Late last month, Microtech Research Inc issued a profits warning. The company, responsible for the VRTX Virtual Real-Time eXecutive embedded operating system was quite clear about the reason. Its market is shifting rapidly towards PowerPC and the company will not have a PowerPC version of the operating system until the end of the year. Consequently, […]
Late last month, Microtech Research Inc issued a profits warning. The company, responsible for the VRTX Virtual Real-Time eXecutive embedded operating system was quite clear about the reason. Its market is shifting rapidly towards PowerPC and the company will not have a PowerPC version of the operating system until the end of the year. Consequently, the Santa Clara, California-based company said to expect only moderate first quarter profits on net sales between $10.8m and $11.4m. Traditionally, VRTX has encompassed Motorola Inc’s 68000 family and Intel Corp’s 80960 and iAPX-86 processors. It appears that Motorola has been particularly successful in weaning its developers from embedded variants of the 68000 to the new RISC. The move actually started happening much faster than we had anticipated, admitted vice-president of marketing Gail Hamilton. A lot of what we see in the PowerPC market is happening worldwide in areas like the telecommunications and datacommunications market she said. Similar noises were made by Munich-based Force Computers GmbH, which last week announced its CPU-60xRT and IBC-60x VME/PCI PowerPC boards, optimised for high-end real-time systems. About 90% of our customer base are asking about PowerPC, said Roland Chochoiek, manager of business development at Force. Both Ms Hamilton and Chochoiek ascribed the interest to a combination of a marketing blitz, mainly by Motorola, and the actual price-performance ratio of the chips. But like Ms Hamilton, Chochoiek said the speed of uptake is surprising.
However, this enthusiasm for PowerPC is strictly limited to the lower end of the embedded market where the likes of VxWorks, PSOS+ and LynxOS run. High-end real-time business, currently Sparc-based will remain on Sparc and Solaris, Chochoiek said. The main issue is application support. Force quite simply said that Solaris has the broadest spectrum of off-the-shelf applications of any Unix, it’s the preferred Unix in the embedded market, and that is quite simply that. Chochoiek wasn’t impressed by AIX’s attempts to enter the sector, in fact, he sounded dubious about AIX’s long term ability to survive at all. Force collaborated with Geneva-based Creative Electronic Systems SA to build the PowerPC-based boards, which are based on either a 66MHz 603 or a 100MHz 604. The Swiss company has particular expertise in building PCI/VME hybrid boards, according to Force. The CPU-60xRT is a single board computer with a single VME slot. It has SCSI 2, input-output and Ethernet on board, and has one expansion slot for a PCI Mezzanine Card. Its direct 64-bit VME interface to the PCI local bus gives it the highest performance PowerPC/VME interface today, according to the company. The IBC-60x is similar, except it has support for two PCI Mezzanine boards.