An informal study of more than 200 embedded developers indicates that programmability challenges and the prospects of longer development cycles might be affecting the adoption rate of embedded multicore technology. Conducted by Freescale Semiconductor and Virtutech, Inc., the study’s results also found that more engineers are looking to adopt virtualized software development (VSD) platforms for deeper insight into multicore architectures that make their jobs less complex and more predictable.
Extended development cycles topped the list of developers’ embedded multicore challenges, with 50% of respondents rating this issue as their number one multicore challenge. Making existing code work in multicore environments was also a top issue according to 25% of respondents. And ensuring they get the full performance out of multicore chips was noted by 11% of respondents.
The survey also indicated adoption in greater numbers of virtual programming environments, as engineers recognize that VSD platforms enable better software quality and faster time to market. Forty-two percent of respondents stated that they are currently using a VSD platform or are planning to in the future, and almost half of respondents (48%) said they are willing to adopt a VSD platform or would consider it (43%) to accelerate the development process. Better software quality was considered to be the most important benefit from employing virtual models by more than a third (32%) of all respondents.
The study found that longer development cycles may stem from difficulties with current software development environments such as lack of performance tuning (41%) and advanced debug support (38%), specifically debugging issues of “breakpoints don’t freeze system” (33%), lack of determinism, (23%), thread locking (22%) and tools having a single processor bias (21%).
Forty-four percent of respondents stated their job function as software developer/architect while only 20% listed themselves as hardware developers, emphasizing that moving to multicore is not necessarily a hardware concern – it’s more about software development and enablement. To that end, of all the respondents, almost half (45%) said they would use virtual models for their target hardware processor or device, if available.