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Low-cost PowerQUICC chips offer flexible interconnect options

Aug 19, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 14 views

Freescale Semiconductor announced a new series of PowerPC-based PowerQUICC II Pro processors touted for sub-$10 pricing, exceptional power/performance ratios, and improved interconnect technology options. Aimed at entry-level networking applications, the MPC830x portfolio includes the 400MHz, gigabit Ethernet equipped MPC8308, the 400MHz MPC8309, and the 266MHz MPC8306/8306S, says the company.

Freescale appears to be recasting its aging PowerQUICC II Pro line as a low-cost platform for power-efficient, entry-level networking. The new MPC830x portfolio offers upgraded high-speed interconnects, which help to lower bill of material (BOM) costs for applications such as line cards, industrial applications, WLAN access points, intelligent NIC equipment, smart energy gateways, and general purpose control functions, says the company.

Designed at Freescale's India Design Center, the MPC830x processors incorporate MPC603e-based e300c3 PowerPC cores equipped with 16KB of L1 instruction and data caches, says Freescale. The cores also offer an IEEE 754 double precision floating point unit (FPU), dual integer units, and on-chip memory management units (MMUs), says the company.

The MPC830x chips combine up to 800 MIPS of performance with low power consumption, enabling fanless designs, says Freescale.


The MPC8308 features an e300 core running up to 400MHz and offers a more limited, yet more advanced set of interfaces than the other two models. The processor appears to primarily target networking applications whereas the other two chips seem to have more of an industrial focus.

The MPC8308 offers a 16/32-bit DDR2 memory controller with ECC support, running up to 266/333MHz, says Freescale. Peripheral interfaces include a 16-bit, 66MHz local bus interface, as well as single-lane PCI Express, and an enhanced SDHC controller, says the company. The processor is said to provide a USB 2.0 High Speed interface, and unlike its siblings, offers dual gigabit Ethernet controllers.

MPC8309 and the MPC8306/8306S

Like the MPC8308, the MPC8309 is equipped with a 400MHz e300 core, whereas the bargain basement ($7.36 a pop) MPC8306/8306S clocks its e300 to 266MHz. No information was provided explaining the difference between the MPC8306 and MPC8306S.

Aside from the clock rate, the MPC8309 and the MPC8306/8306S appear to be identical. Both offer a 16/32-bit DDR2 memory controller with ECC support, running up to 266MHz. Unlike the MPC8308, each is equipped with a single-RISC QUICC Engine communications module, says Freescale.

Interfaces for the MPC8309 and the MPC8306/8306S include 32-bit, 66MHz PCI expansion, a 16-bit, 66 MHz local bus interface, and an enhanced SDHC controller, says the company. Both processors are said to be further equipped with USB 2.0, four CAN interfaces, four UARTs, and five unified communication protocols that support multiple fast Ethernet and HDLC ports with IEEE 1588 support.

All the MPC830x devices are available in a compact 19 x 19mm MAPBGA packages with a 0.8mm pitch, says Freescale. Pin counts are said to vary from a 369-pin package for the MPC8308 to up to a 489-pin version for the MPC8309.

Linux BSPs and evaluation kits

A Linux-ready evaluation kit called the MPC830x-KIT is available, containing a single MPC830x carrier card. There are also system-on-modules available for each of the MPC830x devices, and Freescale also offers an MPC8308-RDB reference design board.

All the evaluation boards and modules are provided with a Linux 2.6 board support package (BSP) that includes optimized drivers to support peripherals, says the company. The BSP is also said to include a quick-start guide and a six-month evaluation license for CodeWarrior development tools.

PowerQUICC and QorIQ background

Since Freescale announced its multicore QorIQ family of processors two years ago, not much has been heard about its PowerQUICC platform. What's more, the announcements tend to concern the newer, more powerful PowerQUICC III platform instead of the PowerQUICC II Pro.

Last year, however, Freescale began sampling the 800MHz MPC8377E, which was billed as the company's highest performance PowerQUICC II Pro chip to date.

Freescale has called QorIQ a pin- and software-compatible successor to the PowerQUICC family of networking processors. QorIQ will begin to slide away from full compatibility, however, with the recently announced dual-core QorIQ P5020 and single-core P5010. These system-on-chips offer a new 64-bit version of its e500 Power Architecture core called the e5500. The e5500 will eventually clock to 2,5GHz, and moves up to 2.2GHz in the P5020 and P5010, while drawing only 30 Watts.

Stated Dhiraj Handa, director and general manager of the Customer Specific Products division of Freescale's Networking & Multimedia Group, "The MPC830x portfolio caters to new or existing customers looking for processors with high integration, scalable performance and low power for entry-level networking, industrial control or factory automation applications. Code compatibility with legacy PowerQUICC I and II products, an upgraded peripheral feature set and aggressive price/performance points are the hallmark of this new portfolio of products."


The MPC8308 is shipping in volume production now. Samples for the MPC8306/8306S and MPC8309 are now available for limited customers, with volume production expected in December 2010 and March 2011 respectively, says Freescale.

Suggested resale pricing in 10,000 quantities ranges from $7.36 for the MPC8306 to $9.94 for the MPC8308, says the company. The MPC830x-KIT is available for $499, and modules for each of the MPC830x devices range from $269 to $299, says Freescale. The MPC8308-RDB reference design board costs $299.

Availability for the boards and modules was not detailed, but they appear to be available now for the MPC8308. More information on Freescale's PowerQUICC processors may be found here.

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