Feeds

Montavista claims real time support for Linux mobile

'Linux set to assume the role of a universal platform'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

In the cellphone world, Linux has been caught uncomfortably between two worlds. It is not as high level as SymbianOS or Windows Mobile, requiring significant work by handset makers to provide a full application downloading platform; but it lacks the full real time support of the proprietary, native cellphone operating systems. Now MontaVista Software, the main distributor of phone-specific Linux, claims to have overcome the latter problem, potentially making the open source OS a mainstream platform for midrange and low end cellphones, as well as many other embedded devices.

MontaVista has carved out a niche in Linux handsets and other products such as DVD players but has been excluded from other embedded devices that require a guarantee, and rapid response time, or 'hard real time', which have been the territory of proprietary systems such as Wind River. In the mobile world, applications requiring hard real time include audio and video streaming and GPS signal processing.

MontaVista programmer Sven-Thorsten Dietrich said these type of systems need guaranteed task level response "in the tens to hundreds of microseconds range, which is not achievable with current 2.6 Linux technology".

However, there is hostility to incorporating MontaVista's breakthrough into the main Linux kernel. Linux creator Linus Torvalds said "almost nobody wants hard real time" and that it makes the OS more complex and, for conventional applications, less responsive.

James Ready, CEO of California-based MontaVista, said: "With hard real time capabilities, Linux is set to assume the role of a universal platform."

He believes that real time support will push Linux into the high growth area of midrange featurephones, which typically have a native real time OS running on a dedicated baseband. The need for this can be eliminated by Linux as well as helping the featurephones move up the food chain, to get a little closer to SymbianOS and Windows models. Ready also points out that only Linux can be used end-to-end, to run the network as well as the devices.

MontaVista has formed an open source project around its new technology. But hard on its heels will be the leading real time OS vendor, Wind River, which rejected Linux for many years but has now formed a partnership with Linux distributor Red Hat.

MontaVista was founded in 1999 by Ready, and is backed by Alloy Ventures, China Development Industrial Bank, RRE Ventures, US Venture Partners, WR Hambrecht, as well as IBM, Infineon Ventures, Intel Capital, Panasonic (Matsushita), Samsung Ventures America, Siemens Venture Capital, Sony, Toshiba America and Yamaha Corporation.

Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

Related stories

World's best-dressed Linux backer leaves Sun
Linux mobile phones get v7 suite boost from OpenWave
Motorola: leaving its symbiotic relationship

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.