Express Logic Introduces Eclipse Based BenchX IDE for Embedded Systems

Express Logic, Inc., the worldwide leader in royalty-free real-time operating systems (RTOS), announced the introduction of BenchX(tm), a comprehensive Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for embedded systems. Expanding beyond the RTOS and middleware markets it has served for eleven years, Express Logic designed BenchX IDE to customer need for low-cost, industrial-grade software development tools. Thanks to the Eclipse community’s tremendous contributions to IDE technology, Express Logic is able to deliver a mature, commercial product that is an ideal solution for developers using the ARM, ColdFire architecture, Power Architecture technology or MIPS architectures.

BenchX is based on the Eclipse Europa CDT Release (4.0) and contains the following components:

  • Complete windows-hosted graphical ide
  • Project builder with new project wizard
  • Language-sensitive editor and code browser
  • GNU C/C++ compilers
  • GDB debugger with graphical interface
  • Target instruction set simulator
  • User tutorials for quick learning
  • Target connectivity hardware probe
  • No license keys!

Each BenchX component has been configured for embedded use, enhanced by Express Logic with added-value, and integrated together, creating a polished commercial product that can be used out-of-the-box.

“With BenchX, we’re taking a huge step forward, growing beyond being solely an RTOS company,” commented William E. Lamie, president of Express Logic. “Developers have consistently asked us for development tools, and we’ve built BenchX to provide them with good quality tools at a very affordable price. Our existing development tools partners will provide their richer technology for customers needing a more powerful offering. We will continue to make their solutions available to BenchX developers through the Eclipse framework.”

“Express Logic’s move into the development tools market is both strategic for them and of great value to the industry,” commented Dr. Jerry Krasner, Chief Analyst, Embedded Market Forecasters (EMF). “The Eclipse IDE is gaining increasing adoption among developers of embedded COTS systems, and Express Logic’s BenchX will be of significant value to them. I anticipate many developers who already use Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS will find BenchX tools very attractive and affordable. Since BenchX is RTOS-agnostic, it also is an affordable option for those using any other RTOS or no RTOS at all.”

Express Logic offers its Eclipse-based BenchX IDE in a complete package, ready for use in embedded development. This includes a target debug probe, for host-target connectivity, download, and run-control. BenchX also includes the GNU C/C++ compilers, configured to run in a Windows environment, without need for a Cygwin shell. Standard Eclipse downloads do not include the GNU tools, nor do they support any hardware debug probes, making them short of what is required to be useful to an embedded developer. BenchX addresses these shortcomings, yet it is priced at a very affordable level, making it accessible to all developers on a project with minimal cost impact.

“Our USB Wiggler Probe enables target connection, download, and run control for all of the architectures that Express Logic’s new BenchX IDE supports,” commented Craig Haller, Managing Partner of Macraigor Systems. “We’re pleased to have been selected by Express Logic to help them bring BenchX to market and provide an affordable Eclipse-based IDE for embedded developers.”

Compilers and Debuggers
BenchX includes the industry standard GNU C/C++ development tools (compiler, debugger, and libraries) with an integrated, enhanced debugger GUI that includes RTOS awareness for ThreadX, as well as many other Express Logic designed productivity enhancements. BenchX integrates the GNU tools into the Eclipse Project Builder environment, enabling automatic or manual builds, and hands-on or hands-off use of standard makefiles. The GDB debugger is seamlessly integrated with the target debug probe, and the debugger GUI, providing the ability to control the execution of target-resident application programs from a user-friendly GUI on the host.

According to recent end user survey findings released by Venture Development Corporation, the inclusion of the GNU GCC/GDB tools are of particular significance to BenchX since almost 30% of embedded software developers cited their current use of GCC/GDB in 32-bit MPU/MCU development projects, more than twice the percentage of any other compiler/debugger combination.

“Express Logic’s BenchX IDE leverages the Eclipse open-source framework and GNU GCC/GDB tools enabling the integration of development tools into a standard, uniform development environment,” said Stephen Balacco, Director, Embedded Software Practice, Venture Development Corporation (VDC). “Prior to the availability and wider adoption of open-source solutions, Express Logic would have had great difficulty bringing their own proprietary IDE to market. Now, it can do so in integrating BenchX with ThreadX RTOS awareness at minimal cost and offering the product at an affordable price per developer seat.”

Some developers, however, desire alternate compilation tools that offer better performance or code density, or that have other benefits relative to their particular project needs. For these developers, BenchX supports Eclipse plug-in versions of excellent compilers for ColdFire, ARM, Power Architecture and MIPS architectures that are available from the processor manufacturers themselves, or from an ecosystem of third-party providers. Express Logic is in the process of validating BenchX operation with compilation tools from its partners, and integrations will be announced as they become available. IAR is the first C/C++ compiler to be available with BenchX.

“IAR Systems’ advanced C/C++ compilers for ARM and ColdFire architecture offer enhanced footprint and optimization benefits to developers using BenchX,” commented Anders Flodin, Director of Business Development of IAR Systems. “We expect to see many BenchX users add our compilers to BenchX through our Eclipse plug-in interface that unites both tools.”

Because it strictly adheres to the Eclipse interface standards, BenchX also may be enhanced through the addition of other tools components, such as debuggers, editors, debug probes, and advanced analysis tools that are Eclipse compatible. BenchX provides a simple, basic, yet fully modular foundation that is open for expansion and upgrade thanks to its Eclipse heritage. As a result, developers can get a fast, inexpensive start with plenty of opportunity for upgrades.

RTOS Agnostic
Express Logic’s BenchX IDE is not only available for use with Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS, but can also be used to develop embedded systems without any RTOS at all, with an in-house RTOS, or with another commercial RTOS. Embedded developers can use BenchX as an inexpensive tools solution, rather than pay thousands more per seat for other commercial tools or spend hundreds of hours building their own Eclipse tools system based on free downloads.

Architectural Platforms
BenchX ultimately will be available for most popular 32-bit architectures. Initially, BenchX is available for the ColdFire, Power Architecture, ARM7, ARM9, ARM Cortex-M3/R4/A8, and the MIPS 4k/24k/34k/74k processor families. For each architecture family, BenchX is delivered with an integrated hardware debug probe designed to interface with that architecture. Just as BenchX can accommodate alternate compilation tools, alternate higher cost, higher performance or higher functionality debug probes also are available and may be purchased from Express Logic for use with BenchX.

“Express Logic’s Eclipse-based BenchX IDE provides an attractive basic foundation for embedded developers who can add our Eclipse-plug-in CodeWarrior compilers and high-performance target connection Probes for Power Architecture and ColdFire,” said Aiden Mitchell, consumer and industrial MCU product manager for Freescale’s Microcontroller Solutions Group. “Developers of Freescale silicon-based systems now have another attractive option for their development tools needs, as well as a path for incorporating the advanced technology of our optimized CodeWarrior compilers and other tools.”

“ARM recognizes the great value that Eclipse provides to embedded developers, and Express Logic’s Eclipse-based BenchX IDE is the latest example of a new tools option for developers of ARM® processor-based embedded systems,” said Ian Johnson, Third-Party Relations Manager, ARM. “With BenchX as a platform, developers also can add-in the high performance ARM RealView® Compilation tools, RealView Profiler and RealView ICE and other tools that provide ARM technology-specific value.”

“The Eclipse IDE provides a rich, easy-to-use environment for developers and Express Logic’s new BenchX IDE will add to the options available to developers of MIPS-based SoCs and electronic products,” commented Jack Browne of MIPS Technologies, Inc. “Its plug-in architecture allows vendors and developers to assemble great tools and we look forward to working with Express Logic.”

Commercial Support
BenchX works out-of-the-box, will be kept current with Eclipse developments, and is supported by Express Logic, giving developers one number to call for commercial support. Rather than examine code examples to self-support or post questions to chat rooms or message boards and hope for a timely response, BenchX users can call on Express Logic for responsive, accountable, commercial support.

No License Keys
Embedded developers universally dread the use of license keys, required with virtually all tools products. But BenchX is different. BenchX is licensed without license keys, making it refreshingly painless to install and use immediately.

Shipping and Availability
BenchX is available for order now, with initial production deliveries planned for May 15. BenchX licenses are priced from $1,000 per seat, including debug probe, documentation, and three months of technical support.

About Express Logic
Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with field offices in Redditch, UK, and Hanover and Munich, Germany, Express Logic offers the most advanced run-time solutions and development tools for deeply embedded applications, including its popular ThreadX® RTOS, the high-performance NetX(tm) TCP/IP stack, the FileX® embedded FAT-compatible file system, the USBX(tm) Host/Device USB protocol stack, the PEGX(tm) GUI development kit, the BenchX(tm) Eclipse-based IDE, and the TraceX(tm) real-time graphical event trace and analysis tool. All products from Express Logic include full source-code and have no run-time royalties. For more information about Express Logic solutions, call 1-888-THREADX.

ThreadX and FileX are registered trademarks, and NetX, CANX, USBX, TraceX, BenchX, preemption-threshold, picokernel, and UDP fast path technology are trademarks of Express Logic, Inc.