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Freescale Semiconductor, whose chips power a broad range of business and consumer devices, has spread its bets in embedded software development by joining the open source Eclipse Foundation and Microsoft's embedded partner programme.

Both moves, announced at the Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) in Orlando, Florida, are clearly geared to promoting Freescale's range of low-power chips for embedded devices. But they are also accompanied by important technology announcements with broader implications for the use of open-source software in embedded systems.

Freescale's CodeWarrior development tools are to be ported to the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) and Freescale is expected to participate in the Eclipse Device Software Development Platform (DSDP) project for embedded systems. This could help to boost Eclipse's credibility as a platform for building embedded applications, given Freescale is so widely used in the automotive, networking and wireless industries for both consumer and industrial products.

Its decision to join Eclipse has been warmly welcomed by other participants including MontaVista and Wind River.

And little wonder: putting CodeWarrior into Eclipse potentially means construction of a broad suite of integrated plug-ins from an array of providers, built on top of a powerful suite and an open framework with tools capable of spanning different phases of the software lifecycle. This will help these companies in their development and support of embedded systems powered by Linux.

Freescale's collaboration with Microsoft, meanwhile, also includes a technology element. The company has launched the i.MX31 Product Development Kit (PDK) based on the Windows Embedded CE 5.0 and Windows Embedded CE 6.0 operating systems.

The semiconductor giant did not comment on why it's joining Eclipse but as for Microsoft, Freescale said in a statement it had a "strong track record of partnering with Microsoft on projects" since the early days of Windows Embedded CE and Motorola's Dragonball processor.

Spun off from Motorola's semiconductor division in 2004, Freescale was taken over in a private equity buyout in 2006.®

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