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'Embedded Systems Show [Long report]'
1999\10\03@002749 by Bob Drzyzgula

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As many of y'all have noticed, the Embedded Systems Show
was last week. Now that I'm back home and again have decent
Internet access (I was using the AltaVista free access and
I can report that it was just awful), I thought that I'd
report a few observations and rumors. I know that some
others on this list were there as well and I'd encourage
them to do the same.

The main on-topic things I can report are the following
rumors, which I will leave unattributed and
unauthenticated:

 * Microchip's sudden shortage in the 16C8xx range
   may in part be related to shake-out in a new assembly
   plant in Thailand. Microchip makes the wafers here in the
   US, cuts them into dice and ships the dice to Thailand
   for assembly into the plastic packages. They have been
   starting a new plant there, and it has taken some time
   to get everything up to speed. Supposedly the dice
   exist, it is just an assembly issue. One of uChip's
   booth staff did give me a sample of the PIC16C877,
   and they also had samples of their new op-amps and
   standalone SPI A/D devices; I got two MCP601s and
   one MCP3208.

 * The 18Cxxx parts are sampling and "should be
   available" from local FAEs (I should get me one
   of them FAEs). Supposedly there have been no major
   issues and production quantities should be available
   "soon", I had the impression that this meant probably
   by year-end, FWIW.

 * The main bad news had to do with in-circuit
   emulation. The Tech-Tools guys said that the current
   Clear View Mathias didn't have the guts to handle
   the 18Cxxx, at least in 16-bit mode. Other than
   vaguely admitting that they've always got something
   in development, I wasn't able to find out anything
   about any new Clear View products. I also asked at
   the uChip booth about whether I should be upgrading
   to the ICE2000 for the 18Cxxx, and I was warned off;
   again it seems that the ICE2000 will likely support the
   18Cxxx in 14-bit mode, but not in 16-bit mode. Thus,
   I guess that we can expect some new ICE models coming
   from uChip soon. (That's your cue, Tjaart!) It didn't
   seem that all these details were settled yet, at least
   as far as they were able to tell me.

In the slightly off-topic range,

 * An Atmel rep told me that the bond-outs for the
   ICE200 pretty much sold out, and thus the supply of
   ICE200 units will be limited to inventory for the next
   couple of months.

 * Kanda, the people who make the AVR STK200
   and ATmega STK300 development boards, are coming out
   with an STK100 board for the ATtiny chips.

 * Scenix had a sizable booth. One nice thing is that
   they will soon be shipping development boards for low
   cost. I guess that they've been delayed by the fact
   that the board's first manufacturer got bought out by
   someone else. They looked like they'll be nice boards,
   when they come out.

 * Zilog also had a pretty big booth, with a sports
   car in it and everyone wearing racing uniforms.

 * Philips will soon have out the P51XAG49 flash
   based chips. These will have 64KB of flash and 2KB
   of RAM, in a PLCC-44 package with all the normal XA
   features, such as an 8/16/24-bit memory bus, 16-bit
   math with 32-bit extensions, separate system and
   user stacks, paged access to up to 16MB/16MB RAM/ROM
   storage, two UARTS, etc.

 * Infineon had a huge booth, and they were handing
   out a "pre-release" copy of D.A.v.E. 2.0 (Digital
   Applications virtual Engineer). I attended a
   presentation on D.A.v.E., and have to say that
   it is a pretty stunning piece of work. Basically
   it amounts to an automated databook; instead
   of pulling up datasheets and digging through them
   for register bitmaps and such, you pull up this
   GUI application that will allow you to select
   a part, and then step through an extensive series
   of menus and forms. You point-and-click to select
   things like UART and timer settings, interrupts
   and interrupt priorities, etc. When you're
   done, D.A.v.E. will generate C code either for
   the Tasking or Keil C compilers that has pretty
   much a full outline for a standard event-loop
   application, with all the registers configured
   correctly and such. The skeleton code then has
   "your code goes here" type comments; as long as
   you leave all the other stuff untouched and only
   put your code where it gives you a place, you
   can go back and change settings in D.A.v.E. even
   though you've been modifying the generated code.
   It will do this for the 8051-based C5xx series
   as well as the 16-bit C16x series. I guess it will
   also do the 32-bit TriCore, but I didn't pay
   much attention to that. I fooled around with it
   on my notebook PC and it seemed to do what they
   said it would.

 * I spent a bunch of time looking at the products
   at the Phytec -- http://www.phytec.com/ -- booth. They
   have some very nice development boards for a reasonable
   sum of money. One *really* nice thing is that they
   have designed many of their boards to use little
   processor/memory/oscillator modules that have rows of
   pins to connect them into a main development board. The
   nicest part about it is that the processor/memory
   modules are reasonably priced and could easily be
   used to take a prototype off the development board and
   onto a custom board for a small pre-production pilot
   run. Not yet on their website, they are just bringing out
   a new style of module called the "phyCORE", that is
   purported to have much better EMC characteristics then
   the older ones. The first units will use the Philips
   8051 and 8051XA chips. The first two XA modules
   will use the flash chip described in the last item
   and a new XA version with integrated CAN. The first
   two 8051 modules will use the P89C51RD+ and, again,
   one with integrated CAN. All those modules use PLCC
   sockets, so you can easily use them with an emulator.

 * emWare -- http://www.emware.com -- was just
   about everywhere. Besides their own booth, they had
   a presence in the Philips, Microchip, Mitsubishi,
   Motorola and Hitachi booths.

 * Linux penguins weren't the star of the show,
   but they were pretty common. Montavista Software
   was at the Ziatech booth selling "Hard Hat Linux",
   and most X86 and some PPC SBC vendors were claiming
   Linux compatibility. Sun Microsystems had one of
   the larger booths, and they were aggressively
   pushing both their Java hardware and software,
   as well as the SPARC-based SBCs and motherboards.
   They did have Linux running on at least a couple
   of systems.

 * Something of a surprise to me was the size of
   Cygnus' booth -- they were also one of the larger
   on the floor.

And, in solidly [OT] territory:

I attended the tutorial on "System Architectures and
Archetypes", which turned out mostly to be about UML and
generally using modeling languages to generate code for
embedded systems.  It was fascinating but I think they have
a long way to go yet. Also, I attended an introductory
tutorial on DSP, which I thought did a good job of
introducing DSP. The other classes worth mentioning were
those given by Jean Labrosse on Real Time Kernels. Although
it was pretty much focused on the worldview from uC/OS-II,
I think that he did a good job of giving a sense of what
RTOSs do and don't do.

The trade show was of course a bunch of fun. I got to
meet Clyde Smith-Stubbs, Bob Blick and Scott Dattalo,
among others.  I know that Bob took some pictures, I don't
know if he'll have them up on the Web at some point.

It was a good show for T-Shirts, I got four and could
have gotten maybe a dozen if I'd had the patience to sit
through a bunch of inane presentations.  The Infineon
booth had the best deal -- everyone who was willing to
sit down got a cup of cappaccino or latte from a real
barrista, and everyone who sat through the *whole* show
got a stainless-steel insulated coffee tumbler -- with a
one year warranty no less. I got a real hard hat with a
Penguin on it from Montavista Software (Hard Hat Linux),
Klix toys from Atmel, and an Intel Bunny-Suit doll. (That
was another one that required attendance at a presentation,
and the lady presenter at the Intel booth looked as if
she was powered by a Pentium III; one rarely sees that
tight a performance at a show like that. I also recall
absolutely nothing of what she said -- I spent most of
the time just staring at her in awe...). Virtually
everyone (except Analog Devices, dammit) was handing
out CDs with data sheets and demo software. I must have
gotten 30 or so such freebies (including uChip's latest).

The Integrated Chipware booth was particularly vile --
they had a lady that looked old enough to know better
doing a "magic" show and trying to lead the audience in an
"Integrated CHIPware" cheer; it was somehow necessary to
jump up in the air when pronouncing the syllable "chip",
and the most enthusiastic members of each audience would
win prizes. It was disgusting; even though I didn't mind
the extensive use of "booth babes" (to quote Dilbert)
generally, I think that she made pretty much everyone
cringe.  The Hitachi booth was out in the main hall;
you had to pass through it to get to the main entrance to
the show floor. At strategic corners they had lithe young
ladies wearing the shortest shorts practical, holding out
bowls of chocolates and trying their damnedest to get each
passerby to take some. They were pretty good chocolates,
FWIW.  That kind of stuff was far from universal, however;
the staffs in most booths were reasonably well-qualified
sales or technical people, regardless of gender.

Sorry for the long report, but I thought y'all might
be interested.

--Bob

--
============================================================
Bob Drzyzgula                             It's not a problem
spam_OUTbobTakeThisOuTspamdrzyzgula.org                until something bad happens
============================================================
       http://www.drzyzgula.org/bob/electronics/
============================================================

1999\10\03@105215 by wwl

picon face
>In the slightly off-topic range,
>
>  * An Atmel rep told me that the bond-outs for the
>    ICE200 pretty much sold out, and thus the supply of
>    ICE200 units will be limited to inventory for the next
>    couple of months.
At a redcent seminar Atmel said thay were making 1000 per month of the
ICE200. Don't know if this info is older or newer than yours.
>  * Kanda, the people who make the AVR STK200
>    and ATmega STK300 development boards, are coming out
>    with an STK100 board for the ATtiny chips.
Already exists - got one at the UK seminar a couple of weeks ago

>  * Zilog also had a pretty big booth, with a sports
>    car in it and everyone wearing racing uniforms.
... typical - use a flashy stand to impress when the products don;t!

1999\10\03@105226 by Juimiin Hong

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Thanks, for the report.

>   * Something of a surprise to me was the size of
>     Cygnus' booth -- they were also one of the larger
>     on the floor.

What did Cygnus show?

> lady presenter at the Intel booth looked as if
> she was powered by a Pentium III; one rarely sees that
> tight a performance at a show like that. I also recall
> absolutely nothing of what she said -- I spent most of
> the time just staring at her in awe...).

I heard that some companies hire actors and actresses to present the
material.


-Juimiin

1999\10\03@105354 by Harold M Hallikainen

picon face
       Great report!  Looks like you spent a lot more time at the show than I
did!  I also used Alta Vista Free Access while at the show.  I found that
early in the morning you could actually dial and not get a busy signal.
It worked pretty well then.  I even used it to telnet back to my shell
account where I could do email using PINE (since AVFA doesn't do SMTP).
AVFA has a clever radio ad running on how to become a millionare...  Just
put all those $20 per month ISP payments in some sort of investment or
savings account.

Harold


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1999\10\03@131249 by Bob Drzyzgula

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On Sun, Oct 03, 1999 at 10:32:34AM -0400, Juimiin Hong wrote:
>
> >   * Something of a surprise to me was the size of
> >     Cygnus' booth -- they were also one of the larger
> >     on the floor.
>
> What did Cygnus show?

About what you'd expect: eCOS, GNUPro, embedded Linux,
porting and partenering services. I think that the big
thurst was their support of the Japanese uITRON standard; I
was kind of hoping that they'd have some CDs with Cygnus
products on them, but all I saw there was a CD with
uITRON-related stuff.

> > lady presenter at the Intel booth looked as if
> > she was powered by a Pentium III; one rarely sees that
> > tight a performance at a show like that. I also recall
> > absolutely nothing of what she said -- I spent most of
> > the time just staring at her in awe...).
>
> I heard that some companies hire actors and actresses to present the
> material.

That was pretty apparant. But the lady at the Intel
booth was pretty amazing.

--Bob

--
============================================================
Bob Drzyzgula                             It's not a problem
.....bobKILLspamspam@spam@drzyzgula.org                until something bad happens
============================================================
       http://www.drzyzgula.org/bob/electronics/
============================================================

1999\10\03@131454 by Bob Drzyzgula

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On Sun, Oct 03, 1999 at 07:40:08AM -0700, Harold M Hallikainen wrote:
>         Great report!  Looks like you spent a lot more time at the show than I
> did!  I also used Alta Vista Free Access while at the show.  I found that
> early in the morning you could actually dial and not get a busy signal.
> It worked pretty well then.  I even used it to telnet back to my shell
> account where I could do email using PINE (since AVFA doesn't do SMTP).
> AVFA has a clever radio ad running on how to become a millionare...  Just
> put all those $20 per month ISP payments in some sort of investment or
> savings account.
>
> Harold

I also was telnetting into a shell account for mail.
I found that, at almost any time of the day I couldn't
stay connected for more than ten minutes at a time.
I started preparing email on my notebook, and then
doing a copy and paste to my telnet window so that
I didn't have such a problem with dropped edit sessions.
Also, from about 7:00 to 12:00 pm it was virtually
impossible to get a connection, and I kept trying
all four San Jose numbers.

--Bob

--
============================================================
Bob Drzyzgula                             It's not a problem
bobspamKILLspamdrzyzgula.org                until something bad happens
============================================================
       http://www.drzyzgula.org/bob/electronics/
============================================================

1999\10\03@150902 by Russell McMahon

picon face
>  * Zilog also had a pretty big booth, with a sports
>    car in it

The car was a BMW Z3 roadsetr and was the prize for a 8 programming
competition - apparently I didn't win it as they haven't called me ;-) (no
great surprise, unfortunately).

> ... typical - use a flashy stand to impress when the products don;t!

I'm impressed enough with their products.
Like PICs, they have their place.
Value for money they are excellent.
Functionally, they have their niche.




RM

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