Why Rust for Embedded Development?

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Rust is an open-source systems programming language that focuses on speed, memory safety, and parallelism. It is syntactically similar to C++, with memory safety.

Hi folks, I hope you all are doing good, so today we’ll try to understand why we should consider Rust programming for embedded development and the points that make Rust more considerable for this area over other programming languages.

Okay! let’s talk about some strengths of Rust programming language which help for embedded development:

No more memory management issues

As we all know 70% of all security vulnerabilities are the result of memory bugs, and Rust plays an important role here to prevent memory-related issues with its memory safety approach. Here we have a component called borrow checker which is designed to enforce memory and resource ownership, ensuring that any misuse of memory is caught at compile time. Rust enforces the developer to think about what exactly they are doing.
Previously, the problem was the developer can either get low-level control or more safety right.
For eg: in C/C++, while working with low-level stuff the programmers had to be more careful and they had to consider a lot of things to ensure memory safety.
But after Rust came into existence the programmers are getting memory safety with low-level control.

High Performance

In Rust, one of the main reasons which increase Rust’s performance is the absence of a garbage collector. Rust determines at compile time when memory is no longer needed and can be cleaned up. Unlike other programming languages, Rust does not have runtime checking. In other words, here everything is validated at the compile-time only.

As we can have direct access to hardware and memory so Rust is an ideal language for embedded and bare-metal development. And it is possible to optimize our program to be close to the maximum theoretical performance of a machine.

Cross-platform support

With Rust, we can easily build cross-platform solutions that work on a wide range of operating systems. Moreover, we can code front-end applications, there are some web frameworks available in Rust are Rocket, Actix, etc.

Rich ecosystem

In software production, it requires many more aspects to maintain its quality, and Rust’s rich ecosystem considers all the required aspects with the help of its package manager Cargo, its community site crates.io, its documentation hub doc.rs, and many more including extra compiler lints available from Clippy and automatic idiomatic formatting provided by rustfmt.

In addition, Rust has several official and unofficial avenues for people to get help, such as chat, user’s forum, Rust subreddit, Stack Overflow, and chatroom. Similarly, there are multiple conferences also available across the globe like RustConfRust Belt RustRustFestRustCon Asia, etc. So we can say, Rust has a vibrant and welcoming community.

Alright! we have covered few strengths of Rust programming for embedded development. Now let’s talk about Some requirements of Embedded and Is Rust programming fulfills those?
Although the strengths we discussed above are the reason to use Rust. However, there are a few more terms that make Rust more considerable.

Portability

In a nutshell, Portability is “system Independence”. In embedded systems, a product can be called portable if it is capable of performing its operations in different environments. One way to achieve portability is through HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer).
Hardware abstractions are sets of routines in software that emulate some platform-specific details. In other words, it gives direct access to the hardware resources.
So how Rust fulfills this major requirement of embedded? In Rust, we have embedded-hal, it is a set of traits that define implementation contracts between HAL implementations, drivers, and applications (or firmware).

Interoperability

Interoperability is the ability for software to communicate with each other for the effective exchange and process of information.
In Rust, we are achieving interoperability between two languages, Rust and C programming. For this approach, there are two dedicated modules available in the stdlib called std::ffi and std::os::raw and also supports Interoperability with other build systems and RTOSs are in progress.

I hope you enjoyed the blog, thanks for reading!!!

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Written by 

Pawan Singh Bisht is a Software Consultant at Knoldus Software LLP, having a strong experience of more than two years in the technology field. He has been well versed in the core implementation of Rust and Java. He loves to contribute to the community which he attained from the community.