Bristol firm drives down cost of complex silicon chips

March 6, 2013 by
Filed under: News 

XMOS Semiconductor in Bristol is launching a new chip that dramatically reduces the cost of processing for industrial designs.

The xCORE XS1-L4-64 integrates four 32bit processor cores at a price under $3 that is comparable with competing single-core devices but gives ten times the processing power. The devices are used in a wide range of applications, from Sennheiser sound equipment to the latest industrial robots.
“The xCORE L4 offers 400MIPS performance at the price point of other manufacturers’ 40 or 50MIPS products,” said Ali Dixon, Director of Product Marketing and co-founder of XMOS. “Embedded designers working on high-volume applications can now add more features, including those that require real-time determinism, with software that is functionally safe. We believe it’s a real game-changer.”
Priced at just $2.95 in 100‑unit quantities through global distributors, the L4 provides an entry-level platform for designers considering multicore technology for the first time. It is pin-compatible with other members of the xCORE family, opening up the opportunity to cost reduce existing designs.
The new device is aimed at accurate stepper motor control, industrial networking and motion control. With 64bit precision DSP capability, it is also particularly well suited for signal conditioning tasks and applications such as control that combine cost-sensitivity with high performance demands. The xCORE L4 will also help drive the growing trend towards distributed intelligence in embedded design, by allowing developers to locate low-cost processing and communications closer to system nodes such as sensors and actuators.
“The L4 breaks new ground by combining low unit cost, real-time deterministic execution, multicore performance, on-chip DSP and the industry’s fastest response times,” said Nigel Toon, President and CEO, XMOS. “At 400 MIPS it offers a price/performance ratio unbeaten in the world of C-programmable embedded devices. Just as importantly, we provide the design tools engineers need to harness this performance – making the move to multicore technology an instinctive and natural experience.”
The XS1-L4-64 comes in a 48-pin package that is pin-compatible with the existing devices with 64Kbytes of SRAM, the 6-core L6-64 and the 8-core L8-64. This allows designers to take a platform-based approach that permits early implementation of emerging technologies and standards, future-proofing and the addition of new features as requirements evolve. The device continues the XMOS strategy of offering a range of devices at a variety of price points; the xCORE family now includes more than 50 product variants.
Like the rest of the xCORE family, the L4 is supported with the free-to-download xTIMEcomposer development suite that includes compilers, debuggers and unique timing analysis and instrumentation capabilities. The supporting xSOFTip library of soft peripherals and processing blocks provides peripherals such as high speed USB, Ethernet, CAN and LIN via software.
Samples of the XS1-L4-64 are available today, with volume production expected in Q2 2013.

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