posted by Grant Hayes on Wed 15th Feb 2006 15:15 UTC

"Paul Leroux, 2/2"

6. Let's talk about competition to QNX. Specifically, real-time Linux has advanced quite a bit in the last few years. How does this impact QNX?

Paul Leroux: Despite those advances, Linux's real-time capabilities still lag far behind those of the QNX Neutrino RTOS - and that won't change anytime soon. Embedded design is all about doing more with less, and QNX Neutrino can achieve better latencies on low-cost, low-power processors than Linux can on higher-end processors. With QNX, you shell out less for hardware, you get better response times, and you still get a full-fledged POSIX OS. Plus, you can now have guaranteed CPU time for critical tasks, even if your system is under load or a DoS attack.

Even if Linux could approach QNX Neutrino in terms of real-time performance, real-time constitutes just one of many reasons why customers choose us. For instance, consider our component-based microkernel architecture. It provides finer-grained fault tolerance than Linux, and allows users to replace and upgrade drivers, protocol stacks, and other low-level services on the fly. That makes it extremely attractive to anyone building routers and other high-availability systems.

7. How about competition with more traditional rivals, like WindRiver and its VxWorks?

Paul Leroux: You can no longer assume that a competitor who, say, is strong in defense systems won't try to take away your automotive business. Technology requirements are becoming increasingly similar across market segments, and everyone is attempting to leverage their success in one segment to gain traction in others.

That said, some of our competitors have made the fatal mistake of assuming the OS has become a commodity - they've started to believe their own hype. But in the embedded business, technology really does count. When someone is about to embed an OS into hundreds of thousands of devices, chances are they'll want the fastest, most reliable, most cost-effective technology available. Because we still believe in the OS, because we focus aggressively on making our OS more secure, more reliable, and easier to work with, we hold a serious advantage.

8. What are QNX's technical benefits over Windows CE? What is competition between the two like?

Paul Leroux: For a technical comparison of QNX Neutrino and Windows CE, there's no better source than Dedicated Systems, an independent firm that has performed exhaustive tests of both OSs. Their evaluations found that QNX Neutrino was the top choice when it comes to real-time performance and OS architecture. In fact, version 6.3 of QNX Neutrino scored higher than any other RTOS that Dedicated Systems has ever evaluated. QNX Neutrino also surpassed Window CE on "softer" measures, like ease of installation and quality of documentation. Anyone interested in these results can download detailed reports from the QNX website.

From a market perspective, Windows CE is strong in industrial automation and in certain segments of the Japanese auto market, notably navigation. Aside from that, we rarely come up against it.

9. Does the eQip project have any official status within QNX Software Systems?

Paul Leroux: For those who don't know, eQip stood for "embedded QNX for intelligent platforms". A pair of QNX developers launched the eQip project on their own initiative, with blessings from R&D management. It then evolved into a community project - and a pretty cool one, at that. When people first started downloading the eval version of QNX Neutrino, many of them didn't realize that this rich OS environment can scale down to small form factors, and still deliver lots of functionality. eQip helped correct that perception, by demonstrating the cool features - and impressive graphics - that QNX can bring to something like a PDA.

10. What's one thing that has excited you about QNX lately?

Paul Leroux: More than anything else, our adaptive partitioning technology. First of all, it's a unique feature in the OS world - no one has anything quite like it. And besides enabling higher levels of security, it can play a huge role in simplifying software integration. The firmware for the average embedded project is doubling in size about every 10 months, so it's now commonplace to have multiple development teams work on a device's various software subsystems. While this approach allows subsystems to be developed in parallel, it often leads to major headaches during integration and testing, when the subsystems suddenly have to contend for processor time. Components that worked well previously suddenly become starved of CPU. Adaptive partitioning can help by letting systems designers allocate a CPU budget to each development group beforehand. Each group can then test their code within their allocated partition under simulated worse-case conditions, knowing that the code will display similar performance at integration time - a good thing, when you're trying to get product out the door!

--Grant Hayes

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