Monday, February 06, 2006

PERC Pico Announced, Could 2006 be the Year of Real-Time Java?

Aonix appears to be working hard to fulfill VDC's real-time Java predictions (see our 5 Things to Watch in 2006 post) with the release of PERC Pico, its latest product.

Our notes on the release:

  • PERC Pico is has smaller foot print and is faster than Aonix PERC, a full Java SE class VM
  • PERC Pico does sacrifice some library support to achieve if size and performance capabilities
  • Retains key Java advantages of code portability, modularity and reuse - as well as the large # of developers who know Java.
  • Minimal footprint is about 128K
  • C/C++ like performance can be achieved
  • Latency is about 2-3 microseconds
  • Utilizes t he RTSJ profile, but is not a full RTSJ implementation.
  • Can be used with No RTOS (bare metal), with PERC for full Java SE support, or with an RTOS
VDC's View: PERC Pico is a sign that the future of real-time, mission/safety-critical Java might just be bright. Previous attempts at real-time Java were unable to manage the footprint and performance issues that restrict its use in many hard real-time applications. To overcome these issues, the team at Aonix has come at these problems from the point of view of the developers who will use the technology and identified the most important features. PERC Pico does sacrifice some aspects of Java, but retains enough of the advantages to be appealing to developers. VDC expects that PERC Pico will be the basis for future standards from the JCP and this will certainly help adoption.


Aonix®, the provider of the PERC® real-time virtual machine for embedded targets, has made available a pre-commercial “proof of concept” release of its new PERC Pico™ technology. PERC Pico is the first development environment for Java developers geared toward the creation of resource-constrained and deeply embedded hard real-time applications. PERC Pico is already being evaluated for use in a broad range of projects including: avionics, satellites, deep space probes, radio communications, weapons systems, and flight surface controls.

PERC Pico offers the advantages of Java™ development with footprint and execution performance comparable to C/C++ programs. PERC Pico makes it possible to create very small, fast programs with tight timing requirements using Java source code. The Eclipse-based PERC Pico environment combines off-the-shelf tools with standards-based annotations, a verifier, and automated build tools to create efficient executables and dynamically loadable class files. The built-in memory management removes the complexities and execution inefficiencies typically associated with conventional garbage-collection techniques that are not as suitable for resource-constrained applications.

“For years, the promise of a hard real-time solution for Java developers targeting deeply embedded or resource constrained applications has been mostly unfulfilled,” said Dave Wood, PERC Product Manager. “PERC has been the leading VM solution for complex, soft real-time applications for nearly a decade, and now PERC Pico will fill the void for the hard real-time needs typical in mission- and safety-critical applications.”

PERC Pico can be used in either a stand-alone configuration on bare target boards where footprint and execution speed are at a premium or in combination with the full PERC virtual machine in an RTOS environment. An RTOS-based configuration is ideal for complex embedded applications where developers need to combine high levels of functionality with access to low-level devices. The PERC virtual machine offers rich J2SE™-based capabilities and predictable garbage collection, while PERC Pico provides the low-level access and small latencies that are often required.

“Availability of the PERC Pico technologies is critical to fulfilling the Java Community Process requirement to establish a safety-critical Java standard”, noted Kelvin Nilsen, Aonix CTO. PERC Pico is designed as a profile of the RTSJ™ specification. Aonix, already active with the Open Group and the Java™ Community Process in working toward safety critical profile standardization, has volunteered to make this technology available as the basis for the official reference implementation.

PERC Pico is available now in limited pre-release form for qualified customers interested in evaluation of the technology. The commercial release of PERC Pico is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2006.