FreeRTOS – Deleting Tasks

Keywords: Embedded systems, ARM, FreeRTOS, STM32F4, Tasks, Task Deletion

Code Link: Tutorial Source Code Github – Keil

In the previous tutorials we showed how to create tasks, pass parameters to task, and how to change tasks priority on fly. It is highly recommended to go through those tutorials before proceeding further. In this tutorial we will show how to delete a task.

Sometime few functionalities are no more required in system at run time. For example, lets say an embedded controller connected to various sensors and runs separate Tasks to manage various sensors data. At some point a sensor gets damage. In such scenario, keeping the task running not only contributes to power consumption but also wasts CPU cycles to be used by other tasks for various operations. In this scenarios, to keep system isolated from damaged sensors, the respective controlling task is better to be deleted.

Note: When a task is deleted in freeRTOS (via respective API), in first step its entry is removed from all lists (ready, block, suspended etc.) but its Task Control Block (TCB) and the memory reserved for it at the time of Task creation is kept reserved. In 2nd step, when IDLE TASK is allowed to run, it free up the deleted tasks reserved memory.

A word about Idle Task:

The idle task is created automatically when the RTOS scheduler is started to ensure there is always at least one task that is able to run. It is created at the lowest possible priority to ensure it does not use any CPU time if there are higher priority application tasks in the ready state. The idle task is responsible for freeing memory allocated by RTOS to tasks that have been deleted [1]. The Idle task acts as a garbage collector that clean up deleted task memory. The idle task has no other active functions so can legitimately be starved of microcontroller time under all other conditions.

Delete Task API:

The following API is used to delete FreeRTOS Task.

void vTaskDelete( TaskHandle_t xTask );

	xTask: 	The handle of the task to be deleted. Passing NULL will cause the calling task to be deleted.

Note: In freeRTOSConfig.h INCLUDE_vTaskDelete must be defined as 1 for this function to be available.

Note: Calling vTaskDelete(...) for a Task only performs the 1st step of deletion process (as mentioned earlier) i.e. removing Task entry from all Tasks lists and scheduling it for proper deletion via Idle Task. The task memory remains reserved until reclaimed by Idle Task, Figure-1.

Figure-1: FreeRTOS Task Deletion Process

Tutorial Scenario:

In this tutorial, we will create two freeRTOS Tasks (Task-1 and Task-2) with equal priorities. After 20 Task Switching iterations, Task-1 will be deleted leaving behind only Task-2 to run forever.

Let’s jump to programming. Following are the steps.


1. First of all declare TaskHandle_t handler which will be used in vTaskDelete API for Task-1.

TaskHandle_t hTask1;

2. Next create two FreeRTOS Tasks of equal priorities. As we will delete Task-1 later on fly (see tutorial scenario) so we need to refer to Task-1 later in code. For this purpose we need a task handler. we have already declared a global TaskHandle_t handler in previous step. Here we will only pass its pointer xTaskCreate(...) API.

  const int task_1_Param = 1;
  const int task_2_Param = 2;

  xTaskCreate (vTask, "T1", 150, (void *)&task_1_Param, 1, &hTask1);

  xTaskCreate (vTask, "T2", 150, (void *)&task_2_Param, 1, NULL);

3. Define a counter variable to be used to count number of times tasks being switched.

int counter = 0;

4. Upon 20th iteration, delete Task-1 by passing it handle to xTaskDelete(...). At this point forward only Task-2 will run as Task-1 has already been deleted.

if (counter == 20) {      
  printf("Deleting Task-1....\n");
  flag = 1;

Note: As we mentioned previously that xTaskDelete(...) only stages a task for deletion. The actual memory is reclaimed by Idle Task. So we have a check at the start of Task Function that checks whether Task-1 was deleted or not. If flag is set i.e. flag == 1, then the task will be delayed for 1-tick time so that idle task has time to run and reclaim Task-1 memory.

   if flag is set, it means the Task-1 is deleted
   so give some time to idle task to reclaim memory
if (flag == 1) {
   flag  = 0;

The complete code for Tasks Function (used by both Task-1 and Task-2) is given bellow.

void vTask(void * pvParams) {

  volatile unsigned int i = 0;
  const int * tParam = (const int *)pvParams;
  for (;;) {

      if flag is set, it means the Task-1 is deleted
      so give some time to idle task to reclaim memory
    if (flag == 1) {
      flag  = 0;
    printf("Task-%d Running.\n", *tParam);
      prevents useless counting and redeletion of deleted task on overflow.
    if (counter <=20) {
    if (counter == 20) {      
      printf("Deleting Task-1....\n");
      flag = 1;
    /*Dummy Delay - Lazy work */
    for (i =0; i < 500000; ++i);

5. Start the Scheduler.


6. Finally Compile source code, connect STM32F4-Discovery board to PC and enter debug mode. Open printf serial window via View -> Serial Windows -> Debug (printf) Viewer. Run the Program, You will see Task execution messages as shown in bellow Video.

Note: We have routed printf messages to ST-Link debugger via ARM-ITM. There is a dedicated tutorial on how to redirect printf messages to debugger. Link to the tutorial is given bellow.

For complete source code refer to Github link given at the start of this tutorial.

Click the full screen button for more clear view.


[1] – FreeRTOS Official Website

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