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<p>We have two technical directors – Oliver Johnson and Dr Simon Monk responsible for developing the core technologies, supported by a development team,” said Graham Whistance, founder of Sabili.</p>

According to Astro, its technology combines a proprietary technique for achieving low power without sacrificing performance, and a methodology that allows efficient porting of analog IP to any foundry that has a standard CMOS process.

According to a poll on Embedded.com, 68% of the respondents are using C for developing their embedded software. Why do embedded developers choose C over C++? Sure, there are some practical reasons to avoid C++, such as the availability of tools for your embedded processor. But another possibility is that embedded programmers do not know the advantages that an Object Oriented programming language can bring them. They may not know what the tradeoffs are when choosing to use C++ over C. Here are some of the key reasons to use the OO features of C++ in your embedded applications and how to evaluate the cost tradeoffs.

A True Story

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I was involved in the development of a second-generation product. An existing system had become obsolete. It was a communications system, written in C. The system was part of a very successful product. It was built on traditional circuit switched technology. Because of advances in network technology and the need for additional features that the network technology could facilitate, the company decided they needed to advance their architecture to eliminate the circuit switched implementation and replace it with an IP based switching implementation.

The existing product was in many ways the spec. The systems engineer responsible for defining how the system had to behave was one of the lead engineers for the original product build some 15 years ago. As you might guess, the first cut of the spec was: The system must do everything the last system does plus…”

The product's code had evolved over these years to become unmaintainable. What was really needed was a system that did what the old one did except that used up to date technology and had a few more features. Why did the company feel that they had to re-engineer the product? Special cases, changing requirements, and hardware changes turned the C code into a mass of conditional logic — error prone and difficult to understand.

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What if the system had been designed and implemented to isolate the features of the product from the hardware implementation? If the core features could be made and kept independent of the hardware, much of this code base would still be usable. The application had a job to do; switch calls in this communication system. Many of the rules had nothing to do with being circuit switched, but they we implemented with knowledge of the underlying hardware. What if the separation between application rules (i.e. when is it OK to connect a call) was kept separate from how to connect the calls (i.e. close relays K81/82, K97/98, open relay K24/25).

It's possible to keep this separation in C, but it is much easier in an OO language like C++.

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C++ Is C

When Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ he designed it to continue to be useable as a low-level programming language. The zero-overhead rule states What you don't use, you don't pay for”. So that means that if you got your C to compile under C++ and did not use any of the OO features of C++, it would not cost you anything except the cost of the new compiler. Hey, I'm not going to argue for you to use C++ as C. C++ does not have what Stroustrup calls distributed fat.” The lack of distributed fat means that as an engineer, as I choose to use some feature of C++ I can know the cost of using that feature. If I don't use it, I won't pay for it.

The course was created in cooperation with Willamette HDL, a provider of SystemC training. Forte, a provider of electronic system level (ESL) design tools, is an active member of the Open SystemC Initiative (OSCI), and previously donated technology from Forte's Cynlib class library to OSCI.

The SystemC Introductory Training Course is available now at Forte’s Web site. A demonstration of the training will be offered at next month's Design Automation Conference.

PARIS — The pressures on a growing list of wireless-LAN chip startups is more than a sign of a stubborn downturn. Troubles at Magis, ShareWave, LinCom and other companies signal confusion among consumer electronics companies still scrambling to identify the right WLAN technology, the right standard and the right chip partners to work with.

Magis Networks Inc. (San Diego), which once leveraged the backing of big-name consumer electronics companies to become a leading provider of 5-GHz wireless products, exemplifies the consolidation of WLAN chip players. In a restructuring apparently intended to stave off its demise, Magis' founder, president and chief executive, Clarence Bruckner, is gone, as is executive vice president Pete Fowler. So is the company's focus on the crowded mainstream Wi-Fi marketplace. John Payne, Magis' new CEO, said the company went through a major restructuring before he came on board from Philips Semiconductors at the end of March.

Rather than focus on wireless data transmission, where Atheros, Intersil and a few others hold sway, Magis is now solely focused on the video-centric, connected home-the wireless entertainment highway,” Payne said. He attributed Magis' latest layoffs and management changes to its transition from chip development to deployment, and said the company's second-generation Air5 chips, currently sampling, will go into volume production in the third quarter.

By Laurie Sullivan

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