Overview of the Seven Enhanced Areas
In each of the seven sections that follow we give a brief statement of direction for each area. These directions were defined at the first meeting of the eight primary engineers in Mendocino, California, in late March 1999, and further clarified through late September 1999.
be independent of any particular GC algorithm,
allow the program to precisely characterize a implemented GC algorithm's effect on the execution time, preemption, and dispatching of real-time Java threads, and
allow the allocation and reclamation of objects outside of any interference by any GC algorithm.
Thread Scheduling and Dispatching: In light of the significant diversity in scheduling and dispatching models and the recognition that each model has wide applicability in the diverse real-time systems industry, we concluded that our direction for a scheduling specification would be to allow an underlying scheduling mechanism to be used by real-time Java threads but that we would not specify in advance the exact nature of all (or even a number of) possible scheduling mechanisms. The specification is constructed to allow implementations to provide unanticipated scheduling algorithms. Implementations will allow the programmatic assignment of parameters appropriate for the underlying scheduling mechanism as well as providing any necessary methods for the creation, management, admittance, and termination of real-time Java threads. We also expect that, for now, particular thread scheduling and dispatching mechanisms are bound to an implementation. However, we provide enough flexibility in the thread scheduling framework to allow future versions of the specification to build on this release and allow the dynamic loading of scheduling policy modules.
To accomodate current practice the RTSJ requires a base scheduler in all implementations. The required base scheduler will be familiar to real-time system programmers. It is priority-based, preemptive, and must have at least 28 unique priorities.
Memory Management: We recognize that automatic memory management is a particularly important feature of the Java programming environment, and we sought a direction that would allow, as much as possible, the job of memory management to be implemented automatically by the underlying system and not intrude on the programming task. Additionally, we understand that many automatic memory management algorithms, also known as garbage collection (GC), exist, and many of those apply to certain classes of real-time programming styles and systems. In our attempt to accommodate a diverse set of GC algorithms, we sought to define a memory allocation and reclamation specification that would:
Synchronization and Resource Sharing: Logic often needs to share serializable resources. Real-time systems introduce an additional complexity: priority inversion. We have decided that the least intrusive specification for allowing real-time safe synchronization is to require that implementations of the Java keyword synchronized include one or more algorithms that prevent priority inversion among real-time Java threads that share the serialized resource. We also note that in some cases the use of the synchronized keyword implementing the required priority inversion algorithm is not sufficient to both prevent priority inverison and allow a thread to have an execution eligibility logically higher than the garbage collector. We provide a set of wait-free queue classes to be used in such situations.
Asynchronous Event Handling: Real-time sytems typically interact closely with the real-world. With respect to the execution of logic, the real-world is asynchronous. We thus felt compelled to include efficient mechanisms for programming disciplines that would accommodate this inherent asynchrony. The RTSJ generalizes the Java language's mechanism of asynchronous event handling. Required classes represent things that can happen and logic that executes when those things happen. A notable feature is that the execution of the logic is scheduled and dispatched by an implemented scheduler.
Asynchronous Transfer of Control: Sometimes the real-world changes so drastically (and asynchronously) that the current point of logic execution should be immediately and efficiently transferred to another location. The RTSJ includes a mechanism which extends Java's exception handling to allow applications to programatically change the locus of control of another Java thread. It is important to note that the RTSJ restricts this asynchronous transfer of control to logic specifically written with the assumption that its locus of control may asynchronously change.
Asynchronous Thread Termination: Again, due to the sometimes drastic and asynchronous changes in the real-world, application logic may need to arrange for a real-time Java thread to expeditiously and safely transfer its control to its outermost scope and thus end in a normal manner. Note that unlike the traditional, unsafe, and deprecated Java mechanism for stopping threads, the RTSJ's mechanism for asynchronous event handling and transfer of control is safe.
Physical Memory Access: Although not directly a real-time issue, physical memory access is desirable for many of the applications that could productively make use of an implementation of the RTSJ. We thus define a class that allows programmers byte-level access to physical memory as well as a class that allows the construction of objects in physical memory.