It's been a while since I've heard the word "renaissance" connected to anything except "faire" - you know, those weekend gatherings of jousting knights and lute-playing maidens. But right now, we in the embedded community are on the cusp of a modern renaissance that's anything but fair, middling or mediocre; 2008 marks the dawn of the Embedded Age, and it is going to be nothing less than fantastic.
Embedded: Intel's new growth pillar
Our president and CEO, Paul Otellini, recently identified Embedded as Intel's fourth growth pillar - along side MIDs, Consumer Electronics, & Emerging Market Computers. However, the Embedded Pillar is one of the boldest moves Intel has ever made because the exact outcome is unknown.
And that is precisely why 2008 is the dawn of the embedded renaissance - or "eRenaissance." Just as history has unfolded through the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Steam Age and Electrical Age, we are now entering an Embedded Age of yet-to-be-imagined impact, catalyzed by two major developments:
The price of Intel embedded solutions is dropping to an unprecedented low level
Engineers can create new embedded solutions faster than ever, based on increasingly easy, inexpensive development environments and tools.
What's on tap for the Embedded Age
Given the greater accessibility of embedded semiconductors and development aids, the next two decades will see intelligent silicon permeate our lives to a staggering, and often transparent, degree. I expect to see tremendous growth in many areas, including:
Health, with devices that make key diagnostics, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), faster and more cost effective. Wouldn't it be great to have a full-body MRI as part of your annual health check-up, to have as a baseline? Just as digital technology is making annual mammograms safer and more accessible to women, lower-cost MRI machines can make this important diagnostic capability available to everyone, from children to the elderly.
Security, with low-cost security cameras that stream video across the Internet. Cities like London have been made safer through huge investments in video cameras, which permeate the streets. How many recess squabbles could be averted if we had constant surveillance of schoolyards being done by embedded computers running personal space algorithms to alert teachers just before the first punch rather than several punches later?
Environmental, through devices that govern the use of precious natural resources such as water. Today, smart irrigation system can already download daily weather data via satellite, and interpret that data to determine how much to water a landscape or field of crops on any given day. The average lawn is over-watered by 30 percent - imagine how much water could be conserved if every homeowner and corporation reduced their water consumption by one-third.
A view into the eRenaissance
It's new solutions like these that will improve lives, and drive revenues of the companies that deliver and enable them. By 2030, I believe the Embedded pillar of Intel will contribute the majority of Intel revenues.
All indicators point to a true modern renaissance; the change that took 100 years to effect with electricity, from 1900 to 2000, will be eclipsed in just 30 years (2000-2030) by the trajectory of intelligent devices. And while we can't predict precisely what will happen over the next 22 years - just like a soldier in World War II could not have possibly imagined today's Unmanned Arial Vehicles- we do know that the vast majority of the world's coming wonders will be found in embedded devices.
Development aids as catalyst
Fueling the Embedded Age is easy access to greatly improved and simplified development environments and tools that will further drive down the cost of developing new products. Microsoft and other providers make it easy to simulate target environments on a laptop computer. This is the real fuel that is stoking the proliferation of embedded solutions - the more solutions that are based on Intel processors, the easier it will be for garage start ups (GSUs) to revolutionize the world with little more than a laptop and a great idea.
Just as we saw GSUs turn the computer market on its ear in the 1980s, then next generation will bring intelligence to places we haven't dreamed of, improving our safety, health and overall happiness.
You: Defining the eRenaissance
Right now is an amazing time to be driving Intel architecture into myriad embedded markets. Embedded engineers are defining the eRenaissance, developing embedded products that will shape the future of our society and world. I can't think of a more exciting, and influential, place to be!
Tell the community what you think
What kind of world do you see in 2030? And what kind of embedded system would you like to develop for it? Please post a comment and let us know. Thanks.