TI DSP Predictions
I think it might be interesting to blog a couple of "Texas Instruments DSP predictions". The following are just my opinion, they do not result in any way from inside / confidential information to which I'm privy in working closely with TI for many years. Of course I could be dead wrong, but at least I can say, "if they should occur, it would have a huge impact on the TI DSP developer community".
1) TI will offer real-time Linux running on their DSPs.
With Linux legal issues now apparently resolved (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070815-novell-we-have-no-plans-to-sue-anyone-over-unix.html, http://www.geek.com/linux-world-breathes-sigh-of-relief-wont-be-sued/) I predict TI will soon announce a home-grown real-time Linux for their C6x DSPs, maybe Linux running as a DSP/BIOS thread or something along those lines. My feeling is that TI has been wary for many years now to touch Linux as long as the likes of IBM, Novell, Daimler-Chrysler, etc. were being sued by SCO-Caldera. TI is an extremely conservative company from a potential litigation standpoint. They have only gone so far as to offer Linux on ARM cores inside their OMAP and DaVinci devices, but not on their actual bread-and-butter DSP cores -- leaving that to after-market, third-party offerings. With the legal obstacle removed, TI can potentially introduce a powerful weapon in their perpetual battle with Intel x86 for the embedded systems "high performance, low power consumption" market space, by offering Linux with full commitment and tech support backing.
2) TI will acquire an FPGA company.
Let me tell you a story I heard on the street in Dallas a few years back. When Tom Engibous took over as TI CEO in 1996, he made a series of major changes and did a number of things to "take stock". As you may know, under Tom's guidance TI soon sold business segments not having to do with DSP (defense electronics, memory chips, etc). To further focus the DSP business, one thing that Tom did (or so goes the Dallas urban myth!) is call his product execs into his office to gather around one of their latest EVM boards sitting on the table, containing the hot new C6201 device. He started asking "why is this Crystal Semiconductor part on our board? Why is this AMCC chip on here? That thing is bigger than our DSP. And what about these voltage regulator modules -- there's TWO of them! Who the hell makes those?" The audio product big cahuna answers "well sir, we don't make an A/D converter that has more than 8 kHz bandwidth!". Another one says "but sir, we don't make *any* voltage regulators or PCI interface chips!". And Tom looks his lieutenants in the eye and declares, "well Gentlemen, we do now.". Not long after, TI acquired Burr-Brown, PowerTrends, Telogy, introduced the PCI2040 PCI-to-HPI bridge chip, etc. Clearly Tom's strategy was to 'own' the board real-estate around the DSP chip. I think that philosophy continues to flourish inside TI, which makes FPGAs a logical next target. By the same reasoning, network switch devices also might be on TI's acquisition shopping list.
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