SAN JOSE, Calif. –Linaro will demo three mobile devices using pieces of its open source code at the ARM Technology Conference. The not-for-profit group aims to show it will speed time-to-market for Linux based products by standardizing common chip-specific software.
ARM and five of its SoC customers formed Linaro in June. The group now includes 70 full time engineers and expects to have more than 100 by early next year.
The group has created an advisory membership level and aims to attract new chip, systems and software members. It also hopes to expand its scope beyond mobile to include automotive and set-top box markets.
At the ARM event, Samsung will show its Orion and Texas Instruments will show its OMAP4 processor running Ubuntu. ST-Ericsson will demo its U8500 chip running MeeGo. All three demos will use Linaro tools.
Other Linaro founding members are ARM, IBM and Freescale. Missing among the members are Nvidia and Qualcomm which started an internal open source effort about a year ago.
Also missing are any members representing systems or software companies. Representatives of Nokia and Ubuntu have been actively engaged with the effort as has, to a lesser extent, members of the Google Android team. Linaro has also reached out to companies with internal chip and Linux efforts such as Apple and Research in Motion.
So-called Core members must contribute to the effort ten engineers and Club members five engineers. There is also a dues fee of more than a million dollars. Both groups get a seat on a technical working group that has so far defined 50 high-level tasks for the group.
To date Linaro has created three working groups. One will address tool chain issues, another is working on power management software and a third is focused on kernel consolidation. Next year, it aims to launch two more subgroups, one on graphics and the other on multimedia--both looking at common ways to handle acceleration.
The work is currently focused on Cortex A8 and multicore A9 products. It will address software for A15 products in the future.
The group's overall goal is to provide common modules tied to the latest Linux releases that can be used in the Linux board support packages of ARM chip vendors. The code could shorten time to market for chip vendors and help them keep pace with the latest kernel revisions.
The work also aims to anticipate the hardware specific needs of Linux distributions so the latest kernel releases can immediately have available the latest hardware-specific features. For systems makers, the effort could simplify the complex process of software integration.
The work aims to address the problems of an increasing number of Linux and ARM SoC variations by creating common software modules that can be used across different chips and operating systems.
"This is a fundamental shift in the way industry is working today," said David Rusling, chief technology officer of Linaro and an ARM fellow.
Currently chip makers develop their chip-specific code and later iterate it to catch up with the latest Linux distribution releases.
The good news, said Rusling, is the explosion in Linux variations and use is providing opportunities for embedded Linux engineers.
"Now is a good time if embedded Linux people, there's a lot of hiring," he said.
A debate sprang up when Linaro was formed in June about whether the fragmented mobile Linux space needed yet another ad hoc group.