NEC Electronics ties with Montavista on embedded Linux

Embedded Linux distributor MontaVista Software and Japanese chip-maker NEC Electronics have signed a deal that will see NEC Electronics resell Montavista Linux to its microprocessor customers along with custom middleware and support services, they announced Monday. The deal is aimed at companies building products based on embedded Linux for the fast-moving consumer electronics, cellular telephone, and automotive electronics markets and is intended to shorten total development time for new products, executives of the two companies said at a Tokyo news conference.

At present, customers typically develop the drivers that tie together their selected operating system and chip platform and also develop basic middleware that sits between the operating system and an application. Under the new partnership, NEC will supply a complete package including the chip, the operating system and the software that ties the OS to the chip and higher level applications. The result will be that customers will need to work on application software development only, said Seiji Mitsuoka, general manager of NEC Electronics' software strategy planning division.

MontaVista already has deals with many chip makers although the new agreement with NEC Electronics represents its most comprehensive yet, said Hitoshi Arima, president of MontaVista Software Japan.

NEC Electronics will aim the service at companies for which software development is becoming increasing more important, and in some cases more of a burden.

In the case of a cell phone, for example, software development accounted for around 60 percent of development resources for second-generation (2G) models and in newer third-generation (3G) this has risen to 80 percent, the company said. NEC Electronics' new package will allow companies to move resources from low-level work on things like drivers and concentrate resources on higher-level application programming where there is value to be gained from products with unique features, said Mitsuoka.

Demand for processors used in such digital devices is increasing and helped NEC Electronics record a 8.3 percent increase in sales for the six-month period from April to September this year, it said last week. Sales of chips for consumer electronics products grew 36.4 percent during the period.

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