I created this subforum a while ago, and I didn't have much to report
because there are not too many microcontroller IDE running on Mac at the
moment. I think Rowley's CrossWorks is the only native solution.
Today, I would like to report a first run of IAR systems' IDE on a Mac Pro.
Acronyms and vocabulary used below:
- IDE : Integrated Development Environment. Basically, it is a compilator
with a debugger and other tools glued in a nice and user friendly interface.
- IAR : A compiler maker for a myriad of platforms in the embedded world.
- CCE : Code Composer Essentials, an IDE made by Texas Instruments for
their low-power microcontroller MSP430.
- VMWare: a virtualization specialist. Using virtualization, you can run any
OS in parallel with any other (in the present case, you can run Windows on
a Mac in parallel with MacOS-X).
- Fusion: name of the VMWare product allowing to run other operating
systems on an Intel Mac).
Running Windows on Mac
As you probably know, recent Macs can run Windows using bootcamp.
In this case, windows runs natively on the Mac, so it is not a surprise that
you can run IAR and CCE natively.
However, switching takes time, and once you finish booting a system,
you realize that you forgot some files in the other....
I was aware of existing virtualization and emulation solutions. I tried
a few times on various systems in the past, but there was always some kind of
incompatibility or malfunction, so I classified this kind of solution as unsafe,
worth trying for fun only.
Today, I had some spare time, so I decided to have another run with VMWare.
I did try already a few month ago, but I had other priorities...
I have a Mac Pro equiped with 2 quad core processors. I like it because
the hardware is extremely well designed (everything is easily accessible,
you need about 1 minute to add a new hard disk or memory, etc)...
So I started VMWare fusion that I had downloaded a while ago. Too bad,
the one month trial license was expired. As the popup window still
said that I can ask for a trial license, I asked. In fact I was sure my request
would be refused or ignored since I had already one trial license but....
VMWare sent me immediately another trial license!!
So I started VMWare, and tried to boot windows: it started at once.
Next, I was suspecting there would be some hardware problems, incompatibilities,
TI emulation tool not recognized, IAR USB dongle ignored, etc...
Not at all! An even more surprising thing: it works better than native. I'm not joking!!
When using bootcamp, I wasn't able to install the ATI radeon 2600 XT drivers. It ends
up with an error message. So my screens are limited to 1400++ x 1150.
On Mac / VMWare, I have a full resolution: 2048 x 1150.
Now here is a photograph of the result:
The displays are 2 Samsung screens (model 2343) that I bought recently. Resolution
2048 x 1150, so having them side by side is a bit more than 1 m of screen width (see
the 1m aluminium ruler) with a resolution of 4096 x 1150. As you can see on the left
screen, I have 2 A4 PDF files opened at a time, and there is still space to access the
By the way, it might be worth mentioning that these screens are extremely
cheap. I paid these 2 less than 1/4 the price of an Apple 24 cinema display
(i.e. 22000 (*) yens each instead of 98000 yens for the apple Cinema 24 inch
for approximately the same size).
(*) 22000 yens is about 229 USD or 168 Euros. Tax is included.
On the right side, IAR is running. I could install it easily at once and it works
like on a PC. Here is another shot: IAR running on Windows which itself
runs inside of a Mac window this time.
After this short test, I bought VMWare. it is very cheap if you consider that everything
works with almost no configuration. Among the advantages:
- You can drag and drop anything from and to Windows desktop and Mac
- You need only one keyboard, which saves quite some space on your desk.
- You can resize your Windows window, dock it, make it full screen as on the
above picture, etc...
- You need only one machine (mac).
- The energy argument, very important these days. As you need only one machine,
you need less power, I wouldn't say that you divide your bill by 2 but anyway you
need less power than for 2 machines.
My current config is:
500 GB primary hard disk;
160 GB Windows hard disk (that I took from the PC I was previously using)
1TB for Time Machine.
2GB RAM. This might be the weakest point for 2 OS running in parallel, but
it looks like it is good enough for programming a microcontroller. I will buy
some upgrades at OWC one of these days.
Conclusion of this experiment
- The most obvious conclusion is that you can run IAR systems IDE on a Mac by
using VMWare. I also tried with TI's CCE which also works flawlessly.
- VMWare runs really without any fancy settings, right out of the box. Almost no
technical knowledge is needed.
- VMWare policies apparently allow you to run trial versions until
you're fed up with entering a new license key every month. This means
that you can try as long as you want before buying.
- The price is really reasonable. 79USD, about 7500 yens, less than 60
Euros. So basically if you want to add Windows to your mac pro, you would
need about 200 EUros (XP OEM, 1 hard disk and VMWare).
In a few words, it is a must for people dealing with more than 1 OS.
That's it for today.
[Edit (Sept3, 2009)] : I have upgraded the RAM by adding 8GB I bought at OWC.
Now it works really fine and it is very responsive. I haven't tried with MacOS 10.6 yet.