In mid-2017, I came across this project by James Munns. It essentially wraps the C SDK for nRF52 development boards, and provides bindings that can be called from Rust. James gave a talk to the Rust DC Meetup, remotely over video conference. This talk inspired me to buy a couple of nRF52 dev boards.
I'd like to announce that here, in Nordic's official channels, because I'd like more embedded developers to become aware of it. Rust is a language that has the ability to compile down to native code with zero runtime, and no operating system. In other words, Rust can run on bare metal hardware. Today.
Some challenges we will face (you can help!):
If you are interested, here are some links to learn more:
Here is a link to the GitHub repository
Here is a link to the full video recording of the DC Meetup talk. It offers a detailed overview of our embedded development workflow.
Finally, here is a recent talk about using "unsafe" code in Rust. This is relevant, because in the embedded context a lot of code involves usage of the unsafe keyword. This talk explains why that's necessary and not as scary as it sounds.
Why Rust? Language designers have learned a lot in 40 years. Rust has:
Great to see, that already someone started this.
I thought about doing something like this when I took a first look at rust some years ago (I think I even tested something on a STM32).
I hope I can find…
Rust targets the LLVM, which is the compilation toolchain used for industry standard languages such as C++, Obj-C and Swift and is very mature + highly optimized at this point, with support from companies such as Microsoft, Apple, etc.
Rust ensures zero-cost abstractions, pattern matching, memory safety (no dangling pointers, etc), at compile time rather than at run-time.
Rust's procedural macro system is much more powerful than C macros, and enables you to create things like "futures" which can abstract away things like manually coded state machines. The closest thing in C I've found are "protothreads" which are still not "zero-cost".
If you need to drop down to manual memory manipulation and ignore Rust's safety guarantees around memory and data races, they provide an escape hatch keyword called "unsafe", which doesn't tend to need to be used.
I do agree, the tooling around Rust on the embedded side needs improvement, and James Munns's wrapper around the nRF52 SDK needs another layer to abstract the unsafe calls, but I'd be very happy to use Rust to create useful libraries which I'd call into from C at this point, just not as the application level code as well. I've been experimenting with calling into cbindgen to build a no-std library to integrate with C code as Rust has a very good FFI thanks to it's lack of a runtime.