Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

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Abaco Systems, Former GE Embedded Computing Business, Launches

Abaco Systems, a provider of rugged embedded computing solutions for defense, aerospace and industrial applications, has announced its separation from GE, opening a new chapter in the company’s history. Customers have been notified of the change in ownership and have welcomed the news of the new Abaco Systems. Veritas Capital, a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services to government and commercial customers worldwide, acquired the embedded computing business from GE.

Abaco Systems is a leader in open architecture rugged embedded systems. Spun out of GE in 2015, they deliver market-leading commercial off-the-shelf and custom products, together with best in class program lifecycle management. This, together with 700+ professionals’ focus on customers’ success, reduces program cost and risk, allows technology insertion with affordable readiness and enables platforms to successfully reach deployment sooner and with a lower total cost of ownership. With an active presence in a significant number of national asset platforms on land, sea and in the air, Abaco Systems is trusted where it matters most.


Microsoft and Azul Systems Partner to Bring Zulu Embedded to


Windows IoT

Azul Systems has announced a partnership with Microsoft to provide Java developers open source development tools, device I/O libraries, and a Java runtime targeting Internet of Things (IoT) applications on Windows 10. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT is a Java Development Kit (JDK), Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and a set of device I/O libraries based on OpenJDK that is compliant with the Java 8 SE specification and has been certified by Azul for use with Windows 10 IoT Core. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT is free to download and use and may be distributed without restriction.

    Azul and Microsoft’s IoT team are partnering to ensure Zulu Embedded meets the ongoing Java development and runtime requirements for Microsoft’s IoT initiatives, including continued updates to ensure compatibility with the latest Java updates and security patches as well as support for additional IoT device connectivity, control, and communication. With this partnership, the global community of Java developers using Windows 10 IoT core will be assured of a high-quality foundation for their Java implementations leveraging the latest advances in OpenJDK. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT Core is available immediately.


Silicon Labs Aquires Telegesis, a Leading Supplier of ZigBee Modules



    Silicon Labs has announced the acquisition of Telegesis, a leading supplier of wireless mesh networking modules based on Silicon Labs’ ZigBee technology. A privately held company founded in 1998 and based near London, Telegesis has established itself with strong momentum in the smart energy market, providing ZigBee module solutions to many of the world’s top smart metering manufacturers.

    This strategic acquisition accelerates Silicon Labs’ roadmap for ZigBee and Thread-ready modules and enhances the company’s ability to support customer needs with comprehensive mesh networking solutions ranging from wireless system-on-chip (SoC) devices to plug-and-play modules backed by best-in-class 802.15.4 software stacks and development tools. Telegesis modules integrate the antenna and provide a pre-certified RF design that reduces certification costs, compliance efforts and time to market. Customers can migrate later from modules to cost-efficient SoC-based designs with minimal system redesign and full software reuse.

    The market for ZigBee modules is large and growing. According to IHS Technology, 20 percent of all ZigBee PRO integrated circuits shipping today are used in modules, and ZigBee module shipments are expected to grow at a compounded rate of 24.6 percent between now and 2019.

    Telegesis exclusively uses Silicon Labs’ ZigBee technology in its module products, which are deployed in smart meters, USB adapters and gateways for smart energy applications. Additional target applications include home automation, connected lighting, security and industrial automation. The modules come with Silicon Labs’ EmberZNet PRO ZigBee protocol stack, Telegesis also offers comprehensive development and evaluation kits to help developers streamline their ZigBee-based applications. Silicon Labs completed the acquisition of Telegesis on November 20, 2015, for a cash purchase price of approximately $20 million (USD).


Google Merging Chrome



and Android?

There is currently much talk and speculation that Google intends to merge Chrome OS and Android with Google’s only response being that Chrome OS is not being “killed”. According to Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research, both of these operating systems have been under one roof since 2013 and from an ecosystem perspective, it makes a lot of sense to merge them into one. Two important aspects of an ecosystem are: first, the ability to offer a consistent user experience across multiple device types such as phones, TVs, PCs etc. Second is ensuring that software is as consistent as possible across the ecosystem.

Merging Chrome OS and Android would help improve Google’s performance against both of these metrics. However there is a much more important motivation for this move. Edison research has indicated for some time that the appeal of Google’s ecosystem to both users and software developers continues to be hobbled by the nature of Android. Google’s ecosystem exists as a layer of software known as Google Mobile Services (GMS) that sits on top of the Android Open Source Package (AOSP).

 GMS is proprietary to Google while AOSP is open source. AOSP controls significant aspects of the user experience and because it is open source, it is very fragmented. This has had a huge impact on the quality of the user experience on Android and deleteriously impacted the ease and fun of use of the Google ecosystem. Furthermore, Google does not have the ability to distribute any upgrades it makes to the AOSP. Instead, it must wait for device makers and mobile operators to be willing to upgrade the devices that they control. This has resulted in it taking multiple years for new software to make it into the hands of the majority of users, seriously impacting the appeal of the Google ecosystem.

 The one way by which Google can rectify these problems is to take over as much of the AOSP as it can and turn an open operating system into a proprietary one. Then Google will have full control of the user experience and should also be in a position to take control of software distribution. Merging Chrome OS and Android into one would allow Google to quietly take much greater control of Android by replacing open source elements of the AOSP with elements from Chrome OS which is not open.


DecaWave Joins Forces with UWB Leader Time Domain



    DecaWave, a manufacturer of ultra wideband (UWB) semiconductors, and Time Domain, a developer of UWB hardware and software, have announced a strategic partnership to serve growing commercial and industrial markets for precision ranging and localization.  The deal establishes Time Domain as DecaWave’s preferred partner for navigation and tracking opportunities based on two-way time-of-flight (TW-TOF) ranging and grants DecaWave a worldwide license to Time Domain’s industry-leading patent portfolio. 

    The landmark partnership pairs DecaWave’s chip technology with Time Domain’s development ecosystem to shorten system integrators’ development cycles and speed time to market for new location-based solutions.  The agreement also provides a framework for collaboration on products, regulatory standards, and industry symposia.

    As part of the cooperation and licensing deal, Time Domain will be given Strategic Partner status within DecaWave’s successful Partnership Program. Time Domain will pursue TW-TOF ranging applications in industries where mobile ad hoc operating environments are the rule rather than the exception, such as mobile robotics, smart mobility, and autonomous operations.

    The two companies have committed to expanding their collaboration in other areas to promote the adoption of UWB technology worldwide, including coordination on industry and regulatory standards and the creation of a UWB industry forum.  In August, Time Domain announced the PulsON 330 (P330), its first OEM module based upon DecaWave’s DW1000 chip.


File Management Optimized to Improve Flash Memory Reliability andDurability



    Express Logic has announced that FileX, its file management system, now supports Microsoft’s Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system. With exFAT, FileX maximizes the reliability and fault tolerance of flash memory in a number of media devices from flat panel TVs and media centers to compact flash and USB pen drives drives. In addition, for systems that also need wear leveling capabilities, Express Logic complements FileX with LevelX, a new flash wear leveling software that extends the longevity of storage devices.

    FileX’s improved dependability comes from the implementation of journaling for fault recovery. By tracking uncommitted file-system changes and recording the intentions or changes within the journal data structure, FileX now fully supports fault-tolerant systems. FileX improves system reliability and prevents data corruption by enabling the recovery of files should a system crash or power failure occur. Such data management is critical for always-on, mission-critical devices.

    LevelX complements FileX for always-on devices, like wearble heart monitors, where data is stored locally until it can be uploaded via a network. Such devices typically use NOR and NAND flash, which can only be erased and rewritten a finite number of times. These devices must maximize the longevity of usuable flash memory. Wear leveling maximizes  the life of the flash by distributing the storage of memory evenly over the entire flash.

    Express Logic’s LevelX delivers NAND and NOR flash wear leveling through an algorithm that reuses blocks of flash memory on lowest erase count. The algorithm also tracks the number of obsolete mappings to eliminate overhead when moving and mapping new entries. For applications involving multiple instances of NAND and/or NOR flash, separate instances of LevelX can be used. LevelX achieves fault tolerance by performing multi-step process that is interruptible at any point. LevelX automatically recovers to a coherent state during the next power-up operation.


Installed Base of Fleet Management Systems in the Americas to Exceed 13 Million Units by 2019



    According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in North America was 4.7 million in Q4-2014. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5 percent, this number is expected to reach 9.7 million by 2019. In Latin America, the number of active fleet management systems is expected to increase from 2.1 million in Q4-2014, growing at a CAGR of 14.6 percent to reach 4.1 million in 2019. The top-15 providers of fleet management systems in the Americas now have a combined installed base of more than 3.5 million active units in the region and the top-5 players alone even account for 2 million units. Leading solution providers including Fleetmatics, Omnitracs, Trimble, Telogis and Zonar Systems now all have more than 300,000 active units on this market. Berg Insight anticipates that the milestone of 1 million fleet management units globally will be surpassed by at least one of the solution providers by 2018.

     An emerging trend that has surfaced in recent years includes a diversification among providers of fleet management solutions for commercial vehicles to also support other types of assets. Several solution providers now offer integrated solutions that can be deployed across off-highway vehicles, non-powered assets and other non-vehicle fleets in addition to the commercial vehicle types traditionally targeted by FM providers. “This enables fleet owners to monitor and manage all of their business-critical assets through the same back office interface, using familiar applications and reporting tools”, said Rickard Andersson, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight.

    Andersson adds that at the same time this development enables fleet telematics providers to maintain subscriber growth as mature markets eventually approach peak penetration. “The telematics penetration is for example already comparably high in the heavy truck and trailer segment in North America, but the same cannot be said about most other types of assets used by fleet-owning companies.”, said Andersson. He concludes that asset tracking thus represents a heavily underpenetrated market with considerable potential for telematics providers that are ready to diversify their product offering. Many other players active in the general fields of Big Data and the Internet of Things may also start eyeing this market.