Speedy native programs and low level access on NETMF devices

.NET Micro Framework (NETMF) brings modern, managed and event driven programming to embedded systems. Some of the advantages would be eliminating null pointer issues, memory leaks and out-of-boundary array access. Also, running interpreted object, allows NETMF to run on almost any architecture, plus allows for debugging using a USB cable. No need for costly debugging tools. Still, the best advantage would be the ability of moving from one hardware to another with very or no learning curve. From lowest cost to most featured, all expose the same core libraries.

Having all this has its performance penalties. Fear not, GHI provides many ways to access the hardware on a closer level.

[title]Register Access[/title]
GHI’s libraries (premium and OSHW) offer register access class. “registers” are pre-defines memory locations that handle specific tasks, like setting an IO or sending data on serial port. This class allows developers to read and modify these registers. In simple terms, it works just like pointers in C/C++. Once it is constructed to a register, users can then modify it to fit their needs.

For example, this tutorial shows how to use the hardware to count pulses or to customize the UART baud rate GHI Electronics – Where Hardware Meets Software

Our community member @ patc also added this page with some good details on accessing STM32, the processor used on Cerb-family devices, http://www.tinyclr.com/forum/topic?id=10611

[title]Runtime Loadable Procedure (RLP)[/title]
RLP is very similar to DLL, except it is compiled against a static memory address. This native object, written in C or assembly, includes procedures to handle processing intensive tasks.

Here are few example that would have been almost impossible to accomplish without RLP: (more at http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare)

  1. Metaballs Demo http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare/entry/581
    Gadgeteer HydraMetaballs - YouTube

  2. Bitmap Rotation http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare/entry/234
    - YouTube

  3. 5000Hz capable FFT http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare/entry/384

  4. Hough Circle Transform http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare/entry/467

  5. SignalGenerator http://www.tinyclr.com/codeshare/entry/638

With this flexibility, by having a managed modern system with the possible native extension, NETMF is the perfect choice for modern embedded systems.

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Learn more about NETMF http://www.ghielectronics.com/products/dotnet-micro-framework

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