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MontaVista touts faster, smaller embedded Linux

Apr 4, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

In a nod toward the RTOS market that founder Jim Ready pioneered, MontaVista is shipping a new version of its commercial embedded Linux distribution said to offer true real-time performance along with a very small footprint. MontaVista Linux Professional Edition Version 5.0 boasts enhanced real-time performance and lower resource usage.

This new version of MontaVista Linux Professional Edition — aka “Pro,” the baseline distribution on which all of MontaVista's other distributions are built — is based on the 2.6.18 kernel, the first to incorporate priority inheritance and key enhancements to the generic interrupt layer. MontaVista said Pro 5.0 has scheduling/preemption latency “in the 5 microsecond range,” a figure that “puts to rest the myth” that Linux is ill-suited for real-time and embedded applications, according to the company.

Pro 5.0 likewise explodes the myth that Linux has too large a footprint for traditional embedded applications, MontaVista suggested. A new uClibc configuration option makes for footprints as small as 3 MB — or 75 percent smaller than traditional Linux, the company said.

Soon after founding MontaVista, Ready naysayed the need for true real-time performance, and played down the need for a small footprint, given ever-decreasing memory prices. However, MontaVista's increasing focus on telecom — where RTOSes have traditionally played on both ends of the “virtual wire” — has the company changing its tune. MontaVista said that better real-time responsiveness and lower resource usage can yield “impressive returns in voice quality, streaming video, network bandwidth, and overall quality of service.”

Ready stated, “Converged and connected intelligent devices create new possibilities, but the legacy of single-function RTOS-based deployment has hindered the potential of such devices. Linux changes the game by offering a stable, secure, and cost-effective platform that fosters an ecosystem of broader connectivity and convergence. With new real-time performance enhancements, the sky's the limit for embedded Linux.”

Laura DiDio, research fellow, stated, “Yankee Group anticipates strong pent-up demand for this product and its advanced capabilities. Its real-time capability, reduced size, and revolutionary tool suite make [Pro 5.0] the obvious choice.”

Additional touted Pro 5.0 features include:

  • 2.6.18 kernel provides integration with the latest real-time patches from Ingo Molnar, enhancing user space options in real-time, and numerous other enhancements to performance, scalability, and security
  • Real-time performance – High Resolution timers, Preempt RT, RT PI futex, Threaded IRQ, Threaded Soft IRQ, High Resolution Timers (hrtimers), Robust futex, Userspace RT PI mutex, BKL Mutex
  • ucLibc support resulting in a 75 percent reduction of application footprint
  • IPv6 support for superior performance, security, and manageability
  • USB “On-The-Go” (OTG) for direct device communication when a PC is not available
  • GCC 4.2.0 brings nter-procedural optimizations, autovectorization, and improved debugging using location lists
  • OProfile offers system-wide performance profiler for Linux functions from the kernel to applications
  • Linux Trace Toolkit (LTT) provides developers with in-depth information about running processes during the trace period, including when context switches occurred, processes blocking duration, and process execution vs. blocked timings
  • MPatrol diagnoses run time memory errors and leaks and also acts as a library for controlling and tracing dynamic memory allocations
  • DevRocket 5.0 — an integrated development environment (IDE) delivered as standard Eclipse plug-ins


Pro 5.0 is shipping now. Pricing was not disclosed.

Early versions of the distribution may already have been used in telecom infrastructure applications, as well as Motorola's MotoRokr (formerly “MotoRizr”) z6.

MontaVista has also updated its Eclipse-based DevRocket toolsuite (coverage to follow shortly). And, the company revised its website, after many years.

In other news, Ready led a panel discussion at this week's Embedded Systems Conference, his first public speaking engagement in recent memory.

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