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Is SCADA one of the RTOS out there (it's used for real-time control and data acquisition)?

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I guess SCADA systems do tend to include RTOS in some components (the ones driving actual machinery). While there are real-time unices, I don't know if they're suitable for SCADA. A unix system could be used in the UI bits. – Gilles Jan 23 '11 at 22:18
up vote 6 down vote accepted

SCADA describes "Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition" systems - it often is Real Time, but doesn't have to be. There is usually a component that is real time (eg for logging, or managine pressures etc in machinery - ie essential heartbeat stuff) but this isn't absolutely necessary.

Many are still legacy code with a TCP/IP front end tacked on, and for some of these the front end is a very basic web server.

From an offtopic security perspective, there is a large scale problem with connecting legacy SCADA apps to the Internet without hardening them appropriately - as this leads to logical attacks on real world systems (such as oil pipelines, power stations etc

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According to the Wikipedia article, SCADA is a description of a type of system (specifically industrial control systems), not any one particular thing.

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SCADA isn't an operating system, it's basically an application that runs on top of an existing operating (The HOST OS). Depending on what the requirements of the SCADA application are, the HOST OS can be a Real Time Operating system, or just a plain vanilla Windows/Linux OS.

For example, the systems that do condition monitoring, state estimation, and fault detection&response for wide areas of the electric power grid typically run most SCADA applications on a RTOS. It was a failure of the 'Real-Time' portion that contributed to the August 2003 Blackout (https://reports.energy.gov/).

But, for a small town's electric distribution network, the fine control and timing requirements don't exist, so they will easily run their application on a stock Windows Server platform.

Common RTOS in SCADA applications are CentOS, RTLinux (there are a few flavors out there), VXWorks (for SCADA devices), QNX (very popular), and PikeOS (used in things like nuke safety stuff).


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SCADA is synonymous with HMI in some industries, and the HMIs I have come across usually run on windows machines. The real time programming part of the plant is usually on the PLCs, and the HMI part doesn't need to pay as much attention to timing, just logging data and operator input.

For example if you press 2 buttons on a screen (the SCADA) one 5 seconds after the other, the PLC might see both of those button signals at the same time (on the same scan).

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