Understanding RTOS

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Many embedded systems require software to respond to inputs and events within a defined short period of time. Such systems can be categorised as hard real-time, where missing a response deadline is unacceptable (for example an anti-lock braking system), and soft real-time, where hitting a deadline is desirable but not critical. In both types of system, a degree of determinism is important.

RTOSes are designed to control an embedded system, and to deliver the real-time resposiveness and determinism required by the controlled device. Applications run under the control of the RTOS, and their allocated CPU time is scheduled by the RTOS kernel.
In modern systems, a RTOS consists not only of a real-time kernel, but also higher-level functions such as device management (USB, UART, Ethernet, LCD etc), file systems, protocol stacks (CAN, TCP/IP, HTTP etc) and graphical user interfaces (GUI).

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