SAN JOSE, Calif. – A startup formed by members of Linaro wants to be the Red Hat of the Internet of Things, delivering configurations of Linux and the Zephyr RTOS for end nodes, gateways and cars. Foundries.io aims to provide processor-agnostic code with regular updates at a time when IoT developers have a wide variety of increasingly vendor-specific choices.
“Today every IoT product is effectively a custom design that has to be tested and maintained, and we believe that causes huge fragmentation. Our concept is to make it as easy to update an embedded product as to update a smartphone, so you don’t need a security expert,” said George Grey, chief executive of Foundries.io.
The startup will offer a Zephyr distribution that can fit into as little as 512 KBytes flash. It’s embedded Linux, based on Open Embedded/Yocto, implements Docker Containers and fits into less than 200 Mbytes. Both will be offered with subscriptions that include over-the-air security patches and other updates initially on a weekly basis.
The startup is charging $2,500/month or $25,000/year for a Linux product, regardless of how many devices use it. It charges $1,000/month or $10,000/year for Zephyr.
“It’s a hundredth the cost of building a software team, and there are no per-unit fees and no lock in. If you stop your subscription, you keep the software and get no more updates,” said Grey.
The service targets system OEMs. The startup also runs a partner program selling subscriptions to SoC and module vendors. So far, it supports code running on six development boards, spanning Arm, Intel and RISC-V processors.
Foundries.io is “the first independent effort to commercialize Zephyr” after Wind River, the creator of the RTOS it made open source while part of Intel, said Christopher Rommel, a vice president of embedded software and hardware at VDC Research Group, Inc. Wind River is not actively promoting Zephyr since Intel sold it to a private equity group.
The startup’s support for RISC-V “is further evidence of that community’s momentum,” Rommel said. However, he noted the market for embedded operating systems is well served by traditional players such as MonaVista and Wind River, as well as many new entrants including cloud computing giants and cellular carriers.
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The startup’s Linux and Zephyr RTOS stacks do not initially include hypervisors. (Image: Foundations.io)