Anatomy of real-time Linux architectures From soft to hard real-time in quant development environments

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2012)

Anatomy of real-time Linux architectures From soft to hard real-time in quant development environments

Summary: It’s not that Linux® isn’t fast or efficient, but in some cases fast just isn’t good enough. What’s needed instead is the ability to deterministically meet scheduling deadlines with specific tolerances. Discover the various real-time Linux alternatives and how they achieve real time—from the early architectures that mimic virtualization solutions to the options available today in the standard 2.6 kernel.

This article explores some of the Linux architectures that support real-time characteristics and discusses what it really means to be a real-time architecture. Several solutions endow Linux with real-time capabilities, and in this article I examine the thin-kernel (or micro-kernel) approach, the nano-kernel approach, and the resource-kernel approach. Finally, I describe the real-time capabilities in the standard 2.6 kernel and show you how to enable and use them.


Linux is not only a perfect platform for experimentation and characterization of real-time algorithms, you can also find real time in Linux today in the standard off-the-shelf 2.6 kernel. You can get soft real-time performance from the standard kernel or, with a little more work (kernel patch), you can build hard real-time applications.

This article gave a brief overview of some of the techniques used to bring real-time computing to the Linux kernel. Numerous early attempts used a thin-kernel approach to segregate the real-time tasks from the standard kernel. Later, nano-kernel approaches came on the scene that appear very much like the hypervisors used in virtualization solutions today. Finally, the Linux kernel provides its own means for real time, both soft and hard.

Although this article has skimmed the top of the real-time methods for Linux, the Resources section provides more information on where to get additional information and other useful real-time techniques.



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27 December 2011- Linux 3.2 in use (11,430,712 lines of code).



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