…my producer, my agent, and all the little people that made this possible.
Yes, my product won an “Embeddie”. Awesome! Which is about as close as I’m ever going to get to an Emmy. An “Embeddie” is the award that VDC gives to the best new product at the Embedded Systems Conference. They give out one for a hardware product and one for a software product. This year for the software product, they chose Mentor Graphic’s Embedded Systems Division System Analyzer, one of the products which I spend most of my time on lately.
This is a real honor. I was chosen to accept the award on stage on behalf of the team. And I would like to thank my colleagues who made this possible. First, thanks to the marketing team behind System Analyzer, especially Brad Dixon and Shay Behchorin. Brad and Shay took my geek speak explanations of System Analyzer and translated it into an eloquent description that the editors could grok (like I said – geek speak). Kudos also go to Manfred Kreutzer and his team who patiently listen to my rants and turn my crazy ideas into working product – even when it’s impossible. From what they tell me the impossible just takes longer. Finally, thanks to Glenn Perry and Mark Mitchell for their vision, for giving me this opportunity and trusting me to lead this project.
So what’s so special about Mentor’s System Analyzer? A couple of things.
Steve Wozniak gave a “fireside chat” as one of the Keynotes at the Embedded Systems Conference. As he mused about what makes a great product, he encouraged the folks in the audience to build things that they themselves would want to use. Our System Analyzer truly falls into this category. I actually use it – a lot. And so do all the engineers that work on it. Other groups inside of Mentor have also used it. The other day I was talking about System Analyzer in the hallway, and an engineer overheard and asked if he could use it, too. I gotta agree with the “Woz” on this one. I believe that this makes the difference between a good product and a great one.
But there are lots of profiling tools out there. Windriver has one, Green Hills has one, and there are a plethora of open source projects working on profiling both desktop and embedded systems. The difference our system analyzer brings to the party is that it’s more than just a pretty face, it has a brain.
Think about the difference between Adobe’s Acrobat and Microsoft’s Excel. “Huh?” you might ask. How about comparing oranges and DSPs? No one would even think to compare Acrobat and Excel – they do completely different things, right? Well, that’s my point. As an example, Adobe’s Acrobat can show you some text and some numbers – say a list of capital cities and their populations, longitude, and latitude. Excel can show you the same thing. But excel can also total the populations, put them in a bar graph, or a pie chart. It can compute the standard deviation of the populations. Using the longitude and latitude, it can calculate the distance between the cities. And so much more.
Acrobat lets you see. Excel lets you figure out.
That’s what our System Analyzer can do for you. It gives you a really powerful computational capability which can operate on the data that you collect on your system. So you decide what bar graphs you want to see. You’re not stuck with the ones that come pre-packaged with a lesser profiling package. You decide what data matters to you, and you can collect it, correlate it, sort it, filter it, and anything else you want to do.
Where this gets interesting is that you can trace and operate on application data, not just artifacts of the application’s execution. This is, in my humble opinion, is the game changer. And I trust that this is what the folks at VDC saw which had them choose System Analyzer for the award. This, also, is where we are straying from the conventional into new territory. So to fully explain it will take longer blog posts (and probably a few of them). But don’t worry, Brad will help me translate that geek speak into something comprehensible. Stay tuned.