Open source has become an important driving force in the smartphone industry and a particularly key area of focus for ST-Ericsson. We believe that open innovation is critical to face the increasing demand on features and the broadening scope of the mobile market. From hardware performance to software platforms and enabling the hundreds of thousands of apps & services running on top of it, the complexity of today’s devices has raised incredibly.
Most Open Source initiatives in mobile so far have had been focused on the SW development framework such as Android, MeeGo or the Symbian foundation. However 5 months ago the launch of Linaro was announced, together with ARM and other key partners of the wireless semiconductor industry, to focus on optimization of lower platform layers (kernel, hardware adaptation) and tools.
Open source is also a learning curve for semiconductor companies. Moving from tightly integrated proprietary solutions to open and modular brings its share of new procedures and challenges to deal with. Initiatives like Linaro are helping us to release more and better code to the community.
Linaro was launched to reduce fragmentation of Linux on ARM and allow shorter releasing cycle of Linux products on new hardware platforms . It was stated in the original announcement that every 6 months, Linaro will provide a stable and optimized base for distributions and developers by creating new releases of optimized tools, kernel and middleware software validated for a wide range of SoCs. Of course, the software is not made available only every 6 months but there is a development branch where the latest is continuously updated so that new features are available in real-time.
So far most of the work within Linaro has been focused on the 10.11 release (https://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1011/TechnicalRequirements ) which contains a large number of optimizations. By using the Linaro kernel, tool chain and C library, any ARM system will be able to run faster and consume less energy.
At ST-Ericsson we dedicated a number of engineers to Linaro related activities and working groups. Our engineers have been involved in multiple work groups focused on diversified topics such as Power Management, Graphics or User Platforms. In the past few months, much effort has been put into learning how to work within Linaro and in such a short time we already see multiple benefits from the initiative:
- Access to a great network of highly skilled key developers in open source communities where our experts can contribute with their knowledge and experience as well as share and learn from other experts in participating companies
- Linaro will be a focus and convergence area for ST-Ericsson and other companies development efforts on features where we believe we should collaborate. That way, Linaro will enable fast access to high quality software patches that will be contributed to communities. Linaro is also a very professional way to work towards kernel.org and accelerate the upstream of our code. With dedicated resources and focus we are able to introduce new functionality and improvements in a timely fashion.
- We will have access to tools and technologies that are in the forefront of technology development and optimized for the type of hardware architectures we are working with.
- We will have a forum to discuss with other semiconductor companies which software components need to be “standardized” across different hardware platforms to better address the needs of our customers
- We will see first results of Linaro in the November release and thereafter an accelerated utilization as we converge our development efforts and bring in even more of our experts as well as start a dedicated Landing Team focusing on ST-Ericsson hardware.
It is busy days around the Linaro initiative nowadays. At the Milan meeting a couple of weeks ago, working groups and requirements were set for the next release 11.05 (https://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1105/TechnicalTopics ). The end of the first 6 months cycle is approaching and on November 11th the next cycle will start ( http://www.linaro.org/getting-ready-for-the-developer-summit-and-the-next-release-cycle/ ).
Linaro engineers and other contributors met in Orlando at the Ubuntu developer summit and I am sure many will meet again at the TechCon conference on November 10th and 11th. Don’t miss demonstrations there from us and other semiconductor partners as well as updates from the Linaro organization.
We are looking forward to continue working with the engineering teams in this very exciting project and look forward to meet you and discuss more about Linaro and its benefits. www.stericsson.com