What Is Real-Time Software and Why Do I Need It?

Jan 27, 2017

Most operating systems are designed to multitask. This means that several processes will be running at the same time. But the reality is that each processor only runs or executes one activity or command at a time. Every operating system comes with a scheduler. This is a programmed command center that gives priority by switching actions depending on anticipated results.

The definition of a real-time software is one that comes with a scheduler that decides what activity should take place at a particular time. In fact, all computer devices come with schedulers but their execution is not advanced. Complex facilities like production plants require greater precision, speed and customization.

Why choose real-time software?

In a production environment, multiple tasks are taking place simultaneously. You need a scheduler to determine which action is given priority and which one has to wait. The design of real-time software (RTS) has to guarantee determinism. This may also be regarded as predictability. This is programming which determines the task that takes preference. Failure to have a reasonable order leads to negative outcomes.

There is a deadline element to every RTS. During programming, the system must respond to a command within a set time frame. Missing this deadline may be catastrophic, like in the case of an airbag deploying, or may simply bring undesired results, like in production where the quality of a product is reduced.

What determines high quality real-time software?

Programming has given rise to numerous applications that can be used for automation purposes. Generally, real-time software is an application whose performance is considered current or immediate by the user. However, a few factors determine whether it qualifies as RTS or not.

  • Worst case execution time (WCET): This is the extreme to which an application disappoints the user. It should be as little as possible.
  • Time taken to execute a task: Technology and automation are designed to reduce time taken to execute certain tasks. Time should be synchronized or aligned to other tasks that are related. Here, speed is not as important as synchronizing of activities.
  • Number of tasks on a hardware platform: The software should conduct as many tasks as possible using limited hardware. This matches with computing objectives and is the principle behind multitasking.