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Esprit Project 26390 - Provision of OMI Information Dissemination Service


The PROMISE project aimed to improve the effectiveness of OMI's information dissemination by providing support to help and encourages users and project participants with exploitation of results. The dissemination action included an OMI promotional newsletter, and attendance at appropriate dissemination events. PROMISE collected information, identified opportunities and instigated promotion activities and provided feedback for strategy and planning. PROMISE issued newsletters and bulletins and organised the OMI conference (EMMSEC) that was be held in Florence in November 1997.




Information dissemination, electronic commerce, multimedia, embedded systems.




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PROMISE Results - EMMSEC Conference

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PROMISE Results - Project Bulletins

Hardware and OMI

Whose software makes the world go around

The various policies of the European Union, ranging from agriculture to advanced technology, have evolved over the last 40 years largely in response to the social and industrial problems of Europe. In the area of advanced technology, this response has been primarily due t.o the threat of Japanese and American competition in this important sector. Fragmentation of the European market meant that European manufacturers in electronics and telecommunications were accounting for no more than a 5 per cent share of world markets.

In 1984 the European Union initiated ‘Esprit’ (European Strategic Programme for Research and Development in Information Technology), which has subsequently become
their largest programme with funding running to several billion dollars. The three main objectives of Esprit were - to enable the European information technology (IT) business to meet the competition of the 199Os, to promote European industrial co-operation in IT and to contribute to the development of internationally accepted standards. Many hundreds of projects exist within Esprit, most are jointly funded by the European Commission and European commercial organisations. These projects are grouped as programmes under the various technology areas they address. One such programme is the Open Microprocessor systems Initiative (OMI).

The Open Microprocessor systems Initiative

The overall vision of OMI is for Europe to have a credible, word-class standing in the provision of microprocessor systems and related technology. To achieve this vision, OMI are establishing common standards and technology requirements; engaging in collaborative activities; focusing on embedded applications areas which are strong in Europe - such as telecommunications and transportation; ensuring the European microprocessor systems technology is both world-class and world-respected; creating a substantial infrastructure of support for European end-users, and establishing international alliances wherever beneficial to European industry - in other words creating a framework for success for European semi-conductor suppliers; software suppliers; tool suppliers and end-users.

The OMI Software Programme

A major part of the OMI effort is devoted to the provision of an open, consistent software architecture that will address the needs of both the general purpose computing arena and the ‘system on a chip’ world of deeply embedded applications. OMI software projects focus on operating systems, programming language support and environments, low level emulation interfaces, software program debugging and benchmarking. Projects working in these areas have produced significant results, many of which are available today as world-class products. In this article we look at what has been happening in two of these areas - operating systems and programming languages.

Operating Systems

The first micro kernel project was started in 1992 - led by Chorus Systems with support from Novell, Alcatel, Olivetti, Siemens and SGS-Thomson - to develop an open micro kernel operating system for the industry-standard UNIX world. This was followed by a second project to take the micro kernel operating system ‘down stream’ to the embedded systems world. Led by Chorus again, but this time joined by Alcatel, Ericsson, Philips, Siemens, AMD and Matra, the results became the first real-time micro kernel operating system with open and compatible standard interfaces. Today Chorus/ClassiX - is a world leader, beating US competition because of its excellent pedigree and fit to user requirements.

A third project is now working to combine the results of the previous projects into a standard framework for building operating systems out of re-usable system software components. Object-oriented programming is without doubt the key technology that is ushering embedded systems into the modern computing world. It allows developers to assemble software from off-the-shelf components ,and to access their services without having to know how the inside of objects actually works, This recent OMI project integrates the latest object software trends, CORBA and Java, with the Chorus real-time micro kernel technology.

Further down the hierarchy of embedded applications, the EOS operating system from one of Italy’s largest software engineering houses, Etnoteam, provides real-time management of embedded applications in areas such as the automotive sector and the consumer market. EOS is a very small, portable and scalable operating system that can be easily tailored to meet individual application needs - especially where size, cost and resource efficiency are critical. The first EOS project, led by Etnoteam with support from companies such as Thomson, Renault and Electrolux, was started in 1993. The resulting embedded operating system and development environment enabled tiny applications to be made that could then be easily ported between different microprocessors. A current project is
producing a safety-critical version of EOS focused on the needs of the transportation sector.

The object-oriented version of the Chorus micro kernel and the safety-critical version of EOS being developed within OMI projects are opening up the market still further for European leading-edge software.

Programming languages and support

Programming language support has been the focus of many OMI software projects. One of the early projects was initiated in 1992 to provide a consistent set of compilers and programming tools .for developing applications for both general purpose computing and embedded systems environments. The focus of this project, which included companies such as the UK’s Defence Research Agency, the Open Software Foundation (OSF), Bull and ADA specialists DDC-I from Denmark, was the provision of an application development environment that would enable true portability to exist - a high priority within the computing industry for many years. The project started with the work undertaken by the OSF Research Institute in Grenoble, to provide an architecture neutral development framework (ANDF) which would enable applications to be developed that would run on any micro-processor with no code modifications. The original concept for ANDF came from the R&D arm of the UK Ministry of Defence, the Defence Research Agency. Both these organisations had focused their work on the C programming language. The OMI project extended the ANDF concept to other languages such as ADA and FORTRAN.

Subsequent projects expanded on the ANDF theme and today one of the key results is visible at The Open Group, a vendor-neutral, international consortium of more than 200 members from both the supply side and the buy side of the IT industry, whose combined IT budget is in excess of $55 billion annually. The Open Group’s Open Software Registry uses the results of these ANDF-based projects to check-out the usage and abusage of the application programming interfaces (APIs) used in software. How APIs are used in software development is one of the main factors in determining how portable the software will be. The Open Software Registry contains details of software from hundreds of suppliers - the portability of each application checked out by the ANDF-based CI-Report tool which physically examines the source-code.

Another result of these ANDF projects is about to come to market in the shape of a software portability assessment methodology. On the one hand, this methodology uses CI-Report to evaluate the API and language aspects of an application’ and on the other it assess the processes in place within an organisation for developing or porting an application. The overall assessment, which conforms to the IS0 standard for software quality process improvements (SPICE) and with the US Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model (CMM), provides software developers with a clear picture of the effort needed to port software, as well as indications of where and how their existing processes can be improved. It can also be used as a procurement tool to assess the true portability of
software prior to purchase - a very attractive option for major corporations and government agencies. In fact, the methodology has already been trialed very successfully by organisations such as NATO, the US DOD, Siemens, the Italian telecoms giant Italtel and a leading UK bank. For more details check out The Open Group’s Web site at

Current OMI projects are now bringing the ANDF technology to the embedded systems world - providing the ability to port applications easily from one embedded processor to another - reducing development effort and enabling improved code re-use, a critical requirement from all industrial sectors in an attempt to alleviate the ever increasing software to hardware cost ratios. A version of ANDF specifically for the safety-critical
world is also in the pipeline.

In addition to the ANDF technology, OMI has projects focusing on making the more traditional programming languages such as ADA, C and C++ suitable for the safety-critical world. Much work is also being done by OMI projects to improve the capabilities of
languages traditionally used to model and simulate the behaviour of embedded applications. Object-oriented extensions to industry standard modelling languages such as VHDL for example is part of a project being undertaken by companies such as Telefonica from Spain; Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Italtel as well as LEDA from France and the Swedish arm of one of the worlds largest Electronic Design Automation (EDA) companies, Cadence.

The way forward

The move towards an object-based architecture benefits engineers and companies tremendously. By removing concerns about architectural constraints, management can focus on process improvements. Future advanced system software architectures for embedded systems will behave like unified architectures rather than isolated islands that need to be integrated together.

The European Union R&D programmes run in four-year cycles. The next - known as the Fifth Framework - is scheduled to start at the beginning of 1999. Software technologies for the microprocessor industry will continue to be a significant focus of the OMI programme - enabling the European industry to compete effectively in the software that makes the world go round.


0MI Bulletins are occasional leaflets published by the OMI PROMISE project.
0MI,The Open Microprocessor systems Initiative, is a programme set up by the European Information Technology industry and the European Commission in the framework of Esprit the European strategic Programme for Research and Development in Information Technology.

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