The sophistication of in-car telematics and “infotainment” systems is growing rapidly. Already, automakers and Tier One auto suppliers are introducing devices that offer everything from dynamic navigation and realtime traffic reports to DVD playback, digital radio, voice-controlled operation, and automated 9-1-1 dialing.

To handle this complexity, systems designers are turning to full-featured, protected-mode RTOSs, deployed on 32-bit processors that provide onchip support for various automotive technologies, including the J1850, CAN, and MOST communication buses. Despite their sophistication, these systems must satisfy the same timing requirements as older hardware-software solutions. For instance, from the time that it is powered on, a telematics control unit must be able to receive CAN messages within 60 to 100 milliseconds. Problem is, the complex software running on such a device can easily take hundreds of milliseconds, or longer, to boot up.