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Fault tolerant VirtuosoNext RTOS for ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers


eric.verhulst, Aug. 08, 2017 – Altreonic has now ported the latest VirtuosoNext Designer to ARM Cortex M-series microcontrollers. The latest version fully exploits the Memory Protection support to provide fine-grain partitioning and allows fine-grain recovery from processor exceptions in a few microseconds at the Task level. This effectively provides fault tolerance for the applications without the system experiencing any significant delay and without having to apply costly hardware redundancy schemes. At the system level, the resilience level is greatly increased at virtually no cost. The economic advantages are significant.

A fault tolerant RTOS, what does it mean?

An increasing number of embedded applications must be able to provide uninterrupted services. Applications range from highly connected devices (e.g. IoT) to autonomous systems.As the world is not perfect, hardware or software faults do occur. If they occur, even with a very low probability, they can result in so-called hazardous situations with safety and security risks that ultimately can result in lives being lost or in serious economic costs. Embedded systems applies two main mechanisms to mitigate such risks. The first one is redundancy in time and space. This reduces the risk that the a single fault brings down the whole system. The second mechanism is to prevent the resulting errors from propagating. This requires to isolate the faults in time and space and to use guarding mechanisms, often in software.

A fault tolerant RTOS allows an application to continue even after a fault has occurred. This in contrast to a standard approach whereby very often the whole system has to be rebooted, a time-consuming and not necessarily practical solution. While a complete reboot might be needed if the fault is unrecoverable at the hardware level, in many cases the fault is transient, software or data related and no complete reboot is needed.

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