Acknowledging that some safety-critical applications are moving away from Ada, DDC-I this week (June 18) is announcing Scorpion, its first Java-based development suite for hard real-time applications. Ada specialist DDC-I claims Scorpion is unique with respect to its mixed language support.
Scorpion is an Eclipse-based plug-in that includes compilers, debuggers, a builder for ahead-of-time Java file compilation, and a virtual machine for executing real-time Java applications. Used with the DDC-I Score environment, Scorpion provides mixed-language development with C, embedded C++, and Ada.
"We believe Java is a natural successor to Ada," said Ole Oest, DDC-I COO and engineering manager. "We think it's essential for our customer base to be able to migrate from Ada to Java."
Oest noted that there's less demand for Ada in safety-critical applications today, and that many applications start up in languages other than Ada. "It's more difficult to find Ada programmers nowadays, and everyone out of school knows Java, so we're starting to see more demand for doing embedded applications in Java," he said.
Scorpion provides a linker that removes unused objects from closed systems, claiming to reduce code size by up to 80 percent, and a profiler that helps optimize speed/size tradeoffs by determining the best mix of compiled and interpreted code. A wizard maps Java native method calls directly to existing Ada or C code, so Java programs can call Ada or C programs.
Scorpion supports the existing Real-Time Specification for Java (RTSJ) and will support the emerging safety-critical Java specification presently under development by the Safety-Critical Java Expert Group (JSR 302).
Oest noted, however, that real-time Java is defined in such a way as to be error-prone and open the possibility of memory leaks. Scorpion, he said, uses real-time garbage collection. "All of the error-prone possibilities with real-time Java have been eliminated with our product," he said.
DDC-I licensed deterministic garbage collection technology from Aicas GmbH, provider of a real-time Java virtual machine. It claims to be fully distributed, reducing overall Java complexity. It also claims to enhance memory efficiency and performance by reducing garbage accumulation and the time and memory required to store and collect it.
The Scorpion compiler is integrated with Wind River Systems' Workbench 2.6, an Eclipse-based tool suite, and Wind River's VxWorks 6.4 operating system. Scorpion is available now starting at $5,000 per seat.