The Wind River direction
"Freescale seems to be committed to having an open independent software ecosystem and supporting many partners," said Linley Gwennap, principal of market watcher the Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.). "But the undertone is they are not going to work as closely with these guys that used to be independent but aren't anymore," he said.
Executives both for Freescale and Wind River said the companies remain committed to work together. However, observers said the acquisition and partnerships signal long term shifts that could impact the plans of embedded systems developers.
"Our Wind River engagement is as strong as before the Intel acquisition and it's not something that's changing," said Freescale's Su.
"Customers are really scrutinizing us because they do not want to have a lock in with a particular chip and a software stack," said Tomas Evensen, chief technology officer of Wind River.
"We actually have accelerated our support for Cavium and Freescale chips because if we get branded as focused on Intel it would hurt our business, so we are overcompensating to support other chips," Evensen said.
Nevertheless, the Wind River and Montavista acquisitions "will cause disruption for Freescale and their customers that have been using VxWorks or Montavista Linux," said analyst Gwennap. "The track record of these software acquisitions is they usually end up being single-vendor solution providers," he said.
Freescale itself provides an example of the trend. It began a series of strategic software technology acquisitions with the 1999 purchase of Metrowerks Corp. and its CodeWarrior tools and operating systems. The moves have generally morphed what had been multi-platform software into tools specific to Freescale's chips.
Other Freescale acquisitions included Linux provider Lineo and Intoto whose software powers Freescale's VortiQa application software released in June 2009. Embedded systems developers, particularly in telecom, have software requirements that are both broad and deep, said Freescale's Tabet.
"We have seen quite a bit of migration from proprietary RTOSes to Linux in telecom," he said. However "data-plane applications are still the territory of RTOS or recently of lightweight schedulers that are optimized for particular silicon implementations," he added.