IoT Frameworks/ Development to Dominate Software Trends in 2016 - Part 2

Not everyone will jump to the cloud for product development. Even so, vendors continue to push the technology, and developers are finding advantages in this approach.

There are literally dozens of cloud integrated-development environment (IDE) systems/sites to choose from, and many IoT solutions providers now partner with some of these sites to augment their offerings. This follows from the success of collaboration and code-management sites like Github and Pastebin. Moreover, sites such as Cloud9, mbed, and even Arrow Cloud Connect provide embedded IoT support for the ARM Cortex-M0+. (prototype development)

prototype development circuit design manufacturing sourcing
Some, like Codevny, support online as well as workstation based tools (e.g., Eclipse), taking advantage of cloud-based servers for compilation and build services. Wind River's Helix environment includes the Helix Lab Cloud, which allows developers to test their applications on hardware that resides in the cloud.

The advantages remain significant by offloading installation, management, and support. Developers can have access to the latest software. However, developers must be cognizant of issues such as maintaining toolsets and runtime support for specific versions of their own application. (product design)

Online development, which does give more control to the vendor, is not for everyone. This is especially the case when control over the code and tools is critical or required. The quality and performance of the Internet connection is also important. Cloud operation obviously works best with reliable, high-speed connections.

Cloud-based solutions tend to excel in collaboration support, such capability is often crucial for IoT applications spanning multiple hardware nodes. This type of collaboration tends to be a bit more difficult to integrate when the tools operate independently of each other.

Tool integration and support is essential to cloud-based environments, but vendors will not ignore conventional development toolchains. These are being enhanced well past providing IDEs and compilers by including operating systems and stacks. Though available in the past, the level of integration and support is now becoming much better. It's one way for vendors to lock in their customers by providing a better alternative than the competition. (manufacturing sourcing)

Sometimes this integration is more focused. Take, for instance, Renesas' Synergy, which specifically targets its Synergy line of Cortex-M microcontrollers (see "Dev Kits: Getting Synergy" on It's built around Express Logic's Thread-X RTOS. Microchip's Harmony is a more inclusive framework that features multiple third-party components (see "Interview: Rich Hoefle Presents Microchip\ Harmony" on

There are advantages to vendors and developers for both approaches. Tighter integration allows for better support but fewer choices. Developers will have to.consider the indirect costs of using these frameworks and tools, because there's realIy no such thing as a free lunch or IDE. It's just that the costs may be hidden elsewhere, e.g., higher hardware costs.

The interplay continues on between open-source software (OSS) and proprietary software. OSS is playing a critical part in IoT because it generally induces more collaboration among participants negotiating standards.

Vendors can get a better handle,on where OSS fits within their offerings; ranging from support for Linux to providing some or all of their software with an open-source license. It's still not an easy choice, though, and vendors need to determine where they can best gain their advantage and income. Luckily, a multitude of developers are willing to pay for support and integration. (wireless design )

Like security, though, developers and companies might be forced to contend with OSS licensing as more standards are built around OSS. Developers may need to utilize tools like Black Duck Software Suite to track compliance, security, and governance issues related to an application (see "Is it GPL if it Quacks Like a Duck? " electronic

Making the choice to go with proprietary licenses is often a preferred alternative. However, choices might be more limited, especially when addressing IoT that incorporates many more components within an overarching IoT application environment.

The need for efficient power-management hardware and software ranks high on the list of issues surrounding mobile IoT devices. It's cropping up in more sophisticated hardware with more granularity in terms of power control and the types of peripherals available. Just managing the large number of power modes and peripherals is pushing chip vendors to provide power-management frameworks that work with applications and operating systems.

Battery-operated IoT devices usually operate in cycles where most time is spent in a low-power mode. Developers will need to examine all of the options when trying to minimize power requirements, from using non-volatile storage like FRAM, to choosing chips with ultra-low power peripherals, to taking advantage of intelligent, configurable peripheral interconnects that allow on-chip devices to operate independently of the CPU.(circuit design)

Keep an eye out for multicore, asymmetric microcontroller solutions that provide even more granularity for controlling power and performance. Although the downside will be a programming environment with heightened complexity, it should provide important advantages in both system isolation and security.

IoT continues to be a major theme for developers and vendors, but it's really just a part of the embedded software landscape. It just happens to be growing quickly and becoming more important to the long-term plans of many companies. It also makes companies think about where and how solutions will be monetized. (product design)

Still, IoT isn't everything or everywhere, and developers should not be espousing IoT solutions just because it's popular. On the other hand, many of the tools and support targeting IoT can be employed for more conventional types of embedded applications.

Cloud development tools work with the same efficacy for non-IoT development, too. Security hardware and software can play roles that are just as important for unconnected devices and networked devices that may not be part of a large cloud based IoT solution.

Posted from: Electronic Design, January 2016 edition

Author: Bill Wong

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