What is a Zephyr OS? It’s a real-time operating system designed for resource-constrained appliances, such as embedded systems working on microcontrollers. It performs one operation at a time and works much more quickly than general-purpose operating systems. In this article, we explore the functions of the Zephyr and present the benefits of utilizing it in small devices. If you are interested in this topic, please read on!

Zephyr OS: Definition

Zephyr is an open-source, lightweight operating system designed for IoT devices, wearables, automotive embedded systems, healthcare, and worker safety electronic equipment. It is small, though scalable, and constantly supported and developed by a vast community of users, including vendors and engineers.

According to the Zephyr Project, this OS is supposed to be used in scenarios where Linux operating systems are still too heavy. The same source informs that the Zephry OS currently supports over 600 boards.

Zephyr is also known for implementing the best practices in regard to energy efficiency and security. Therefore, it makes the perfect choice for any small device, like embedded systems.

Zephyr Features

Now, let’s delve into the features that Zephyr OS has to offer. These include:

  • Open source OS – You can modify the code and utilize solutions shared in the community.
  • Developer friendliness – Easy, built-in logging, tracing, and debugging; supports general-purpose OS, like Windows or macOS.
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 5.0 and BLEm Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Canbus; IoT protocols like CoAP, LwM2M, MQTT; USB and USB-C support.
  • Real-time operations – Performed within 3-4 µs maximum.
  • Support for UI drivers – Including LCD, OLED, and touch panels.
  • Support for multiple hardware architectures – Including Risk-V, x86, or ARM Cortex-M.

Zephyr OS Examples

What are the particular examples of embedded systems operating on the Zephyr OS? We’ve prepared a short list for you to show the versatility of this solution.

  • Livestock trackers,
  • IoT gateways,
  • smart watches,
  • wind turbines,
  • computer mice,
  • blood glucose monitors,
  • engine management systems (in the automotive industry),
  • driver assistance systems,
  • factory automation systems.

Zephyr Real-Time Operating System Architecture

Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into the Zephyr RTOS, starting from its architecture – this will give you more details before we discuss the advantages of utilizing Zephyr in embedded systems.


The microkernel in Zephyr offers a small but efficient set of services. These include: Scheduling, memory management, interprocess communication, and interrupt management. All of these services operate in real time.

Kernel Services

These provide higher functionality, supporting task management, timers, semaphores, and message queues. What’s worth noting is that these services are divided into modules that you can include/exclude depending on the needs of the embedded system that you are developing.


Libraries, like kernel services, can be added or removed as modules. This gives you an opportunity to further customize the software, especially since the Zephry RTOS has a wide community, which has already prepared numerous libraries that are ready-to-use.


Zephyr’s API is simple and intuitive. It provides standard interfaces and is consistent in naming and parameter conventions across all services.

Device Drivers

As was mentioned earlier, Zephyr has device drivers for hundreds of hardware devices. Again, they work as modules – you can include additional drivers if needed or exclude the redundant ones.

User-Space Applications

We also have to mention that Zephyr RTOS enables developers to write their own user-space applications running on top of the OS. In this case, the developers can write in several programming languages, including C and C++.

The Benefits of Designing Embedded Systems Based in Zephyr RTOS

So, finally, what are the advantages of using the Zephyr real-time operating system? 


The first great benefit of the Zephyr RTOS is that it’s scalable. It’s all due to its modular nature.

For the smallest, space-constrained, simple embedded systems, you can just remove any modules that would be redundant and get an extremely lightweight OS. But, if you need a more complex OS, you can simply add kernel services and libraries and achieve what you want seamlessly.

Flexibility and Configurability

Zephyr RTOS is also extremely flexible and configurable, yet again thanks to its modular nature. By selecting from thousands of services and libraries, you can quickly add any new functions if required, thus getting a system tailored to your device.

Real-Time Performance

Unlike general-purpose OS, Zephyr is ready to work in real time. This makes it perfect for those embedded devices that need to make use of the gathered data immediately.

Data Security

The Zephyr Project is also all about security. You can encrypt the applications, prevent downgrades, or even set reset and failure recovery measures. These are but a few of all the security features that come with the use of this OS.

Low Power Consumption

With all of that taken into account, Zephyr RTOS is also designed for maximum energy efficiency. It includes sleep modes and dynamic voltage scaling, making it possible for Zephyr-based embedded systems to achieve long independent runtimes.

The Takeaway

Zephyr RTOS is one of the best OS for embedded systems. If you feel that you would like to use it on your devices, yet you lack expertise, contact us. At Conclusive, we have extensive experience in working with various embedded system technologies, including the Zephyr RTOS; we’re here to help you!

And if you wish to learn more about the possible OS choices for embedded systems, read our article on FreeBSD!

Sources: https://zephyrproject.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2024/01/Zephyr-Overview-20240110.pdf