Zephyr Introduction

Goal of this manual

The main goal of this manual is to introduce and present fundamentals of Zephyr OS and to prepare good starting point for further research and development.

Zephyr

What is the Zephyr?

It is a small real-time operating system (RTOS in short) for connected, resource-constrained (i.e. low memory, slower CPU clock) embedded devices, like smartwatches, environmental sensors, wearables, home automation controllers and much more, especially in the field of IoT.

Zephyr benefits

  • Highly configurable and modular.
  • Integrated device driver interface, enabling easy configuration of
    peripherals.
  • Memory and resources are typically statically allocated, which benefits in
    long-running systems.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE 4.2, 5.0) support.
  • 802.15.4 OpenThread compliant.
  • Native, fully featured and optimized networking stack.
  • Support for wide range of subsystems like USB, file system, logging and DFU.
  • Support standards like 6LoWPAN, CoAP, IPv4, IPv6, Ethernet, USB, CAN and
    Thread.

Drawbacks

Firstly, it presents quite a challenge. The entry level is high and requires deep knowledge to understand it well.

Secondly, it is relatively young project with very little examples so there is no “clear” way of doing many things.

Also, a good knowledge of Linux build system (Kconfig, Makefile,defconfig etc…) is required.

Why it is worth to use it?

Zephyr provides developers with feature-rich software optimized for memory constrained devices. Moreover, it can run on systems as small as 8 kB of memory, but it scales up to systems with megabytes or even gigabytes of memory, because it supports 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

Moreover, it is an open-source initiative, which is available under the Apache 2.0 open source license. Thanks to that, it is free to use in commercial and non-commercial solutions.

Last but not least, it is hosted as collaborative project with the Linux Foundation, so the project is neutrally governed and employs a lightweight governance and development model. This ensures high quality and long term support.

Summary

ZephyrOS offers good flexibility for many applications, and its built-in drivers can significantly speed up development process. It is also available for free use in commercial products.

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