Wind River prepares VxWorks for IoT

With the internet of things in mind, Wind River has introduced mini and maxi versions of its VxWorks RTOS, and boosted over-web update security as well as safety.

Wind River VxWorks 7 safety

These and other updates appear in version 7 of VxWorks.

“There is a standard kernel for big processor cores, and a micro-kernel for small processor cores,” product line manager Prashant Dubal told Electronics Weekly. “The smaller kernel is about 20kbytes and has a fast threading model, and hooks for power management.”

The micro-kernel has a sub-set of functions from the standard kernel.

“There are certain apps that are common,” said Dubal. “So, if you have the standard kernel and a big core, and decide to add small core, you can take functions easily to the micro-kernel and small core – but not all functions.”

With both big and small cores on the same chip, micro and standard kernels are set-up to communicate with each other. “You could use various transport mechanisms,” said Dubal. “It depends on chipset and user.”

The micro-kernel, he added, is much smaller than the standard 100-120kbyte, and is therefore easier to qualify for, for example, medical application.

So small is it that Dubal is advocating it for IoT sensor. This said, as before VxWorks is limited to 32bit cores and up. Even the micro-kernel does not cover 8 or 16bit cores.

On the subject of qualification, the firm has decoupled RTOS and middleware with v7.

“It is a modular approach, leading to the separation of the VxWorks core operating system from packages such as the file system or networking stack,” said Wind River. “As a result, individual applications can now be updated at any time without requiring a re-work or re-test of the entire system.

“It is like the separation between Windows and Office,” added Dubal, “both keep working when other is up-dated.”

Wind River VxWorks 7 securityFor security, particularly for on-line code updates, built-in security features now include secure data storage, tamper proof design, secure upgrade, root of trust, and user and policy management.

Changes have been made for high-reliability applications – medical, industrial, transportation, aerospace and defence, for example.

“What we had was, in a way, different VxWorks for different safety profiles,” said Dubal. “Now it is always VxWorks 7, but different configuration choices determine which safety profiles you use.” (see top diagram).

Standards and protocols such as USB, CAN, Bluetooth, FireWire, and Continua, “as well as out-of-the-box networking capabilities” are included for I/Om and there is a new stack based on the published OpenVG API for 2D graphics, alongside OpenGL ES support for 3D. There are hardware-assisted graphics drivers, and the Tilcon graphics designer tool.

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