Today, we have an interview with Mr. Labrosse who founded Micriµm in 1999 and continues to maintain an active role in product development. He is a regular speaker at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston and Silicon Valley. Also, he is the author of three definitive books on embedded design: MicroC/OS-II, The Real-Time Kernel, Embedded Systems Building Blocks, Complete and Ready-to-Use Modules in C, and µC/OS-III, The Real-Time Kernel.
Jean J. Labrosse
Founder, CEO and President
—At the beginning, could you give us your company overview?
Jean: Micriµm was founded in 1999. The name 'Micriµm' comes from 'Micro' and 'ium' (which means the universe of) so, Micriµm thus means the "Universe of Micros". When I started Micriµm, the only product I had was µC/OS-II (pronounced micro-C-O-S-two), the real-time kernel. In fact, µC/OS-II was fully described in a book I wrote back in 1998 (ISBN 978-1578201037) and the book included a CD containing all the source code for the kernel. The code could (and still is) be used for FREE for educational use as well as peaceful research but needs to be licensed for commercial applications.
Photo 1: Micriµm's corporate headquarters in beautiful Weston, Florida
Micriµm develops and licenses a Real-Time Operating System (RTOS). An RTOS consists of a kernel (either µC/OS-II or µC/OS-III), a TCP/IP stack, a File System, a USB-Device and USB-Host stacks, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and so on. You can basically purchase most of our components individually but as a minimum, you should consider the use of a real-time kernel. Micriµm is focused on the embedded marketplace and we realized that most products that use RTOS complex components such as TCP/IP, USB, GUI and other are substantially more efficient when managed by a kernel. Our software is delivered in source code form (mostly C) and it's probably the most beautiful looking code you can put your eyeballs on.
Our focus is on creating reusable software modules that are easy to use, reliable, well written and highly documented to help our customer create high quality products and significantly reduce time to market.
Micriµm's engineers follow a very rigorous coding standard that was created years ago to ensure that the code written by all our developers is both consistent and exceptionally neat. You would thus be hard pressed to determine which developer wrote which part of the software.
Our products are also very generic allowing them to be used in all kinds of applications such as avionics, consumer electronics, data communication, factory automation, industrial controls, medical devices, satellites, telecommunication, white good, etc.
In 2002, my longtime friend, Mr. Christian Legare, also an engineer and a business leader, joined Micriµm and together we build the company to what it is today, one of the most respected embedded software companies in the world. Micriµm now has two main offices, one in Weston Florida and the other in Montreal, Canada. Micriµm also has a presence in Silicon Valley, California.
Micriµm has always been big in educating the marketplace with current technology and in 2010, Micriµm spun-off a complete book publishing division called MicriµmPress.
We are proud of the fact that based upon UBM's 2011 Embedded Software Survey, Micriµm is now recognized as the world's leading commercial kernel vendor.
—Could you talk about your major products?
Jean: µC/OS-II and µC/OS-III are Micriµm's flagship products. These real-time kernels are literally used in thousands of embedded products all around the world. µC/OS-II is a very clean and robust real-time kernel and in fact, in 2000, µC/OS-II was certified as part of an avionics application that received DO178B Level B certification. In 2004, uC/OS-II was certified for medical applications for FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Class III certifications as well as another avionics application but this time, DO178B Level A which is the most stringent certification you can attain from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). In 2007, µC/OS-II was certified in an IEC-61508 SIL 3 product. Since then, there have been countless safety critical products designed with µC/OS-II for avionics, medical and industrial use.
In 2002, we introduced µC/GUI, a comprehensive Graphical User Interface which allows users to create rich 2D graphical display-based applications with or without a touch-screen interface, for just about any size and type of LCD screens. µC/GUI is available in three basic packages: Monochrome, gray scale or color.
In 2004, we introduced µC/TCP-IP, an embedded TCP/IP stack, µC/FS, an embedded FAT file system and µC/Probe, a highly innovative Windows-based application that allows run-time data to be monitored and changed in a target.
µC/TCP-IP is Micriµm RFC compliant TCP/IP stack and is available with a comprehensive suite of TCP/IP-based application modules such as DHCP (client), DNS (client), FTP (client and server), HTTP (server), POP3 (client), SMTP (client), SNTP (client), TELNET (server) and TFTP (client and server). Micriµm has recently added SSL (Secured Socket Layer) to provide network security to embedded applications.
In 2009, Micriµm introduced µC/OS-III, a third generation real-time kernel that offers very unique and powerful features. Just like its predecessor, µC/OS-III is also available as a free download from the Micriµm website and can be used for free for educational and peaceful research but requires licensing when used commercially.
To help embedded engineers, Micriµm and Renesas worked together to create two comprehensive textbooks featuring µC/OS-III and the Renesas SH7216 and RX62N high-performance MCUs and two textbooks featuring µC/TCP-IP and the same Renesas MCUs:
1) µC/OS-III and the Renesas SH7216 (ISBN 978-0-9823375-4-7) – 936 pages
2) µC/OS-III and the Renesas RX62N (ISBN 978-0-9823375-7-8) – 990 pages
3) µC/TCP-IP and the Renesas SH7216 (ISBN 978-1-935772-02-6) – 922 pages
4) µC/TCP-IP and the Renesas RX62N (ISBN 978-1-935772-06-4) – 1050 pages
Photo 2: µC/OS-III and µC/TCP-IP books featuring the SH7216 and RX62N MCUs
The books are also available in PDF format from the Micriµm website and are included in the Renesas RDKs.
Photo 3: YRDKSH7216 and YRDKRX62N developed for the µC/OS-III and µC/TCP-IP books
µC/FS is a compact, reliable, high-performance file system for microprocessors and microcontrollers. µC/FS supports the FAT file system for interoperability with all major operating systems. An optional journaling component provides fail-safe operation, while maintaining FAT compatibility. µC/FS can access multiple media simultaneously, including multiple instances of the same type of medium (since all drivers are re-entrant).
µC/USB-Device is a USB device stack designed for embedded systems equipped with a USB device controller. Common device classes (Mass Storage, CDC, HID) are available to complement the stack.
µC/USB-Host is a real-time USB host software stack designed for embedded systems equipped with a USB host controller. µC/ USB-Host is a full-featured, high performance, small footprint USB host software stack. µC/USB-Host is available with class drivers for MSC, HID, CDC ACM and more.
Figure 1: Micriµm's RTOS
µC/Probe is an award-winning Microsoft Windows™-based application that allows a user to display or change the value (at run time) of virtually any variable or memory location on a connected embedded target. The user simply populates µC/Probe's graphical environment with gauges, numeric indicators, tables, graphs, virtual LEDs, bar graphs, sliders, switches, push buttons, and other components, and associates each of these to a variable or memory location. With µC/Probe, it is not necessary to instrument the target code in order to display or change variables at run time. In fact, there is no need to add printf() statements, hardware such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), or use any other means to get visibility inside an embedded target at run time. In addition to being able to display the current value of variables, you can also change target variables at run-time through the use of sliders, knobs, switches, checkboxes and more.
Figure 2: µC/Probe Screenshot
—How do you support Renesas' RX and RL78 MCUs?
Micriµm supports most of Renesas's MCUs including, of course, the RL78 and the RX.
On the RL78, we support µC/OS-II and µC/OS-III, µC/Probe and, depending on the amount of memory available on the RL78 device, other modules such as the file system.
µC/OS-II was the first kernel ported to the RX and now we support both, µC/OS-II and µC/OS-III, as well as most of our software components: µC/TCP-IP, µC/FS, µC/USB-Device, µC/USB-Host, µC/Probe and other. Of course, on the RX, we also have the two books: µC/OS-III and µC/TCP-IP, both providing examples for the YRDKRX62N board.
—Explain about business experiences with Renesas?
Micriµm has always worked well with Renesas and this has resulted in an outstanding relationship. But, it goes back even farther than that. The relationship started even prior to the merger of Hitachi and Mitsubishi. Prior to the merger, Micriµm supported the Hitachi H8 family, the 64180 and the Mitsubishi M16C family.
This hard work on both sides has resulted in Micriµm being the only RTOS partner that has been awarded the Renesas 'Platinum Alliance Partner' level in all three regions: America, Europe and Asia.
Micriµm has also participated in both DevCon (2008 and 2010) as a Platinum sponsor and we will repeat this again this coming October for Renesas's DevCon 2012.
Renesas is the world's largest MCU manufacturer and we know that your customers benefit from the high quality software that Micriµm is known for.
—Could you explain about your global business strategy?
At Micriµm, we seek to serve embedded markets on a worldwide basis. To be able to do this efficiently we have partnered with world-class distributor organizations that literally have a global footprint. Our highly trained partners, with their local expertise and resources, are able to seek out opportunities where Micriµm solutions can provide substantial value to end customers. This in turn provides Micriµm with a "world view" of customer requirements and emerging trends that better serves to keep us at the forefront in the embedded systems market.
—Could you explain your future strategy?
Micriµm is a world leader in software solutions for embedded devices. To that end we continue to look for opportunities where we can offer products that can facilitate the engineering and reduce the development time of embedded systems. We know for example, that enabling reliable communications within an embedded environment is becoming more and more important given the evolution of the "internet of things". We just recently announced the availability of a Wifi module from Micriµm that can be easily integrated with our real time kernel. If a WiFi enabled device is being considered for development, our solution should greatly improve a customer's time to market. Our focus remains to the give customers the best tools possible so they can focus their energies on the application unique aspects of their design.
—Do you have any message for Renesas' customers?
I am very happy to have been given this opportunity to reach out to Renesas' customers to talk a little bit about Micriµm. Through the collaborative partnership of Renesas and Micriµm, I believe we can provide customers with advanced, robust embedded platform solutions that can greatly help engineers to efficiently get their products to market quickly and at minimal cost. I believe the Renesas–Micriµm partnership literally brings the best of both company's together allowing our customers to reap the benefits. I hope you agree.
—Thank you for giving us the opportunity to hear from you.
|Established: ||1999 |
|Head office: ||Micriµm|
1290 Weston Road, Suite 306
Weston, FL 33326
|Capital: ||- Privately held -|