It was a friendly invasion as a couple of thousand designers and the 23 editors from our organization who were embedded with them descended on Silicon Valley last week in search of weapons of mass construction: embedded Linux development tools. But a week of searching turned up scant evidence of WMC.
The embedded journalists seasoned EE Times reporters as well as the technical experts who command our online battalions of DesignLines had been dispatched to the Embedded Systems Conference to hunt for newsworthy developments in all things embedded, but especially in embedded Linux. They would disperse each morning, only to meet up later in the day on the show floor or in the press room to exchange intelligence and discover they had been misled.
The embedded-tool and -chip vendors were out in force, demonstrating good-looking products; but despite prodding by reporters, they would not commit to long-term directions, falling back instead on such buzzwords as "full integration," "interoperability" and "complete support." The journalists were not impressed.
But the EE Times ACE Awards gave the journalists reason to be hopeful. Among the award categories was one recognizing a company with less than $1 billion in annual sales that had demonstrated excellence in technology and business, as well as the potential to become a technical or market leader in the global electronics industry. The contenders this year were Brion Technologies, National Instruments, PortalPlayer, Trolltech and Wind River.
The last two, together with LynuxWorks, have been vying for leadership in embedded Linux. They have made serious attempts to convince designers that they're working on WMC and have promised to show the designers how embedded Linux can enable a wealth of consumer devices, from camera phones to GPS gear.
Their arguments hold up under scrutiny. Indeed, Trolltech AS's Qtopia platform and Qt framework have been used to develop more than 70 Linux-based embedded devices, and the company has inked separate deals with Wind River and Zi Corp. aimed at simplifying and extending the development of device software on Linux-based consumer gear.
The partnership with Wind River will align Trolltech's Qtopia application platform with Wind River's Platform for Consumer Devices, Linux Edition, for use with a wide range of processors. Designers of mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices will get a supported, pre-integrated Linux platform with Wind River's development tools and open-source code.
At the end of the week, the journalists returned to their home offices happy to have witnessed the invasion. They share their experiences on these pages and online.
By Nicolas Mokhoff (firstname.lastname@example.org), research editor for EE Times