Think about the popular slang term app and you probably first think about application programs for smart phones. But the downloadable app concept will pervade the embedded space as well in scenarios such as auto infotainment systems, home media gateways, and embedded gaming products. Open source operating-system platforms such as MeeGo and Android will allow embedded design teams to develop extensible systems based on Intel® Architecture (IA) processors. In turn, the third-party app developers will build rich ecosystems around such platforms moving forward as is already happening with Android.
IA platforms are ready hosts for open-source platforms such as Android and MeeGo. Intel for instance has an installation guide for installing the Linux-based Android operating system on IA processors. The guide even includes a video focused on an installation that uses an Intel® Atom™ N450 board.
MeeGo, meanwhile, is a Linux-based platform that has resulted from the combination of Intel’s Moblin initiative aimed at developing a Linux-based platform for mobile applications with the similarly-targeted Maemo project that Nokia had pursed. Now the efforts have been unified in MeeGo and The Linux Foundation Is shepherding the initiative.
While MeeGo will be used in handsets and netbooks, the platform will also find use in a variety of other embedded applications such as automotive infotainment, media phones, and multimedia gateways. The Linux Foundation released version 1.1 of the software in late 2010, and the first MeeGo-based products will come to market in 2011.
In addition to the MeeGo Core Software Platform, the development initiative has released several other tools that will speed the work of design teams. For example, there is a beta release of a full SDK (software development kit) for IA processors available for download. The SDK is based on the Qt Creator development environment and includes an emulator among other tools.
The community has also released a reference software platform that specifically targets automotive applications called MeeGo v1.1 for In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems. The IVI platform targets Atom-based designs and was built to support Automotive Center Console HMI requirements. The platform includes a home display screen and a taskbar. It also includes support for text-to-speech and speech-recognitions applications.
There are also a number of software and development-support products and technologies emerging, both from Intel and members of the Intel® Embedded Alliance, that can help embedded design teams develop systems based on platforms such as MeeGo and Android.
Wind River Systems,*, for example, offers development support for both Android and MeeGo. The Wind River Platform for Android includes a Linux core, middleware, an application framework, and a user interface. The company also offers the Android Compatibility Test Suite.
Wind River offers a similar platform for MeeGO. And the company has developed a Framework for Automated Software Testing (FAST) for both platforms. FAST helps teams both meet tight time-to-market goals and deliver quality software. The FAST suite includes individual test frameworks that are encapsulated within scripts and executed during test runs. The encapsulation or wrapper in Wind River terms allows tests to be executed across multiple product platforms.
Virtualization technology may also come into play in MeeGo- or Android-based designs. For example, some products may require the security afforded by a proprietary operating system while relying on MeeGo or Android for hosting a user interface and applications.
Green Hills Software** has applied its experience with its Integrity Secure Virtualization software to develop the Green Hills Platform for Secure Mobile Devices. The offering includes the Integrity secure real-time kernel and the virtualization layer. Design teams can host multiple guest operating systems on top of the virtualization layer.
Intel, meanwhile, has provided one other missing piece of the MeeGo puzzle via the latest release of the Intel® Embedded Media and Graphics Driver (EMGD). Many of the target MeeGo applications including IVI require graphics and multimedia support. The new version of EMGD supports designs that use the Intel® System Controller Hub US15W, US15WP, US15WPT, or the Intel® Atom™ Processor E6xx Series processors with integrated graphics controllers.
How does the concept of extensible apps and a third-party ecosystem fit into you coming project plans? Are you currently using Linux-based operating systems? Please share you experience or opinions on open-source platforms via comments. Fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community would appreciate your insight.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor)
Intel® Embedded Alliance