Japan's Personal Media demonstrated at CommunicAsia a functional computer called the Teacube, measuring 2 inches (5 centimeters) on each side, to show the potential of the T-Engine platform for embedded systems.
The Teacube is designed as an embedded computer for robust conditions. It runs on NEC's 333MHz V5701 processor with 16M bytes of flash memory and 64M bytes of SDRAM, two USB ports, serial port and external display controller.
The Teacube is being presented as an example of the advances being made by the T-Engine Forum, a consortium of over 400 organizations which is building an open platform for embedded devices.
T-Engine consists of the basic hardware and the T-Kernel real-time operating system, on top of which several pieces of middleware have been developed, including T-Wireless, T-Java, T-Linux, T-Integrator and T-Windows CE .Net.
T-Engine is being aimed at smart phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) as well as terminals for industrial use, according to Nobuyuki Kashiwa, sales division manager for Personal Media.
For example, a small T-Engine based terminal can read RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags on goods such as groceries and medicines so that an application can then provide information about the goods, such as expiry date or price.
Trials of these devices are already underway in Japan. A future development could enable a T-Engine device to be used to make secure payments, Kashiwa said.
The T-Engine Forum emerged from the TRON project, a mainly Japanese development project for an embedded operating system. The T-Engine Forum has broader support with board members including Microsoft -- which developed T-Windows CE .Net --, Sun Microsystems, embedded systems specialist Aplix and IBM Japan, as well as most of the leading Japanese IT companies.
Singapore now hosts the T-Engine Application Development Centre with support from the country's Economic Development Board with the aim of promoting T-Engine technology for use in developing embedded systems in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region.