Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Intel Strengthens Multi-core Software Tool Portfolio with RapidMind Acquisition

What Happened?

On August 19th, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) announced that it had purchased multi-core software development tool vendor RapidMind. This acquisition is Intel’s third in as many months targeted to offer its customers additional options to meet the software development challenges presented by multi-core processors.

Primarily targeted at enterprise and high performance computing, RapidMind’s development and runtime platform analyzes and optimizes C++ code to run on multi-core processors. Last month, Intel acquired Cilk Arts, a company who offers a compiler-based parallel programming solution also targeted at C ++. While the aforementioned companies were both small private companies with little potential for a near term impact on Intel’s bottom line, the company’s acquisition of embedded system solution provider Wind River Systems (Delisted – NASDAQ: WIND) in June provides Intel with immediate relevance within embedded software multi-core solution discussion.

VDC’s View

For years, mark pundits (ourselves included) have mused about the software gap limiting the adoption and effective utilization of multi-core processors. Semiconductor product roadmaps are quickly forcing development teams to reevaluate their current or future processor migration paths in order to protect the investments represented by their software code bases.

Preliminary results from our 2009 Embedded System Engineering Survey show that 18% of respondents cite either a multi-core or multi-core and multiprocessor design on their current project, compared to approximately 7% of last year’s respondents. Although engineers surveyed in past years had anticipated higher rates of adoption – it appears as if additional knowledge of and experiences with the various technical and commercial challenges associated with migration to multi-core processors have allowed OEMs to begin broader implementation.

In 2008, VDC’s study of the embedded software multi-core component and tools market revealed Wind River in the top spot as a percent of 2007 commercial market revenues. Since that time, Wind River has enhanced its multi-core solution portfolio with the extension of SMP and AMP capabilities for its run-time solutions in combination with the release of its hypervisor this spring.

While there is a possibility that Wind’s acquisition by Intel may limit the former’s access to and development around non-IA architectures in the long term, it is clear that Intel is committed to providing its customers – both embedded and enterprise – with the software solutions necessary to successfully develop and deploy next generation multi-core systems.

In case you missed it, check out our other commentary on Intel’s acquisition of Wind River Systems: