Higher-Order Concurrency for Microcontrollers
Paper in proceeding, 2021

Programming microcontrollers involves low-level interfacing with hardware and peripherals that are concurrent and reactive. Such programs are typically written in a mixture of C and assembly using concurrent language extensions (like FreeRTOS tasks and semaphores), resulting in unsafe, callback-driven, error-prone and difficult-to-maintain code.

We address this challenge by introducing SenseVM - a bytecode-interpreted virtual machine that provides a message-passing based higher-order concurrency model, originally introduced by Reppy, for microcontroller programming. This model treats synchronous operations as first-class values (called Events) akin to the treatment of first-class functions in functional languages. This primarily allows the programmer to compose and tailor their own concurrency abstractions and additionally, abstracts away unsafe memory operations, common in shared-memory concurrency models, thereby making microcontroller programs safer, composable and easier-to-maintain.

Our VM is made portable via a low-level bridge interface, built atop the embedded OS - Zephyr. The bridge is implemented by all drivers and designed such that programming in response to a software message or a hardware interrupt remains uniform and indistinguishable. In this paper we demonstrate the features of our VM through an example, written in a Caml-like functional language, running on the nRF52840 and STM32F4 microcontrollers.

concurrency

virtual machine

microcontroller

Functional Programming

Author

Abhiroop Sarkar

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Functional Programming

Robert Krook

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Functional Programming

Joel Svensson

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Functional Programming

Mary Sheeran

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Functional Programming

Proceedings of the 18th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Managed Programming Languages and Runtimes

26-36
9781450386753 (ISBN)

18th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Managed Programming Languages and Runtimes, MPLR 2021
Münster, Germany,

Octopi: Säker Programering för Sakernas Internet

Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) (RIT17-0023), 2018-03-01 -- 2023-02-28.

Subject Categories

Computer Engineering

Embedded Systems

Computer Systems

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

DOI

10.1145/3475738.3480716

ISBN

9781450386753

More information

Latest update

11/4/2021