Selecting an Embedded RTOS: Factors of Importance to Developers 2009-2010

Every year, for the past 12 years, EMF has asked embedded developers to respond to a comprehensive and detailed survey that explores all aspects of their design and development activities in a manner that permits EMF to correlate answers to any questions – or series of questions – with any other question or series of questions. The survey is constructed and conducted in a statistically accurate manner to insure valid interpretations (including the ability to create comparative ROIs between similar product offerings).

 

In 2010, 536 developers responded to the survey resulting in a statistical confidence level of 95% +/- 4.5%. This is extremely important to EMF as many of our subscribers are basing their competitive position by needing to  forecast what chip and OS usages will be two years from now.

 

We can, of course, examine these responses from the perspective of any vendor’s individual operating system (which many of our subscribers do to look at their users as well as their competitor’s users).

 

Year-over-year we ask developers to select from among many alternative responses (we limit each developer to a maximum of 4 responses) to the question regarding which factors are most important to their decision to select an operating system. We also ask what factors would enter into their decision to purchase from either a single vendor or from multiple vendors. We may publish this data in another post.

 

The following table presents comparative responses to the factors regarding the OS selection process for the periods 2009 and 2010. The top 15 responses (out of 33 possible) are presented.

 

 

2010

2009

 

Industry

Industry

Acquisition cost

44.6%

36.7%

Availability of source code

33.1%

26.4%

Microprocessor support

30.4%

22.9%

Real time performance

29.8%

34.8%

Compatibility with our development tools

27.6%

29.0%

Includes good development tools

26.6%

24.5%

Reliability

25.2%

31.1%

Compatible with Linux

24.1%

17.8%

Availability of perpetual license

22.7%

20.6%

Availability of req. middleware or networking protocols

18.1%

14.3%

Availability of professional services

16.7%

12.1%

Host platform support

15.0%

15.0%

Quality of support

14.4%

19.2%

Royalty cost (production licenses)

14.2%

9.8%

Must be open source

13.4%

10.7%

 

The lists are comparable between 2009 and 2010 with “realtime performance” and “reliability” taking the steepest drop (but remaining important nonetheless), and “Linux” compatibility “microprocessor support” and “source code availability” being the largest gainers.

 

This bodes well for the Linux community. Such items as “safety certifiable (DO178B, etc.)”, “visualization” and ““security certification (NSA, Common Criteria)” received middle single digit response levels.

 

We have seen this result for many years – and, due to the proliferation of communications and consumer devices, this is why we have forecast the growth in ThreadX, Micrium, MontaVista Linux and Nucleus use. These OSes have been deployed in hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Unless the application calls for a MILS level certification, alternative OSes are being used in place of the high power OSes of the past.

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