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Evans finds JVMs growing fast in embedded systems

Embedded systems developers appear to be implementing Java Virtual Machines in increasing numbers, according to a survey completed last month by Evans Data Corp. The survey found that 36% of embedded developers currently use or plan to implement JVMs; a survey conducted six months earlier found that 26% were using JVMs.

The reason for the upswing in JVM usage was twofold, said analysts at the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based market researcher. Based on interviews with more than 400 developers actively working with embedded systems, the Embedded Systems Developer Survey concluded, 'The inherent portability of Java applications from one system to the next and Internet connectivity are the main reasons for Java Virtual Machines' usage growth in embedded projects.'

Still, the developers surveyed were not without reservations about JVMs. They cited performance issues and lack of real-time capabilities to be among the primary disadvantages of Java still to be overcome.

'Despite these reservations,' said Tom Williams, Evans' embedded systems analyst, 'the advantages of Java are so compelling that a great deal of activity is being directed toward innovations to increase its performance in embedded applications.'

The new survey also found that embedded Linux is continuing to attract attention, but adoption rates have only slightly increased from the previous survey. Developers cited uncertainty of standards/concerns about forking and not enough commercial support as an embedded OS as the main perceived Linux weaknesses. The main strengths of Linux as an embedded OS are, not surprisingly, royalty-free licensing and full access to source code.

The survey also found:

-- Embedded system development is not without its share of starts, stops and late delivery of projects. More than half of embedded systems developers report that between 10 percent and 50 percent of their projects are abandoned. Of those that are completed, a third take more than a year and 40 percent take between six months to a year to complete.

-- Over the past year there has been a dramatic shift in those developers who say they plan to use System-on-Chip in future designs. The number of those planning an SoC design has shot up to over 30 percent.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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