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Embedded systems trends and developer opportunities


Herb Hinstorff.

Herb Hinstorff.

Today, the world is transitioning from independent devices to  connected systems. Intel has been inside the embedded systems market for over 35 years, having developed 270+ CPUs and SoCs as well as 100+ chipsets.

Herb Hinstorff, director of Marketing, Developer Products Division, Intel Software, said that Intel has been engaged at all levels of the solution stack. He was speaking at the 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA.

There are tools to deliver on developer needs, such as debuggers, analyzers, compilers and libraries. There are tools to provide the deep system-level insights into power, reliability and performance.

On the debuggers side, they increase system and device stability and reliability. There is an efficient system, SoC-wide defect analysis and ultra-fast system-wide tracing for software debug. There is an integrated application level debugger. Overall, it speeds system bring-up and development. Analyzers focus on boosting reliability, power efficiency and performance, enabling differentiated designs, system-wide analysis and deep insights.

Compilers go on to optimize performance and efficiency. There is the industry-leading C/C++ compiler. It boosts system and application performance on Intel Atom, Core and Xeon processors. Compilers also take advantage of the multicore to boost performance.

There are libraries for performance and efficiency. Software building blocks increase the developer productivity and boost performance. There are specialized testing functions that handle signal processing, data processing, complex math operations and multimedia processing. Besides, there is future-proof software investments. The libraries provide an easy way to take advantage of the multicore capabilities to boost performance.

The Intel System Studio is an integrated software tool suite that provides deep, system-wide insights to help accelerate time-to-market, strengthen system reliability, and boost power effiency and performance. The JTAG interface has system and application code running Linux.

There is a continued broadening of the OS support, and a broader range of tools to match the expanding SoC capabilities. There is more extensive software based training and simulation, as well as market-specific libraries and APIs.

Given that the market is transitioning from independent devices to connected systems, more capable SoC platforms and complex software stacks require deeper and broader system-level insights and optimizations. Embedded developers can take advantage of the Intel System Studio to accelerate the time-to-market, strengthen system reliability, and boost power efficiency and performance of the Intel architecture-based embedded and mobile systems.

Mobile as the nexus: Warren East, ARM

June 14, 2011 Comments off

Warren East, CEO, ARM.

Warren East, CEO, ARM.

ARM’s CEO, Warren East, presented this evening at an ISA invited conference on Mobile As The Nexus!

East said the industry is in a transformational mode. Mobile devices are now connecting ubiquitous environments, cloud computing, services and storage. We have the opportunity to reshape the value chain and create growth. Rapid pace of product revolution demands choice and re-use. Low power, low cost and differentiation drives innovation across markets. Scalable solutions enable smarter systems for expanding opportunities. East added that a flexible, diverse ARM ecosystem is evolving to enable new paradigms across new markets.

Focusing on the 2020 opportunity with ARM, he noted that ARM is growing into new markets and product categories. Today’s processors are driving shipments beyond 2015. All of this presents a tremendous opportunity for those who want to work with ARM.

Earlier, he said that currently, over 4 billion people were globally connected by ARM-powered mobile phones. Smartphones will leapfrog PCs in the developed world. Over 1.8 billion ARM processor cores were shipped in Q1-2011. Over 25 billion ARM based chips have been shipped so far. The table applications revenue is likely to top $15 billion by 2015.

There are over 850 ARM Connected Community partners, The ARM  Cortex family has now been licensed 186 times. ARM currently has 10 percent of the mobile computing market.

However, East cautioned that there is still some way to go! Around 5.1 billion people don’t have the Internet, 2.2 billion folks don’t have mobile phones and 1.4 billion of the global population don’t have electricity. Read more…

Vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products: Jeff Bier, EVA

June 8, 2011 Comments off

Jeff Bier,  co-founder and president, Berkeley Design Technology Inc.

Jeff Bier, co-founder and president, Berkeley Design Technology Inc.

Following my post on the formation of the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA), I managed to speak with Jeff Bier, president, Berkeley Design Technology (BDTI), who went on to speak more about the Alliance’s capabilities.

First, the mission and vision of the Alliance.  Bier said: “The mission of the Embedded Vision Alliance is to transform the electronics industry with products that–through vision technology–are more intelligent and aware of their environments, and create significant new markets for electronic equipment and components. The goal of the Alliance is to speed the adoption of computer vision capabilities in electronic products.

“The strategy of the Alliance is to inspire and empower engineers to incorporate vision capabilities into their products by providing practical information, insights, skills, and standards.”

I asked Jeff Bier whether the Alliance had restricted itself to markets such as automotive driver assistance, home surveillance, and gaming systems? “No,” he said! “We believe that vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products in many markets – as well as enabling the creation of entirely new kinds of products. Automotive driver assistance, surveillance, and gaming systems are examples of vision applications where products already exist at consumer price points – and in some cases these products are already shipping in high volume.

“While we certainly believe that there will be more such products in these markets in the future, we also believe that there will be compelling vision-based products in other markets, ranging from smartphones to consumer electronics to medical devices to digital advertising.”

In that case,  what kind of applications can one expect getting covered in retail and entertainment, medical applications, especially. Bier replied, “The Embedded Vision Alliance doesn’t intend to try to pick winners among embedded vision applications – but rather, to enable as many players as possible.”  Here are some examples (including some existing products and some that are just ideas):

Retail: Digital signs that measure the success of an advertisement in attracting and retaining a viewer’s attention – and that select among a number of ads depending on the gender and age of the viewer. Vending machines that exclude minors from purchasing prohibited items, such as alcoholic beverages.

Entertainment: There are some awesome possibilities here, such as toys that recognize which child is playing with them and respond based on that child’s preferences. Video games that put the person inside the game, or inside the television program, for example.

Medical: Systems that watch hospital rooms and warn caregivers when they’ve forgotten to wash their hands, to cut down on infections. Machines that recognize medications and help elderly people take the right medication at the right time. Exercise equipment that detect a person’s heart rate and respiration rate without requiring electrodes.

Now, implementing embedded vision is going to pose a challenge! I asked Bier how the Alliance will overcome this. He replied: “We don’t expect to overcome it all by ourselves, but we hope to help, by providing design engineers get the kinds of practical information, insights, and skills required to implement embedded vision—and by providing a centralized place for such resources. This kind of information is difficult to come by today – by far the majority of computer vision information available today is theoretical, academic work.

“The first project of the Alliance is the web site, http://www.embedded-vision.com.  The web site will deliver a variety of information including technical articles, product information, discussion forums, and demonstrations. In the near future, we will begin to deliver additional resources, such as newsletter and online seminars.”

Finally, the Alliance needs to create opportunities for technology providers to reach out to embedded vision system designers in the coming months. “Definitely”, said Bier.  “The web site is already beginning to provide such opportunities, and we will continue to do so there as well as with other initiatives, such as educational seminars and on-line conferences.”

Top 10 Indian embedded companies!

February 7, 2011 8 comments

It has been over two years since I wrote the piece — Top 10 embedded companies in India! It has been the most read, and by far, the most commented.  Now, it is time to do a review, or, more suitably, a recap!

First, who are the top 10 (Indian) embedded systems and software companies in India? My list, in no particular order, would read something like this:

1. Ittiam
2. Sasken
3. CMC
4. C-DAC
5. L&T EmSyS
6. ProcSys
7. eInfochips
8. Mistral
9. iWave Systems/Global Edge
10. Vayavya Labs

There are several firms in Pune and Hyderabad, who probably deserve a name.  There may be some folks may not agree with this list, but I would go with these, for now. The next change could be two years down the road!

Some may even question the presence of CMC and C-DAC in this list. However, CMC has well over 30+ years of extensive experience in providing consulting, design and development services and testing services in real-time systems.

C-DAC has capabilities in high-performance computing as well as grid computing. It also has unit focusing on professional electronics, including embedded and VLSI products.

Ittiam and Sasken remain in the top 5 category. ProcSys is a new entrant, besides iWave, Global Edge and Vayavya Labs.

Now, may I know if you have any doubts, as well as moves, additions and/or changes (MAC)? 😉

7 principles for bridging hardware and firmware divide: Gary Stringham

July 23, 2010 Comments off

Gary Stringham, founder and president of Gary Stringham and Associates, LLC.

Gary Stringham, founder and president of Gary Stringham and Associates, LLC.

Embedded designers, are you having problems with the firwarre (embedded software) running on your hardware? For instance, do you wish to reduce chip respins? Or, would you like to improve on the hardware and firmware integration?

These and several related queries were answered by Gary Stringham, founder and president of Gary Stringham and Associates, LLC, USA, in an interactive session organized by the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC), in co-operation with the US Commercial Service, Bangalore, and in association with the India Semiconductor Association (ISA).

Here are the seven principles that Stringham highlighted during his session. These principles should be of great interest to designers of embedded systems in India, and elsewhere. These are:

1. Collaborate on design.

2. Set and adhere to standards.
3. Balance the load.
4. Design for compatibility.
5. Anticipate the impacts.
6. Design for contingencies.
7. Plan ahead!

I will add some more stuff for each one of these points, time permitting.

Embedded electronics: Trends and opportunities in India!

November 4, 2009 2 comments

I know this particular topic and headline is going to get lots of page views. However, I’ve something better in mind to tell all of you, especially those having an interest in embedded systems and software in India.

The headline is actually the theme of the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) E3 conference, which will be held during the forthcoming BangaloreIT.biz event next week!

What’s in store? Probably lots!

In the opening session, industry thought leaders from Ittiam Systems and SemIndia will be setting the tone on design and manufacturing perspective. The second session is actually a panel discussion — to be moderated by S. Janakiraman, President and Group CEO, Product Engineering Services, MindTree. The panelists are from KPIT Cummins, National Semiconductor, Wipro and Delphi. It should be interesting!

I will add some more thoughts on the trends and opportunities in the Indian embedded systems and software industry, although, I’ve mentioned those quite a few times in the past!

India’s strength in embedded
India’s strength in embedded is two-fold — embedded design – in both hadware and software. Also India’s manufacturing demand for electronic products is growing at 13 percent CAGR as per ISA-F&S report 2008.

Design of embedded systems and software
India is emerging as the chip design center for most global companies. There are three types of embedded activities currently happening in India. These are:

* Embedded products designed, developed and manufactured by Indian companies for local markets or for exports — such as local product companies.
* Design projects executed by Indian design services companies for global companies — such as Wipro, KPIT, etc.
* Transnational R&D companies functional in India, who are doing captive design projects for parent companies from India. — Delphi, Cisco, Intel, etc.

Verticals of growth
Coming to manufacturing part, this growth is happening across five-six verticals:

* IT and office automation (OA) — where desktops and laptops are the growth drivers.
* The second area is telecom — wireless infrastructure for GSM and CDMA; also mobile phone manufacturing is emerging as a big segment.
* Next comes consumer electronics, which is driven by STBs, MP3 playerrs, TV and audio systems, etc.
* In industrial electroncis — it is being driven by UPS, energy meters, etc.
* In automotive — we have over 7 million two-wheelers being manufactured in India. The electronic content within them is growing.
* Another opportunity is in medical electronics, smart cards — now with the national ID project as well as metros coming in, and also e-passports.
* Even defence and aerospace are growing areas.

Trends and opportunities in India
The emerging trends are in security surveillance, solar energy, and LED lighting.

* Surveillance — video and security surveillance are gaining strongly.
* Solar — basically, along with solar panels, you will need MPPT charge controllers as well as solar inverters. These will fuel growth.
* LED lighting — meant to replace kerosene lamps with LED, as well as street LED lighting and auto LED lighting, along with lanterns.

On the software side, India has more of software than hardware engineers. The reason being, In India, more work based on developing applications, programming of MCUs, device driver development, etc. are majorly happening here.

 

Hence, embedded software is a bigger element of the Indian industry.

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