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Commentary: Neat technology, no channels

Gartner believes HP's challenge will be a lack of sales channels for its PICO microcontroller compiler.

By Gary Smith and Dean Freeman, Gartner Analyst

Hewlett-Packard's PICO is a tool capable of overcoming some of the roadblocks inherent to traditional methods of producing embedded architectures for computer processors.

Hardware-software trade-offs--such as the more functionality or logic a chip designer embeds in a chip, the less memory that will be required--have been a key problem.

See news story:
HP shifts chip design work to computers
The claim that a microcontroller compiler, like the PICO, doesn't just create a chip but also creates the design for a larger computing system is, in theory, a true statement. If microcontroller compiler vendors can improve the system of chip manufacturing and chip design, the industry will start to see performance improvements in devices rather quickly.

In simpler terms, advanced automation will helo chipmakers design chips more intelligently to produce higher performance in chips and systems alike.

Microprocessor manufacturing costs and time to market have been largely overhyped when discussing design tools. Functionality is what it is about--that is, how much complexity can a chipmaker get into a design. ARC Cores is one example of a vendor that has been successful at doing that.

Gartner believes HP's challenge will be a lack of sales channels. Although HP is known for its design skills and great reputation, Gartner doesn't see that translating into actual sales channels. HP will have to work extra hard to establish distribution channels for its chips because it is not a semiconductor/core vendor.

(For related commentary on the demand for chip designers, see -- free registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.