Evolving Our Perceptions Of Time
“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?” This is the premise of a recent film called Arrival, which advances the notion of holistic, non-linear time that rattles what we perceive time to be. The concept of non-linear time – viewing time as an ever-sharpening circle rather than linear – deals with predictability of events and knowing when and how certain things will happen in the span of a given period of time. In genetics, mapping out a person’s entire genetic code by sequencing all 20,000 or so genes in one fell swoop enables predictability from hair color to susceptibility to disease. Genome sequencing and non-linear time, much like Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS), involve increased predictability within certain time periods. We see examples of RTOS everywhere – from Toyota’s automotive safety systems to NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover.
The image of a rowing team illustrates a good example of a human real time system, where the strokes of the oars need to be synchronized and executed precisely in order to win the race. The coxswain in the boat provides the smart scheduling and the navigation – providing predictable steering based on timing and the environment.
In software, applications that are specifically developed with real time, shielded execution in mind require that they be hosted on a real time operating system that will treat the applications with the precision and deterministic timing they were designed for. Thus, we have the three main elements of a Real Time Operating System:
- Smart scheduling and prioritization
Process of determining when and where each task will be executed
- Quick response on events and communication
Guarantees that all interrupts will be serviced within a certain maximum amount of time
- Predictable execution time
Constraints of all tasks can be met with 100% certainty (time, resource, environment, and performance)
These three key elements combined can provide a true RTOS for precise and predictable timing.
With the latest version (available March 1) of SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time, SUSE now delivers a standalone RTOS offering (SUSE Linux Enterprise is included) that incorporates our vision of what a RTOS is supposed to be. The latest version adds support for virtualization and containers which opens the door to even greater opportunities to manage multiple embedded real time systems on a single operating system designed for real time applications.