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SubjectRe: Nvidia and its choice to read the GPL "differently"

On Sun, 12 Jan 2003 01:16:54 -0500, Mark Mielke wrote:

>Atrocious how? My qualification "without significant side effects"
>means just that - *without* *significant* *side* *effects*. Note
>that
>I did not say web clients, but that below you assume web clients. I
>don't know about you, but I don't consider a web server to be an RT
>application.

I don't understand how you could possibly say this. Any
application that was using an RTOS does so because it has
requirements that must be met. Switching from an RTOS to a non-RTOS
means that you can't provide those guarantees anymore, which is a
significant side effect.

>>Perhaps Linux can handle more web clients than vxWorks, but can
>>Linux guarantee that if the temperature in the core coolant exceeds

>>350 degrees, the secondary pump circuit will be activated within 13
>>milliseconds?

>If you truly wanted to fit the requirements you list above (350
>degress, secondary pump activated in < 13 milliseconds), I suggest
>you
>use a hardware solution.

You can't do everything in hard wired hardware and wouldn't want
to for a large variety of reasons. Hardware is hard to change, hard
to validate, and hard to test. You're much better off sticking with
generic, well tested, well understood hardware. However, you *must*
use an RTOS. Different job, different tool.

>I remain very optimistic that Linux+RT will be able to handle more
>capacity than vxWorks for the majority of RT applications.

Probably so, but we weren't talking about "Linux+RT", were we?
Trust me, any real RT code for Linux will cause its performance to
drop significantly. There will be constant checks for pre-emption,
for example. (Disclaimer: I'm not familiar with what RT stuff is
available for Linux. I'd be only too happy to discover it's really
good and doesn't significantly affect performance.)

>But... this has gone too far off a dead thread. You obviously like
>vxWorks. Quite a few people I socialize with curse vxWorks. That's
>your freedom and their freedom. I don't want to be part of this
>anymore. :-) (Private query: What does webmaster.com use vxWorks
>for?)

No, I've never used vxWorks, I just understand the difference
between an RTOS and a non-RTOS and how to choose the right tool for
the job. If an application can run on an OS that is not an RTOS, it
almost always does. RTOSes are usually used where you *must* *have*
guarantees.

It is extremely handy for many problems to be able to guarantee
that you can turn the pump on within 13 milliseconds without having
to hard wire a specific circuit for that. This is the problem domain
RTOSes were meant for. This has inevitable overhead. If you need to
meet specific time requirements, then the overhead is a low price to
pay.

Most applications that require RTOSes don't need a lot of
computing. Controlling a nuclear power plant takes less CPU power
than playing Solitaire on a GUI. A P3 can easily provide 13
millisecond response time without breaking a sweat, but not running a
general purpose OS. That doesn't mean we should all run RTOSes.

That you would even dream of comparing the performance of an RTOS
to a non-RTOS as a way of comparatively evaluating two operating
systems suggests you don't understand what an RTOS actually is for.
You're not alone, by the way, I once had a conversation with the
product manager for a leading RTOS and quickly discovered he had no
idea what an RTOS was either. He was under the misconception that
real time means high performance.

The truth is that an RTOS allows you to use generic hardware for
cases that would otherwise require highly specialized hardware. The
benefit is flexibility, maintainability, and reliability. Generally,
the CPUs you use are at least an order of magnitude faster than the
task actually requires, so you don't particularly care about
performance.

--
David Schwartz
<davids@webmaster.com>


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