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VxWorks
VxWorks 7 boot-up screen
DeveloperWind River (a wholly owned subsidiary of Aptiv)
OS familyReal-time operating systems
Working stateCurrent
Initial release1987; 37 years ago (1987)
Latest releaseVxWorks 7 24.03 / February 27, 2024; 42 days ago (2024-02-27)
Marketing targetEmbedded systems
Platformsx86, x86-64, MIPS, PowerPC, SH-4, ARM, RISC-V
Kernel typeMonolithic
LicenseProprietary
Official websiteWindriver.com/products/vxworks

VxWorks is a real-time operating system (or RTOS) developed as proprietary software by Wind River Systems, a subsidiary of Aptiv. First released in 1987, VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems requiring real-time, deterministic performance and in many cases, safety and security certification for industries such as aerospace, defense, medical devices, industrial equipment, robotics, energy, transportation, network infrastructure, automotive, and consumer electronics.[1]

VxWorks supports AMD/Intel architecture, POWER architecture, ARM architectures and RISC-V.[2] The RTOS can be used in multicore asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and mixed modes[3] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[4] designs on 32- and 64-bit processors.[5]

VxWorks comes with the kernel, middleware, board support packages, Wind River Workbench development suite, complementary third-party software and hardware. In its latest release, VxWorks 7, the RTOS has been re-engineered for modularity and upgradeability so the OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications and other packages.[6] Scalability, security, safety, connectivity, and graphics have been improved to address Internet of Things (IOT) needs.[7][8][9]

History

VxWorks started in the late 1980s as a set of enhancements to a simple RTOS called VRTX[10] sold by Ready Systems (becoming a Mentor Graphics product in 1995).[11] Wind River acquired rights to distribute VRTX and significantly enhanced it by adding, among other things, a file system and an integrated development environment. In 1987, anticipating the termination of its reseller contract by Ready Systems, Wind River proceeded to develop its own kernel to replace VRTX within VxWorks.[12]

Published in 2003 with a Wind River copyright, "Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems"[13] describes the development environment, runtime setting, and system call families of the RTOS. Written by Wind River employees with a foreword by Jerry Fiddler, chairman, and co-founder of Wind River, the textbook is an excellent tutorial on the RTOS. (It does not, however, replace Wind River documentation as might be needed by practicing engineers.)

Some key milestones for VxWorks include:[14][failed verification]

Platform overview

VxWorks supports Intel architecture, Power architecture, and ARM architectures. The RTOS can be used in multi-core asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), mixed modes[5] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[4] designs on 32- and 64- bit processors.

The VxWorks consists of a set of runtime components and development tools. The run time components are an operating system (UP and SMP; 32- and 64-bit), software for applications support (file system, core network stack, USB stack, and inter-process communications), and hardware support (architecture adapter, processor support library, device driver library, and board support packages).[5] VxWorks core development tools are compilers such as Diab, GNU, and Intel C++ Compiler (ICC) and its build and configuration tools. The system also includes productivity tools such as its Workbench development suite and Intel tools and development support tools for asset tracking and host support.[5]

The platform is a modular, vendor-neutral, open system that supports a range of third-party software and hardware. The OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications, and other packages,[8] which enables easier bug fixes and testing of new features.[15] An implementation of a layered source build system allows multiple versions of any stack to be installed at the same time so developers can select which version of any feature set should go into the VxWorks kernel libraries.

Optional advanced add-ons for VxWorks provide additional capabilities, including the following:

Features

Core features of the OS include:[3][17][18][19]

In March 2014 Wind River introduced VxWorks 7, emphasizing scalability, security, safety, connectivity, graphics, and virtualization.[9][15][20] The following lists some of the release 7 updates.[1][5][6][9] More information can be found on the Wind Rivers VxWorks website.

Hardware support

VxWorks has been ported to a number of platforms and now runs on practically any modern CPU that is used in the embedded market. This includes the Intel x86 family (including the Intel Quark SoC),[21] MIPS, PowerPC (and BAE RAD), Freescale ColdFire, Intel i960, SPARC, Fujitsu FR-V, SH-4 and the closely related family of ARM, StrongARM and xScale CPUs. VxWorks provides a standard board support package (BSP) interface between all its supported hardware and the OS. Wind River's BSP developer kit provides a common application programming interface (API) and a stable environment for real-time operating system development. VxWorks is supported by popular SSL/TLS libraries such as wolfSSL.[22]

Development environment

As is common in embedded system development, cross-compiling is used with VxWorks. Development is done on a "host" system where an integrated development environment (IDE), including the editor, compiler toolchain, debugger, and emulator can be used. Software is then compiled to run on the "target" system. This allows the developer to work with powerful development tools while targeting more limited hardware. VxWorks uses the following host environments and target hardware architectures:[23]

Supported target architectures and processor families

VxWorks supports a range of target architectures including ARM, Intel, Power architecture, RISC-V architecture and more.[2] For the latest target architecture processors and board support packages, refer to the VxWorks Marketplace[24] or via citation.[25]

The Eclipse-based Workbench IDE that comes with VxWorks is used to configure, analyze, optimize, and debug a VxWorks-based system under development.[26] The Tornado IDE was used for VxWorks 5.x[27] and was replaced by the Eclipse-based Workbench IDE for VxWorks 6.x. and later.[23] Workbench is also the IDE for the Wind River Linux,[28] On-Chip Debugging,[29] and Wind River Diab Compiler product lines. VxWorks 7 uses Wind River Workbench 4[30] which updates to the Eclipse 4 base provides full third party plug-in support and usability improvements.

Wind River Simics[31][32] is a standalone simulation tool compatible with VxWorks. It simulates the full target system (hardware and software) to create a shared platform for software development. Multiple developers can share a complete virtual system and its entire state, including execution history. Simics enables early and continuous system integration and faster prototyping by utilizing virtual prototypes instead of physical prototypes.[33]

Notable uses

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover uses VxWorks.
The ASIMO Robot uses VxWorks.
AgustaWestland Project Zero uses VxWorks.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter uses VxWorks.
The Clementine spacecraft used VxWorks.

VxWorks is used by products across a wide range of market areas: aerospace and defense, automotive, industrial such as robots, consumer electronics, medical area and networking.[6] Several notable products also use VxWorks as the onboard operating system.[34]

Aerospace and defense

Spacecraft

Aircraft

Space telescopes
Others

Automotive

Consumer electronics

Industrial

Industrial robots
Test and Measurement
Transportation
Controllers
Storage systems
Imaging
Others

Medical

Networking and communication infrastructure

TCP vulnerability and CVE patches

As of July 2019, a paper published by Armis[113] exposed 11 critical vulnerabilities, including remote code execution, denial of service, information leaks, and logical flaws impacting more than two billion devices using the VxWorks RTOS.[114] The vulnerability allows attackers to tunnel into an internal network using the vulnerability and hack into printers, laptops, and any other connected devices. The vulnerability can bypass firewalls as well.[115]

The system is in use by quite a few mission-critical products, many of which could not be easily patched.[116]

References

  1. ^ a b "VxWorks Goes 64-bit", Electronic Design, March 25, 2011
  2. ^ a b "Wind River Announces RISC-V Support for VxWorks RTOS". www.businesswire.com. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b RTOS Handles AMP and SMP, electronic design, March 2009
  4. ^ a b John Rath (February 2014). "Intel Adds Virtualization Platform for Industrial Systems".
  5. ^ a b c d e f Embedded Star Archived April 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Article, February 2011
  6. ^ a b c Wind River Archived December 4, 2022, at the Wayback Machine reinvents real-time system for the Internet of Things, iTERS news, March 2014
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  11. ^ "SEC filing". Secinfo.com. January 19, 1996. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
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  82. ^ iBox user guide Page 8-41
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