Thursday, April 17, 2008

Deeply embedded in mil-aero

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

At the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in San Jose this week, three trends stood out above all others. The first is multi-core. Embedded systems are increasingly taking advantage of multi-core processors, reaping the benefits of increased processing power in a small package. This increase in electronics and power density brings many benefits, but also greater challenges, such as increased heat--requiring an effective thermal-management solution.

The next important trend is hypervisor, a virtualization platform that enables multiple operating systems to run on a host computer at the same time. A number of technology companies in the mil-aero market, such as LynuxWorks in San Jose, are concentrating on the up-and-coming hypervisor trend -- and it is a great fit for mil-aero. It makes perfect sense for real-time operating systems (RTOS) offering multiple partitions, which enable the delivery of and access to classified and unclassified information on the same host computer. Green Hills Software in Santa Barbara (as well as technology partner Intel, whose new Atom processor was used in the computing platform) garnered a great deal of attention with a demonstration of hypervisor at work. A single host computer ran multiple operating systems, such as multiple instances of Linux and Windows, and delivered unclassified and classified information to separate users. The unclassified user's mouse cursor was locked in the unclassified OS window and could not click outside of that space (and onto the classified window).

Lastly, the importance of verifying software code was driven home in a number of show presentations. Static-analysis tools are an important component of any software-development workflow, especially given that modernization programs are bringing about a combination of legacy code, such as Ada, with Java, C, and C++ languages.

These are my thoughts on the embedded computing space, but I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on multi-core, hypervisor, and software debugging and verification tools? What do you consider the hottest trends in embedded computing today for the mil-aero community?

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