Intel has quietly acquired a German software developer with the aim of bringing fresh life to a key, decades-old Linux kernel project.
In a blog post, vice president and general manager of system software engineering at Intel's Software and Advanced Technology Group, Mark Skarpness revealed that the company had acquired the German firm Linutronix which provides services for Linux-powered industrial systems and also specializes in real-time Linux applications.
While neither Intel nor Linutronix disclosed the financial terms of the deal, the acquisition is a sign that the chip giant wants to further commit to an incredibly important yet often overlooked Linux kernel project.
According to Intel, Linutronix is the “architect of PREEMPT_RT (Real Time)” and this patch set can be used to make low-latency communication possible between controllers, sensors, robots and tooling and other equipment in real-time industrial applications running on Linux.
When enabled, PREEMPT_RT changes the way the Linux kernel handles interrupts and locks to allow threads to to get additional time on a CPU core with little latency. As a result, developers can use it to configure the Linux kernel for real-time use-cases without having to worry about out-of-tree patches, new kernel versions or other disruptions resulting from new point releases.
Revitalizing a key Linux kernel project
Despite its usefulness in Linux-powered industrial systems, like other open source software projects, PREEMPT_RT maintained by a small group of core developers. Up until now, the project has lacked enough contributors and funding to be integrated with the main Linux kernel. Still though, companies having been building products that use this patch and the number doing so will likely increase with Intel's backing.
Skarpness provided further details on Intel's plans for Linutronix going forward in his blog post announcing the acquisition, saying:
“By acquiring Linutronix, we are deepening our long-standing relationship with a highly respected team of globally recognized Linux experts, adding to the remarkable breadth and depth of Intel’s hardware and software talent. Linutronix will continue to operate as an independent business within our software division, led by Egger and Gleixner.”
In a statement to The Register, Skarpness confirmed that Intel intends to continue to support the PREEMPT_RT project as the company believes it is a “critical piece of technology that's going to be used in a lot of places”.
We'll likely hear more regarding Linutronix and Intel's plans for PREEMPT_RT once the acquisition is complete.
Via The Register