The software component that provides all the virtualization capabilities is called a hypervisor. It creates and runs virtual machines, and it controls how the hardware resources are being shared.
Virtualization provides unique advantages:
While the basic concepts behind virtualization are known since decades and virtualization is in practical use for many years, virtualization is not yet used widely across the world of embedded systems. As virtualization requires a memory management unit or at least a memory protection unit, it is the low-end (microcontroller based) embedded systems segment that did not follow the virtualization trend so far.
But the game is changing, driven by faster and cheaper microcontrollers, and by customers requesting higher levels of safety, security, usability and convenience. The automotive industry, for instance, is progressing from advanced driver assistance systems towards autonomous driving, thus facing a huge increase in technical complexity that calls for new approaches in embedded systems design.
While the benefit of reduced hardware cost is realized in volume production, the transition towards real-time virtualization requires considerable one-time software development effort. All timing requirements of the system, that has previously been distributed across multiple microcontrollers, have to be met by the virtualized system, too. For this purpose, a comprehensive timing analysis has to be performed in the early design phase. Based on lessons learned from such projects, we strongly recommend to develop a timing model to manage the high degree of complexity of the dynamic architecture. The dynamic architecture can be optimized efficiently by using an automated simulation environment like the INCHRON Tool-Suite.
Elektronik Automotive, a German magazine for professional automotive electronics, publishes our paper "Virtualisierung für Mikrocontroller-Hardware - Zeit und Kosten sparen" (in German only) in its Embedded World 2017 issue. This paper was jointly written by OpenSynergy and INCHRON. It discusses important technical aspects of real-time virtualization for automotive applications, and it explains how to successfully manage the transition from highly distributed systems of dedicated electronic control units (ECUs) towards less distributed, virtualized systems.
Meet INCHRON and OpenSynergy at Embedded World 2017, hall 4, stand 4-300, and learn more about hypervisors and optimization of real-time systems.
To schedule an appointment at our booth, please contact us and let us know the topics you are interested in: