TRON News Items for November 2001

TRON Association Releases Schedules for TRONSHOW 2002 and TEPS 2002

The TRON Association has released the schedules for TRONSHOW 2002, which will be held in Tokyo from December 13 through 15 at Laforet Museum Roppongi, and TRON Electronic Prosthetics Show (TEPS) 2002, which will be held at the same location on the afternoon of December 15. Those wishing to attend TRONSHOW 2002 can obtain a free invitation card on line (click here); those wishing to attend TEPS 2002 must register separately the TRON Association (click here). The English translation of the schedules is as follows:

December 13, 2001 (Thursday)

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Keynote Speech: TRON Project 2002
Ken Sakamura, University of Tokyo
11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
Special Lecture: Digital Contents Distribution and and Contents ID
Hiroyuki Yamashita, CONTENT ID Forum
12:10 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Break

 Workshop I
1:00 p.m. to 1:25 p.m.
Tackling Super-H in Mobile Devices
Hitachi, Ltd.
1:25 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
On Technology for Constructing a Hybrid Architecture with TRON and Embedded Linux
Elmic Systems, Inc.
1:50 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
The Power of NucleusµiPLUS
Accelerated Technology Japan
2:15 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.
An Introduction to µITRON-Specification-Based RTOS NORTi and Its Optional Components
MiSPO Co., Ltd.
2:40 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.
An Introduction to the µITRON-Specification Total Solution TronForce!
A.I. Corporation
3:05 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
An Introduction to NEC RTOS and the Outer OS
NEC Corporation
3:40 p.m. to 4:05 p.m.
Embedded Middleware
Kobe Steel, Ltd.
4:05 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On the µITRON-Compatible Product Solid Flow Engine(TM)
Solid Information Technology, Ltd.
4:30 p.m. to 4:55 p.m.
The 'eBinder' Integrated Development Environment: A New Development Solution for µITRON Users that eSol Provides
eSOL Co., Ltd.
4:55 p.m. 5:20 p.m.
Introduction to a TCP/IP Protocol Stack that Runs on µITRON-Specification OS
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

December 14, 2001 (Friday)

 Technical Session I: T-Engine
10:00 .a.m. to 10:50 .a.m An Introduction to T-Engine
Ken Sakamura, University of Tokyo
10:50 .a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The T-Engine Hardware Specification
Osamu Akahira, Hitachi ULSI Systems Co., Ltd.
11:15 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. An Introduction to T-Kernel and T-Monitor
Tatsuya Izumina, Personal Media Corporation
11:40 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. A T-Engine Development Environment that Utilizes GNU
Takuro Sone, Yamaha Corporation
12:05 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Break
1:00 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. The Software Development Environment in T-Engine
Masakazu Kobayashi, Hitachi ULSI Systems Co., Ltd.
1:25 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. The eBinder Development Environment for T-Engine
Nobuyuki Ueyama, eSOL Co., Ltd.
1:50 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. The Java Environment in T-Engine
Ryu Koriyama, Aplix Corporation
2:15 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. On the Method for Developing Programs on Top of T-Engine
Tomoya Suzuki, Aplix Corporation
2:40 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. An Introduction to T-Engine Loaded with the M32R
Akihiro Uegaki, Mitsubishi Electric Semiconductor Application Engineering Corporation
3:05 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Toward the Implementation on Cho Kanji
Tatsuya Izumina, Personal Media Corporation

 Workshop II
3:40 p.m. to 4:05 p.m.
SH7729 and the ITRON-Compatible GUI Development Kit PowerParts
Metrowerks Corporation
4:05 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
µITRON on CoMET (Super High-Speed System Simulator)
Gaia System Solutions Inc.
4:30 p.m. to 4:55 p.m.
An Introduction to a µITRON4.0 Evaluation System
Japan Novel Corporation
4:55 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.
Latest Trends in the Cho Kanji Series
Personal Media Corporation

December 15, 2001 (Saturday)

 Technical Session II: T-Engine
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Ways to Have Fun with T-Engine
Ken Sakamura, Companies Supporting T-Engine

 TRON Enableware Symposium (TEPS 2002)
(Must request attendance beforehand)
1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Keynote Lecture: Enableware in the Age of Computers Everywhere
Ken Sakamura, Chairman of the TRON Enableware Research Group, University of Tokyo
2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Invited Lecture: About the New Communications that FOMA Opens
Hirotaka Nakano, Multimedia Laboratories NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Presentations and Panel Discussion
Coordinator: Ken Sakamura
Remote Voice Guidance for the Visually Impaired Using Television Cell-Phone Images
Sadao Hasegawa, Japan Braille Library
Digital Broadcast Accessibility Problems
Hiroshi Kawamura, Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities
An Infrared Voice Information Guidance System: Talking Signs
Hirohiko Ohkubo, Mitsubishi Precision Co., Ltd.
From the 2001 School for the Blind
Yoshitake Misaki, Tokyo Metropolitan Hachioji School for the Blind

Those interested in the TRON Project and/or the TRON Architecture should note that there will be a major announcement at this TRON show, the official announcement of T-Engine hardware standard for providing secure network communications. Japanese semiconductor makers are already developing prototype hardware for this standard, so it is "real," and it will most likely come into widespread use in Japan.

Personal Media to Begin Marketing Cho Kanji 4 on December 21

Personal Media Corporation announced on November 27 that it will begin marketing a new version of its BTRON3-specification operating system, Cho Kanji, on Friday, December 21. The new version of the operating system (click here for a screen shot), Cho Kanji 4, or B-right/V R 4, will be marketed at a "standard price" of 25,000 yen (consumption tax not included). However, Personal Media also said that prior sales of the product would take place at the site of TRONSHOW 2002, which will be held in Laforet Museum Roppongi in Tokyo from December 13 through 15.

Although numerous improvements and additions have been made to the Cho Kanji operating system and bundled applications (see the list below), Personal Media seems to be most proud of--and appears to be placing the emphasis in its sales promotion on--the improvements made to the Character Search function. According to Personal Media, the Character Search function is now capable of finding variants of standard characters without the user having to input them. The company calls this function ikeiji yuragi kensaku, which directly translates as 'variant character swing search', although it would be better described as "variant sensitive character search" in English. There are some examples at the Cho Kanji Web site (click here). The types of characters (personal names, place names, old character forms, and CJK Chinese characters) are listed in the column on the left, the middle column shows the search key, and the column on the right shows the results of the search.

The full list of improvements and additions that appear in Cho Kanji 4 are as follows:

OS Overall, Peripherals
  • Capable of handling a HDD partition in excess of 4GB (maximum is now 120GB)
  • Compatible with the USB Mass Storage Class specification (compatible with some USB connectable card readers, some digital cameras, etc.)
  • Compatible with IEEE 802.11b-based wireless LANs
  • Compatible with Connectix Corp.'s Virtual PC 4.0, for both Apple Macintosh and MS Windows (some peripherals cannot be used when Cho Kanji 4 is operated on top of Virtual PC 4.0)
  • Added main unit and peripheral models the OS can run on
Real Object/Virtual Object Search
  • Capable of searching within the real object/virtual object network
  • Variant sensitive character search
Character Search Utility
  • Capable of handling an arbitrary window size and the enlarged display of character information
  • Saves search key history, etc.
  • Specialized symbol search possible
  • Compatible with added characters
Cho Kanji Mail
  • Separately sold e-mailer capable of handling the entire Cho Kanji character set, i.e., Cho Kanji Meeru, has become a standard attachment of the OS
  • Search of entire mailbox now possible
BTRON Basic Browser
  • Added character codes for Traditional Chinese (Big5), etc.
File Conversion Utility
  • Capable of handling text format TRON Code (&Txxyyyy; format) and PNG format
  • Batch conversion
  • Save function for the ftp password and connection status
MicroScript (Visual Programming Language)
  • Capable of reading image files in the JPEG, PNG, BMP formats
  • Possible to set fonts for text segments
Basic Text Editor
  • Improved the opened virtual object print function
  • Improved the search and cancel functions
  • Added character and line spacing selections, and improved the HMI
Electronic Manual (User's Manual in Software Form)
  • Capable of handling an arbitrary window size and the enlarged display of character information
Partition Management Software
  • Bundled partition management software, Vintage Solutions Inc.'s System Selector 2, is compatible with MS Windows XP and NTFS ([Windows] NT File System)

There is some talk in user circles on the World Wide Web about Cho Kanji 4 not being a major upgrade, which may be true from the individual user's perspective--particularly if he or she already has Cho Kanji. However, from the point of business users who are thinking about using Cho Kanji but who are not ready to commit to it, this is a very attractive package. That is to say, as a result of Cho Kanji 4, Cho Kanji can now access high-capacity hard disk drives, connect to cheap wireless LANs, run on top of existing standard business computers as an application, and send and receive e-mail without any restrictions as to the kanji employed in them. On top of that, it allows users to access the Internet without fear of contamination from viruses, worms, and various other hazards that infest the Internet. Just on the last point, Cho Kanji is worth a look.

Project Leader Explains T-Engine and Programmer Training at MST2001

TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura gave a special lecture on November 22 at the 15th Embedded Technology Conference and Exhibition, which was held at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center [Tokyo Big Sight] from November 20 through November 22. Also known as "MST2001" [Microcomputer Systems & Tool Fair 2001], this exhibition is the annual gathering of all the important people involved in embedded systems development in Japan--and there are a lot of them. Just the people interested in ITRON, which has become the industry standard in Japan, filled up a huge room. There seemed to be at least 300 people in attendance. This impressive turnout may have had something to do with the fact that the TRON Project Leader was planning to discuss T-Engine, a new hardware specification for ITRON-based network security boards that can be embedded in various systems.

Although it will not be "officially announced" until December 14 at TRONSHOW 2002, T-Engine is an extremely significant standard for several reasons. First, it will become the security standard for all network nodes in networks based on the TRON Architecture, which means that the final subarchitecture of the TRON "total architecture" is now about to be put into place. Second, it is ITRON-based, which means that it can be incorporated into every conceivable computer application, from light switches and PDAs to personal computers and servers. Third, like µITRON4.0 before it--which abandoned the initial TRON concept of "weak standardization" that allowed for competition and experimentation and moved toward stricter standard profiles--T-Engine is a stronger standard that sets among other things specific physical sizes for T-Engine cards. This means that standardized development tools can be employed and greater compatibility among makers' product can be attained.

T-Engine standard has the following features:

Configurable Board
  • Centering on a CPU, it can be matched to a developer's needs by incorporating a display board, a power source board, a debugging board, etc.
  • It uses a µITRON-specification real-time kernel, the industry standard in Japan
  • It has a standard monitor with a conversation-style debugging monitor function and system service function
Development Environment
  • It has a GNU-based application development environment
  • Object formats are specified, and thus software parts and middleware can be easily distributed
Device Drivers
  • Various device drivers can be easily utilized

It should be noted here that some of the "middleware" that will be distributed around networks will be none other than parts of the BTRON-specification operating system, which operates on top on the µITRON3.0-specification real-time kernel. For that reason, BTRON has been called ITRON middleware previously at TRON events. These BTRON parts will include a multilingual environment, a graphical user interface, file and memory management functions, and kana-to-kanji conversion functions. At present, two types of T-Engine board are being test manufactured: a standard T-Engine by Hitachi Ltd., and a compact µT-Engine board by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Security features on these boards will be based on the eTRON subarchitecture, which was announced and demonstrated at TRONSHOW 2001.

After the lecture by Prof. Sakamura, there was a panel discussion on the topic of training ITRON programmers. All the major software houses as well as major semiconductors makers taking part in the ITRON subproject had representatives present at the panel discussion. What surprised the audience was that all of them had training programs of different lengths and offered at different prices. Some programs were only for a day, others were designed to last for several days and included detailed training in debugging and even documentation creation. Prices ranged from totally free--mostly those courses offered by the hardware makers--to 280,000 yen for a course lasting several days by a software house, which was a price that surprised even the TRON Project Leader.

Memory Protect µITRON4.0

The TRON Association announced on November 28 (click here for the Japanese press release) that it has begun a project to create a version of the µITRON-specification real-time operating system with a memory protect function that will provide access protection to memory and objects. The project, called the "IIMP Project," will be led by ITRON subproject leader Dr. Hiroaki Takada of Toyohashi University of Technology, and it will be based on the freeware µITRON4.0-specification TOPPERS/JSP, which was created under Dr. Takeda's supervision at Toyohashi University of Technology's Embedded and Real-Time Systems Laboratory. The TRON Association said the the IIMP Project is something that was selected as a development theme by the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan. When it is completed in February 2002, the resulting software will be distributed free of charge to the general public.

Tompa Freeware for MS Windows Appears

Some time ago, TRON Web received a query as to whether what was written in the opinion piece "TRON's Silent Role in the World Of Computing" was really correct. Is it really true that people in the world of the industry standard personal computing platform, i.e., MS Windows, keep an eye on the BTRON subproject and copy the advanced features that regularly appear on it? The answer is, yes, and as proof of this, a freeware Tompa e-mail program, "Tompa@Mail 2002 Edition," was announced for Windows 95, 98, and NT4.0 in November--well after a Tompa character font appeared on BTRON. Unlike the Tompa characters for BTRON, which are based on character codes and a specially designed font inside the operating system, this freeware version uses JPEG images that have to be attached as graphics to e-mail messages. A true Tompa font for Windows will not be available until the Unicode surrogate mechanism in the latest version of Windows, Windows XP, comes into wide use.