May 14, 1998
ITRON Technical Committee, TRON Association

ITRON TCP/IP API Specification Released

The ITRON Technical Committee of the TRON Association has released the ITRON TCP/IP API Specification, as a TCP/IP protocol stack API (application program interface) for use with embedded systems.

The ITRON TCP/IP API Specification makes it possible to implement a TCP/IP protocol stack that is faster and more compact than the commonly used socket interface. Although it is intended mainly for use with an ITRON-specification real-time OS, it can also be used with other real-time OS architectures.

As with other ITRON specifications, the ITRON TCP/IP API Specification is a fully open specification, which anyone can use freely without paying licensing fees. The entire specification can be downloaded from the URL below (currently available only in Japanese, with an English-language version to be issued in a few months).

The rapid growth of so-called information appliances and other embedded systems connecting to the Internet has made the TCP/IP protocol stack one of the most important software components for embedded systems. It has been pointed out, however that the socket interface widely used as a TCP/IP protocol stack API is not suited for small-scale embedded systems, hence the need arose for a standard API better suited to this field.

Against this backdrop, the ITRON Technical Committee of the TRON Association called for the drafting of a standard API specification for a TCP/IP protocol stack geared to embedded systems use. In March 1997, the Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee was formed for this purpose. The ITRON TCP/IP API Specification (Ver. 1.00.00) being released at this time is based on a specification draft produced by the Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee after approximately a year of work, which was then authorized by the ITRON Technical Committee as an ITRON Specification.

Among the Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee member firms are companies that have already begun to develop a TCP/IP protocol stack based on this ITRON TCP/IP API Specification, making it likely that products implementing this specification will be made available in the near future.

Comments ITRON Technical Committee chairman Kiichiro Tamaru, "The availability of products from several firms implementing the ITRON TCP/IP API Specification will greatly benefit both users and developers. Users will have a broad choice of products, as a result of which they will be able to introduce the technology at a reasonable cost. For developers, we can expect competition to push technical advancement. One more anticipated benefit is that the positioning of the TCP/IP API as a TRON specification should help establish the TCP/IP protocol stack as a software component for embedded systems."

Tomihisa Kamada, Vice President of Access Co., Ltd., a Japanese company with wide-ranging accomplishments in the field of TCP/IP protocol stack product development for embedded systems, notes that "TCP/IP for embedded systems is being used in a variety of fields, including information appliance browsers and email, LAN connection of printers and faxes, and LAN-connected factory automation systems, among others. We expect this market to continue expanding rapidly. In fields like these, it's important to implement TCP/IP with low memory needs, high performance, precise control and reliability. What's needed is a standard low-level API specification for embedded TCP/IP geared to real-time systems. This new draft specification is the first anywhere that addresses these needs fully."

Another member of the Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee is A.I. Corporation, the authorized dealer in Japan for U.S. Software, a company with a strong record in the United States as a source of software components for embedded systems. Hiroyuki Kato, CEO of A.I. Corporation, says, "While ITRON is becoming a true standard, accounting for some 40 percent of the real-time OSs used in Japan (including those developed for in-house use), standardizing related software components remains a key issue. Now that the TCP/IP standard specification has appeared as the first answer to this need, developers stand to benefit greatly. We expect U.S. Software, which we represent in Japan, to meet growing interest in ITRON in the U.S., Asia and Europe by throwing its support behind the ITRON specifications, including this TCP/IP specification."

The ITRON project is dedicated to providing real-time OS specifications for embedded systems, as well as related standard specifications. The µITRON real-time kernel specification, designed for small-scale embedded systems, has been adopted in numerous embedded products, becoming an industry standard in this field. ITRON is a subproject of the TRON Project, and is promoted by the ITRON Technical Committee under the TRON Association. To find out more about ITRON, please visit the ITRON home page at the following URL.

Inquiries concerning this press release may be directed to:

Secretariat, ITRON Technical Committee, TRON Association
Nobutaka Amano
TEL: 03-3454-3191
FAX: 03-3454-3224

Secretary, ITRON Technical Committee and Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee
Hiroaki Takada (Toyohashi University of Technology)
TEL: 0532-44-6752
FAX: 0532-44-6781

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