Programming languages like C and Ada combined with proprietary embedded operating systems have dominated the realtime application space for decades. The new C++11 standard includes native, language-level support for concurrency, a requirement for any event-oriented realtime software. Threads, Locks, and Atomics now exist to provide the necessary tools to build the structures that make up the foundation of a complex realtime system. The National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U) at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is breaking new ground with the language as applied to the needs of fusion devices. A new Digital Coil Protection System (DCPS) will serve as the main protection mechanism for the magnetic coils, and it is written entirely in C++11 running on Concurrent Computer Corporation’s realtime operating system, RedHawk Linux. It runs over 600 algorithms in a 5kHz control loop that determine whether or not to shut down operations before physical damage occurs. To accomplish this, NSTX-U engineers developed software tools that do not currently exist elsewhere, including two methods of realtime atomic synchronization, realtime schedulers, and a realtime logging framework. Together with a recent (and carefully configured) version of the GCC compiler, these tools enable data acquisition, processing, and output using a conventional operating system to meet a hard realtime deadline (that is, missing one periodic is a failure) of 200 microseconds.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
© 2020 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. All rights reserved.