XMOS, AWS team for symmetric multiprocessing FreeRTOS

XMOS, AWS team for symmetric multiprocessing FreeRTOS

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SMP version of FreeRTOS ported to XMOS xcore chip and Tensilica configurable processor IP, with a RISC-V port in development
By Nick Flaherty

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Amazon has launched a version of the FreeRTOS real time operating system that supports symmetric multiprocessing to allow higher performance on multicore devices.

Working with UK chip maker XMOS, SMP FreeRTOS added support for the Xcore ports for use on the xcore chipset, which brings together AI, control, communications and DSP.

The xcore architecture was developed for realtime multicore operation, and the recently released xtc software tools come with standards compliant C and C++ compilers, language libraries, simulator, symbolic debugger, and runtime instrumentation and trace libraries. Multicore support offers features for task based parallelism and communication, accurate timing and I/O, and safe memory management.

The MIT-licensed open-source FreeRTOS is downloaded every 170 seconds by developers around the world and supported with verification and maintenance by Amazon Web Services (AWS) following a deal in 2017.

The SMP release of FreeRTOS means that developers can now use the flexibility of our xcore platform to architect custom solutions from the operating system. This is a major differentiation from other SoCs, which are substantially hard-coded in silicon,” said Mark Lippett, CEO of XMOS in Bristol, UK.

“With full support for the C programming language, FreeRTOS and the deep learning framework TensorFlow-Lite, we ensure developers enjoy the benefits of xcore through comfortable and familiar programming models,” he said.

“Thanks to our collaboration with Amazon Web Services, developers now have the opportunity to programme and adapt applications for the IoT quickly and easily. With this release, a full voice stack, for example, with different forms of compute (DSP, AI, etc) can be run on a homogeneous platform, simplifying development, testing, and maintenance of software, and ultimately reducing cost and time to market.”

Next: RISC-V SMP FreeRTOS plans


Richard Barry, Founder of FreeRTOS and Senior Principle Engineer, AWS Edge Devices, said: “We are really pleased to work with XMOS and other partners to consolidate and upstream the various symmetric multiprocessing versions of FreeRTOS into the officially supported kernel version. This enables us, as well as our expansive user community, to provide the same rapid and knowledgeable level of support across an even wider range of innovative processors and use cases.”

“We are consolidating a few slightly different production SMP versions of FreeRTOS, specifically from Espressif and XMOS, and porting the result to new architectures,” said Barry. “The intent is to then develop the scheduling algorithms a bit further.”

Alongside XMOS, among the most influential contributions AWS cites Espressif with Tensilica Xtensa and RISC-V multi core SoCs for wireless connectivity and IoT which was previously a fork of the FreeRTOS kernel. Western Digital is looking at a version of SMP FreeRTOS to run on the RISC-V cores it develops, some of which have been licensed to Codasip in Europe.

Ports for more architectures, vendors and SoCs will be added in the coming months says AWS.

The SMP FreeRTOS is available at https://github.com/FreeRTOS/FreeRTOS-Kernel/tree/smp.

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