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High-speed military networking device runs Linux

Aug 15, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

A U.K.-based embedded software consultancy says it recently implemented a Linux driver and other software for a marine-based military application involving high-speed, fiber-optic networking. Pebble Bay Consulting Ltd. says it helped U.K.-based defense contractor Kaon implement an “embedded Linux” solution for an unspecified military… customer.

Pebble Bay's role reportedly included re-writing a Linux driver, creating an FPGA (field-programmable gate array), interface, and creating a user-space API (application programming interface) library. Company spokesperson Nick McNamara describes the project, which involved developing a high-speed driver for a gigabit optical network associated with a military sensor interface, as follows:

The network interface card, known as the SNIC, receives data transmitted on the optical network at approximately 90 MB/sec. The data is transferred to memory on the host computer for storage on a local RAID array or transmission to a remote host. The SNIC is implemented using PMC-FPGA03F hardware supplied from VMETRO. This contains a Xilinx FPGA, PCI bridge and fibre-optic transceivers. PBCL developed software to interface to the application-specific Xilinx firmware developed by Kaon.

PBCL ported the VMETRO supplied Linux software to the 2.6.18 kernel and GCC 4.1 and worked with Kaon to benchmark DMA transfer rates across the PCI bus, and determine interrupt and scheduling latencies. PBCL made some significant changes to the architecture of the original software and moved critical facilities such as buffer management, DMA scheduling and interrupt control into the new kernel driver.

A new application-specific user-space API library was also developed. [It] interfaced with the driver using a number of new IOCTL calls to control the operation of hardware, obtain SNIC-specific status information, obtain full data buffers, and return empty buffers.

This new driver and user-space library architecture provided the performance and robustness expected by Kaon and simplified the work required by the application developers to capture and store the data received from the optical network.

Pebble Bay, which grew out of Wind River's former U.K.-based professional services group, describes its core skills as “realtime operating systems, device drivers, BSPs, and hardware/software interfacing.” Although the company works with a variety of legacy RTOSes — including VxWorks, Integrity, Nucleus, ThreadX, QNX Neutrino, and Windows CE — “more and more of our projects are Linux based, regardless of the vertical we play in,” McNamara said.

More details about Pebble Bay and its recent win with Kaon can be found on its website, here.

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