[ECOS] Delphi Automotive takes Red Hat's "un-Linux" for a ride

Alex Schuilenburg alexs@redhat.com
Thu Jan 11 03:47:00 GMT 2001


     Jan. 08, 2001

     Delphi Automotive Systems has selected Red Hat's eCos operating system to be the software
     platform for a new family of in-vehicle information appliances and embedded telematics
     systems. The first Delphi product to use eCos will be the Mobile Productivity Center (MPC), an
     in-car platform that enables hands-free operation of PDAs and cell phones. 

     Thanks to its built-in speech recognition and text-to-speech system, the MPC allows drivers to
     use many PDA functions including notepad functions, access Internet content such as email and
     stock quotes, and dial phone numbers -- all without taking their eyes off the road or their
     hands off the wheel. A docking station (see photo below) houses a Palm PDA along with a cell
     phone, and installs via several convenient mounting options.

     Why eCos?

     Interestingly, after Delphi turned to Red Hat for open source operating system support, they
     selected eCos -- rather than Linux -- as the embedded operating system for the MPC. eCos is an
     open source real-time operating system that was developed by Cygnus Solutions, a company
     acquired by Red Hat early in 2000. 

     Michael Tiemann, chief technology officer of Red Hat, says there were three main reasons why
     Delphi opted to embed eCos, rather than Linux, in the MPC . . .

          eCos is more economical than Linux in terms of the system resources it requires, and
          system component cost was very critical in the project.

          eCos was able to provide a Linux-compatible application program interface (API),
          something considered valuable by Delphi's engineers, via the EL/IX Linux API (championed
          by Red Hat); the result was compatibility with a well known, standardized interface (the
          Linux API), plus it makes it easy to upgrade to Linux in the future, or to reuse the
          same software in higher-end Linux-based Delphi products.

          eCos was also able to provide a second API -- this one compatible with the µITRON OS --
          which Delphi considers key to penetrating the important Japanese automotive market. 

     What's eCos?

     Red Hat describes eCos as a highly configurable real-time OS that can satisfy the resource
     constraints of post-PC appliance-like devices that require a high degree of customization,
     minimized memory footprints, and yet may need hard real-time system performance. Red Hat says
     eCos' EL/IX API option lets programmers embed a Linux API in devices too small for Linux

     What's the memory footprint threshold where it makes sense to use eCos rather than Linux?
     According to Tiemann (see full interview) . . .

          "If your Flash and/or ROM space requirements add up to more than a half megabyte, then
          embedded Linux is probably the best starting point. If it's less than that, then eCos is
          probably better. However, size isn't the only issue to consider, because you can
          definitely have a very rich application stack which doesn't need a lot of OS
          functionality. Or, you may have a very small amount of software that requires exactly
          what's in the Linux kernel. In general, though, if you require more than half a megabyte
          for loading your application, Linux is a good choice."

More information about the Ecos-discuss mailing list