Over the last decade, embedded technology has advanced and evolved, almost beyond recognition. Where devices once stood alone and offered point functionality, today they are highly connected, extensible platforms.
Starting in 2000, Linux entered into this changing embedded design landscape. The choice to deploy the already-popular server and desktop Linux OS was a response to changing needs in embedded development. At the same time, it further accelerated the growth of intelligent, software-centric connected devices. A mere market share blip, almost a curiosity in 2000, embedded Linux grew to boast a full third of 32 and 64-bit designs by 2005 (VDC), and continues to grow in reach and robustness today.
Industries and Markets
Every type of embedded application is looking to Linux and open source software. The thousands of on-going Linux design-wins range from networking to telephony to consumer electronics, from medical systems to instrumentation and industrial control, and even into aerospace & defense and transportation.
Why embedded Linux?
Reasons can be as varied as the types of applications that build on the open source OS. Technical motivations include robust MMU-based memory management, excellent throughput, world-class security, and integrated high performance networking that underlies a large portion of the internet. There are also practical motivations, beginning with the Linux open source community development model, as well as the ability to leverage a world of embedded and enterprise software, tools, and services from a range of suppliers. This offers maximum flexibility and vendor independence.
Business motivations include lower cost of acquisition, reduced impact on bills-of-material, and the ability to hire and contract expertise in the widely deployed Linux platform.