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PC-Based Devices (CEPC) (Compact 7)


A PC-based device (CEPC) is a Windows Embedded Compact device that is based on standard PC hardware. However, unlike standard development boards, a CEPC does not have a standard hardware configuration. You have the flexibility to add or remove memory, disk drives, video cards, Ethernet cards, USB controllers, and other hardware. By using the CEPC flexible hardware configuration, you can easily evaluate Windows Embedded Compact features that you are considering adding to your OS design.

Windows Embedded Compact is not a Plug and Play OS that recognizes and configures peripheral devices. Therefore, you must install and manually configure the hardware on a CEPC to avoid interrupt request (IRQ) and I/O memory conflicts. Consult your hardware documentation for information about configuring your motherboard and cards. Hardware documentation is particularly important for Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) cards because they usually have configuration jumpers or switches.

CEPC Hardware

To create a CEPC, you must include certain hardware components in your device. In addition, you can include optional hardware components to meet your design requirements.

Required Hardware

  • x86 microprocessor and motherboard.
  • Power supply and case.
  • RAM, 32 MB to 4 GB. The kernel's automatic memory sizing feature detects and configures RAM size. The kernel and OEM adaptation layer (OAL) can address RAM up to 4 GB, but because the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus occupies part of the high address space, slightly less than 4 GB is actually usable in a CEPC. You will need more memory for a debug version of your OS design than for the retail version. You can constrain how much memory an OS design uses, so you don't have to physically limit the memory to match a product design.
  • A video card that supports Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) BIOS Extensions 2.0 or VESA BIOS Extensions 3.0. This standard has existed for some time, so these are common cards.
  • A Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drive or a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. A USB drive or floppy disk drive is required to read the boot disk.
  • A serial port for debug messages.
  • A second Ethernet, USB, or serial port for the remote connection to Platform Builder. This connection is used to download the run-time image and to perform debugging.

Optional Hardware

You can add whatever additional hardware you want to your CEPC. Some possibilities are:

  • Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) or Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) hard disk drive
  • Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) CD drive
  • USB Host Controller
  • USB/PS2 input devices
  • Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) audio card
  • Additional Ethernet port

Configuring Hardware

Configuring a CEPC is like configuring the hardware on a PC. Consult the CEPC motherboard documentation or the CEPC motherboard manufacturer's website for information on entering Setup and configuring the BIOS. You can use standard PC references and the documentation for the components as a guide when configuring your CEPC.

The motherboard and PCI cards are configured in the BIOS automatically or you configure them by using the setup utility. If you use ISA cards, you must manually configure them, and you must verify that none of the PCI cards conflict with the ISA cards.

Serial Ports

The BIOS setup utility configures the serial ports. The default BIOS settings for most motherboards configure the on-board serial port as COM1.

The setup utility refers to the physical serial ports as, for example, Serial Port 1 and Serial Port 2. Assigning a specific IRQ and I/O address to the physical port connects it to the logical communication port in the OS, such as COM1 or COM2. You can configure any serial port to be any available COM port (COM1 through COM4).

The following table shows the configuration and usage for COM1 and COM2. Sboot indicates that the computer downloads messages and images via a serial port. Eboot indicates that the computer downloads messages and images via Ethernet.

Serial Port IRQ IO Address Usage




Sboot or eboot debug messages




Sboot remote connection to Platform Builder

Sboot and eboot are not interrupt-driven, so the IRQ setting is irrelevant to them.

The standard configuration of a CEPC uses a serial port as the standard debug port and an Ethernet port for downloading and debugging.

Configuring Ethernet Ports

You can use any PCI or ISA Ethernet adapter that is NE2000, SMC9000, or RTL8139 compatible. The boot disk and board support package (BSP) images are configured by default for CEPCs with a single PCI Ethernet port. If you have multiple ports, the Ethernet bootloader (eboot) uses the port with the lowest IRQ for the remote connection to Platform Builder.

Because the Ethernet drivers that are used for downloading run-time images and the kernel independent transport layer (KITL) do not always support interrupt sharing, be sure that the Ethernet port has its own IRQ.

If you use ISA Ethernet adapters, you must edit the Autoexec.bat file on the boot disk and create a new bootloader that is configured for the ISA adapters.

If you have a compatible PCI adapter that the bootloader does not recognize, you can add support for it in the BSP.

Configuring a Video Card

You can use any PCI or AGP video card that supports the VESA 2.0 or VESA 3.0 standard. The only configuration that you must do is to choose a video mode when you run the bootloader.

The boot disk contains a program, Vesatest.exe, which will test the video card and display the video modes that it supports.

See Also


x86 BSPs