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MontaVista certified for Carrier Grade Linux using ARM chips

Jul 8, 2013 — by Eric Brown 1,238 views

MontaVista Software announced that its MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition (CGE) 6.0 is the first Linux distribution to have been registered for Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) 5.0 under the ARM profile. The move reflects an expected surge of ARM processors in networking and telecom gear.

According to the company, MontaVista Linux CGE 6.0 is the first Linux OS to be registered for ARM support at the Linux Foundation’s CGL 5.0 page. The page lists distributions determined to be compatible with the CGL 5.0 spec for highly reliable networking and telecom infrastructure.

It should be noted, however, that the registration page also lists a CGL 5.0 registration for rival Wind River Linux in a profile for the Xilinx Zynq 7xxx system-on-chip. The Zynq SoC combines ARM Cortex-A9 and FPGA functionality.


Both MontaVista and Wind River are also registered for x86, PowerPC, and MIPS architectures — specifically the MIPS64-based Octeon processors built by MontaVista’s owner, Cavium. The other registered distros, from Fujitsu, NeoKylin, Embsys, NewStart, and Red Flag, are all limited to x86 support.

ARM processors are used on only a small fraction of telecom and networking products, primarily in endpoint products like network attached storage (NAS), routers, and broadband gateways. As MontaVista notes, however, lower power consumption is pushing the growth of ARM in the telecom world. MontaVista makes no specific mention of platforms or usage cases, but states, “Work is underway to provide KVM-based virtualization to enable cloud-based solutions for mobile core and data plane on the ARM architecture.”

ARM products like the Zynq, as well as Cavium’s Econa line are increasingly expanding in the networking segment, although the latter is mostly used in consumer endpoint equipment. In early 2012, Cavium announced it was working on a Project Thunder family of 64-bit, ARMv8 processors aimed at cloud and datacenter markets. Project Thunder is presumably based on the upcoming ARMv8 Cortex-A53 and -A57 processors slated to arrive in 2014.

In February, Linaro, a not-for-profit firm for developing ARM-ready Linux tools, which is jointly owned by ARM and most major ARM vendors, formed a Linaro Networking Group (LNG). The LNG’s membership includes MontaVista, as well as ARM, AppliedMicro, Enea, Freescale, LSI, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Texas Instruments.

MontaVista Linux CGE

Like other CGL distros, MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition is certified to meet carrier-grade requirements for performance, high availability, serviceability, hardening, and real-time response. MontaVista CGE is based on the more generic MontaVista Linux, but is a separate product aimed at high reliability infrastructure markets. While the latter has long ago faded from its top spot to fall behind Wind River Linux, the CGE version is still claimed by MontaVista to be the “most widely-deployed Carrier Grade Linux” implementation around.

MontaVista Linux CGE 6.0 architecture
(click image to enlarge)


MontaVista CGE provides Linux Containers virtualization technology for resource application and control of multicore processors, and also offers an optional, barebones, RTOS-like Bare Metal Engine distribution. A “Flight Recorder” feature provides a log of all system activity and scheduler history in case of system failure. The distro supports Linux Standard Base (LSB) and IPv6, and is Oracle certified. MontaVista is active in the CGL working group, and is also a member of the Linaro Networking Group.

More information on MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition may be found at the MontaVista Linux CGE product page. MontaVista says it has posted copies of the CGL 5.0 registration documents here, but at publication time, the link was not working. The Linux Foundation’s CGL 5.0 page also offers evidence of the registration, however.

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