Wednesday, November 26, 2008

VDC Research Webinar Event

VDC recently announced the launch of our Embedded Software Market Intelligence Program: 2009 Service Year. As part of that announcement, we mentioned our upcoming Webinar presentation that provides an update on the market, including an analysis and outlook for 2009.

We hope you can join us for one of the two planned sessions. You can see more details and register at:

VDC Webinar Events - What’s Next: Embedded Software Market Update, Trends and 2009 Outlook December 2nd, 11:00 AM (U.S. Eastern) December 5th, 2:00 PM (U.S. Eastern). Following the presentation, we’ll also have a Q&A session so we can respond to your specific areas of interest.

Our speakers include Stephen Balacco, Director of our Embedded Software and Tools Practice, and Chris Rezendes, EVP Research Operations, and the following questions will be discussed:

  • How is the current global economic downturn impacting near-term prospects for suppliers of embedded software platforms, development tools, and services?
  • What are the dynamics of the global market for embedded software/system engineering labor? How is this market evolving?
  • How is the growing focus/reliance on software in embedded systems impacting the need for software/system lifecycle management tools and practices?
  • What is the impact of open source solutions/communities on the embedded systems market?

We look forward to seeing you at one of these sessions.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BSQUARE acquires TestQuest

What Happened?

Yesterday, BSQUARE announced the acquisition of automated test tool vendor TestQuest. BSQUARE noted that the acquisition was in line with a strategy of growing its product business to support existing customers. The acquistion will also provide added exposure to BSQUARE across various geographic regions (especially within the Asia Pacific region), access to new customers outside of the embedded system market, and strengthen their offerings for companies using multiple types of operating systems including Symbian, Linux, and others in addition to Windows Mobile.

BSQUARE reported that they had purchased the company for $2.2 million in cash and that TestQuest had generated approximately $4.8 million over a 12 month period ending September 30th 2008.

VDC’s View

While BSQUARE is likely to continue to focus significant efforts around its core Windows licensing and engineering services businesses within the embedded market, this acquisition is part of a larger effort to broaden its portfolio of complementary software product offferings. The company has released a number of new products over the last year or so, including products for UI development for flash, a 3G wireless development kit, and the Device Validation TestSuite, a QA testing tool for Windows CE on the TI OMAP3 Evaluation Module.

The acquisition should help BSQUARE to build on its capabilities around QA and test for mobile, especially devices using non-Windows-based operating systems prevalent within the mobile phone market such as Linux and Symbian. For a company with a solid footing in the Windows universe, additional products catering to the needs of other operating system platforms is a good strategy as well.

The move also speaks to the growing importance of test and verification within the mobile phone market given the continued growth in software content per phone (recent VDC findings suggest that the code base within the mobile phone market may be growing at a rate of approximately 14% per year) and compressed development cycles.

VMware Acquisition Targets Virtualization for Mobile Devices

What Happened?

Last week, VMware publicly revealed that it had acquired France-based embedded virtualization vendor Trango Virtual Processors in October. The acquisition of Trango’s solutions, which support virtualization on ARM and MIPS-based architectures, is intended to help broaden VMware’s target market beyond x86 platforms and specifically into the mobile phone space.

In positioning the Trango’s virtualization technology within the mobile phone space, VMware is emphasizing:

  • The benefits to manufacturers of faster time-to-market and easier porting of more robust operating systems
  • The ability of end users to manage multiple device profiles and more seamlessly make use of PC-based applications.
VMware plans to release the new VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) based on this technology sometime in 2009 (late 2009 by some reports).

VDC’s View

This development is big news for virtualization solution providers playing in the embedded systems space. Vendors have long been looking to ride the coattails of VMware’s success story, attempting to draw strong parallels that would signal the inevitable arrival of virtualization within the embedded systems domain as well.

However, despite the fact that some of the value propositions of virtualization within the desktop and server computing market hold true for the embedded domain, there are also key differences that make an apples-to-apples comparison challenging. One of the most glaring of these is the diversity of hardware architectures that continue to be used across embedded projects -- embedded engineering is far from a homogeneous x86 world.

Despite the growing interest in virtualization technology over the last few years, VDC’s research points to the fact that the current use of virtualization across the larger embedded space remains low. That said, VDC has also seen higher reported rates of virtualization use specific to the mobile phone segment of the embedded market. VDC anticipates that future growth of virtualization within embedded system projects is most likely to be strongest in industries where hardware architectures are either similar to PC and server environments and/or becoming more uniform and platform specific. The standardization of system platforms in industries like the mobile phone market, point to growing opportunities for virtualization going forward.

Key embedded solution competitors bracing for strong adoption of virtualization within the mobile phone market such as VirtualLogix, Open Kernel Labs, Green Hills Software, and others, likely see VMware’s move as more validation that virtualization is destined to reach the mobile and embedded markets in earnest over the coming years. However, with a large, established vendor like VMware (and parent EMC) now looking to grow its business in the mobile phone space, it also may be a cause for concern for some vendors that had previously hoped to be the VMware of embedded - but now will have to compete more directly with the virtualization giant itself.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Embedded Systems Bulletin - October 2008

VDC attended the 2008 Embedded Systems Conference in Boston on October 28 and 29. This bulletin presents a summary of the event.

Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) – Boston 2008

In these times of economic uncertainty, the fifteenth installment of the East Coast’s Embedded System Conference exceeded our expectations. Although some prominent embedded vendors did not participate in the show and many exhibitors seemed to have scaled down booth size and staff, show floor attendance did not drop off as much we might have expected. In fact, attendance on Tuesday in particular seemed fairly comparable to last year in Boston. Discussions with exhibiting vendors also suggested that the number of quality leads generated by attendees seemed promising as well as consistent year-over-year.


Best of Show

GrammaTech’s CodeSonar 3.3 – Static analysis tool vendor GrammaTech announced that CodeSonar 3.3 is up to five times faster than previous versions. The company also announced that it has improved the reporting and charting abilities in addition to adding a richer API in order to enhance the user’s ability to customize tests and reports. We expect that these announcements should help GrammaTech, whose solutions have traditionally been used in the development of safety- or mission-critical applications, strengthen its value proposition to those markets outside of its traditional domain.

Honorable Mentions

BSQUARE’s 3G Dev Kit – BSQUARE launched a 3G wireless development kit for Texas Instrument’s OMAP35x to aid the integration and development of hardware and software, which should allow teams to focus more of their time and efforts above the cell core on the application level. BSQUARE also announced a Flash UI Extender that facilitates the use of Flash to build user interfaces for Windows CE 5 or Windows Mobile 6.

Green Hills Software’s Platform for Secure Wireless Devices – GHS has enhanced its Platform for Secure Wireless Devices with the latest 802.11A/B/G wireless drivers from Atheros Communications as wells as new Devicescape security supplicants. The company anticipates that these improvements – as well as the growing importance of security for mobile devices – will help fuel future design wins for the mobile phone space. GHS also announced that Saab is using INTEGRITY, MULTI and the Green Hills Probe for the development of its Skeldar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Open Kernel Labs’ OKL4 3.0/Nano – Virtualization solution vendor Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) announced version 3.0 of its OKL4 embedded hypervisor. With their solution primarily targeted at the mobile phone industry, the company has also released a configuration of OKL4 3.0, dubbed OKL4 Nano that is streamlined for use on low-end phones that lack the memory or processing power to run a full version of OKL4. Not only does this solution allow them to target the more rapidly expanding low-end mobile market, but it is also configured to ensure that applications developed to run on Nano will be completely compatible with the full version.

Best Giveaway

Microsoft Windows Embedded Computer – At the conference’s industry address, presented by Kevin Dallas, Microsoft provided the first 300 attendees with a VIA Artigo Pico-ITX kit (due to the lecture’s high turn out, Microsoft announced that they would ship additional systems if needed), loaded with 1 GB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive, Visual Studio Pro 2005, as well as configured dual boot either Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 or a 1200day evaluation copy of Windows Embedded Standard. With these systems retailing for approximately $1,400, Microsoft continues to demonstrate its unrelenting drive to bolster its embedded presence.

Software Vendors Target Mobile Devices for Next-Generation Solutions

Mobile devices continue to generate a growing portion of consumers’ interaction with technology. The number of development solutions targeted at these sophisticated mobile devices has increased in conjunction with the versatility and level of functionality within these previously resource-constrained and dedicated devices. We expect that this class of devices – from low-end phones to PC-like smartphones –will increasingly drive the future of the embedded market, both from the level of functionality expected by consumers as well as the sheer volumes of device shipments.


AdaCore featured several announcements at the show, including the availability of GNAT Pro for SYSGO’s ElinOS embedded Linux operating system, support for Mentor Graphics’ NucleusOS, as wells as a strategic partnership with Praxis, the developer of the Ada-based SPARK language and related toolset.

Aonix announced a new release of its PERC Ultra virtual machine and toolset for the development of Java-based, symmetric multiprocessing systems. In addition, the company also announced that the PERC Ultra SMP tool will support Concurrent’s RedHawk Linux and NightStar debugging and analysis tools.

Software production management tool vendor Electric Cloud also attended the Conference and announced version 3.0 of its ElectricCommander tool. The highlighted improvements featured an Eclipse integration intended to aid agile development and promote best practices that could speed development.

Real-time Operating System (RTOS) vendor Express Logic announced that the availability of its ThreadX RTOS on a simulated Renasas SH-4A platform created with Virtutech’s Simics. We expect this integration, as well as the use of other virtual system prototyping/simulation solutions, should help engineering teams begin application development sooner, potentially speeding time-to-market.

IAR Systems also attended the conference and launched a version of its IAR Embedded Workbench IDE for Atmel’s AVR32 Version 3.10.

Klocwork announced that C# source code analysis capabilities have now been added to its Klocwork Insight static analysis tool.

After having launched TBvision at ESC West, LDRA released TBsecure, a plug-in for that checks compliance with the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute CERT C secure coding standard. In addition, the company also announced that its TBrun unit test tool will now be available as a stand-alone product.

Mentor Graphics announced the availability of a customizable reference platform for the design of multimedia applications called the Nucleus Platform Media Player. The solution includes the Nucleus operating system, a user interface engine, and a suite of development tools.

MicroChip announced the next generation of their MPLAB In-Circuit Debugger (ICD). The company states the MPLAB ICD3 can operate 15 times faster than its predecessor and will better enable rapid program development for its entire 8/16/32-bit microcontroller portfolio.

At the Conference’s keynote, Kevin Dallas, General Manager of Windows Embedded, discussed Microsoft’s plans to build “Quebec,” the next generation of Windows Embedded Standard (XP), on Windows 7.0 and include further enhancements for connected, service-oriented devices.

Microsoft also announced the SPARKs Will Fly contest. Based on the SPARK Your Imagination program announced at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose in April (which provides versions of Windows Embedded CE and Visual Studio with select hardware to hobbyists and academia at lower price points), this contest is aimed at promoting innovative device ideas for the “home of the future.”

The .NET Micro team at Microsoft presented some significant enhancements to their product including Wi-Fi integration, Universal Serial Bus support, Web Services for Devices as well as support for Analog Devices Blackfin processor family. The .NET Micro team also showcased a competition of their own, the Dare to Dream Different Challenge, which pits developers to design new devices using the .NET Micro Framework.

Also in attendance was Real-Time Innovations (RTI) who launched a safety-critical version of its Data Distribution Service. The Safety-Critical Edition supports both OMG’s DDS standard as well as the Real-Time Publish-Subscribe Protocol (RTPS), but with a library size of approximately 130KB.

Zeligsoft announced a new generation of its software communication architecture (SCA) model tool, Zeligsoft CX. In addition to its out-of-the-box specifications, CX is designed to enable further development of domain specific languages to fit new industry standards or project-specific requirements.

Other leading embedded systems vendors in attendance at ESC included American Arium, Altera, American Arium, Black Duck Software, Birdstep Technology, CMX Systems, Coverity, Datalight, Telelogic an IBM company, IntervalZero (Ardence, a Citrix company), Keil (ARM), Lauterbach, McObject, National Instruments, Parasoft, Perforce Software, Protecode, Quadros Systems, Segger Microcontroller, Texas Instruments, The MathWorks, and many others. The SD Best Practices show held on the 3rd Floor of the convention center included Accurev, IBM, the Object Management Group, Progress Software, Urbancode, and several other exhibitors as well.