Windows Embedded CE 6.0 Advanced Memory Management

Over the last 10 years, Windows Embedded CE has grown from a fresh-faced newcomer to a grizzled veteran of the embedded operating system world. During this time, Microsoft has improved almost everything about Windows CE but the way it manages memory. Sure, Windows CE is and has always been a modern, preemptively multitasking operating system with virtual memory support, but there were some severe limits for memory and code intensive systems such as set-top boxes and the Windows Mobile(R) platforms.

Specifically, the limits are the 32 concurrent process limit and the 32 MB application virtual space limit. Neither of these limits were a problem in the early days of Windows CE, nor are they a problem on many embedded systems built today. The problems occur on systems that are intensively media driven, therefore running Windows Media(R) player, systems needing large amounts of system and application code, such as Windows Mobile, and on systems that tend to create systems with large numbers of small processes, such as some process control systems.

Windows Embedded CE 6.0 blows away the "two 32's," due to a completely rewritten kernel and new operating system architecture. The new kernel allows up to 32 thousand processes running at any one time. I suspect this new 32K process "limit" should not be a problem for at least a few years. In addition, virtual memory space for a given application has been improved from 32 MB of virtual address space per process to 2 GB of address space per process.

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