ITRON Newsletter No.26 (HTML Edition)

ITRON Technical Committee, TRON Association
Katsuta Building 5F, 3-39, Mita 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108, JAPAN
TEL: (03) 3454-3191    FAX: (03) 3454-3224

ITRON Open Seminar Program Announced

As noted in ITRON Newsletter No.25, the ITRON Open Seminar for 1997 will be held Wednesday, July 16, at Arcadia Ichigaya in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. These seminars are held each year to present the latest happenings related to the ITRON specifications, and to give updates on ITRON-specification OS implementations and application systems, development tools and other trends. This is the seventh time the seminar is being held. The theme chosen this year is, "Expanding Applications and the Challenge of New Standards," referring to the widening range of application fields for µITRON-specification OSs and the resulting need for new standards to cover these uses.

Date: Wednesday, July 16, 10:00 - 17:30
Place: Arcadia Ichigaya (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; 2-minute walk from JR Ichigaya Station)
Capacity: 160 persons
Admission (includes tax):
TRON Association Members: 6,000 yen
Non-members: 8,000 yen
Students: 6,000 yen
Program (subject to change):
10:00 - 10:30  Recent ITRON Trends
Kiichiro Tamaru (Toshiba Corp.)
10:30 - 12:00  Toward ITRON Hard Real-time Support
Hiroaki Takada (Univ. of Tokyo)
13:00 - 15:00  Panel Session: "Car electronics applications and standardization"
(Panelists to be announced)
15:15 - 16:45  ITRON Application Case Studies, etc.
  • "ITRON application to space vehicles" (tentative)
    Hiroki Hihara (NEC Radio Operations Unit, Space Development Division)
  • "Use of the MR32 in an FM radio text multiplexing system"
    Miho Kinoshita (Mitsubishi Electric Semiconductor Software Corp.)
  • "The Value of Open Standards for Embedded Software"
    Thomas Barton (Director of Marketing, Cygnus Solutions)
  • One more presentation is also planned.
16:45 - 17:30  Special speech
Ken Sakamura (Univ. of Tokyo)

The morning session on hard real-time support is an interim report by the ITRON Hard Real-Time Support Study Group, which began functioning last November. The afternoon panel session will take up car electronics, a relatively new application area for the µITRON-specification OS. Panel members will discuss the present status of applications and issues, future directions, and standardization needs and trends. The presenters on ITRON application case studies have been asked to describe the nitty-gritty of applying a µITRON-specification OS to actual systems. The seminar will close with a speech by TRON Project leader Ken Sakamura, a regular feature of each seminar to date.

Last year, the number of applicants exceeded the capacity of the hall, forcing us to turn down requests received after the maximum number was reached. For this year's seminar we have reserved a larger hall so as to accommodate all who wish to attend. At the same time we have planned what we hope will be a very worthwhile program.

For the final program details and information on how to apply, check the ITRON Home Page, or contact the TRON Association and ask about the ITRON Open Seminar (TEL: (03) 3454-3191; FAX: (03) 3454-3224). We look forward to another large turnout.

Results of ITRON use trends survey

The TRON Association conducted a questionnaire-based survey from November 1996 through January 1997, to ascertain trends in ITRON technology use. The results have now been compiled and have been sent to those participating in the survey, according to the method designated by each participant, as well as being publicized on the ITRON Home Page.

In past years the TRON Association conducted similar surveys for each area of the Project; but for this last fiscal year the survey was limited to ITRON and was directed mainly at people involved in embedded system development. Cooperation in filling out the questionnaire was requested in issue No.23 of the ITRON Newsletter, questionnaires were sent by mail, and Internet users were given the chance to fill out the questionnaire using a Web-based form. Responses were received from 287 persons, mostly involved in designing and developing embedded systems. We wish to thank all those who took the time to fill out and submit the survey form.

The survey asked respondents to designate the application fields, OS and other details concerning the three most important embedded systems they had developed recently. Approximately 29% of the total number of systems used no OS, 26% used an ITRON-specification OS (commercially available ITRON-specification OS: 16%; in-house ITRON-specification OS: 10%), around 21% used an original-specification OS, and about 25% used a commercial OS other than ITRON. These results cannot be compared directly to those of previous years since the questions were framed differently this time, but they testify to the extensive inroads of the ITRON specifications in the embedded systems field.

The survey asked about problems with using a real-time OS for embedded systems, the advantages and disadvantages of an ITRON-specification OS, awareness of ITRON-related activities, and opinions on the future direction of the project. The results should be useful for planning further promotion of the ITRON specifications and deciding on policies for carrying out the project. For details of the results, you are invited to view the ITRON Home Page.

Standardization projects for fiscal 1997

The ITRON Technical Committee has planned the following standardization activities for fiscal 1997.

The ITRON Hard Real-Time Support Study Group, begun in November 1996, will continue to go ahead with its work. The activities are being reorganized around working groups, and by year end it is planned to issue a final report on the results of these studies.

Next, as noted on numerous occasions in this Newsletter, the ITRON Technical Committee since last year has been taking up the theme of standardizing software parts interfaces for embedded systems, which it considers to be a major issue. Among the areas where the need for such standards is high is that of TCP/IP protocol processing packages. Currently the socket interface is in wide use as a TCP/IP application program interface (API). This, however, has too much overhead to be suitable for small-scale embedded systems. The ITRON Technical Committee responded to this situation by calling for efforts to standardize a TCP/IP API for use on an ITRON-specification OS, as a result of which the Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee was formed.

It was further decided to form a technical committee to carry out surveys and other research, as well as standardization activities, on µITRON-specification OS application technology in the field of car electronics. The new committee, called the RTOS Automotive Application Technical Committee, began its work in June. Related to this, the TRON Association's Future Studies Committee this fiscal year is focusing its research efforts on real-time OS applications to automotive and transportation systems. The activities include surveys of real-time OS use, technology trends and international standardization trends in the automotive and transportation fields. They will then draw up a summary of the needs for standards in this area.

In addition to the above activities, other high-priority candidates for standardization efforts are C++ language binding standards for the µITRON-specification kernel, and debugging interface standards. As soon as plans are finalized, work is expected to begin in these areas as well.

The ITRON Technical Committee is going ahead on a number of different fronts, intent on accomplishing as much as possible in preparation for the next major phase of the project. Anyone with an interest in these activities is invited to contact the ITRON Technical Committee.

ITRON-specification Product Registration Update

The products listed below were newly registered as ITRON-specification products since the last issue of this Newsletter and through April 1, 1997. Previously registered products are listed here.

Newly Registered Products (Feb. 1, 1997 - Apr. 1, 1997)
Specification Product Name Processor Company
µITRON2.0 NORTi/SH SH-1, SH-2 Miyazaki System Design Co.
NORTi/H85 H8/500 Miyazaki System Design Co.
NORTi/68K 68000, 68020, CPU32 Miyazaki System Design Co.
* Above list may include products not supported outside of Japan.
* Product names are valid only in Japan.

ITRON-related Publications

Listed below are the publications prepared and issued by the ITRON Technical Committee as of April 1, 1997. The ITRON-µITRON Standard Handbook is a one-volume compilation of µITRON (Ver 2.0) and ITRON2 specifications. Each of the publications below can be obtained directly from the sources indicated.

The latest version of µITRON3.0 is Ver 3.02.00. Changes made since the µITRON3.0 Standard Handbook was released (Ver 3.00.00) are noted in Newsletter No.5 and No.11, as well as in ITRON Standard Guidebook 2.

The ITRON Standard Guidebook 2 deals primarily with µITRON3.0. The earlier ITRON Standard Guidebook '92-'93 remains as a valuable reference for use with the µITRON (Ver 2.0) and ITRON2 specifications, even though the dates in its title are now past.

ITRON-related Publications
Name Type Price Publisher Issued ISBN No.
ITRON-µITRON Standard Handbook Specification (Jap.) 4,800Yen Personal Media Co. 1990 ISBN4-89362-079-7
µITRON3.0 Standard Handbook Specification (Jap.) 4,000Yen Personal Media Co. 1993 ISBN4-89362-106-8
ITRON/FILE Standard Handbook Specification (Jap.) 3,000Yen Personal Media Co. 1992 ISBN4-89362-092-4
ITRON Standard Guidebook '92-'93 Textbook (Jap.) 3,500Yen Personal Media Co. 1992 ISBN4-89362-197-6
ITRON Standard Guidebook 2 Textbook (Jap.) 3,500Yen Personal Media Co. 1994 ISBN4-89362-133-5
µITRON Specification Ver Specification (Eng.) 12,000Yen TRON Association 1989 -
ITRON2 Specification Ver Specification (Eng.) 15,000Yen TRON Association 1990 -
µITRON3.0 Specification Ver 3.02.00 Specification (Eng.) - TRON Association 1994 -
* Prices do not include consumption tax.
* The documents are available to TRON Association members at a special discount rate.
* English-language specifications are distributed free of charge from here.

New CPU code assignments

New additions have been made to the CPU codes returned for the get_ver system call in an ITRON-specification OS, as listed below. For the remaining codes, see the µITRON3.0 Standard Handbook section 7.1.

B'01100101(H'65)Intel Pentium
B'01100110(H'66)Intel Pentium Pro
B'10000000(H'80)IBM PowerPC601
B'10000001(H'81)IBM PowerPC602
B'10000010(H'82)IBM PowerPC603
B'10000011(H'83)IBM PowerPC604
B'10000110(H'86)IBM PowerPC401
B'10000111(H'87)IBM PowerPC403

When an ITRON-specification OS is developed for a CPU to which no CPU code has been assigned, and a CPU code is required, please consult with the ITRON Technical Committee.

Newly registered products

The three new products in the NORTi Series recently registered with the TRON Association are introduced briefly here.

NORTi/68K, NORTi/H85, NORTi/SH: µITRON2.0-specification Real-time OS
Miyazaki System Design Co.

Product overview


Target processors 68000, 68020, CPU32
Provided drivers TMP68301, MC68032, MC68340 and MC68334 timer/serial
Compilers Diab Data D-CC/68K, Microtec Research MCC68K


Target processors H8/500 Series
Provided drivers H8/532 and H8/534 timer/serial
Compilers IAR ICC H8/500, Hitachi H8/500 C compiler


Target processors SH-1, SH-2 Series (SH-3 planned)
Provided drivers SH7032 and SH7604 timer/serial
Compilers Kyoto Microcomputer exeGCC, Hitachi SH Series C compiler, Green Hills C cross-SH compiler

All three of the supported processor series (68K, H8/500, and SH) have level interrupt functions and are well suited to real-time applications.

The NORTi OSs likewise support level interrupts (nesting of interrupt handlers), and have been optimized for real-time applications in terms of fast kernel processing and reduced interrupt masking time. In a NORTi OS, the kernel does not have the highest priority, so an interrupt routine with a higher priority and which does not use OS functions can be handled immediately.


As with other NORTi series, embedding the OS in a system is easily accomplished. The OS comes with the entire kernel source code, the same package supports a variety of compilers, the OS is available at low cost, and system embedding is license-free.


Although it may seem as though RISC rules the embedded system world, among CISC processors the 68K has long been the easiest to program. In the case of NORTi, in fact, development starts with the 68K and only after the algorithms have been tested there are they ported to other processors. Starting out from RISC would be much more difficult, especially when it comes to coding in assembly language.

The CPU32 core, in particular, which is upward compatible with the 68000, offers outstanding cost performance and will continue to receive active support.


Taking advantage of the ease of NORTi porting between processors, this product was added to the NORTi lineup. Support is currently for the minimum model.


This implementation is optimized for speed rather than size, and assumes external RAM. As a result, it is faster than an OS optimized to run in on-chip RAM only, assuming the same conditions as for external RAM.

Starting with the NORTi/SH series, in-circuit emulator support is now offered. At this time NORTi supports the COMPUTEX ROM ICE 64 and Sofia Systems MultiSTAC real-time OS debugging functions.

! This newsletter is a special edition for WWW of the one appeared in TRONWARE vol.45 and TRON PROJECT JOURNAL No.47.

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