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Linux firmware released for ARM-based printing SoCs

Apr 26, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 223 views

Zoran Corp. announced Linux-based firmware for its ARM-based Quatro family of system-on-chips, which target touchscreen-enabled printers and scanners. The Inferno firmware offers an API, printer engine driver, print language support, and other tools for developing Linux applications on Zoran's ARM9-based Quatro 4300 and dual ARM11-core Quatro 4500 processors, both of which include printing-optimized DSPs.

The Inferno package is specifically targeted at Zoran's ARM-based, printing-focused Quatro SoCs. The Quatro 4300 and 4500 SoCs are aimed at printers, multi-function printers (MFPs), and scanners, says Sunnyvale, Calif-based Zoran (see farther below for more on the Quatro line).

By offering embedded Linux support, OEMs can call on "a richer selection of features, applications, and tools for developing next-generation printers, MFPs, and scanners," says Zoran.

Quatro architecture

(Click to enlarge)

Inferno enables the development of interactive touch displays and energy-saving sleep modes, and supports the Quatro SoCs' gigabit Ethernet, IPsec network security, print language, and other features, says Zoran. Inferno is said to offer an application programming interface (API) for integrating Zoran's IPS print language interpreter software. The API allows OEMs to more easily configure software for specific print engines in order to improve performance, says the company.

Inferno also includes a tiered print engine driver that offers a real-time layer that runs on the Quatro 4310 model's FlexRISC chip. In addition, Inferno provides a thin interface layer that runs in the Linux kernel. This approach improves real-time accuracy and keeps OEMs' proprietary code separate from the open source Linux kernel, says the company.

Quatro 4300 and 4500 SoCs

Both the Quatro 4300 and Quatro 4500 processors combine ARM cores with Zoran-manufactured DSP cores. They are also said to offer Zoran's multicore-optimized IPS print language interpreters.

Quatro 4500 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Designed for multi-function printers and scanners, the Quatro 4500 is equipped with one or two ARM11 cores, and comes in a variety of models clocked between 400MHz and 600MHz. All the models are said to offer four DSP cores. Color page-per-minute (ppm) performance ranges from 20ppm to 45ppm on both printing and scanning, and color copy performance ranges from 20 to 30 copies per minute (cpm), says the company.

Specifications listed for the Quatro 4500 include:

  • Core — Single- or dual-core ARM11MP CPU with MMU and FPU; 400-600MHz; Level 1 cache plus 512KB Level 2 cache
  • DSP — 4 x Quatro DSP cores
  • Co-processors, etc.:
    • 2 x JBIG compression/decompression cores
    • JPEG assist module
    • AES/SHA-256 hardware encryption modules for IPv6, IPsec
    • Hardware image processing for copy/scan pipelines
  • Memory — 1 MB scratchpad memory for image processing pipeline; 400MHz 32-bit DDR2 SDRAM interface (DDR2-800)
  • I/O:
    • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed device
    • 2 x USB 2.0 Hi-Speed host
    • Memory card interface
    • Scanner interface supporting LVDS inputs
    • Printer interface for multipass and tandem laser/LED print engines
    • 3 x PCI Express interfaces supporting up to 6 x lanes
    • Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • EIDE interface
    • Anti-counterfeiting interface
    • System bus interface
    • LCD interface
    • 2 x SPI interfaces
    • General-purpose I/O interface
    • 2 x serial ports
    • JTAG
  • Dimensions — 520 ball BGA (27x27mm); 1.0mm pitch; 80nm process

The lower-end Quatro 4300 is based on a single ARM926 core and a single DSP, says Zoran. The 4300 line is said to be available in a variety of different models targeting different color or monochrome printer and scanner devices:

  • Quatro 4305/300 — 300MHz printer
  • Quatro 4305/150 — 150MHz printer
  • Quatro 4310/300 — 300MHz MFP/scanner
  • Quatro 4310/220 — 220MHz MFP/scanner

Quatro 4310 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Quatro 4300 processors include:

  • Core — 32-bit RISC ARM926 core with MMU @ 150MHz, 220MHz, or 300MHz
  • DSP — Quatro 4-datapath SIMD DSP core
  • Co-processors, etc.:
    • JBIG compression/decompression core
    • JPEG assist module
  • Memory — DDR1/DDR2-DRAM interface
  • I/O:
    • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (480Mbps) device interface (including PHY)
    • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (480Mbps) 3-port host interface (including PHY)
    • Memory card interface
    • Integrated 25Msps 16-bit scanner AFE for CCD and CIS scanners (4310 only)
    • Programmable scanner mechanism control interface with 295MHz, 8-bitFlexRISC processor (4310 only)
    • Programmable printer mechanism control interface with 295MHz, 8-bit FlexRISC processor
    • 12-channel, 3MHz 10-bit A/D converter
    • System bus interface
    • General-purpose I/O interface
    • Serial port
    • JTAG interface
    • 10/100 Ethernet MAC
    • Graphical LCD interface
  • Power dissipation — <3.0 W @ 295MHz
  • Dimensions — 352-pin and 296-pin BGA packages

In addition to providing its Quatro system-on-chips (SoCs), Zoran manufactures a variety of processors, reference designs, and other solutions for DTV, set-top boxes (STBs), DVDs, digital cameras, and multimedia mobile phones. The company's Coach digital camera processor, for example, is used in Pure Digital's latest Flip UltraHD Camcorder, says the company.

Other Linux-based Zoran products include the SupraHD 785 ATSC/NTSC DTV Module reference design, the HD-ready, dual-MIPS core SupraXD 180 H.264 STB processor, and the dual-MIPS core SupraXD H.264 STB processor for standard definition video.

Stated Simon Dolan, SVP and GM, Zoran's Imaging Division, "Zoran uses embedded Linux as the foundation of our new Inferno platform because its advanced multiprocessing support best meets our customers' demand to quickly build high-performance, feature-rich products using Quatro's multicore CPU."

Stated Shane Rau, Research Director of Computing and Storage Semiconductors at IDC, "Embedded device manufacturers are increasingly adopting SOCs with fully programmable processor cores and IP that enable features specific to the application. For example, IDC predicts that SOC adoption by MFP makers will increase from approximately 50 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2014."


Zoran's Inferno is available now for the Quatro 4300 and 4500 processors, says the company. Updated releases are said to be issued three times per year. More information on the Zoran Quatro 4300 may be found here, and more on the Quatro 4500 may be found here.

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