Andreas Polze, Daniel Richter, Uwe Hentschel
Andreas Polze; Daniel Richter; Uwe Hentschel (eds.)

Embedded Operating System Projects

ISBN: 978-3-86956-296-4
87 pages
Release year 2015

Series: Technische Berichte des Hasso-Plattner-Instituts für Softwaresystemtechnik an der Universität Potsdam , 90

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In today’s life, embedded systems are ubiquitous. But they differ from traditional desktop systems in many aspects – these include predictable timing behavior (real-time), the management of scarce resources (memory,network), reliable communication protocols, energy management, special purpose user-interfaces (headless operation), system configuration, programming languages (to support software/hardware co-design), and modeling techniques. Within this technical report, authors present results from the lecture “Operating Systems for Embedded Computing” that has been offered by the “Operating Systems and Middleware” group at HPI in Winter term 2013/14. Focus of the lecture and accompanying projects was on principles of real-time computing. Students had the chance to gather practical experience with a number of different OSes and applications and present experiences with near-hardware programming. Projects address the entire spectrum, from bare-metal programming to harnessing a real-time OS to exercising the full software/hardware co-design cycle. Three outstanding projects are at the heart of this technical report. Project 1 focuses on the development of a bare-metal operating system for LEGO Mindstorms EV3. While still a toy, it comes with a powerful ARM processor, 64 MB of main memory, standard interfaces, such as Bluetooth and network protocol stacks. EV3 runs a version of 1 1 Introduction Linux. Sources are available from Lego’s web site. However, many devices and their driver software are proprietary and not well documented. Developing a new, bare-metal OS for the EV3 requires an understanding of the EV3 boot process. Since no standard input/output devices are available, initial debugging steps are tedious. After managing these initial steps, the project was able to adapt device drivers for a few Lego devices to an extent that a demonstrator (the Segway application) could be successfully run on the new OS. Project 2 looks at the EV3 from a different angle. The EV3 is running a pretty decent version of Linux- in principle, the RT_PREEMPT patch can turn any Linux system into a real-time OS by modifying the behavior of a number of synchronization constructs at the heart of the OS. Priority inversion is a problem that is solved by protocols such as priority inheritance or priority ceiling. Real-time OSes implement at least one of the protocols. The central idea of the project was the comparison of non-real-time and real-time variants of Linux on the EV3 hardware. A task set that showed effects of priority inversion on standard EV3 Linux would operate flawlessly on the Linux version with the RT_PREEMPT-patch applied. If only patching Lego’s version of Linux was that easy. Project 3 takes the notion of real-time computing more seriously. The application scenario was centered around our Carrera Digital 132 racetrack. Obtaining position information from the track, controlling individual cars, detecting and modifying the Carrera Digital protocol required design and implementation of custom controller hardware. What to implement in hardware, firmware, and what to implement in application software – this was the central question addressed by the project.

In today’s life, embedded systems are ubiquitous. But they differ from traditional desktop systems in many aspects – these include predictable timing behavior (real-time), the management of scarce resources (memory,network), reliable communication protocols, energy management, special purpose user-interfaces (headless operation), system configuration, programming languages (to support software/hardware co-design), and modeling techniques. Within this technical report, authors present results from the lecture “Operating Systems for Embedded Computing” that has been offered by the “Operating Systems and Middleware” group at HPI in Winter term 2013/14. Focus of the lecture and accompanying projects was on principles of real-time computing. Students had the chance to gather practical experience with a number of different OSes and applications and present experiences with near-hardware programming. Projects address the entire spectrum, from bare-metal programming to harnessing a real-time OS to exercising the full software/hardware co-design cycle. Three outstanding projects are at the heart of this technical report. Project 1 focuses on the development of a bare-metal operating system for LEGO Mindstorms EV3. While still a toy, it comes with a powerful ARM processor, 64 MB of main memory, standard interfaces, such as Bluetooth and network protocol stacks. EV3 runs a version of 1 1 Introduction Linux. Sources are available from Lego’s web site. However, many devices and their driver software are proprietary and not well documented. Developing a new, bare-metal OS for the EV3 requires an understanding of the EV3 boot process. Since no standard input/output devices are available, initial debugging steps are tedious. After managing these initial steps, the project was able to adapt device drivers for a few Lego devices to an extent that a demonstrator (the Segway application) could be successfully run on the new OS. Project 2 looks at the EV3 from a different angle. The EV3 is running a pretty decent version of Linux- in principle, the RT_PREEMPT patch can turn any Linux system into a real-time OS by modifying the behavior of a number of synchronization constructs at the heart of the OS. Priority inversion is a problem that is solved by protocols such as priority inheritance or priority ceiling. Real-time OSes implement at least one of the protocols. The central idea of the project was the comparison of non-real-time and real-time variants of Linux on the EV3 hardware. A task set that showed effects of priority inversion on standard EV3 Linux would operate flawlessly on the Linux version with the RT_PREEMPT-patch applied. If only patching Lego’s version of Linux was that easy. Project 3 takes the notion of real-time computing more seriously. The application scenario was centered around our Carrera Digital 132 racetrack. Obtaining position information from the track, controlling individual cars, detecting and modifying the Carrera Digital protocol required design and implementation of custom controller hardware. What to implement in hardware, firmware, and what to implement in application software – this was the central question addressed by the project.