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Low-cost PPC chips gain Linux dev kits

Dec 10, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 35 views

AMCC today announced a pair of evaluation kits targeting prospective customers of its new Power 405EX and 405EXr processors. The Kilauea and Haleakala kits include boards, software tools, sample apps, benchmarks, and a Denx Linux BSP, with MontaVista Linux BSPs and tools optionally available separately from MontaVista.

(Click for larger view of AMCC's “Kilauea” board)

AMCC's Kilauea and Haleakala kits are based respectively on its PPC405EX and PPC405EXr embedded SoCs. Announced this fall, the processors update AMCC's (formerly IBM's) venerable PPC405 SoC with a more modern mix of peripherals, along with WLAN-oriented features such as cryptographic acceleration and dual gigabit Ethernet interfaces.

Based on a PowerPC core clockable from 333MHz to 667MHz, the PPC405EX integrates dual PCI Express interfaces, dual gigabit Ethernet controllers, cryptographic acceleration, and a DDR2/1 memory controller. The PPC405EXr appears to be a cost-optimized version that drops one 10/100/1000 Ethernet port and one PCI Express lane.

PPC405EX and PPC405EXr
(Click either to enlarge)

AMCC's Kilauea and Haleakala kits contain evaluation boards designed by Beijing UD Technology Co., Ltd. (UDTech), says AMCC. The 405EX Kilauea reference board measures 7 by 7 inches and includes a 405EX clocked to 600MHz. The board is said to be equipped with 256MB of DDR2 SDRAM, 64MB of NOR Flash, and 64MB of NAND flash. It offers two 10/100/1G Ethernet ports, one Micro-B USB 2.0 host/device port, two PCI-Express connectors, two serial ports, two RJ11 connectors, a JTAG connector, and a trace connector.

The 405EXr Haleakala board is identical to the Kilauea except that it uses a 405EX clocked to 533MHz, and is limited to one 10/100/1G Ethernet port and one PCI-Express connector.

The NOR flash image on both boards includes a Linux 2.6 kernel and U-Boot firmware from Denx Software Engineering Gmbh. It is also said to include a file system loaded with AMCC-developed sample applications, benchmarks, and utilities. Benchmarks include TTCP, DBench, HINT, STREAM, and MPEG-4, as well as a custom security benchmarking environment that measures the performance of the on-chip security engine on standard security algorithms.

Either board can “load and run other PowerPC-compatible embedded operating systems,” says AMCC, including, of course, the MontaVista distribution. MontaVista's BSPs are said to provide support for MontaVista Linux Professional Edition 5.0 and the MontaVista DevRocket integrated development environment (IDE). MontaVista calls the new AMCC boards ideal for 802.11n Wi-Fi and longer-range WiMAX applications.

Stated Joerg Bertholdt, MontaVista's director of marketing, embedded platforms, “Hundreds of device designers and embedded application developers have been successful in building products with MontaVista Linux on the AMCC PowerPC 405 family, and we expect the new PowerPC 405EX and 405EXr processors to extend that success.”

Stated Charlie Ashton, director of Software at AMCC, “405EX and 405EXr customers will be able to move quickly through the evaluation phase, start their hardware design based on a proven baseline and start their software development before their own target hardware is ready.”


AMCC's EV-KIT-405EX-01 and EV-KIT-405EXr-01 evaluation kits each have a SRP of $750, but AMMC provides schematics and layout files for free download. The kits will be available in December.

According to MontaVista, its Linux Professional Edition 5.0 BSPs for AMCC PPC405EX and PPC405EXr will be available for developers and design teams early in 2008.

Other available AMCC evaluation kits include the Taihu 405EP kit, the Acadia 405EZ kit, the Yosemite 440EP kit, the Sequoia 440EPx kit, the Yellowstone 440GR kit, the Rainier 440GRx kit, the Taishan 440GX kit, and the Katmai 440SPe kit.

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