5. Real time operating system

Computers are often integrated into electronic control equipment. They provide the data processing power to handle incoming data. They are commonly known as 'embedded computers'.

real time operating system

For example, the car engine management control unit has an embedded computer to handle all aspects of controlling the engine.

The Mars Rover shown opposite has a real time operating system to handle all its sensor data.

A radar system will have powerful embedded computers to handle echo analysis.

A mundane washing machine will have an embedded controller.

All of these devices need a real-time operating system (RTOS). A real type operating system is designed to handle input data within a guaranteed time (latency). This could be micro-seconds for applications such as real-time speech processing or it could be slower for less time intensive tasks.

The programmer is able to set priority to the incoming data streams, where the most important signals are handled first. This is usually done through a method called 'priority interrupts'.



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