Forging new directions

December 01, 2011

Forging new directions

Baby steps lead to industry breakthroughs in embedded design.

Designers are constantly expanding the technology base and establishing new trends related to their segment of the embedded industry. Taken individually and viewed from the big picture, these advances may be baby steps, but any one could be the breakthrough you need to deliver your next blockbuster product.

Our main objective here at Embedded Computing Design is to monitor the pulse of the industry and keep you abreast of these new trends and innovations as they occur. This issue is a great example of this goal, as industry experts reveal some of the latest updates that extend the envelope in a wide range of technologies including voice interfaces, cloud connectivity, software models, virtual computing, networking speeds, battery analysis, and small form factors.

Starting this issue with topics related to silicon design and selection, Todd Mozer, chairman and CEO of Sensory, Inc., brings us up-to-date on the current state of voice user interface technology and what we can expect in the future as embedded devices share the processing workload between local- and cloud-based analysis platforms. In the same section, John D’Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE P802.3bj Task Force and chief Ethernet evangelist at Dell, describes efforts to establish new specifications that will enable the next generation of networking equipment and blade server systems targeting 100 Gigabit Ethernet. Exploring the technology embedded designers need to enable cloud connectivity, Tony King-Smith of Imagination Technologies makes the case for a standardized set of common platforms, APIs, and devices upon which cloud-connected products can be built.

In the Software section, I explore the benefits of virtualization, one of the hottest trends to hit the embedded marketplace in the recent past. For complex, multipurpose designs, virtualization provides the tools needed to reduce component count and lower power requirements while building the framework to combine multiple operating systems and functions. Extending the virtual theme, Michael McNamara, VP and general manager of system-level design at Cadence Design Systems, presents the advantages of using Transaction-Level Modeling to create a virtual hardware prototype of a new product, giving the software team an accurate system model earlier in the development process.

Looking at new strategies to minimize risk and development time, Christine Van De Graaf, product manager at Kontron’s Embedded Products Business Unit, suggests that designers should think beyond their current designs when selecting off-the-shelf Computer-On-Module (COM) platforms. By choosing a configuration that is easily scalable, designers can shorten the path to improved performance with each new COM generation. In another forward-looking article, Curt McNamara, Principal Engineer at Logic PD, offers tools and techniques to optimize battery performance for the next generation of smaller and longer-operating mobile devices. Curt explains how a power budget can be used to track overall power consumption, document test scenarios, and experiment with sample use cases.

Although the latest trends presented in this issue of Embedded Computing Design are timely, we are facing a new year, and I’m sure that we’ll all be surprised by the new directions and innovations that arise in 2012. If you have ideas for future articles and coverage that would aid your design efforts, please let us know. We are always interested in contributed technical articles or videos that would be of interest to other embedded designers. Contributed articles are a great way to expose your technology or expertise to the embedded community, so if you have an idea, please send along an e-mail with a short abstract.