Linaro Technical lead discusses Zephyr 2.6 and if it’s ready to live on the edge.

Zephyr is a scalable and secure real-time operating system optimized for resource-constrained devices, such as IoT.  With the latest release (version 2.6), development was focused on stabilizing several subsystems and functionality.

Kumar Gala, Principal Technical Lead at Linaro, indicated the updates to the OS include the logging system, which was overhauled to fix several long-standing issues as well as improvements to the power management system and initial support for one of the new ARM Cortex-M variants (the Cortex-M55).

Gala also spoke about how security was addressed with Zephyr, which includes a specific Security Working Group, examining the processes and what they are doing as a project, focusing on software, build materials, the utilization of the Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) format, TLS libraries, and trusted firmware.

Gala goes on to say that “…The idea with some of the integration with that project is to kind of make it easier for the vendors that are building these products, again, to not have to figure out as much…” To that end, Gala believes vendors shouldn’t have to ask the questions, “Should I be using TLS for my connections to the cloud? And how should that work?”

Gala turns his attention to President Biden’sExecutive Order (ensuring and attesting, to the extent practicable, to the integrity and provenance of open source software used within federal government code) by saying, “…It should be a natural thing that people know what’s going into their software and packaging…” He continues with, “I think it is natural, to be able to make it easier to know what’s going on…what components are you getting as part of…the software that you’re utilizing.”

When asked if Zephyr could play any role in edge computing use cases, Gala says, “…One of the new features that was added was support for the ARM64 architecture…And so you see that people are looking at using Zephyr not just in the traditional microcontroller space, but in these types of spaces where there may be some type of processing that you’re doing on a device.” To that end, there is interest in using Zephyr in these types of applications (such as edge gateways and heterogeneous compute systems that may be on the edge).

As to the growth of Zephyr, Gala points to Platinum vendors like Google and Facebook joining along with Intel and NXP and recently adding their 1,000th contributor to the Zephyr community.

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