Each year, Tuxera is excited to attend the Embedded World exhibition and conference. This year was no different. From our home offices, we got to learn about some of the hottest topics in the embedded industry – safety and security, IoT platforms and applications, embedded vision and displays. The show wouldn’t have been complete without looking at the enablers behind all these new industry developments – namely, operating systems for embedded applications.

RTOSes and embedded Linux – an optimized co-existence

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the industrial sector has lagged behind in terms of processing power and memory capabilities. The reason: the processors used in manufacturing and industrial environments – programmable logic controllers (PLCs) – only needed to do one or a few tasks. Thus, because there wasn’t any pressing need for complex “brains,” PLCs ran application-layer tasks using real-time operating systems (RTOS) or even no operating system at all (otherwise known as a bare metal environments).

But in recent years that’s changed.

Today’s manufacturing processes are smarter and more data-driven than ever before. Data from multiple sensors pours in from various points throughout the process, delivering info on the line speed, environmental conditions, equipment conditions, and more – plus the machines also communicate and share data between each other. To crunch, store, and share all of that data requires a robust operating system, along with a way to store the data.

Industrial PLCs have very demanding requirements due to the harsh extremes and safety concerns in these environments. The hardware needs to withstand temperature extremes, vibration, and have a long lifetime. Likewise, software that is dependable yet lightweight and flexible is a must-have. Industrial and IoT embedded systems need modular operating systems that can be optimized to fit their unique requirements.

Embedded Linux is a great choice, able to accommodate these needs. Linux has already proven itself across every industry – even in automotive where environmental and safety demands are most taxing. Nonetheless, deploying products based on Linux presents several challenges, like time to market, as well as compliance and legal implications. Embedded software providers like WindRiver, Canonical, and Mentor (a Siemens Business) provide commercial embedded Linux versions that tackle this, without turning their backs on their RTOS offering. The deterministic behavior offered by RTOSes, the need for hard real-time data processing – in industrial control systems, for example – and functional safety requirements all keep the RTOS market and its development alive and relevant.

Final thoughts

Today’s smart industrial sector needs resilient hardware and software to boot. All the data used to make manufacturing operations more efficient needs reliable, fail-safe, and power-safe storage management – and that means more than just the hardware. Data corruptions or inefficient reading and writing of data compromises the efficiency of today’s smart industrial operations. When data is critical to a device or business, fail-safe file systems and storage software like RelianceTM, GravityCS, and FlashFX Tera make all the difference, no matter the operating system behind them.

 


Is data critical in your industrial operations? Whether you’re using a sophisticated OS like embedded Linux or a small footprint RTOS – let us help you find the right storage solution.

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