FreeRTOS Demo for the Microchip AVR Dx Port
using the XC8, AVR-GCC and IAR EWAVR compilers
There are multiple FreeRTOS ports for the Microchip AVR microcontrollers. This page describes the ports for the AVR Dx
families, which include the AVR DA and the AVR DB families. Ports are available for Atmel AVR-GCC, XC8 and
Workbench for AVR (IAR EWAVR) compilers.
These demos and examples are configured for the AVR128DA48, which has 128 KB Flash and 16 KB SRAM–enough memory for
applications with a high number of real time tasks. The size of the FreeRTOS demo depends on the compiler used, but in the
Full Demo configuration it requires around 15 KB of program memory or less. Running 10 real-time tasks,
in addition to the idle task, requires approximately 2 KB of SRAM. So there is more than enough SRAM left for communication
buffering, advanced algorithms and other SRAM intensive parts of the application.
Compilers and IDEs supported
Ports are available for three different compilers. The versions used to develop the ports are shown in parentheses:
- XC8 (v2.20)
- AVR-GCC (build 126.96.36.1998)
- IAR EWAVR (7.30)
The following IDE versions were used to develop and test the ports:
Microchip MPLAB X
(5.40 with device pack AVR-Dx_DFP 1.2.52)
for the XC8 port
Atmel Studio 7
(7.0.2397 with device pack AVR-Dx_DFP 1.1.45)
for the AVR-GCC port and the demo application projects
The XC8 and AVR-GCC compilers are integrated into the Microchip MPLAB X and the Atmel Studio 7 IDEs.
The FreeRTOS demo applications for the AVR DA microcontroller (blinky demo, minimal demo, full demo) all target the
AVR128DA48 Curiosity Nano evaluation kit. The demo applications can be built with either MPLAB X (XC8), Atmel Studio
(AVR-GCC), or IAR EWAVR.
A more advanced example application is available from Atmel START. That example targets a combination of three boards: the
Nano Base for Click boards, the AVR128DA48 Curiosity Nano evaluation kit, and the
Xplained Pro board.
IMPORTANT! Notes on using the Microchip AVR Dx port
Please read all the following points before using this RTOS port.
Also see the FAQ My application does not run, what could be wrong?.
Source Code Organization
The code of the FreeRTOS kernel and demos is available to download from the main download page on FreeRTOS.org. The FreeRTOS zip file download contains the source code for all the FreeRTOS ports and demo applications – it therefore contains many more files than are needed for this project. See the Source Code Organization section for a description of
the directory structure and information on creating a new FreeRTOS project.
The MPLAB X project for the AVR128DA48 demo application is in the
FreeRTOS/Demo/AVR_Dx_MPLAB.X directory. The
Atmel Studio 7 project for the AVR128DA48 demo application is called
RTOSDemo.atsln and is located in the
The MPLAB X project for the AVR128DA48 demo application is in the
The Atmel Studio 7 project for the AVR128DA48 demo application is called
RTOSDemo.atsln and is located in the
The IAR EWAVR project for the AVR128DA48 demo application is called
RTOSDemo.eww and is located in the
The Microchip AVR Dx Demo Application
Each port comes with three different demos selectable by a define (
#define mainSELECTED_APPLICATION) in the
main.c file. Each demo has its own
main-<demo-name>.c file. This structure is used for all
three IDEs (Atmel Studio 7, MPLAB X and IAR EWAVR). All of them use an identical
FreeRTOSConfig.h file that
accommodates the most comprehensive demo (Full Demo).
mainSELECTED_APPLICATION is set to 0 then
main_blinky() that creates
a simple demo as follows:
The main_blinky() function creates one queue and two tasks, then starts the RTOS scheduler.
- The Queue Send Task is implemented by
main_blinky.c. It sends a fixed
value (100) to the queue every 200 milliseconds.
- The Queue Receive Task is implemented by
main_blinky.c. It blocks
on queue reads, unblocking and toggling an LED each time the message from the queue send task is received. The queue
send task sends to the queue every 200 milliseconds, so the queue receive task leaves the Blocked state and toggles
the LED every 200 milliseconds.
mainSELECTED_APPLICATION is set to 1 then
main_minimal() that creates
the following tests tasks:
- The Integer Math Test is implemented by
integer.c. It creates a
task function that repeatedly performs a 32-bit calculation, checking the result against the expected one.
- The Register Test is implemented by
regtest.c. It creates two tasks
that write different values in all registers and verify that the content is kept during the context switch.
- The Polled Queue Test is implemented by
PollQ.c. It creates two
tasks that communicate over a single queue. One task acts as a producer, the other as a consumer. All queue accesses are
performed without blocking.
- The Serial Communication Test is implemented by
creates two tasks that operate on an interrupt driven serial port. A loopback connector should be used so that
everything that is transmitted is also received.
Finally, the Check Task implemented by
vErrorChecks() is created to periodically inspect the standard demo
tasks to ensure all the tasks are functioning as expected. The Check Task also toggles an LED to give visual feedback of
the system status. If the LED toggles every 3 seconds, then the check task has not discovered any problems. If the LED stops
toggling, then the check task has discovered a problem in one or more tasks.
The minimal demo project files are provided to demonstrate the use of the RTOS kernel and are not intended to provide an
optimized solution. This is particularly true for
comtest.c which uses an example interrupt-driven UART driver
serial.c). This is written with the intent of stressing (and therefore testing) the RTOS kernel implementation
rather than providing an example of an optimal solution.
mainSELECTED_APPLICATION is set to 2, then
main_full() to create a
comprehensive demo that demonstrates and tests several FreeRTOS features, including tasks,
direct to task notifications, queues,
semaphores, software timers, and
more. The following tests are created:
- The Semaphore Test Task, implemented by
semtest.c, creates two sets
of two tasks each. The tasks within a set share a variable, whose access is guarded by a semaphore.
- The Direct to Task Notification Task, implemented by
file, creates a task that performs some tests by itself, then loops around, being notified by both a software timer
and an interrupt.
- The Register Test Task, implemented by
Regtest.c, creates two tasks
that write different values in all registers and verify that their contents are preserved during the context switch.
- The Recursive Mutex Task, implemented by
demonstrates the use of recursive mutexes. It creates three tasks that all access the same recursive mutex.
The Check Task, implemented by
vErrorChecks(), is then created to periodically inspect the standard demo tasks
to ensure all the tasks are functioning as expected. The Check Task also toggles an LED to give visual feedback of the system
status. If the LED toggles every 3 seconds, then the check task has not discovered any problems. If the LED stops toggling,
then the check task has discovered a problem in one or more tasks.
The created tasks are from the set of standard demo tasks. Standard demo tasks are used by all
FreeRTOS port demo applications and have no specific functionality. They are used to demonstrate how to use the FreeRTOS API,
and to test the RTOS port.
Building the RTOS demo application
Development tools options
The demo applications are available for Atmel Studio, MPLAB X and IAR EWAVR. This implies three compilers: AVR-GCC, XC8 and
IAR EWAVR. From the demo-code point of view, all three demo projects are identical. The porting files are also identical for
Atmel Studio and MPLAB X, but the porting files for IAR EWAVR are different.
Preparing project files
To start, first get the FreeRTOS kernel and demos code by downloading (or recursively cloning) the GitHub repository
(https://github.com/FreeRTOS/FreeRTOS). The FreeRTOS download includes source
code for multiple processor ports, and demo applications, but each supported processor architecture requires a small amount
of architecture-specific RTOS code. This is the RTOS portable layer, and it is located in the
FreeRTOS/Source/Portable/<compiler>/<architecture> sub directories, where
<architecture> are the compiler used to create the port, and the architecture on which the port runs,
respectively. Please see the FreeRTOS source code organization page for a full explanation of the
FreeRTOS directory structure.
Note: The port files for GCC and XC-8 compilers are identical, so the MPLAB-X projects use files located in the
For the AVR Dx devices, all necessary port files and demos can be found in the following folders:
The next step is to open the application from its project folder within
FreeRTOS/Demo. The projects for each
IDE/compiler already have all the necessary files linked.
Building with MPLAB X and XC8
To compile the demo project using MPLAB X, follow these steps:
- Start MPLAB-X
From the start menu, select File -> Open Project and browse to the folder where the project is located:
- Select “AVR_Dx_MPLAB.X” and open it.
- Build the project.
Building with Atmel Studio 7 and AVR-GCC
To compile the demo project using Atmel Studio 7, follow these steps:
- Start Atmel Studio.
In the tool menu, select File -> Open -> Project/Solution. Browse to the folder where the project is located:
- Select “RTOSDemo.asln” and open the project.
- Build the project.
Building with IAR EWAVR
To compile the demo project using IAR EWAVR, follow these steps:
- Start IAR Embedded Workbench.
In the menu, select File -> Open Workspace and browse to the project location.
- Select “RTOSDemo.eww” and open it.
- Build the project.
Configuration and Usage Details
RTOS port specific configuration
Configuration items specific to FreeRTOS demos are in the
FreeRTOSConfig.h file located in each project folder.
The following are few define examples. All constants defined in this file can be edited to suit a specific application.
#define configCPU_CLOCK_HZ – microcontroller clock, used by timers and to calculate delays and baud-rates
#define configTICK_RATE_HZ – used to set the frequency of the RTOS tick. All demos use a value of 1000Hz
to test the RTOS kernel functionality.
#define configUSE_PREEMPTION – used to switch between the preemptive and cooperative FreeRTOS kernels.
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE – the port allows the user to select which timer used for the RTOS tick.
The list of available options is detailed in the
FreeRTOS_Config.h file, and the support functions/macro’s
are located in the
Each port also defines the type ‘
BaseType_t‘ to be equal to the most efficient data type for that processor.
The AVR Dx port defines ‘
BaseType_t‘ as char (8 bits):
#define portBASE_TYPE char
Note: The tick timer options list contains options that are available on the larger members of AVR Dx family. Please refer to
the specific device datasheet for a list of available options.
Memory areas used by the compiler
The FreeRTOS port requires you to define the heap and stack used by compiler. Those are defined to accommodate the more
comprehensive demo example (Full Demo), but the size is customizable and depends only on the
implementation of your application. The current port uses the following defines (these are similar for all tools/compilers):
#define configTOTAL_HEAP_SIZE 0x1000
#define configMINIMAL_STACK_SIZE 120
Note: The IAR compiler requires two stacks (
configured to 120 bytes and the
RSTACK to 30 bytes.
Source/Portable/MemMang/heap_1.c is included in the AVR Dx demo application project to provide the memory
allocation required by the RTOS kernel. Please refer to the Memory Management section of the
API documentation for complete information.
Demo application USART and port drivers
application folder contains examples for two drivers.
- The USART driver is included in the
serial.c file. It is an interrupt-based driver that uses the USART
instance connected to the onboard debugger USART. This way, the messages sent by the Serial Communication Test
ComTest) task can be viewed on the PC without requiring any special hardware other than the board itself
and a USB cable. The USART driver enables the internal loopback connection between the RX and TX signals, because the
ComTest verifies the sent data is received back without error.
- The demo applications include a file called
partest.c that is a driver for a whole port of the MCU.
(The name is historic and has since lost its meaning, but it is derived from ‘parallel port test’.) The file contains
the interface functions for setting LEDs, clearing LEDs and toggling LEDs. In these examples, port C was chosen as the
port where the onboard LED is connected. The LED pin is chosen because getting the LED output working is the first step
when porting a demo from one hardware platform to another. For the selected hardware platform (AVR128DA48 Curiosity
Nano), the other LED pins controlled by
partest.c are not physically connected to an LED.
It is not necessary to read this section in order to use the port.
Using an alternative hardware platform
The AVR128DA48 Curiosity Nano board was chosen for its easy-to-get-started features, but any other hardware platform can
be used with minimal additional effort. The multiple options available for the tick timer and the available demos facilitate
the development of FreeRTOS applications on any device in the AVR Dx family.
Using an alternative AVR Dx device
The FreeRTOS demo port can run on any device in this family. Simply change the device type in the development tool
configuration window and then re-compile the project.
Tick timer selection
All available demo ports use TCB0 as the default tick timer (
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 0). This timer
is available on all AVR Dx devices. Other timers can be selected using
configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE as follows (refer
FreeRTOS_Config.h file for available options):
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 0 - use TCB0 as the tick timer
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 1 - use TCB1 as the tick timer
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 2 - use TCB2 as the tick timer
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 3 - use TCB3 as the tick timer
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 4 - use TCB4 as the tick timer
#define configUSE_TIMER_INSTANCE 5 - use RTC as the tick timer
The AVR Dx ports use an on-chip oscillator as the main clock. Because of its internal architecture, only certain
predefined values can be used for the internal clock. To ensure an easy start-up with the AVR Dx platform, an additional
clk_config.h file is provided. This file contains a list of supported clock configurations, clock initialization
clk_init()), and uses
#define configCPU_CLOCK_HZ (in file
Serial port configuration
mainSELECTED_APPLICATION is set to 1, the project includes an example of an interrupt-driven driver for
serial communication that uses the USART1 instance (file
serial.c). Any other available USART instance (USART0-5)
can be used as a direct replacement if necessary. In addition, the USART Rx and Tx pins should be configured. For the current demo
this is done in the hardware initialization procedure:
void init_minimal( void )
/* Configure UART pins: PC1 Rx, PB0 Tx */
PORTC.DIR &= ~PIN0_bm;
PORTC.DIR |= PIN1_bm;
LED port configuration
LEDs provide the easiest method of getting visual feedback that the demo application is running, so it is useful to get
the LEDs on the new hardware platform working as soon as possible.
It is unlikely that the hardware platform to which the demo is ported has LEDs on the same IO ports as the hardware
platform on which the demo was developed – so some minor modifications will be required.
vParTestInitialise() in the
partest.c file contains the IO port mode and direction
configuration. The function
main.c contains additional generic hardware
configurations and may also require some modifications, depending on the port being used.
Make any changes necessary to the two functions referred to in the paragraph above, then write a very simple program to
check that the LED outputs are working.
The interrupts that are not used for context switching can be used without special requirements. The method used to install
the interrupt vectors depends on the port and compiler used. Refer to the existing demo for the port you are using. If an
interrupt is used for the context switch, it requires special handling. Refer to
serial.c and the porting files
for examples of using interrupts for the context switch.
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