The recent economic climate has added to the increasing pressures experienced by application developers today. Companies have tightened their budgets whilst confronting the growing challenges in the embedded market. Suppliers have shifted up a gear to respond to growing demands and higher expectations. The automotive market, which is experiencing rapid software growth, is an example in which the creation of industry standards, and collaboration through joint ventures or partnerships, has helped alleviate some of this pressure and reduce the amount of effort required by the developer.
The embedded market today has technical and commercial requirements that are subject to ever changing market demands and consumer preferences. Across the board, market conditions and intensifying competition are driving companies to produce products with increased integration for a wider range of features at lower cost margins. Silicon manufacturers have responded with smaller packaging, higher performance, multi-core architectures, deeper integration and increased memory size. These more powerful processors with multi-core capability require a higher level of sophistication in application development tools. Reliance on software to differentiate features for products is becoming standard practice. These trends are creating an even greater need for closer cooperation between suppliers and for standardized development processes.
Embedded developers face the inevitable dilemma of cost versus time to market. Budget constraints may require the use of older hardware or a mix of different computer systems. Meanwhile, market pressure holds developers to aggressive schedules. Another hurdle might be that the projectís specification could require engineers to master a new processor architecture. An existing body of debugged, time-tested code must be ported or rendered obsolete. Worse still, the engineers may have to spend time learning a new suite of development tools. Choices need to be made but changes are time-consuming and expensive. Changing a processor platform, real-time operating system (RTOS) or tool chain takes time and significant investment in evaluation, integration, training and procurement that may sometimes outweigh and prevent the benefits they bring.
This article will highlight the challenges companies face in the embedded market, and stress the importance of more integrated solutions, industry standards and collaboration with partners as a means to survive through these rocky times. The article will focus on how solutions, such as the Freescale CodeWarrior Development Systems, are providing integrated solutions which include embedded RTOSes such as OSEK/VDX and low-level drivers.
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