INTechHouse BLOG 31.03.2023 17 min.
Real Time Operating System in Embedded Systems
INTechHouse BLOG 31.03.2023 17 min.

Real Time Operating System in Embedded Systems

Real-time operating systems (RTOS) play an important role in the world of embedded systems. An RTOS is an operating system with task based design to respond to input within a predetermined time frame. Our article provides an overview of Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS) and their specifications. So, let’s take a strong dive into this system.

What is RTOS Definition?

RTOS stands for Real-Time Operating System. It is a type of operating system that is designed to provide a deterministic and predictable response time RTOS for real-time applications.

A real time operating system is responsible for managing hardware resources, scheduling a priority task, and providing services to real time applications in a real-time environment where the timing of operations is critical. The main features of an RTOS include multitasking, interrupt management, task synchronization and communication, memory management, and a real-time clock. RTOS is widely used in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, industrial automation, medical devices, and telecommunications.

The RTOS History

The history of RTOS dates back to the early 1960s when computer systems were first used in real-time control applications.

One of the earliest RTOS was the General Electric Real-Time Executive (GERTS), developed in the early 1960s for the GE 225 computer. GERTS was designed for real-time control applications, such as industrial automation, and was used in various industries, including aerospace and defence.

In the 1970s, a number of other RTOS were developed, including the RT-11 operating system, which was used on Digital Equipment Corporation’s PDP-11 minicomputers. RT-11 was designed to handle real-time applications, such as process control and data acquisition, and was widely used in various industries.

In the 1980s, the emergence of microprocessors led to the development of RTOS for embedded systems. One of the first RTOS for embedded systems was VRTX (Virtual Real-Time Executive), developed by Hunter & Ready Inc. in 1982. VRTX was designed for use on 8-bit and 16-bit microprocessors and was used in various applications, including automotive systems and consumer electronics.

In the 1990s, the development of more powerful microprocessors and the growth of the internet led to the development of more sophisticated RTOS, such as VxWorks and QNX. These operating integrity systems were designed to handle more complex real-time applications, such as telecommunications, network routing, and multimedia.

Today, RTOS is used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, defence, telecommunications, and consumer electronics. They are an essential part of many real-time control applications, providing a reliable and predictable environment for the execution of critical tasks.

What are the Main RTOS Types?

RTOS include two main types: Hard RTOS and Soft RTOS.

A Hard RTOS is an operating system that guarantees that tasks are executed within a specific hard real time limit or deadline. Hard RTOS must provide deterministic response times to events and meet strict time constraints.

This hard real-time operating system is commonly used in safety-critical applications, such as aerospace and defence systems, where a missed deadline can result in catastrophic consequences.

A Soft real time RTOS, on the other hand, is an operating system that provides low latency and fast response times but does not guarantee that tasks will be executed within a specific time limit or deadline. Soft RTOS may miss deadlines, but they can still function and provide useful results.

Soft real time RTOS are typically used in applications that are worth providing real time responses, but where the consequences of a missed deadline are not critical, such as multimedia applications or gaming.

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What are Real-Time Operating System Examples?

Examples of Operating In Systems There are several examples of RTOS that are commonly used in embedded systems:

  • FreeRTOS – This is an open-source RTOS that is widely used in the embedded systems industry. It’s free and can be used for commercial RTOS purposes, making it an attractive option for many developers.

  • VxWorks – This is a proprietary RTOS that is used in a wide range of applications, including aerospace, defence, and medical devices. It’s known for its reliability and performance.

  • QNX – This is another proprietary RTOS that is widely used in the automotive and industrial control industries. It’s known for its real-time performance and reliability.

Interesting RTOS Insights

According to recent research, RTOS integrity systems remain an important element for industries and businesses related to IoT. RTOS integrity systems are popular all over the world, but at the moment the leading market is European and this trend should last until 2028. Asia and North America are next in the lead. RTOS are popular in telecommunications markets, healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries around the world.

Source: StatCounter, MarketWatch

The IoT RTOS requires a high degree of reliability and consistency in terms of the timing between the acceptance of application tasks and their completion.

Significant ecosystem consolidation is expected as many of the smaller players in IoT RTOS will be acquired or witness significant changes in business operations.

According to the survey, most businesses prefer open-source integrity systems, as well as reliable software with real-time data processing. Usually, such integrity systems have a low level of power consumption and a limited amount of memory. However, experienced developers always find a way out of this situation in favour of the client.

What are the Best RTOS for Embedded Systems?

Choosing the best RTOS for an embedded system depends on the specific requirements of the project, including the size of the system, performance, memory footprint, available resources, and real time requirements. Here are some popular RTOS options for embedded systems:

  • FreeRTOS: It is a popular open-source, real-time operating system that is designed to be small, portable, and easy to use. FreeRTOS provides a rich set of features, including task management, interrupt handling, and synchronization mechanisms. It is widely used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics.

  • Micrium µC/OS: It is a scalable, real-time operating system that provides a robust set of features for embedded systems. Micrium µC/OS is widely used in various industries, including medical devices, industrial automation, and telecommunications.

  • ThreadX: It is a small, fast, and efficient real-time operating system that provides a reliable and predictable environment for running real-time applications. ThreadX is widely used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics.

  • VxWorks: It is a real-time operating system that provides a robust set of features for embedded systems. VxWorks is widely used in various industries, including aerospace, defense, and telecommunications.

  • QNX: It is a real-time operating system that provides a reliable and predictable environment for running real-time applications. QNX is widely used in various industries, including automotive, medical devices, and industrial automation.

These RTOS options are just a few examples, and there are many other RTOS options available in the market. The best RTOS for an embedded system depends on the specific real time requirements of the project and the resources available for development and deployment.

Why RTOS is Important in Embedded Systems?

RTOS is important in embedded systems because it provides a reliable and predictable environment for running real-time applications. Embedded systems are computer systems that are integrated into devices and machines to perform specific functions. These systems often have limited processing time and power, memory, and storage, and they are typically used in safety-critical applications where the timing of operations is critical.

In such applications, the performance of the system must be deterministic and predictable. RTOS is designed to meet these requirements by providing a real-time environment where the time taken to execute a task is predictable and guaranteed. RTOS also provides priority based scheduling, memory management, interrupt management, and synchronization mechanisms that are essential for running real-time applications in embedded systems.

RTOS allows multiple tasks to run simultaneously on a single processor, which maximizes the utilization of the processor and reduces the cost of the system. Additionally, RTOS provides a real-time clock that can be used to trigger time-critical events at precise times, which is important in applications such as automotive control systems and medical devices.

Overall, RTOS is essential in embedded systems because it provides a reliable, deterministic, and predictable environment for running real-time applications in safety-critical systems with limited processing power and operating systems resources.

What is RTOS Embedded?

RTOS embedded refers to the use of Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS) in embedded systems. Embedded systems are computer systems that are integrated into devices and machines to perform specific functions. These systems often have the limited processing power, memory, and storage, and they are typically used in safety-critical applications where the timing of operations is critical.

RTOS is used in embedded systems to provide a reliable and predictable environment for running real-time applications. An RTOS guarantees a specific maximum time to execute a task, which makes it suitable for real-time applications. RTOS also provides priority based scheduling, memory management, interrupt management, and synchronization mechanisms that are essential for running real-time applications in embedded systems.

Why RTOS is Important?

RTOS allows multiple tasks to run simultaneously on a single processor, which maximizes the utilization of the processor and reduces the cost of the system. Additionally, RTOS provides a real-time clock that can be used to trigger time-critical events at precise times, which is important in applications such as automotive control systems and medical devices.

The use of RTOS in embedded systems provides several advantages, including improved system reliability, predictability, and performance. It also enables the development of complex embedded systems with multiple tasks and real time requirements. Overall, RTOS is essential in embedded systems because it provides a reliable, deterministic, and predictable environment for running real-time applications in safety-critical systems with limited processing power and resources.

Where are RTOS Used?

RTOS is used in various industries and applications that require real-time processing, deterministic behaviour, and predictable response times. Here are some examples of where RTOS is used:

  • Aerospace and defence: RTOS is used in spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and other aerospace and defence applications that require real-time processing and mission-critical operations.

  • Automotive: RTOS is used in automotive applications such as engine management, transmission control, braking systems, and driver assistance systems.

  • Medical devices: RTOS is used in medical devices such as infusion pumps, patient monitors, and imaging systems that require real-time processing and accuracy.

  • Industrial automation: real time RTOS is used in industrial automation applications such as robotics, process control, and monitoring systems that require real-time processing and precise control.

  • Telecommunications: RTOS is used in telecommunications applications such as network switches, routers, and modems that require real-time processing and high reliability.

  • Consumer electronics: RTOS is used in consumer electronics such as digital cameras, printers, and gaming consoles that require real-time processing and responsive user interfaces.

Overall,RTOS is used in applications where real-time processing and predictability are critical, and where the timing of operations is essential.

What is Embedded Linux?

Embedded Linux refers to the use of the Linux operating system in embedded systems, which are specialized computer systems designed for a specific purpose or application. Embedded systems are typically found in various devices such as smartphones, smart TVs, smart home appliances, routers, industrial automation systems, and many more.

Linux is an open-source operating system, which means that its source code is freely available to the public, and it can be modified, customized, and distributed by anyone. This has led to the popularity of Embedded Linux in the embedded systems industry, as it provides a cost-effective, customizable, and flexible solution for embedded devices.

Why Embedded Linux is so Popular

There are several reasons why Embedded Linux is so popular, including:

  • Open-source: The open-source nature of Linux allows for free distribution, modification, and customization of the operating system, making it an attractive option for companies that want to build cost-effective embedded systems.

  • Flexibility: Linux is highly modular, and its kernel can be easily customized to meet the specific requirements of an embedded system. This allows for greater flexibility and control over the system’s functionality and performance.

  • Wide range of hardware support: Linux supports a wide range of hardware architectures, making it compatible with various embedded systems. This makes it easier for developers to choose the hardware that best fits their project’s requirements.

  • Large community support: Linux has a vast and active community of developers and users who contribute to the development and improvement of the operating system. This provides access to a wealth of knowledge, resources, and support for developers working on Embedded Linux projects.

Linux can also provide real-time capabilities for embedded systems through the use of real-time patches or specialized real-time Linux distributions. This allows Linux to handle time-critical tasks in real-time applications such as industrial control and automation systems.

By the way, Linux has not embedded software but rather an operating system that can be used as a platform for embedded software development. Embedded software refers to the specific software written to control and manage an embedded system, while Linux is the underlying operating system that provides a platform for the software to run on.

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What Companies Use Embedded Linux in Their Products?

Many companies use embedded Linux in their products. Some of the major companies that use embedded Linux include:

These are just a few examples of companies that use embedded Linux in their products. Many other companies across a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical devices, and robotics, also use embedded Linux in their products.

Embedded Linux or TROS While Building IoT?

The choice between Embedded Linux and a Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) for IoT depends on the specific requirements of the IoT project.

What is Better for IoT?

Embedded Linux is a popular choice for IoT applications because it provides a full-fledged operating system that can run a variety of applications and provides support for a wide range of hardware. Linux also has a large community of developers, which means that there are many tools and resources available to help with development. Additionally, Linux can be customized to include only the necessary components, which can help reduce the size of the firmware.

On the other hand, the real-time operating system is designed specifically for real-time applications, making it ideal for IoT devices that require precise timing and deterministic behaviour. RTOS provides a predictable real time response time and can execute tasks quickly, which is critical in applications such as control systems or robotics. Additionally, RTOS requires less memory and processing power than Linux, which makes it suitable for devices with limited resources.

Ultimately, the choice between Embedded Linux and RTOS will depend on the specific needs of the IoT project. If the project requires complex applications, flexibility, and a large development community, Embedded Linux may be the better choice. However, if the project requires precise timing, deterministic behaviour, and efficient resource usage, an RTOS may be the better option.

INTechHouse TROS Experience

INTechHouse had been in the business of developing embedded systems for decades, with a particular focus on real-time operating systems. We had seen it all – from simple microcontrollers to complex multi-core processors – and had honed our skills to become experts in the field.

One day, a new client approached us with a unique challenge. The client was a company that specialized in environmental monitoring and needed a solution to capture high-resolution analysis in remote and hard-to-reach areas. INTechHouse took on the challenge with enthusiasm, and after extensive research and development, they recommended the use of a PetaLinux RTOS for the photogrammetric platform. The team at INTechHouse designed and built a custom imaging navigation system that was seamlessly integrated with the PetaLinux RTOS. The system was tested extensively in various environments, including remote and hard-to-reach areas, and the results were impressive. The system was able to capture high-quality images with precision, even in the most challenging terrain.

The client was thrilled with the final product, and the solution proved to be a game-changer for their business. The success of this project was a testament to INTechHouse’s vast experience with RTOS and their ability to deliver innovative solutions to their clients.

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Conclusion

RTOS, or Real-Time Operating System, is a type of operating system designed for applications that require precise timing and predictable responses to external events. RTOS can be classified into Hard RTOS and Soft RTOS, depending on their ability to guarantee that tasks are executed within a specific time limit or deadline.

RTOS is widely used in safety-critical applications, such as aerospace and defense systems, as well as in industrial automation, robotics, and other real-time systems. RTOS offers benefits such as low latency, fast response times, and deterministic behavior, making it an essential component in many modern embedded systems.

Overall, RTOS is a crucial technology that has revolutionized the way real-time systems are designed and developed. Its ability to provide deterministic response times and meet strict timing constraints has made it an essential component in many critical applications. As technology continues to evolve, RTOS will undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the future of embedded systems.