By Maureen Helm
The Zephyr Project development team is excited to announce the release of Zephyr OS v1.6.0! In the three months since our last release, we have added new features and boards, welcomed new developers to our open source community, and been out and about sharing cool Zephyr Project based demos at various trade shows.
Development within the ARM® ecosystem has been particularly busy lately, as this release introduces kernel support for the ARM Cortex®-M0/M0+ architecture, new ARM-based system-on-chips (SoCs), and wide adoption of the ARM Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS). We started leveraging vendor drivers, including those from the new software development kit (SDK) for NXP®’s Kinetis® and LPC microcontrollers, MCUXpresso SDK. These drivers build upon CMSIS peripheral register definitions to help us expand support for more ARM-based SoCs. Instead of developing brand new I2C or Ethernet drivers from scratch, for example, we built lightweight shims on top of mature and tested SDK drivers.
This release also introduces a new unified kernel, which streamlines the old nanokernel and microkernel into one. After much consideration, we determined it often created challenges for developers that wanted to support both. The nanokernel and microkernel each had their own set of APIs, which meant that drivers, middleware stacks, and applications effectively had to target two operating systems. The new kernel unifies the APIs yet still supports both cooperative and pre-emptible threads. In many cases (specifically those that used the microkernel), the unified kernel also improves performance and reduces code footprint.
But the Zephyr Project development team hasn’t just been developing code, we’ve also been putting on our Zephyr Project hoodies and showing off demos at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe and ARM TechCon. Our newest demo shows a BLE heart rate monitor that utilizes the award-winning Hexiwear IoT and Wearables Development Platform with the NXP Kinetis K64F MCU onboard. The Zephyr BLE host stack, originally developed on an Intel® x86 device, now runs on an NXP Kinetis K64F MCU (ARM Cortex-M4) and utilizes a large number of onboard sensors found on the Hexiwear platform, including the NXP Kinetis KW40Z multimode radio. Support for Hexiwear is included in Zephyr OS v1.6.0, making it a great multi-purpose platform for developing wireless IoT applications with Zephyr OS.
We invite you to download Zephyr OS v1.6.0 and share your feedback on the mailing list. For extra credit, contribute some patches to help make the next release, coming in March 2017, even better.
MCU Software Architect
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