|Developer||Real Time Engineers Ltd.|
|OS family||Real-time operating systems|
|Source model||Open source|
|Latest release||10.4.6 / November 12, 2021|
|Marketing target||Embedded systems|
|Platforms||ARM (ARM7, ARM9, Cortex-M3, -M4, -M7, -A, -R4), Atmel AVR, AVR32, HCS12, MicroBlaze, Cortus (APS1, APS3, APS3R, APS5, FPF3, FPS6, FPS8), MSP430, PIC, Renesas H8/S, SuperH, RX, x86, 8052, Coldfire, V850, 78K0R, Fujitsu series MB91460, MB96340, Nios II, TMS570, RM4x, Espressif ESP32, RISC-V|
|Kernel type||Microkernel RTOS|
FreeRTOS is a real-time operating system kernel for embedded devices that has been ported to 35 microcontroller platforms. It is distributed under the MIT License.
The FreeRTOS kernel was originally developed by Richard Barry around 2003, and was later developed and maintained by Barry's company, Real Time Engineers Ltd. In 2017, the firm passed stewardship of the FreeRTOS project to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Barry continues to work on FreeRTOS as part of an AWS team.
FreeRTOS is designed to be small and simple. It is mostly written in the C programming language to make it easy to port and maintain. It also comprises a few assembly language functions where needed, mostly in architecture-specific scheduler routines.
FreeRTOS provides methods for multiple threads or tasks, mutexes, semaphores and software timers. A tickless mode is provided for low power applications. Thread priorities are supported. FreeRTOS applications can be statically allocated, but objects can also be dynamically allocated with five schemes of memory management (allocation):
RTOSes typically do not have the more advanced features that are found in operating systems like Linux and Microsoft Windows, such as device drivers, advanced memory management, and user accounts. The emphasis is on compactness and speed of execution. FreeRTOS can be thought of as a thread library rather than an operating system, although command line interface and POSIX-like input/output (I/O) abstraction are available.
FreeRTOS implements multiple threads by having the host program call a thread tick method at regular short intervals. The thread tick method switches tasks depending on priority and a round-robin scheduling scheme. The usual interval is 1 to 10 milliseconds (1⁄1000 to 1⁄100 of a second) via an interrupt from a hardware timer, but this interval is often changed to suit a given application.
The software distribution contains prepared configurations and demonstrations for every port and compiler, allowing rapid application design. The project website provides documentation and RTOS tutorials, and details of the RTOS design.
Amazon provides an extension of FreeRTOS, referred to as a:FreeRTOS. This is FreeRTOS with libraries for Internet of things (IoT) support, specifically for Amazon Web Services. Since version 10.0.0 in 2017, Amazon has taken stewardship of the FreeRTOS code, including any updates to the original kernel.
SAFERTOS was developed as a complementary version of FreeRTOS, with common functions, but designed for safety-critical implementation. FreeRTOS was subject to hazard and operability study (HAZOP), and weaknesses were identified and resolved. The result was put through a full IEC 61508 SIL 3 development lifecycle, the highest level for a software-only component.
SAFERTOS was developed by Wittenstein High Integrity Systems, in partnership with Real Time Engineers Ltd, primary developer of the FreeRTOS project. Both SAFERTOS and FreeRTOS share the same scheduling algorithm, have similar application programming interfaces (APIs), and are otherwise very similar, but they were developed with differing objectives. SAFERTOS was developed solely in the C language to meet requirements for certification to IEC61508.
SAFERTOS can reside solely in the on-chip read-only memory (ROM) of a microcontroller for standards compliance. When implemented in hardware memory, SAFERTOS code can only be used in its original, certified configuration. This means certifying a system needs no retesting of the kernel portion of a design. SAFERTOS is included in the ROM of some Stellaris Microcontrollers from Texas Instruments. SAFERTOS source code does not need to be separately purchased. In this usage scenario, a C header file is used to map SAFERTOS API functions to their location in read-only memory.
OPENRTOS is a commercially-licensed version of Amazon FreeRTOS, sold by Wittenstein High Integrity Systems. This product provides support and allows companies to use the Amazon FreeRTOS kernel and libraries without the a:FreeRTOS MIT license.
A kernel is not an RTOS, but this can be a confusing issue because of the inappropriate naming chosen for some popular kernels, ‘freeRTOS’ for example.
What is FreeRTOS? … The size constraints, and dedicated end application nature, rarely warrant the use of a full RTOS implementation - or indeed make the use of a full RTOS implementation possible. FreeRTOS therefore provides the core real-time scheduling functions, inter-task communication, timing, and synchronisation primitives only. This means it is more accurately described as a real time kernel, or real time executive. …