Interrupting Real-Time IoT Tasks: How Bad Can It Be to Connect Your Critical Embedded System to the Internet?

02/10/2021 ∙ by Ilja Behnke, et al. ∙ 0

Embedded systems have been used to control physical environments for decades. Usually, such use cases require low latencies between commands and actions as well as a high predictability of the expected worst-case delay. To achieve this on small, low-powered microcontrollers, Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOSs) are used to manage the different tasks on these machines as deterministically as possible. However, with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) in industrial applications, the same embedded systems are now equipped with networking capabilities, possibly endangering critical real-time systems through an open gate to interrupts. This paper presents our initial study of the impact network connections can have on real-time embedded systems. Specifically, we look at three aspects: The impact of network-generated interrupts, the overhead of the related networking tasks, and the feasibility of sharing computing resources between networking and real-time tasks. We conducted experiments on two setups: One treating NICs and drivers as black boxes and one simulating network interrupts on the machines. The preliminary results show that a critical task performance loss of up to 6.67 impacts of 1 ISR-generated delays.

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