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Technological Breakthrough – Embedded Virtualization

Embedded virtualization denotes a type-1 hypervisor deployed within an embedded system. It is a computer system developed to conduct distinct specialised functions. Supplementing a hypervisor to an embedded system enhances its competencies, while transforming the embedded device into a modified system.

The option for single/multiprocessor platforms to assist multiple operating environments while ensuring real time responsiveness is to functionally partition processor resources so that they are managed by distinct operating environments which operate on the processor silicon instead of virtual machine execution.


The embedded virtualization technology was initiated to facilitate an interface between real time operating system (RTOS) and a general purpose operating system (GPOS). Embedded virtualization generates a segregated scenario in which the 2 OSs and application operate in a single platform (appearing as operating on 2 platforms). This results in decreasing system cost due to lesser processing platforms being required to manage the application’s computing requirements. On the other hand, product capability can be improved if systems can be constructed with less hardware elements.


In the initials stages of 1980’s, machine manufactures realized the opportunity to use the PC platform to construct control systems for the machines. The pioneering applications were simple, while the emphasis was to leverage the existing hardware than the specialized control hardware due to the cost advantage. The PC market matured with the inclusion of Windows, resulting in the launch of various application software packages. This led to the establishment of a modified Human Machine Interface (HMI). The machine manufacturers realised the opportunity to utilize Windows to produce complex HMIs. At the same time, Windows based PCs could not be used for time based control since Windows is not an RTOS. Therefore, embedded system designers would supplement a real-time computer system to the machine along with the PC to provide a wide range of product functionality.


A procedure has to be developed to partition the platform resources to facilitate the RTOS access to I/O and interrupts that are required to operate an application deterministically. GPOSs just like Windows do not give access to co-inhabitant RTOS to monitor its I/O devices.

On the other hand, GPOSs manage all I/O on the platform at the time of installation. Other than the possibility of transitioning Windows - resulting in different forms of issues, a procedure to reserve I/O from Windows must be developed. Procedures must be created to migrate from RTOS to GPOS with less overhead. This is the basis for embedded virtualization.


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