Archive for the ‘Development Tools’ Category

Beware of Chip Companies Bearing False Gifts

Back in the mid 1960’s American Airlines ran a very successful ad program (the ad was “Take me along if you Love me”) in which business travelers were allowed to bring their wives along on their business trip – at no additional cost.

Thousands of business travelers took advantage of the offer and sales soared. Leave it to some marketing moron to contact the traveling “wives” and ask them how they enjoyed their trip. Seems that many of the “take me alongers” were not the wives but someone else.

Hundreds of divorces ensued and the airline was sued by many and sales took a turn for the worse.

Fast forward to 2011 and it seems that the grandsons/granddaughters of those hapless AA marketing mavens might now be working for Freescale.

Freescale is giving away free the MQX operating system – but is Freescale helping or handicapping their customers?

In a recent EMF survey of 660 embedded developers, we were able to compare design outcomes among all of the major operating systems (using our unique Dashboard tool – see video).

Citing just a few highlights,

  ThreadX Micrium VxWorks MQX
Time from design start to shipment (months) 10.5 11.3 16.3 15.8
Percent of Designs completed Behind Schedule 29.8% 40.0% 51.1% 56.6%


So we are left wondering whether Freescale realizes what they are doing to their customers – and whether the grandsons/granddaughters of American Airlines marketers can find a place where their efforts can’t do any more harm. The Obama administration comes to mind.

Opportunities and Threats Confronting Mobile Device Manufacturers and Application Developers


EMF has recently published a detailed analysis of the Mobile Device Industry focusing on best practices and ROI analysis. This paper is available for free download from our website.


  Overview: It’s not easy being a mobile device manufacturer today


 Profound economic conditions spawn profound opportunities and challenges. As in any economic contest, there will be winners, losers and those that can’t tell the difference. Market uncertainties challenge vendors and OEMs alike to find new niches, competitive advantages and markets that will remain stable while enjoying growth potential.


For example, the FCC has recently adopted a regulation that could dramatically improve our wireless devices. The rule offers a brand new and much-improved slice of the radio space for unlicensed use. The new frequencies are known as “white spaces” and result from making available to the public the frequency spectrum previously used by analog TV transmissions. This spectrum will enable greatly enhanced WiFi capabilities which will provide for mile-long connectivity as well as increased and more reliable data handling capabilities. One can imagine the many new and powerful apps that will emerge – most of which will require reusing developed code.


EMF believes that this will both increase opportunities as well as risk for mobile device manufacturers. EMF strongly believes that the issues we present in this report are essential to those manufacturers that will dominate this emerging market opportunity. Merely maintaining a growing position in the current expanding marketplace will not be competitively sufficient.


As processor costs continue their downward spiral, and as fickle consumers of mobile technologies are increasingly ready to move to more interesting and useful displays and functionalities, consumer-based markets are becoming characteristically disposable. New platforms appear nearly monthly – like quantum particles appearing and disappearing into the void of consumer insanity – characterized by more functional and entertaining GUIs that enable the technologically disadvantaged to easily link to social sites, read email, text and perform acts of information magic that would have made Merlin give up his wand.


Points of Pain: issues that mobile device manufacturers must consider to remain competitive

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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.








Acquisition cost



Availability of source code



Microprocessor support



Real time performance



Compatibility with our development tools



Includes good development tools






Compatible with Linux



Availability of perpetual license



Availability of req. middleware or networking protocols



Availability of professional services



Host platform support



Quality of support



Royalty cost (production licenses)



Must be open source




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.

Model-Based Design (MBD) and Model Driven Development (MDD)

Comparing Modeling Design Outcomes with Comparable non-modeling Design Outcomes





In a soon to be published EMF white paper, cadres of comparable design outcomes were developed between developers that used MBD tools and those that didn’t. Cadres were established worldwide, for North America, for Asia, and for Europe.


In addition, specific analyses were conducted for MBD and non-MBD cadres for Telecom/Datacom, Medical, Automotive Transportation and Industrial Automation application markets.




Total Cost of Development calculations were conducted using:

  • Number of software and hardware engineers per project
  • Time from design start to product shipment
  • Percent of designs cancelled and the number of months elapsed before cancellation
  • Percent of designs completed behind schedule and number of months behind


The following table summarizes EMF’s findings. For comparison, the cost per developer man month was chosen to be $10,000. Clearly, this dollar value is high for Asian developers. However this value was chosen for internal geographic analysis only – to establish whether MBD provided an advantage or not. These values are not to be used to compare, for example,  Asian costs with European costs.







Non-MBD Cost

MBD Cost


  North America 














Looking at worldwide developments (that is interrogating the entire database irrespective of geographic considerations), the following table summarizes the EMF findings.




World Industry


Industry MBD


Devel time Months



% behind schedule



Months behind



Ave Delay Months



% cancelled



Months lost to cancellation



SW Developers/proj



HW Developers/proj



Total project developers



Average Developer months/project



Developer months lost to schedule



Developer months lost to cancellation



Total developer months/ project



At $10,000/developer month    
Average developer cost/project



Average cost to delay



Total developer cost/project










It is interesting to note that in every analysis, regardless of the cadres used (i.e., each vertical or geographic comparative breakout), MBD projects used fewer developers. When analyzing cost overruns (i.e., the number of developer months lost to cancellation or late completion) to total project developer months, the percent of cost overruns to total project developer months was less for MBD in every analysis.


EMF suggests that this data shows that the advantages in using simulation-modeling as a design methodology are real and that these practices will be adopted for reasons not only related to design outcomes, but for financial ROI reasons as well.

2010 Embedded Systems Conference – Silicon Valley (ESC)

Fearless and no longer loathing in San Jose (with apologies to the late Hunter Thompson)



Dolores and I made our annual trip to the Left Coast to attend the annual Embedded Systems Conference last week. It was the best ESC West in many years – more booths; larger booths; good floor traffic; interesting announcements and new to embedded players.


I’m not sure how Rich Nass does it – but the keynote speaker was again excellent. This time Michio Kaku, the co-founder of string theory and TV science presenter was the speaker and was charming, funny (but Seinfeld can breathe easy), informative and delightful. We joined the mass exodus to avoid the obligatory hour dedicated for the Microsoft Embedded Group (aka MS Purgatory – otherwise known as We B Arrogant). Granted that Microsoft contributes a lot of $$ to these very important events – for which I am grateful – but give me a friggin break MS, Windows 7 is not the promised land for the embedded world.


This was the year that the chip companies made confessions of love to many OS companies. Freescale made announcements with such stalwarts as Green Hills, while Intel teamed with LynuxWorks for an ill chosen medical product. ARM was very impressive as was Microchip, while Xilinx ran away with the FPGA application announcements. Xilinx for the 7th consecutive year (by EMF survey data) was the most used FPGA in the embedded space (and had the best ROI).


Green Hills also made a networking arrangement with Cavium (who recently acquired MontaVista and MV Linux) which caused us to ask if Dan O’Dowd (who has publicly claimed that anyone who used Linux was brain dead – or worse) had to be drugged or restrained to cut a deal with a Linux company. We checked the stock market for Prozac manufacturers to see if consumption was up in Santa Barbara. All chuckles aside – it was an excellent deal for Green Hills.


It surprised and impressed us that Green Hills made behind the scenes moves that portend for significant growth and positioning against Wind River by hiring two individuals that bring another dimension to the competitive marketplace that will be to their advantage. Although I’m not obliged to keep such under wraps, I do respect the Green Hills folks and will keep these details to ourselves – other than to mention that they are the first of the usual suspects to clearly see the light.

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FIPS 140-3: What Embedded Vendors Need to Know About the New NSA and NIST Mandated Communication Security Standard

Cool dog 


 FIPS 140 (acronym for “Federal Information Processing Standard number 140”) is a US government standard, established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which specifies a series of requirements that must be met by an encryption module before it can be used in a Federal government system.  These requirements cover a range of subjects, from proper key management, to secure generation of random numbers, and from which encryption algorithms may be used, to module self-tests and error detection.


Put more simply, if a product performs encryption, the portion of that product which actually implements the encryption is the focus of FIPS 140. FIPS 140 is of interest to the embedded systems industry for several reasons:


First, under Section 5-131 of the Information Technology Reform Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-106), and the Computer Security Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-235), FIPS from NIST may be approved by the Secretary of Commerce and made binding to all Federal agencies.  FIPS 140 has been granted such approval, and therefore all Federal agencies are required to use FIPS 140-certified encryption to protect all sensitive information processed by all data processing systems, from embedded systems to mainframes.


This means that vendors cannot sell systems which use encryption to any Federal agency unless that system incorporates FIPS 140-certified encryption.

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Forecast 2010: What Is in Store for Embedded Developers

Taking a “dog’s-eye” view of what we might expect in 2010

Light at end of tunnel



 The year 2010 is just around the corner, and we are doing what we do best — forecasting. After all it’s our name. But we aren’t just guessing — we base our forecasts on historical facts and data. For the past 12 years, we have been tracking what developers are doing, what tools, OSes and processes they are utilizing and what their design experiences have been. We also report on what issues trouble them the most.

Now we are preparing our 2010 detailed and comprehensive EMF Executive Survey of Embedded Developers and Managers. We will be inviting you to take the survey to see how you our “loyal readers” compare with the larger statistically based responses (please contact us at if you are willing to participate). Respondents who take the survey will receive a complimentary copy of our survey overview (a $399 value).

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Is Cavium’s Acquisition of MontaVista Good or Bad for Commercial Linux?

Question 1



On November 10, 2009, Cavium, a publicly traded provider of highly integrated semiconductor processors that enable intelligent networking, communications, storage and security applications, signed a definitive agreement to acquire MontaVista. Cavium stated that MontaVista would continue to operate separately and their customers would not be restricted to using only Cavium processors.

Immediately, questions arose: 

  • Who is Cavium and why did they make this acquisition?
  • Was Jim Ready clipping Burger King Coupons?
  • Was MontaVista motivated by Intel’s acquisition of Wind River?
  • Does this mean that commercial Linux is facing financial do-do?
  • What is really going on behind the scenes and is this a good or poor marriage? 

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Reading (or Misreading) the Embedded Market Roadsigns




Co-authored by: Dolores Krasner, VP Market Intelligence, EMF


Remember the old song “Signs”? The lyrics went “signs, signs, everywhere signs, messing up the scenery blowing my mind – don’t do this do that, can’t you read the signs”?

With all of the FUD, claims and counterclaims of misrepresentation between embedded vendors, what is a developer, manager or executive to believe, and how is one to make sense of whether one product or another is best suited for one’s use? No wonder potential users are leery of advertised and promoted claims.

Is it possible that those making the most noise and creating the most FUD are those messing up the scenery for the rest of us? Moreover, are these disruptions taking us away from the real signs that are defined by developers and managers that detail their likes, dislikes, and issues of greatest importance? Finally, what are the market trends that are characterized by revenue growth, best practices and ROI calculations?

I chose the above graphic to illustrate my frustrations (and I suspect the frustrations of others) with the misleading hype that has unfortunately become part of our embedded market culture. What I loved about the graphic was the ridiculous message that hid the information of most importance to the reader – the bridge was out!

So what should the embedded market signs tell us – based on year-over-year EMF Developer Surveys, vendor reported shipments and EMF privleged information – about the road ahead and how to avoid the bridges that are out?

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Selling into Disruptive Markets: The Use of Market Information to Determine and Establish Product Values

The Cheshire cat said to Alice, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there – and when you get there, there’s no there, there” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Which way to go







The Cheshire cat could have been talking to some embedded vendors. If you don’t  understand or track the broader marketplace and what your customers and potential customers are doing and experiencing,  then how can you possibly develop the best strategic plan?

Historically, new and more forceful markets that redefine economic demand replace markets that create economic downturns. Today we are at a transition point in our economic recovery that will redefine markets, and we are currently witnessing an irrevocable upheaval in the marketplace for software design and development tools, components and services. There will be winners and losers. How then does an embedded vendor mitigate against uncertainty and find direction? We believe that market intelligence is the antidote to market uncertainty.

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