A survey carried out in the US by CMP, publishers on this magazine, show an increase in activity in both new designs and revisions to existing embedded designs. While designers focussed on hardware are primarily concerned with component availability and cost those focused on software are more concerned with system performance and overall system development cost.
An average embedded design team will start 1.7 new designs this year while at least two other designs will be revised. The average project length is seven months and one-third of the development team's time is now spent in simulation, testing and debug.
One third of development teams are likely to consider changing their current processor architecture or vendor with a number of reasons for switching given including availability, quality of development tools and documentation. The cost of both the component and system is also considered a reason to look elsewhere alongside the overall system performance.
Of the processor suppliers Motorola, Microchip and Texas Instrument were selected as the top three suppliers for most attributes. However Intel was considered to be the best managed company.
Over half of those surveyed use a proprietary real-time operating system but only 43% see this as a longer term plan. While only 14% have used any embedded Linux, 36% say they plan to use it in the future. As designers increasingly look for an off-the-shelf RTOS they cite hard real-time capabilities, royalty flexibility, the component and system cost and technical support as being the most important factor in selecting an RTOS vendor.
Wind River had the highest brand awareness followed by Microsoft, Red Hat, Green Hills and QNX. While 51% said they would consider buying a Wind River product, only 22% were think of buying from Microsoft placing it 13th in the overall list of possible suppliers.
Published in Embedded Systems (Europe) April 2002