More Details on the Palm Ready Program Released
Yesterday, Palm announced that Intel, Motorola, and Texas Instruments would be joining its new Palm OS Ready Program, which meant that they would all be making ARM-based processors capable of running the next generation of the Palm operating system. Palm's initial announcement on the program was short on details and since it came out there have been conflicting reports being written about it. The greatest area of contention was that some publications said that portions of the OS would be embedded into the chips and some said there wouldn't be. Palm has posted a FAQ on its developer's website that clears up much of the confusion.
This is neither the Palm OS on a chip, nor an embedded solution. The processor manufacturers will be creating a Device Abstraction Layer (DAL) between their chip and the OS. They will receive a porting kit from Palm that will help them to port the DAL to their processor. These processor solutions can then be sold directly to the existing Palm licensees, or even Palm itself.
More specifically, the partners will receive a Silicon Porting Kit that will include the following: a device abstraction layer, a hardware abstraction layer, tools, required Palm OS components, access to technical resources, training, support, and access to marketing opportunities.
Palm isn't requiring its licensees to buy their chips from these companies. They are free to buy them from anyone they want. But they would have to do a lot of work to create their own DAL.
In an interesting side note, this program isn't limited to just ARM-based processors. Motorola will be using these tools for their current 68K products. The program is also open to other chip companies if they would like to join.
Another topic of much debate is when these any devices making use of all this will be available. Palm's FAQ doesn't do a lot to clear this up. It states several times that they are not announcing shipment dates for the Palm OS for ARM at this time and they also refuse to talk about its feature set.
This do say that they will deliver a development version of the Palm OS ARM port to licensees this Fall but that is just to let the licensees start their work for the ARM architecture. They aren't expecting ARM-based chips to be available this year -- and therefore, devices based on these chips won't be available for even longer.
Finally, for those who have asked if their current models will be obsolete, they promise that Palm powered devices based on ARM and 68k will be able to exchange data and work together seamlessly.
All existing applications will not have to be rewritten to work on the new version of the OS. They suggest that developers focus now on supporting Palm OS 4.0 APIs to ensure compatibility in the future. Applications developed according to Palm OS 4.0 API guidelines will be compatible with the ARM-based version of the Palm OS.
Expect to hear much more about the Palm OS ARM port at PalmSource in October.
I want to think Alan Kessler and Gabriel Acosta-Lopez for patiently answering my e-mails yesterday when I was trying to sort all this out. -Ed
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