CEO interview: Richard Lind, IAR

CEO interview: Richard Lind, IAR

Interviews |
By Nick Flaherty

Swedish development tool company IAR is halfway through a two year programme that has seen a new chief executive, a re-direction, a codebase re-write and a re-branding.

CEO Richard Lind talks to Nick Flaherty at Embedded World (EW2023) this week about the changes and rewriting the codebase of the flagship Embedded Workbench development tool.

“We are in the middle of a two year journey,” he told eeNews Europe. “In 2019 the new board started a review of the company and saw that it had been stuck in it’s ways for ten years without new thins happening. Even before the pandemic it was clear IAR was under-investing in engineering and focussed on sales in the extreme so there was a lack of balance between the short term and long term.

“So we concluded on the board that we didn’t see the changes that were needed and I was appointed as the interim CEO in December 2020 from my background at Microsoft.”

Lind had been chief technology officer for the Internet of Things at Microsoft, and joined the board in April 2019 as part of that new board. He was appointed as permanent CEO in December 2021.

“In a change journey the change comes from people, investing in people and their view on how they can grow. That needs to allow people to fail, and benchmarking success against failures,” he said.

“It was seen as a strength that the company was made up of staff who have been with us for 10 to 20 years but its no surprise we can be set on our ways so we brought in new blood so we were not just a bunch of Swedes in Uppsala,” he said.

That has also meant changing the focus for the company.

“We are moving from product features to solutions, we a not selling tools but providing productivity gains and highlighting to customer how much money they can save and so how many more people they can employ.


IAR has been supporting the emerging RISC-V ecosystem alongside its existing ARM customers (who are also adopting the alternative open instruction set architecture).  

“RISC-V has a place in the industry and we have exactly the same functions with the same code base with just a different hardware abstraction layer.

“ARM has 40,000 targets then you need to support RISC-V cores from Andes, Codasip, SiFive which have their own extensions. The difference between them is similar to the difference between the ST and NXP on ARM,” he said.

“We see it primarily in China and Taiwan right now with more interest in Japan and Euorpe and more architecture development in the US.”


The company is also looking at supporting the emerging Rust language for more functional safety and secure designs. ARM is a board member of the Rust Foundation.  

“For security issues like memory overflow attacks, which is one of the key reasons for adopting Rust,  

we can achieve this with C++ support today,” said Lind. “It’s brilliant that Linus Tovald, who I know by the way, is rewriting Linux in Rust but will it replace C, C++? No, but we are looking at what it would take to add Rust support, its not super hard for us to do it.”

AI in tools

Code completion tools such as Intellisense from Microsoft and Copilot from Github are increasingly being adopted by developers to speed up code writing and the natural language processing ChatGPT tool is also being used.   

“ChatGPT is a valuable service for developers that can take away some things like release notes, building manuals and documentation and that’s a huge boost for developers. Can it help write C++ code? I don’t think so. It’s simple to add ChatGPT with one click, so I think we will see a lot of innovation in the IDE around how you write code, how you call components,” said Lind.

This is a key driver for the re-write of the codebase of Embedded Workbench.

“We are rewriting the IAR Workbench to make it easier to use APIs to call an AI model directly into the code flow and that will be completed this year. I’m not going to give a timeframe as its about having quality code rather than meeting a deadline,” he said.

IoT security

IAR has rebranded the Sure Thingz business it bought in 2018 as IAR Embedded Trust Solutions but is keeping that capability separate.

“We are not coupling the security to Embedded Workbench,” said Lind “Security is not a one man show, it’s a platform for the customer, that what our customer needs so it has to be development environment agnostic, We will make sure they can use the security.”


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