Increasing interest in real time operating systems

Paul Boughton

The move from 8 and 16bit processors to 32bit cores is driving increasing interest in real time operating systems. While there are many well established commercial operating systems in the market, even more are emerging. Nick Flaherty reports.

Texas Instruments and TenAsys have both launched new real time operating systems in the last month into a rather crowded market.

Release 5 of TenAsys’ INtime real-time operating system software includes its new INtime Distributed RTOS, providing a new level of flexibility for embedded system developers in reducing system-level costs and adding scalability to PC-based embedded designs.

This allows designers to develop RTOS applications alongside Windows, or stand-alone RTOS applications with the same tools and familiar Microsoft Visual Studio integrated development environment. This gives users the flexibility to use and move INtime software code and applications across environments to INtime for Windows addressing applications with advanced Windows based human-machine interfaces (HMIs) or INtime Distributed RTOS for deeply-embedded applications.

“INtime for Windows and INtime Distributed RTOS environments are designed to work together such that one can be an extension of the other if needed,” said Kim Hartman, TenAsys Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “This enables OEMs to scale their embedded system applications to address multiple cost/performance options. It is the only RTOS family that can support scalability of processor power in this manner.”

Key to that scalability is the strangely named GOBSnet, a built-in inter-process communication mechanism that manages communications between a network of processing nodes. Using GOBSnet, developers distributed an application across diverse system solution, from a single-core system to a number of networked multicore systems.

Texas Instruments has brought several of its real time software components together across its whole range of microcontrollers for the TI-RTOS. This takes TI’s expertise in RTOS software such as the SYS/BIOS real-time kernel and network developer kit (NDK) TCP/IP stack, and integrates them into a complete microcontroller RTOS that can handle dual core devices. This enables much faster software development by eliminating the need for designers to write and maintain complex system software, including schedulers, protocol stacks and low-level drivers.

The key for TI is that is runs across the entire MCU portfolio and will be extended to other microprocessors.

“Embedded hardware development has become easier with the high level of integration MCUs now have,” said Scott Roller, vice president of MCUs at TI. “However, because of the integration of more peripherals, memory and connectivity options, software development has become more complex, which is why we created TI-RTOS. Now developers can build MCU-based designs with Internet and USB connectivity without the concern that software development will be onerous and time-consuming.”

TI-RTOS is available on select devices, including the ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs and C2000 dual core C28x + ARM Cortex-M3 MCUs. It will be offered soon on MSP430 MCUs, as well as other C2000 and ARM-based MCUs.