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MontaVista Partners with FSMLabs for RTLinux

Feb 1, 2000 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

NEW YORK — (company press release) — MontaVista Software Inc., developer of the Hard Hat Linux operating system for embedded applications, today announces its plans to offer an array of real-time performance options for the company's embedded Linux distribution. To address the range of requirements for real-time responsiveness and determinism, MontaVista will enhance the already good performance of the… standard Linux kernel for more predictable “soft” real-time response and will partner with real-time Linux leader FSMLabs to offer an RTLinux accelerator for “hard” real-time applications.

Building upon a “one hundred percent pure Linux” base, MontaVista is characterizing driver-level and user process response characteristics in the Linux kernel and engineering a range of improvements to enable guaranteed single-millisecond response times. All such enhancements will be released back to the open source community under the Gnu Public License. “Linux is an excellent base for servers and desktops, but cannot deliver response guarantees required for streaming media and other latency-sensitive devices,” states Kevin Morgan, MontaVista vice president of engineering. “MontaVista, with literally hundreds of years of experience in real-time operating and control system design and implementation, can meet this real-time challenge and provide dramatic improvements in native Linux responsiveness.”

For the ultimate in deterministic Linux, MontaVista will offer hard real-time response with the addition of FSMLabs' RTLinux real-time acceleration extension. Victor Yodaiken, president of FSMLabs, comments “RTLinux brings significant technical advantage to customers who need hard real-time. Combining RTLinux with MontaVista's Hard Hat Linux gives customers both cutting edge performance and the assurance of solid products backed by in-depth support and development teams.”

Real-time systems are variously termed “hard” and “soft.” Hard real-time behavior entails a guaranteed maximum response time to stimuli (typically interrupt I/O), independent of system load. Soft real-time involves application or system response to stimuli in a time-sensitive context, but without guarantees of timeliness. No particular time resolution is implied by hard or soft real-time requirements, but most so-called real-time systems operate on time-scales in the sub-millisecond or even microsecond range. Applications with hard real-time deadlines include signal processing and industrial control, while there exists a very broad range of applications with soft real-time requirements, including data communications and most Internet-related embedded systems.

Technical Details

MontaVista improvements in Linux soft real-time performance include reduction in worst-case interrupt blocking times, development of a fixed-priority real-time scheduler with constant dispatch overhead, and methods for dramatically improving process-level response timings. RTLinux acts as a hard real-time accelerator for Hard Hat Linux, equipping the standard Linux kernel with POSIX (IEEE 1003.1c) thread and signal handlers that execute predictably, with latencies and timing limited only by the resident hardware.

RTLinux real-time threads and signal handlers are decoupled from standard Linux kernel so that non-real-time Linux functions do not delay real-time processing, and can communicate with and access facilities of standard Linux. The RTLinux Accelerator for Hard Hat Linux currently supports uniprocessor and SMP x86 and PowerPC microprocessor architectures.


Core real-time enhancements to the Hard Hat Linux kernel will be made available as part of Hard Hat Linux version 1.1, available in the second half of this year. The RTLinux Accelerator for Hard Hat Linux will be available in the second quarter. Hard Hat Linux with real-time enhancements and the RTLinux Accelerator will be distributed through MontaVista direct and partner channels together with Hard Hat Linux professional services subscriptions.

About MontaVista Software Inc. (

MontaVista Software Inc., founded in 1999 by real-time operating system pioneer James Ready, delivers open-source software solutions for the worldwide embedded software market. MontaVista's principal offering is the Linux operating system tailored for embedded software applications. MontaVista products include Hard Hat Linux, a standard off-the-shelf binary distribution of Linux for PowerPC and x86 architectures. Hard Hat Linux is supported by a comprehensive tool suite including optimizing compilers for C, C++ and other languages; high-level language debuggers; and performance monitoring tools. The company's Subscription Plans also provide Linux support, porting and customization services to customers worldwide. MontaVista headquarters are in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

About FSMLabs (

FSMLabs is a service of VJY Associates L.L.C, a software development company focused on RTLinux and started by the developers of RTLinux and the original developers of embedded Linux on the PowerPC microprocessor. Business inquiries should be directed to [email protected].

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