ITRON Newsletter No.34 (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

Table of Contents

JTRON2.0 Specification Released
ITRON Specification Seminar planned for October
ITRON International Meeting and Booth at Embedded Systems Conference
MST Exhibit and Technical Seminar
Change in ITRON Web Site URL
ITRON-related Publications
ITRON Open Seminar Held in July
Exhibit at Embedded Systems Expo & Conference '98 (ESEC)
ITRON in the Media

JTRON2.0 Specification Released

The Java Technology on ITRON-specification OS Technical Committee was formed in November 1997 by the ITRON Technical Committee, with the goal of producing a standard interface specification merging the ITRON-specification real-time kernel with the Java Application Environments. The results of their work have now been released as the JTRON2.0 Specification.

The field of embedded systems is yet another area where Java technology is drawing interest these days. A Java application environment is one in which programs downloaded on a network can be run safely, and Java lends itself readily to creating a graphical user interface (GUI). Despite obvious advantages like these, the overhead for byte code processing and the need for garbage collection make Java less than ideal for real-time systems. The idea behind the move to merge Java and ITRON is to combine their respective advantages. The approach seen as most effective is to implement the Java Application Environments on top of an ITRON-specification kernel, then build an application system whereby the parts for which Java is best suited are implemented as Java programs, and the parts taking advantage of the ITRON-specification kernel strengths are implemented as ITRON tasks.

A key issue here is the interface for communication between Java programs and ITRON tasks. This interface has to be standardized; otherwise Java's highly touted portability will be lost. The JTRON2.0 specification released at this time defines this interface standard. Actually there are three interfaces specified here. The first is the interface by which a Java program accesses ITRON-specification kernel resources (Type 1). The second is for sharing Java objects between a Java program and ITRON task (Type 2), and the third is for stream communication between a Java program and ITRON task (Type 3). Of these, Type 1 is defined in the initially released JTRON specification (JTRON1.0 Specification) announced in December 1997 and is not included in the JTRON2.0 Specification.

The JTRON2.0 Specification can be downloaded from the ITRON Web site. Awareness and use of this specification will be promoted at coming seminars and trade fairs in Japan and abroad, including the ITRON Specification Seminar and various embedded systems conferences.

Minor adjustments to the JTRON2.0 Specification will be made after the µITRON4.0 kernel specification reaches a fixed state. The Type 1 interface will be revised to conform to the µITRON4.0 specification and then incorporated in JTRON2.0.

ITRON Specification Seminar planned for October

The ITRON Technical Committee has planned a seminar in Tokyo for Wednesday, October 14, to present a detailed explanation of the ITRON specifications as they have evolved recently.

The main focus of the seminar will be on the ITRON TCP/IP API specification released in May of this year, and the recently released JTRON2.0 specification. Committee members who have played a key role in drawing up these respective specifications will explain in detail the design principles and the thinking behind the specifications. There will also be ample time for fielding questions from those in attendance. The seminar will be aimed chiefly at software engineers who are thinking of developing or using products that implement these specifications.

The seminar program is given below.

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Place: Mielparque Tokyo (Tokyo Postal Savings Hall)
5-20, Shiba Koen 2-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105
Capacity: 100 persons (applications will be closed when this limit is reached)
Seminar Fee (includes tax):
TRON Association members: 12,000 yen (8,000 yen for morning only or afternoon only)
Non-members: 15,000 (10,000 yen for morning only or afternoon only)
Students: 12,000 yen (8,000 yen for morning only or afternoon only)
Program (tentative):
(9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) ITRON TCP/IP API specification
Hiroaki Takada (Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee/Toyohashi Univ. of Technology)
(1:30 to 4:30 p.m.) JTRON2.0 specification
Shoichi Hachiya (Java Technology on ITRON-specification OS Technical Committee/Aplix Corporation)
Kazutoshi Usui (Java Technology on ITRON-specification OS Technical Committee/NEC Corporation)

For the most recent information on the program and details on applying for the seminar, please refer to the ITRON Web site or contact the TRON Association (TEL: (03) 3454-3191, FAX: (03) 3454-3224). We look forward to a large turnout for this event.

ITRON International Meeting and Booth at Embedded Systems Conference

As part of the on-going effort to promote the spread of the ITRON specifications outside of Japan, the ITRON Technical Committee will hold an ITRON International Meeting on Wednesday, November 4 in San Jose, California.

The meeting is timed to coincide with the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), the world's largest trade fair in the embedded system field, and will be held at the Hyatt Sainte Claire hotel near the San Jose Convention Center, site of the ESC. Aimed mainly at people in the United States with an interest in the ITRON project, the meeting will present the latest happenings in the project and introduce ITRON-specification products and related products available in the United States. Another purpose is to broaden the range of feedback on the project. This meeting follows on the similar ITRON Supporters' Meeting held at last year's ESC.

Date: Wednesday, November 4, 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.
Place: Hyatt Sainte Claire hotel, San Jose, California
Admission: free of charge
Program (tentative):
(12:00 noon) Lunch
(12:15 to 1:30 p.m.) Status reports on the ITRON project
(approximately three presentations are planned)
(1:30 to 1:45 p.m.) break
(1:45 to 3:00 p.m.) ITRON-specification and other related product introductions
(approximately four presentations are planned)

The ITRON Technical Committee will again be exhibiting at the ESC trade fair, promoting the ITRON specifications. The booth will be shared with the Japan System House Association (JASA) this year as last year. This year's ESC is being held from November 2 to 5 (Monday to Thursday), about a month later than last year, again at the San Jose Convention Center.

Visitors from Japan are also welcome at the ITRON International Meeting. Those planning on attending the ESC are urged to take part in this meeting as well. Please visit the ITRON Web site (English) for the latest information on the meeting.

MST Exhibit and Technical Seminar

At the upcoming MST'98, the Microcomputer System & Tool Fair to be held from Wednesday November 18 to Friday November 20 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center ("Big Sight"), the ITRON Technical Committee is planning a booth exhibit promoting the ITRON specifications. Similar to last year, a seminar organized by the ITRON Technical Committee will be presented at the Technical Seminars being held in parallel with the trade fair.

The Microcomputer System & Tool Fair is a specialized trade fair devoted mainly to embedded systems technology and development support tools, sponsored by the Japan System House Association (JASA). The seminar being put on by the ITRON Technical Committee is scheduled for the 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. slot on the opening day (November 18). It will consist of three presentations of around 50 minutes each, on the topics of "Update on the ITRON Project," "Overview of the µITRON4.0 Specification," and "New Functions of the µITRON4.0 Specification and Their Use." Attendance at the seminar is free of charge, although those wishing copies of the presentation materials will need to purchase them.

For the latest details on the seminar program and information on applying, please visit the MST'98 Web site. We look forward to a large attendance.

Change in ITRON Web Site URL

The ITRON Technical Committee has registered a new domain name specific to the ITRON project and has relocated the ITRON Web site there. The new URL is shorter; but more importantly, the ITRON-specific domain name became necessary because of its use in the newly released JTRON2.0 Specification. The new location is:

At the same time a mirror site has been established in the United States. Accessing the new URL connects to the U.S. mirror site. The old URL still connects to the mirror site in the University of Tokyo.

ITRON-related Publications

Listed below are the publications prepared and issued by the ITRON Technical Committee as of August 1, 1998. Each of the publications below can be obtained directly from the sources indicated.

The revised edition of the ITRON3.0 Standard Handbook incorporates Ver. 3.02.02 of the specification. Changes made since the earlier edition of the Standard Handbook (Ver. 3.00.00) as of Ver. 3.02.00 are given in the ITRON Standard Guidebook 2. Subsequent revisions as of Ver. 3.02.02 involve only organizational changes and additional explanations, not affecting the technical contents.

The ITRON-µITRON Standard Handbook is a one-volume compilation of µITRON (Ver. 2.0) and ITRON2 specifications. Printed editions are no longer available from Personal Media Corporation, but the entire contents are available in PDF format at the company's web site.

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.) (out of print) Personal Media Corp. 1990 ISBN4-89362-079-7
µITRON3.0 Standard Handbook, Revised Edition Specification (Jap.) 4,000Yen Personal Media Corp. 1997 ISBN4-89362-154-8
ITRON Standard Guidebook '92-'93 Reference work (Jap.) 3,500Yen Personal Media Corp. 1992 ISBN4-89362-197-6
ITRON Standard Guidebook 2 Reference work (Jap.) 3,500Yen Personal Media Corp. 1994 ISBN4-89362-133-5
ITRON TCP/IP API Specificaiton (Ver. 1.00.01) Specification (Jap.) - TRON Association 1998 -
JTRON2.0 Specification (Ver. 2.00.00) Specification (Jap.) - TRON Association 1998 -
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 -
µITRON3.0: An Open and Portable Real-Time Operating System for Embedded Systems Specification (Eng.) $40.00 U.S. IEEE CS Press 1998 ISBN0-8186-7795-3
* Prices do not include applicable taxes.
* The documents are available to TRON Association members at a special discount rate.
* Specifications issued by the TRON Association are available from the ITRON Web site.

ITRON Open Seminar Held in July

The ITRON Open Seminar was held July 15 at Arcadia Ichigaya in Tokyo. These seminars are put on each year to give updates on recent activities and accomplishments of the ITRON project, and to introduce ITRON-specification systems and their applications as well as development tools. This year was the eighth such seminar to be held. The theme chosen was the expansion of standardization activities in the project and their results to date.

Date: Wednesday, July 15, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Place: Arcadia Ichigaya (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
(10:00 to 10:30 a.m.) Latest ITRON Project Trends
Kiichiro Tamaru (ITRON Technical Committee/Toshiba Corp.)
(10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon) Overview of µITRON4.0 Specification
Hiroaki Takada (ITRON Technical Committee/Toyohashi Univ. of Technology)
(1:00 to 2:30 p.m.) Panel discussion: "Toward ITRON debugging interface standardization"
Chair: Chiharu Takei (Yokogawa Digital Computer Corp.)
Panel members (alphabetical order):
Hiroki Aihara (NEC Corp.)
Hitoshi Arima (Software Development Systems Inc.)
Hisanori Miyazaki (Miyazaki System Design Office)
Hiroyuki Muraki (ITRON Technical Committee/Mitsubishi Electric Semiconductor System)
(2:30-3:30 p.m.) Latest ITRON Project Accomplishments
  • Overview of ITRON TCP/IP API Specification
    Tsuyoshi Kodama (Embedded TCP/IP Technical Committee/Alpine Information Systems Inc.)
  • Overview of JTRON2.0 Specification
    Shoichi Hachiya (Java Technology on ITRON-specification OS Technical Committee/Aplix Corporation)
(3:45-5:45 p.m.) ITRON-related Products and Applications
  • Introducing JTRON-specification OS JBlend
    Kenji Yanai (Aplix Corp.)
  • RTOS Resource-aware Cygnus GDB Debugger for µITRON
    David Henkel-Wallace (Cygnus Solutions)
  • ZIPC ported to ITRON-specification OS
    Masahiko Watanabe (Cats Co., Ltd.)
  • NetJacs Network Computer for Industrial Use
    Kazutoshi Usui (NEC Corp.)
(5:45-6:30 p.m.) Special Lecture: "Toward HFDS Realization Part 2"
Ken Sakamura (TRON Project Leader/University of Tokyo)

At the morning sessions, the latest trends relating to ITRON were analyzed based mainly on the annual survey of real-time OS usage conducted by the TRON Association. Then an overview was presented of the µITRON4.0 kernel specification now being written by the µITRON4.0 Specification Study Group.

The first session after lunch was a panel discussion on the standards being studied in the same µITRON4.0 Specification Study Group for interfaces between an ITRON-specification OS and debugging tools. The importance and direction of the standardization work were discussed. The panel members represented debugger makers, ICE makers, kernel vendors, users, and the ITRON Technical Committee. They talked about the need for interface standards and expressed the desire that the standards take sufficient account of the features of ITRON. The specific approach to the standardization still remains up for further discussion.

Recent results emerging from the ITRON project, the ITRON TCP/IP API Specification and the JTRON2.0 Specification, were introduced in the next session. Details of these specifications are to be explained at the ITRON Specification Seminar described above. Following a break, four ITRON-related products were introduced. Then TRON Project Leader Sakamura presented his customary closing address.

Applications for the seminar reached the original limit around one month prior to the event, far exceeding the sponsors' expectations. Additional seats were obtained to accommodate the demand, with approximately 230 persons attending in the end. Reaction to the seminar was favorable overall, but the crowded hall and the lack of sufficient time to explain the specifications thoroughly were two areas for improvement that we would like to address next year.

An ITRON Open Seminar is being planned for next year at around the same time. We hope to obtain a larger hall for the event, and are thinking of expanding the seminar to two days, with one day devoted to tutorials on the ITRON specifications. Please pass on to the ITRON Technical Committee any ideas you may have on how to make the seminars more effective.

We would like to thank the following companies for their generous cooperation in supporting this seminar.

Companies Supporting the ITRON Open Seminar (listed alphabetically)
Advanced Data Controls Corp.
A.I. Corporation
Alsys KKE
ANDOR System Support Co., Ltd.
Aplix Corp.
Cats Co., Ltd.
ERG CO., Ltd.
Grape Systems, Inc.
Nihon Cygnus Solutions
Personal Media Corp.
Sophia Systems Co., Ltd.
Yokogawa Digital Computer Corp.

Exhibit at Embedded Systems Expo & Conference '98 (ESEC)

The Embedded Systems Expo & Conference '98 (ESEC), held at Tokyo Big Sight from July 8 to 10, was the occasion for another exhibit by the ITRON Technical Committee promoting the ITRON specifications. ESEC consisted of exhibits and technical seminars relating to embedded systems development technology. It was held for the first time this year, organized by Reed Exhibitions Japan Ltd. and in cooperation with the TRON Association.

It has become customary when such exhibits are held to promote the ITRON Project by asking exhibitors to display placards in their booths indicating their support of the ITRON-specification OS. This time the wording was changed to, "We Support the ITRON Project." The 22 exhibitors listed in the table cooperated by showing these placards, for which we are deeply grateful.

Exhibitors displaying ITRON placards (alphabetical order)
Advanced Data Controls Corp.
A.I. Corporation
Ampere Inc.
Aplix Corp.
ART System Corp.
Cats Co., Ltd.
ERG CO., Ltd.
EST Corp.
GAIO Technology Co., Ltd.
GAIO Technology Yokohama
Grape Systems, Inc.
Japan Tech Co.
K.I. Technology Co., Ltd.
Miyazaki System Planning Office
Nihon Cygnus Solutions
Nippon Systemware Co., Ltd.
Pacific Softworks, Inc. Japan
Risoh Keisoku, K.K.
TOYO Corp.
Yokogawa Digital Computer Corp.

ITRON in the Media

A feature article in the June 27 issue of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (morning edition) discussed the surprising success of the TRON-specification OSs. Although the article referred throughout to "TRON," it was in fact talking about the ITRON-specification OS as well as BTRON and CTRON-specification OSs. It noted that these OSs are in wide use, even though they may not be readily apparent to the public eye, and pointed to the need to make the world more aware of this reality.

A news report in the August 10 issue of Nikkei Electronics gave an overview of the coming µITRON4.0 specification. The article was based on the µITRON4.0 specification overview presented at the ITRON Open Seminar. It noted the tightening up of the specification and the emphasis on software reusability.

Interface Magazine in its September issue carries an article introducing the ITRON TCP/IP API specification. The article was written by ITRON Technical Committee member Hiroaki Takada of the Toyohashi University of Technology. He points out the problems with the existing socket interface, explains the design principles behind the ITRON TCP/IP API specification, and then illustrates the difference between this and a socket interface with a simple program using TCP.

! This newsletter is a special edition for WWW of the one appeared in TRONWARE vol.53.

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