Embedded Xinu Operating System on Raspberry Pi

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Mentor: Dennis Brylow

Approach: Design and implementation of basic operating system functionality for an embedded PC the size of a credit card

Summary: The Embedded Xinu infrastructure already implemented in Marquette's Systems Lab is well-situated to begin an in-depth exploration of hardware/software interaction on the new Raspberry Pi platform. The expected benefits of expanding the system to support this new platform are many: a small, agile system for prototyping new construction and analysis tools for embedded system designers; a model reference platform for students and educators to explore design techniques on the cutting edge of our field; a time-tested operating system girded for new challenges in a rapidly evolving world, with genuine promise for commercial application. Mentor Brylow has previously led undergraduate research teams in porting embedded kernels to the MIPS and PowerPC architectures, and that software is now in use for teaching and research at several other institutions.

Students involved with this project will explore the challenges inherent in porting the Embedded Xinu operating system to a open platform ARM-based system. Students will learn about cross-platform embedded software development, embedded kernel bootstrapping, concurrency control in an embedded environment, and device driver construction. The software and matching course modules they produce will be available for other universities interested in teaching hands-on systems development at the lowest levels of computing; by supporting concurrency in a kernel several orders of magnitude smaller than typical embedded Linux installations, they will be providing a model system for education and research.