MontaVista First to Deliver Hard Real-Time Linux

Based on preemptable kernel technology, delivers 30-fold improvement in application responsiveness

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - September 7, 2000 - MontaVista Software Inc., developer of the Hard Hat™ Linux® operating system for embedded computers, today announces the immediate availability of a hard real-time fully preemptable Linux kernel based on current 2.4 software. This kernel revolutionizes the application responsiveness of the Linux kernel, while fully preserving the Linux programming model. The MontaVista hard real-time preemptable kernel provides a 30-fold improvement in application responsiveness of a standard Linux operating environment. MontaVista is targeting a January 2001 release of a standard Hard Hat Linux product based on this technology.

"The MontaVista real-time strategy is to drive native real-time improvements in Linux", explained James Ready, president and CEO of MontaVista software and RTOS industry pioneer. "Real-time capability is the final barrier to comprehensive adoption of Linux throughout the embedded systems industry. MontaVista's hard real-time fully preemptable kernel technology advances Linux to the responsiveness attributes of proprietary kernel products. It does so while still providing all the benefits of open source, including rapid development and deployment based on a royalty-free model."

A fully preemptive kernel is essential for highly responsive real-time systems. The immediately available preemptable kernel improves real-time application response from hundreds of milliseconds (worst case) to about twelve milliseconds. "We expect to achieve sub-millisecond (hundreds of microseconds) worst case application responsiveness by the time of general product availability in January", says Kevin Morgan, Vice President of Engineering for MontaVista. "Our design leverages the Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) locking facilities; this means that the design for real-time and the design for multi-processing in Linux are completely aligned. Our solution is an example of our 100% pure Linux product philosophy in action."

"MontaVista would like to see this technology or similar technology utilized as a foundational feature of Linux 2.5", says Morgan. "We are excited to offer this in prototype form, and look forward to feedback from the Linux, embedded and real-time communities as we continue its tuning and refinement."

MontaVista's offering also includes a real-time scheduler, which provides extremely high performance and deterministic real-time application selection and dispatching, without altering standard Linux scheduling. MontaVista complements Hard Hat Linux with an optional interrupt accelerator (based on RTLinux technology from FSMLabs of Albuquerque, New Mexico), which improves interrupt responsiveness by over five times. Overall, the gap between what Linux can deliver and what proprietary systems claim is closing. Additionally, this technology is of fundamental value in desktop and server systems, where multi-media and quality of service drive the requirement for high performance real-time responsiveness.


The prototype of MontaVista's preemptable Linux kernel is available immediately for IA32 platforms via ftp at A technical paper, entitled "Design of a Fully Preemptable Linux Kernel", is available for additional information at For information regarding MontaVista Hard Hat Linux subscriptions and services, including out-sourcing of porting, configuration, testing, and source maintenance, contact a MontaVista associate. For additional information about Hard Hat Linux subscriptions and services contact or call 408.328.9200.

About MontaVista Software, Inc.

MontaVista Software Inc., founded in 1999 by real-time operating system pioneer James Ready, delivers open-source software solutions for the worldwide embedded software market. MontaVista's principal offering is the Linux® operating system tailored for embedded software applications. MontaVista products include Hard Hat™ Linux®, a standard off-the-shelf binary distribution of Linux for x86, PowerPC, StrongARM, MIPS and other microprocessor architectures. Hard Hat Linux offers developers a mix of open source and standard APIs, as well as unique open source solutions for embedded design including the MontaVista real-time scheduler and Hard Hat Net CompactPCI back-plane networking. Hard Hat Linux is supported by a comprehensive tool suite including optimizing compilers for C, C++ and other languages; high-level language debuggers; and performance monitoring tools. The company's Subscription Plans also provide Linux support, porting and customization services to customers worldwide. MontaVista headquarters are in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Hard Hat is a trademark of MontaVista Software Inc. All other names mentioned are trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks of their respective companies.


Primary Contact:
Sam Paior
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Phone: (831) 234-1031

Secondary contact:
Michael Rosenberg
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Phone: (831) 420-2682