Task priorities


The priority argument declares the static priority of each task.

For Cortex-M, tasks can have priorities in the range 1..=(1 << NVIC_PRIO_BITS) where NVIC_PRIO_BITS is a constant defined in the device crate.

Omitting the priority argument the task priority defaults to 1. The idle task has a non-configurable static priority of 0, the lowest priority.

A higher number means a higher priority in RTIC, which is the opposite from what Cortex-M does in the NVIC peripheral. Explicitly, this means that number 10 has a higher priority than number 9.

The highest static priority task takes precedence when more than one task are ready to execute.

The following scenario demonstrates task prioritization: Spawning a higher priority task A during execution of a lower priority task B suspends task B. Task A has higher priority thus preempting task B which gets suspended until task A completes execution. Thus, when task A completes task B resumes execution.

Task Priority
  │                                                        │
  │                                                        │
3 │                      Preempts                          │
2 │                    A─────────►                         │
1 │          B─────────► - - - - B────────►                │
0 │Idle┌─────►                   Resumes  ┌──────────►     │
  │                                                        │

The following example showcases the priority based scheduling of tasks:

fn main() {
//! examples/preempt.rs


use panic_semihosting as _;
use rtic::app;

#[app(device = lm3s6965, dispatchers = [SSI0, QEI0])]
mod app {
    use cortex_m_semihosting::{debug, hprintln};

    struct Shared {}

    struct Local {}

    fn init(_: init::Context) -> (Shared, Local, init::Monotonics) {

        (Shared {}, Local {}, init::Monotonics())

    #[task(priority = 1)]
    fn foo(_: foo::Context) {
        hprintln!("foo - start");
        hprintln!("foo - end");
        debug::exit(debug::EXIT_SUCCESS); // Exit QEMU simulator

    #[task(priority = 2)]
    fn bar(_: bar::Context) {
        hprintln!(" bar");

    #[task(priority = 2)]
    fn baz(_: baz::Context) {
        hprintln!(" baz - start");
        hprintln!(" baz - end");
$ cargo run --target thumbv7m-none-eabi --example preempt
foo - start
 baz - start
 baz - end
foo - end

Note that the task bar does not preempt task baz because its priority is the same as baz's. The higher priority task bar runs before foo when bazreturns. When bar returns foo can resume.

One more note about priorities: choosing a priority higher than what the device supports will result in a compilation error.

The error is cryptic due to limitations in the Rust language if priority = 9 for task uart0_interrupt in example/common.rs this looks like:

   error[E0080]: evaluation of constant value failed
  --> examples/common.rs:10:1
10 | #[rtic::app(device = lm3s6965, dispatchers = [SSI0, QEI0])]
   | ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ attempt to compute `8_usize - 9_usize`, which would overflow
   = note: this error originates in the attribute macro `rtic::app` (in Nightly builds, run with -Z macro-backtrace for more info)

The error message incorrectly points to the starting point of the macro, but at least the value subtracted (in this case 9) will suggest which task causes the error.