Evaluating mobile architectures

Criteria for building a mobile system.

Before you decide that you're going to plunk down a lot of bucks for a mobile platform, it's a good idea to develop a mobile architecture. This tip, which is excerpted from InformIT, talks about just one of the evaluation criteria for a mobile architecture, namely, which processors does a vendor's architecture support. There's a general rule of thumb that you can apply, though, for whether you want into the mobile field at all: Applications...

should be wireless-enabled only when their real-time availability can make a significant impact on critical business decisions. You can read more about mobile architectures in the entire article.


Most of us evaluate platform strategies without taking a look at some important key criteria. Some of the conceptions that we have inherited include "Microsoft is best with bringing out newer options and features;" "Sun is best known for its stability;" and so on. This is fine, except we didn't consider several important evaluation criteria. For example, have we considered how much a particular technology vendor spends on its R&D as a sign of its commitment to innovation?

In the wireless sector, this is ever more important for niche technology startups around the world. (Remember Palm in its early days?) When evaluating an OS for your wireless device, microprocessor support is another crucial issue. Many technology vendors such as Microsoft support multiple selection of CPUs. When evaluating a platform, support for the following four families of microprocessors and emulation technologies is essential:

  • ARM: ARM720T, ARM920T, ARM1020T, StrongARM, XScale
  • MIPS: MIPS II/32 with FP, MIPS II/32 without FP, MIPS16, MIPS IV/64 with FP, MIPS IV/64 without FP
  • SHx: SH-3, SH-3 DSP, SH-4
  • X86: 486, 586, Geode, Pentium I/II/III/IV

Palm, Microsoft, Motorola, and Intel have all announced support ARM core modules. OSs with support for ARM should be chosen for any kind of wireless development because their footprints are increasing beyond mobile devices. It's only in the Set Top boxes segment that MIPS is the preferred choice among manufacturers.

Microsoft recommends that developers choose Windows CE.NET for solutions requiring real-time, a small footprint, and support for non-x86-based processors. It also recommends that they select Windows XP Embedded for solutions requiring the latest Windows technologies built on the x86 processor using existing Win32 drivers, hardware, or applications.


To read the entire article from which this tip comes, click over to InformIT. You have to register there, but it's free.


This was first published in June 2003

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