Erlang uP [was Functional programming for microcontrollers?]

Ulf Wiger <>
Wed Oct 10 21:38:01 CEST 2001


On Wed, 10 Oct 2001, Alex Arnon wrote:

>Could you please elaborate on the purpose and state of this
>project? I am an embedded software engineer, writing mostly
>drivers and low-level management software in C (horror of
>horrors). I would dearly love to have an environment such as
>Erlang on our platform.

I believe the purpose is rather well expressed in the EUC 2000
presentation http://www.erlang.se/euc/00/processor.ppt by Robert
Tjärnström and Peter Lundell.

In short, we who develop complex embedded systems with high
performance requirements are not necessarily able to use today's
fastest processors, since they run too hot for embedded systems.
The trend seems to be that higher speeds are achieved at the cost
of ever increasing power consumption. SUN, for example, seems to
be leaving the embedded systems market, as they don't see that
they can afford to produce a low-power version of their next
generation chip.

The Erlang processor is sort of a "back to the drawing board"
approach: if we can't achieve more performance by brute force,
let's make a "smarter" processor. Erlang is an elegant language,
and it's also very suitable for cluster programming, with its
native support for concurrency and distribution. This makes it
easier to accelerate programs through use of a farm of cheap
chips. The Erlang processor will run an order of magnitude cooler
than a low-power UltraSPARC for comparable Erlang performance.

As for the state of the project, we are working on optimizing
certain constructs (tuples, binaries, etc.), implementing a
useful port abstraction, improving memory management, and some
other small details. We'd love for someone to rework our current
compiler so that it becomes core Erlang based. This will allow us
to reuse the existing life cycle analysis needed for the
reference counting GC. One cool project is to implement the BIFs
in either Erlang or directly in machine code... (ets is already
covered, mostly except for match specifications.)

To summarize, the processor is Almost Ready(tm).  ;-)

If you're more than just a little interested in general,
and feel that you could help out, please contact us.

/Uffe

>-----Original Message-----
>From:  [mailto:]
>Sent: Wed, October 10, 2001 8:07 PM
>To: 
>Subject: Erlang uP [was Functional programming for microcontrollers?]
>
>
>I too am pleased to hear that the Erlang microprocessor project is still
>alive.  May we ask when you're going to silicon and if development
>boards
>will be available.
>
>Regards,
>Steve
>
>

-- 
Ulf Wiger                                    tfn: +46  8 719 81 95
Senior System Architect                      mob: +46 70 519 81 95
Strategic Product & System Management    ATM Multiservice Networks
Data Backbone & Optical Services Division      Ericsson Telecom AB




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