Concurrent Computer Corp is working on a project – codenamed Alpha – to produce an operating system capable of handling huge, distributed, military and commercial applications in a real-time environment – and is seeking strategic partners to help with the thing in Europe. The project has already been funded to the tune of $10m by […]
Concurrent Computer Corp is working on a project – codenamed Alpha – to produce an operating system capable of handling huge, distributed, military and commercial applications in a real-time environment – and is seeking strategic partners to help with the thing in Europe. The project has already been funded to the tune of $10m by the US Department of Defense, and Alpha is designed to run on a new generation of multi-processor RISC and complex instruction set systems networked with the Fibre Distributed Data Interface, from the Tinton Falls, New Jersey firm. The first of these is due to be unveiled in January, using the MIPS Computer Systems chip with which the company has been working for some time (CI No 1,126). The operating system, implemented in C++ object-oriented C although Concurrent says it is talking with the UK Ministry of Defence about a version in Ada, will incorporate some aspects of expert system technology, with non-deterministic behaviour for assessing strengths and weaknesses of alternative courses of action, as well as being able to fire off multiple instructions simultaneously, rather than one after the other. Although it is still a couple of years away from completion, experimental versions of Alpha will be installed at test sites from the middle of next year, and prototypes have been in operation at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and at General Dynamics Corp in Fort Worth, Texas, since late 1987. Concurrent says that its existing Unix System V.4 compatible real-time operating system, RTU, will plug into Alpha in its next release, as will other similarly compatible operating system technology. Concurrent is working with SRI International to produce an A1 secure version of Alpha, and with General Electric to develop fault-tolerance and application software. Primary beneficiaries will be the military, where Alpha will be used for battlefield response systems in air and space, and on sea and land. However Concurrent is also eyeing the potentially lucrative financial and banking industry, hungry for globally integrated real-time systems, and the opportunities that integration of the European market will bring in 1993. Thomson-CSF and INRIA, the French national research institute for science are among those understood to have expressed an interest in the technology. Alpha will be licensed free to those agencies that have put money into the project, and it is already in the public domain for governmental use in the US. Licences will be sold to industrial users, though no prices have been fixed yet. Alpha is the brain-child of former Carnegie Mellon researcher Doug Jensen, who has been working on the thing for over ten years, realising that conventional operating system technology cannot support the requirements of bigger and bigger applications. Jensen was signed by Concurrent last year and brought the project with him.