC3 core.

Microsoft featured a number of Windows Embedded Partners (WEP) within their booth including Ardence (a Citrix Company), BSQUARE, Freescale Semiconductor, Intrinsyc, Phytec, Solidcore, TenAsys, and Tilcon Software Limited.

MontaVista Software announced the release of MontaVista Linux Professional Edition 5.0, the latest version of their commercial Linux and development platform that provides the most advanced native Linux real-time capabilities to date. In addition, the company announced the release of MontaVista Application Developer Kit (ADK) 5.0, a major update of its application development solution that includes powerful analysis tools and virtual targets.

Quadros announced a new partnership with I/O technology provider Jinvani Systech as well as RTXC’s support for the Intel XScale PXA27x family.

QNX Software Systems announced a new OS partitioning solution for multi-core systems that offers system security and guaranteed real-time performance. The new QNX Secure Partitioning for Multi-core Processors takes the current restrictive concepts of software partitioning and enables embedded developers using multi-core hardware to apply secure partitions in their designs and provide guarantee real-time response times and contain threats, while simultaneously maximizing resource usage and performance.

In addition to a new partnership with AMCC, releasing a PikOS port for the 440 PowerPC family, SYSGO AG also recently demonstrated its PikOS hard real-time microkernel along with Windows running XPE on a dual-core x86 board at a March showing at the RTS Embedded Systems in Paris.

Mentor Graphics announced a new application programming interface (API) for its Inflexion Platform UI graphical user interface product for the Nucleus operating system. The API offers a new approach for rapid creation of dynamic user interface for electronic devices by providing a customizable and extensible menu system and application engine that can be used on any device with a graphical display.

With the veteran I-Logix show team now fully integrated into a unified Telelogic booth, the company showcased the release of Rhapsody 7.1 and SDL Suite 6.0. In addition to Rhapsody’s greater support for SysML and the Agile development process, the company will be offering a vertically-oriented solution to the telecom market with integration between both the Rhapsody 7.1 and SDL Suite 6.0 products, allowing users to import SDL models into the Rhapsody platform. The new vertically-specific approach will look to distinguish the companies offering more general-purpose UML modeling solutions.

National Instruments was in attendance and back with their Dance Revolution arcade game running on NI hardware. Continuing to push the market for embedded system development, the company had a number of new announcements. The company’s latest release of the LabView Embedded Module for ADI Blackfin processors offers improved code generation and expanded Blackfin support. The company also announced that NI Labview graphical programming environment targets Wind River VxWorks operating system, for use with NI’s CompactRIO controllers.

Semiconductor IP and tools player MIPS showcased a number of key solutions from key partners within its booth including Express Logic’s ThreadX, Green Hills Software’s RTOSs, compilers, and development tools, Sonics’s SMART Interconnect solutions, TimeSys’s Linux Link, Viosoft’s tools and others.

ARM announced the launch of RealView Development Suite version 3.1. Among other improvements, the new release focuses on optimizing code size with the availability of a microlib C library, improving code performance, supporting Linux-based development through Eclipse, and close integration with the ARM RealView CREATE Family of products for system-level modeling and platform optimization.

The recent release of the ARM Cortex-M1 processor for FPGAs impacted the discussions from several FPGA-oriented vendors at the show. With few other major announcements, Actel was likely talking much about the ARM Cortex-M1product. Synplicity also announced that it had collaborated with ARM on a new reference methodology for the recently launched ARM Cortex-M1 processor.

Celoxica continued to talk about the promise of its high-performance computing offerings built on FPGA-based co-processing and Celoxica software solutions. On the FPGA front, Xilinx, Altera, and Lattice Semiconductor were also in attendance as well.

Critical Blue was also in attendance after recently announcing that their Cascade co-processor solutions would offer new support for Xilinx’s Virtex and Spartan FPGAs as well as eASIC’s Nextreme product line.

Exhibiting within the Texas Instruments partner booth, VirtualLogix showed off the capabilities of its new VLX Developer product on a demo running both Linux and DSP/Bios on a single core DaVinci processor. The new Eclipse-based tool offers easier configuration and greater performance monitoring of virtualized platforms running multiple OSs on a single processor.

Also building off the latest advancements in virtualization was virtual platform vendor Virtutech. Along with the new release of Simics 3.2, the company just announced an improvement to their tools, Simics VMP, that will allow engineers designing x86-based systems to run faster simulations using Intel’s new chips and virtualization technology.

CoWare was promoting a number of enhancements to both the licensing model and the technology of its new Virtual Platform solution. In addition to offering a more flexible licensing structure and support for a wider range of host OSs, the Virtual Platform has made enhancements that improve simulation speed and offer better integration between the product and complementary development tools platforms.

In addition to announcing a partnership with power.org, VaST Systems has been working closely with a number of partners across the PowerPC supply chain of late. Stay tuned for additional details on the specifics over the next several weeks, as well as some additional developments in the way of improved standards support with their CoMET6 offering.

Aonix announced that it is leading a new Eclipse-based initiative to create an Ada Development Toolkit (ADT) project and will collaborate with the Eclipse Foundation toward that end. With this new initiative, Aonix is offering its Eclipse plug-in technology to the open-source community. In addition, the company announced that one of the first implementations of the Java 5 standard for embedded systems is available to Nucleus OS users. PERC Ultra 5.0 provides deterministic garbage collection technology, support for the rich library set specified in the Java Version 5 standard, and integration support for the Nucleus OS execution environment.

AdaCore announced a three-year global licensing agreement for GNAT Pro with MBDA and the availability of GNATbench Version 2.0 for Eclipse 3.2. The new version provides support for the latest version of the Eclipse open source platform for integrating software tools for application development.

IAR Systems added support for Atmel’s AVR32 UC core into its Embedded Workbench tools and released a new USB stack to its middleware offerings. Earlier in the year, as an ARM partner, the company announced that it was the first tools vendor to support development on the Cortex-M1 family of processors.

MacCraigor Systems announced OCDemon support for ARM Cortex-M3, Freescale MPC 83xx PowerQUICC II Pro, AMD Geode Gx/LX, and Marvell PXA3xx processor families.

Real Time Innovations (RTI) announced the integration of their Data Distribution Service (DDS) with the Real-Time Specification for Java (RTSJ) and that Insitu, Inc. had selected their DDS product for use in the company’s next-generation unmanned autonomous aircraft (UAV).

LDRA announced the launch of TBmanager and TBweb for requirements management. These products extend and enhance the capabilities of TBreq by providing global collaborative capabilities among software development teams.

Connect One officially opened a US office this month both to better support existing customers and take advantage of new opportunities in the region. At the show, the company also announced the release of socket iWiFi, offering security and 802.11b/g connectivity to embedded devices.

Embedded Business Group (EBG) of Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., announced the availability of their embedded database, Entier 2.0 that includes two new major features – complex text search and alias search.

S2 Technologies announced the availability of an enhanced version of their embedded software verification platform, STRIDE 2.1, which incorporates features for large scale use of the platform in complex development projects.

Eclipse Foundation announced the upcoming releases (planned for June 2007) of the Eclipse C/C++ IDE (CDT) 4.0 and Device Software Development Platform (DSDP) projects. These projects represent the core technology that is being developed for the embedded and device development community.

Allegro Software Development announced the launch of RomPager 4.6 embedded Internet connectivity software suite. The product suite offers a comprehensive solution for enabling embedded devices with Internet standards-based software for functionalities that include but are not limited to Web Server, Web Client, XML, UpnP/DLNA, etc.

Much in line with Al Gore’s keynote, Echelon announced the PL 3170 Power Line Smart Transceiver, a power line-based integrated circuit for home automation products. The product features self-install features allowing residential users to more easily create more energy efficient smart appliances and home networks. With products like this helping bringing more intelligence directly through the power line, maybe Al Gore’s dream of the future “Electranet” isn’t so far off.

The “Disruption Zone” was again a featured part of the show, with smaller vendors that CMP Media felt were increasingly disruptive to the industry lined up outside the front of the exhibit hall. Among the companies participating this time around were Encirq and TimeSys. For the next round of the Disruption Zone, VDC might suggest another vendor also exhibiting at this year’s ESC – Sparx Systems, a UML vendor that is keeping other embedded modeling tools leaders on their toes with its low-priced Enterprise Architect modeling product.

Other vendors in attendance at ESC included Altium, American Arium, Certicom, Coverity, Enea, Freescale Semiconductor, Grammatech, Hitex Development Tools, KLOCwork, Lauterbach, Keil (ARM), Lantronix, Perforce, PolyCore Software, PolySpace, Target Compiler, Validated Software Corporation, and many others.

Venture Development Corporation (VDC) is an independent technology market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in a number of embedded, datacom/telecom, component, industrial, retail automation, RFID, AIDC, and defense markets. VDC has been operating since 1971, when graduates of the Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded the firm. Today, we employ a talented collection of analysts and consultants who offer a rare combination of expertise in the market research process; experience in technology product and program management; and formal training in engineering and marketing. VDC’s clients include thousands of the largest and fastest-growing technology suppliers in the world and the most successful investors participating in the markets we cover.