Part of my job as an editor/reporter is to attend industry conferences, and I do attend many. One that's been a must-attend for me for the past few years has been the Freescale Tech Forum (FTF). This is my fourth consecutive FTF, and it's amazing how Freescale has changed over those four years.
There are many reasons why I like to attend FTF. One is to find out where one of the industry leaders thinks our industry is headed. And that's possible because people like myself are given access to executives within Freescale who are setting the company's direction, including the CEO, Rich Beyer, and the CTO, Lisa Su.
One thing that I noticed is that Freescale takes on a different tone, which reflects the attitude/position/mind-set/approach of its new CEO. Beyer has only been on the job for about 90 days, but I get the feeling that the company will transform into a more “roll up the sleeves and get it done” kind of company.
An area that Freescale has been a leader in the past is automotive, and that doesn't seem to be changing. With some new microcontroller announcements, it's obvious that the company has a pretty good feel for the demands of this market, both in engine control and infotainment.
Also in the automotive space (sort of) is a demo that I saw that transformed the gasoline-consumer engine of a scooter. In addition to using less gasoline, it made the emissions extremely clean. I was quite surprised to learn that the emissions of a typical scooter are equal to the emissions of about 40 efficient automobiles (I didn't believe it either). It has something to do with the inefficiency of the two-stroke engine, as opposed to the automobile's electronic fuel ignition.
Kevin Klein, Freescale's marketing manager for automotive microcontrollers, talked about the “electrification of the car.” This is a concept where more and more of the car's functions are powered by electricity, rather than gasoline. Such ideas are what is needed as the cost of gasoline continues to reach the stratosphere.
Lastly, the push for the very inexpensive PCs for emerging countries continues. A small form-factor laptop was demonstrated that had a bill of materials (BOM) below $100. And that includes all the software and wireless capabilities. Using conventional formulas, that means that the end-user price should hover around $200. If that's true, the PC becomes available not only to the poorer countries, but it would become much more ubiquitous even in richer nations, whereby every family member could have their own PC.
Richard Nass is editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design magazine. He can be reached at .