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Software Entrepreneur Helps Guide EDA Giant

Cadence’s Jim Ready, founder of MontaVista, tries to bridge the software understanding gap between EDA designers versus embedded-application developers.

Many of us are still trying to grasp what it means for electronics design automation (EDA) tool vendors to expand into the world of non-RTL software development. It is an old story, namely, that of a predominately hardware-oriented company trying to embrace the seemingly counter-culture of the software development community.

Regardless, Cadence seems to be serious about their intentions to successfully integrate the software mindset into their hardware culture. Recent evidence of this intention is found in the hiring of Jim Ready, past founder MontaVista – an embedded Linux company. According to Richard Goering’s recent interview, Ready was brought into Cadence to help advise Lip-Bu Tan, the CEO, and others about software issues related to embedded systems.

Goering’s interview with Ready is an excellent read that helps clarify the role that EDA vendors will play in the embedded space, e.g., via virtual platforms, co-development, and even open systems support. [Q&A: Jim Ready Discusses EDA Connection to Embedded Software Development]

This discussion was reminiscent of another interview with Ready, one that I conducted years ago while he was still at MontaVista. At that time, Cadence’s EDA360 concept of SOC, software and system realization had yet to be delineated in a manifesto. My main concern during the interview with Ready was to understand how an open systems developed platform like Linux faced could support proprietary operating systems (OSs) like Intel’s Moblin (remember that one) and others. What follows are the slightly edited portions of that interview that remain relevant to Ready’s current comments.

Embedded Linux Faces Low Power Demand and Open Source Commercialization - Embedded Linus magazine, 2009.

Blyler: Earlier, you said that a complete embedded development platform is analogous to an ASSP in the semiconductor world. By analogy, MontaVista’s “Linux 6” product becomes an application specific OS management environment that includes Linux, Moblin RTOS and customer unique software programs.

Ready: Going back to the ASSP analogy, you might say that our (Linux 6) embedded Linux development environment is sort of the TSMC for software. Intel is now licensing the Atom core at the TSMC foundry so others can build their own system-onchip (SoC) based on the Atom architecture. One reason that they do this is because Intel cannot predict all the different configurations of Atom that people might use. We experience the same challenge with our embedded Linux platform. Users have the capability through the integration environment … to configure and maintain their own instance of Linux, Moblin, and/or open source software that is unique to their requirements, to their products.

Blyler: Is it like an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) but for the operating system?

Ready: It’s more around source code management and change and build management systems, but on steroids. If you go to and you grab one of those at any instances, because of the churn of open source the probability of that actually working is very low. It can range from “working perfectly” to “oh my gosh” because there are dead links. It’s hard for volunteers to keep this going.

(A complete embedded development platform) is the configuration management and infrastructure for our assemblage for all the software that we supply in an open system, such that customers can insert their own selection from open source and or their own stuff in an environment that keeps that consistent and builds are repeatable. What we provide is fully tested. It’s under our control and works.

It’s getting this front end of very intriguing open source into a more regularized and commercialized – in a sense, more normal – software process that people would expect to have for their software. If one presumes that open source is just perfect software out there for the taking, it’s not true.

Originally published on “IP Insider.”


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