RTOS seeks to ease IoT device design

April 09, 2015

RichQ-April 09, 2015

Recognizing that the Internet of Things (IoT) will involve many non-traditional embedded systems developers, Texas Instruments has revised its TI-RTOS to incorporate automated power management and connectivity features that simplify IoT endpoint creation. The TI-RTOS v2.12 released today will help developers maximize battery life in TI SimpleLink and other wireless MCUs without being experts at "bare-metal" programming.

"TI believes that most future applications for microcontrollers will bt IoT ready," said TI's IoT Ecosystem Product Manager Nick Lethaby in an interview with EE Times. "And in addition to traditional embedded developers, there will be established makers of other product types as well of lots of folks from the cloud side all coming to IoT device development. Lots of those developers will be inexperienced in embedded and many of those with embedded experience will have domain expertise but not in ultra-low power or cloud communications."

As a result of this changing developer landscape, TI believes that the way MCU software development gets done will also change, Lethaby added. He indicated that "bare-metal" programming will give way to applications running on operating systems. And in the RTOS, use of embedded GUIs will decline as connected devices leverage smartphones and networked computing as input and display elements, and USB connectivity needs will decline. Connectivity and advanced power management for long battery life, on the other hand, will become essential features.

The revision 2.12 of TI-RTOS aims to address these needs by building in all the necessary drivers for connectivity and automating the power management process. The TI-RTOS now contains all the device drivers for TI MCUs and communications protocol stacks for WiFi, Bluetooth, Smart Zigbee, and 6LoWPAN. It also contains cloud connectivity protocols such as HTTP and MQTT clients, and supports over-the-air software updating.

An integrated power management system is a key feature of the new release. The device drivers and protocol stacks as well as user code interact with a power manager block that controls the MCU's operating modes, clock gates, and power domains. This interaction allows the peripherals, stacks, and user code to automatically turn on peripherals as needed and return them to a low-power state when finished. A power policy manager runs as an idle task in the RTOS, and takes its cues from the power manager and the real-time clock to put the entire system into a sleep mode when feasible. The policy manager has knowledge of event schedules as well as the latencies involved in entering and exiting each power mode, so that it is able to determine when sleep is appropriate and to automatically wake up the system in time for a scheduled event.

Continue reading on Embedded's sister site, EE Times: "RTOS evolves to ease wireless IoT device design."

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