Friday, April 25, 2008

Embedded Systems Bulletin – April 2008

VDC attended last week’s 2008 Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose on April 15 and 16. This bulletin presents a summary of the event.

Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) – San Jose 2008

The 2008 Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose marked the event’s 20th anniversary for the conference! As always, we were interested in show attendance and how exhibitors felt about floor traffic and how it met their expectation for quality leads. At best we observed an uneven flow of traffic on the show floor where some booths were crowded and others less so. What’s more important than VDC’s observations are the comments we received from a number of exhibitor meetings at the show. As you might expect, these comments ranged from satisfied to – in some cases – disappointed. VDC also recognized that some exhibitors had scaled down the size of their booths – maybe a sign of uncertain economic times – or maybe a sign of changing attitudes in the types of conferences/shows they attend and invest in – horizontally focused like ESC or vertical/industry focused.


Best of Show

Express Logic‘s BenchX – Express Logic has been a supplier of commercial real-time operating systems and middleware for over eleven years. Prior to this year, the company did not offer its own integrated development environment, instead relying largely on strategic alliances with other vendors to provide these tools. Express Logic’s release of the BenchX IDE marks a big step in the company’s history and rounds out their product offering by prudently leveraging open source technology. With pricing per seat expected to be in the sub-$1,000 range, the offering provides developers a less expensive solution that is adequate for the requirements of many embedded projects. The company’s ability to offer an OS-agnostic, Eclipse-based IDE, in less than 10 months effort, is a testament to the growing maturity and acceptance of open source software. For more information, please visit:

Software Solution Vendors Continue to Leverage Open Source Software

Express Logic’s announcement was a reflection of a larger theme at the show where companies continue to make announcements around leveraging open source technology. Throughout the embedded market, VDC continues to observe suppliers supplementing their core offerings with Eclipse and GNU-based toolsets and open source run-time software. This trend serves as evidence of the maturity of these solutions and is also a direct long-term challenge to suppliers of commercial-grade offerings.


In addition to releasing GNATbench 2.1.0, AdaCore has enhanced its partnership with Wind River Systems with the announcement that GNAT Pro High-Integrity Edition for DO-178B is now fully integrated with version 2.2 of the VxWorks 653 Platform. In addition, the company also tightened the integration of its GNATbench IDE with Wind River’s Workbench.

Aonix also attended the conference and announced version 5.1 of its PERC Ultra real-time virtual machine, which includes an improved interface with PERC Pico that allows developers to address the lowest levels of hardware without using any C code. The company also announced PERC Ultra’s support of Wind River Linux and its selection by ETAS to be used in a new line of diagnostic tools.

ARM featured several announcements at the show, including enhanced support for Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS, the availability of ARM IP through Synplicity’s ReadyIP Program, and power management enhancements to its Cortex-M3 processor. ARM also announced the availability of a Parasoft Embedded plug-in for version 3.1 of its RealView Development Suite. This partnership comes only weeks after Parasoft Corporation, a test automation tool provider, officially announced the formation of the embedded systems-focused subsidiary.

Fluffy Spider Technologies (FST) participated in the “Disruption Zone” in conjunction with the release version 2.0 of its FancyPants Graphical User Interface platform. The platform’s CanvasServer allows multiple multimedia applications to run and be viewed simultaneously within a unified user interface.

Green Hills Software made several announcements at the conference, including support for AMCC PowerPC 460EX and 460GT processors and the release of its secure Device Management Solution that enables remote and in-field diagnostics, upgrades, debugging, and management of embedded software.

Static analysis tool provider GrammaTech announced at the conference that it has received a DARPA contract from the Department of Defense for the purpose of further developing its technology to examine many of the problems inherent in developing software for multi-processor systems.

ANSI C cross-compiler vendor HI-TECH Software was also in attendance promoting the Omniscient Code Generation (OCG) technology featured in its HI-TECH C PRO solution. The company reports that its OCG technology enables more intelligent code compilation by first examining all of the separate code modules for redundancies and convention inconsistencies.

IAR Systems announced that its development tools and debug probe will be included in future releases of Freescale’s MC1322x IEEE 802.15.4 Platform-in-Package (PiP) IC development kits. The company also announced that has added support for USB-enabled additions of Luminary Micro's ARM Cortex-M3-based Stellaris microcontroller family.

Static analysis tool vendor Klocwork launched the Klocwork Checker Exchange, which will enable developers to collaborate and enhance or develop their own checkers within an open community. The company has also ensured that future releases of its Insight analysis tool will remain compatible to all validated extensions developed within the Exchange community. Klocwork also announced a technology partnership with software production management solution provider Electric Cloud.

Leveraging their experience in the other safety-critical markets, LynuxWorks announced that it will be increasing its efforts to expand its business within the medical industry. The company also announced that its LynxOS-178 RTOS will support Applied Micro Circuits Corporation’s (AMCC) PowerPC 460EX and 460GT embedded processors.

Expanding its tool suite, LDRA launched TBvision, a tool that provides users with graphical representation of industry standards compliance, security vulnerabilities, and fault detection for the source code being tested.

In an effort to remove any confusion around its embedded offerings, Microsoft has reorganized and rebranded its Windows Embedded product family. Going forward, new editions of Windows XP Embedded will be titled Windows Embedded Standard, Windows Embedded CE will be titled Windows Embedded Compact, and restricted licenses of Windows Vista and Windows XP will be offered through the Windows Embedded Enterprise group. In addition, new products specific to certain device categories, including the next generation of Windows Embedded for Point of Service, will be offered through the Windows Embedded Ready division.

In order to extend its penetration into the noncommercial embedded developer community, Microsoft’s SPARK Your Imagination project will be offering versions of Windows Embedded CE and Visual Studio with select hardware to hobbyists and academia at lower price points in addition to now offering Board Support Package certification at no charge. The company also announced that it has taken additional steps in enabling internet connectivity for low-end embedded devices by included the TCP/IP stack within its .NET Micro Framework.

Embedded database vendor McObject has expanded its partnership with operating system vendor eCosCentric and is now including a royalty-free version of eXtremeDB with eCosCentric’s eCosPro software development kits. In addition, McObject recently announced eXtremeDB Kernel Mode that can map databases directly into the kernel space, allowing even faster related application performance.

Targeting systems developers incorporating sophisticated user interfaces, Mentor Graphics announced the release of a Nucleus OS-based platform solution that is optimized for Atmel AT91SAM9 ARM926EJ-S-based microcontrollers.

MIPS Technologies has launched Hot Spot Analyzer, an Eclipse plug-in that analyzes performance bottlenecks for programs on Linux-based systems on MIPS cores. Additionally, the company reports that this new profiling tool for its family of System Navigator EJTAG probes can run without causing any additional time overhead.

MontaVista Software made a number of new announcements at the show, including Linux support packages for the AMCC PowerPC 460EX and 460GT Processors, support for the Xilinx Virtex-5 FXT family of FPGAs, as well as a Mobilinux support package for the new Texas Instruments OMAP3430 Processor.

Open Kernel Labs announced the release of the OKL4 2.0 virtualization platform, which includes enhancements to the platform’s ability to create secure partitions through the company’s Secure HyperCell technology. The company also launched a community development program for OKL4 developers.

In addition to announcing support for Intel’s Atom processor, QNX revealed that its Neutrino RTOS was submitted for Common Criteria certification to the Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ (EAL4+). This evaluation for certification extends beyond the company’s basic kernel to also include its multi-core partitioning solutions.

Real-Time Innovations (RTI) was also in attendance and announced increased support for data distribution over unreliable networks through the release of RTI Data Distribution Service 4.3. The company expects that this release should serve to strengthen its positioning in many military/aerospace and other resource management application markets.

Telelogic announced version 7.2 of their Rhapsody model-driven development environment. Expanding the tool’s functionality, 7.2 features new “code respect” and model-driven testing features for C code. In addition, Telelogic announced an improved Eclipse plug-in for Rhapsody that will allow developers to view models and source code through a single integrated environment.

Virtualization solution vendor TenAsys Corporation announced the release of its new eVM virtual machine manager. Leveraging the hardware-assisted Virtualization Technology found on multi-core Intel processors (Intel VT), TenAsys reports that the eVM platform, scheduled for release in the fall of 2008, will allow Windows to run alongside the other partitioned embedded and real-time operating systems at 100% native performance.

Embedded Linux solution vendor TimeSys also attended the conference, announcing a free board support package for Atmel’s ARM9-based AT91CAP9 microcontroller as well as LinuxLink support for Xilinx’s Virtex-5 FXT FPGAs.

After announcing the release of the Eclipse-based VLX Developer v2.0 and the support for Windows environments for the VLX for Network Infrastructure product earlier in the month, VirtualLogix also unveiled its support for the Power Architecture within VLX for Network Infrastructure. (Post show news – On April 21 Motorola announced an equity investment in VirtualLogix.)

Responding to the expectation that an increasing number of embedded projects will be based on multi-core processor architecture, Virtutech recently announced that the Simics Accelerator included in Simics 4.0 speeds virtual system prototyping by allowing the simulation of several machines in parallel, across multiple host processor cores.

Wind River Systems has partnered with Sun Microsystems to deliver Workbench and Carrier Grade Linux for Sun’s UltraSPARC T2 chip multithreading processor. Wind River also announced that the nEUROn European Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) will be standardized on the company’s VxWorks 653 operating system.

The “Disruption Zone” was again a featured part of the show. Software and hardware companies showcased included: Element CXI, Fluffy Spider Technologies, NICTA Research, Open Kernel Labs, Samplify Systems, Sundance DSP, Taray, and TenAsys.

Other embedded systems software vendors in attendance at ESC included: Altium Limited, American Arium, Ashling Microsystems, BSQUARE, Carbon Design Systems, CriticalBlue, Datalight, eCosCentric, Encirq, eSOL, Freescale Semiconductor, General Software, Hitachi America, Hitex, Macraigor Systems, Micrium, National Instruments, Perforce Software, PHYTEC, Quadros Systems, RadiSys, Segger Microcontroller, Sparx Systems, Sun Microsystems, Synplicity, Target Compiler Technologies, The MathWorks, Trolltech, and many others.