March 7, 2003 3:45 PM PST

Wind River to power wind farm

Wind River Systems, the dominant provider of software for non-PC, or "embedded," computing devices, will announce Monday that its operating system is controlling a new fleet of Danish wind-powered electricity generators.

The Horns Rev wind farm, built on a reef about 12 miles west of the Danish mainland, consists of 80 wind turbines, power-generating windmills 360 feet tall. Each turbine has five processors, which run Wind River's VxWorks operating system to control the windmill's gearbox; to measure vibrations; to adjust the orientation of the windmill blades; and to handle communications to the outside world using an Ethernet network.

The farm is expected to supply 2 percent of Denmark's energy and can produce enough power for 150,000 households, Wind River said.

Wind River competes with a number of embedded software specialists, with Linux companies such as Red Hat and MontaVista Software, and with Microsoft.

While Linux started as a hobbyists' project, it's grown to be a commercial product of late. Verano, a company that specializes in software for power plants, water distribution systems, factory floors and other critical industrial tasks, has begun backing Linux.

Although Wind River has flirted with open-source software, it has never got involved with Linux. Jerry Fiddler, Wind River's chairman and co-founder, argues in a white paper that there are legal concerns about mixing proprietary software with a Linux foundation.

Wind River's software runs computers in everything from nerve gas detectors to Formula One race cars.


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