Nucleus RTOS hits 30, boosts safety certifications

Nucleus RTOS hits 30, boosts safety certifications

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By Nick Flaherty

The Nucleus real time operating system (RTOS) is 30 today with over three billion units shipped. As part of Siemens, the technology is looking to its fourth generation with a new approach to safety certifications.

Nucleus 1.0 was launched on March 27th 1993 by Accelerated Technology (ATI) as Nucleus PLUS. Mentor Graphics acquired ATI in March 2002, releasing version 2.0 in 2003. This added IPv6, Flash memory file system and Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 support.

“We still support some of the 1.x versions,” Jeff Hancock of Siemens Embedded tells eeNews Europe. “I have a medical customer using 1.15 in Japan and we have a long term support contract with them.”

The third generation Nucleus was launched in 2010 for high-end multicore processors and microcontrollers, digital signal processors (DSPs), and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

For devices with limited memory resources, Nucleus was designed to scale down to a memory size of <10 kilobytes (KBs) for both code and data. This also supported symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP) both unsupervised uAMP and supervised sAMP (using Mentor Embedded Hypervisor).

With version 3.0, Nucleus moved from an a la carte business model to one unified package, but that is shifting again with version 4.0. Now as part of Siemens Digital Industries, Nucleus is looking to its fourth generation.  

“We are up to 4.2 in the coming weeks,” said Hancock.  “We have now extended the multicore framework to support Zephry and FreeRTOS, and taken that multicore framework and certified it for functional safety, eg Autosar classic on a safety island and Linux on the ARM Cortex-A cores with the safety artefacts. We are expecting TUV certification shortly.”

The company has an ISO 26262 ASIL-D version of Nucleus called SafetyCert in automotive based on Nucleus 3.0 and is expanding that to industrial and medical, says Hancock.

“It’s time for SafetyCert 4 but we are taking a different approach,” he said. “What we heard from customers is the need for future functional safety requirements so we are taking a safety profile approach as a paid add on to standard Nucleus.”

Level 0 of the profile will be the standard Nucleus RTOS, while Level 1 will give a warning if developers go outside the safety criteria, for example using USB. Level 2 will provide functional safety capability.

“We will take snapshots of Level 2 as golden images for documentation. This will allow developers to use newer tools,” said Hancock. “This opens up a whole bunch of opportunities, for example now with the profile all of our board support packages are certifiable.”

“Our roadmap release for the profiles is in autumn in Nucleus 4.2 and will work with third party verification houses for test harnesses and that typically takes 9 months to a year, so 2025 for certification,” he said.


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