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Real-time x86 SMP Linux updated, ported to SUSE

Apr 7, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

[Updated Apr. 11] — Concurrent has updated its Red Hat-based real-time Linux distribution for multi-processor x86 systems, adding support for multicore AMD and Intel processors. It has additionally announced real-time extensions and tools for Novell SUSE (formerly SuSE) Linux, and signed up Novell to help sell and support them.

Concurrent's real-time Linux products target a wide range of applications with time-critical requirements, in telecommuncations, enterprise, and government environments. The products are based on proprietary technology the company calls processor shielding. When run on multi-processor x86 systems, the techology is said to offer highly deterministic performance with guaranteed interrupt response times, within a normal, open standards-compliant SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) Linux environment that supports unmodified open source software.

Red Hawk 4.1

Concurrent says the new 4.1 version of its Red Hat-based Red Hawk Linux distribution is based on a source tree, configured for SMP (symmetric multi-processing) and enhanced with real-time technology. The distribution is said to be compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4), allowing standard Linux applications to run without modification.

The main new feature in the 4.1 release appears to be support for Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron dual-core processors. Additional touted new features include the capability to do kernel crash dumps, remote debugging over Ethernet, enhanced priority inheritance, and a new Nvidia driver. The new release additionally minimizes kernel debugging trace overhead, Concurrent says.

Real-time extensions and tools for SuSE Linux

Concurrent says its real-time technology is also now available as “Concurrent Real-time Extensions (RTE) Powered by SuSE Linux.” Also available is a compatible version of Concurrent's NightStar development toolsuite, which can be used to tune real-time performance parameters, as well as to develop and debug real-time applications. Both Concurrent and Novell will sell and support both the extensions and the toolsuite, Concurrent says.

Claimed features and benefits of the combined Concurrent/Novell product offering include:

  • Real-Time Deterministic Performance
    • Guaranteed interrupt response time
    • Preemptive, multithreaded, reentrant kernel
    • Low latency enhancements
    • Priority inheritance
    • Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP)
    • User-level preemption control
    • Post/Wait services
    • Minimal dispatch latencies
    • CPU shielding
    • Per CPU Hyper-threading control
    • Dynamic and static load balancing
    • Frequency-based scheduling

  • Industry standards support
    • Linux Standard Base (LSB)
    • POSIX 1003.1
    • POSIX 1003.1b
    • Semaphores and signals
    • Shared memory
    • Message queues
    • Memory locking
    • Asynchronous and synchronous I/O
    • Execution scheduling
    • High-resolution clocks and timers

  • Novell Premium service
  • Optional NightStar tools

    • NightView — A debugger said to let users simultaneously debug multiple processes and threads, “without adversely affecting application timing”
    • NightTrace — A tool for “displaying and analyzing the dynamic run-time behavior of applications,” Concurrent says
    • NightProbe — A tool for “independently monitoring, modifying, and recording data values from multiple application resources, including programs, shared memory segments and memory mapped files”
    • NightSim — A development tool for simulation, and other applications needing “predictable, cyclic process execution”
    • NightTune — A graphical peformance monitoring and tuning tool for process priority, scheduling policy, CPU assignment, CPU usage, and so on

More details about NightStar, including screenshots of all its component applications, can be found in our previous coverage, here.

Concurrent COO Warren Neuburger stated, “As Linux environments grow in complexity with the introduction of multi-core processors, application and system designers need to be armed with tools that allow them to take full advantage.”

Novell's VP of professional services, James McKeighan, stated, “Customers who support deterministic workloads have the most stringent requirements for system performance and mission-critical reliability. [Our combined offering] will [deliver] the performance benefits of real-time computing on an open platform.”


RedHawk 4.1 and RTE for SUSE are available now, with pricing details available from Concurrent.

NightStar tools for RedHawk and for RTE are also available, with prices starting at $3,000 for a node-locked version. An unlocked “network” version costs $5,000, with additional network user licenses priced at $2,000 each.

A NightStar suite is aditionally available for standard RHEL 4, albeit without the NightSim component.

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