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RTOS suits low-cost ARM-based MCUs

Posted: 20 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IAR Systems? PowerPac? RTOS? ARM? MCU?

IAR Systems launched its new middleware familythe IAR PowerPac, a fully featured RTOS combined with a high performance file system.

With a small (2Kbyte) memory footprint and an affordable licensing model, the IAR PowerPac RTOS is particularly aimed at the low-cost ARM-powered MCU market. Further products in the IAR PowerPac family are planned, and will address a comprehensive range of target devices.

Thirty-two-bit MCUs are becoming more affordable for a wide range of applications while software and hardware complexity continues to grow. This trend has generated an increasing need for a real-time multitasking system. Until now the RTOS market for MCUs has been a relatively fragmented one, with very few fully integrated offerings available. Additionally, developers of small embedded systems have been reluctant to buy a standalone RTOS. In fact, many have not been using an RTOS at all, either because they prefer to build their own task scheduler or because they believe they either don't need or can't afford one. However, there are several compelling reasons for using an RTOS: in addition to providing real-time multitasking capability, the task-oriented design process imposed by an RTOS is cleaner and better organized than in a system without an RTOS; the RTOS promotes code reuse, and provides a useful service to the application by offering clean hooks to middleware and by shortening development time. The quality of the application is also ensured by the predictable response times that are achieved in time-critical applications. This is the niche that IAR PowerPac has been developed to fill, the company said.

Multitasking capability
IAR PowerPac features re-emptive scheduling as well as round-robin scheduling, handling up to 255 priorities with an unlimited number of tasks, semaphores, mailboxes and software timers. Full interrupt support is provided, and zero interrupt latency time is a key benefit. Nested interrupts are permitted, and very fast context switch times can be achieved. The IAR PowerPac File System is MS-DOS/MS-Windows compatible, with FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32 support as well as support for multiple device drivers and multiple media, including: RAM disk; MMC; SD; CompactFlash; IDE; SMC; and NOR/NAND flashes. The highly modular structure helps minimize memory consumption.

The innovative business model under which IAR PowerPac is licensed is similar to that of IAR Embedded Workbench, IAR Systems' flagship compiler, with which IAR PowerPac is tightly integrated. In addition to a single-user licence, with an option to include source code, IAR Systems is also introducing the concept of a group licence suitable for development teams of up to 20 developers, which also includes full source code of the product. The per-seat licensing fee is the only fee associated with using IAR PowerPac; there are no royalties or fees connected to projects, end-user products/product families or production volume. This makes investing in IAR PowerPac a low-risk licensing model, according to the company, since all associated licensing costs are known in advance.

IAR PowerPac for ARM is available from IAR Systems and its worldwide network of sales representatives. An evaluation version of IAR PowerPac is available for download from the company's website starting Nov. 20 2006.




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