LONDON Wind River Systems Inc. (Alameda, Calif.) has granted exclusive distribution rights for its MatrixX system development tools to The Mathworks Inc. (Natick, Mass.), its main competitor in this segment, which acknowledges that it may kill off the MatrixX tool.
Both MatrixX, which Wind River picked up when it acquired Integrated Systems Inc. in 2000, and Mathworks' MatLab are derived from the same source code, and both tools are widely used to develop embedded real-time control software for automotive and industrial systems.
But while Integrated Systems and Mathworks were sharp competitors, Wind River has partnered with Mathworks since the mid-1990s and they have an ongoing relationship. For example, next week at the Society of Automotive Engineers Conference in Detroit, the two companies will take the wraps off a system that generates control code for targets running Wind River's OSEKWorks implementation of the OSEK automotive operating system.
Under the deal to give Mathworks exclusive distribution rights for MatrixX, Mathworks will have the option in two-and-half years to buy outright the MatrixX product line from Wind River.
Scot Morrison, vice president and general manager of industrial and automotive products for Wind River, said that killing off MatrixX is a possibility. "They could do that but, as the toolsets are fairly similar from the front-end through to documentation tools, they could do a blending. It wouldn't need a lot," he said. "We would hope that they take that tack and migrate customers in a uniform transition.
"The Mathworks has been a partner of Wind River's for some time and we have very complementary product lines," Morrison added. "MatrixX was an exception to that. The Mathworks is focused on system design, particularly control systems. Wind River focuses just below that. We are driving for greater integration and aligning products and strategies."
Morrison said the competition between the MatLab and MatrixX products had led to a rash of new technologies being developed, but "having two standards in the industry makes it less efficient for the customer," he said.
"To bid for a contract often means having to use either one of the tools. The customer may prefer one of the tools but the contractor may use the other more heavily. The competition has driven innovation but has driven them to be of a similar nature," Morrison said.
Mathworks will take on MatrixX as well as its ancillary tools, such as SystemBuild, which is used to build and test control algorithms. The BetterState software, which adds support for state charts and has been in development for a couple of years, will be added to the upcoming version 7.0 release of MatrixX. That release is expected to be the last major revision of the tool set.
"By completing the 7.0 release, the next major version would be expected next year anyway," said Morrison, adding that customers would be ready to start a transition at that point.
"This is a customer-focused approach," he said. "We have given one year's warning and two years to transition."
Wind River will keep the rights to the underlying state chart technology in BetterState, Morrison said. "It is not a heavyweight tool like MatrixX and we want to keep the capability so that we can use it as a programming tool in Tornado," a Wind River integrated development environment.
Morrison said Wind River's decision to give up MatrixX was driven by its desire to keep its work with Mathworks moving forward.
"If something limits our ability to work with a market leader, we may have to make a decision like this," he said. "[MatrixX] was limiting our ability to get closer, although nobody backed away from anything they had done."
Chris Edwards is the editor of Electronics Times, EE Times' sister publication in the United Kingdom.