SAN JOSE, Calif. Virtualization and security technology could be the focus of the next round of consolidation for an embedded software sector that is increasingly adopting Linux, according to Inder Singh, chairman of LynuxWorks, Inc.
The developer of the LynxOS real-time operating system has so far escaped the wave of acquisitions in which Intel Corp. acquired Wind River, Cavium Networks bought Montavista and Research in Motion bid to buy QNX Software Systems. "I think the play now is in the ancillary parts of the software stack such as virtualization and security," said Singh in an interview at the Embedded Systems Conference.
"The recession will probably drive some more consolidation in embedded software, especially as we get into the recovery phase when traditionally there is more acquisition activity," he said.
The rise of design wins for multicore processors in embedded systems is increasingly making hypervisors a focus for embedded developers. Multicore chips "are picking up a lot of momentum just in the last year--before that customers were talking about it, but now they are designing it in," said Singh.
Virtualization software helps ensure separate jobs and operating systems running on different cores do not interfere with each other. LynuxWorks released the latest version of its LynxSecure embedded virtualization solution code at ESC, the first to support Intel Core i7 and i5 processors.
Defense and avionics engineers are expressing increased interest in x86 chips, said Singh, whose company also supports several ARM and Freescale processors. Meanwhile, Google Android "is become one of the most popular versions of Linux, and its helping the Linux momentum a lot," he said.
"We are seeing more interest in Linux in entertainment," said Singh. "TV sets will all have Linux, you will get your TV from the Internet before long, and Android will be a big part of that," he said.
Even aerospace and defense engineers are "evaluating and playing with" Android, he added.
Indeed one of several tutorial sessions on Android on the opening day of ESC had to turn away as many as 30 attendees interested in the standing-room-only class. A crowd of about 100 engineers from automotive, consumer and medical companies were clearly committed to Android projects though most appeared to be novices to using the code, said Bill Gatliff, a consultant who taught the session.
Meanwhile, "the boundary between embedded and mainstream software is getting fuzzier all the time," he said. The Apple iPhone has led the way to the cellphone—traditionally a closed embedded device--becoming a computer open to third party applications.
Long term embedded and computer software companies "all need to talk to each other so we need compatible stacks so the embedded devices and the cloud work together," Singh said.
In a short video, the LynuxWorks founder shared more of his thoughts on consolidation around embedded virtualization technology and the health of Silicon Valley.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.