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The Taos VP Operating System

This document gives the reader an overview of the most exciting and important software product in the world, including some comments from the Press, a features list, contact points and an explanation of the advantages Taos brings to its initial target markets within the telecommunications and multimedia market-place.

If you have any questions relating to the product, send them to the e-mail addresses provided below.

Enjoy the read!

What The Press Says About The Only Software Product That Provides A Strategy For Convergence In Multimedia & Telecommunications

Winner of the Gold Award for IT Innovation, - The Computing Awards for Excellence 1994

"The most sophisticated piece of software engineering the world has yet seen." - Computing

Taos VP "could be at the center of a revolution in computing." - Electronic Times

Taos VP, "a radically different, object-oriented parallel operating system." - Byte

"A new operating system that could change the world." - Edge

Taos VP: "The Parallel, Object-Oriented Operating System The World Is Waiting For." - Computergram

Taos VP "is undoubtedly a radical advance." - Edge

"The future may well be Taos [VP]." - Acorn User

"By far the most radical aspect of Taos [VP] is its hardware independence." - Byte

"The Taos [VP] Operating System is a breakthrough in open software." - Computing

"Everyone wants a microkernel now, but Taos [VP] is already a nanokernel system." - Byte

"Taligent promises objects from the ground up with dynamic binding; Taos [VP] has had them from the start." - Byte

"This ingenious software could have huge ramifications for the entire computer and videogame industry." - Edge

The most immediately striking attribute of Taos [VP] is its blazing graphics speed." - Byte


  • Truly Portable Code with no need to recompile programs to run on any Taos VP-based processor
  • Exceptional performance efficiency
  • Taos VP code is translated - Taos VP is not interpreted
  • Endian Independent
  • Language Independent
  • Truly Object Oriented Re-usable tools
  • Dynamic Binding
  • Multithreading
  • Nanokernel
  • User-Specified Kernel
  • ROMable
  • Network Development
  • Asynchronous Messaging
  • Parallel Systems from one processor upwards with no practical limit to the number in a network
  • Heterogeneous Processing (Total Open Computing)
  • Dynamic Downloading of Tools
  • High Level Libraries
  • Authoring Tools

A Selection Of Processor Architectures Supported By Taos VP Today

  • Intel 80x86/Pentium
  • Motorola PowerPC
  • Advanced Risc Machines ARM
  • Hitachi SH
  • SGS THOMSON Microelectronics Transputer

Technical Support

  • VP Resource Centers
  • Training & Certification
  • Consulting & Application Development
  • Email Help Desk and Other Technical Services
  • Comprehensive Courseware and Manuals

Why Taos VP Will Advance The New Generation of Multimedia and Telecommunications

The most over-used word in technology these days is 'Convergence'. The different consumer and business markets are supposed to be moving together. In some respects they are. But true convergence would mean that there was a system of complete 'plug and play' with common applications and interfaces available from the low-end embedded products such as video camera's and printers, through to DVD's, PDA's, set-top boxes and workstations right across to high end products such as home networks and video servers. To achieve this convergence, it would have to be able to run the same software very fast, using minimal memory, across systems of dissimilar architectures over any type of network. So the idea of 'convergence' would appear to be an ideal rather than a practicality. But appearances can be deceptive.

The Taos Operating System makes the idea of 'convergence' a reality. It is truly binary portable, object oriented from the ground up and it retains incredible efficiency both in terms of speed and memory. The winner of the 1994 Gold Award for IT Innovation at the "Computing Awards for Excellence", Taos is important because it takes away the barriers that have delayed consumer electronics companies from designing and manufacturing powerful, low-cost, modular, flexible, integrated, networked products. Taos provides a cohesive 'strategy' for multimedia and telecommunications.

So Taos is clearly a major breakthrough. The reason Taos is far ahead of other operating system technologies is not because of one particular feature. It is because Taos is a combination of so many carefully thought out ideas implemented by highly experienced world-class video games and telecomms software engineers that it is becoming the accepted Solution.

Below is a selection of some of the critical features of the Taos Operating System.

CPU Independence
Taos is binary portable. This means that the same executables will run on different CPU architectures. For example, a user can run an application on a Pentium(TM)-based system and then run the identical application, without re-compilation on a Power PC(TM)-based product. The binary portability is achieved by use of a Virtual Processor model which is translated to target native code during load time or run time. Standard data types supported include 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, 64-bit integer operations and 32-bit, 64-bit IEEE Floating Point with the capability of adding further extensions in the future while retaining complete backward compatibility. It is possible to create a translator for any type of CPU, be that a microprocessor, a microcontroller, or DSPs.
Endianness Independence
Taos runs equally effectively on little and big endian processors while presenting a consistent model to the programmer. All code and data, including disk files or network communicated data, can be moved transparently from a little endian processor system to a big endian processor system or vice versa without any endian conversion process or data exchange protocol needed and without any performance degradation.
Language Independence
All compilers (for example, Basic and C) produce VP Code [Virtual Processor] binary or source. Programmers do not need to learn any new language in order to take advantage of the portability.
Object Oriented
Taos consists of thousands of very small, modular re-usable tools, object based from the ground up, not just at high level language. Tools are typically between 100 and 200 bytes in size.
Dynamic Binding
Individual tools are bound during run time or during load time in a programmer selectable manner. This Dynamic Binding extends throughout the entire system, including the core operating system functions and external libraries.
All tools are shared between applications. Only one copy of any particular tool is in memory at any time regardless of the number or types of applications using it.
System Footprint
Taos is extremely compact. Its footprint is driven by the application, not by the operating system.
Performance Efficiency
Performance approaches CPU native code hand-written applications. The Taos VP is not an interpreted intermediate code. Unlike interpreted systems, which are inherently slow, the unique translation process used for Taos is incredibly fast.
Memory Efficiency
A combination of the dynamic binding, the object oriented nature of the system, the tool multithreading and the application-driven system footprint make Taos the most memory efficient operating system.
Application Driven Kernel
The kernel is as small as applications require due to the dynamic binding extending from the ground up. The program gets what it needs and nothing else. Small embedded systems may only require 2-4Kb, workstation applications may require 10-20Kb. The full workstation kernel on an Intel(TM) Personal Computer (10Kb) performs memory handling, process scheduling creation, task switching, messaging, object handling, caching, global name space management and interrupt handling
User Specified Kernel
The vendor can choose which tools are to be resident in the system boot image. These tools are then always resident at boot time and need no further binding or translation during run time. This custom-created boot image may extend to the entire application and all dependent operating system and library tools, in other words, an entire embedded application.
Custom Hardware Independence
Dynamic binding of tools allows support of platform-specific custom silicon, transparent to the programmer. The Dynamic Binding process uses native or custom tools in a preferred order. In the circumstance where no native or custom tools are found, the VP version will be translated and used. This is particularly useful in supporting custom acceleration hardware, for example, mathematics co-processors and graphics accelerators. This enables hardware manufacturers to create value-added tools for specific platforms and to differentiate themselves in their market.
Network Independence
Taos presents a simple, efficient communication model for the programmer which is independent of the underlying network technology.
Inherent Parallelism
Taos' object based, multi-process, message passing architecture promotes automatic parallelism. It uses a masterless network technology that can be implemented on shared memory and local memory (or mixed) architectures. A single Taos system can comprise anything from a single processor up to millions of processors without need for inter-network bridging.
Heterogeneous Processing
Taos runs applications efficiently across parallel networks of dissimilar processors. This is known as 'Total Open Computing'. Parallel applications can be created for Taos that exist as shrink-wrapped products that transparently take advantage of a user's system, regardless of the number, type, mix or connectivity of the processors.
Dynamic Downloading Of Tools
Using the Taos dynamic binding allows application tools to be bound during execution from a server object, such as ROM, Flash ROM or embedded ROM, disk media, network server or satellite. This means that applications do not need to be resident in a device being operated by the user; they can be bound across the network in a demand-driven manner. Service providers can upgrade, enhance or provide new services without recalling or refitting their users' devices
Formal Description Language
A Z-based formal description version of the Virtual Processor Op Codes is being developed as part of an extensive formal analysis and verification project exercise. This guarantees identical behavioural characteristics of all translators across dissimilar architectures. Once an application is approved on any Taos platform, this approval will carry across to any other Taos platform, even if the new platform has a different CPU!
So Taos has everything a developer, a manufacturer or a consumer would require in an operating system for the converging markets of multimedia and telecommunications. Its patent pending techniques put it at the forefront of global technology, both at a technical and a commercial level. The Taos Operating System has laid the foundation for the future.

All trademarks acknowledged.
Copyright © 1996 Tao Systems Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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