Microsoft announced the purchase of Express Logic and its real-time operating system ThreadX for an undisclosed sum. This makes ThreadX the third platform for the Internet of Things of the company. I already had one based on Windows (Windows 10 IoT) and one based on Linux (Azure Sphere).
ThreadX is a real-time operating system. Real-time operating systems (RTOSes) differ from more conventional platforms in their predictability. With an RTOS, a developer can know the amount of time it will take to switch from one process to another. There are an estimated 6.200 billion ThreadX deployments running on several dozen different types of processors or microcontrollers.
This class of operating systems ensures that applications will be able to respond in time to hardware events, timers, or other things that may make an application want to use the CPU.
What is the ThreadX real-time operating system for?
ThreadX has uses as diverse as NASA's Deep Impact mission or being part of the firmware of many Wi-Fi devices. These Tasks require a real-time operating system because there are time constraints on how quickly they must respond.
Although Linux can be adapted to have some features of the RTOS, ThreadX has a big advantage: it is small. ORA minimal installation of ThreadX occupies 2.000 bytes of storage and requires 1 KB of RAM. For its part, Microsoft's Sphere hardware uses a custom-designed ARM processor, has 4 MB of RAM for applications and 16 MB of storage.
Microsoft plan to use ThreadX both in conjunction with Linux and independently .ThreadX running alongside the custom Linux distribution will give real-time capability to those parts of an application that need it, along with the Linux environment for the non-critical parts of the application. For some IoT devices that are too small for Sphere, they will run ThreadX directly.
Microsoft's strategy It is not to bet on devices independent. What they are betting on is devices connected to their monitoring and management cloud service specialized in the Internet of things Azure IoT Hub. Analysts estimate that with the addition of ThreadX, the company will become a strong competitor to Amazon, which has its own real-time operating system: Amazon FreeRTOS.