Sunnyvale, California-based real-time tools developer Ready Systems Corp will unleash a scalable, modular operating system towards the end of this year. Prior to this it is ensuring its distribution and support is beefed up in the UK and Germany by signing a sole distribution deal with Marlow, Buckinghamshire-based Instrumatic UK Ltd. Ready Systems is known […]
Sunnyvale, California-based real-time tools developer Ready Systems Corp will unleash a scalable, modular operating system towards the end of this year. Prior to this it is ensuring its distribution and support is beefed up in the UK and Germany by signing a sole distribution deal with Marlow, Buckinghamshire-based Instrumatic UK Ltd. Ready Systems is known for its VRTX operating system for real-time embedded applications. VRTX has had 4,500 design wins and can be found in Ricoh cameras, Apple printers, Motorola cellular phones, submarines, bomber planes and pacemakers to name but a few applications. Famous for its marketing campaign that guaranteed bug-free software – if you found a bug you could claim a VW Beetle from the company – Ready Systems embarked on an ambitious project two and a half years ago to build a completely new tool suite. Ambitious because the company was attempting to write a scalable operating system. Bruce Gregory, Ready System’s president and chief executive, explains that the requirement for a real-time operating system is diverse ranging from very lightweight applications such as intelligent suspension systems through to the complexity of NASA space station command and control systems. Currently, real-time operating systems tend to be optimised for either low end, mid-range or high end applications, and customers either buy VRTX, go somewhere else or build their own system. Now those companies that have built their own operating system (and around 60% or more do in the real-time area) can retain their investment and buy into the new operating system as the company reckons it can emulate any existing operating system. The beauty with a scalable operating system, believes Gregory, is that Ready can take a single technology and adopt it to suit any requirements. The new operating system has a layered architecture – the lowest layer is a very small kernel that runs very fast and is suitable for lightweight applications. On top of this Ready Systems can add different layers for different implementations, the most powerful of which is a real-time Unix offering. The lowest layer is patented as the nanokernel and acts as a substrate for the other layers. It has been up and running for 18 months and was beta tested last summer by Japanese engineers from NEC Corp that built an I-Tron interface to it. So far it has been implemented for the 68000, 88000, R-Series and Sparc processors. The first product, to ship this September, is VRTXsa, which is a 100% emulation of VRTX built on the nanokernel to provide upward compatibility, and the new toolkit. Gregory believes the new toolkit, which is also scalable, is a technical breakthrough because it can assume the available processing power and memory resource on the target. With this Virtual Target Capability application code can be developed without a target as the code can be run on the host processor or switched to run on an emulation of the target node. This enables the design phase to gather pace before the hardware is ready for implementation. The tool interface is open and can be accessed by any third-party tool written to it and the company is looking to integrate it with engineering frameworks like Atherton, SoftBench and so on. The nanokernel acts like a bus and can move between operating systems to run different systems simultaneously on different processors. Gregory claims that he has already licensed this technology to a well-known player interested in multimedia applications. The secret licensing deal is believed to be with one of the following three: Sun Microsystems Inc, Microsoft Corp or Kaleida Inc. You see, the very exciting thing about multimedia from Ready Systems’ point of view is that it requires real-time software… – Katy Ring.