Microware Technologies Inc’s OS/9 real-time operating system is plunging into the fun-and-games business in a big way, playing a starring if invisible role in the television set-top boxes that are intended to provide the mass market with entry to the Information Superhighway. OS/9 is already widely used in embedded applications – the California Department of […]
Microware Technologies Inc’s OS/9 real-time operating system is plunging into the fun-and-games business in a big way, playing a starring if invisible role in the television set-top boxes that are intended to provide the mass market with entry to the Information Superhighway. OS/9 is already widely used in embedded applications – the California Department of Transportation uses it to run traffic lights, toll booths and the giant scales used for weighing trucks. Chrysler Corp uses OS/9 in the computer systems that design and build braking systems, and at the Cern Centre for European Research into Nucleonics on the Franco-Swiss border, the particle accelerator couldn’t smash atoms without thousands of Microware systems controlling its magnets, the Wall Street Journal noted. And it has already had one brush with fun and games because it is also the operating system on Philips Electronics NV’s Compact Disk Interactive systems. In December, the Des Moines, Iowa-based company became one of six corporate charter members of Bell Communications Research’s Collaboratory on Information Infrastructure, an effort to develop technologies for the promised electronic highway. Over the past month, ICTV Inc, Kyocera Corp of Japan, Samsung Electronics Co and Lucky Goldstar Inc have have all committed to using part Microware’s David software in forthcoming interactive television offerings. Digital Audio/Video Interactive Decoder is a set of software modules that handle MPEG decompression, graphic overlays, wide-area networking management, the handling of user menus and the like. The whole lot runs on top of the OS/9 or OS/9000 operating system, either on Intel Corp iAPX-86 or Motorola Inc 68000 processors, with a PowerPC implementation promised for the third quarter this year. All of the companies are building 68000-based boxes except for ICTV, which has a slightly different architecture in that switch intelligence and the David technology is concentrated at the hub, and ICTV’s dumber set-top boxes use Intel chips (CI No 2,183). ICTV’s system is now involved in up to seven trials according to Electronic News. Motorola has had a long and friendly association with the firm and Microware sources suggest that the chipmaker is designing a variant of the 68000 processor specifically microded and adapted for David-type applications – the Compact Disk Interactive already uses a 68000 variant called the 68070, which is optimised for multimedia work.