Real-time operating system

computer operating system intended to process data as it comes in with minimal delay

A real-time operating system (RTOS; commonly pronounced as "are-toss") is a multitasking operating system designed for real-time applications. Such applications include embedded systems, industrial robots, scientific research equipment and others.

An RTOS simplifies the creation of a real-time applications, but does not guarantee the final result will be real-time; this requires good development of the software.

Real-time operating systems use specialized scheduling algorithms in order to provide the real-time applications. An RTOS can respond more quickly and/or predictably to an event than other operating systems.

The main features of an RTOS are minimal interrupt latency and a minimal thread switching latency.

The basic two designs for RTOS are:

  • Event-driven (priority scheduling) designs: switch tasks only when an event of higher priority needs service, called pre-emptive priority.
  • Time-sharing designs: switch tasks on a clock interrupt, and on events, called round robin.



These are the best known, most widely used real-time operating systems. See List of real-time operating systems for a full list. Also, see List of operating systems for all types of operating systems.


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