Earlier this week, I have attended Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando. The trip was well worth it, there is a lot of stuff going on in the microcontroller world. The most remarkable trend is blurring the line between 8-bit and 32-bit world – Freescale now provides hardware and software tools compatibility. A significant trend also is from 8 straight to 32 bit, skipping 16-bit chips altogether. And then, Freescale and IBM are back in bed on Power architecture. From the operating system point of view – there were numerous RTOS vendors present offering microkernel (of which I am a fan, btw) products, but Linux seems to be ubiquitous (and pushed by Freescale, too). I think we’ll see the history repeated once again (Betamax, TokenRing, Amiga anyone?) – Linux will win. Not because it is best, but because it is good enough (sigh), vendor neutral and open.
Now where does C++ fit into this picture? In Orlando, I’ve heard a little bit about C++ – and nothing about Java, thankfully – QNX and Trolltech were there. One comment (by a uCLinux guy) stung me: “C++ is a memory hog”. I refrained from an exchange of opinions because it would most likely be counter productive – from an 8-bit, memory constrained MMU-less perspective, C++ as a hog may be a valid opinion. But 8-bit is headed toward history, even in microcontroller world. And C++ will thrive in the embedded world for the same reason it has thrived elsewhere – higher level of abstraction (meaning more design power) at minimum (often zero) performance price and compatibility with C.
The highlight of the conference was definitely the closing session speech. They brought in a living legend – Neil Armstrong. I was 4 years old when the man made the step and I do remember it. Engineer to the bone and a very humble human being, he gave an inspiring and motivating speech sprinkled with a good dose of humor. My favorite was the description of how, on their journey to the Moon, they were regularly called from the Earth in a following manner: “Hello Apollo 11, this is Houston.”.
“I could never figure out why they kept on saying that.” – he said – “I mean, who else could it be?”