Wind River acquires real-time Linux from FSMLabs

Real-time response allows for expansion into such markets as aerospace, defense, navigation, and robotics

Wind River Systems has acquired technology that lets it provide an embedded Linux OS for devices that need responses in real time.

Wind River has completed the acquisition of real-time technology, called RT Linux, from FSMLabs to complement its Linux-based embedded OS, said Glenn Seiler, director of Linux platforms for Wind River. Real-time capabilities allow a device or application to respond to an external event immediately as it occurs. The company's Linux-based embedded OS, Wind River Linux, didn't have these capabilities before, he said.

Wind River acquired only RT Linux, not all of FSMLabs, Seiler said. FSMLabs will license RT Linux back from Wind River for sale in the enterprise market, so it will not compete with Wind River, he said. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

FSMLabs is available as an add-on technology immediately for both Wind River Linux and the Wind River Workbench developer tools, and it will be integrated into both of those products by the end of the year.

Wind River is a public company and reported revenue of $266.32 million in its 2006 fiscal year.

Wind River did not have a Linux-based embedded OS until three years ago, Seiler said. The company's main source of revenue in its more than 20-year history has been its Wind River VxWorks real-time embedded OS for devices in various markets, such as aerospace, defense, automotive, industrial, and networking.

Seiler described a real-time OS as one that has a rapid-fire response time to external events. "Real time means the response is in real time, measured typically in microseconds or milliseconds, as compared to an enterprise/batch environment, where things get scheduled to occur," he said.

This kind of OS is required for devices like robots, the pilot stick of a helicopter or airplane, or the navigation or braking system of an automobile, to name just a few, Seiler said.

Before the acquisition of RT Linux from FSMLabs, Wind River's Linux OS had soft real-time capability, which means it could guarantee the fastest response possible according to the limits of a device or application maybe 80 percent to 90 percent of the time, Seiler said. Now, having real-time response capabilities in its Linux OS makes Linux-based embedded systems possible for multibillion-dollar markets, such as aerospace, defense, and the mobile phone industry, he said.

MontaVista Software also provides an OS that has soft real-time capability, and it is working to deliver real-time capability. Linux heavyweight Red Hat also hired a team to support development efforts to increase Linux response times and is eyeing moves into real-time Linux.