It is that time of year again and I am here in San Jose with a hoard of engineers, programmers, and editors to check out the latest at Design West/Embedded Systems Conference/... Trade shows used to have one name. These days there are half a dozen names. Usually it is to highlight the kind of information, products, etc. that are being presented. It is not different than what was presented when a show had a single name but it sure makes for more graphics online.
We (Electronic Design editors) are here along with our counterparts from Engineering TV to bring you video on the latest stuff here at the show. There will be tweets, articles, slideshows and blog entries like this as well.
Which brings me to the question of the relevance of in-person tradeshows.This is not a new question but I got started on this because of a discussion the Adacore's Greg Gicca. I've talked regularly with Greg about Ada and Adacore. I even did a video interview with him talking about SPARK, a highly restricted subset of Ada, designed for high integrity system design (view SPARK Programming from AdaCore). Our discussions always cover a wide range of topics that sometimes have relevance to the Adacore's latest announcement.
In most instances, I can grab all the details about the announcement just like you can. Likewise, everyone can drill down to the spec sheets and possibly even download software or order samples. That is what the web has brought us and it is a good thing but even with online chat and teleconferencing it still tends to be a bit impersonal.
What does not always show up in the announcements and online are the implications and sometimes the importance of certain aspects that the press release author may not have been aware of. For example, one of the things I wound up discussing in more depth with Greg was Ada 2012. Ada 2012 is still being approved and Adacore's latest tools support it as currently described. The key feature in the latest version is formalized contract definitions for functions. This was actually a feature for SPARK but the contracts were implemented in comments. This approach is common in programming handling everything from annotations to automatic documentation creation.
I'm familiar with contracts and SPARK as well as static analysis and programming proofs so our rather animated discussion was discussing some of the more esoteric details as well as the importance of this to embedded developers in general. I would encourage C and C++ programmers to at least take a look at Ada 2012 because it could make a big difference in the quality and performance of applications.
In any case, the discussion is now about tradeshows and what is important about them. In a sense this they are more like browsing in a library or store versus shopping online. True, the online experience is now cluttered with "What others who bought this ..." so there are some surprises but we back to the spontinatity and the personal interaction for in person tradeshows.
Another person I look forward to seeing at the shows is Express Logic's John Carbone. Yes, I did video interviews with John in the past (view New ThreadX RTOS Developments from Express Logic) and there will be another on the latest Express Logic tech this year as well.
It seems Express Logic has been doing great from a business perspective. It now has more than a billion instances of ThreadX, their RTOS, in the field. What was interesting was three quarters of these are for wireless connectivity devices. Another quarter was inkjet printers. There are no ThreadX Inside stickers but they are evidently everywhere.
Actully this kind of distribution is not surprising. Proprietary operating systems tend to target a few application areas. For example, competitors often show up in automotive applications or medical devices. There is competition but the plethora of RTOS vendors exist because of this distribution. Developers dealing with a particular vendor will be aware of their area but only analysts tend to track these distributions.
Anyway, I found it interesting.
And we did talk about the latest in SMP/AMP processing support of ThreadX especially for platforms like Xilinx's Zynq Arm/FPGA mix (see FPGA Packs In Dual Cortex-A9 Micro) as well as ThreadX Lite. I'll leave that to the video and other coverage. The main point here is that some of this discussion happened because we were together.
Of course, not everyone can make every show and even a couple per year are tough for most developers in these tight times. For those times, we hopefully provide you with enough insight and surprises to get a feel for what is happening at these shows. This looks to be a good show with a lot of activity and, of course, new stuff to check out.
So from my perspective, the in-person trade show is as important, if not more so, that it has been in the past. I hope to see you here or have you see us online.