SAN JOSE, Calif. –Texas Instruments released a real-time operating system developed entirely in-house for its microcontrollers. TI will offer the code for on a royalty-free, open source basis, aiming to ease the path to market for its customers.
The TI RTOS is based on the company’s deterministic, multithreaded SYS/BIOS kernel along with a file system, TCP/IP stack and drivers for USB, Ethernet and other peripherals. Initially it is available on TI’s C28x and ARM Cortex M4 MCUs, eventually it will also be available on its MSP430 and other C2000 chips.
The RTOS does not support 2-D or 3-D displays or virtual memory. It can be packed into as little as 2 Kbytes memory or—with all its extras—as much as about 170 Kbytes.
TI claims at this level there’s little differentiation in existing RTOSes. It aims to deliver some innovation with features tailored for real-time control and low power, such as an ability to support low-latency interrupts that are not managed by the software.
By providing tested code under a BSD license, TI aims to reduce software development hurdles for customers who have not used an RTOS.
“There’s an industry-wide move afoot to offering higher level solutions to customers,” said Jim Reinhart, an MCU software development manager at TI, noting separate software partnerships competitors Freescale and Renesas recently forged.
“The number one factor motivating this is growth in the number of MCU users and sockets,” said Reinhart. “It’s a race for time-to-money more than anything else,” he said.
“Quite a few design wins never get to production--perhaps as many as 50 percent--so helping them get to market more easily increases the percent of customers who succeed and that easily recoups our investment in the software,” said Nick Lethaby, TI’s OS product manager. Related stories: How to Pick an RTOS Low Power MCU Design Basics
Given the long history of poor quality software devlivered by IC vendors I am reluctant to use any controller with a builtin ROM driver library or vendor code.
These companies are not in the software business. their only goal is to deliver some examples on how to use the chip, not provide production ready, reliable and maintainable code.
As a user of microcontrollers I don't like the idea that every semiconductor vendor rolls his/her own RTOS.
That's IMHO more like a vendor lock in than anything else. Ideally a RTOS should enable you to switch semiconductor manufacturers easily.
BTW I don't think that it will help to throw RTOS solutions to people in order to have more designs going to production. People need also to be trained how to use this kind of technology.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.