The complexity of today's multimedia products is increasing at a rate nearly as rapidly as the shrinking timeframes for product development. Real-time operating system suppliers are racing to give system designers software that lets them move quickly from prototypes to production runs.
As multimedia and communication technologies become common features on many types of products, engineers need to get these complex technologies to market quickly. Software that can be deployed with a minimal amount of effort is becoming a necessity. Companies are constantly striving to find ways to eliminate bugs, taking steps to provide tools that simplify the debugging process while they debug their own products.
At the same time, RTOS companies are targeting software at specific applications, ranging from automotive to handhelds. These targeted versions provide the bells and whistles needed to get products to market quickly.
Linux software targets consumer applications
Consumer devices are a focus for the latest version of Wind River Systems Inc.'s Commercial Grade Linux.
The software offers device manufacturers a fast-boot, small-footprint run-time environment ideal for memory-constrained devices. It is based on the Linux 2.6.14 kernel, which includes hardware-specific drivers for additional processors and boards, updates to development tools, real-time performance and scheduling-related patches. It's also been updated with high-resolution timer patches, security, networking updates to IPv6, IPsec and Mobile IPv6, the uClibc library to reduce footprint and memory consumption, and dynamic power management.
The software ships with the company's Eclipse-based device software development suite. The real-time operating system is also suited for networking applications.
QNX focuses on portable applications
QNX Software Systems is broadening its focus on multimedia technologies, moving beyond automotive applications by addressing portable applications such as media players, portable GPS devices and multimedia cellular phones.
QNX is supporting Freescale Semiconductor's i.MX31 applications processors, based on the ARM11T technology that's popular in these fields. The QNX Neutrino RTOS brings video rendering with low overhead so the processor can perform multiple tasks simultaneously. The linkup underscores the move to provide more turnkey solutions for fields that have very short product development cycles.
Debugging tool shortens development time
Green Hills Software Inc.'s TimeMachine tool suite is now available for all Freescale's PowerQUICC I, II and III family processors built on Power Architecture technology. Developers can debug backwards and forwards in time to find the most elusive bugs and use TimeMachine analysis tools to quickly pinpoint performance bottlenecks and evaluate execution flow. The In-Memory TimeMachine technology provides system visibility with a software-only solution for processors that do not offer trace port functionality.
Debugging can be a major factor in development times for a communications system. Irreproducible glitches, such as dropping of packets or connections after days of successful operation, can ruin software development schedules. In communication devices that compete by data throughput rates, route update rates, or other metrics, optimization time is often more than 10 percent of the full development budget. TimeMachine can reduce and sometimes totally eliminate these activities from the schedule.