Thanks for the comments. It's great to see COTS technologies such as CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs opening the doors for new levels of accessible heterogeneous computing architectures for engineers and scientists working on automated measurement and control systems. Historically this would have required experts in each processing domain to develop the individual pieces of the solution which is often time and cost prohibitive in automated measurement and control application areas. Having the proper system design software, as mentioned in prior comments, is key to assisting engineers who do not have processor specific development expertise. National Instruments LabVIEW (ni.com/labview) is a graphical system design environment for precisely this type of heterogeneous application development. In fact, thousands of engineers (and kids!) are already using it to develop advanced applications for everything from LEGO Mindstorms NXT robots to the CERN Large Hydron Collider beam control system.
This is an interesting development that will allow automation systems to leverage the availability even greater amounts of processing power. Software as control tasks can be distributed for more efficient use of system resources. Will be interesting to see breadth of applications and how main controllers and intelligent peripherals will be able to work together.I would think that the ability for the programmer to easily select among processing resources might be important, so they can manage the software project within a single tool. Definitely interesting development.
These aren't particularly new in embedded HPC (high-performance computing) and other high-end embedded systems for real-time computing apps like signal processing. It sounds like the practice is migrating downward toward more high-volume applications.
We've been seeing a lot of applications in the CAD and design tool world make use of some type of heterogeneous approach, in particular leveraging GPUs to optimize performance for highly intensive computational work. While the approach seems to be a sound one, I imagine the programming burden for learning new architectures is equally as challenging as for the software development side of the equation as it is for test, measurement, and control.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.