Synergy Microsystems uses VxWorks on 90% of their boards

Engineers at Synergy Microsystems in San Diego say the majority of their customers prefer the VxWorks real-time operating system kernel from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif., on their VME boards.

Jul 1st, 1999

Engineers at Synergy Microsystems in San Diego say the majority of their customers prefer the VxWorks real-time operating system kernel from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif., on their VME boards.

"We support Wind River because our customers ask us to," says Ron Marcus, director of marketing at Synergy. "Clearly a majority of VME and CompactPCI projects involve VxWorks.

"As a result, supporting VxWorks and Tornado [software-development environment] has been an integral part of our customer support strategy for many years, and we remain committed to Wind River," he says. About 90 percent of Synergy boards run VxWorks, Marcus adds.

"Of course, different RTOSs [real-time operating systems] support different needs, and some customers wish to use other RTOSs, such as LynxOS, pSOSystem, OS9, and now Linux. We do whatever we can to support our customers` needs, Marcus adds.

"The Synergy VGM1 VME PowerPC 604e-based single-board computer, which Boeing engineers in Seattle use to test avionics designs, runs VxWorks," Marcus says.

VxWorks is the choice among embedded system designers because it has an intuitive programming model based on UNIX with POSIX compliance, says Bob Monkman, product marketing manager for VxWorks at Wind River.

At the heart of VxWorks run-time system is the Wind microkernel, which supports real-time features that include: fast multitasking, interrupt support, and preemptive and round-robin scheduling.

VxWorks is different from LynxOS, a product of Lynx Real-Time Systems in San Jose, Calif., because it is task-based while LynxOS is application based, Monkman says. Applications consist of individual tasks or threads, and because VxWorks operates at the task level the continued switching between tasks enables greater determinism, which is "VxWorks` greatest advantage," he explains.

What real-time operating system customers are looking for today is flexibility and reliability, Monkman says. Monkman says he believes Wind River`s new VxWorks tool, VxFusion, meets both of those characteristics.

VxFusion enables users to run on Ethernet, Firewire, and other serial networks, where before they could only use shared memory, Monkman explains. The product has just finished its beta testing and should be released later this year, he says.

Monkman says he also believes that reliability along with determinism is something that the Linux open-source operating system has yet to prove it has. Monkman says these are some the reasons that a real-time Linux operating system may not be a viable option for mission-critical applications.

At best, real-time Linux will be a prototyping tool or for proof-of-concept designs, he predicts.

The current approach that experts of the Real-Time Linux Group at the New Mexico Institute of Technology in Sorocco, N.M., are working on uses a real-time kernel that runs under Linux and treats it as a task.

Monkman echoes the concerns of others in his industry that introducing a new kernel, is introducing a new unknown operating system.

Linux is just a copy of Unix and will not work well in embedded systems, he claims. However, it will probably be successful on the desktop, Monkman adds. — J.M.

For more information on VxWorks contact Tabitha Steager at Wind River Systems by phone at 510-749-2470, by fax at 510-749-2010, by mail at 500 Wind River Way, Alameda, Calif. 94501, or on the World wide Web at http://www.wrs.com.

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