T-Engine Development Kit

An Open Development Platform for Embedded Systems

T-Engine Borad The T-Engine Development Kit has been released by Personal Media Corporation (PMC) as the first commercialized product of the T-Engine specification. T-Engine has been placed in the spotlight as the super development platform for ubiquitous computing. The T-Engine Development Kit is comprised of a T-Engine CPU board, a real-time operating system (OS) (called T-Kernel), specifications and other documentation on CD-ROM, as well as a PC-based Linux development environment.

By using this development kit, it is possible to develop middleware or applications that run on T-Engine by simply preparing a Linux machine for development. Needless to say, this development kit is highly recommended for those who are interested in T-Engine-related business, investigating the development of embedded systems software, or searching for a compact board for experimentation or training. This new generation compact development evaluation board in the form of T-Engine Development Kit helps to expand new possibilities for achieving a ubiquitous computing environment.

For those who are interested in the development of T-Engine middleware...

At present, the T-Engine project has been receiving a lot of inquiries primarily due to the increasing attention it is drawing, and from the embedded systems makers who have used T-Engine. Therefore, a strong demand for various middleware that runs on T-Engine is expected from these clients. A prompt market entry into the field of T-Engine related business is the key to success. The T-Engine Development Kit offered by PMC will assist those who are interested in T-Engine related business opportunities.

Furthermore, the most significant feature of the T-Engine project is to maximize the distribution of middleware and minimize the dependence on the type of CPU used. By having the hardware specification and object format of the target environment standardized, developers are now able to concentrate on the development of original middleware functions without worrying about the variations in various specifications. Moreover, with a standardized target environment, it is possible to improve the efficiency by distributing middleware in object code. As it is becoming unnecessary to disclose the source code of middleware, the distribution and sales of developed middleware as products will become more flexible.

For example, in the case of future releases of T-Engine products on CPUs other than the SH7727, the middleware developed using T-Engine/SH7727 Development Kit can still be ported to the new CPU with minimal adjustments at the recompilation level. Therefore, the middleware developed using the T-Engine/SH7727 Development Kit will not be wasted even if the final product to be embedded with the CPU has been modified to something else.

For those who are struggling with the development of embedded systems...

For instance, in the development of a cellular phone, supposing the development of the software component only begins after the completion of its hardware. This will inevitably lead to prolonged development time, making it impossible for businesses to release products into the market promptly. Therefore, for efficient development of advanced embedded systems, it is important that the development of both hardware and software are carried out simultaneously, and that it is necessary to begin developing the software even if the hardware is incomplete. In order to achieve this, the following process can be followed: develop the software on a development board (breadboard) with a hardware configuration similar to that of the final product. When the hardware of the final product is complete, the software is transferred onto the final product.

In the scenario described above, T-Engine can be adopted as the development evaluation board. Since T-Engine itself is considered as a general-purpose product, it is low cost, and if the customer would like to add further input or output devices, additional expansion bus can meet this need. Moreover, with more middleware and device drivers scheduled to become available for T-Engine, customers are able to concentrate on the development of applications alone, which would greatly improve the development efficiency. T-Engine, with its compact hardware configuration does not take up much workspace, and can be physically transported in the palm of the hand. In the case of a notebook PC being used as the host system, the entire development system can be easily carried around, making it possible to debug an application to meet a project deadline, etc., in a hotel room while away on a business trip.

The use of T-Engine as a single-board computer for control, and its ability to be embedded into a final product directly have also been given thoughtful consideration. For instance, the touch panel of the liquid crystal display (LCD) of T-Engine can be used as a user-operating panel for high performance copier machine, vending machine, etc., or simply used as a console for maintenance, and this contributes to simplification of the embedded system composition and reduction in the number of parts required. In addition, by standardizing both the development board and execution board, it is possible to minimize the problems and porting issues arising from the differences between the two environments.

For those who are looking for a compact board for experimentation or training...

The basic policy of the TRON project that gave birth to T-Engine is the open architecture policy. All TRON specifications are open to the public and accessible by anybody. In T-Engine, the hardware circuit diagrams, connector pin layouts, model numbers, etc., and other information related to the board are all provided in the T-Engine Development Kit User`s Manual. The T-Engine that has been developed under the open architecture policy is an excellent tool for training. This of course, includes using it in demonstrations to explain a CPU, hardware, an OS, etc., as an experimental platform for GUI, file systems, device drivers, etc., and a wide range of other uses can be imagined. Moreover, as a result of standardization using T-Engine, it is possible to share an educational curriculum or experimental computer program with other educational institutions or the person in charge in order to achieve further enhancement.

What is T-Engine?

At present, the technology that is used to develop advanced electronic devices and embedded systems constitutes the technological foundation for an increasingly computer embedded environment. Such an environment is called a ubiquitous computing environment where everything has a computer incorporated in it and is connected to a network. In the so-called Ubiquitous Computing Age in the near future, a rich and varied world that is embedded with many computers collaborating and operating harmoniously is likely to become a reality. By looking at the technology that is required to make the Ubiquitous Computing Age a reality, it is essential for corporate participants to possess high-level knowledge and expertise in developing high-performance electronic devices, such as cellular phones and AV equipment.

However, the development of the software which controls these high-performance electronic devices or embedded systems is extremely difficult due to the high-level of performance required and severe limitations on hardware resources. Difficulties are also experienced as continuing customer requests, etc., in the process of developing the software, further tightens development period. Up until recently, there have also been problems arising from the late standardization of software development environments for embedded systems, making it difficult to distribute middleware, device drivers, and other software components. An efficient software development process is an important step to achieving a ubiquitous computing environment.

As a solution to the problems mentioned, the T-Engine project was launched with the aim of standardizing the development platform of embedded systems. This includes improvements to the hardware configuration and the development environment, plus distribution and portability of software components. This project, together with major Japanese chipmakers, software makers, embedded systems makers, household appliance makers, launched the T-Engine Forum. The T-Engine Forum acts as the main promotion body for the project and carries out research and development, as well as standardization activities of T-Engine architecture. For further details on either the T-Engine project or the TRON Forum, please go to http://www.tron.org/.

In the past, the TRON project has carried out standardization of real-time operating system specifications collectively called ITRON (Industrial TRON), which was adopted widely by cellular phones and other embedded systems, and has been influential in the field of embedded systems development especially in Japan. However, there is a limit on improving the distribution and portability of software components by simply standardizing the OS. The T-Engine project offers the service call specifications for the OS, various hardware and software interfaces, and object format specifications. By combining these specifications, a strong standardization system aiming at sharing and effective use of software resources is created.

T-Kernel Born from 30 years of Experience in ITRON

The standard real-time OS that runs on T-Engine is called T-Kernel. T-Kernel acts as the implementation platform for various middleware and applications that run on T-Engine, and is used as the common kernel in a ubiquitous computing environment. The T-Kernel/OS with general real-time OS functions such as tasks and semaphores, etc., T-Kernel/SM (System Manager), which improves the distribution of device drivers and middleware, and T-Kernel/DS (Debugger Support) with debugging functions are all being included in T-Kernel. The T-Kernel/SM determines a standardized interface for embedding OS extended functions (managers) and device drivers, and is devised to enable independent development and distribution of middleware and/or applications, and device drivers. On the other hand, if a developer has been using ITRON up to now, the shift to adopting T-Kernel will be smooth as the T-Kernel/OS basic functions are the same as past ITRON-specification OS.

  • Task Management Functions
  • Task Synchronization and Communication Functions
  • Memory Pool Management Functions
  • Exception/Interrupt Management Functions
  • Time Management Functions
  • Extended Management Functions

Table 1: T-Kernel/OS functions

  • System Configuration Information Management Functions
  • System Memory Management Functions
  • Device Management Functions
  • Address Space Management Functions
  • Interrupt Management Functions
  • I/O Port Access Support Functions
  • Power Saving Functions

Table 2: T-Kernel/SM functions

Create Task
Delete Task
Activate Task
Terminate Invoking Task
Terminate and Delete Invoking Task
Terminate Task

Table 3: Examples of T-Kernel service calls (taken from Task Management Functions)

T-Engine: Development Environment is Open

The GNU development environment running on PC-based Linux, followed by the monitor (T-Monitor) for transferring object programs onto the T-Engine, etc., are all features being included in the T-Engine Development Kit. Moreover, the file management functions for storing the transferred programs onto an ATA card etc., and its command line interpreter (CLI) for commanding the functions interactively are also being supplied to improve the efficiency of software development on T-Engine.

The T-Engine project does not specify the type of CPU used and is able to absorb variations in CPU by its development environment. More specifically, careful consideration has been given so that most middleware, device drivers, and applications developed may be corrected and made able to operate even on a different CPU by the simple act of recompiling. Moreover, the T-Engine project standardizes the object format of programs by referring to the GNU development environment model so that improvement on the distribution of middleware can be achieved.

Product Lineup

  • Products bearing the RoHS mark is a RoHS Directive compliant product.

Standard T-Engine Board

Brochure Standard Price
(Tax not included)
T-Engine/PPC-V4FX pdficon[263KB] 248,000 yen


Brochure Standard Price
(Tax not included)
T-Shell pdficon[967KB] 98,000 yen


Personal Media Corporation
Matsumoto-Subaru Bldg. 2-6-13 Hiratsuka,
Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, 142-0051 Japan
E-mail: te-sales@personal-media.co.jp
  • TRON is an abbreviation of "The Real-time Operating System Nucleus".
  • TRON, T-Engine, T-Monitor, T-Kernel and μT-Kernel are specified terms for computers, and are not product names.
  • All product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
  • Due to continued product upgrade or enhancement, the information in this document is subject to change without notice.