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2028: Open source is out, app-centric chips are in

Jean J. Labrosse, President of Micrium

November 12, 2008

Jean J. Labrosse, President of MicriumNovember 12, 2008

November 2028 is the 40th anniversary of ESD. Click here read other 2028 lookbacks.

Every new year, I find myself reminiscing about the past. This time, as I was going through my box of "artifacts," I found the iPhone I bought in 2008. It was a beautiful piece of engineering for its time, and in fact, a product that forever changed the way people looked at embedded systems. I remember that the iPhone and I were inseparable. It went where I went because it gave me access to almost every piece of information I wanted, instantly. At the time, you had to type everything using one or maybe two fingers. A slow process, but we didn't mind. The most absurd thing at the time was text messaging. Imagine this; you conversed with someone by typing one character at a time, he or she replied, and you had to read the response!

I could not imagine going back to those days. Everything is so much easier now with our current embedded devices. As an example, embedded devices have changed the medical industry in huge ways. I remember visiting my physician once or twice a year and having to wait sometimes hours in a "waiting room" before he could see me. In fact, when it was finally my turn, I went in another "private" waiting room where a nurse took my vitals and sometime afterwards, I was finally seen by my physician who was always in a hurry and didn't have time to get to know me. Thanks to the embedded devices I have in my skin (most look like small tattoos), I only have to visit the physician when my embedded computer sees something that needs his expertise.

In 2008, we powered our cars with fuel refined from crude oil. During rush hour, millions of cars all around the world wasted an incredible amount of fuel just "sitting" in traffic, not to mention the tons of greenhouse gases they produced. With today's high-efficiency solar-powered vehicles, at least vehicles are no longer contributing to global warming. Traffic jams have nearly been eliminated by the thousands of sensors and computers in our vehicles as well as those placed on the roadways. Now, computers efficiently move vehicles along their desired destination.

After aggressively pursuing open-source software in the late '00s, the industry realized that it was too costly a choice, with some products failing and developers discovering that they had no resources to fall back on for support when the software didn't perform as required. This led the embedded industry to rapidly create and adopt stringent coding standards for software, effectively halting the pursuit of open source. I was quite fortunate to be one of those championing the need for embedded software standards. And myself, along with some of my colleagues, were instrumental in making this happen as we had been recognized as producing high-reliability software for years.

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