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BlackBerry Ltd. is making its QNX operating system, which is used to power cars and edge computing devices, available on Amazon Web Services Inc.’s cloud platform.

BlackBerry announced the update today at AWS re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas. 

Originally known as a handset maker, BlackBerry has over the past decade shifted its focus to the enterprise software market. The Waterloo, Canada-based company now generates most of its revenue from selling cybersecurity tools and software for powering connected devices. QNX, the operating system that BlackBerry is making available on AWS, is one of its flagship products.

QNX is a specialized operating system that can be installed in a vehicle to power its instrument cluster and other subsystems. According to BlackBerry, the software has been deployed in more than 215 million vehicles worldwide.

QNX is what’s known as a real-time operating system, or RTOS. An RTOS is a specialized type of operating system that ensures applications complete important processing tasks within a specific time frame. The ability to complete processing tasks without unexpected delays is important for many vehicle subsystems, particularly those that are involved in managing a car’s movement. 

QNX includes features that optimize the reliability of a vehicle’s core software components. According to BlackBerry, QNX ensures that a failure in one software component won’t cause the others to malfunction. Additionally, the operating system can automatically restore malfunctioning software thanks to a built-in recovery tool.

BlackBerry will now enable automakers to run QNX in Amazon EC2 cloud instances. According to the company, an automaker’s developers can use a cloud-based deployment of QNX to develop and test new vehicle software. Tasks such as evaluating the reliability of a new application are simpler to carry out on cloud infrastructure than on a test vehicle running QNX.

Developers can use cloud-based QNX deployments alongside another BlackBerry offering called IVY. IVY is a suite of software tools designed to help automakers more easily process data from their vehicles’ built-in sensors. Some components of the toolkit are designed to run on a vehicle’s onboard computer, while other components are hosted in AWS.

According to BlackBerry, both QNX and IVY can run on EC2 instances powered by AWS’ Graviton2 processor. Graviton2 is an internally-developed processor that AWS debuted at re:Invent last year. It promises to provide up to 40% better price performance than comparable chips. 

“Connecting our partners with other leaders around the technology that is transforming industries is what powers the innovation possible on AWS,” said Wendy Bauer, the general manager of AWS Automotive. “Unlocking the potential of the cloud via our Graviton2 processors and seeing the ways companies like BlackBerry are making meaningful change – and helping enable hardware parity in automotive development – is energizing for AWS and the industry at large.”

BlackBerry has made the cloud version of QNX available in early access to a select group of customers. According to the company, those customers include automakers as well as a number of major auto parts suppliers.

BlackBerry says that the availability of QNX in AWS will also benefit companies beyond the auto industry. BlackBerry envisions customers in the robotics, medical equipment, industrial controls, aerospace and defense sectors using cloud-based QNX environments to support their software development projects. 

Image: BlackBerry

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