MontaVista's new Linux challenges RTOSes - Embedded.com

MontaVista’s new Linux challenges RTOSes

SAN JOSE, Calif. — With the release of its new Linux Professional Edition 5.0 (Pro 5), MontaVista Software claims to have put to rest any concerns that Linux is not suited for real-time, embedded applications. With improvements to both response times and memory footprints, the company believes it can now address most embedded requirements.

“This opens up the whole RTOS [real-time operating system] market for us,” said Bill Seawick, MontaVista chief marketing officer. “If we can exceed 80 percent of the real-time requirements for embedded, and have the footprint we now have, why would anyone want an RTOS?”

Most RTOS vendors insist that “hard” real-time embedded applications require an RTOS, not Linux, which is generally viewed as “soft” real time. But MontaVista claims that its Pro 5 release has performance that matches traditional RTOSes. According to the company, it offers average response times in the 5 microsecond range, with worst-case response under 25 microseconds.

To achieve this performance, MontaVista leveraged the updated Linux 2.6.18 kernel and used such features as user-space support, priority queueing, priority inheritance, robust futexes, and high-resolution timers (HRTs). With HRT, the company says, programmers can implement time bases and event-driven algorithms with high accuracy, eliminating the need for polling and busy loops.

Further, the new release offers a smaller memory footprint than previous MontaVista offerings. Building with the uClibc library, the company claims, a totally deployed system can have a footprint of under 3 Mbytes.

Other areas of improvement in Pro 5 include IPv6 support, USB “on the go,” the Gnu C/C++ compiler version 4.2, statistical profiling, trace, memory debug, and DevRocket 5.0, an integrated development environment (IDE) now available as a set of Eclipse plug-ins.

MontaVista is also rolling out its Application Development Kit (ADK) 5.0, which updates the company's application development solution. It includes DevRocket along with analysis tools and a virtual target. Features include memory leak detection, memory usage analysis, and performance profiling. ADK 5.0 is available this week.

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