This article is the result of the cooperation between WEKA and NürnbergMesse with local partners in China for embedded world China. The author, Prof. Allan He, is Deputy Director of the China Software Industry Embedded System Associations (SIA) and a member of the embedded world Conference China program committee. He was also one of the panelists at the China panel of embedded world DIGITAL 2021. Here he gives an overview of China's embedded system industry trends.
It's time to summarize the year and look forward to the new year. Looking back at 2021, in the environment of repeated COVID-19 and the ups and downs of the international situation, China's embedded system industry has handed in a satisfied answer. Especially in the field of industrial-based chips and software, there have been important breakthroughs. For example, at the beginning of the year, Loongson released a completely independent instruction set architecture, LoongArch, to build an independent and controllable information technology system and industrial ecology. In the middle of the year, T-head of Alibaba Group announced the open source of 4 RISC-V series processors, the RT-Thread Smart micro-kernel embedded operating system was released, and continued to open source. At the end of the year, Huawei increased its investment in basic software. Following the open source of Harmony OS, it has opened up Euler operating system, in addition to the server market, the target is also edge computing and embedded systems.
In 2021, the global chip shortage will continue, and MCU chips will be the major field of serious shortages. This situation accelerates the replacement process of domestic MCU chips. At the end of 2021, Khai-Long Electronics is listed on the Science and Technology Innovation Board and become the first listed company in the domestic EDA field. EDA software is the crown of the chip design field, and China's EDA industry urgently needs to master the initiative to make up for its shortcomings.
Looking forward to 2022, the embedded system industry will continue to make efforts in three aspects: technology research and development, product services and ecology. It is generally predicted that the shortage of chips will be relieved in the second half of the year, and China's embedded system industry will continue to develop.
The technology research and development of embedded system companies is developing towards high-end; for example, the research of basic core technologies such as high-performance multi-core processors, edge computing AI processors and algorithms has been stuck in the industrial electronics hardware and software research and development layout. End-side artificial intelligence is becoming a new round of industry hotspots. Realizing machine learning on MCUs has become a new technology for analyzing and understanding IoT-generated data.
The application of top embedded system companies is transforming to higher end. In order to break the long-term monopoly of overseas key-players in automotive chips, the chip company ChipOn obtained a new round of financing at the end of the year, and domestic chips have joined the automotive electronics track. AIoT applications represented by robots and smart cars are becoming a hot spot in the industry, and the research on robots and smart car operating systems and chips has become a new round of autonomous and controllable new track.
While seizing the opportunity of domestic substitution, embedded system companies are also facing problems such as fewer product hardware and software indicators, imperfect documentation, single product varieties, and technical support. Improving product functions, documentation and service details is an important task for enterprises in 2022. Functional safety certification in the automotive, medical and industrial markets is a required course for embedded system companies that are entering these fields.
Comparing overseas embedded system leading companies, Chinese companies have always been in a backward position in ecological construction. Some people always think about why the ecology of STM32 is so good, and only ST itself can truly understand the behind-the-scenes efforts. It is what entrepreneurs are doing to fully cultivate all links of the industrial ecological chain in 2022. The development of an open source ecosystem of win-win cooperation is the vision of the industry. RT-Thread has already taken the lead. At the end of the year, Huawei announced that it will increase its investment in "Harmony + Euler" to build the roots of basic software in the digital world. Alibaba T-head not only open sourced 4 RISC-V series processors, but also opened supporting basic software, which will benefit the RISC-V global ecosystem. We have reason to believe that the open source and open Chinese embedded system ecology can be expected in the future!
January 20th, 2022 | Prof. Allan He