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MontaVista spins IoT version of its Carrier Grade Linux

Jul 22, 2015 — by Eric Brown 906 views

MontaVista debuted an IoT version of its Yocto-based Carrier Grade Linux OS, featuring annual major updates, modular structure, and QEMU and Docker support.

MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade eXpress (CGX) builds upon and subtracts from its commercial-grade MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition (CGE) for networking and server applications. The CGX spinoff supports Internet of Things devices, 5G carrier grade telecom infrastructure, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solutions, says Cavium-owned MontaVista Software. More specifically, CGX supports networking and communications, instrumentation and control, aerospace and defense, SOHO, medical electronics, and other IoT devices.

MontaVista CGX features overview (left) and key components
(click images to enlarge)

In contrast to the complex CGE, CGX is billed as a “fully integrated, pre-tested environment” featuring a “robust out of box experience.” This is said to enable “rapid time to market while leveraging the flexibility of a true open source development platform.” MontaVista says CGX “meets the demands of the interconnected intelligent devices, providing application portability, dynamic configuration, field maintenance, and real-time performance in a single platform.

Unlike CGE, MontaVista CGX can be purchased as a slim base platform called CGX Foundation, limited to a core feature set needed for embedded IoT products. You can then add technology profiles such as Carrier Grade and Virtualization for more demanding vertical applications.

CGX Foundation base platform
(click image to enlarge)

Like CGE and most other embedded Linux distributions these days, MontaVista Linux CGX is based on Yocto Project code. The distribution will launch in the fourth quarter with a Yocto 1.8 foundation based on Linux 3.18. Like CGE, it’s available on x86, Power, ARM (including ARMv8), and MIPS (including MIPS64) platforms.


Unlike CGE, which was last updated to version 7.0 in Feb. 2013, CGX will push out new versions “incorporating emerging standards at a yearly cadence, aligning with the latest Yocto revisions,” says MontaVista. This will enable adoption of newer Long Term Support (LTS) Linux kernels and tool-chains, says the company. At the same time, however, CGX can maintain “very long term support options,” says the company (see diagram below).

CGX release cadence slide
(click image to enlarge)

CGX is said to include real-time, power management, memory footprint optimization, and deep connectivity features. Other touted features not mentioned in the CGE7 product page or datasheet include the integration of the open source QEMU simulator.

CGX also “greatly simplifies maintainability in conjunction with RPM based user-land upgrade, essential for IoT devices,” says MontaVista, referring to the Red Hat Package Manager. In addition, the announcement mentions an “integrated hardware root of trust and package authentication” to ensure secure upgrades “even in a very large scale deployment.”

CGX container support options
(click image to enlarge)

CGX adds Docker container support in addition to MontaVista’s version of Linux Containers. CGE offers only Linux Containers and KVM virtualization. Docker enables applications to be updated “one at a time in a layered fashion,” says MontaVista.

MontaVista touts features found in CGE such as kernel live patching, useful for applying small patches or security fixes to a Linux kernel without taking the product offline. Also available is the Eclipse-based MontaVista DevRocket IDE.

Moving up to the Carrier Grade profile, one can call on Carrier Grade Linux 5.0 support. Other Carrier Grade features are said to include High Availability (HA), security, rich networking and I/O support, and real-time response time with high throughput.

MontaVista Linux CGX ships with “rich productivity tools” and is backed up by extensive services. These are said to include consistent updates, training, technical support, custom engineering, GPL legal and export compliance expertise.

In one sense, CGX is an echo of the original general-purpose MontaVista Linux distribution for embedded devices, which once dominated the high-end commercial Linux market before Intel’s Wind River took the lead. In recent years, MontaVista Linux was removed as a separate product, while MontaVista focused on its still widely used, and more feature-rich CGE version. Also gone is MontaVista’s Automotive Technology Platform (ATP), which was sold to rival Mentor Graphics in 2013.

“CGX is designed to give our customers the high quality Linux distribution they have come to trust with MontaVista while enabling them with new cutting edge features and standards to meet the demands of emerging 5G, IoT, and NFV markets,” stated Sanjay Raina, MontaVista President.

Cavium updates Nitrox security chips

Also this week, MontaVista owner Cavium updated its line of Linux-optimized Nitrox security processors and Nitrox adapter cards. The Nitrox V processors integrate up to 288 RISC-based security cores featuring “high performance compression engines and virtualization hardware” with PCIe Gen 3 and Interlaken interfaces, says Cavium.

Nitrox V supports faster SSL performance of 120K RSA Ops/Sec and 300K P256 ECC Ops/sec, as well as bulk encryption performance of 100Gbps, claims Cavium. Nitrox products are designed for servers controllers, UTM gateways, WAN optimization devices, routers, and switches. They are often used in conjunction with Cavium’s MIPS64-based Octeon networking SoCs. The new chips are due in the third quarter.

Further information

MontaVista is currently working with strategic customers with an early access program for MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade eXpress, which will be generally available in 4Q 2015. More information may be found at the MontaVista Linux CGX product page.

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