Taking Embedded Systems Development to New Heights in the Cloud

Six ways VxWorks in the Amazon Graviton cloud brings cross-industry success.


Will the next Mars Rover software be completely developed and tested in the cloud? Will your car one day receive software updates that never touched actual hardware until they arrived at your car?  These are distinct possibilities!

Modern development teams are increasingly tasked with delivering mission-critical embedded systems that exhibit reliable, ultra-high performance, with faster time-to-market - all while maintaining security and industry standard functional safety.

VxWorks – the world’s most widely deployed Real Time Operating System is available as an Application Machine Image (AMI), instances of which may be run on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Graviton2 processor, within the AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure. Graviton2’s 64-bit ARM architecture is commonly found in embedded systems across numerous industries, from automotive and aerospace/defense to medical, robotics and manufacturing.

Here we outline six ways that development teams can benefit from using the combination of VxWorks and the power of the cloud.

  1. Scalability

Dependence upon available hardware is a traditional bottleneck for embedded development teams, including those developing the functionality that runs on top of VxWorks. Accessing an almost unlimited number of AWS Graviton2-based instances of the ARM64 processor architecture eliminates a major part of this bottleneck – with actual hardware only needed for testing towards the end of the cycle.

  1. Efficiency & Performance

Achieving full ARM64 binary parity in the cloud affords developers a high degree of confidence that functionality will perform as intended when deployed on the target system. It also helps with performance testing. Previously this would have been achieved via software emulation, although emulator-target mismatches generally meant less confidence and more issues in the final test phases. A further benefit to efficiency is that the duplication of existing cloud targets facilitates the rapid kick-off of new development projects. With VxWorks, the AMI can be used for testing applications and different configurations of the VxWorks RTOS itself, such as with and without de-bug mode etc.

  1. Collaboration

Utilizing engineering talent spanning multiple time zones is increasingly cost-effective for many organizations. Launching VxWorks instances in the cloud, as and when needed, means teams can securely collaborate on development and testing – even bringing the lab to the home office or coffee shop. Cross-organizational collaboration in the cloud on projects with technology partners also becomes a true reality.

  1. Quality

By testing earlier in the development process, defects can be identified and remedied earlier, enhancing product quality. VxWorks is an enabler of this notion of ‘shift left’ – a key benefit of cloud-enabled development.

  1. Time-to-market

Rapid, incremental software development and CI/CD pipeline integration greatly shorten time-to-market for high-quality software. And the continual advancement of digital replication and sensor fusion technology, where whole systems are being represented in software, means that new functionality and updates can be rolled out more rapidly than ever. VxWorks cloud integration is thus a key enabler of this process.

  1. Competitiveness

Capital expenditure reduction associated with needing less development hardware and instead, adopting a more forecastable/trackable monthly outlay, based on the number of instances of VxWorks on Graviton2 and associated processing time, positively affects the bottom line. When combined with time-to-market reductions, organizations and their product teams can start becoming more proactive, thinking outside the box about new business models, offering a further competitive edge.

Decoupling software development from embedded target hardware further supports the generational shift that is taking place within engineering teams, with developers wanting to adopt more IT-like methodologies and cloud enablement, like their backend-system / application counterparts. They and their organizations need the ability to focus on innovation, not infrastructure as more and more links in the development chain become cloud enabled.

VxWorks, as the industry leading RTOS for the intelligent edge, brings this to reality. The combination of our Edge products – VxWorks RTOS, Embedded Linux OS and Helix Virtualization Platform, allied to our Wind River Studio offerings – for CI/CD pipeline management and systems Operation ensure that Embedded Systems Development teams are armed with the best tooling, for success now and into the future, no matter what their industry.

If you are curious to learn more, check out VxWorks on AWS


About the author

Alan Stranaghan is a Senior Product Marketing Line Manager at Wind River