RTOS for Firmware Developers

Nov 1, 2018

Though RTOS has been embraced for use in different industrial, operations and business settings, firmware developers often resist using an RTOS because they feel there will be such a big learning curve associated with learning the intricacies of a new Operating System method.  Firmware and an RTOS are more similar than different and in the long run an Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) is known to boost productivity greatly will delivering similar real-time performance and far suppior portability. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to firmware developers to explore learning more about RTOSs for the following reasons. :


Gentle learning curve

Both Firmware and RTOSes depend on a development and runtime/deployment environment.  With Firmware, the contextual operating environment must be created before the true application algorithms can be developed.  The context is already delivered in an RTOS environment so the RTOS developers can simply focus on the most important part of their job which is innovation as opposed to concentrating on every component’s performance. Developers are offered enough room to concentrate on developing the ideal firmware. The undivided attention guaranteed by using RTOS goes a long way to reduce development challenges and ultimately pave way for better and faster firmware.

Efficient memory usage

Memory usage is always a concern especially among applications that require a lot of space.  But memory is now cheap so spending time optimizing memory allocations doesn’t make sense anymore. Since modern RTOSescan directly address 64-bit-based memory architectures they can directly address Gigabytes of memory and not constrained by artificial limitations of an FPGA or DSP which remain a concern of Firmware developers. In other words, firmware developers who run short on operational memory should leverage this RTOS memory efficiency feature to enhance their applications.

Real-time performance

There are a lot of tasks that with varying priority degrees yet they require regular monitoring within a firmware. RTOS utilizes pre-emptive behaviour to suspend low priority tasks in favour of high priority tasks in order to guarantee unmatched flexibility required for faster and improved real-time performance. Reducing the time between interrupts is crucial for ensuring firmware efficiency which is what an RTOS does by determining task priorities. Therefore, firmware developers can rely on an RTOS to manage and maintain real-time performance as they concentrate on developing highly effective firmware.

Boosts portability

Developers can use well-designed RTOSes to reduce the required amount of porting and preserve their code. Note that, any 32-bit architecture can operate an open-source or commercial RTOS and the application runs when an RTOS runs. This feature offers a unique level of flexibility and freedom among developers to switch between processors and platforms with ease. For instance, the attention that developers committed towards moving applications can be re-channelled to push innovation.  By contrast, with each revision of firmware, the firmware designers must effectively create the operating environment first and then write the application. It is better to just focus on the application and leave the operating environment to the operating system company.


Though the use of RTOS is surrounded by different misconceptions, its value cannot be underestimated. For instance, RTOS offers reliable real-time performance while boosting portability. Hence, it offers numerous benefits to firmware developers as aforementioned. Firmware developers are advised to consider the use of RTOS since it guarantees effectiveness and efficiency.