Today Cirrus Logic announced a new ARM9-based processor with ethernet baked right in. Even more interesting is the operating systems that they are supporting out of the main office:

Cirrus Logic's Nine-Series embedded processors are provided with all the necessary driver software as well as Linux and Microsoft's Windows CE .NET operating systems, which are optimized and fully supported by an in-house Cirrus Logic software development and support team.

That's only the second time I've seen Windows CE .NET mentioned as being supported on an embedded platform, while I have often seen linux or uClinux mentioned as being supported. Maybe it's just me, but why in the world would you need .NET on a microcontroller? Whatever the reason is, this is probably the same line of thinking that made a whole bunch of vendors try to ship embedded microcontrollers that ran Java natively. That makes about as much sense as running Cobol. The proof is in the pudding as these Java based micros have had zero market penetration. Note to marketers, 'new' and 'trendy' are not considered assets to a large portion of embedded developers. We've spent enough time hunched over a misbehaving board with a scope, a logic analyzer, and a debugger only to discover that some fancy new bit of silicon doesn't function as advertised.

I think it makes perfect sense to support CE.NET on microcontrollers.  Perhaps the reason that you haven't seen it being advertised is that MS dropped support for a number of different platforms somewhere around CE 3 or 4, so I think you can now only choose between StrongARM and XScale, and there aren't many of those.

Consider that these are the microcontrollers that will be going into pocket PCs, cellphones etc.  These aren't your normal embedded systems, but rather app platforms - generic devices.

Also, the .NET compact framework is not a requirement for CE.NET (it's a config option in the platform builder, I think).  The ".NET" in the name is a little misleading there.  CE.NET is just the next version of CE, so when you see a chip advertising support for CE.NET, it's not saying that it's got builtin CLR logic, just that you can run the newest CE versions on it.

P.S. it looks like the quotation marks around the href value in your links are getting escaped in your entry, so those links aren't working.

Posted by Phillip Pearson on 2004-05-18