[Oberon] Active Cells, software-hardware co-design , embedded systems ==> new chance for oberon ???

Andreas Baumann abaumann at webware-experts.de
Mon Dec 30 17:08:02 CET 2013

Dear all,

I’m reading the emails on this list last 5 months. This month some very interesting posts was made including infos related to „Project Oberon, 2013 Edition“.
So I decide to write this email.

I’m also interested in the language oberon. Additionally I’minteressted  also the on research at the ETH, especially all activities at the Native Systems Group.
I was observing developments related to Active Oberon, Zonnon and now Active Cells.
Most interesting for me is:

… focus on software-hardware 
co-design with a programming model  …

One area, where this approach is promising is the implementation of concurrency / parallel programming models for real time supporting embedded systems.

Like many others (I’m mainly a software engineer - with interests in cybernetic, which I was studying 25 years ago) I have to use other languages for my main business (Java, C ,C++ ). One language which I use in some internal projects is Go.
I think the Oberon language family will not be successful in the normal IT, mostly PC or X86 based area.
But as a person which like the Oberon language family I would like to see Oberon as a living language which should be used by many more people. I believe that it is much more easy to develop software with a good quality then with C or C++.

The last three month I use the Oberon-7 Development System Astrobe from CFB Software. I think the support of ARM based Cortex M3 processors is very important. The development of smartfons and tablets has dramatical changed the potential hardware base of embbeded systems. The success of ARM based processors in the mobile area has a big influence to modern embbeded systems.

..... I would like to see Oberon as a living language  ....

I can see new windows of Opportunities for Oberon and related systems.

From my point of view the embedded system area is a wide and interessting application area for oberon controlled systems.
I think one important aspect should be added to a oberon controlled system. 
It would be nice to have a tcp / ip - stack with (HTTP /HTTPS + websockets). 
HTTP / HTTPS for static resources (not a old application server approach ) and web socket for the server part (on the SoC) of modern, performant HTML5 based .
With this approach we can build interconnected oberon controlled embedded systems in the way of internet of things.
You can use any system (Windows -PC, Mac, smarten or tablet) to access or interact with a embedded system using a HTML5 application.

To make it more as Opportunities, the first step would be to build a bigger community. 
I hope that the other „Oberon lover“ on the list are also interested in a bigger community and a wider distribution of oberon based software.

What is your opinion ?

Somebody on the list could ask, what are the  motivation for my wish that oberon and related systems (including active cells) should be more visible and successful.

 I think there are many good ideas, independent on the fact that oberon by it’s self is not a new language. 
From my point of view I think using the approach .. software-hardware co-design .. fits for an engineer .
The C and C++ way feels more like a hacker will solve the problems ( not against the hackers, but I prefer a precise and smart design) 
==> I know, every body can also write C or C++ based software with a good quality !!! ==> But the languages doesn’t  force or support that.

I want to see that good technology could survive and could be successful.

Some times only a small group of people could build bigger communities. 
Nowadays this happens not so rarely.

Best regards


I wish all on the list a happy and successful new year !!!

Am 29.12.2013 um 00:03 schrieb Felix Friedrich <felix.friedrich at inf.ethz.ch>:

> Dear all,
> since there is some discussion ongoing on this list regarding 
> translation of Oberon to VHDL / Verilog, I would like to point out that 
> we at ETH do already since some years now focus on software-hardware 
> co-design with a programming model derived from Oberon / Active Oberon 
> that we call "Active Cells". We added to the concept of modules and 
> (active) objects the concept of so called cells, separate components 
> that are mapped to processors in a distributed system on chip on an 
> FPGA. Hardware can be built from high level programs "on button push". 
> As one of many consequences the notion of an Operating System nearly 
> vanishes. No interrupts, no scheduling overhead since there is one 
> processor core per task allocated; no shared memory, etc. The Fox Oberon 
> compiler tool-chain has been extended in order to support hardware 
> generation via Verilog. Off-the shelf commercial tools are used for the 
> synthesis part.
> An early paper can be downloaded from 
> http://www.nativesystems.inf.ethz.ch/pub/Main/FelixFriedrichPublications/ActiveCells.pdf, 
> more recent results can be inferred from the slides of a recent workshop 
> on 
> http://www-oldurls.inf.ethz.ch/personal/felixf/WorkshopTajpeh/SystemsOnChipWorkshopFriedrich.pdf. 
> Let me please also note that we are working on graphical support for the 
> tools and many more interesting things to come. The toolchain is under 
> active development at ETH Zurich and Uni Basel. It has proven its 
> usefulness also in the commercial setup. It is needless to say that 
> Prof. Wirth's work on FPGA processor design, compiler construction, 
> language design (etc.) was very influential for this work.
> Felix
> --
> Oberon at lists.inf.ethz.ch mailing list for ETH Oberon and related systems
> https://lists.inf.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/oberon

Dr. Andreas Baumann
Webware - Experts OHG
Tel.:    03335 32157
Mobil: 0160 7435355
abaumann at webware-experts.de

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