TRON Project Leader's Opinion

Ken Sakamura

Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo

The year 2002 became a year that should be remembered in the TRON Project. That, it goes without saying, is because we launched the T-Engine project. The T-Engine Forum, which was launched in June 2002, had 22 member companies at the start, but it rapidly grew to the point where membership exceeded 80 companies by the end of year.

At the TRON show that was held in December, the number of companies exhibiting not only doubled, but the exhibits were also overflowing with T-Engine-related products. This was sufficient to give the impression that T-Engine is powerfully advancing as an embedded systems platform.

The T-Engine platform considers everything from software to hardware in embedded systems in a consistent manner, and it has as its goal the epochal raising of productivity in the development process. One feature is that it is "processor non-specific." This is something on which any microprocessor is fine, and something that through the loading of a new operating system called T-Kernel makes it possible to be able to use in common middleware created on top of T-Kernel through recompiling, even though the microprocessor is different.

For that purpose, the standardization of hardware is necessary, and thus the T-Engine board came into being. The T-Engine board also aims at making it possible to develop in a short period of time products close to the actual product image by making the boards into a compact size that is close to an actual board.

At present, T-Engine supports almost all the world's 32-bit embedded microprocessors, and a board compatible with each processor is making its appearance in the world. T-Engine is a development platform with these types of characteristics, but with an aim on spreading it widely, we have worked out the key word "three pattos" [three quick development steps]. Namely, these are: "quick to build with T-Engine," "quick to move to T-Engine," and "quick to use with T-Engine." "Quick to build with T-Engine" means "system development is possible in a short period of time, and it can quickly cope with mass embedded demand." "Quick to move to T-Engine" means "software can be easily moved, and diverse embedded system development is possible without burdens." "Quick to use with T-Engine" means "finished products can be thrown into the market in a short period of time, and that it is possible to respond to the business of rapid market entry."

In our original planning, we were planning to use all of 2002 to carry out adjustments of the basic T-Engines, to distribute middleware from 2003, and to go on to developing products on top of these in 2003. However, the project is proceeding ahead of schedule, and at TRON SHOW 2003 we exhibited a handheld IP telephone Mitsubishi Electric Corporation developed using their µT-Engine, and an experimental Internet terminal PIN CHANGE Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the Matsushita group, developed using Hitachi Ltd.'s T-Engine. In this manner, several companies that have focused on the outstanding points of T-Engine are actively utilizing T-Engine in a very bold way. These actual examples are important in order to get lots of people to understand further usefulness of T-Engine. Stimulated by this, we expect the number of people utilizing T-Engine for development to increase.

Concerning T-Engine, even "filling out the middleware lineup," which is one of the goals, is proceeding even though it has been a short time. This lineup has been filled out with such things as KDDI Corporation's vector graphics drawing software called SVG Mobile Engine, HI Corporation's 3D rendering engine called Mascot Capsule Engine, NexWave SAS's middleware for information appliances called NSI, and Grape Systems Inc.'s T-Engine-compatible middleware. Furthermore, Aplix Corporation has provided an embedded Java execution environment under the name JBlend for T-Engine, and eSOL Co., Ltd., has put out a run-time environment and development tool suite called eBinder for T-Engine.

Even for Personal Media's T-Engine kits, it has come about that we can get our hands on a total of five types of boards from Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, and Yokogawa Digital Computer. In 2003, I would like to further strengthen this fine flow without stoppage. With these development kits, because the way of using them is unified, learning is easy, and we would also like to actively hold seminars to further their popularization. Concerning the distribution of middleware that we are promoting in this project, we are planning to create a distribution center inside the T-Engine Forum at the earliest possible chance and go on to actively distribute good middleware.

Even concerning the eTRON security infrastructure that is a feature of T-Engine, a new contact, non-contact eTRON release called eTRON/16 is scheduled for the middle of 2003, and thus we can say that eTRON has become something that is very easy to use. In regard to eTRON, this is related to the Ubiquitous ID Center that we are advancing, and its importance will rise in the future. As to eTRON, "File Locker," the first application product to adopt eTRON, has been put on sale by Personal Media. In 2003, we intend to place emphasis on increasing the number of people who actually use it.

T-Engine is an open, real-time embedded development platform for ubiquitous environments; it is arranged in a suite for ubiquitous environments, from the standard T-Engine and µT-Engine of some size to, further, ones for ultra small-scale devices of the type we attach sensors to, which are called nT-Engine and pT-Engine. At present, we have finished even the test manufacturing for ultra small-scale, and I feel reassured the future is very bright.

T-Engine, which was launched in 2002, is in good shape. I would like the project to grow more and more with this flow also in 2003. In the future also, I will depend on asking you for lots of support.

The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 79 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.

Copyright © 2003 Personal Media Corporation

Copyright © 2003 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo