By Matt Gordon, director of applications engineering, Micrium.
The embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) market is suddenly very popular, after years of being kind of obscure in the overall high-tech space. In recent months RTOS providers, who for many years have quietly helped embedded systems developers add multi-tasking capabilities to their products, have discovered that their competition may now include tech giants like ARM and even Google. By these companies' own accounts, the motivation behind their expansion into the RTOS field can be summed up with what has now become a ubiquitous three-letter acronym: IoT.
Initially, the association between the Internet of Things and an RTOS might not be entirely apparent. We've all heard that the IoT will motivate the development of an obscene number of embedded systems, but the reliance of these systems on an RTOS is a topic that doesn't seem to attract much media attention. Clearly, the assumption of ARM, Google, and many other would-be embedded operating system providers is that most IoT products will be RTOS-based.
Many of the factors that may lead to widespread adoption of RTOSes in the IoT also exist for conventional embedded systems, but are amplified by the demands being placed on the latest Internet enabled products. Complexity is a prime example of such a factor. At a high level an RTOS can be viewed as a means of managing complexity and it's relatively easy to imagine an existing embedded system becoming more complex as it evolves into an IoT device.
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