See SPOT run…into the tar pit

So now that I’ve gotten my article on the TinyCLR published in .NET Developer Magazine, I’m starting to get email with comments and questions.  I’ll provide what little info I know about here to prevent me from having to repeat it.

First, I want to thank everyone that emailed me for the positive feedback on the article.  It’s good to know that people actually do read what I write and it’s encouraging to see public interest in the technology.  I think it’s that interest that’s going to be critical to the success of the platform.

When I wrote the article I was using a development system that I had purchased from dotnetcpu for $500.  Of course I figured that the price was a bit outlandish considering that I think it’s designed for the microcontroller space and you can get PIC, Zilog, RabbitAtmel and a host of other micro dev kits for much less.  The stamp price of $200 was also a bit steep.  You can get a cadillac PIC for under $12 – that addition of flash and some other stuff does make $190 to me, especially for a simple ARM7 processor.

At any rate, I realize that early adopters pay the cost of startup and that the price would likely come down over time.  We (my partners and I in Onward Technology) were hoping to see a sub-$40 price in a year or so.

Well after the article, I spent time writing another more detailed white paper on the characteristics of the processor (interrupt latencies, jitter, etc) as well as writing a substantial set of classes for several peripherals. 

I also noticed activity on the dotnetcpu site dried up rather quickly, and about a week before I went to MEDC I noticed the site just gave an error (which it still does today, hence I’m not giving any link to it).  Their apparent parent company, A DOT Corporation, is still there and lists the product, but doesn’t give much info.

At any rate, I attended MEDC and tried to use my networking and beer-drinking skills to get any useful bits of info from Microsoft insiders on where the SPOT/Ollie (codename for the CPU itself) project was.  Unfortunately I didn’t come away with much.  Those that I talked with couldn’t give me much because of NDAs, though I was promised that I’d be informed of any status changes.

My takeaway for looking at developing with the processor was that the future of the processor as the stamp project is right now in some sort of limbo status.  There are advocates inside Microsoft pushing to get it to commercial viability, and currently it looks like things will move forward in a time frame of months.  So if you’re working on SPOT today, you may want to hold off, but don’t throw anything away.  Of course as with anything of this nature things inside Microsoft may change and it may go into the trash bin, or it may turn and come out publicly in a month.

I am still trying to make contacts inside Microsoft to try to get any scrap of info I can, and I’ll try to keep the community informed of what I find.  If you’re interested in the technology please post a comment here.  Maybe a little external support and interest can help drive this technology out of the log jam it appears to be in.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask as well.  I hope to publish my detailed white paper in the near future (this week), even if the processor remains unavailable for some time.

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