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VxWorks symbol by Wind River Systems.png
VxWorks 7 Bootup Screen.png
VxWorks 7 Boot up Screen
Company / developer Wind River (a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation)
OS family Real-time operating systems
Working state Current
Initial release 1987; 27 years ago (1987)
Latest release 7 / March 2014; 4 months ago (2014-03)
Marketing target Embedded systems
Supported platforms x86 (including Intel Quark), x86-64, MIPS, PowerPC, SH-4, ARM
Kernel type Monolithic
License Proprietary
Official website www.windriver.com/products/vxworks/

VxWorks is a real-time operating system (RTOS) developed as proprietary software by Wind River of Alameda, California, US. First released in 1987, VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems requiring real-time, deterministic performance and, in many cases, safety and security certification, for industries, such as aerospace and defense, medical devices, industrial equipment, robotics, energy, transportation, network infrastructure, automotive, and consumer electronics.[1]

VxWorks supports Intel (x86, including the new Intel Quark SoC,[2] and x86-64), MIPS, PowerPC, SH-4, and ARM architectures.[3] The RTOS can be used in multicore asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and mixed modes[4] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[5] designs on 32- and 64-bit processors.[6]

VxWorks comes with the kernel, middleware, board support packages, Wind River Workbench development suite and complementary third-party software and hardware technologies. In its latest release, VxWorks 7, the RTOS has been re-engineered for modularity and upgradeability so the OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications and other packages.[7] Scalability, security, safety, connectivity, and graphics have been improved to address Internet of Things (IoT) needs.[8][9][10]


VxWorks started in the early 1980s as a set of enhancements to a simple RTOS called VRTX[11] sold by Ready Systems (becoming a Mentor Graphics product in 1995).[12] At the time, VRTX had quality issues, was 4KB small in size, lacked critical features, and was generally not up to par as a full-blown RTOS. Wind River acquired rights to distribute VRTX and significantly enhanced it by adding, among other things, a file system and an integrated development environment. In 1987, anticipating the termination of its reseller contract by Ready Systems, Wind River developed its own kernel to replace VRTX within VxWorks.[13] The VxWorks name is believed to be a pun on VRTX ("VRTX that works"). Legend has it, that the company founders, Jerry Fiddler and Dave Wilner, first conceived of forming Wind River and creating VxWorks, while hiking in the Wind River mountains of Wyoming.[citation needed]

VxWorks key milestones:

  • 1980s: (32-bit processing) – VxWorks adds support for 32-bit processors
  • 1990s: (the Internet) – VxWorks 5 becomes the first RTOS with a networking stack
  • 2000s: (multi-core) – VxWorks 6 supports SMP and adds derivative industry-specific platforms
  • 2010s: (64-bit processing and the Internet of Things) – VxWorks adds support for 64-bit processing[6] and introduces VxWorks 7 for IoT.[14]

Platform overview[edit]

VxWorks supports Intel® (x86, including the new Quark SoC,[2] and x68-64), MIPS, PowerPC®, SH-4, and ARM® architectures.[3]The RTOS can be used in multicore asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and mixed modes[6] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[5] designs on 32- and 64-bit processors.

The VxWorks Core Platform includes the following runtime components:

Runtime components:

  • OS (UP and SMP; 32- and 64-bit)[6]
  • Application support: file system; core network stack; USB stack; inter-process communications (IPC)
  • Hardware support: architecture adaptor; processor support library; device driver library; board support packages (BSPs)

Development tools:

  • Core tools: compilers (Diab, GNU, and Intel C++ Compiler (ICC)); build and config tools
  • Productivity tools: Workbench development suite; Intel tools
  • Development support: host support; asset tracking

The platform is a modular, vendor-neutral, open system that supports a range of third-party software and hardware. The OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications and other packages,[9] which enables easier bug fixes and testing of new features.[14] An implementation of a layered source build system allows multiple versions of any stack to be installed at the same time so developers can select which version of any feature set should go into the VxWorks kernel libraries.

Optional Profiles for VxWorks add incremental functionality required for specific industries (such as medical, industrial, networking and consumer) or technology-related capabilities, such as a small footprint RTOS (Microkernel Profile) and a Type 1 real-time embedded hypervisor (Virtualization Profile).[14][15]


VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems.

Some of the features of the OS are:[4][16][17][18]

  • Multitasking kernel with preemptive and round-robin scheduling and fast interrupt response
  • File systems: High Reliability File System (HRFS), FAT-based file system (DOSFS), Network File System (NFS), and TFFS
  • Native 64-bit operating system (only one 64-bit architecture supported: x86-64). Data model: LP64.
  • User-mode applications ("Real-Time Processes", or RTP) isolated from other user-mode applications as well as the kernel via memory protection mechanisms.
  • SMP, AMP and mixed mode multiprocessing support
  • Error handling framework
  • Bluetooth, USB, CAN protocols, Firewire IEEE 1394, BLE, L2CAP, Continua stack, health device profile
  • Binary, counting, and mutual exclusion semaphores with priority inheritance
  • Local and distributed message queues
  • POSIX PSE52 certified conformity in user-mode execution environment
  • File systems: High Reliability File System (HRFS), FAT-based file system (DOSFS), Network File System (NFS)
  • Dual-mode IPv6 networking stack with IPv6 Ready Logo certification
  • Memory protection including real-time processes (RTPs), error detection and reporting, and IPC
  • Multi-OS messaging using TIPC and Wind River multi-OS IPC
  • Symbolic debugging

In March 2014, Wind River introduced VxWorks 7, which emphasizes scalability, security, safety, connectivity, graphics, and virtualization.[10][14][19] The following lists some of the release 7 updates.[1][6][10][7] More information can be found on the Wind Rivers VxWorks website.

  • Modular, componentized architecture using a layered build system with the ability to update each layer of code independently
  • VxWorks microkernel (a full RTOS that can be as small as 20KB)
  • Security features such as digitally-signed modules (X.509), encryption, password management, ability to add/delete users at runtime
  • SHA-256 hashing algorithm as the default password hashing algorithm
  • Human machine interface with Vector Graphics, and Tilcon user interface (UI)
  • Graphical user interface (GUI): OpenVG stack, Open GL, Tilcon UI, Frame Buffer Driver, EV Dev Interface
  • Updated configuration interfaces for VxWorks Source Build VSB projects and VxWorks Image Projects
  • Single authentication control used for Telnet, SSH, FTP, and rlogin daemons
  • Connectivity with Bluetooth and SocketCAN protocol stacks
  • Inclusion of MIPC File System (MFS) and MIPC Network Device (MND)
  • Networking features with 64-bit support including Wind River MACsec, Wind River’s implementation of IEEE 802.1A, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) over L2TP, PPP over virtual local area network (VLAN) and Diameter secure key storage
  • New Wind River Workbench 4 for VxWorks 7 integrated development environment with new system analysis tools
  • Wind River Diab Compiler 5.9.4; Wind River GNU Compiler 4.8; Intel C++ Compiler 14 and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP) 8

Hardware support[edit]

VxWorks has been ported to a number of platforms and now runs on practically any modern CPU that is used in the embedded market. This includes the Intel x86 family (including the Intel Quark SoC),[2] MIPS, PowerPC (and BAE RAD), Freescale ColdFire, Intel i960, SPARC, Fujitsu FR-V, SH-4 and the closely related family of ARM, StrongARM and xScale CPUs.[3] VxWorks provides a standard board support package (BSP) interface between all its supported hardware and the OS. Wind River’s BPS developer kit provides a common application programming interface (API) and a stable environment for real-time operating system development.

Development environment[edit]

As is common in embedded system development, cross-compiling is used with VxWorks. Development is done on a "host" system where an integrated development environment (IDE), including the editor, compiler toolchain, debugger, and emulator can be used. Software is then compiled to run on the "target" system. This allows the developer to work with powerful development tools while targeting more limited hardware. VxWorks uses the following host environments and target hardware architectures:[3][20]

Supported Host Environments

  • Windows 8 / 7 / Vista (Business and Enterprise), SP 2 / XP Professional, SP 2 or 3
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 5, Update 2 or 3, x86 (32-bit/64-bit) / 4, Update 6 or 8, x86 (32-bit)
  • Red Hat Fedora 11, x86 (32-bit/64-bit) / 9, x86-64
  • Novell SUSE Linux openSUSE 11.1, x86 (32-bit/64-bit) / 11.0, x86 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11.0, x86 (64-bit) / 10.2, x86 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Desktop 9.04, Update 4, x86 (32-bit/64-bit) / 8.04, Update 4, x86 (64-bit)
  • Solaris 10 (with GTK), Update 11/06, SPARC 32-bit

Supported Target Architectures and Processor Families

The newly-released VxWorks 7 supports the following target architectures:

  • ARM 11 / 11 MPCore / 9 / Cortex A9 MPCore / Cortex A8
  • Intel Pentium family / Quark / Xeon / Xeon LV / Core / Core 2 Duo / Atom
  • PowerPC 86xx, 8641d / 85xx, 8572 / 83xx / 74xx / 7xx / 60x / 44x / 40x / QorIQ P4080 / QorIQ P20xx

The Eclipse-based Workbench IDE that comes with VxWorks is used to configure, analyze, optimize, and de-bug a VxWorks-based system under development.[21] The Tornado IDE was used for VxWorks 5.x[22] and was replaced by the Eclipse-based Workbench IDE for VxWorks 6.x. and later.[20] Workbench is also the IDE for the Wind River Linux,[23] On-Chip Debugging,[24] and Wind River Diab Compliler product lines. VxWorks 7 uses Wind River Workbench 4[25] which updates to the Eclipse 4 base provide full third party plug-in support and usability improvements.

VxWorks 7 includes three compilers:[20] Diab Compiler, GNU, and the Intel C++ Compiler. Diab Compiler is the default C/C++ compiler for building VxWorks kernel, libraries, BSPs, and applications. It has been used for mission-critical systems for over 20 years. The GNU Compiler 4.8 is based on the Free Software Foundation (FSF) distribution of GCC and g++. Wind River has modified it for use with VxWorks. The Intel C++ Compiler processes C and C++ source code to generate machine code for IA 32 or IA 64 applications.

Wind River Simics[26] is a standalone simulation tool compatible with VxWorks. It simulates the full target system (hardware and software) to create a shared platform for software development. Multiple developers can share a complete virtual system and its entire state, including execution history. Simics enables early and continuous system integration and faster prototyping by utilizing virtual prototypes instead of physical prototypes.[27]

Notable uses[edit]

The ASIMO Robot uses VxWorks
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter uses VxWorks
The Clementine (spacecraft) used VxWorks

VxWorks is used by products over a wide range of market areas: aerospace and defence, automotive, industrial such as robots, consumer electronics, medical area and networking.[7] Several notable products also use VxWorks as the onboard operating system.[28]

Aerospace and defense[edit]



Space Telescopes


  • Barco CDMS-3000 next generation control display and management system[48]


  • Toshiba TMPV75 Series image recognition SoCs for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)[49]
  • Bosch Motor Sports race car telemetry system[50]
  • Clarion AX1Android-based automotive in-vehicle infotainment system (IVI)[51]
  • Hyundai Mobis IVI system[52]
  • Magneti Marelli’s telemetry logger and GENIVI®-compliant infotainment system[53]
  • BMW iDrive system[29]
  • Siemens VDO automotive navigation systems[54]

Consumer electronics[edit]


Industrial Robots



Storage Systems




Networking and communication infrastructure[edit]


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  2. ^ a b c Intel Tackles SoC With Quark"' EE Times
  3. ^ a b c d Wind River Expands Hardware Support for VxWorks, Bloomberg News at bloomberg.com
  4. ^ a b RTOS Handles AMP and SMP, electronic design
  5. ^ a b Intel Adds Virtualization Platform for Industrial Systems, John Rath
  6. ^ a b c d e Embedded Star Article
  7. ^ a b c Wind River reinvents real-time system for the Internet of Things, iTERS news
  8. ^ "VxWorks 7 Announced". harmonicss.co.uk. 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Wind River Reinvents the RTOS for the IoT, Business Wire
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  12. ^ "SEC filing". Secinfo.com. January 19, 1996. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
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  15. ^ "Wind River Prepares VxWorks for the IoT", Electronic Weekly.com
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  35. ^ Dragon Lab Fact Sheet
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  38. ^ Adacore article, Customer page
  39. ^ Verocel webpage
  40. ^ The Free Library, Farlex
  41. ^ The Register
  42. ^ Airforce Technology.com
  43. ^ PTR Group celebrates third successful launch of the year, PTR GRoup webpage
  44. ^ James Webb Space Telescope, SPIEL Digital Library
  45. ^ Case Study: European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System
  46. ^ TacNet Tracker Software, ESTSC
  47. ^ Flexible camera applications of an advanced uncooled microbolometer thermal imaging core, SPIE Digital Library
  48. ^ Barco Selects Wind River for Military Display and Management, Bloomberg
  49. ^ Wind River: Toshiba is using Simics to develop automotive application software, Embedded Control Europe
  50. ^ Wind River Helps Bosch Motorsport Race For The Win, Globe and Mail
  51. ^ Wind River delivers Android expertise to Clarion AX1 automotive IVI device, Motor Control Design
  52. ^ Hyundia works with Wind River, Telematics News
  53. ^ Magneti Marell i Motorsport Chooses Wind River VxWorks for Formula One Race Cars, HighBeam Research
  54. ^ The Network on Wheels -- Java Developers, Start Your Programming Engines!,Oracle
  55. ^ Drobo In depth review, Automated Home
  56. ^ Honda Robots Asimo, Robotics Technology Simplified
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  69. ^ Invensys acquisition: “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”, The Instrument Readout SignPost
  70. ^ National Instruments Support Page
  71. ^ Mitsubishi Electric's C Controller, RealTime Logic
  72. ^ EPICS base Release 3.14 Installation Instructions
  73. ^ Bosch Rexroth Youtube video
  74. ^ Shuhasoft's Blog
  75. ^ Toshiba Photocopiers
  76. ^ Hexagon Metrology Standardizes on Wind River’s VxWorks for Next-Generation Metrology Equipment, Bloomberg.com
  77. ^ GrandMA Full-Size Data Sheet
  78. ^ "Wind River Introduces Software Platform for Medical Devices Complete with Compliance Documentation". 
  79. ^ Olympus ESG-400 high-frequency surgical generator
  80. ^ BD FACSCount article
  81. ^ Thema process control article
  82. ^ CEREC Chairside Solutions
  83. ^ Arkoon selects Wind River for nextgen equipment, Highbeam Business
  84. ^ Ubee-Airwalk uses Wind River's VxWorks in femotcell,Telecompaper
  85. ^ Kontron AG e-newswire
  86. ^ QQTechnologies goes Global with VxWorks, Datsheets 360
  87. ^ Broadlight Client page
  88. ^ Sky Pilot Command Line Interface Reference document
  89. ^ Wind River delivers Raptor with VxWorks Platform, ETT Asia news
  90. ^ Siemens deploys 2.5G Wireless Data Platform, 3G Newsletter
  91. ^ FlexiPacket Release Note
  92. ^ Oracle acme support page
  93. ^ Avaya ERS 8600 Wikipedia
  94. ^ Routing Protocol Operations Guide for SmartEdge
  95. ^ Enhanced Security for Industrial Networks, Belden webpage
  96. ^ VoIP Security webpage
  97. ^ Multiservice Switch, Wikipedia
  98. ^ Knowledge Base, Radware webpage
  99. ^ Tim's IT-Blob: A deeper look on SonicWALL kernel
  100. ^ Thuraya SO-2510 Satellite
  101. ^ SANYO Multimedia Tottori Chooses RADVISION SIP Developer Toolkit to Build New IP Phone, Business Wire
  102. ^ 3Com NBX Phone Systems, AdCom Technologies Inc.

External links[edit]