Today’s competitive world of embedded systems and the internet of things is placing ever greater demands on developers. They need to produce products that optimize size, weight and power, as well as have focused feature sets that are also flexible so they can be quickly adapted to meet changing customer requirements. In terms of processors, this means a family that is built around a common, high-performance core that features low power consumption, but which as a series offers a range of selections in terms of on-chip functions and peripherals that present a compatible platform for software. This newer generation tends to be organized into such families that, with a common instruction set, encompass a range that provides scalability from small-scale to large-scale applications along with I/O, on-chip flash and RAM in market-leading sizes.

Matching a real-time operating system (RTOS) to such a processor family requires that it be able to smoothly scale along the lines of power and performance offered by the line of processors. Ideally it should have a familiar, standard API such as POSIX, which is a Linux-compatible standard for embedded systems. It must have a set of core characteristics in a compact package along with a wide selection of tested and proven functional software modules that can be quickly integrated to match the application and selected processor along with the mix of on-chip and off-chip peripherals needed. This, of course, means a wide selection of such functional modules.

Many vendors now offer integrated development kits that include a single-board CPU with an integrated RTOS along with peripherals and tools to help the developer get started immediately adding innovative value. Such an integrated platform supports eight principles required for fast and efficient IoT development:

  1. Lean
  2. Adaptable
  3. Secure
  4. Safe
  5. Connected
  6. Complete
  7. Cloud-compatible
  8. Cutting edge

These features not only help guide development for focused design and meeting time-to-market demands, they also guarantee the functional considerations needed to work effectively in the internet of things.

The platform’s rich modularity supports the lean development model by providing standardization, interchangeability of drivers, protocols and service modules, and portability of applications. This lets developers quickly adapt to changing customer requirements in the midst of a project. The integrated platform optimizes both hardware and software design on the go.

Those same features make it adaptable — able to meet new market demands for features and functionality. Once a product is in place with a customer, the OEM must be able to quickly react to calls for additional features and expanded functionality — or even a smaller, lower-cost version of a product. Existing code can be moved to a higher performance processor and new features quickly added without serious revision of existing code.

Security and safety go hand-in-hand and must be designed in from the ground up. If it can be hacked, it isn’t safe. Security begins with the selection of a secure initial design and extends through communication protocols, strategies such as password, electronic key and physical recognition, the use of secure booting, encryption and many more strategies. However, the judicious selection of the basic system architecture, hardware and software is also a key requirement.

Two main features help ensure safety in systems. Determinism guarantees quick response to threatening conditions and makes the operation of the system predictable so that it can be reliably tested to meet strict timing requirements. Emergency stop with zero boot time means that a device can be halted instantly and restarted with zero boot time if required. Thus an unsafe condition can be halted immediately and brought back to a safe condition or the device diverted to an action to deal with the emergency.

The internet of things is connected and must accommodate a very broad range of sensors, both wired and wireless. This means the full range of both wired and wireless connectivity. An RTOS that can deliver virtually any connectivity solution that can be selected and integrated into the RTOS design off the shelf is complete in that it contains everything you are likely to need for a project as it evolves.

Among the supply of protocols should be those that can be used on the cloud side to easily and securely connect and transfer data and process commands. This requires the latest components and tools to deal with it and its newer applications, along with the ability to work with other leading-edge applications like Microsoft Azure. It also means the use of the best tools such as a wide selection among the IDE offerings, along with advanced support tools that allow use and tracking of memory and objects such as dials, gauges charts for variable displays, plus timing tools and displays to understand scheduling, interrupt processing and more.

The incorporation of these latest tools, protocols and technologies and their availability across a matched RTOS and processor family makes this a truly cutting edge platform.

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