In 1998, a specialized research institute for embedded systems called Center for High Performance Embedded Systems (CHiPES) was set up in the computer science department of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and it has been putting effort into embedded systems up to now. Furthermore, in July of this year, a master's course with a specialization in embedded systems was established, and I was invited as the main guest at the opening ceremony held on August 23 and blessed with the opportunity to give an invited lecture.
At the lecture, a very large number of people took interest. I explained T-Engine, and I talked about embedded systems of the future. I gathered a lot of support to really famous assertions such as, "we are aiming at the middleware distribution base in order to make development efficient," "I want to use software for 100 years," and "a security architecture like eTRON is mandatory as all sorts of systems are connected to networks," which I have long maintained. To the extent that several Singapore companies went so far as to join the T-Engine Forum on the spot, it was a really meaningful event.
With the increase in the demand for non-PC devices, interest in embedded systems is rising worldwide, but in Asia there are many embedded-related research institutes and development bases, and, moreover, when we add production, it becomes the number one region in the world. For that reason, I thought they have profited from a very favorable time to establish a new graduate school course in the embedded field in this land called Singapore. The size of the institute's staff is 28 people, and there are 42 students, including those in the master's course. Here, they research total system construction methods for cases in which they develop a certain specific system. It is a research institute where they coherently research everything from ASIC development methods using the latest ECAD systems to high density mounting on boards, loading real-time operating systems, creating application software, and finally fabricating target systems. Among these, there are also groups that research things such as ASICs and real-time operating systems.
Embedded systems are rapidly advancing. In general data processing, in other words, in systems development in the world of EDP, it is a situation in which things have already been decided with standard systems and software, but with the embedded things are clearly different. Embedded systems hardware greatly differs depending on the target system. This requires a judgment in which someone says, "because it's this kind of use, this kind of system is required, and the target hardware for that purpose ends up like this." It is not a world in which systems are realized by loading software into a general-purpose platform, such as the PC or UNIX. Not only hardware, but both the operating system and the software must also be adapted to the target system. If it's likely that there will be a request to pursue low power consumption to the limit, then whether or not it will be easy to create a device driver becomes a problem. This is clearly different from the world of personal computers and workstations.
In fact, a lot of the activity in the embedded field as one would think is actively taking place in Asia. In the TRON Project/T-Engine Project, exchanges with China and Korea have been lively up to now, and I would like to proceed without changing the policy of popularization that attaches importance to Asia. Singapore, which I visited on this occasion, is a hub point; in other words, it is a place from which one can easily go to other countries. In its vicinity lie a large number of countries that excel in this field. As has appeared even in the results of the ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest 2003 (the winner's prize and runner-up's prize both went to Thailand; Vietnam and Japan received the fighting spirit award), Vietnam and Thailand are strong in hardware, and in Malaysia and Indonesia also there are many excellent people. If you go a little farther, there is also India, which has an established reputation in software development, and China also is close at hand. In the Asian region, we can expect further contributions in the embedded systems field in the near future. In that kind of Asia, I look forward to being able to create the embedded world of the 21st century with the Asian people.
The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 83 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.
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Copyright © 2003 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo