Power Architecture and the Industrial Market

April 30, 2009

From its very beginning, QNX has served the industrial market with our products and it continues to be a key focus for us. We have many customers building many products in this segment. We pay a lot of attention to ensure that our products align with the needs of the industrial developer.


The industrial market has traditionally built systems based on x86 architecture. In the past year or two, however, we have seen industrial customers choosing the Freescale PowerQUICC family of processors for new designs. I’m not suggesting that everyone is moving away from x86 – just that we are starting to see real demand for Power Architecture in industrial. We have supported these devices for many years to serve the networking market and it is interesting, to me at least, that they are finding homes on the factory floor.


There are a few reasons, I think, for the shift. The industrial market is moving from standalone systems to a more connected model where sharing data and control between multiple devices across a network is fundamental to the overall system architecture. Highly integrated processors like the PowerQUICC offer great built-in networking capabilities. Further, the PowerQUICC family of processors has been developed specifically for the embedded market and customers can rest assured that Freescale understands the requirements of the embedded lifecycle. The price points that they are able to hit with these devices are also helping them garner market share.


As these devices move into applications like vision systems, high speed scanning and quality control, the burden of computationally intensive processing increases dramatically. System architects typically rely on hardware floating point units to address this requirement.


I am happy to report that we introduced e500v2 double precision floating point support in the release of Neutrino 6.4.1. Embedded developers using QNX now have yet another choice for their designs.



Brands to Trust – Campbell Soup and QNX

April 27, 2009

campbell-soup1I just read an article in the Economist’s annual round-up publication, in this case, The World in 2009. (And yes, I know, I’m a bit behind in my reading…) The article was called “Flight to Value – No Nonsense Brands will Prosper in 2009”. It opens with the assertion that on Sept 29 last year when the first Wall Street bail out plan was rejected, the S&P’s 500 index plunged and all of its constituents fell in value except for one, the Campbell Soup Company. The author then goes on to make the prediction that in 2009 the brands that will do well are those that represent good quality, no nonsense, and excellent value for money.

Perhaps there isn’t an obvious correlation between Campbell Soup and QNX – unless you count the fact that I always introduce myself as Linda Campbell “like the soup” to help people with my last name. As such I’m inspired to make this soup to software comparison and observe that like the soup, QNX has fared well during these hard times and much of our ongoing success can also be attributed back to the core values of quality, excellent value, and a no-nonsense approach to business.

I think there is something to be said about conservatively run companies and their staying power. QNX has never been based on a high flying culture; even our CEO travels economy class. During the good times, this type of fiscal responsibility can seem a bit restrictive but it has served us well time and again as we weather various macro-economic storms.

Ironically on the same day as I was reading this old article, I picked up the Wall Street Journal. On page B1 of the April 3 edition, there is an article called “The Perks Keep Flowing Despite Outcry”. This article talks about a company – an auto supplier out of Toledo, OH – that having just recently emerged from bankruptcy protection has managed to spend 2.3 million over the last year on chartered planes. Why? To fly their chairman and vice chairman back and forth to their homes in California.

Maybe their shareholders are wondering if this type of expenditure represents a no nonsense approach to business and good value?

By Linda Campbell (like the soup) 🙂

QNX BIOS for Intel Architecture

April 20, 2009

Ever since we announced QNX Fastboot for Intel Architecture I repeatedly get asked about how we make this work with the BIOS. Are we customizing the BIOS? Are we putting secret code before the BIOS and then bringing up the BIOS in a special way? Well there are two ways to clarify this:


2. With QNX, you are now able to recieve a custom BIOS as a part of the Neutrino package.

Effectively, through our license agreement for the Z500 processor family (commonly known as the Atom), QNX has become a BIOS vendor. Albeit, we provide a dramatically customized (reduced) start up library that is device and application specific in line with our deeply embedded, high reliability focus.

As  a part of this, customers now have the option to engage the QNX services team to write their own custom start up (again, think BIOS) for their Intel Architecture devices. (Currently we’re only licensed to do this for the Z500 series processors, however we’re eager to start discussing new processors). This approach has the benefits of custom performance optimizations, i.e. it boots fast and can faciliate fast connectivity for things like CAN, Profinet, EtherCAT etc., and eliminates the BIOS from the BOM cost, the more units you ship the more you save.

So if you are thinking about the Intel Architecture for your next industrial or medical design but are frustrated with your current BIOS, please drop us a line to explore how we might resolve this.

You can test out our Fastboot IPL on the Kontron nanoETXexpress-SP module. Please download it here: http://community.qnx.com/sf/wiki/do/viewPage/projects.bsp/wiki/Bspdown_kontronnanosp

Kroy Zeviar