Amazon FreeRTOS

Q. What is Amazon FreeRTOS?

Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) is an operating system that makes microcontroller-based edge devices easy to program, deploy, secure, and maintain. Amazon FreeRTOS is based on the FreeRTOS kernel, the popular open source operating system for microcontrollers, and includes software libraries that make it easy to securely connect devices locally, to the cloud, and update them remotely. The Amazon FreeRTOS console enables you to easily select and download the software components relevant to your use case. The Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program (Amazon FQP) gives you the confidence that the microcontroller you choose fully supports the Amazon FreeRTOS features and capabilities. Amazon FreeRTOS helps keep microcontroller-based devices secure with support for data encryption and key management. Amazon FreeRTOS devices connect to AWS Greengrass Core devices, making it easy to connect multiple Amazon FreeRTOS devices together in a Greengrass Group.

Q. Which AWS region is Amazon FreeRTOS available in?

Amazon FreeRTOS is currently available in the following AWS regions:

  • US East (N. Virginia)
  • US East (Ohio)
  • US West (Oregon)
  • EU (Ireland)
  • EU (Frankfurt)
  • EU (London)
  • Asia Pacific (Sydney)
  • Asia Pacific (Tokyo)

You can use Amazon FreeRTOS regardless of your geographic location, as long as you have access to one of the above AWS regions.

Q. What are some use cases for Amazon FreeRTOS?

Amazon FreeRTOS can be used in embedded systems spanning industrial, commercial, and consumer applications. For example, smart meters, oil pump sensors, appliances, commercial security systems, fitness trackers, and sensor networks can all benefit from Amazon FreeRTOS. Smart meters are used in homes to monitor electricity usage in real-time. Utilities benefit from this data by enabling more efficient load balancing and power output from their generating stations. Oil pump sensors are used on oil rigs to monitor the output on wells that might be buried deep underwater. An oil rig might deploy Amazon FreeRTOS on those sensors and use an AWS Greengrass Core to locally process data from pumps and valves in real-time. The AWS Greengrass Core could then send batches of preprocessed pump sensor data to the cloud for analytics and data warehousing. To learn more about AWS Greengrass, click here.

Q. How can a microcontroller developer get access to Amazon FreeRTOS?

Amazon FreeRTOS developers can download the Amazon FreeRTOS microcontroller device software from the Amazon FreeRTOS console, or from GitHub, SourceForge, or FreeRTOS.org.

Q. Who can benefit from Amazon FreeRTOS?

Semiconductor vendors manufacture microcontrollers and modules like connectivity sensors, security peripherals, and Ethernet controllers. These microcontrollers and modules are used by OEMs to build IoT devices. Microcontroller vendors work with AWS to provide Amazon FreeRTOS-qualified chipsets using the Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program, and also provide chipset support software and peripheral device drivers that are downloadable via the Amazon FreeRTOS console.

OEMs include industrial companies, commercial enterprises, and consumer brands. Microcontroller developers can use Amazon FreeRTOS to easily design and develop a connected device and IoT applications.

Enterprises can use IoT connected devices that are powered by Amazon FreeRTOS to gain business and operational efficiency.

Q. What are the major components of Amazon FreeRTOS software?

Amazon FreeRTOS extends the FreeRTOS kernel, which is a real-time operating system kernel for microcontrollers, with libraries that support connectivity, security, and (coming soon) over-the-air updates. The connectivity stack includes MQTT, TCP/IP, and Wi-Fi for cloud and local connectivity. Security libraries include a standard-based Berkeley socket interface for TLS and a PKCS#11 standard interface for crypto offload.

Q. What minimum hardware specifications are required?

Amazon FreeRTOS is optimized for microcontrollers with >25MHz processing speed and >64KB RAM (assuming all available libraries, including TLS, are running on the application microcontroller). If the communication and crypto stack (except for MQTT) is offloaded onto the networking processor, your microcontroller will only need 10MHz processing speed and 16KB RAM. However, these values are just approximations, as factors such as MCU architecture, compiler, and compiler optimization level may impact processing speed and RAM requirements.

Q. What architectures does Amazon FreeRTOS support?

Amazon FreeRTOS currently supports microcontroller hardware from partners including Microchip (coming soon), NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments. Amazon FreeRTOS is based on the FreeRTOS kernel, which supports some 40+ architectures.

Q. How can I get started on Amazon FreeRTOS?

You can use the getting started guide for systematic instructions on how to run Amazon FreeRTOS on a qualified board.

Q. How can I get technical support?

Use any of the following channels to get support:

AWS Forum for Amazon FreeRTOS

Premium Support

Customer Support

Q. Is there a user guide?

Yes. You can access the Amazon FreeRTOS user guide from the documentation section of the getting started page.

Q. Can I use Amazon FreeRTOS to connect to other cloud services?

Yes. Amazon FreeRTOS is an open-source software, so it can be modified to fit any specific needs of your application.

Q. Can I make changes to the Amazon FreeRTOS source code?

Yes. Amazon FreeRTOS is an open-source software distributed under the MIT license, so it can be modified to fit any specific needs of your application without the permission of AWS.

Q. How much do I pay for using Amazon FreeRTOS?

Amazon FreeRTOS is free to download and use.

Q. Does Amazon FreeRTOS include hardware?

No. Amazon FreeRTOS is an operating system for microcontrollers. If you need to purchase Amazon FreeRTOS supported chipsets, visit the getting started page here.

FreeRTOS Kernel

Q. What is the FreeRTOS kernel?

Developed over a 14-year period and in partnership with the world's leading chip companies, the FreeRTOS kernel is the market leading real time operating system kernel, and the de-facto standard solution for microcontrollers and small microprocessors.

Q. How are Amazon FreeRTOS and the FreeRTOS kernel related?

Amazon FreeRTOS is based on the FreeRTOS kernel and includes software libraries that support local and cloud connectivity, security, and over-the-air updates (coming soon).

Q. Does AWS maintain the FreeRTOS kernel?

Yes, and we recently announced v10 of the FreeRTOS kernel, which includes stream buffers and message buffers. We also released the kernel under the MIT open source license, making it even easier to use in any context.

Q. What is the difference between the MIT open source license and the (previously used) modified GPL open source license?

Both licenses allow the software to be used for free, even in commercial products, and neither license imposes any obligations when distributing binary (executable) copies. The MIT license provides simplified wording and allows for more permissive use of our source code. With the MIT license, you can still develop and sell commercial products using Amazon FreeRTOS (including the kernel) but you are no longer obliged to open source modifications to our source code, meaning you own all the changes you make. The only requirements under MIT is that the copyright notice and permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software (source files).

Q. Is there a support forum for the FreeRTOS kernel?

Yes. You can start a new thread in the AWS forums or view support archives on FreeRTOS.org.

Q. Where can I find more details on the FreeRTOS kernel?

Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program

Q. Which microcontroller chipsets are qualified for Amazon FreeRTOS?

Visit the getting started page for a complete list of qualified hardware.

Q. I am a microcontroller vendor and I want to qualify my chipsets on Amazon FreeRTOS. How do I do that?

If you are a microcontroller vendor and want to qualify your chipset on Amazon FreeRTOS, you can apply through the Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program.

Q. I am already a partner. How can I qualify a new chipset?

Refer to the Amazon FreeRTOS partner page for more information on the Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program and to learn how to qualify a new chipset on Amazon FreeRTOS. 

Amazon FreeRTOS & AWS Greengrass

Q. What is the difference between AWS Greengrass and Amazon FreeRTOS?

AWS Greengrass is software that lets you run local compute, messaging, data caching, sync, and ML inference capabilities for connected devices in a secure way. With AWS Greengrass, connected devices can run AWS Lambda functions, keep device data in sync, and communicate with other devices securely – even when not connected to the Internet. Using AWS Lambda, Greengrass ensures your IoT devices can respond quickly to local events, use Lambda functions running on Greengrass Core to interact with local resources, operate with intermittent connections, stay updated with over the air updates, and minimize the cost of transmitting IoT data to the cloud.

Amazon FreeRTOS is an operating system for microcontrollers that operates on the edge and does not generally support chipsets that could run AWS Greengrass. These microcontroller devices are found on a variety of IoT endpoints such as fitness trackers, pacemakers, electricity meters, automotive transmissions, and sensor networks. Amazon FreeRTOS devices cannot run Greengrass Core but can trigger the execution of Lambda functions on a Greengrass Core device.

The hardware requirements and operating systems are different on both devices.

  Amazon FreeRTOS AWS Greengrass
Software Operating system, runs on a microcontroller Runtime for Linux devices and SDK for Greengrass aware devices
Hardware Requirements >64KB RAM >128MB of RAM
Category Embedded systems, IoT endpoints Edge devices, local gateways
Use Cases Microcontroller-based devices Industrial automation systems, wireless routers, smartphones

Q. Does Amazon FreeRTOS require the use of AWS Greengrass?

Amazon FreeRTOS does not require the use of AWS Greengrass. Amazon FreeRTOS runs on IoT endpoints and is often responsible for the ‘sensing’ and ‘acting’ in an IoT topology. Amazon FreeRTOS devices can connect directly to the cloud or connect to Greengrass Core devices locally.

Q. How can I connect Amazon FreeRTOS devices to AWS Greengrass Core devices?

The Greengrass Discovery library is included in the Amazon FreeRTOS source code, enabling you to find and connect to an AWS Greengrass Core device. For more information, refer to the Amazon FreeRTOS user guide.

Amazon FreeRTOS & AWS IoT Device Management

Q. How do I update my devices with new firmware?

You can use the over-the-air (OTA) update feature of Amazon FreeRTOS (coming soon). Using the Amazon FreeRTOS OTA update job within the AWS IoT Device Management console, you will be able to select devices to update and sign your firmware image, and start the process of updating a fleet of devices. For more information on the OTA update feature, refer to the Amazon FreeRTOS user guide.

Amazon FreeRTOS & AWS IoT Core

Q. What is Amazon FreeRTOS’s relevance in the context of AWS Cloud services?

Amazon FreeRTOS makes it easy to securely connect IoT devices to AWS Cloud. It provides a tool to customers to build connected applications that can aggregate sensor data and send it directly to AWS IoT Core or via AWS Greengrass.

Code Signing (Coming Soon)

Q. What is code signing?

Code signing is a feature of AWS IoT Device Management and is designed to work easily with Amazon FreeRTOS. Code signing enables developers to confirm the integrity and origin of firmware images scheduled for OTA deployment to Amazon FreeRTOS devices. The process confirms the integrity of firmware images using a cryptographic hash that validates that the code has not been altered or corrupted since it was signed. The process also uses public-key cryptography to sign these images with proof of origin that can be validated on the device. Using the integrated Amazon FreeRTOS OTA update device job within the AWS IoT Device Management console, developers can upload a new firmware image, sign that image, and deliver it to a group of devices in the field. Those devices will validate the signature upon download and only install trusted code. Customers can use IAM to provide fine-grained access controls to signing tools, so only designated developers can sign and schedule new firmware updates.

Q. Do I have to use code signing?

No, you can also use your own signing service and upload a signed image directly into S3. You will need to modify the Amazon FreeRTOS OTA agent to accept the signature format that you choose to use.

Learn more about Amazon FreeRTOS partners

Visit the partners page
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