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Hard and soft

How a real time extension helps harden up the Windows operating platform. By Graham Pitcher.

Windows, for all of its features, has one crucial shortfall which prevents its wider use in industry. That shortfall is its inability to support hard real time operation.
Because Windows is a general purpose operating system, it does not allow applications or kernel level drivers to mask interrupts completely and to gain control over the operating system. Dale Fittes, real time specialist with Hitex, said: “Depending upon hardware, interrupt latencies under Windows can exhibit very good values – averaging in the microseconds. However, worst case interrupt latencies are unbounded and can exceed hundreds of milliseconds. These unbound latencies mean deterministic response time is not guaranteed, which makes standard Windows operating systems unacceptable for real time use.”
Yet there are a lot of companies who would like to use Windows based pcs as control platforms. And you can understand the attraction of the environment; not only is there a multitude of software available, there is also an extensive range of add on hardware. The combination of hardware and software can allow companies to tailor a system precisely to their needs. And there are a lot of developers out there who work entirely with Windows.
But the issue of Windows’ lack of hard real time support remains.

Author
Graham Pitcher

Related Downloads
13042\Hard and Soft.pdf

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