Computer/Embedded Technology


OS comparison: QNX vs Linux

10 October 2001 Computer/Embedded Technology

The QNX realtime platform is highly compatible with Linux, and uses many of the same industry-standard APIs and tools. In fact, any Linux developer can become productive almost immediately on QNX. So why should developers and OEMs choose QNX over Linux when creating embedded products? This article outlines several reasons.

QNX better understands the needs of embedded OEMs

QNX Software Systems has been serving the embedded market for over 20 years. Since most commercial Linux vendors are basically retail operations; they do not have the deep experience needed to address the fundamental, and often complex, requirements of embedded OEMs. QNX Software knows the needs of OEMs intimately, and has a proven track of helping them build everything from Internet appliances to life-critical medical instruments.

QNX's smaller size can save OEMs millions

Thanks to unique technologies like the Photon microGUI, QNX uses a small fraction of the memory required by Linux. That's key, since even a $2 reduction in memory costs per unit can save millions of dollars in a high-volume embedded device, such as an Internet appliance or an in-car computing system.

OEMs can keep their IP

By mixing their code with the GPL and LGPL code that comes with Linux, embedded OEMs risk losing or compromising their hard-earned intellectual property (IP). In fact, many OEMs refuse to use Linux for that reason. In comparison, OEMs can freely use QNX source code and applications, while maintaining the rights to their IP.

Embedded OEMs have a faster head-start with QNX

While Linux OS code is freely distributed, it is rarely usable for specific projects in its existing state. Engineering expertise is required to take the raw Linux source and turn it into a core of a useful embedded product. QNX, on the other hand, provides OEMs with a large suite of applications and OS components that are thoroughly tested and highly optimised for embedded use. No re-engineering required. This gives developers a head-start: instead of losing time on low-level kernel issues (and spending money on OS maintenance teams), OEMs using QNX can focus right away on creating unique features and applications for their embedded device.

Easier to customise and extend

In Linux, all system-level software - drivers, protocol stacks, and so on - runs in the same address space as the OS kernel. As a result, developing these components requires kernel tools (hard to use), kernel rebuilds (time-consuming), and kernel programmers (expensive). With QNX, however, all these system-level components run as optional, memory-protected processes outside the kernel. As a result, developing drivers and OS extensions do not require specialised debuggers or specialised developers. The OS is inherently more open to customisation.

QNX can target a greater variety of embedded systems

This is true for several reasons. For example, QNX is designed from the ground up for realtime performance, which is essential for a large number of embedded products - Internet routers, medical instruments, multimedia appliances, automotive safety systems, factory robots, to name a few. QNX can also target a greater variety of embedded systems because of its much smaller memory footprint; see next point.

It is better suited to 7/24 embedded systems

While Linux has a reputation for reliability, it cannot match QNX's inherent ability to enable the 99,999% availability (ie less than five minutes downtime a year) required by embedded products like Internet routers and medical instruments. For example, because Linux drivers and protocol stacks are all bound to the OS kernel, a single programming error in any driver can cause a kernel fault and crash the system. In QNX, these components are all memory-protected; they cannot corrupt the kernel. Better yet, they can all be upgraded 'on the fly' without a reboot - critical for any system that must stay running 24 hours, 365 days a year.





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Galleon releases a rugged 100GbE recorder
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
The XSR 100GbE recorder is the latest addition to Galleon Embedded Computing’s line-up of innovative military embedded solutions and is perfect for applications in unmanned systems, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Read more...
Samsung launches GDDR6 RAM module
EBV Electrolink Computer/Embedded Technology
The DRAM is capable of 24 Gbps processing speeds and will significantly advance the graphics performance of AI-based applications and high-performance computing.

Read more...
Qualcomm AI stack: a unified AI software solution
Future Electronics Computer/Embedded Technology
Qualcomm has bundled all its AI software offerings into a single package called the Qualcomm AI Stack which will assist developers in deploying AI applications.

Read more...
ADLINK launches NVIDIA Jetson-based vision system
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
The EOS-JNX-I is a next-generation AI vision system that uses the new NVIDIA module as an optimised development platform that simplifies AI to the edge.

Read more...
Quectel announces high-performance 5G smart module
iCorp Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
The SG560D, an Android smart module that combines 5G and artificial intelligence, is suitable for complex applications such as in-vehicle infotainment and industrial handheld devices.

Read more...
Half-duplex transceiver for RS-485
Vepac Electronics Computer/Embedded Technology
The new enhanced transceiver is designed for RS-485 data bus networks and is fully compliant with the TIA/EIA-485A standard.

Read more...
ST releases first automotive IMU with embedded ML
Altron Arrow Computer/Embedded Technology
Smart driving moves another step closer to high levels of automation with STMicroelectronics’ new machine learning core.

Read more...
Rugged plug-in card ideal for sensor-based systems
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
Concurrent Technologies’ new processor board provides high performance for I/O sensor device needs.

Read more...
Standalone H.264 video streaming board
Rugged Interconnect Technologies Computer/Embedded Technology
The XStream-SD4 is an intelligent, standalone, ultra-low latency H.264 streaming solution that accepts 4x NTSC/PAL/RS-170 composite video sources and records and streams them over 100/1000 Mbps Ethernet. ...

Read more...
EBV signs up AI chipmaker Hailo
EBV Electrolink Computer/Embedded Technology
Hailo offers a wide range of AI accelerators, including the innovative Hailo-8 AI processor and high-performance AI acceleration modules in M.2 and Mini PCIe formats.

Read more...