Tag Archives: Internet of Things

Zeidman Technologies Releases Free Version of SynthOS

SynthOS-LT, a free version of SynthOS, can be used for noncommercial purposes

 CUPERTINO, Calif. – January 26, 2017Zeidman Technologies, a leading developer of hardware and software tools enabling developers to quickly build custom systems for the Internet of Things, today announced that it was releasing a free version of SynthOS®, its flagship software tool.

SynthOS streamlines the process of creating optimized application-specific software for the Internet of Things and other embedded systems. Requiring little knowledge of real-time systems, developers can focus on their unique control routines, device drivers, and algorithms. SynthOS automatically ties them all together in a single real-time system that meets timing requirements, avoids hazards like deadlocks and race conditions, and that is hardened against security breaches from malware. This new version, SynthOS-LT, is fully functional and free for noncommercial use, though it is limited in the number of tasks that it can support. Those limits should not be a problem for hackers and hobbyists wanting to develop their own systems without needing to understand the complexities of real-time operating systems. SynthOS-LT can be downloaded here.

“While we have a free online version of SynthOS, we got feedback that uploading code and downloading code was tedious and could break anything but the simplest systems. So we decided to offer a limited but fully functional tool for free,” said Bob Zeidman, president of Zeidman Technologies. “We want hackers and hobbyists to try it out and see how easy it is to make optimized, secure, working systems at the push of a button. As computers get smarter, programming languages have become more complex. We think programming should get simpler. Rather than the hundreds of APIs that a developer must know to work with an existing operating system like Linux, SynthOS has only six primitives. SynthOS uses artificial intelligence to figure out what you want to do from analyzing your code. And for most applications, it makes the system smaller, faster, and more secure.”

Learn more about SynthOS here.

Bob Zeidman
President
Zeidman Technologies

How SynthOS Can Prevent an IoT-based Internet Outage

Last Friday, massive sections of the Internet were brought to a halt by malware introduced by hackers into DVRs and other Internet-connected devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to connect more and more devices, introducing many more vulnerability points throughout the world. What happens when nearly every devices is connected? Can we stop even more damage from being done? At Zeidman Technologies, we believe that SynthOS is part of the answer.

On October 21, a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attack caused outages and network congestion for a large number of major websites including Twitter, GitHub, PayPal, Amazon, Reddit, Netflix, and Spotify.  According to reports, the attack was accomplished by guessing at the default passwords for Internet-connected DVRs and cameras. At least one company, Chinese electronics component manufacturer Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, admitted that security vulnerabilities involving weak default passwords in its products were partly to blame. Internet backbone provider Level 3 Communications said that at least 500,000 devices were infected with the Mirai malware. The Mirai malware was able to load itself into these IoT machines and then start deluging websites with messages, overloading them and bringing them down.

As bad as this was, what will happen when the IoT dream of billions of devices from thermostats to light bulbs to toasters and refrigerators are all online? A Mirai-type malware could shut down the entire Internet making repair virtually impossible.

One of the problems that led to this situation is that IoT devices are being based on operating systems like Linux that are intended for desktop computers or other systems where the user can install and uninstall programs. So adding a malware program only requires that the malware “act legitimate.”

Another problem is that most of these operating systems have source code that’s easily available. Hackers can download the code, search for vulnerabilities, and test them extensively before ever unleashing their malware.

The SynthOS Process
The SynthOS Process

We believe that OS synthesis is the future for IoT devices because it creates a much more secure system and here is why.

  1. Hackers can’t examine source code. SynthOS creates a custom application specific operating system (ASOS) for each device. This means that while the developer has full access to the source code that is created, that source code is unique to the system and cannot be downloaded anywhere. Hackers can’t easily find, test, and exploit vulnerabilities.
  2. Every synthesized system is custom. SynthOS creates a custom operating system for each device. This means that a vulnerability in one device will not be in another device. So an attack against multiple devices would require malware to understand each device it is attacking.
  3. Reduced attack surface. The SynthOS-generated OS code is so compact and optimized, it is difficult if at all possible to add malware. For example, if a device has 5 applications running on it, the OS will support exactly 5 applications. Adding a 6th application will not be supported and will likely cause the system to crash.
  4. Difficult to add apps to the closed system. SynthOS creates a closed system where new applications cannot be added dynamically. This means that to add a new function, the entire system must be wiped and reloaded, something that malware cannot typically do.
  5. Automatic synthesis of memory checking routines. We are now adding a feature that allows memory checking routines to be synthesized automatically and run periodically. If the routine determines that memory has been changed, it can send out a warning or shut itself down.

OS synthesis and SynthOS is not a cure-all for all IoT security. There will always be the human factor where coding mistakes are made and passwords are emailed on unsecure servers, but OS synthesis in general and SynthOS in particular will go a long way toward protecting against future attacks like the one we just experienced.

Learn more about SynthOS here.

Use SynthOS for free here.

Bob Zeidman
President
Zeidman Technologies

Zeidman Technologies and Codasip Collaborate to Improve Efficiency of IoT Designs

Application-specific processors and operating systems will help joint customers optimize the design and performance of Internet of Things (IoT) devices

CUPERTINO, Calif. and BRNO, Czech Republic – Oct. 20, 2015
Zeidman Technologies, a leading provider of tools enabling developers to quickly build custom operating systems, and Codasip, a leading provider of application specific instruction-set processor (ASIPs) design tools and IP, today announced that Zeidman Technologies had joined the ASIP Design Network. This collaboration will allow joint customers to benefit from complementary processor and operating system design tools that help drive efficient performance of IoT devices. Combining application specific processors and application specific OSes can drastically improve performance as well as reduce hardware resource and memory requirements.

“Together, Zeidman Technologies and Codasip will help customers meet the need for lean, customized and highly efficient embedded systems to drive billions of IoT devices,” said Bob Zeidman, president of Zeidman Technologies. “Developers need the application-specific processor and operating system design resources that our companies provide to optimize the performance of their products.”

The ASIP Design Network (ADN) brings together a rich ecosystem of companies spanning service providers, IP companies and embedded software suppliers. ADN member companies are working together to accelerate adoption of ASIPs for IoT and system-on-chip (SoC) designs. The two organizations will provide introductions to their respective customers, who are providers of IoT devices that perform specific tasks as efficiently as possible while occupying the smallest possible footprint.

“Codasip is delighted to welcome Zeidman Technologies to the Codasip ASIP Design Network,” said Neil Hand, VP of Marketing at Codasip. “Application Specific OSs are a natural extension to and enabler for ASIPs and what they deliver to our customers. Together we believe that success in IoT requires an application-centric focus across the whole system design.”

About Zeidman Technologies

Zeidman Technologies is a leading developer of hardware and software tools enabling developers to navigate the increasingly complex issues of building custom operating systems. Its signature SynthOS® tool streamlines the process of creating optimized application-specific operating systems that businesses need to ensure that embedded systems run efficiently and effectively. The company was founded by Bob Zeidman, an industry-renowned expert in software and hardware design, and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

SynthOS and Zeidman Technologies are registered trademarks of Zeidman Technologies, Inc.

About Codasip

Codasip delivers leading-edge tools and IP that enable Application Specific Instruction-set Processors (ASIPs). ASIPs utilize dedicated instructions and architecture to create the optimal processor for a specific application or class of applications, and are at the heart of devices that require the best combination of performance and power for the complete hardware and software solution. Codasip’s unique technology makes ASIP adoption easy and non-disruptive for both hardware and software developers alike.

More information on Codasip’s products and services is available at www.codasip.com. Codasip was Formed in 2006 and is headquartered in Brno, Czech Republic, with offices in Europe and the US, and representation globally.

Codasip is the trademark Codasip Ltd and is registered in the United States.

Make Old New Again

At one of the Internet of Things conferences I attended last month (and there are many of those these days), I was sitting in on a presentation from one of the leading CPU suppliers for the IoT and M2M markets. The presentation was about the recommended architecture for the future of the IoT and the way the endpoints are going to be connected to the overall system. One of the most surprising comments in the presentation was that 80% of all devices connected to the IoT in the next few years are going to be legacy devices. From trucks to trains to HVAC, and all kinds of other industrial machines that have already been installed in the field. They have been running reliably for a number of years, but still have many years for service in them. All those devices can benefit from connecting to an intelligent backend system. This can increase efficiencies, improve safety, and extend the useful life span of those systems. The financial benefits by themselves should be a big enough reason for the upgrade; adding the safety and efficiency will make it a no-brainer investment.

I realized that I should not have been surprised by this fact, given my own history with embedded and control systems. In fact, none of us should have been surprised by this. IoT is not a new technology; most of the basic technologies have been used successfully in many designs for years. I have worked on the development of a number of connected devices over the last 25 years. From a digital fax using a Z80 processor to a number of industrial control systems using 386/486, devices that included displays, robot control, and communication. And those are not unique examples. A large number of our manufacturing systems, transportation systems, and medical devices are based on designs that are more than a decade old, and in many cases are still in production. And just as an interesting side note, the last time I checked, I found more than half a dozen companies that are still making versions of the 8051 processor, a design that is more than 25 years old at his point (and if you do not know what it is, you should definitely check it out).

All those legacy designs can and should be upgraded to be part of this new revolution. Connecting legacy devices to the IoT ecosystem will expedite the adoption of the concepts of a connected world and will spread its benefits. Connecting a legacy system could require adding a whole new control system that will include a newer MCU/CPU and communication hardware, but in many cases this is not feasible due to the high level of integration and the sensor monitoring that is typical of embedded systems. In those cases, the best solution is to upgrade the legacy system with new software and possibly adding a communication module. A number of companies provide modules that can be connected to legacy designs via serial communication ports (most likely RS232 or I2C) to provide Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Internet capability. Adding these modules will enable the connection of that legacy system to the backend server that will support advanced services like remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and performance analysis.

When upgrading an older design, you should consider the limitation of the device such as small memory, slow CPU clock, and limited capabilities of the original development system at the time the product was designed. To upgrade a system and get a new level of performance out of it, you may need to change some of the basic design architecture. Many legacy system software architectures use serial execution. Changing this to a parallel multitasking architecture can resolve timing problems with the CPU speed limitation. This limitation can be significant, especially when considering the extra tasks required for collecting data and communicating over the Internet with the backend system. Running these activities in parallel with the original tasks of the system can resolve this problem. However, moving to a multitasking architecture in many cases is limited by the available memory in the design. This is where SynthOS can help.

By using SynthOS to create an application specific operation system (ASOS) you will get a very efficient system–one that is optimized for the system-specific needs and with the smallest memory footprint possible. One of the great benefits of SynthOS is the fact that you can start with the existing source code (assuming it is still available). You can take the original code and break it into functional tasks, then define the relations and communication between them using SynthOS primitives. The results will be a highly efficient system that will be able to optimize performance by limiting delay loops, waiting for events and I/O input, and especially waiting on slow communication peripherals and sensors. All of those with a very small penalty in terms of memory overhead. And SynthOS allows you to do all this without requiring any knowledge of RTOS mechanisms like message queues, context blocks, mutexes, or semaphores.

This approach of updating systems that are already used in the field can bring great savings for both service providers and end users. For the service providers, it can bring the system up to the connectivity level that is equivalent to new equipment, and can generate substantial saving in maintenance and service calls. For the user, it will result in reduced downtime and increased efficiency. The key for a successful transition is the low cost and low effort for the upgrade without a significant redesign of the hardware.IoT

Jacob Harel
VP of Product Management
Zeidman Technologies