Thought Leadership

And the winner is …

By Colin Walls

As I mentioned previously, last week the Embedded Systems Conference took place in San Jose, California. I was there for all 3 days and, in my previous posting, invited any readers of this blog to drop by and say hello. I would like to thank all of you who did just that. It was a pleasure to meet you. I was planning to write some notes on my impressions of the event, but, as it turned out, I have some news too …

I do not have access to the official numbers, but my feeling was that the number of visitors was a bit up on the event in 2010, however the number of exhibitors seemed down, with one or two notable companies missing. We were running various events, such as the theater in the booth and some hands-on workshops. The attendance to these was amazingly variable. I can only conclude that there were so many events going on in and around the show, that visitors were pulled in many directions at once.

Judging by what visitors to our booth were asking about and which theater sessions got most attention, there are some key topics that are considered to be “hot” right now. In no particular order, I would highlight Android, Linux (which is, of course, not unrelated), user interface technologies and multicore. No real surprises to be honest. A key thing that I noticed this year, which differs from last, is that quite a few people are serious about deployment of Android – not just “kicking tires”. I encountered a number of people who were actively seeking consulting support with their projects.

There was a moment of drama during the show. Late on Wednesday, I was seeking help with one of our badge scanners that seemed to be misbehaving. The support guy decided to reboot it and pressed the power button. At that second, all the lights went out, the whole place went oddly quiet and the temperature immediately began to rise. It turned out to be a large scale power outage which affected all of downtown San Jose. I never heard what the cause was, but it persisted for nearly two hours. It was strange to observe which facilities were still available. Obviously there was emergency lighting everywhere. In the hotel there was at least one working elevator and the bar was still functional. Outside, the traffic signals had failed, which was causing some chaos, but the light railway system seemed to be unaffected. It did make me wonder how emergency power facilities are allocated. The decision seemed to be driven by health, safety and solid profit.

One of the demonstrations on our booth was of a new product, with which I must confess to having very little familiarity, so I took a particular interest in it. And so did visitors. The guy doing the demos reported that numerous recipients of his demo immediately said that it was exactly what they needed and would save them lots of time during their development. The product is called Sourcery System Analyzer. The tool is basically a turbocharged trace analyzer. It can acquire trace data from numerous sources and provides a rich array of analysis and profiling capabilities. In particular, the sources may be multiple cores, which may be running multiple operating systems. The problem, that System Analyzer is really addressing, is “seeing the wood for the trees” – going from having just lots of data to having enough useful information. This entails being able to process (“crunch”) enormous sets of data. The developers of the tool found an innovative way to address the problem: they looked at how the Mentor IC design tools deal with lots of data and found they could repurpose some very novel software technology that had been developed by that team. This is an example of Mentor Embedded’s unique place as part of Mentor Graphics.

On the morning of Thursday – the last day of the show – we received some great news. Every year, VDC Research make two awards – the Embeddy Awards – for the single most innovative software and hardware products at the show. System Analyzer won the award in the software category. I would like to offer my congratulations to the development team for getting this well deserved recognition.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at