XMOS creates the next wave in programmable system-on-chip products

xCORE-XA™ architecture adds ARM® Cortex®-M3 processor to configurable xCORE™ multicore microcontroller creating low cost, low energy, programmable SoC solution

BRISTOL, England — (BUSINESS WIRE) — October 24, 2013XMOS today announced xCORE-XA™, a range of eXtended Architecture xCORE devices that combine the company’s configurable multicore microcontroller technology with an ultra-low-power ARM Cortex-M3 processor, to create the next wave in programmable system-on-chip (SoC) products.

xCORE-XA represents a dramatic leap forward in the evolution of programmable SoC devices, and is the result of a partnership between XMOS, the leader in multicore microcontrollers, and Silicon Labs, the leader in energy-friendly ARM microcontrollers.

“ARM Cortex processors are the leading cores used in system-on-chip devices today and are supported by an extensive ecosystem of tools, partners and software,” said Nandan Nayampally, vice president, Application Systems Marketing, ARM. “ARM believes that xCORE-XA represents a significant step forward for embedded systems, allowing engineers to create an integrated SoC that is configured completely in high level software. XMOS is the leader for this category of configurable multicore microcontrollers and Silicon Labs produces outstanding low-energy ARM Cortex-M3 technology. By combining these two powerful solutions, XMOS has created a new category of low energy, programmable SoC products.”

The new architecture allows embedded system designers to use high-level software to configure a device with the exact set of interfaces and peripherals needed for their design, while at the same time re-using existing ARM binary code and taking advantage of ultra-low energy peripherals. Designers can also add real-time data-plane plus control processing and DSP blocks, using multiple xCORE processor cores, with the ARM available to run larger control plane processing software such as communication protocol stacks, standard graphics libraries, or complex monitoring systems.

xCORE-XA delivers all of this in a single low-cost, ultra-low-energy, programmable SoC that is programmed completely in C-code. For the first time, embedded system designers no longer have to choose between expensive, power hungry, programmable logic devices, inflexible fixed-function alternatives, or traditional microcontrollers that lack computing power and are constrained by a hardware-defined peripheral set.

The configurable xCORE™ multicore microcontroller technology features multiple deterministic 32bit processor cores that execute high-level code concurrently. It allows customers to software-configure the exact combination of peripherals and interfaces required for their designs, and enables the most demanding hard real-time requirements with timing-precise execution. It also delivers advanced DSP and security processing. xCORE-XA extends these capabilities, offering designers access to the rich ARM ecosystem, including standard code libraries that can dramatically accelerate product design time.

The first device in this new family, the XA-U8-1024, features eight 32bit processors (seven xCORE logical cores plus an ARM Cortex-M3 processor), 192KB SRAM, and 1024KB of Flash. The device includes a low energy USB interface, ultra low-energy peripherals and analog functions including ADC, DAC, op-amps and capacitive sensing comparators. Future family members will include 6-core and 8-core products with Flash sizes ranging from 512KB to 1024KB, and device variants with or without the low-energy USB 2.0 interface.

Like all xCORE-XA devices, the XA-U8-1024 can make use of the wide range of xSOFTip software peripherals from XMOS’s growing library and is supported with an integrated design-flow, by the xTIMEcomposer Suite of tools that includes comprehensive design entry, compilation and debug support for both the ARM and multiple xCORE processor cores.

“The xCORE-XA extended architecture redefines what embedded developers can achieve using a programmable platform,” said Nigel Toon, XMOS CEO. “Adding the world’s most energy-friendly ARM Cortex-M3 technology from Silicon Labs as part of the xCORE-XA products allows customers to include ARM binary code and to create unique end products with the lowest energy consumption. We believe xCORE-XA represents a completely new class of programmable SoC. Now we can bring system level programmable configuration with hardware levels of real-time performance to low-energy battery-powered applications, configured and programmed completely in software.”

The xCORE-XA architecture provides flexible energy management modes. It requires less than 1uA of current to run the integrated real-time clock and 32kHz peripherals, for fast turn-on and time-polled operation. In power-down mode, the device will draw less than 100nA and can wake-up from a GPIO or reset input. No other programmable SoC can achieve this level of low-energy performance.

XMOS will be demonstrating xCORE-XA at the ARM TechCon conference in San Jose, CA on October 30th 2013. Engineering samples and initial development boards will be available to lead customers in November 2013. Full production will ramp in Q1 2014.

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About XMOS

XMOS is a fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Bristol, UK with sales offices and distributors worldwide. The wide range of configurable xCORE™ multicore microcontrollers allow embedded system engineers to create their exact hardware systems all in software and represent the next wave in programmable system-on-chip technology. This makes xCORE multicore microcontrollers ideal for demanding embedded applications in audio, automotive, consumer and industrial products, where traditional microcontrollers struggle, or where programmable logic devices cannot meet the low cost and low power requirements. XMOS provides xTIMEcomposer™ Studio, an easy to use development system, that makes it simple to design complex embedded systems all in software.

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