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This article is part of the series Operating System Support for Embedded Real-Time Applications.

Open Access Open Badges Research Article

A Real-Time Programmer's Tour of General-Purpose L4 Microkernels

Sergio Ruocco

Author Affiliations

Laboratorio Nomadis, Dipartimento di Informatica, Sistemistica e Comunicazione (DISCo), Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milano 20126 , Italy

EURASIP Journal on Embedded Systems 2008, 2008:234710  doi:10.1155/2008/234710

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://jes.eurasipjournals.com/content/2008/1/234710

Received:20 February 2007
Revisions received:26 June 2007
Accepted:1 October 2007
Published:30 October 2007

© 2008 The Author(s).

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


L4-embedded is a microkernel successfully deployed in mobile devices with soft real-time requirements. It now faces the challenges of tightly integrated systems, in which user interface, multimedia, OS, wireless protocols, and even software-defined radios must run on a single CPU. In this paper we discuss the pros and cons of L4-embedded for real-time systems design, focusing on the issues caused by the extreme speed optimisations it inherited from its general-purpose ancestors. Since these issues can be addressed with a minimal performance loss, we conclude that, overall, the design of real-time systems based on L4-embedded is possible, and facilitated by a number of design features unique to microkernels and the L4 family.

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