Enea in its "Element" with multiprocessor software middleware

Bernard Cole -September 15, 2005

Boston, Ma. - At the Embedded Systems Conference here Enea took the wraps off Element, a new suite high-availabability middleware tools and building blocks targeted at board and system chassis level multiprocessor designs in telecom, automotive, industrial control, and medical instrumentation applications.

According to Terry Pearson, vice president of product management for Element at Enea, Element is designed to provide a .set of services that sit between the operating system and applications. "It is designed to provide a set of core services for synchronizing, instrumenting, monitoring, and establishing communications between applications spread across multiple operating systems and processors," he said. "It also provides network supervision, fault, shelf, and upgrade management services that make it easy to monitor, repair, configure/provision, and upgrade live systems as they operate in the field."

What makes Element unique, he said, is that it is the first high availablity (HA) middleware optimized for distributed embedded systems. It is designed, he said, to work in a mixed OS environment, with say, Linux and Enea’s OSE, or any other RTOS, in the same system.

Nor is it confined to just operating only on RISC machines. Any mix of RISC with DSPs and network processors (NPUs) is possible as well. Because of this platform independence, said Pearson, it can allow developers to integrate systems using emerging standards such as SA Forum’s HPI and ATCA in the same system with legacy applications.

"What we have tried to do is a come up with a common API to partition, distribute, and manage applications spread across multiple processors, blades, and operating systems," he said, ”without requiring the developer get involved in implementation details."

At the core of Element’s flexibility, he said, is the company’s LINK communications subsystem – a generalized version of the message passing protocol used within the OSE RTOS -- designed initially to support the construction of complex inside the chassis distributed applications that span multiple devices and operating systems. "But there is nothing about the new protocol middleware that limits the potential applications to that narrow subset," said Pearson.

Beyond the message-passing based methodology at its core, he said, LINK is designed to easily discover other processes and services, communicate with those processes, advertise service availability, broadcast information to and share information with other processes (publish/subscribe), and monitor other processes for readiness.

LINK will also include a set of event logging and interactive inspection services to increase visibility into system operation. Event logging enables application processes to log and report event and state information such as slot/service availability, diagnostics and critical network events such as alarm conditions. Developers and network operators can interactively obtain this information using standard Web browsers.

The new middleware he said, incorporates an HA Framework (HAF) able to perform active heartbeat monitoring and reactive error detection schemes to ensure the health of key hardware and software components at the system, slot and application levels. The HAF also performs in-service upgrades for hardware and software components with minimal disruption to the operational state of the system.delivers all the services required to build a true non-stop computing platform. The HAF provides full fault management, including monitoring, detection, recovery, and reporting, for every resource in the system.

Another key element in Element, said Pearson, is the company’s Polyhedra relational database management system.. It is used to provides transactional, real-time, fault-tolerant storage for provisioning data, and arbitrating access among multiple users. Element will also incorporate SNMP-based network monitoring services for gathering and inspecting statistical data. ”This data can be utilized on-line for network troubleshooting and optimization, or archived off line for network planning, accounting (subscriber billing), and other purposes,” he said.

Currently available only for use with Enea’s memory-protected OSE real-time operating system. Element for Linux is currently undergoing beta trials with selected customers and will be generally available early next year.

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