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Real-time Linux distro boosts multiprocessor support

Nov 30, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Concurrent has revised its Red Hat-based real-time Linux distribution, adding support for Intel Nehalem and AMD Opteron processors with up to 48 cores, among other enhancements. RedHawk Linux 5.4 also improves NUMA performance and provides enhanced Nvidia drivers that support Nvidia's “Cuda” parallel computing technology, says the company.

Concurrent's RedHawk Linux is aimed at applications with time-critical requirements, such as simulation and training, data acquisition, imaging, financial services, and process control. When run on multiprocessor x86 systems, the distribution 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.

Based on an enhanced 2.6.31 Linux kernel, version 5.4 is fully compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4, and adds support for new Intel Nehalem and AMD Opteron processors and chipsets, along with PCI Express 2.0 busses, says Concurrent. Version 5.4 is also said to add support for systems with greater than 32 cores, up to a maximum of 48 cores.

NUMA speed boost and Nvidia support

RedHawk guarantees that a user-level application can respond to an external event in less than 15 microseconds "on certified platforms," claims Concurrent. The new version "dramatically improves" the determinism of real-time processes in non-uniform memory architecture (NUMA) platforms such as Intel QuickPath and AMD HyperTransport, claims the company.

RedHawk accomplishes its performance by ensuring that all pages of a real-time process are local to a given node and are not used by other the pages of other processes, according to the company. It's said the OS also automatically duplicates libraries and other modules as needed, maintaining them simultaneously in multiple nodes. Users can control these features with a new pagemap address viewing utility.

Version 5.4 also includes new Nvidia graphics drivers that have been optimized for real-time performance, "including use of MSI interrupts," says Concurrent. The drivers are said to help applications achieve maximum determinism during image rendering. Other new features are said to include real-time enhanced support for Nvidia's Cuda parallel computing technology, and support for the Linux Performance Counter for hardware and software events.

NightStar tools updated

Finally, Concurrent's NightStar development tool suite has been revised to run with minimal intrusion, thus preserving application execution behavior and determinism, claims the company. A new lockless kernel trace feature eliminates contention when multiple CPUs attempt to log trace points simultaneously, Concurrent adds.

RedHawk Linux is bundled with all Concurrent iHawk real-time multiprocessors, ImaGen visual servers, and MediaHawk Content Delivery Systems, and is also available as a software-only product for embedded applications, says Concurrent.

The distribution has been deployed in hundreds of installations worldwide including project developed at Airbus, Alcatel, Boeing, Ford Motor, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Toshiba, and the U.S. Navy Aegis Open Architecture programs.

Stated Ken Jackson, VP, Real-Time for Concurrent, "Version 5.4 reinforces RedHawk as the leading Linux distribution for hard real-time applications."


RedHawk Linux 5.4 is available now, says Concurrent. More information may be found here.

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