By John McHale
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Engineers at VenturCom Inc. are offering an enhanced version of their real-time Windows NT operating system — the — RTX 4.3.
RTX 4.3 works with the standard Windows NT hardware abstraction layer (HAL), and with a wide variety of custom-designed OEM HAL configurations.
"RTX 4.3 further enhances the performance of real-time applications by providing technology which significantly reduces the size of the run-time environment," says Rob David, RTX product manager at VenturCom.
Additionally, RTX 4.3 uses application wizards to ease the early stages of application development. The product also includes several graphical user interface tools for managing and viewing RTX processes during the development cycle.
VenturCom`s RTX enables Windows NT to function simultaneously as a general-purpose operating system and a high-performance real-time software-development environment.
The new version will enable users to add a digital signal processor (DSP) without spending extra money on a DSP developmental software program, says Myron Zimmerman, founder and chief tech- nology officer of VenturCom.
It provides real-time determinism in one standard box, he says. Zimmerman says he believes these features and real-time Windows NT`s compatibility with commercial technology make it a viable option for the military.
Microsoft Windows NT sees heavy use in the U.S. Navy, Zimmerman says. It also is part of the U.S. Air Force Joint Surveillance Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), says Doug Jensen, scientific consultant at MITRE Corp. in Bedford, Mass.
Navy officials are also looking at using real-time Windows NT in the next-generation destroyer, DD-21, Jensen says. How-ever, no decision has been made, he adds.
The concern over the blue-screen crashing of Windows systems is overblown becuase it is a configuration problem, not a problem within the RTOS, Zimmerman insists. If users do not configure a real-time operating system correctly, it will blue screen, he says.
The configuration problem results from the use of third-party drivers, Zimmerman claims. Bad drivers can cause a system to blue screen, which is the shutting down of non-real-time functions.
A blue-screen crash, however, does not affect the real-time functions, which continue to run until the problem is corrected, he says.
Windows NT is difficult to configure because it is larger and more complex than VxWorks from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif., he explains.
Zimmerman notes that Windows NT and VxWorks are not competitors. They operate at different ends of the market — Windows NT at the high end and VxWorks at the low end, he says.
Likewise, Zimmerman says he is not concerned about the possibility of real-time Linux, the open-source operating system that is available free over the Internet.
Linux, he says, is for academic use, and has not proven to be deterministic, he says. Zimmerman says he also questions the ability of Linux to be reliable, secure, and supportable.
If thousands of engineers on the Internet are working on problems out of a labor of love, what will happen when they have to labor over the dull and boring real-time operating system work that they do not love, Zimmerman asks. Who will make them do it?
For more information on VenturCom`s real-time Windows NT products contact Nancy LaMothe by phone at 617-661-1230, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at http://www. vci.com.