Posts Tagged ‘Android’

15 June, 2015

Computers have had operating systems almost since the beginning – 60 years or so anyway. Embedded systems are a bit newer, of course, and it was the early 1980s when the first OS products appeared. Naturally, they were real time operating systems [RTOSes], as this matched the needs of the systems being built, as it often does today. The first commercially available RTOS was [probably] VRTX [pronounced “vertex”], which was developed by a company called Hunter & Ready, which became Ready Systems. They were acquired by Microtec Research, where I was working at the time. We got acquired by Mentor Graphics, where I still am today. VRTX was mothballed a few years ago and we moved on to selling the Nucleus RTOS after the acquisition of Accelerated Technology.

The RTOS market has always been interesting, with lots of options. There are around 200 products on the market, but still there are more companies trying to get in on the act … Read the rest of this entry »

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30 January, 2012


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As I spend a lot of my time talking about embedded software via a variety of media – conferences, articles, Web seminars, this blog are examples – I frequently get emails requesting copies of materials or posing questions. All of this communication is very welcome and I do my best to respond promptly and, where I can, usefully.

If I think a question might be of wider interest, it seems only logical to share it here. I recently heard from Vahid Montazeri, who was asking about Android … Read the rest of this entry »

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12 April, 2011

Just a quick “heads up”. If you are interested in medical systems and how Android and RTOSes may be used, you might like to attend a Web seminar that I am presenting later this week. The session will be less than one hour, including live Q&A and I’ll be giving a brief introduction to medical systems and looking at the appropriate ways to use various kinds of operating system. The session will be on Thursday at 09:00 Pacific/11:00 Central/17:00 UK. Full details can be found here.

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1 April, 2011

Just a quick “heads up”. If you are interested in Android and Linux in embedded systems, you might like to attend a Web seminar that I am presenting next week. The session will be less than one hour, including live Q&A and I’ll be giving a brief introduction to Android and discussing how it might be deployed in a variety of systems. There will be two sessions on Tuesday 5 April at 9:30 and 14:00 UK time. Full details can be found here.

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29 November, 2010

Crystal ball gazing is a hazardous activity. However, this week I am going to take the risk. I have the honor of having been invited to present a keynote speech at a technical conference in Grenoble, France. Although I speak at conferences frequently, I normally have some constraints with the topic – normally I am presenting a paper, an abstract for which was submitted and accepted months before. On this occasion, I have much more of a free reign – I was just asked to say about something to do with embedded software.

With the end of the year fast approaching, I concluded that it might be interesting to look at the trends for the industry in 2011 and beyond … Read the rest of this entry »

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15 November, 2010

Last week I attended the ARM Technical Conference in Santa Clara, California. I am not sure how many years this event has been running, but it seems to be going from strength to strength. There was a change to the management company this year, but the event format was basically the same: a 3 day multiple-stream technical conference, with a selection of keynotes and an associated exhibition area.

Obviously, the key theme to the event is the discussion of all things ARM. I mentioned MIPS during one of my presentations, so I will probably not receive an invitation next year. The result of this starting point is the sessions offer coverage of hardware design issues, embedded software and everything in between. This suits Mentor very well, as we uniquely address that whole spectrum. Aside from this diversity of engineering expertise, there were some technical themes that really stood out this year … Read the rest of this entry »

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6 September, 2010

I like simple things. Excessive complexity tends to annoy me. When I first started working with computers, I thought that mainframes were overly complicated, so I was pleased to discover minicomputers, where I could really understand exactly what was going on. Embedded software was a natural progression, as, again, I could grasp the entire functionality of the software. But that began to change, as commercial real time operating systems and other software IP became more common. Everything became more complex and invisible.

I am not saying that this situation is necessarily a problem or that all complexity is intrinsically bad. It is just that sometimes I yearn for the simple life. It might be suggested that perhaps the world of software is not the best place for me, but I will ignore those murmurings and consider where simplicity might still be appropriate … Read the rest of this entry »

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19 July, 2010

I have always for medical electronics interesting and I have blogged about it from time to time [here and here, for example]. Part of the reason for my interest stems from an occasional feeling that so much of the electronics around me is ultimately pointless. Many Mentor Embedded customers are making consumer devices, cell phones and other gadgets. Do we really need all of these? Aren’t they really just toys – harmless toys, but toys nevertheless? [Except for my iPad, of course, which is a positive influence on my productivity and overall wellbeing.] Worse still, some customers are actually making weapons and they are not harmless at all!

However, we have many customers who make medical devices. I only have to look at a medical instrument and I have a warm feeling inside that maybe electronics can do some real good. The other aspect of medical instrumentation, that I find intriguing, is the extent to which its implementation clearly tracks the latest trends in embedded system development … Read the rest of this entry »

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7 June, 2010

It is becoming common for embedded designs to incorporate more than one CPU – maybe multiple cores on a chip or multiple chips on a board or any combination of these. Indeed, it has been suggested that it will soon be the norm to build systems that way.

The use of multiple cores has spawned various technologies and, of course, much terminology and jargon. When new technical terms and acronyms appear, there is inevitable misuse and misunderstanding. This seems to be the case with AMP and SMP, so maybe I can set the record straight … Read the rest of this entry »

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4 May, 2010

As usual, I attended the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, CA last week. I guess it remains the foremost show in the embedded world in North America for sure – probably worldwide. My role was to make some presentations and look after the theater on the Mentor Embedded [our new branding for the Embedded Software Division of Mentor Graphics] booth. I did not have a chance to attend any conference sessions and remained on the show floor. Aside from my formal role at the event, it was a great opportunity to meet colleagues, friends and associates in the business – it was very much like a school reunion for me. I also enjoyed gathering impressions about what is hot in the minds of embedded developers … Read the rest of this entry »

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19 April, 2010

Last week, I wrote about a “multi-core” project that I was working on 30 years ago. To be fair, it was actually “multi-CPU” rather than “multi-core”, but many of the challenges were similar, as was the initial design decision to take the approach of distributing the processing capacity. It is interesting to draw a comparison between the system we were developing all those years ago and modern ideas for multi-core design. A common approach, which I mentioned here, for example, is to use one core for real time functionality [running an RTOS like Nucleus perhaps] and another for non-real-time activity [maybe running Android or Linux].

Using multiple CPUs [or cores] presents a variety of challenges. One is the division of labor, which was reasonably straightforward in this case. Another is communication between the processors … Read the rest of this entry »

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5 April, 2010

Last week I was presenting at RTS in Paris. I spend quite a lot of time at such events, as I have reported before. My boss will be pleased to hear this, as a significant part of my job is to ensure that Mentor is well represented at technical conferences where embedded software is featured.

I think about these activities from a number of perspectives. I consider whether they are a good use of my time. They can be seen as “free” marketing [very few charge to participate], but there are real costs – travel, hotel, my time etc. And direct “sales pitches” are not acceptable, so the benefits to the company of our participation in terms of visibility etc. are in my mind. I am also interested in my own comfort and enjoyment. Going to Paris sounds glamorous. It is a beautiful city. I have been there countless times, but never as a tourist. I tend to think of busy airports, horrible traffic, maniac taxi drivers and boring, expensive hotels.

I would like to share some of my experiences of the conference … Read the rest of this entry »


15 March, 2010

In last week’s blog I talked about what was going on at Embedded World and made some observations about what seemed to be “hot”. I have been thinking about this and wondering which topics, technologies or products embedded software engineers actually think are important, interesting or exciting. Obviously trend surveys and the like give some indication, but I realized that I already had a tool at my fingertips that gave me insight … Read the rest of this entry »

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8 March, 2010

EW 2010

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Last week I went to Nuremberg [or Nürnberg if you prefer] to attend Embedded World 2010. I have been to this show most years over the last decade or so and it just seems to get bigger and busier each year. This year there were more than 700 exhibitors and in excess of 18,000 visitors. It is now definitely the biggest show/conference for embedded developers anywhere in the world. The electronic displays Conference was co-located; this seems like a reasonable synergy.

I had a number of specific reasons for being at the event, which turned out to be even more interesting than expected … Read the rest of this entry »

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5 March, 2010

I am always interested in new technology, but sometimes I hear about something which particularly catches my imagination and fires my enthusiasm. A recent example is Android, which I wrote about here and here. I have a feeling that the Apple iPad might be special too – watch this space in a few months. But there is a technology, that I find intriguing, which is not really anything to do with electronics, but all about cars and transportation. I am not a big fan of cars and, even though I liked the Morgan factory, just regard them as a way to get about. But, what about a car that runs on fresh air … Read the rest of this entry »

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15 February, 2010

There is a lot of buzz about Android at the moment. Indeed, I have written about it here, as has my colleague Scott. A lot of the discussion is around the topic of the new Android-powered smart phones that seem to appear on a daily basis. Just about every handset manufacturer seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. I have no problem with this. Far from it. I really like my Android phone and would encourage anyone to look at what is available. Although Google seem to be strongly focussed on dominating the mobile handset market, I think that the application of Android in other areas, beyond mobile, is much more interesting … Read the rest of this entry »

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31 December, 2009

As I am off for the Christmas and New Year holiday, I decided to ask Scott Salzwedel, who did a fine stand in for me some weeks ago, to write another post. He has returned to a topic he clearly finds fascinating. -Colin

As if Motorola’s launch of the Droid isn’t enough, now there’s word of Google launching its own Android phone, the “Nexus One.” Alas, the Google phone is here. But is it really a phone? More on that later.

Getting to this point seems rather circuitous for Google. After all, for the past two years the Android platform was based on a partner-oriented model where the likes of a Motorola or HTC built the device and carriers provided the service. Now, just like Apple (and Palm), Google wants to control the hardware, software, and even distribution… Read the rest of this entry »

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7 December, 2009

Last week I attended a conference in Grenoble, France. For some years there has been an annual event focussed on intellectual property [IP] and the broad area hardware design reusability. This year it was extended to encompass embedded systems as well – the last of the three days was largely dedicated to this topic. I submitted some proposals for papers and two were accepted. Hence my attendance. A colleague of mine was also due to attend in order to present a keynote and another technical paper. However, he was required to travel to the US last week, so I took his place. I figured that I would have a busy day on Thursday. The event was interesting and made me think about what conferences are all about and what people expect from them … Read the rest of this entry »

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12 November, 2009

As I am off on a week’s vacation in the sun, I thought it would be interesting to ask a couple of friends/colleagues write some blogs. First up, we have Scott Salzwedel, who is looking at a topic close to my heart. -Colin

Have you seen the latest Droid TV spot? It’s pretty awesome. The commercial opens with some stealth jets flying in formation and then bombs away – these pods are jettisoned to unsuspecting earthlings below. The music. The cinematography. The overall feel of this spot is top notch. You’re left wanting more. And scratching your head a bit.

This is the second spot based on the new Motorola Android (Droid) phone. Remember the first spot? It was an even bigger tease and it attacked the Apple iPhone head-on…

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2 November, 2009

It is increasingly common for embedded designs to be implemented using multiple cores. At Mentor Graphics we are keen to support our customers by providing software and services to help them with such endeavors. We also espouse the idea of using multiple operating systems in such designs. I recently presented a Web seminar on this topic [a recording is available as an archive] and I have written a few articles.

As a result of one such piece, I was taken to task by one of our competitors, who accused me of over-complicating the matter. This revealed a complete lack of understanding of what multi-core/multi-OS is all about … Read the rest of this entry »

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27 July, 2009

For some years, there has been discussion about how embedded devices are increasingly becoming connected. WiFi enabled home appliances are one possibility. Everyone has heard about fridges that order the groceries. I love the concept of the Internet enabled toaster, which checks the weather forecast and burns a symbol onto your morning toast to tell you what to expect.

All of this is great, exciting even, and we are moving in this direction, but there are other possibilities that have hardly been touched yet. There are a few issues with WiFi devices: they need to be in range of a wireless network, they consume quite a lot of power and their implementation may be overly complex, if only small amounts of data need to be transferred and that transfer is just unidirectional. There must be another way …

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