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Open Access

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

EURASIP Journal on Embedded Systems20072008:234710

Received: 20 February 2007

Accepted: 1 October 2007

Published: 30 October 2007


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.


User InterfaceMobile DeviceControl StructureDesign FeatureElectronic Circuit

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Authors’ Affiliations

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


© Sergio Ruocco. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. 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.