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Asian engineers intensify embedded design activity

Posted: 01 Jul 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded system? sdl? vdc? omt? uml?

The economic slowdown and uncertainty surrounding the timing of a turnaround has caused embedded OS and development tool vendors to reduce marketing budgets required to establish brand name recognition in the region. R&D budgets for product enhancements were also restricted, according to a recent report by Venture Development Corp. (VDC), a market research firm. Another challenge recently faced by vendors is the reduction of product and service purchases by OEMs. Last year, OEMs focused, instead, on managing their existing investments.

In the latter half of this year, the recovery in the U.S. economy is expected to boost embedded systems design activity, thereby sales of embedded OS, development tools as well as hardware components.

VDC estimates that the number of embedded hardware and software developers will increase from 255,000 last year to 363,000 in 2006at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3 percent. The software developer population is expected to grow significantly faster than that of hardware. VDC has forecast a CAGR of 8.7 percent for the software developer population.

The 2H 2002 growth in the embedded industry will be driven not only by an upward trend in the economy but also by demand from specific application segments. The increasing convergence of computing, communications and consumer electronics, growth in the digital TV segment and the trend toward networking of traditional embedded devices will contribute to the up tick in the Asian embedded design community.

Survey analysis

To analyze embedded systems development trends across Asia, Electronic Engineering Times-Asia invited 74,000 readers and website registrants to participate in an online survey last April. The resulting user study, "Embedded Systems Development Trends: Asia," is aimed at bringing information on the latest embedded development tool and hardware component usage trends in Asia to both design engineers and vendors.

Survey respondents were qualified on the basis of active participation in embedded systems development. The total number of responses qualified for analysis was 1,827 across China, Taiwan, South Korea and the rest of Asia (ROA).

The study reveals that companies developing embedded systems in Asia last year took in a mean revenue of $36.4 million, while most companies (mode) raked in between $1 million and $4.9 million.

The survey shows that communication systems/equipment, consumer electronics, computers/computer peripherals, industrial controls and test & measuring instruments are the top five application segments across Asia, in that order. This year, 46 percent of the respondents will undertake embedded systems projects for the communications related applications, followed closely by consumer electronics at 25.7 percent, computers/computer peripherals at 25.3 percent, industrial controls at 21.6 percent and test & measuring instruments at 13.6 percent.

The number of projects is expected to increase with respondents expecting an 84 percent growth in the number of projects this year over last year. The greatest increase in embedded systems projects will be in China, where the respondents are anticipating last year's mean number of projects to jump from 1.1 to 5.6. Engineers in Taiwan and South Korea will undertake about 5.4 projects this year, followed by the ROA at 4.7. Note that the ROA is largely represented by India and Singapore with 58 percent of the respondents from these countries.

The top three programming languages in Asia are C (74.6 percent), assembly (69.6 percent) and C++ (50.1 percent). The popularity of C and assembly shows that object-oriented methodologies have not yet caught on in the region. The survey indicates that about 31 percent of the respondents across Asia do not use any standard or established methodology like SDL or OMT/UML. SDL is the most popular amongst those who use such design methodologies (42.7 percent), followed by OMT/UML (35.6 percent).

VDC estimates last year's market for unbundled software development tools reached $310.8 million and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.3 percent over the period 2001 to 2006. The embedded design automation tool market was $366.5 million last year's and growing at a CAGR of 16.6 percent.

Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia's survey results provide indicators in support of VDC's growth estimates. About 94 percent of the respondents are planning to purchase or upgrade embedded development software tools in the next 12 months. Close to 91 percent plan purchasing/upgrading embedded development hardware tools, such as logic analyzers and oscilloscopes and 97 percent will purchase hardware components for their designs.

? Vivek Nanda

Electronic Engineering Times ? Asia

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