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Real-time OS for Rail Systems

Streamline safety certification and improve reliability with BlackBerry QNX


QNX Embedded OS for Rail

Certifying safety-critical rail equipment built on Linux® can be much more difficult than many developers anticipate - and maintaining open source operating systems and drivers can monopolize the time of your best engineers. Rail equipment must run reliably, securely and safely for decades, but the requirements for train systems have become increasingly complex, and cyber-attacks are a growing concern. All of this increases your development costs and magnifies the burden of testing and certification.

The right real-time operating system (RTOS), together with a hypervisor, allows you to develop mixed-criticality systems. On a single hardware platform, such a system can run safety-critical components in parallel and isolated from non-safety-critical components, such as legacy Linux code.

BlackBerry® QNX® offers a broad range of safety-certified and hardware-independent embedded software solutions, complemented by world-class engineering services, to help you ensure rail system reliability, accelerate time-to-market and reduce development costs.  

What You Need

Safety certification is a huge burden – and an almost insurmountable challenge if you use an OS not intended for functional safety, such as Linux. Train control systems (ATP, PTC, ETCS) will increase software complexity. Using a safety-certified OS or hypervisor can significantly simplify your development and testing effort and shorten your certification processes – while ensuring the real-time performance you need.

Pre-certified components both lower your risk and reduce the time and effort needed to safety-certify your systems. QNX® OS for Safety is pre-certified for use in applications requiring IEC 61508 SIL 3, and can be used as a Software Element out of Context (SEooC) in systems certified to EN 50128 and other applicable standards.

Highly available, robust software systems for rail require a fail-proof foundation over a long product lifecycle. Rail equipment needs to boot up quickly, run precisely, never crash and ensure that the highest priority applications run first. Unfortunately, you can’t schedule or prioritize critical functions with Linux, and a problem with a driver or other component in kernel space has the ability to crash the whole system, reducing reliability and potentially creating a life-threatening situation.

BlackBerry QNX’s microkernel architecture provides unmatched reliability with a combination of separation mechanisms and adaptive partitioning. QNX® Hypervisor for Safety allows you to consolidate multiple operating systems on a single system-on-chip (SOC) while protecting safety-critical systems.

A pre-certified real-time OS, such as the QNX OS for Safety, can help you get to market faster and extend the lifecycle of your embedded systems. While Linux is popular for prototypes, certifying a safety-critical system built using Linux to IEC 61508 SIL 3 or EN 50128 will be complex and costly.

All BlackBerry QNX products are POSIX-compliant, so you can port easily from Linux to a QNX OS at any point in your software development lifecycle. Your developers will ramp up quickly on the QNX Software Development Platform (SDP), as it looks and feels like Linux, and uses the same tools, such as the GNU compiler collection (gcc).  Plus, BlackBerry QNX offers board support packages (BSPs) and engineering services to help streamline your development timelines.

If your organization has a large portfolio of products, reusing application and driver code across devices and lines of business can allow you to scale your software development program to deliver new product introductions (NPI) faster – and drive more revenue.

In addition, the resources devoted to maintaining a Linux distribution drive up costs. When you use the QNX microkernel RTOS and QNX software stack across product lines, you can offload OS maintenance to BlackBerry QNX while sharing drivers and applications throughout your organization for a lower total cost of ownership. The result can be a more flexible and scalable engineering operation. 

Train and signaling systems are increasingly integrated and connected – and at risk for cyberattacks. A cybersecurity breach in rail equipment could cause mayhem and put workers, passengers and the public at risk. Operationally critical, fire safety, and safety-critical security assets must be protected, so security needs to be built-in, starting with a secure OS.

With the most advanced and secure embedded RTOS for mission-critical systems, BlackBerry QNX solutions provide a layered approach to security that won’t hamper functionality or performance. For example, there are more than 70 options to restrict what each process can do, and root-level access is removed by default. In addition, secure over-the-air (OTA) software updates, a secure supply chain, managed PKI authentication, FIPS-certified encryption, and cybersecurity services provide you with essential building blocks to create a secure system. 

How BlackBerry QNX Can Help 

Rail OEMs and integrators trust BlackBerry QNX. Our solutions are used in train automation systems, train control systems, locomotives, rail infrastructure, and HVAC systems in rolling stock, among other uses. Learn more about these BlackBerry QNX solutions for your embedded systems:

QNX OS for Safety

Optimize performance and achieve functional safety 

Pre-certified to IEC 61508 SIL 3, QNX OS for Safety is a POSIX-compliant, multicore, real-time OS (RTOS) for building safety-critical equipment. QNX OS is supported by field-proven development tools, feature-rich middleware and engineering services. BlackBerry QNX also offers a non-certified version of our embedded operating system.

QNX Hypervisor for Safety

Consolidate multiple operating systems on a single chip

Pre-certified to IEC 61508 SIL 3, QNX Hypervisor is a real-time Type 1 microkernel hypervisor that provides the trusted reliability and performance of the QNX OS while allowing multiple operating systems to safely co-exist on the same system-on-chip (SoC). BlackBerry QNX also offers a non-certified version of our hypervisor.

Safety and Security Services

Achieve certifications and improve security

The BlackBerry QNX engineering services team has deep knowledge of safety and security and a near-100% success rate in achieving safety certifications with our customers. With a long legacy in security, BlackBerry has the expertise and solutions you need to secure both systems and supply chains. 

Engineering Services

Bring products to market faster

BlackBerry QNX global engineering services help bring safe, secure and reliable products to market on time, on budget and with quality. With a 40-year proven track record, full-stack expertise and flexible engagement models, we can fit your needs. 

Find out how BlackBerry QNX can help you streamline safety certification and improve system reliability.

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Technical Resources

QNX Board Support Packages (BSPs)
QNX Product Certifications for Rail
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30-Day Evaluation of QNX® Software Development Platform