3 disruptive embedded hardware/software trends from Michael Barr

Michael Barr was the Editor in Chief of Embedded Systems Programming magazine for several years; he has stayed connected to the wider world of embedded system development; and he’s definitely got an informed perspective on embedded development. Barr published a blog yesterday on his Embeddedgurus.com Web site describing three big, disruptive trends he sees in embedded development:

  1. Inexpensive, low-power, highly-integrated 32-bit microcontrollers will bring 32-bit processing into even the highest volume application domains. The use of microcontrollers based on 8- and 16-bit  processor cores will finally decline as these parts become “truly obsolete.”
  2. The days of the C programming language’s dominance in embedded systems are numbered and no future language will replace it. Instead, tools that automatically and reliably generate those millions of lines of C code based on system specifications will eventually take over.
  3. We must architect our embedded systems first to be secure and then to accept only trusted downloads so that our products can keep up in the inevitable arms race against hackers and attackers.

The first point is one I’ve discussed many times in the EDA360 Insider. The advent of the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor core and its use in microcontrollers like the Freescale Kinetis L clearly number the days of and accelerate the obsolescence of microcontrollers based on 8- and 16-bit processor cores. See “How low can you go? ARM does the limbo with Cortex-M0+ processor core. Tiny. Ultra-low-power.”) When there’s no cost difference, thanks to Moore’s Law, and when there are huge advantages in terms of linear address space, work per clock cycle, and healthy growing ecosystem, why would anyone pick an 8- or 16-bit MCU except for support of legacy issues?

Barr’s third point is an extension of a long-standing thorn in the side of the Internet. Massive amounts of online spam and countless scams heavily depend on the anonymous Internet in addition to preying on people’s natural desire to be helpful and the gullibility or greed of a few people. The original vision of the Internet was an information sandbox for the inner technology circle. It has long since ceased to be that and we can no longer afford to leave so many doors unlocked in our cyber towns.

That second point, that really catches me off guard. You need to read Barr’s original blog post to absorb his ideas for yourself. Then, please leave a comment here and let us know what you think.


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at https://eda360insider.wordpress.com/)
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