If you've been around the embedded systems industry for any time, you're likely aware that the EE Times Group conducts an annual study of its readers, particularly those you who read Embedded Systems Design magazine, visit Embedded.com, or attend any of the global Embedded Systems Conferences. The results are now in, with more than 1,500 of you filing out the full study, which represents a pretty good sample.
In the study, we ask developers about the environment they work in and the design process they employ. Then we get into specific vendor choices, including which operating system, which processor, and so forth, they use or plan to use. In many instances, we go a few steps beyond the initial question and try to figure out why the answers are what they are.
The biggest takeaway from this year's study, for me at least, is that there was very little change from 2009 to 2010. However, one area that did have a significant change, thanks to the recession and (hopefully) the end of the recession, is the number of engineers working on the project at hand, specifically the software engineers. In 2008, development teams averaged 15.5 members (8.1 of whom were software engineers). In 2009, the number dropped to 13.6 (6.6 software). But in 2010, it rose to 18.9 (9.4 software). That's the highest number in at least five years.
Unfortunately, those extra folks didn't help you get your project finished on time. Like previous years, less than half of your projects were completed on time.
News that's not so good for the RTOS vendors is that the number of projects that employ internally developed operating systems is on the rise, from 26% last year to 32% this year (from 21% in 2008). The biggest hit there is against the commercial OSes, which fell from 47% to 38%.
The biggest surprise for me was in the question, “Please select all of the operating systems you are considering using in the next 12 months.” Although, on the heels of the previous question, I probably should have been surprised. The number one choice was FreeRTOS (which can now be downloaded directly from Embedded.com, at www.embedded.com/code.new/, search by “Other”: FreeRTOS is at the top of the list). The reason I was so astounded was that FreeRTOS didn't even show up in the study last year. That's quite a gain-from not on the chart to the number one position!
The rest of the study results will be released over the next few months. So stay tuned.
Richard Nass is editorial director of Embedded Systems Design magazine and the Embedded Systems Conferences. In a past life, he was editor in chief of Portable Design magazine and was a technology editor with Electronic Design magazine. He has a BSEE degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He can be reached at .