American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)
Laid down in 1968 as a U.S. standard, American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a 7-bit character code system for 128 upper and lower case Latin letters, Arabic numerals, symbols, and control characters. (An eighth bit can be used for "parity," i.e., checking for errors in transmitted data, to make it a one-byte system.) Although ASCII is sufficient for processing data written in modern English, it cannot be used to process older forms of English or other European languages written with the Latin alphabet. That is covered by the ISO/IEC 8859 series of standards, which are used in modern personal computers.
ASCII is scheduled for replacement with another U.S. standard, the multilingual character coding system called Unicode, into which it has been incorporated. Unicode aims at enabling computer systems to process the languages of the world. However, there are many problems with Unicode, particularly from the point of view of processing Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK). See the Unicode entry below.
The Auto-ID project is an RFID technology project that was launched at the Massachusetts of Institute of Technology, and which later transformed into the EPCglobal project. It is similar to the TRON Project's Ubiquitous ID project, although it is based on different technologies (passive RFID tags in the 900 MHz band) and uses a different unique identifier code system (64-bit expandable to 96-bit). Using this technology overseas is problematic, since some of the frequencies it utilizes are already used for cell-phones in Europe and Japan. On the other hand, its code system can be integrated into ucodes, since it is shorter. One of the main goals of the project is to reduce "shrinkage," or loss and theft, of merchandise during shipping, storage, and retail operations. Accordingly, the passive RFID scanners used with this technology operate over much wider areas than those used with ucodes, and they consequently emit much stronger radio waves.
Founded in 1999 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Auto-ID Center is the place where the Auto-ID project began.
Founded in 2003, Auto-ID Labs is the successor to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Auto-ID Center. The reason the plural is used is because there are several laboratories on four continents involved in research and development.
Autonomous Movement Support System
The Autonomous Movement Support System (jiritsu idoo shien sisutemu) project launched by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is aimed at allowing anyone--Japanese citizens, the disabled, foreign tourists, etc.--to move about freely without the help of other humans. This system is already in practical use in Tokyo, along with many other areas of Japan, on a limited scale.
A bit is an abbreviation of the term "binary digit" (either a '0' or a '1'), which is the smallest unit that can be processed in a computer system based on the binary numeration system.
Business TRON (BTRON)
BTRON is a single-user, multitask workstation/personal computer architecture for use in high-performance, real-time networks, in particular TRON-based ubiquitous computing networks. The BTRON architecture is a completely new architecture based on the von Neumann model that features a standardized human-machine interface, including an ergonomically designed keyboard, full support for the disabled, hypertext/hypermedia, and comprehensive multilingual capabilities at the operating system level. This architecture has already been implemented and commercialized in Japan for use in educational computers (PanaCAL ET), personal digital assistants (µBTRON on BrainPad TiPO), IBM-PC/AT compatible personal computers with 16-bit CPUs (1B/V1, 1B/V2, and 1B/V3), IBM-PC/AT compatible personal computers with 32-bit CPUs (B-right/V series), workstations based on the TRON VLSI CPU (2B and 3B), and T-Engine-based development boards (PMC T-Shell on T-Kernel; see the entry on the Ubiquitous Communicator below).
There are currently 23 articles concerning BTRON and BTRON-based products in the technical materials section of TRON Web. Look there first for further information.
A byte is a string of eight bits (the length usually required to represent an alphanumeric character in a computer system), which is used as a standard unit of storage.
Center for Educational Computing (CEC)
A non-profit organization established in the 1980s by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Education, regional educational authorities, and major computer manufacturers to develop an advanced educational computer with multimedia capabilities for Japanese schools. A special subset of the µBTRON architecture with multimedia capabilities--in a dual boot 80286-based personal computer also loaded with MS-DOS--was tested and approved by this organization for use in Japanese schools. However, due to trade threats by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, it was never widely adopted in Japan.
Central and Communications TRON (CTRON)
CTRON is a multiuser, multitask architecture for use in large telecommunication switching systems, communication processors, and data servers. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) adopted this architecture as its standard network architecture due to its outstanding real-time performance, advanced functionality, and the ease with which software can be ported from one system to another when using it. As a result, NTT's domestic and foreign suppliers all implemented and commercialized computer systems based on the CTRON architecture.
Cho Kanji (choo-kanji, ultra kanji) is a BTRON3-specification based operating system (B-right/V), plus bundled applications, for IBM-PC/AT compatibles. Developed by Personal Media Corp., as its name implies, it was the first operating system to offer an unabridged kanji (Chinese character) character set (actually, it contains multiple unabridged kanji character sets) as standard equipment to Japanese users. In spite of its large collection of characters, it boots much more rapidly than other operating systems of its type. The current version, Cho Kanji V, runs as a guest operating system on top of the Microsoft Windows operating system using VMware Player, and data created on top of Cho Kanji V can be shared with standard applications running under Windows. An English-language kit is also available for Cho Kanji 4 so that foreign users can use the basic operating system functions.
CJK refers to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which have the largest character sets. Sometimes they are also grouped together with Vietnamese, and thus one might see CJKV.
command-line interface (CLI)
A CLI is a human-machine interface that allows the user to type in commands in order to instruct the computer system to perform operations. The advantage of a CLI is that it is very compact and easy to implement. The disadvantage is that the user has to remember all the commands, or have a book nearby with all the commands listed in it. Window systems and menus were created in order to overcome the disadvantage of a CLI, and thus more people have come to use personal computers as a result.
Communication machine is the preferred term for a "personal computer" when talking about the TRON Architecture, since such machines are supposed to enable the operator to communicate with himself, others, and computers embedded in things and the environment that surround the user. The Ubiquitous Communicator that was created as a part of the T-Engine project is the realization, at last, of the communication machine proposed back in the mid 1980s at the beginning of the TRON Project.
A compiler is a piece of software that translates a block of instructions written in a high-level language that humans can understand (source code) into machine-language instructions that the computer can execute (object code).
complex instruction-set computer (CISC)
CISC is a hardware architecture for microprocessors that aims at the efficient execution of high-level language instructions by providing hardware logic that mirrors the operations of high-level languages. Very efficient compilers can be developed for this type of processor. The TRON VLSI CPU was a CISC-based microprocessor architecture.
Computer architecture refers to the basic framework or concepts (both hardware and software) around which a computer system is designed. Accordingly, the more forethought that goes into how a given computer system will be used, the more detailed its architecture can be specified.
de facto standard
A de facto standard is a standard that comes into being not through an agreement by manufacturers, but due to its widespread use. De facto standards are usually established by companies that are first into a new field, or by large firms that have tremendous influence over the computer industry. Governments are also capable of creating de facto standards by specifying the use of certain technologies in products sold to it by manufacturers. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), for example, helped standardize the COBOL and Ada programming languages by specifying their use. DOD is also heavily involved in the Auto-ID movement, which is likely to become another standard. The most famous standard set by the DOD, however, are the TCP/IP protocols of the Internet.
A distributed system is a computer system in which data processing tasks are carried out using physically dispersed computer systems that are linked together. A simple example of such distributed processing is a bank withdrawal via an automatic teller machine (ATM). The bank customer requests the money from the bank's central computer via the ATM, the central computer records the withdrawal from the account, and then the ATM pays out the amount and issues a receipt.
The Dvorak keyboard refers to a keyboard layout scientifically designed for accurate, high-speed input of the Latin alphabet. Developed by August Dvorak in the 1930s, this layout is easier to learn, less tiring to use, and enables a typing speed that is 25 to 50 percent faster than the QWERTY layout. See QWERTY keyboard.
Electronic stationery is a direct translation of the Japanese denshi bunboogu, and it refers to computer peripherals for use with BTRON machines, particularly dedicated word processors based on the µBTRON subset of the architecture. Such peripherals add functionality without requiring changes to application programs.
Embedded system is a term loosely applied to computerized devices that are designed to carry out a limited number of functions. In other words, they are special-purpose computer systems. Normally they have built-in operating systems, and where time constraints are involved, they may be based on a real-time operating system, such as ITRON. In fact, the TRON Project could be looked at as a project that mainly aimed at the development of embedded systems and networks.
The opposite of an embedded system is a general-purpose computer, which is literally what a mainframe computer is called in Japanese. Since mainframe computers are the architectural model for workstations and personal computers, these too are general-purpose computer systems. However, when a a general-purpose computer's operating system is re-engineered into a much smaller form and incorporated in a device such as a PDA, as has been done with Microsoft Windows and Linux, the result is a quasi embedded device.
Enableware is the familiar term for TRON Electronic Prosthetics. See TRON Electronic Prosthetics.
EPCglobal (Electronic Product Code global)
EPCglobal is the Auto-ID project's equivalent of the Ubiquitous ID Center. In other words, it is the organization responsible for creating standards and propagating technologies throughout the world.
eTRON (Economy and Entity TRON)
eTRON is an architecture created to handle security in ubiquitous computing environments, both local and wide area. Accordingly, it ensures communications security among the various network nodes in an intelligent house, for example; and, it also secures the transmission of transaction data for government and businesses. Some unique features of this architecture are: it doesn't specify the use any particular encryption standard, it doesn't call for data to be stored on RFIDs or other types of tags, and it uses multiple security levels for accessing data stored on servers, which vary depending of the sensitivity of the data.
Free Mobility Support System
Free Mobility Support System is another translation of the Japanese for the Autonomous Movement Support System, i.e., jiritsu idoo shien sisutemu.
Fusen is Japanese for a tag or label; this term refers standardized symbols in the BTRON interface that are used for executing application programs (function fusen and executable function fusen), executing tool application programs (tool fusen), modifying system settings (setting fusen), and specifying application data (specification fusen).
graphical user interface (GUI)
A GUI is a visually-oriented human-machine interface based on windows, menus, and icons in which a pointing device is the primary means of issuing commands to the computer system. See Macintosh.
Highly Functionally Distributed System; Highly Functional Distributed System (HFDS)
These terms are inaccurate translations of the Japanese choo-kinoo bunsan sisutemu, or ultra-functional(ly) distributed system. Since the start of the T-Engine project, TRON Architecture designer Ken Sakamura has preferred to use the expression "ubiquitous network," and thus this should be used in place HFDS.
human-machine interface (HMI)
The HMI is the interface between the computer system and the human operator, which includes the display screen, keyboard, and possibly a pointing device. There are two main types: the command-line interface, and the graphical user interface. The human-machine interface was previously called the man-machine interface, or MMI.
Hypermedia is a networked multimedia filing system that integrates text and graphic data with audio and video data. Due to their ability to interact with users, hypermedia systems are expected to play an important role in the field of education in the future. The most famous example of hypermedia at present is probably YouTube on the World Wide Web.
Hypertext is a text filing system that allows for documents and/or pieces of text to be linked together into a network of any particular order. An example of hypertext is a text-only World Wide Web page, which has links here and there that allow the reader to move from one Web page to another without inputting anything with the keyboard. The term hypertext was coined by Ted Nelson, whose interests in data processing extend well beyond the linking seen on the World Wide Web, a simple concept that one could argue was pioneered by encyclopedias (.e.g, an entry on dogs might refer the reader any entry on wolves).
Industrial TRON (ITRON)
ITRON is a real-time, multitask architecture for controlling computerized machinery, home appliances, and other devices at extremely high speed. ITRON shares a common file structure with BTRON, and features a full range of mechanisms for task synchronization and communication. Unnecessary portions of ITRON can be left off to save space in memory. There have been dozens of implementations and commercializations of this architecture in Japan, making it the de facto standard operating system of the Japanese electronics and automotive industries.
The ITRON Project Archive is here.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
ISDN is an internationally agreed upon standard for digital telephone networks that was supposed to replace analog telephone networks, but due to the sudden appearance of the Internet, the technology was not successful. ISDN lines were designed to handle throughput of 64 kilobits per second, which is roughly twice the average throughput of a modem on an analog telephone line. Later Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ASDL) modems, which also used analog telephone circuits, achieved much higher speeds. As a result the ISDN age ended even before it had begun. In addition, the success of wireless telephony also led to a decrease in the use of standard analog telephone circuits in residences and office buildings. At present, although there are NTT docomo Inc. wireless telephone sales offices all over Tokyo, there is only one Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. sales office, located in west Shinjuku, that deals with land line telephone sales.
In the TRON Architecture, any type of object (even a wall, a ceiling, or a piece of furniture) with a microprocessor (and possibly a sensor[s]) embedded into it is referred to as an "intelligent object." This is because it can be programmed to provide useful functions for human beings, and hence react in a manner that humans consider "intelligent."
An interface is the boundary between two distinct layers of a computer system, or between the computer system and the human operator. A standardized human-machine interface is essential for creating standardized software applications that are easy to use.
An interpreter is a piece of software that evaluates and executes line by line instructions written in a high-level language that humans can understand (source code). The BTRON3-specification Cho Kanji operating system, for example, comes equipped with an interpreter for executing programs written in the MicroScript programming language. See MicroScript.
Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) character codes
In Japan, the equivalent of ASCII character codes are the Japan Industrial Standard (JIS) character codes levels 1 and 2, which unlike ASCII also include foreign alphabets (Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek) in addition to several thousand Chinese characters (kanji), the Japanese phonetic syllabaries (hiragana and katakana), and line drawing characters and symbols. JIS levels 1 and 2 were later supplemented by JIS Auxiliary Kanji and the characters of JIS levels 3 and 4, all of which can be used on Personal Media Corp.'s Cho Kanji. Here's a chart of the JIS standards that can be processed by Cho Kanji.
Character Type and Standard Name No. of Characters Fonts Comments JIS Level 1 and JIS Level 2 (JIS X 0208) 6,879 4 JIS Level 3 and JIS Level 4 (JIS X 0213) 4,344 1
- Compatible with
- JIS X 0213:2000
JIS Auxiliary Kanji (JIS X 0212) 6,067 2 Total 17,200
In the binary numeration system, a kilobit is exactly 1,024 bits. As a decimal value, kilobit refers to 1,000 bits.
In the binary numeration system, a kilobyte is exactly 1,024 bytes. As a decimal value, a kilobyte is 1,000 bytes.
Linux is a monolithic operating system kernel, the core which was originally designed and written by Linus Torvalds while a student at Helsinki University. After making his kernel available for further development on the Internet as open source software, a large number of people began to add to its functionality. Eventually, an open source window system and various end user applications were ported to Linux, making it something of an alternative to proprietary commercial operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. Although it is mainly used in workstations and large-scale computer systems, there is a movement to adapt Linux to embedded systems. However, it is too large and too slow to serve in many types of embedded applications, particularly hard real-time applications. In Japanese cell-phones that use Linux, Linux is usually a guest operating system running on top of ITRON.
Loose standardization is standardization that does not require the use of a particular piece of hardware or software. Loose standardization was one of the major tenets of the TRON Project, since it allowed various manufacturers to create competing products based on the same standards. However, since the start of the T-Engine project, the loose standardization model has been abandoned, because minor differences in implementation of open standards make it difficult for third parties to create powerful development environments and/or port middleware. In the T-Engine project, there is a single source kernel, and one major goal of the project is porting software among the various implementations of the T-Engine development boards simply by recompiling.
Macintosh is a personal computer developed by Apple Computer Inc. that popularized the visually-oriented graphical user interface. The Macintosh interface is based on a "desktop metaphor" in which windows simulate overlapping pieces of paper, and graphic symbols called icons represent familiar objects. Operations are selected from menus with a pointing device called a "mouse," which can also move the objects about and resize the windows.
A macro is an instruction (also called a macro instruction) for specifying an operation in a computer system or programming language, which when activated executes a prewritten sequence of instructions (i.e., a macro body) to perform that operation.
A macro language is a language based on the use macros, which are stored in libraries.
Macro TRON (MTRON)
MTRON is a real-time architecture that was proposed for linking ITRON-, BTRON-, and CTRON-based systems into high-performance, real-time networks, although it was never developed. MTRON was to encompass a wide variety of network types, including current networks and new environmental networks based on the use of intelligent objects. It was also to feature new concepts, such as programmable interfaces for upgrading ITRON, BTRON, and CTRON system interfaces connected to the networks. TRON Architecture designer Ken Sakamura has, on one occasion, compared eTRON to MTRON, since it realizes some of the functions MTRON was supposed to realize.
In the binary numeration system, a megabit is exactly 1,048,576 bits. As a decimal value, megabit refers to 1,000,000 bits.
In the binary numeration system, a megabyte is exactly 1,048,576 bytes. As a decimal value, a megabyte is 1,000,000 bytes.
µBTRON (micro BTRON)
µBTRON is a term that was originally used to refer to a subset of the BTRON architecture, BTRON/286, which was intended for use in dedicated word processors based on Intel Corp.'s 16-bit 80286 microprocessor, but later became the basis for an operating system intended for use in educational computers (PanaCAL ET). However, it is now used to refer to a subset of the 3B operating system that was adapted for use with personal digital assistants (BrainPad TiPO).
µCTRON (micro CTRON)
µCTRON is subset of the CTRON architecture intended for use on small-scale network equipment, such as gateways, protocol converters, automatic teller machines, etc., connected to large-scale equipment based on CTRON. µCTRON has only about half the system calls of the CTRON common interface unit.
µITRON (micro ITRON)
µITRON subset of the ITRON architecture intended for use on 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit single-chip microcontrollers. µITRON is a more flexible architecture aimed at getting the full power out of the processor it is used on, while ITRON, which is intended for use on general-purpose microprocessors, takes standardization more into consideration.
The ITRON Project Archive is here.
A microkernel is a small nucleus of operating system functions that serves either embedded applications directly above it or higher functions in a personal computer or workstation type operating system. The advantages of the microkernel computing model are compactness of the core computing functions and robustness, which lead to fast response times and less of a likelihood of crashing. Personal computer operating systems such as Cho Kanji and MacOS X use a microkernel-based computing model.
microprocessor unit (MPU)
An MPU is a very large-scale integrated circuit that executes instructions taken from memory, and hence serves as the central processor unit of small computer systems. Microprocessor units are classified according to the width of their data buses (8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, etc.), in addition to the type of instruction set (on-chip logic circuitry) they use for processing instructions. See complex instruction-set computer and reduced instruction-set computer.
MicroScript is an easy-to-use, interpreted scripting language that comes as standard equipment with Personal Media Corp.'s Cho Kanji operating system series and its PMC T-Shell for the T-Engine series of development boards. Programming professionals use it together with C language for rapid application development, doing the interface parts with MicroScript. MicroScript is also used for automatically starting up applications, and it can be used to control hardware devices via an RS-232C interface. Since it runs in conjunction with a hypertext filing system, ordinary users can employ it to create applications similar to those that users of Apple Computer Inc.'s HyperCard created in the past. A MicroScript tutorial is available here.
Microsoft Windows is a single-user, mutlitask operating system developed by Microsoft Corp. that is designed to run on personal computers, workstations, and servers. The first version, which appeared in 1985, ran in conjunction with MS-DOS, providing a graphical user interface and additional operating system functions, most importantly cooperative multitasking. The most widely used version at present is Windows XP, which is not based on MS-DOS. The latest version is Windows Vista, which is having some teething problems, and thus not all users want to switch to it at this time. Microsoft has also developed a version of Windows for embedded devices called Windows CE, which has had some success in handheld computing devices and cell-phones. However, it cannot handle hard real-time processing tasks, such as engine control, so it is not a direct competitor to ITRON or T-Kernel.
µT-Engine (micro T-Engine)
µT-Engine is the second largest T-Engine development board, measuring 60 mm x 85 mm. Based on a 32-bit CPU, it is aimed at embedded applications that have a minimal graphical user interface, such as home appliances and various types of office equipment.
million instructions per second (MIPS)
MIPS is a measure of computing performance by which processors are rated according to how many millions of instructions they can process in a second. This rating, which can be loosely compared to the revolutions per minute rating of automobile engines, does not take into account "throughput" (how effectively the computing power is used), and thus does not reflect the true power of the processor.
MINIX is a microkernel-based operating system modeled after UNIX. It was developed by Prof. Andrew Tanenbaum of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to teach operating system design, and it is included on a disk at the back of his famous text book, Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, which he co-authored with Albert Woodhull. MINIX was studied by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki, who used the knowledge gained from MINIX to design and write his operating system kernel, Linux, which then became the core of a worldwide, open source, operating system movement. At present, Prof. Tanenbaum is trying to get a Linux-like MINIX movement going, and he would like to see the current version, MINIX 3, used as an operating system for embedded systems.
A monolithic kernel is a large nucleus of operating system functions that offers high level functions in addition to low level functions. The advantage of the monolithic computing model is that it offers lots of functionality to the end user, in particular lots of drivers. The disadvantages of this computing model are that its response time is usually slow, and it is more prone to crashes, since not every part of the operating system can be checked against every other part of the operating system prior to release to the general public. Microsoft Windows and the GNU/Linux operating systems are examples of operating systems with monolithic kernels.
MS-DOS is a single-user single-task operating system developed by Microsoft Corp. originally for use on 16-bit microprocessors produced by Intel Corp. MS-DOS became a worldwide de facto standard as a result of its adoption by International Business Machines Corp., but it suffered from many drawbacks, the most significant of which were the lack of a standard human-machine interface and the inability to directly address more than 640 kilobytes of memory. Microsoft later developed a graphical user interface for Intel-based personal computers called Windows plus an extended memory specification (EMS) to make up for the shortcomings. See Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft Corp. no longer markets or sells MS-DOS, but an open source clone called FreeDOS is available on line.
Multilingual processing is the processing of words and documents in the national scripts of multiple languages. Efficient multilingual processing requires a two-byte character code to include languages with a large number of characters (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), in addition to language specifier codes and the appropriate input, sorting, and output routines for each language. Progress in the area of multilingual processing is slow, because only very large organizations such as national and university libraries need to process hundreds of languages in their computer systems, but they don't have the budgets to support the research and development required to develop the multilingual functionality they need.
Multimedia is the merging of high-quality audio and video capabilities with traditional computer text and graphics so as to enable computer systems to be more expressive and interact more effectively with their operators. The transmission of high-quality multimedia content is only possible in high-speed, high bandwidth networks, and it works best when the multimedia content server and the network client downloading the multimedia content are physically close together.
Multitasking is the processing of multiple tasks on a single-processor computer system in which each task is allowed to use the computer's central processor unit for a brief period of time. Although it seems like the multiple tasks are being processed simultaneously to the user, they are in fact being processed a little at a time one after the other. The tasks are managed on the basis of either a priority system or a time sharing system, i.e., each task is allotted a certain amount of time. The former is common in realtime operating systems, and the latter is common is server operating systems.
nT-Engine (nano T-Engine)
Rather than a development board, nT-Engine is a 32-bit CPU-based network component aimed at wired networks where an external power supply is available. With external dimensions of 28 mm x 33 mm x 11 mm, it is equipped with an eTRON SIM slot, and various types of sensors can be loaded onto it. TRON architecture designer Ken Sakamura has referred to this and pT-Engine as "execution platforms."
A nucleus is the core software functions of a layered computer operating system, which perform basic system management functions. The speed at which these core functions are executed greatly affects the real-time performance of the entire operating system. See real time.
As used in the TRON Project, an open architecture is a computer architecture that can be used by any firm without the payment of royalties or license fees.
Open source means the source code of a program is freely available to other programmers to look at, modify, and even sell. Depending on the license under which open source software is made public, it may or may not be legal to close off modifications to others.
As used in the TRON Project, an open standard is a standard for a piece of computer software or hardware that can be used by any firm without the payment or royalties or license fees.
"Open systems" is a very broad term that includes everything from open architecture (the original TRON concept) to open source under licenses that require modifications made to the original open source code to likewise be released to the public as open source, free of any obligation to pay royalties or license fees (the GNU project concept).
An operating system is the basic software of a computer system that allows the operator to control both the hardware and software applications. An operating system consists of a set of programs to carry out these control functions, plus a human-machine interface to allow the operator to interact with the operating system.
OS/2 is a single-user, multitask operating system developed by Microsoft Corp. that was originally intended to serve as a follow-on to MS-DOS. However, it was adopted only by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), which despite considerable marketing efforts was unable to turn it into a widely used standard operating system, although it did become widely used in the banking industry. Two basic versions of OS/2, one for Intel Corp.'s 16-bit 80286 MPU and the other for the same firm's 32-bit 80386 MPU, were originally planned, and it was designed with a standardized human-machine interface called Presentation Manager. One of the reasons the rest of the industry refused to adopt it was that it could only run one MS-DOS application at a time inside a "compatibility box." Thus adoption of this operating system would have required the complete rewriting of software applications. IBM no longer markets nor offers standard support for OS/2.
A personal computer is any low-cost computer system designed to handle individual data processing needs. Since this term was originally used to refer to computer systems that mainly do processing in isolation, it should not be used when discussing the TRON Architecture. See communication machine.
PMC T-Shell is essentially a port of the upper layers of the Cho Kanji operating system, the BTRON extend kernel, to the T-Kernel real-time operating system that runs on top of the standard T-Engine development boards and certain T-Engine appliances. Unlike Cho Kanji, which is aimed at end users, it does not come with bundled personal productivity applications, such as a spreadsheet and card database. It is, however, equipped with MicroScript, which makes it possible to use scripts written on top of Cho Kanji with little or no modification on top of PMC T-Shell.
A pointing device is any device that can be used to move a pointer on a computer screen by inputting x and y coordinates (i.e., vertical and horizontal tracking data). The most common types are the mouse, track ball (basically an up-side-down mouse), and electronic pen.
A programming language is a set of symbols and/or words manipulated according to a body of unambiguous rules, which can be used for creating instructions for a computer system. Programming languages vary depending on the type of instructions they are intended to create. The simplest languages (machine and assembly languages) are used for writing basic system instructions. More complicated languages (procedural languages) are aimed at writing instructions for complex programs.
A proprietary architecture, also called a closed architecture, is a computer architecture that is owned by an individual or organization, and hence cannot be used without the permission of that person or organization. The use of a proprietary architecture usually involves the payment of royalties and/or license fees, if the owner of the proprietary architecture is willing to license it to outside parties.
A proprietary standard is a standard for a piece of computer software or hardware that is owned by a commercial firm, and thus cannot normally be used without the payment of royalties and/or license fees.
pT-Engine (pico T-Engine)
Measuring 20 mm x 20 mm, pT-Engine is the smallest T-Engine board. As it is aimed at low power wireless applications, it uses neither a 32-bit CPU nor is it equipped with an eTRON SIM slot (communications is made secure via DES encryption). TRON Architecture designer Sakamura has referred to pT-Engine as an active tag, since that is what it has been employed as.
The standard keyboard layout used on current computer systems is the QWERTY layout, named after the first six letters from the left-hand side of the top row of letter keys. The QWERTY layout, which was fixed in the 1870s, is based on criteria that were originally intended to prevent the type bars of early mechanical typewriters from colliding. As a result, it is difficult to learn, tiring to use, and has many awkward sequences that lead to typing errors. In spite of the existence of a more scientific layout, the archaic QWERTY layout survives due to the inertia of typing habits. See Dvorak keyboard.
real object/virtual object model
The standard file system of BTRON-specification computers is called the real object/virtual object model. In its simplest form, it is based on the concept of a text file (real object) and its references (virtual objects), which are linked together in a network-type structure. However, the real objects could likewise contain graphics, video, or any other type of data specified in TAD, or the real object could be a computerized object in the physical environment (a "real object") linked to the BTRON-specification computer via a wired or wireless network.
In a computer system, processing in real time means completing processing in time to respond to a real world, or system external, event. Events generated by machinery require the fastest response time from a computer system (on the order of microseconds or milliseconds), while human-generated events can be responded to much more slowly (within a second or two).
reduced instruction-set computer (RISC)
RISC is a hardware architecture for processors that aims at the high-speed execution of instructions on chip by reducing their number and simplifying and unifying their format. RISC processors are cheaper to design than CISC processors and perform basic arithmetic faster, but they require expensive high-speed memory and their compilers are not nearly as efficient as CISC compilers.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. In other words, the identity of something is determined by interrogating it with a radio transmission on a particular frequency. Although the term is mainly used today to mean tiny electronic transducer tags attached to products, one of the first examples was for aircraft identification that was developed way back in World War II. Passive, semi-active, and active RFID tags have been developed and are now in practical use in ubiquitous computing applications.
Ken Sakamura, professor at the University of Tokyo, is the founder of the TRON Project and the designer of the TRON Architecture. He currently leads the T-Engine and Ubiquitous ID projects, which are outgrowths of the TRON Project. Prof. Sakamura received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Keio University in 1979, and launched the TRON Project in cooperation with Japanese industry in 1984, after chairing a technical committee on microcomputer operating systems at the Japan Electronics Industry Development Association. The T-Engine and Ubiquitous ID projects were launched in cooperation with Japanese industry and government in 2002.
The Sakamura Laboratory located at the University of Tokyo is one of the focal points for basic research on the TRON Architecture. Research conducted at the laboratory has led to the development of a new keyboard for use on BTRON computers and computer aids for the disabled. In addition, advanced applications such as digital museum technology have been researched and implemented there.
Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU Project, which is aimed at creating a free UNIX-like operating system, and the Free Software Foundation, which provides hundreds of applications to run on top of it. The former was launched n 1983, and the latter was launched in 1985, which is exactly when the TRON Project was in its early stages in Japan. One of the most famous things to come out of Stallman's work is the GNU General Public License, which requires that modifications to open source code covered by the GNU GPL also be made available as free and open source code to others. On the other hand, software covered by the GNU GPL can be sold to others.
A design or specification for hardware or software that is commonly accepted by a group of manufacturers, and which those manufacturers incorporate into their products to achieve a certain degree of industry-wide compatibility.
Standard T-Engine is the largest T-Engine development board, measuring 120 mm x 75 mm. Based on a 32-bit CPU, it is aimed at embedded applications where a well developed graphical user interface is required, such as a highly functional personal digital assistant or portable computer. Standard T-Engine development boards support 320 x 240 dot liquid crystal display screens. There are also various option boards, such as those for networking. Some Standard T-Engine boards can be put into a carrying case and powered by batteries. T-Engine development boards based on all the leading microprocessor architectures have been developed and are available for purchase from Personal Media Corp.
A subarchitecture is a computer architecture of a limited nature that is part of a larger computer architecture of a more inclusive nature. In the TRON Project, the ITRON, BTRON, CTRON, and MTRON architectures are referred to as subarchitectures of the TRON Architecture. See total architecture.
A T-Engine appliance is a hardware application based on one of the T-Engine boards. The most famous of these are the Ubiquitous Communicator and Teacube, a tiny cube computer that fits in the palm of your hand, which was introduced at TRON Show 2005. Even Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux have been ported to the Teacube.
The T-Engine Architecture is an outgrowth of the previously proposed TRON Architecture. It is an infrastructure architecture with the same goal as the TRON Architecture, i.e., creating ubiquitous computing networks, but the methods of standardization have changed. For example, no microprocessor architecture or bus architecture is specified for T-Engine development boards. In addition, the policy of weak or loose standardization has been abandoned to assure easy porting of middleware among the various T-Engine boards. Thus the T-Engine Forum does not allow the distribution of kernel variants of T-Kernel, the standard kernel of the T-Engine Architecture, except in special cases by high level members of the forum. Manufacturers can, of course, modify the kernel to suit their needs, as long as they don't distribute modified kernels.
The T-Engine Forum, located near Gotanda station in Tokyo, is the organization that draws up the basic T-Engine and T-Kernel specifications, and it also supplies the kernel and other free software to T-Engine developers. At present there are more than 400 members in the T-Engine Forum, including many foreign companies, research organizations, and educational institutions. It should be noted that the T-Engine Forum is completely independent from the TRON Association, although the activities of both organizations parallel each other.
The T-Engine project, which was announced in June 2002, is a subproject of the TRON Project that is both a continuation of the TRON Project and a full blown relaunch of the project. It is a continuation of the TRON Project in that it aims, just as before, at creating an architecture for computerizing human society through the standardization of hardware and software based on the open architecture principle. It is a relaunch of the TRON Project in that it is more focused on embedded systems and middleware distribution, and hence it uses a new development model, i.e., that of a single source real-time kernel and processor and system bus independent standardized development boards. Unlike the TRON Project, the T-Engine project has considerable government backing from multiple Japanese government ministries. By comparison, in the 1980s, a single Japanese government ministry merely wanted to place dual-boot educational computers in schools, which were designed to run both Microsoft Corporation's MS-DOS plus a BTRON-based operating system developed by Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co.
The TRON Project is famous for creating families of real-time operating systems, and T-Kernel is no exception--it includes µT-Kernel (micro T-Kernel) for 8-bit and 16-bit processors, T-Kernel for handling task-based applications on 32-bit CPUs, T-Kernel Standard Extension for handling process based applications on 32-bit CPUs, AMP T-Kernel for asynchronous processing on multicore processors, and SMP T-Kernel for synchronous multicore processing on multicore processors. It should be noted that although T-Kernel is similar to ITRON, there are major differences between two kernels, and thus software for ITRON has to be modified before it can run on top of T-Kernel.
The T-Kernel roadmap is at this link. Scroll down to view it. There are also many articles on the T-Kernel in the technical materials section of TRON Web. Look there first for further information.
The Real-time Operating system Nucleus (TRON)
TRON is the operating system nucleus concept that forms the foundation upon which the TRON Architecture is based. This operating system nucleus is optimized for running multiple tasks in real time, and it serves as the key element in related computer architectures tailored to address the dissimilar processing needs of machinery control, personal computing, and communications and large-scale information handling.
T-Monitor is the software layer that resides above the T-Engine hardware and below T-Kernel, which is the real-time operating system that powers T-Engine. For that reason it absorbs the hardware differences among the various T-Engine boards, and it also acts as a kind of basic input/output system (BIOS), plus a debugging tool. If you want to create your own T-Engine board, you have to create this software layer, in addition to the hardware.
TOPPERS - (Toyohashi OPen Platform for Embedded Real-time Systems)
TOPPERS is an open source µITRON4.0-specification kernel that is available for download from the Internet. The TOPPERS project, which is overseen by the TRON Association, is not a part of the T-Engine project. Accordingly, TOPPERS can be configured to run on top of any platform, and even optimized for a particular application. Various profiles have already been developed for this purpose.
Toyota Dream House PAPI
Toyota Dream House PAPI is the second experimental intelligent house to be built based on the TRON Architecture and concepts developed by the TRON Project. It is located near the city of Nagoya, which is to the west of Tokyo.
Linus Torvalds is a Finnish software engineer who designed and wrote the first version of the open source Linux kernel, after studying the MINIX operating system. When he put his efforts on the Internet for further development, he attracted a lot of attention and cooperation, which led to his kernel becoming the focus of a worldwide development effort that eventually even drew in major computer manufacturers. Since many pieces of software developed by the GNU project are used on top of his kernel, the resulting platform is also called GNU/Linux. GNU/Linux and the GNU development environment are the standard development platform for T-Engine, and even ITRON and BTRON.
A total architecture is a computer architecture that is so inclusive that it can be used as the basis for designing all conceivable types of computer systems. In the context of the TRON Architecture, this definition is limited to computer systems based on the von Neumann architecture, which is the standard computer architecture of today. See von Neumann architecture.
TRON Application Control-flow Language (TACL)
TACL is a macro language based on TULS that was proposed to serve as a programming language/environment on BTRON computers. It was also to form part of the BTRON human-machine interface. This macro language was intended to allow even novice BTRON users to write simple programs by redefining the the macros in its dictionaries.
TRON Application Databus (TAD)
TAD is a comprehensive set of standards for data compatibility that makes it possible for various types of data to be interchanged by computer systems based on the TRON Architecture. The data types provided for in TAD include multilingual text, two-dimensional graphics, voice, and still images.
The TRON Architecture is a total computer architecture based on The Real-time Operating system Nucleus (TRON), which is intended to serve as the basis for constructing ubiquitous computing networks.
The TRON Association, which was formally incorporated on March 14, 1988, is the central organization for promoting the TRON Project, and the place where the specifications that make up the TRON Architecture are drafted. The association consists of a board of directors and general affairs, future studies, project promotion, legal affairs, and publicity committees.
It should be noted that the TRON Association is completely independent of the T-Engine Forum, although it pursues the same goals of developing the TRON Architecture and spreading throughout the world. At present, the TRON Association mainly conducts training seminars, particularly for the popular µITRON4.0, and it also helps to sponsor the annual TRON show and Enableware symposium.
TRON-based Auto Traffic Information System
The TRON-based Auto Traffic Information System is a real-time information system based on the TRON Architecture for relaying road and traffic conditions to automobile drivers, which is currently in the research and development stage. A more advanced system in which the road and vehicle will be part of a unified traffic control system is also in the conceptual stage.
TRON Character Resource Center
The TRON Character Resource Center is an organization that collects characters and assigns TRON Code code points to them. It operates in conjunction with the Sakamura Laboratory and Personal Media Corp.
TRON Code is the standard character code system for the TRON and T-Engine architectures. Specifically, it is the character code system implemented on the BTRON3-specification Cho Kanji personal computer operating system series plus PMC T-Shell middleware for the T-Engine Architecture. Since TRON Code is part of an "open architecture," it could, of course, also be implemented on top of other architectures, such as GNU/Linux, without the need to obtain permission or pay royalties.
Broadly speaking, TRON Code is a framework into which character sets drawn up by others are loaded. The characters of those character sets are assigned codes on planes similar to the Basic Multilingual Plane of Unicode, i.e., 256 columns by 256 rows for 65,536 code points, although TRON Code only uses 48,400 code points per plane. At present, there 31 planes that have been either defined or reserved, so the total code space available is 1,500,400 code points. Cho Kanji V, the latest version of Cho Kanji, has a character repertoire of 186,154 characters, and it is compatible with most of the non-CJK parts of Unicode.
TRON Code uses escape codes to move from one plane to the next, which makes it similar to ISO/IEC 2022-JP. It also uses language-specifier codes and special codes used within the TRON Architecture. To enable users to rapidly search through the large number of characters, a special database and search utility is provided to users of Cho Kanji. This search utility employs color codes to distinguish between the Chinese characters of one character set and the other, so there is no doubt on the part of the user as to which character he or she is selecting for a document.
Due to the large number of characters it incorporates, TRON Code is being has been proposed as a pivot character set against which other non-standard and/or user defined character collections can be converted into and out of. See TRON Font Traceability System (TFTS).
TRON Electronic Prosthetics (TEP)
TEP refers to hardware and/or software interface technology specially designed for the handicapped so as to enable them to utilize the computer resources within ubiquitous computing networks. The familiar term is Enableware, which is used more often.
TRON Font Traceability System (TFTS)
Prior to the introduction of the Cho Kanji operating system series from Personal Media Corp., various organizations created their own proprietary, in-house solutions for processing large numbers of rare kanji characters that were not included in the JIS level 1 and 2 standards. As a result, there are numerous incompatible kanji character sets in use in Japan, particularly in the publishing industry. To enable data interchange, the TRON Font Traceability System uses the Cho Kanji character repertoire as a pivot, which the characters of the other systems are converted in and out of.
TRON Integrated Programming Environment/Language (TIPE/L)
TIPE/L is a procedural programming language proposed for the TRON Architecture, the main features of which were: a modular structure based on the real/virtual object model, a powerful type mechanism for easy construction of program components, and a TRON VLSI CPU-dependent part clearly separated from the CPU-independent part.
TRON Intelligent House
A TRON intelligent house is a computerized house that incorporates an interactive network of computer systems based on the TRON Architecture, and which displays intelligent capabilities as a result. The TRON Intelligent House, which incorporated 1,000 microcomputers, was built and tested in Nishi Azabu, Tokyo, in the early 1990s.
The TRON keyboard is an ergonomic keyboard for BTRON computers that is specially designed for the high-speed input of Japanese and English-language text. The 72-key TRON keyboard has a new 29-key kana layout for Japanese input, while using the well-tested Dvorak layout for English-language input. A version of the TRON keyboard, the µTRON Keyboard is currently available for purchase from Personal Media Corp.
The TRON Project is a pioneering open systems computer standardization movement based on the TRON Architecture, the ultimate goal of which is the computerization of human society and the human environment. The TRON Project was begun in February 1984 under the guidance of Prof. Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo, who conceived the basic ideas underlying the TRON Architecture.
TRON Universal Language System (TULS)
TULS is a macro programming language that was proposed for describing data formats, network protocols, and programmable user and system interfaces in the ITRON, BTRON, and CTRON architectures. TULS was to be the key to maintaining standardization in MTRON-based networks by allowing for interfaces to be upgraded as technology advanced.
TRON VLSI CPU architecture
The TRON VLSI CPU architecture is an open 32-bit microprocessor architecture, easily expandable to 48-bit and 64-bit operation, which was expressly designed for running operating systems based on the ITRON, BTRON, and CTRON architectures. The TRON VLSI CPU architecture has six specification levels, and its instruction set includes special instructions for task switching and manipulation of bit-mapped displays.
The Ubiquitous Communicator is a T-Engine-based network computing and communications device about the size of a PDA designed for communicating with people, things, and the environments in which the things reside. In other words, it is the realization of the "communication machine" the TRON Project previously proposed in handheld form and engineered for use inside today's ubiquitous computing environments. Accordingly, it can read uIDs, receive transmissions from wireless LAN and infrared beacons, and serve as a telephone and multimedia device. There are various implementations of the Ubiquitous Communicator, including a wristwatch, a PHS-based UC-Phone, and a business-use Ubiquitous Communicator.
Ubiquitous computing is a term coined by Xerox PARC researcher Mark Weiser to describe human environments in which computers are used throughout. In America and Europe, it is widely believed that he is the "father of ubiquitous computing," but the TRON Project, which called the same concept dokodemo konpyuuta, or "computers everywhere," actually started research and development in this field prior to Mark Weiser. At the start of the T-Engine project in 2002, TRON Architecture designer Ken Sakamura decided to use this term to make it easier for TRON technologies to be accepted overseas, and also because it is easier for Japanese to pronounce than "calm computing" or "pervasive computing," which are two other terms used to describe the same concept.
Ubiquitous ID Architecture
The Ubiquitous ID Architecture is the services architecture that runs on top of the infrastructure architecture known as the T-Engine Architecture. It has also become an international standard (ITU-T; Telecommunications Standardization Sector) as a result of deliberations at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Geneva, Switzerland . The ubiquitous-related draft recommendations in ITU-T SG16 are:
Code Name Title Editor(s) Status F.MID (F.771) Service description and requirements for multimedia information access triggered by tag-based identification
- Y. Takashina
- (YRP UNL)
- May 2008
H.MID (H.621) Tag-based ID triggered multimedia information access system architecture
- Y. Takashina
- (YRP UNL)
- May 2008
H.IDscheme ID scheme for multimedia information access triggered by tag-based identification
- N. Koshizuka
- (YRP UNL) and
- J. Lee (ETRI)
- (Consent expected)
H.IRP ID resolution protocol for multimedia information access triggered by tag-based identification
- N. Koshizuka
- (YRP UNL) and
- J. Lee (ETRI)
- (Consent expected)
Source: page 42, Vol 110 TRONWARE
Ubiquitous ID Center
The Ubiquitous ID Center is the sister organization of the T-Engine Forum, and it is the place where ucodes are managed and ucode resolution servers are operated, in addition to the eTRON authentication authority. Verification experiments using ubiquitous computing technologies are also carried out by this organization in cooperation with government organs and business enterprises. As a result of these verification experiments, Ubiquitous ID technologies have come into practical use in Japan.
A ucode is a 128-bit unique identifier code used for identifying individual items inside ubiquitous computing environments. It can be expanded in 128-bit increments as needed. Being a meta code, it can overlap existing bar codes, and even the unique identifier codes issued by EPCglobal project.
Ubiquitous ID (uID)
A uID is a physical identification tag, either a two-dimensional barcode or an RFID, with a unique 128-bit identifier ucode attached to it that allows for individual items to be identified and/or tracked. The identifier codes themselves carry no information; they are just unique numbers. Information about the individual items are obtained through information servers, after the unique identifier codes have first been submitted to ucode resolution servers. The individual codes are read through a Ubiquitous Communicator, and communications is secured through eTRON-based technologies.
Unicode (Unification Code)
Unicode is a multilingual character set that traces its origins back to proprietary multilingual processing initiatives begun by private firms (Xerox Corp. and Apple Computer, Inc.) in the U.S. Since U.S. firms produced the leading personal computer operating systems at the time, they could have created a de facto computer industry standard. However, they chose to merge Unicode with a multilingual character processing initiative under way at the International Organization for Standardization, i.e., ISO/IEC 10646, also known as the Universal Character Set.
Initially, the merging of Unicode (Ver. 1, 1991-1993) and ISO/IEC 10646 was limited to the Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP), because the major goal of Unicode was "market unification" for U.S. personal computer makers. However, it soon became obvious that the total number of code points on the BMP, 65,536, was woefully inadequate for historical data archiving in even one major East Asian language, and thus it was decided (in Unicode Ver. 2, 1996) to create new space by multiplying one half of the 2,048 surrogate code points on the BMP against the other half, which yielded approximately 1 million new code points.
The drawback with this scheme is that, unlike the code points on the BMP that are encoded one or two bytes, the resulting "surrogate pairs" code points are encoded with four bytes. This reduces processing efficiency and wastes memory space, which creates severe problems for low cost, low power, limited memory devices, such as electronic dictionaries and cell-phones that rely on battery power. Moreover, the characters in the Unicode character set are encoded with various Unicode Transformation Formats (UTF-8, UTF-16, and UTF-32; the most common is UTF-8, because it is compatible with ASCII), which complicates programming for software developers.
Another problem with Unicode is the policy of "Han Unification," which assigns variant glyphs (the actual character shapes that appear on the screen) for a single Chinese character, which can vary from nation to nation in East Asia, to a single code point. Thus Unicode ends up specifying root or base characters, which incidentally happen to be based on the variant used in China. Not surprisingly, China is developing a national character set, GB 18060, which is almost completely compatible with Unicode and which the Chinese government plans to make mandatory for new computer systems in China.
It should be noted that, in spite of its adoption by as an ISO/IEC standard, Unicode has not achieved dominance as a character processing standard. In Japan, Shift-JIS is the most commonly used encoding; in Russia, the Windows 1251 code table has become a de facto standard; and in the world of Unix, Extended Unix Code is still going strong. Most importantly, the publishing industry in countries like Japan have long been creating their own in-house character collections (in user defined space) for printing characters that have been lacking in standard computer character sets provided to date. That is to say, the Unicode standard is too late to address one of the main problems it was meant to solve.
UNIX is a multiuser, multitask operating system originally developed in 1969 at American Telephone & Telegraph Co.'s Bell Labs. In the 1980s and 1990s, UNIX was the most widely used operating system on high-performance 32-bit workstations. At the time, UNIX required expensive hardware resources to operate efficiently, so it was difficult to base a personal computer on it. Moreover, unlike personal computer operating systems, it lacked an user friendly human-machine interface that non-technical users could easily master. However, UNIX did succeed in serving as the model for the development of various open source operating systems such as FreeBSD and Linux, and personal computer operating systems based on these operating systems are now available to ordinary users.
von Neumann architecture
The von Neumann architecture is the standard computer architecture of the present, which was described by mathematician John von Neumann in 1946. In the von Neumann architecture, a single stream of instructions operates against a single stream of data, with both the instructions and data stored separately in the computer system's memory.
Weak standardization is a term formerly used in the TRON Project for loose standardization. See loose standardization.
YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory (YRP UNL)
YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory is the organization that carries out research and development on the technologies that will be used in ubiquitous computing networks and services based on the Ubiquitous ID Architecture. The organization's work covers: (1) real-time communication protocols, (2) security, (3) ultra tiny computers, (4) effortless operation, (5) human friendly interfaces, (6) calm computing, and (7) realization of human lives supporting functions with improved cooperative and adjusting processing.
Last updated: 2008/10/23
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