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What Does VxWorks Mean?

VxWorks is a proprietary and customizable real-time operating system (RTOS). VxWorks is designed for distributed computing on most central processing units (CPU) with embedded systems.


VxWorks is used with a spectrum of hardware, including communications and network devices, testing and measuring devices, computer peripherals, automotive systems and consumer products.

Techopedia Explains VxWorks

VxWorks is compatible with a variety of CPUs, including: Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages (MIPS), PowerPC, Intel i960, Scalable Processor Architecture (SPARC), SH-4, the x86 family, Advanced Risc Machine (ARM), StrongARM and xScale.

VxWorks features include:

  • Isolated user-mode applications
  • Real-time processes
  • Memory protection
  • Efficient interprocessing, such as Transparent Inter-Process Communication (TIPC)
  • Error handling
  • Support for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and asymmetric multiprocessing (ASMP)
  • Binary, counting and mutual exclusion semaphores with priority inheritance
  • Multitasking kernel with preemptive round-robin scheduling and fast interrupt response
  • POSIX PSE52-certified compatibility with user-mode execution environment
  • Distributed and local message queues
  • VxSim simulators
  • File systems, including Network File System (NFS), High Reliability File System (HRFS) and Disk Operating System Filing System (DOSFS)
  • Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Networking Stack

VxWorks is also applied in the spacecraft industry. Examples include:

  • Deep Space Program Science Experiment (DSPSE), also known as Clementine
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
  • Phoenix Mars Lander
  • Deep Impact space probe
  • Sojourner Mars Pathfinder rover
  • Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers
  • Stardust

Because code is written as required, VxWorks may be challenging for novice programmers. However, VxWorks uses less processing power than UNIX and runs at faster speeds because content is saved on a minimal basis.

Released in 1985, VxWorks was created and sold by Wind River Systems of Alameda, CA (USA).


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.