As the complexity of embedded development projects increase, engineering managers are increasingly pressured to find cost-effective development tools that help ensure project success, while at the same time supporting the shorter and shorter project schedules that seems to be the norm these days.
For a development- or project manager, it is critically important the team uses the right tools. Making the wrong tool choice can disrupt any embedded project, resulting in inferior software quality, launch date delays, or cost overruns. Read this blog post to learn how standardization can help out.
Leveraging the benefits of standardization is a good advice. Traditionally, the embedded industry has been deeply fragmented, resulting in inefficiencies and vast duplication of efforts. Small processor core ecosystems had to duplicate commodity "me-too" functionality instead of providing differentiation and innovation. With a plethora of competing CPU cores, the market was full of isolated islands with proprietary microcontroller architectures and their incompatible tool and middleware ecosystems.
As we all know, ARM is taking a stronger and stronger grip on the embedded market and is now the de-facto standard microcontroller architecture. This trend has been strengthened a lot since the introduction of the low-cost Cortex-M0(+) and Cortex-M3 cores, and continues with the powerful Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M7 cores for high-end microcontrollers. And of course, for DSP and application processor type of applications, Cortex-R and Cortex-A are being increasingly used as well. ARM is actively pushing for standardization and portability, through its CMSIS initiative too.
An equally strong paradigm shift has been happening in the embedded tools industry, where the GNU C/C++ compiler and debugger tools (gcc, gdb, binutils, etc.) are quickly emerging as the de-facto standard and default tool solution as well. This trend is valid with both smaller companies who appreciate the better return on investment compared to traditional proprietary tools, as well as multinational corporations who value a tool-chain that exists for almost all CPU architectures in common use, on all relevant host operating systems.
Furthermore, the GNU tools help avoid proprietary vendor lock-in and offers second-source suppliers and independent technical support should the need arise. Not being completely in the hands of one proprietary supplier dramatically reduce technical and financial risk. These benefits are not possible with proprietary tools, and goes well beyond just cost savings.
The trend of using tools based on open components is strengthened further with ECLIPSE as the de-facto standard embedded C/C++ IDE, with its supremely powerful feature-set, a flexible plug-in architecture, and cross-platform operating system support.
The large number of corporations and other organizations that help develop the ECLIPSE IDE - plus 3rd party plugin developers - makes it virtually impossible for any embedded tools vendor to keep up with the development pace using a proprietary IDE. Not to mention the productivity gains caused by the familiarity of using the same IDE framework across different product vendors, tool niches, operating systems, or problem areas.
The emerging trend where the combination of the ARM cores, the GNU tools, and the ECLIPSE IDE is quickly becoming a de-facto standard for embedded tools is likely to continue at an accelerated speed. Commercially polished and extended ECLIPSE IDE's, like Atollic TrueSTUDIO, provides a very compelling and cost-effective tool solution for ARM Cortex developers and their managers.
By using tools built on open de-facto standards - like the Eclipse IDE and the GNU compiler/debugger - your company will reduce the cost and time wasted on retraining, which is commonly required when using various proprietary tool solutions. And by using tools build on top of open components everyone already know, different developers can more easily move around across projects and work-tasks, thus creating a more flexible, dynamic and effective development team.
With Atollic TrueSTUDIO, you get a rock-solid and trusted tool, built on open standards using a flexible and extensible IDE platform. You can thus avoid vendor lock-in and rely on a tool built on components with a massive user base. Furthermore, TrueSTUDIO provides best-in-class functionality in terms of edit/compile/debug capabilities, as well as team collaboration and developer productivity. And it is affordable and comes with professional technical support.
Do you want to learn more on commercially polished and extended ECLIPSE/GNU tools for ARM Cortex-M? Read this whitepaper: