Mentor Graphics: building Pillars of the IoT Community
July 1st, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena
If you’re interested in Wearables and the IoT, you need go no further than talking with Mentor Graphics, in particular the company’s spokesman Warren Kurisu. Warren and I spoke by phone last month, our conversation sparked by two aggressively confident press releases out of Wilsonville.
* Mentor Graphics announces its Embedded Nucleus RTOS framework includes a complete range of features targeting next-generation wearable IoT devices for the medical, fitness, and security markets.
* The new release of Mentor’s Nucleus RTOS targets connected embedded devices for high-performance, advanced IoT applications, utilizing process model technology that enables developers to reconfigure, update, and provision connected embedded devices that utilize cloud-based remote software services.
The IoT being at the center of all of this, I asked Warren to define the IoT. He said, “That’s an interesting challenge, because it actually depends on the industry.
“In the area of industrial automation, factories have been investigating the IoT for many years. Although more around [technologies related] to intelligent sensors, and the ability to not just send data, but to allow intelligent decisions at the management level and to then send data from the enterprise up to the supply chain, partners, etc. via the cloud.
“The [goal] is an intelligent factory that can be retooled quickly around tools that can be built digitally.”
Warren continued: “Then there’s a different category of IoT definition that would be around wearables, medical wearables to be specific. Extending or connecting patients in hospitals or at home into the cloud, so the patient can be monitored and treated, or examined remotely via remote labs. [The idea] is to create a hospital environment, which is able to aggregate data into a centralized data area.
“These [technologies] are a fairly new area of interest and in contrast to those for industrial automation. I started to see this trend 3 or 4 years ago in [everything from] health monitors to fusion pumps with a lot more connectivity. Of course, with all of this comes new concerns about data security, which in itself has become a new area of interest.”
“Overall,” he said, “I look at these two markets – industrial automation and medical wearables – as being at the two ends of the IoT spectrum.”
With that, Warren defined the IoT: “In its most generic form, the IoT is the ability to create intelligence at the end point, whether it’s a controller for a machine, a medical fusion pump, or a fitness band.
“With an IoT device, there’s more processing at the end point, and then there’s communication into the cloud and an aggregation of data into management and business critical information.”
“So,” I asked, “you need intelligence at the node and a response from the central command to define the IoT?”
“Yes,” Warren answered. “And you need to extend the data up into the cloud for management and business intelligence.”
“Okay. So Mentor has two announcements, both about wearables. Can you summarize them in 25 words or less?” I asked.
Warren chuckled and said, “The announcements center around capabilities in Mentor’s Nucleus RTOS that are enabling the emerging segments of devices, both across vertical markets and across applications.
“From fitness bracelets to medical wearables, Nucleus capabilities are really good for those categories of devices. The IoT is built around connectivity, and the Nucleus protocol enables devices to talk machine to machine or directly up into the cloud.”
“Still,” I said. “I’m not hearing any actual news here, just that Mentor’s declaring the capabilities exist.”
Warren said, “Yes, we’re declaring the capabilities exist, but there’s also very specific news. We are announcing investments to address various trends in the market. Mentor is making investments that are uniquely suited to the IoT.
“The wearable market is very broad. It includes medical devices, sports and fitness devices, lifestyle devices, devices for tracking radiation exposure. These are all market drivers that produced quite a bit of business for us last year.”
“Among the important [factors] here,” he continued, “memory partitioning is critical in wearables. It’s similar to the situation in smart phones, where apps must be partitioned away from each other so one app will not harm or destroy another app.
“In addition, power management is important. Battery life in rechargeable devices needs good power management, which is another one of the drivers [behind our investments].”
“And, there are more and more requirements around the user interface – everything from simple UIs like in the FitBit, to complex UIs like with the Pebble or Apple watch. The overall UI requirements are becoming a lot more sophisticated, particularly as many battery-powered watches are using multicore SoCs and running multiple OSs.
“[We know] of companies this year creating products with multiple ARM core processors, including one for Android, one for our Nucleus RTOS, and one for environmental apps. The [increasing numbers of] complex multicore processors and multicore applications are [a surprising development] in the IoT.”
“Therefore,” Warren said, “our announcements include three key pillars for how we are positioning our Nucleus RTOS for wearables.
“One is around battery life and power management in complex, multicore environments, including the ability to allocate one core in the group to be the master, able to awaken the other cores remotely or shut them down.
“The second pillar is out-of-the-box connectivity for machine-to-machine and cloud connectivity. There’s a whole category of wearable devices exploding right now for which out-of-the-box connectivity is critical. Developers don’t have time to write protocols, they don’t see it as differentiating, and they need that stuff right out of the box.
“The third pillar is around scalable features. For those building high-end wearable devices that might have multiple application processors, Nucleus is very scalable. Something that’s particularly critical for customers using dynamic processors.”
“Overall,” Warren concluded, “what we really want to do is let people know that Mentor is playing in the cloud space, and that we’re working very closely with our embedded approach in wearables to help build out the IoT.”
Like I said at the outset, if you’re interested in wearables and the IoT, you need go no further than talking with Mentor Graphics. In particular, the company’s spokesman Warren Kurisu.
Pictures worth 1000 words …
“The full-featured capabilities of the Mentor Graphics Nucleus RTOS supports both device-to-device and device-to-cloud communications.”
“The Nucleus Power Management Framework allows developers to manage the power state for each peripheral, set of peripherals, or system using simple high-level API calls.”
Tags: IoT, Mentor Graphics, Nucleus RTOS, Warren Kurisu, Wearables