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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.

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.”

No real fun being at DAC or ESC! Seriously!!

May 1, 2011 Comments off

The 48th Design Automation Conference (DAC) kicks off in about a month’s time in San Diego, California, USA. I have been flooded with invites. There’s also an Embedded Systems Conference starting tomorrow, in San Jose. However, I will give both of the events a miss! Why? Simply because of one fact! The EDA industry has stopped surprising me! And, so has the embedded systems industry!!

I an very well aware of the changing and ‘challenging’ trends in the global semiconductor industry. I should also add that I do have at least some knowledge of the global EDA industry in 2010 and its expectations for 2011.

I am aware of the fact that product lifecycle management involves reducing the time-to-market cycles for new product introduction. Industry folks have, time and again, apprised me of the fact that there is a need to bridge the gap between software and hardware – and growing the IT and VLSI industries.

Cadence, for instance, will share a new technology that addresses some of the toughest challenges detailed in the EDA360 vision at ESC 2011. For how long will the challenges be met? Synopsys seems to be raking in the dollars, year after year. Mentor, despite its ‘current issues’, has been doing fairly well. So, what’s new over here?

In embedded, it is very well known globally, that India is an emerging leader. Otherwise, there is hardly any electronics or semiconductor related manufacturing happening in India, despite the best efforts of the ISA.

So, why isn’t all of this being viewed as industry growth? Maybe, you have all the answers! I will only try to sound more optimistic, without creating additional pain!

Almost all of the new techniques and technologies to be announced at either conference, will or already have made their way to India. Or, the companies using them are not allowed to speak about them, at best!

Round-up 2009: Best of EDA, embedded systems and software, design trends

December 29, 2009 Comments off

Friends, the next installment in this series on the round-up of 2009 lists my top posts across three specific fields that are very important within the semiconductor industry — electronic design automation (EDA), embedded systems and software, and some design trends. Here you go!

EDA

Synopsys on Discovery 2009, VCS2009 and CustomSIM

State of global semicon industry: Hanns Windele, Mentor

New routing tool likely to cover upcoming MCMM challenges: Hanns Windele, Mentor

Cadence’s focus — systems, low power, enterprise verification, mixed signal and advanced nodes

Zebu-Server — Enterprise-type emulator from EVE

State of the global EDA industry: Dr. Pradip Dutta, Synopsys

Mentor’s Wally Rhines on global EDA industry and challenges

Mentor’s Wally Rhines on EDA industry — II

Cadence’s Lip-Bu Tan on global semicon, EDA and Indian semicon industry

Indian EDA thought leaders can exploit opportunities from tech disruption!

EMBEDDED SYSTEMS & SOFTWARE

Top 10 embedded companies in India — By the way, this happens to be the most read article of the year!

NI LabView solves embedded and multicore problems!

Intel’s retail POS kiosk provides unique shopping experience

ISA Vision Summit 2009: Growing influence of embedded software on hardware world

MCUs are now shaping the embedded world!

Embedded electronics: Trends and opportunities in India!

Growth drivers for embedded electronics in India

DESIGN TRENDS

Microcontrollers unplugged! How to choose an MCU

Xilinx rolls out ISE Design Suite 11 for targeted design platforms!

TI’s 14-bit ADC unites speed and efficiency

ST/Freescale intro 32-bit MCUs for safety critical applications

Again, I am certain to have missed out some posts that you may have liked. If yes, please do point out. Also, it is not possible for me to select the top 10 articles for the year. If anyone of you can, I’d be very delighted.

My best wishes to you, your families and loved ones for a happy and prosperous 2010.

P.S.: The next two round-ups will be on solar photovoltaics and semiconductors. These will be added tomorrow, before I disappear for the year! 😉

Growth drivers for embedded electronics in India

November 23, 2009 2 comments

The strength of India’s embedded systems and software industry is well known globally. Naturally, interest is extremely high in this area.

Keeping that in mind, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), recently organized a conference on “Embedded Electronics: Trends and opportunities in India”, during the BangaloreIT.biz event.

Speaking on the global electronics systems design and manufacturing ecosystem, BV Naidu, chairman, ISA, estimated the global electronics industry at $1.75 trillion for 2009, and projected to reach $2 trillion in 2014. The annual growth rate has been 3 percent for 2004-09.

India lags behind in (electronics) numbers!
India’s story is starkly revealed in its numbers. While the electronics industry is the key to national growth, India is extremely small in this segment. Taking telecom/electronics hardware production as a share of GDP, China has a GDP share of 12.7 percent, while India only has 1.7 percent share.

Even smaller countries, such as Korea — 15.1 percent, Taiwan — 15.5 percent, and Israel — 23.6 percent, respectively, have much higher GDPs. The share of USA is 5.4 percent, Japan — 4.5 percent, and Germany — 8.3 percent, respectively.

India’s domestic production, excluding imports, is $10.8 billion during 2009. Consumption reached $45 billion in FY09 and the demand is likely to reach $125 billion in FY 2014. The expected domestic demand will likely grow 22 percent from 2009-2020, reaching $400 billion by 2020. Exports reached $4.4 billion in FY09, and it is likely to reach $15 billion in FY14 and $80 billion in FY20, growing at 31 percent.

The trade imbalance is projected to increase to $323 billion by 2020 as the imports of electronic products are likely to increase to 16 percent of the GDP. As a result, it is important for some Indian companies to play a major role.

It has the potential to leapfrog!
There exists a tremendous potential for India to leapfrog technologies and lead. Potential exists in several areas such as wireless, smart meters (AMI), LEDs, green energy/energy efficiency, affordable devices/telemedicine, digital classrooms/virtual classrooms for education, digitization in terms of electronic society/unique ID/TV, radio, etc., integrated surveillance systems, and low-cost zero emission cars.

Touching on the VLSI/electronics ecosystem, Bangalore itself is home to over 90 companies in VLSI and embedded. However, most of these are arms of MNCs. High-tech manufacturing does not exist, as yet. However, the solar PV industry has been attractive recently, and high-tech manufacturing is likely to grow there. The silicon fab, however, may take some more time.

Within the Indian electronic system design industry, there are companies such as Ittiam, SemIndia, etc., who focus on made in India and made for India. Naidu called upon the government to encourage the domestic manufacturing and systems companies.

In this respect, the electronic components and accessories ecosystem industry is currently moderate. It used to be 15 percent and has now grown to 35 percent. That means, 35 percent of the costs of production can be sourced and managed using components from India.

India has managed to attract some EMS companies, especially to Sriperumbudur, an industrial town in the Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu. However, low end products are being developed, or rather, work that is at the low end of the value chain is being done. That needs to change! Here, embedded software can play a key role.

 

Segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry. Source: India Semiconductor Association (ISA)

Segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry. Source: India Semiconductor Association (ISA)

“Our local markets should provide opportunities for the local companies. Access to global markets will help us grow,” he added. He presented segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry up to 2020 (see table). Read more…

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