Friday, August 22, 2008

Embedded Engineers Expect Software Code Base to Continue to Grow at Nearly 10% per Year

Recently released data from Venture Development Corporation’s (VDC) Embedded/Real-time and Mobile Application Operating Systems study leads to the conclusion that the overall embedded software code base may be growing at a rate of approximately 9% per year.

Comparatively larger code size is not always an indicator of more complex system functionality, as smaller code bases often result from superior coding techniques and more efficient use of system resources. However, this data supports the idea that system complexity is driving the need for greater amounts of software content per project.

Because of their correlation with relatively larger overall code bases, VDC expects projects using commercial and open source operating systems to represent the bulk of total embedded software code base growth going forward. Furthermore, VDC’s findings suggest that engineers working on projects using commercial, open source, and in-house operating systems, as well as those using no formal operating system (running on their target system), all expect, on average, to employ significantly greater amounts of software code on their next embedded design. While data from VDC’s 2008 Embedded System Engineering Survey suggests slightly slower average rates of expected growth in the lines of code per project than in previous years, the average embedded system engineer anticipates an increase of over 20% in the total lines of software code on their next project.

“The average embedded system/device continues to require greater amounts of software to serve the requirements of both suppliers and end users. Among many other functions, today’s embedded systems demand more sophisticated system interfaces, incorporating increasingly complex graphical elements as well as advanced wired and wireless communication capabilities,” says Matt Volckmann, Program Manager with VDC’s Embedded Software Practice. “As a result of a greater overall focus on software as means to enable increased functionality, a large number of embedded systems manufacturers are currently dedicating more of their resources to software engineering tasks.”
Project teams developing, testing, and managing larger, more complex code bases may obtain their software from a number of third party and in-house sources, including:

  • Code leveraged from previous designs
  • Commercial software solutions
  • Using open source solutions
  • Code developed in-house using more efficient tools or larger engineering teams
  • Code generation technologies

Commercial vendors report that customers evaluating embedded operating systems typically are seeking to satisfy a growing list of specific product requirements – and that vendors without adequate offerings in these areas are often not considered as part of a more thorough evaluation. Solutions supporting more complex system user interfaces and communication stacks such as USB connectivity, TCP/IP, and wireless communication protocols are currently in high demand within a majority of projects. Most vendors have therefore either built these solutions in-house to complement their offerings or satisfied these through partnerships in order to fill gaps within their offerings. These market factors are quickly turning operating system vendors into software stack platform providers.

VDC explores these and other critical issues within the recently released report, Volume 3: Embedded/Real-time and Mobile Application Operating Systems, from Track 1 of VDC’s 2008 Embedded Software Market Intelligence Service. This report includes in-depth analysis of findings from VDC’s 2008 Embedded System Engineering Survey segmented by operating system type.

To Access the PDF version of this press release, click here.