Microsoft Announces Plans to Expand Arena for Embedded Applications With Windows CE by Addition of Hard Real-Time Capabilities
REDMOND, Wash., April 6, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced its commitment to extend the Microsoft® Windows® CE operating system with hard real-time capabilities scheduled for the first half of next year. These planned enhancements will give developers the ability to create embedded solutions using Windows CE for demanding, real-time and mission-critical applications.
Specific new features include support for nested interrupts, better thread response, additional task priorities, and semaphores, allowing for immediate response to external events and interrups. These enhancements will open up more arenas for embedded applications based on Windows CE, such as robotics, test and measurement devices, and programmable logic controllers. Windows CE is licensed already to run on a wide range of embedded systems, including point-of-sale terminals, industrial control devices, network testing tools, car navigation systems and telecommunication switches.
“Our goal is to create faster response times that will allow greater numbers of embedded developers to take advantage of the powerful functionality and features of Windows CE as they begin to build the next generation of information devices,” said Harel Kodesh, general manager, consumer appliances group at Microsoft. “Our target of sub-50-microsecond thread latencies for typical Windows CE-based processors will open our segment to a wide range of embedded devices by allowing hardware to be monitored and controlled more effectively and efficiently.”
“Windows CE with hard real-time capabilities is a solution that GM Powertrain, Raytheon and many other members of the OMAC Users Group have been asking for,” said Jerry Yen, president of the OMAC Users Group. “This hard real-time platform will enable Windows-based control systems to extend to more demanding and more robust devices.”
“Microsoft’s public commitment to enhance the real-time capability of Windows CE is an excellent testimony to the company’s quick responsiveness to customer requirements and its understanding of the needs of the embedded segment,” said Paul Zorfass, embedded systems analyst at International Data Corp. “This will greatly expand the applicability of Windows CE in many vertical embedded arenas.”
Hard Real-Time Capabilities
The hard real-time enhancements to Windows CE include the following:
Better thread response. The upper bounds on scheduling latencies for high-priority threads will be tightened. Microsoft is targeting sub-50-microsecond thread latencies on typical processors running Windows CE. This improvement in thread response will allow developers to know specifically when the thread transitions occur and aid developers in creating new embedded applications by increasing the capabilities of monitoring and controlling hardware in Windows CE.
Increased priority levels. Additional priority levels will allow users more flexibility in controlling the scheduling of embedded systems. The current version of the Windows CE operating system supports eight priority levels and will be increased to meet the needs for determinacy in real-time systems.
Support for nested interrupts. Microsoft is responding to customer feedback by adding support for nested interrupts, allowing interrupts at higher priority levels to be serviced immediately from within the context of an Interrupt Service Routine (ISR).
Addition of semaphores. In addition to the currently supported mutexes and events, Windows CE will be expanded to support semaphores.
A preliminary software design review will be held this summer, and feedback from OEMs and ISVs will be incorporated into the architecture of the real-time subsystem. This technology is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 1999, with a beta version scheduled for the first quarter of 1999.
Windows CE was designed to provide connectivity and interoperability to power the new era of interconnected computing devices. Since the modular, scalable Windows CE platform is based on the Win32® API, developers can use their programming knowledge to build embedded systems and applications. The Win32-based process model creates the first widely available platform to foster a thriving third-party industry, with products such as advanced development and analysis tools, network protocols and software libraries and utilities. At the same time, Windows CE provides a stable, well-supported and modular operating system that can handle the wide variety of hardware platforms needed for embedded systems.
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