June 30, 1999
ITRON Committee, TRON Association

Release of the µITRON4.0 Specification

µITRON4.0 Specification Released

The ITRON Committee of the TRON Association (Naoyuki Akikusa, Chairman) has released the µITRON4.0 Specification as the latest version of it µITRON real-time operating system specifications, an industry standard in the embedded control systems OS field. The new specification was introduced and explained in detailed presentations at the ITRON Open Seminar on June 30 and July 1.

Current Status of the µITRON Specification

According to surveys conducted by the TRON Association, approximately 30 percent of the embedded systems developed recently in Japan use a µITRON-specification real-time OS, making this specification an industry standard. The share is especially high in the consumer electronics field, including personal information systems (car navigation systems, electronic organizers, etc.), communications terminals (cellular phones, answer phones, etc.) and audio-video equipment (TVs, VCRs, digital cameras, etc.), where ITRON is a major technology supporting recent growth in the electronic equipment industry.

Features of the µITRON4.0 Specification

The µITRON4.0 specification offers many improvements over previous versions, aimed at keeping up with rapid developments in computer technology and attaining a position as one of the underlying technologies of the networked society. The following are the main features of the µITRON4.0 Specification that set it apart from earlier versions.

How To Obtain the Specification

The entire text of the µITRON4.0 Specification is available for downloading from the ITRON project Web site:


Background and Matters Newly Specified

Embedded systems that control electronic equipment have grown in complexity and scale as digital consumer electronics products have become more advanced, often combining several functions in the same product. The policy of "loose specification" that has guided µITRON specification design up to now is considered no longer adequate for encouraging the proliferation of middleware products to run on a µITRON-specification OS or for assuring application portability, and is seen as an obstacle to large-scale software development. In addition, technology has advanced a great deal since the original ITRON architecture was designed, bringing new requirements.

The µITRON4.0 Specification is the result of more than two years of research on how best to deal with these issues. The specification as a whole retains the "loose specification" policy in effect up to now, but defines a "standard profile" with strict functional specifications aimed at improved application portability. The need for a more compact and high-performance OS geared to automotive control applications is met by a special automotive control profile, with a more limited function set than that in the standard profile.

In addition the following functions not supported in previous versions of the µITRON specification are newly specified to meet recently emerging requirements.

The Work of Specification Writing

The ITRON Committee approached the µITRON4.0 specification study by forming a µITRON4.0 Specification Study Group, which was not limited to TRON Association members but is made up of embedded systems software engineers from throughout the industry. In all, the studies were carried out by approximately 70 persons from 50 or so companies. In addition to the µITRON4.0 Specification released at this time, the study group is working on standards for the interface between a µITRON-specification OS and debugging environments, and on device driver design guidelines. These results will likewise be released to the public when the studies are completed.

The ITRON Committee is also interested in promoting these specifications as worldwide standards, in order to enhance the position of the µITRON specification as an industry standard.

For more information:

Please direct questions regarding this announcement to either of the following contact persons.

Tohru Takeuchi
ITRON Committee Secretariat, TRON Association
TEL: 03-3454-3191
FAX: 03-3454-3224
Email: torutake@sepia.ocn.ne.jp

Hiroaki Takada
(Toyohashi University of Technology, Department of Information and Computer Sciences, Information System Engineering Division) Secretary, ITRON Committee and µITRON4.0 Specification Study Group
TEL: 0532-44-6752
FAX: 0532-44-6781
Email: hiro@ertl.ics.tut.ac.jp

For Reference:

What is the ITRON Project?

The ITRON project is standardizing real-time OS specifications and related specifications for embedded systems. The µITRON-specification real-time OS designed for small-scale embedded systems has been adopted in a large number of systems, achieving the status of an industry standard in this field. The ITRON project is one of the subprojects of the TRON Project, and is run by the ITRON Committee in the TRON Association. For further information please visit the ITRON project Web site below.


Typical µITRON-specification OS applications

Audio-video equipment and home appliances
TVs, VCRs, digital cameras, set-top boxes, audio equipment, microwave ovens, rice cookers, air conditioners, washing machines

Personal information tools, entertainment and educational products
PDAs, electronic organizers, car navigation systems, video game consoles, electronic musical instruments

Personal computer peripherals, office equipment
Printers, scanners, disk drives, CD-ROM drives, copiers, FAX machines, word processors

Communication equipment
Answer phones, ISDN telephones, cellular phones, PHS, ATM switching systems, broadcasting equipment, wireless equipment, satellites

Transportation systems, industrial control and factory automation, etc.
Automotive systems, plant control, industrial robots, elevators, vending machines, medical equipment, commercial data terminals

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