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Customizable SoCs gain virtual Linux support

Feb 25, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Trango has announced a version of its virtualization technology that supports a family of customizable, ARM9-based SoCs. Trango Hypervisor for Atmel's AT91CAP9 generates multiple machine-independent virtual processor instances, simplifying development of multimedia devices, video security, and industrial applications… running Linux and other OSes, the vendor claims.

(Click for larger view of Atmel's AT91CAP9A-STK)

Introduced last summer, Atmel's CAP (customizable Atmel processor) family of SoCs aims to reduce NRE (non-recurring engineering) expenses associated with ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) development. The CAP integrates a Linux-friendly ARM9 core together with fast local memory access and a metal-programmable function block in which users can implement cores, DSPs (digital signal processors), or custom peripherals. CAP is cheaper and more customizable than RISC/DSP chips, claims Atmel, and faster, more secure, and less power-hungry than two-chip designs with external SRAM-based FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays).

Atmel's CAP architecture
(Click to enlarge)

Trango's Hypervisor runs on both the AT91CAP9A-STK Starter Kit for rapid prototyping (pictured top-of-page) and on the AT91CAP9A-DK Development Kit for full application development. The former is based on a self-contained single-board computer, while the latter comes with an AT91CAP-DKM motherboard and a processor mezzanine card based on a CAP microcontroller.

The Atmel AT91CAP-DKM motherboard, part of the AT91CAP9A-DK development kit
(Click to enlarge)

Trango's Hypervisor comprises a 20KB microkernel capable of hosting two or more guest OSes per processor core. Because Trango Hypervisor runs the guest OSes in CPU user mode, rather than protected mode, it offers improved security compared to other virtualization products, says the company. Another touted advantage is license separation; the guest OSes run in separate partitions, allowing proprietary code and open source software to coexist on the same processor. Supported architectures include ARM, PPC, and MIPS, while supported OSes include Linux, Windows CE, and a variety of commercial and home-grown RTOSes.


Trango Hypervisor for the AT91CAP9 is available now and will be demonstrated next week at Embedded World 2008 in Nuremberg, Germany. In the demonstration, Trango and Atmel will show both Linux and Windows CE operating on the processor simultaneously, the company said. More information on Atmel's AT91CAP product may be found here.

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