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Real-time remote Java controller to address myriad enterprise applications

Posted: 18 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:JNIB? Java controller? Java? aJile? Alex Mendelsohn?

JNIB controller

Check out this soon-to-be released low-cost product from a company that knows its stuff in a variety of disciplines. Founded in 1999 by four senior technologists from RF communications company Rockwell Collins, computer maker Sun Microsystems, chip vendor Integrated Device Technology, and processor developer Centaur Technology, aJile Systems is introducing what it says is the world's first 100 percent Java controller.

This less-than-$400 unit, when it ships later this summer, will provide a Java environment from end-to-end for industrial, automation, security, logistics, RFID and facilities control applications.

Using it, you'll be able to use the same development environment for remote data-acq and control functions that you may already use for enterprise and database applications.

Applications for this platform will be created in Java. As such, you'll be able to readily leverage Java's portability, re-usability, security and scalability.

Seamless integration
aJile's JNIB system will let you use Java software throughout your organization, from back-end enterprise databases and applications, to data-acq and automation functions. It will let you do this in multiple remote locations, too.

Moreover, the JNIB edge controller will let you seamlessly integrate enterprise applications with remote edge applications using a single development language throughout your organization.

You will also be able to tap into the large sphere of third-party developers, Web-based applications, industry-standard APIs and protocols, and programming environments on PC platforms. That means you'll be able to reduce development time and maintenance costs as well.

M2M significance
Why is this significant? Well, many companies now rely on machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments for operations such as industrial automation, energy management and facilities management. But, M2M demands myriad edge controllers to acquire, monitor and analyze data, as well as automatically control functions, and transmit data and status to central databases.

There are other factors at work, too. Broadband and wireless networks, for one, are hastening a generation of Internet edge devices for control and management, as well as remote updating of services?on demand. Spurred by the likes of the U.S. Department of Defense and giant retailer Wal-Mart, RFID applications now comprise a huge segment of edge controllers.

"Java is putting on its hard hat," observes aJile VP of marketing Danh Le Ngoc. "It's hitting the factory floor, the loading dock, the control room, the hospital ward and locations where it's never been before." Danh Le Ngoc contends that the era of laboriously writing, porting and updating C and assembler code on myriad hardware platforms for automation control is also coming to an end.

Real-time remote applications
Enter the company's JNIB product. The JNIB platform for real-time remote applications is based on aJile's current aJ-100 silicon (Note: aJile developed the world's first direct execution Java microprocessor).

The aJ-100 is a 32bit Java-technology single-chip controller that performs direct Java virtual machine (JVM) bytecode execution. The aJ-100 has low executive overhead, with thread-to-thread context switching times of less than 1s.

The aJ-100 includes a micro-programmed JVM runtime kernel, and it eliminates the need for a separate RTOS. There's also no requirement for a JVM interpreter or translator.

JNIB hardware
Back to the JNIB hardware itself. It will pack 16Mbytes of PSRAM with battery backup. It will also include 16Mbytes of NAND flash. You'll also get dual CompactFlash Type-II slots.

Connectivity hooks will include 10/100 Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports, and dual RS-232/RS-485 serial I/O ports. Custom real-time monitoring and control will be supported using the system's 8bit GPIO port or an expansion bus. The GPIO port will be software-programmable to configure discrete signals as either inputs or outputs.

For its part, the system's expansion bus will let you add memory-mapped peripherals and/or specialized interfaces using plug-in expansion boards. The expansion bus will support the slave interface as well as a 16bit data bus. It will also give you both SPI and I2C serial ports. The JNIB will also include a JTAG port for debug purposes.

The JNIB box will also include an alphanumeric display that shows system status messages, along with serial port status LEDs. A Boot Select switch will provide various startup options, including maintenance and diagnostic modes.

The native instruction set
The system will also provide the Java ME CLDC (Micro Edition, Connected Limited Device Configuration), or CDC/FP (Connected Device Configuration/ Foundation Profile) platform written entirely in Java (the native instruction set for the aJ-100).

The platform will be built upon aJile's Multiple JVM real-time kernel. It's what lets multiple applications execute concurrently and independently, safely co-existing with maximum security.

aJile has ready a JNIB development kit, priced at about $1,500. The company says the actual JNIB boxes will be available in July for less than $389 each in volume quantities.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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