Virtualization and operating systems

Virtualization in embedded remains a hot topic. Many customers have a need to do more with their multi-core processors. They typically have a need for a real-time operating system, but they also want to run other operating systems next to it, be it MS Windows, Linux, Android or a 3rd party operating systems on processors from Freescale, ARM or Intel.

The thing with embedded is that you really need to consider the entire system when you make architectural decisions with regards to which operating systems you run, how you run them, how you work with devices and how you partition or virtualize the hardware. This makes it that you can not just go off and select a any virtualization layer and any operating system and throw them together to build a system. This approach works in IT (grab a virtualization product from VMWare, grab an OS from Windows, or maybe Fedora Linux and off you go), however, it does not work in embedded.

In embedded you need a tight collaboration between your virtualization layer and your operating systems (VxWorks, Linux, …) and that is exactly what Wind River provides with it's embedded solutions. A great example of the use of Wind River's virtualization portfolio is presented in this press release.

With 'tight collaboration' we typically talk about attributes like memory sizes (run a hypervisor in kilobytes or single digit megabytes), interrupt response time (sub microsecond, or single digit microseconds), inter-core communication bandwidth (gigabits or tens of gigabits per second depending on the architecture) and deterministic worst-case execution times. Customers describe which of these attributes are important to them and then design their system around it.

Some of the primary reasons why customers are relying on Wind River's embedded virtualization portfolio are that 1) Wind River has optimized the integration between the operating systems and the virtualization layer for these embedded scenarios; 2) the customer-facing teams at Wind River understand embedded and virtualization and assist the customers in designing their systems; and 3) Wind River takes ownership of the system, not just the virtualization layer.

All these facts put together provides the customer with a best of breed operating environment, the assistance to design the best system and the collaborative relationship with a stable vendor to bring this system to market.