New RTOS Builds On DSP Roots

Dec. 18, 2012

Texas Instruments (TI) want to make sure all their developers have access to an RTOS. It had been providing a range of software including a platform called SYS/BIOS (and DSP/BIOS) for some targets, primarily DSPs. TI-RTOS (Fig. 1) builds on this legacy as well as other TI software including integration with TI's Eclipse-based Code Composer Studio (CCS) IDE (see IDE Based On Stock Eclipse Also Adds Advanced Debug Capabilities).

Figure 1. Texas Instrument's TI-RTOS builds on existing, well tested software.

Providing developers with tools and even operating systems is not new. Freescale has delivering MQX for some time and that operating system was originally available Precise Software Technologies (see DSP Micro Targets LCD Applications). These vendor provided RTOS solutions do compete with third party solutions but typically the vendor offerings are designed to provide the basics although most are more than sufficient for a large number of embedded applications. Likewise, platforms like TI-RTOS are robust enough to fulfill these needs out of the box.

DSP/BIOS started as a compact kernel for TI DSPs (see Fixed-Point DSP Delivers For Less Than $2) and SYS/BIOS brought this to other TI platforms as well. These, along with TI-RTOS, are designed to give those designing bare bones systems with RTOS functionality without a lot of overhead. It has a BSD license and developers get access to the source code.

TI-RTOS would be considered a compact operating system. This has the advantage of being easy to understand. Running through the API documentation is manageable

One major change is the inclusion of driver support such as USB stacks and TCP/IP stacks. All these were available but not as integrated across such a wide range of TI platforms. Initially TI-RTOS supports MSP430, Sitara and Concerto C28x DSPs. MSP430 support is not available immediately and will target the larger memory chips. Eventually TI-RTOS will also support the safety related Hercules Arm Cortex-R chips from TI (see Lock Step Microcontroller Delivers Safe Motor Control).

CCS support is the other key component of the TI-RTOS announcement. It has been upgraded and it is OS-aware. The latter works with TI-RTOS as well as a range of third party operating systems. CCS includes a range of configuration features for TI-RTOS including graphical configuration support like the Grace peripheral configuration program initially delivered for the MSP430 (see Graceful Configuration For MSP430).

The operating system and IDE are also bundled with TI development and evaluation kits. These provide quick access to the debugging features of CCS and insight into TI-RTOS. The package provides developers with an RTOS, peripheral configuration and a development environment out of the box.

TI-RTOS is not the answer for all developers but it will be sufficient for many applications. This opens up operating systems to those examining TI platforms via the eval and development kits. It also offers TI's online community a common platform on which to build and exchange software. Software packages and drivers can be more robust when tied to an operating system.

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