Design & Manufacture
XMOS – Modular development boards and software for multicore microcontrollersOct 24 2012 - Design & Manufacture [More Design & Manufacture Articles]
Latest from XMOS is a range of modular development boards and software for designers deploying the company’s xCORE range of multicore microcontrollers in real-time industrial, consumer and automotive applications.
The kits enhance XMOS’ reach into the embedded electronics market as the company establishes its xCORE real-time multicore microcontrollers as ‘the solution of choice’ for demanding applications that are beyond the capabilities of traditional 32-bit MCUs.
The sliceKIT consists of a core board powered by a 16-core xCORE multicore microcontroller and is equipped with four expansion slots that can be populated with I/O extension cards (or ‘slices’). XMOS offers a wide range of standard slices, such as Ethernet, UART, ADC, LCD graphics and digital audio, allowing designers to rapidly develop, prototype and debug their designs.
The sliceKIT is closely integrated with the company’s recently announced xTIMEcomposer Studio integrated design environment, and xSOFTip soft peripherals. The xCORE family and associated design tools allow developers to work on real-time embedded applications using a unified design flow that is familiar to any software engineer. xCORE devices are configured with xSOFTip IP blocks and programmed in C, with real-time extensions, via the same flow.
“The sliceKIT provides a platform for embedded designs that is very flexible,” said Nigel Toon, CEO, XMOS. “Our xCORE devices can be configured to support a range of interfaces and peripherals; you can add capabilities that you won’t find in other microcontrollers. With XMOS you can put down the interfaces you need to match your exact requirements – sliceKIT provides a hardware development platform that matches your system requirement.”
Based on the 32-bit xCORE L2 multicore microcontroller, the sliceKIT core board delivers up to 1000 MIPS performance that can be dynamically shared across up to 16 cores. This allows the device to support multiple, concurrent, real-time tasks that are completely deterministic. sliceKIT incorporates unique on-board real-time debugging capabilities that allow designers to perform timing-accurate analysis on the performance of their application code.
Each sliceKIT I/O slice is supplied complete with a demo application, so that engineers can get their hardware configuration up and running quickly and easily. Slices connect to the processor board using low-cost PCIe style connectors, making it a straightforward task for users to interchange and experiment with hardware configurations. XMOS is also encouraging designers to build their own I/O slices if they have custom requirements.
XMOS’ xCORE real-time multicore microcontrollers are programmed in C or C++ with XMOS-supported extensions that make it easy to define concurrent parallel tasks running on different processor cores. The devices can be software-configured within the same design flow with a choice of I/O and peripherals from the company’s extensive xSOFTip library, effectively creating a custom chip and associated application code that exactly meets the needs of the target system.
Will Strauss, president of analyst house Forward Concepts said: “The development of microcontrollers using traditional techniques has reached a certain impasse in recent years,” commented “Microcontrollers are being asked to do more and more, and there is a continuing demand for solutions with predictable response times. Yet in attempting to make use of these higher-end capabilities, designers are finding themselves faced with unfamiliar multicore design techniques and increasing design times. XMOS, which has been engaged with a large customer base for a while now, is offering a very timely solution, simplifying the process of developing predictable, multicore MCUs, and addressing the gap between reconfigurable architectures and hard-wired MCUs.”
The sliceKIT is initially available as a starter kit costing, consisting of the L2 multicore processor board, GPIO and Ethernet slice cards, plus the xTAG real-time debug adapter. Like all XMOS’ development kits and multicore microcontrollers, it is supported by xTIMEcomposer Studio. This comprises an industry standard integrated design environment, a highly efficient LLVM compiler, debugger, the xSOFTip configuration tool, cycle-accurate simulator with waveform view, and the xScope high speed in-circuit instrumentation and timing analyzer. All documentation, tools and xSOFTip are available free of charge on PC-Windows, Mac-OS and Linux platforms, says the company.More news from Xmos