Thursday, February 27, 2014

Embedded World - First impressions

Once again, it's the time of the Embedded World in Nuremberg Germany, the biggest and most important event of it's kind in Europe. Here are some of my first findings from the fair.

Internet of Things (IoT) is the big theme of the event this year, and in the embedded industry in general. Wireless connectivity is very important part of the IoT scheme. There are some clear changes ongoing. Rising technologies are Wifi, Bluetooth Smart (the new official name of Bluetooth Low Energy), and Sub-GHz RF solutions. Other 2.4GHz radios, including Zigbee and classic Bluetooth are loosing market share.

ARM, Linux and Qt seems to be the winning combo. In the past, x86 architecture dominated the embedded market. Now clearly all new design are based on ARM architecture. x86 products only exists because they we're designed in the past and are still in production, not yet dumped altogether. In an earlier posting, I discussed about "Intel - the walking dead". Intel had big presence at the trade fair, but only place where I found any mention about the new Quark CPU was at Intel's own booth. No one else seems to be interested in it. Very few companies planning anything new with Atom either.

The same case in with operating systems. Embedded Windows seems to disappeared from the map altogether. All the demos I familiarized myself where either based on Linux or QNX, or in some occasions some other RTOSs as well. But not a single Windows case, except perhaps at Microsoft department, but I didn't even bothered to visit there.

Enea Linux and distributed database demonstrated with RaspberryPi and BeagleBoneBlack.
As an example, software technology company Enea originating from Sweden, just recently released an open Enea Linux distribution, based on the Yocto project. Enea has been known for it's OSE and OSEck operating system widely used in network processors and DSPs in communication network elements, and clear market leader on that segment.

On graphics side, the game is not that clear. Qt provided by Digia has strong presence on the market, but there is still space for other solutions as well. Especially in 3D graphics for gaming and demanding visualization. Qt does offer solutions for that as well, but it is still most known for it's 2D user interface designs. HTML5 is growing as a challenger in local embedded UI displays as well, as the computational power of embedded solutions is increasing, thus Qt will have challenges to keep it's market share. I had long conversation with Digia people, and there a quite a lot of interesting things to come in 5.3 and 5.4 releases, not yet available.

I'm happy to see the choices made by my company a decade ago were the right ones: engage to ARM and Linux technologies. At that time, Qt was not widely available, but already before it was published as an open source, we started to co-operate with Trolltech, the company which originally created the technology. ARM, Linux and Qt, here we come!

More findings from Embedded World to come in next postings, stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment