Development system enables integrated code development

2nd October 2014
Siobhan O'Gorman

Featuring a base processor board with real-time hardware debug facilities, the xCORE-XA development system has been released by XMOS. The system, which is designed for the company's xCORE-XA range of eXtended Architecture xCORE devices, is offered with xTIMEcomposer Studio tools for integrated code development.

A range of application specific daughter- and mother-cards are provided with the system, the first of which is suitable for industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus systems. With the system, embedded designers can develop, debug and prototype products based on the range of xCORE-XA devices. These devices combine an ARM Cortex-M3 processor with multiple deterministic 32-bit xCORE logical cores. The system, which can be programmed in C, offers the exact set of interfaces and peripherals required for any design. While designers can re-use existing ARM code, the processor also provides a standard code library, both of which can speed up product design time.

For Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) seeking a single programmable platform capable of supporting multiple industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus protocols, the xCORE-XA is particularly useful. With the system, OEMs and other customers can take advantage of the flexibility and programmability the xCORE architecture provides while continuing to utilise their existing protocol stacks and other IP designed for the ARM architecture.

The core processor module provides an eight-core xCORE-XA device and real-time hardware debug facilities which enable the integrated development of ARM and xCORE code. Via a USB, the board communicates with a host PCs running XMOS’s xTIMEcomposer Studio development tools. Comprehensive design entry, compilation, real-time debug and software-based logic analysis for ARM and multiple xCORE processor cores are provided by the xTIMEcomposer via a single screen.

To enable maximum flexibility and easy prototype configuration, the xCORE-XA I/O is fully routed to 0.1” pitch header connections, with each set including power, ground and reset. To allow the module to be used as part of a target system, power to the debuggers can be disabled.

The system can be mounted onto an application specific motherboard or have daughter boards plugged into it. The xCORE-XA industrial networking module, which provides two industrial Ethernet ports and support for a range of serial Fieldbus protocols including CAN and LIN, will be the first motherboard available. Hardware support for a variety of industrial standard interfaces, including a 12Mb/s RS485 transceiver and Profibus connector, are offered with the module. Combined with the software-configurable xCORE peripheral architecture, this hardware enables customers and ISVs to implement a broad range of standard and proprietary serial and industrial Ethernet protocols.

Eight 32-bit processors (seven xCORE logical cores plus an ARM Cortex-M3 processor), 192kB SRAM and 1024kB of Flash are provided by the XS1-XAU8A-10 xCORE-XA device within the development system. The device also includes a low energy USB interface, ultra low-energy peripherals and analogue functions including ADC, DAC, op amps and capacitive sensing comparators. The device can be used in conjunction with a wide range of xSOFTip software peripherals from XMOS’s library. Flexible energy management modes are also provided by the device. Enabling fast turn-on and time-polled operation, the device requires less than 1µA of current to run the integrated real-time clock and 32kHz peripherals. The device draws less than 100nA in power-down mode and can wake-up from a GPIO or reset input. According to XMOS, no other programmable SoC can achieve this level of low-energy performance.

From 30th September 2014, XMOS wil be exhibiting the xCORE-XA development system at the ARM TechCon conference. By visiting the XMOS Booth (#700) at the show, attendees will have the opportunity to win a core module board.

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