Embedded Systems November 2000 Vol13_12

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While it might seem like [reconfigurable embedded processors] aim to be all things to all developers, they do offer a heretofore unavailable level of flexibility for embedded designs. company is aiming at four major applications markets: networking, office automation and imaging, con- sumer applications, and the Internet appliance. Both based on the MIPS architec- ture, NEC's VR4100 part is aimed at low-power mobile applications; the VR5432 feature added instructions for image manipulation. "Over the past couple of years, the changes in the marketplace have caused us to become more focused," said Auker. "Namely, our main focus is towards the digital community and the Internet appliance." He added that this requires better allocation of company re ources. "We are working a lot more with people outside NEC partnerships," Auker said. "These include people who are making specialized controll ers or ASICs for specific market segments like set-top boxes or video decoding." The primary objective is to get NEC's microprocessor designed onto a ref- erence platform, where a potential customer can see it put through its paces. Intel's quiet play When Intel purchased the StrongARM processor line from Digital Semiconductor, many in the industry weren't sure whether that chip would become, for all intents and purposes, "homeless." Now, however, Intel has signalled its intent to take StrongARM squarely into the embedded markets for wire- less telecommunications and for com- puting. They've even give their home- grown successor to the StrongARM architecture a new name: Xscale. Aiming at the higher-end telecom in frastructure apps requires more per- formance, but Intel says they've demonstrated Xscale running at l.OGHz whi le dissipating a scant 1.0 watts. Perhaps more important, Intel sees this infrastructure market-which includes basestations and the like- as one that many other companies have not focused on. "It's an open playing field right now," said Tom Yemington, a manager at Intel. "Pick your analyst to pick your market size!" The venerable PowerPC processor is also taking on new challenges in net- work applications (see Figure 3). hey know that the right BIOS is key to the success of em- bedded designs-and that config- urabiliry is key to the right BIOS. That's why AMD, Intel, and STMicro ship General Software's Embedded BIOS pre-installed on their embedded platform evaluation boards. With over 400 configuration options, Embedded BIOS offers the advanced configurabiliry you need to run your custom target environ- ment without editing the core BIOS source code. Contact us today for detailed information and a free sample BIOS binary for your standard reference design. / • • 800-850-5755 • 425-454-5755 v 152 NOVEMBER 2000 Embedded Systems Programming Embedded BIOS'M Full source code automarically configured with over 400 parameters using BlOSrarrTM ex pen system CO BIOS FEA RES· ROM/RAM/Flash disks, Serup system, console re-direction, manufacturing mode, WinCE loader, configurable PC! , inregrated debugger, modular callours tO chipset, board , and CPU-level modules CHIP ETS: ALI- Aladdin V, Finali AMD- 186, SC::300, SC400, SC520 INTEL-386EX, 430HX/TX, 440BX, 810,840 NSC-Geode GXm, GX!v STMicro-STPC family I EAL FOR: Windows 95/98/CE/NT Embedded, DOS, Linux, and all x86-based operating systems /.._ GENERA[ SOFTWARE Configurable cores No discussion about embedded ICs would be complete without a mention of the venerable ARM architecture from ARM. Long pegged as an off-the- shelf device, ARM offers its technology in the form of core-based system-on- chips. The company touts their collab- oration with Ericsson Mobile Communications as one of their biggest design wins. Also on the rise is the new catego- ry of the reconfigurable embedded processor. Whil e it might seem like such chips aim to be all things to all developers, they do offer a hereto- fore unavailable level of flexibility for embedded designs. Many of them are aimed at telecom applica- tions- such as routers- where soft- ware revisions are considered par for the course. Two of the most prominent items on the reconfigurable radar screen have been the ARC core, a 32-bit design, and the highly touted upcom- ing offering from start-up Tensilica. The Tensilica processor archictecture is called Xtensa, and it will be imple- mented in Altera's programmable- logic devices.

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