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FSMLabs claims first CGL 3.x registration

Jun 6, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The OSDL's next-generation Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) specification has attracted its first registrant. Just three months after the release of the CGL 3.2 spec — the first “registerable” release in the CGL 3.x series — FSMLabs yesterday completed CGL 3.2 registration for its RTCore x86-64 Enhanced Carrier Grade Linux (E-CGL).

In the past, vendors have typically taken a year or more to register products against new CGL specifications, especially major version releases. For its part, the OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) did not expect CGL 3.2 registrations until next quarter, Spokesperson Bill Weinberg told LinuxDevices earlier this week.

Founder Victor Yodaiken says FSMLabs enjoys two advantages that enabled it to claim the first CGL 3.x registration. “First, we have pretty deep Linux expertise. A lot of what's required, such as testing and validation, is what we do all the time. Secondly, Linux and CGL is a component of what we sell, rather than our core product. For some of the pure Linux vendors, when they upgrade Linux, their whole product line is devalued,” he said.

He added, “We would like it if CGL was 'just available.' But it's not, in the quality assurance levels we require, so we did our own. This is our second CGL release. The first [story] was a 'me-too.' Now we're first to market, and we're going to start adding value.”


FSMLabs is focusing its CGL efforts on AMD processors initially, including currently shipping dual-core chips and forthcoming four-way models. RTCore E-CGL has been successfully deployed on 8-processor, 16-way systems from iWill, for example. “We're focusing on the high-end, initially,” Yodaiken said.

He adds, “If you have 16 cores, you can dedicate a couple of them to running Windows XP in VMware, and a couple to running CGL, and a couple to running real-time threads.”

RTCore E-CGL includes RTCore — FSMLabs's patented real-time nano-kernel — along with a Linux kernel configured to run under RTCore as the idle task. RTCore has its own POSIX-compliant API that provides a hard real-time domain featuring claimed single-digit microsecond response times on Opteron processors, or low double-digit microseconds on typical embedded processors, such as ARM, which gained an RTCore port about a year ago.

Linux, meanwhile, provides a standard, constantly evolving environment for less time-critical control-plane tasks. Yodaiken said, “One of the nice things about Linux as a base is that it doesn't require you to change your code when you recompile for different hardware that comes in — as multi-core has become more available, for example. If you get carrier grade working on dual-core 64-bit processors, you can immediately take advantage of four-way processers when they arrive.”

FSMLabs used Fedora Core 4 in its CGL 3.2 registration, but the company is willing to work with customers on their prefered distribution. Yodaiken said, “We're looking at Debian, and we're pretty interested in it, or maybe even Ubuntu. For us, it's just what's most convenient for our customers. We think Fedora Core is in general the standard, but we'll adapt if people want us to.”

RTCore lets developers associate specific tasks with specific processors, through an add-on product that implements processor reservation technology. This capability enables a single, multi-processor system to replace systems with separate, dedicated DSP blades where specialized signal processing is not required. Yodaiken explains, “An Opteron processor on the signal plane is not a drop-in replacement for a DSP. If you're using the DSP for very high-end applications such as voice processing, it's not a good idea to use an Opteron. But if you're doing high-speed packet processing, you're better off with the Opteron, because the interface between control and data plane is really transparent.”

He adds, “If you can simplify the programming interface, you don't have a lot of different niche OSes doing one little piece, and you can take advantage of the high-end power you get [with Opterons]. Power consumption has dropped dramatically, too.”

Additional touted features in RTCore E-CGL include real-time Ethernet, an Eclipse-based IDE, and a variety of migration tools for legacy OS platforms.

So far, Alcatel is the only telecom-industry CGL customer that FSMLabs can disclose. Yodaiken said, “Alcatel has a voice-over-ip system in China that will be used in their rev-up. We should be supporting some ATCA boards pretty soon as well.”

FSMLabs's CGL value-add roadmap

Moving forward, Yodaiken believes that FSMLabs can add significant value to Carrier Grade Linux, mainly by exploiting the real-time domain available in RTCore. He said, “Where there's good open source products, we're happy to use those, and contribute to those projects. Where our proprietary real-time stuff can give us a compelling edge, we'll build on that as well.”

Asked for specific examples of planned FSMLabs value-adds, Yodaiken replied, “Some stuff will be difficult to do in Linux. The CGL specifications are looser than we'd like in some areas, and we're going to do those things in the real-time domain. For example, failover is a big issue for us. In clusters, we'd like to do failover in milliseconds, rather than in 10s of seconds.”

Additionally, Yodaiken notes that RTCore's real-time threads functionality already gives customers an alternative to Linux's Native POSIX Threads Library (NPTL).

Ultimately, Yodaiken envisions RTCore E-CGL being deployed in a wide area of applications, both within the telecom market and outside of it. “A lot of our customers are in high-end control,” said, citing customers that include Internet pioneer BBN, defense contractor Harris, air-plane builder Pratt&Whitney, ship-builder Samsung Heavy Industries, Infineon's mobile phone design subsidiary, DRDO India, Beijing Northern Power, and Sandia National Labs. ” 'Carrier Grade' gives them this stamp of reliability,” Yodaiken said.

Yodaiken concludes, “FSMLabs' core business is to provide real-time functionality as an upgrade to any Linux or BSD distribution. Today we are offering our customers the option of end-to-end complete solutions by adding Carrier Grade Linux and hardware platform qualification.”

Michel Ruffin, senior member of the Alcatel CTO office, noted, “FSMLabs's RTCore Enhanced Carrier Grade Linux is a long-awaited solution to the need to add real-time capabilities to Linux for the telecommunications industry.”

Manas Alekar, CGL project leader at FSMLabs's Pune India Development Center, stated, “As soon as the 3.2 specification was released, FSMLabs began an incremental upgrade to our existing real-time CGL platform, and started applying our industry-leading build and test system to rigorously qualify reliability and performance.”

FSMLabs's CGL 3.2 registration documentation can be found here.

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