Wind River - quick response software

    What Intel products do you know? Surely, the first thing everyone will answer is: "processors." Then, network administrators will probably remember the Ethernet cards and controllers, and programmers - “system-wide” development tools. And also SSDs, graphics chips, and so on and so forth ... But Intel still does a lot more. Over the years, Intel has acquired a significant number of companies developing various kinds of software and hardware components, many of which have retained their name and profile. In this post - a story about one of such companies - Wind River , which is creating real-time software for industrial and embedded systems, including such unusual ones as the Curiosity rover.

    Every year, the things around us are becoming more intelligent. Irons and pans, cars and planes - everything around is getting smarter with terrible power, making life easier for us people - but only if this intelligence works as it should. And if not? The price for convenience is the "digital dependence" of humanity. Our well-being and security depend on thousands of computers of various sizes, some of which, in principle, have no right to make a mistake. I will give just one example. During the Anglo-Argentine war of 1982 over the Falkland Islands, the English destroyer Sheffield was sunk by Argentinean aircraft because the Sea Wolf anti-aircraft missile defense computer that was protecting the ship crashed while putting it into combat mode. To restore the system’s performance, a reboot was required,

    That same ill-fated HMS Sheffield.

    That is why especially stringent requirements are imposed on computer systems embedded in airplanes, ships, and complex production complexes. And it is precisely such systems that Wind River has been dealing with for more than 20 years.
    Wind River was founded in 1981. Its headquarters is located in Alameda, California - next to the "destroyers of legends." Since its foundation, the company has been developing real-time software for mobile and embedded systems. Let's digress for a while to discuss what it is - a real-time OS (RTOS)?

    Curiosity landing on Mars under the control of Wind River VxWorks. The same thing in the video - at the bottom of the post

    Wikipedia gives several definitions of this type of OS. What I like most is the short one: “An operating system that responds in a predictable time to the unpredictable occurrence of external events.” Briefly, the principle of its operation can be described as follows. The system has a number of event handlers, most of the time in a state of inactivity. However, when an event occurs, its handler must perform all necessary actions strictly within a given period of time; otherwise, the system must fix the error. The “reality” of time makes us take a different look at such aspects common to the OS as prioritization and planning and resource allocation. Say, the RTOS manager has the right to unceremoniously stop any process if it is necessary to immediately start an important processor.

    CarPC created with Wind River

    Now back to Wind River. The composition of its products includes:
    • Platform Wind River Linux - supported by Wind River Linux distribution, equipped with a real-time kernel, as well as improved communication interfaces to speed up data exchange;
    • Wind River VxWorks platform - runtime environment consisting of VxWorks RTOS of own production and optimized communication interfaces with external data sources or other controllers;
    • OS for industrial computers - the above platforms, “ground” for a specific embedded object with the necessary operating parameters and sensor interfaces;
    • Wind River Workbench - application development environment for Wind River Linux and VxWorks, including visual design, debugging, testing and management tools;
    • And a whole range of products for industrial and embedded systems.

    UAV Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS-D with VxWorks on board

    In 2009, Wind River was acquired by Intel, but retained its name and crew. From this moment, the company implements its creative plans together with other divisions of Intel. Achievements along this path are enough, these are the main ones.
    • It is Wind River that is engaged in the development of automotive intelligent systems IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) at Intel . Let me remind you, we are talking about a unified computer system of a car that performs information, multimedia and diagnostic functions;
    • A separate reason for Wind River's pride: NASA selected the VxWorks platform as the OS for the rocket that delivered the Curiosity science lab to Mars . So to the successes of Curiosity, which is now being watched by the whole world, also Intel is involved in the person of Wind River;
    • Wind River's traditional focus is on-board computers for civilian and military aircraft. Recent implementations include the Northrop Grumman X-47B UCAS-D carrier-based unmanned aircraft , which also flies on VxWorks. And he is, of course, not alone; because the company has had many years of cooperation with Boeing, Bombardier and other aircraft builders.

    Wind River has a wide range of interests. We can say that the company is represented almost everywhere where software is required, "responding in a predictable time to unpredictable events." Here, and telecommunications (intelligent routing, DPI), and medicine (computer diagnostic devices), and mobile devices (optimization of mobile OS), and much more. And although ordinary citizens do not know about the existence of Wind River, this company is one of those that make our world more convenient and safer. In the end, Intel knows whom to buy ...

    Finally - an impressive clip about the landing of Curiosity on Mars

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