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Posted 18 Apr 2016
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The Benefits of Wind River Rocket

, 18 Apr 2016
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Wind River Rocket is a free, scalable, multi-architecture real-time operating system designed for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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Wind River Rocket* is a free, scalable, multi-architecture real-time operating system designed for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Rocket development is enabled through innovative cloud-based environments that simplify the creation and testing of IoT applications. If you develop your projects in Rocket, discover the benefits of developing with Rocket and Wind River’s new cloud-based environment, Wind River Helix*.

Anatomy of Rocket

Rocket is a best-in-class real-time operating system (RTOS) designed for the IoT, but it’s integrated into an ecosystem of cloud-based tools to simplify development and help you scale your IoT solution to production (see Figure 1).

Figure1. Anatomy of the Wind River Rocket* cloud ecosystem

Rocket is an integrated ecosystem that consists of four components:

  • Rocket RTOS. At the core is your IoT application with Rocket. At Rocket™s core is the Zephyr microkernel, a robust, multithreaded kernel that supports a small footprint and a rich set of services, all while enabling seamless connectivity to a larger service ecosystem. Rocket is architecture independent, running on a range of CPUs (such as the Intel® Galileo Gen 2 board), with a variety of secure communications protocols.

  • Development Environment (App Cloud). Developing your IoT application with Rocket is easier with App Cloud. With this cloud-based application development environment, you can use a standard web browser to develop firmware. App Cloud provides all the capabilities you’d expect from a state-of-the-art integrated development environment (IDE) with anywhere accessibility.

  • Test Environment (Wind River Helix* Lab Cloud). App Cloud also integrates with Lab Cloud, a virtualized hardware environment that you can use to test your IoT applications. After you have compiled and linked your application with Rocket in App Cloud, you can download and execute it on a target in Lab Cloud, with output from the device integrated back into App Cloud. All the debugging capabilities you’d expect are available: set breakpoints, and step through code running on a virtual IoT device to debug your application, get it running quickly, and collaborate with others.

  • Secure Production Environment (Wind River Helix* Device Cloud). When you’re ready to deploy your app, take advantage of Device Cloud—a cloud-based platform that lets you roll out large-scale device networks while securely managing connectivity from devices into your enterprise network. Device Cloud permits control of remote Rocket-enabled IoT devices while protecting the data collected from those devices for centralized analysis. Device Cloud even helps solve the headache of remote device application updates for thousands of devices.

Figure 2 shows App Cloud running a test application on a virtual device in Lab Cloud (QEMU emulation of an Intel® Quark™ x86 processor). The dark window in the center is the source editor; its tabs permit multiple windows of source code in a stacked or side-by-side configuration. At the top right is TestDevice, a virtual x86 hardware platform. The green dot to its right indicates that the virtual device is connected and ready. A source list is visible on the left, and the debugger is shown on the right. Finally, below the source window is the output window, with tabs for build output and the output from the test application running on the virtual device.

Figure 2. The Wind River Helix* App Cloud browser-based integrated development environment.

Benefits of Rocket

Let’s look at the benefits of developing, testing, and deploying in Rocket and the Helix cloud apps.

Rocket RTOS

The Rocket RTOS focuses on IoT applications. You’ll find priority-based preemptive tasks and non-preemptive fibers (lightweight threads for performance-critical work). A rich set of communication services is available, as well, such as message queues and byte streams. Synchronization services orchestrate the tasks and fibers in your application. The RTOS also supports tickless idle to minimize remote devices’ power consumption.

Rocket is configurable and in its minimal configuration can occupy 4 KB of memory. The RTOS provides a stable environment for IoT devices such as wearables, industrial controllers, and resource-constrained devices.

Wind River Helix* App Cloud

App Cloud simplifies development by delivering a preconfigured IDE and tools focused on your target hardware. Rather than installing tools, then configuring everything to work together, App Cloud includes the elements required to get going (e.g., boot image, software development kit, Rocket RTOS), compilation tools, and a debugger for a variety of architectures (automatically selected based on your target device). You can deploy App cloud according to your needs: on a public server (such as Amazon Web Services), on premises, or in a virtual private cloud. Whichever option you choose, App Cloud provides greater collaboration while scaling to the size of your team.

Wind River Helix* Lab Cloud

With tight integration to App Cloud, Lab Cloud allows you to run and test your IoT application in a virtualized infrastructure. Browser-based Lab Cloud makes it easy to validate your Rocket-enabled IoT application in multiple hardware environments. It’s also easy to collaborate, and with lower-cost virtualized devices, your debug and test infrastructure scales with your needs. When the time comes, you can deploy the same images you executed in Lab Cloud to physical devices with complete transparency.

Wind River Helix* Device Cloud

With Device Cloud, your deployed devices can connect easily and securely to a centralized console for management. As a cloud-based platform, Device Cloud is a pre-integrated stack that spans from the device to enabling devices, such as the Intel® IoT Gateway. No software is necessary to install, configure, or manage Device Cloud.


Intel and Wind River (an Intel company) have you covered for the full IoT app development life cycle. App Cloud permits collaborative development through a browser-based IDE that’s available anywhere, anytime. Scale and simplify testing through Lab Cloud, which permits configuration of a variety of virtualized hardware to cover the range of deployment options you need. When you’re ready to go into production, Device Cloud can help you scale your IoT device network to hundreds or thousands of devices, with secure access and data transfer (including support for distributed firmware updates). At the core is the Rocket RTOS, a hardware-agnostic platform that takes the tedium out of embedded IoT application development and integrates seamlessly into best-in-class cloud services.

Additional Reading

  • Visit the Wind River Rocket web site to learn more.

  • Discover how Wind River Helix provides a comprehensive technology portfolio to help you meet the challenges of IoT.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Intel Corporation
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You may know us for our processors. But we do so much more. Intel invents at the boundaries of technology to make amazing experiences possible for business and society, and for every person on Earth.

Harnessing the capability of the cloud, the ubiquity of the Internet of Things, the latest advances in memory and programmable solutions, and the promise of always-on 5G connectivity, Intel is disrupting industries and solving global challenges. Leading on policy, diversity, inclusion, education and sustainability, we create value for our stockholders, customers and society.
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