Renesas Devcon 2015 – what an experience! Never before have I attended a developer’s conference and come away so excited. It was part conference and part product launch party since just about everything there somehow touched on Renesas’ new Synergy platform. The company introduced a concept that’s heretofore unseen in the embedded systems industry: not only do they have orthogonal ARM core processors spanning the performance spectrum, but they are including the entire software stack required to get you up and running in literally minutes.
The stack includes operating system (OS) or superloop architecture, a GUI, all forms of communications, and drivers for all of the on-chip peripherals. This is all configured from within the IDE, the Eclipse-based e2Studio. What’s more, all the pieces of the stack are guaranteed to work together. Oh, and did I tell you that whether you buy one chip or a million, you can access the entire software suite with no fee? What’s not to love?
Such was my question to my dinner compatriots on the second evening. As it turns out, some of the people at the table believe that this is the wrong approach, and that Renesas missed the mark. They were concerned that developers wouldn’t adopt the platform approach because it would tie them to a development environment, it would force them to use a particular RTOS and drivers, and it wouldn’t allow them the ability to modify the source code of the stack components.
In fact, some of those arguments are wrong, while the others are dead wrong.
According to Renesas, e2 studio will not be the only environment choice available. In fact, a long time partner of Renesas, IAR, is introducing their IDE with Synergy support. And, there’s nothing stopping RTOS and stack support from other long-time Renesas partners like Segger and Micrium. And even with those choices, somebody somewhere is going to port FreeRTOS and some flavor of Linux, if only to prove that they can.
However, the advantages of the Synergy platform, IMHO, far outweigh the disadvantages of using third-party tools. First, it’s tough to fight the low cost. Second, this stuff is warranteed to work. If it doesn’t, call Renesas – no support contract required.
Alas, some at the table were not convinced, and maintained that developers would still not switch. So how about it? Will you switch? If not, why?
Bill Flynn, owner of BNS Solutions, has over 30 years of experience as a developer and leader in the embedded systems industry, which includes architect and designer of products spanning such industries as medical, broadcast video, and industrial controls. He employs Agile methodologies and high levels of collaboration. His skills include embedded hardware and firmware, communications systems design, EMI/RFI mitigation, agency approvals, and supply-chain management.