Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

samedi 28 juin 2003

In this article published by Embedded Systems Programming, Jim Turley says that "processor selection too often turns into a religious war. Debunking the dominant myths is the first step towards making a rational choice."

Here is Turley's list of the top ten dominant myths.

  • Myth #1: There are few processor choices
  • Myth #2: Intel rules the world [My favorite one]
  • If you say "microprocessor," a lot of people think, "Pentium." The mainstream press is partly to blame. Newspapers proclaim that Intel has a 95% share of the microprocessor market. That's off by almost two orders of magnitude.
    As we saw in the January issue, only about 2% of all microprocessors made drive PCs ("The Two Percent Solution"). Intel's Pentium has a dominant share of the PC business (the Federal Trade Commission stopped just short of declaring it a monopoly), but PCs are a tiny slice of the microprocessor pie. The other 98% is embedded CPUs; Intel's not even in the top five of that group.
    Even if we weed out the enormous volume of 8-bit and 16-bit chips and focus on 32-bitters, Intel's name still appears well down the list. ARM vendors alone sell about three times more processors than Intel sells Pentiums.
  • Myth #3: Instruction sets don't matter
  • Myth #4: RISC is better than CISC
  • Myth #5: Java chips are coming
  • So's Christmas. Actually, Christmas is a lot closer because it's going to be here this year. Java chips have more in common with Santa Claus than Christmas: a nice fable for naïve young engineers who aren't yet old enough to know better.
  • Myth #6: Dhrystone MIPS is a useful benchmark
  • Myth #7: Price is proportional to performance
  • Myth #8: ARM is lowest power
  • Myth #9: Second sourcing micros
  • Myth #10: The great processor shakeout
  • With more than 100 different embedded 32-bit processors for sale, there must be too many choices for the market to support, right? Who's going to win and who's going to lose? Come the revolution, who will be first against the wall?
    Probably none of them. In fact, the number of embedded processors is likely to grow, not shrink. Those hundred-odd chips are all in volume production with dozens of happy customers who wouldn't use anything else. Those chips are around for a reason, and the number of reasons keeps growing. MP3 players, digital-video cameras, automotive electronics, and other new toys are popping up all the time, and they each need a new and different kind of processor. There's no such thing as a typical embedded system and there's no such thing as a typical embedded processor. As long as embedded developers invent new devices, new embedded processors will be there to make them tick.

Please read the original article if you have more time.

Source: Jim Turley, Embedded Systems Programming, June 11, 2003

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