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Accelerated Linux boosts real-time performance on Zynq UltraScale+

Oct 4, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 936 views

Enea has launched a real-time “Accelerated Linux” version of its Enea Linux distro that targets the Zynq UltraScale+. The dual-OS hypervisor solution combines Enea Linux with an SMP micro-kernel executive.

In 2012, Swedish telecom-focused enterprise software vendor Enea, which is known for its Enea OSEck RTOS, launched a carrier-grade Enea Linux distribution, which combined its earlier Enea Linux Project Framework (ELPH) distro with a Yocto Project foundation. In 2014, Enea launched a free, community-backed Open Enea Linux, but that project appears to have folded. Now, Enea has returned with a new Accelerated Linux distro that offers even greater real-time capabilities than the standard Enea Linux. The initial version is optimized for Xilinx’s 64-bit Arm/FPGA hybrid Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC.

Announced in July, the Zynq UltraScale+ version of Accelerated Linux was officially launched this week at the Xilinx Developer Forum Silicon Valley. The distribution features a real-time SMP microkernel executive running side-by-side with Enea Linux on the SoC’s quad-core Cortex-A53 cluster using vertical partitions implemented by a type 1 hypervisor. The distro offers improved real-time response over Enea Linux, which already integrates the PREEMPT_RT Real-time Linux kernel patch.

Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC architecture
(click image to enlarge)

Accelerated Linux is designed for “hard real-time applications that need very high processing capacity and determinism,” says Enea. It enables a “worst-case task response latency in the range of ~1 us and a task switch overhead 10-15 times less than Linux,” says the company.

With Enea’s dual-OS partitioning approach, individual cores can be assigned to either domain, depending on the application need. The distribution enables direct hardware access from applications running in the real-time domain, which can also be fully debugged and profiled.

Accelerated Linux supports “big data transfer between domains,” says Xilinx. A fast zero-copy IPC enables fast communications between the Linux domain and the real-time domain, enabling each to share services such as file system, debug channels, and hardware resources.

Dual OS partitioning with Accelerated Linux in two configurations: a real-time executive as a virtualized guest (left) and Linux on one core and OSE on three cores as a Jailhouse guest
(click images to enlarge)

Accelerated Linux exploits Zynq UltraScale+ support for the open source OpenAMP (Open Asymmetric Multi Processing Framework). This is said to enable communication between the Linux/Arm block and both the FPGA and the FreeRTOS distribution running on the SoC’s dual high-end, 600MHz Cortex-R5 MCU cores.

Enea plans to expand Accelerated Linux to other processors. Targeted platforms include the Zynq 70xx, Intel/Altera Stratix 10, Intel Denverton, Nvidia Tegra, TI Sitara, and NXP’s i.MX, LayerScape LS20XX, and B4860 (baseband) processors.

This is not the first time Enea has used virtualization and core partitioning techniques with Enea Linux. In 2014, the company announced a LightWeight RunTime (LWRT) stack designed for telecom applications such as cellular base stations that run both Enea Linux and OSEck. LWRT gets the most out of the real-time capabilities of both OSes. With Enea LWRT, OSEck handles most of the lightweight scheduling and IPC tasks within real-time applications, while Enea Linux is used for real-time functions only when an interrupt requires true preemption.

Further information

Enea’s Accelerated Linux appears to be available now for the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC. More information may be found in the Accelerated Linux announcement and product page.


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