The new Be computers are very interesting. They don’t actually do anything for the Macintosh community, but they are worth knowing about. Be is a company that has designed a completely new computer design. It was built from the ground up. Probably the most noticeable design difference is the second processor.

The computer itself is called the BeBox. At the moment, it contains two 603 PowerPC chips inside of it. Eventually, the BeBox will contain as many as eight processors. This multi-processor design allows for incredible performance. One of the benefits is true preemptive multitasking. Also known as multithreading, each “thread” is a spot in memory and processor cycles. This basically allows the processor to pick any task (thread), process it and go onto another one. It is impossible for memory conflicts because they are not allowed to go out of their thread.

A thread can be specified by the programmer or the operating system. Every window in the Be OS has its own thread. This is done by the operating system. The programmer can make their own threads for any purpose. With each window having its own thread, each window will always be working. In the Mac OS, when we switch to a window, the previous one is secondary. In the Be OS, every window is a primary one. This means that you could have an animation running in one window and be doing something completely different in another, without any performance difference. If in one window there is a real-time process, it will take dominance over the others. An application can force a processor to only work on its processes. But the free processor can do the other tasks.

One of the benefits of multitasking is that many applications can run together without conflicts. The Be OS protects all memory addresses to the application. The Be OS, however, makes it very easy for programs to communicate with each other in a way ala AppleScript.

There is an integrated database built into the operating system. Besides using the normal way of finding files through folders, you can search for them in the database. The database automatically updates itself when changes are made. It gives great organization for files. Applications can search the database, too.

The Be OS is a graphical one. Therefore, it is much like the Mac. It does all of the basic things that the Mac OS does, as in ways of organizing. It can also have console windows for applications where that is more useful. That makes it very open to all developers. If you need a DOS type program, you can use a console window (A console is extremely un-Maclike). Otherwise, you can have it all graphical. In fact, the Be computers are made very well and geared for multimedia productions.

The architecture is based around the kernel. The kernel manages all the memory and the threads. It schedules the threads for the processor and keeps applications from entering others memory unless programmed directly. It setups and destroys the threads. It also handles communication between applications. It incorporates this into all of the processors. The only drivers that are built in are the hard disk and floppy drives. Every other driver is loaded when needed. This protects the kernel from becoming bloated and decreasing its performance.

The Be OS has servers. These are unknown to the user, but developers need these. These handle all tasks that have to do with managing windows, getting information from the keyboard and mouse, etc. This is basically the Macintosh Toolbox for the BeBox. The Mac Toolbox is built into ROM and handles everything to do with windows, menu bars, drawing to the screen, the keyboard and mouse. It is only available to the programmer, though. The difference is that the BeBox has two types. One handles all of the interface needs, while the other handles all access to information in the database and on the hard drive.

Be has made it very easy for software companies to start developing for the BeBox. Aforesaid, it has the servers for the interface. It also comes with many software kits. These are made for easily starting more specific functions. Some of these include the MIDI kit, the Media kit and the Network kit. The MIDI kit handles any MIDI needs, the Media kit allows for sound and video productions and the Network kit allows for the setting up of networks.

” Be applications are developed using the Metrowerks(R)
CodeWarrior(TM) compiler and development environment —
either natively on the BeBox or, more typically, on a
Macintosh computer.”
–This came directly from the Be web site. I believe it says it all.

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