Inside the WebPDA

The new partnership between Mitsubishi and ISI presents an exciting prospect for the next generation of PDAs. Dave Wilby looks at the potential.

US analyst firm Forrester Research claims that "ultimately, all electronic appliances will be Internet-enabled." Well, that sounds perfectly reasonable, and perhaps the first generation of personal global access devices will look something like this.

US-based software house ISI has written up a pre-prepared reference design that is fully customisable, giving third-party developers more time and resources to focus on adding competitive usability features, ergonomics and competitive differentiation to their products. The design is built around ISI's existing embedded personal operating system, pSOS+ and its real-time operating system, RTOS, and comes free with either of these systems. Importantly, both are proven and are embedded in over 38 million devices worldwide.

But ISI isn't foolish enough to think it can make any real change in this arena without heavyweight help. The WebPDA design uses technology supplied by a number of its partners. Mitsubishi Electric is supplying its own virtual remote personal computer (VRPC) hardware design and embedded M32R microprocessor. Sun is bringing its pJava v1.1 and JIT compiler to the party, while the Espial Group has committed to providing a raft of applications including email and the usual personal management features you would expect from a PDA.

Here are the current mouth-watering specifications for ISI's WebPDA Reference Design.

All comments to the Mailroom please.

  • HARDWARE

    M32R/D processor from Mitsubishi Electric

    32-bit RISC CPU

    80MHz internal clock speed

    20MHz external clock speed

    16-bit external data bus

    2MB on-chip DRAM

    128-bit on-chip DRAM bus width

    1/4 VGA colour backlit display

    integrated wireless LAN support

  • REAL-TIME OPERATING SYSTEM

    PSOSystem v.2.2.0 RTOS

    (pSOS+ v2.2.0; pREPC+ v.2.2.3; pNA+ v.3.2.0; pHILE+ v.3.1.3)

    pRISM+ v.1.2.3 integrated development environment

    Diab Data v.4.la:4 compiler

    SearchLight v.1.0.3.3 debugger

  • MIDDLEWARE

    PJAVA v.1.1 from Sun Microsystems

    JIT compiler

    Additional system enhancements

  • APPLICATIONS

    PIM and email applications from Espial Group Assistant

    Core Footprint 90kB

    Customisable and extendable API

    Calendar, Appointment Manager, Task List, Address Book

    Ebox email client

    Core Footprint 120kB

    Customisable and extendable API

    POP3, IMAP4, Multiple Mailboxes

Would you love to get your hands on a WebPDA? Tell the Mailroom

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