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Low-power PowerPC chips gain real-time Linux

Mar 13, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

FSMLabs says its commercial real-time Linux operating system now supports two PowerPC-based processors from AMCC targeting storage, networking, software-defined radio, data acquisition, and motor control. RTLinux is available now for AMCC's general-purpose 440EP, as well as its 440GP low-power storage and networking processor.

AMCC's 440EP is a general-purpose SoC (system-on-chip) based on a PowerPC core clocked up to 533MHz. It integrates an FPU (floating point unit), USB and NAND Flash interfaces, a 32-bit PCI interface clockable up to 66MHz, dual Ethernet ports, and a variety of standard serial, GPIO, and I2C peripherals.

AMCC's 440GR is an SoC that targets networking and storage equipment control plane applications. It is based on a PowerPC 440 superscalar core, clocked at up to 667MHz, and uses a third less power than any other PowerPC 440 chip, AMCC claimed a year ago when it began sampling the chip.

FSMLabs says that RTLinux, running on a 533MHz version of AMCC's 440EP “Yosemite” reference platform, can deliver a worst-case interrupt latency of 3.5 microseconds, and real-time context switches of 13.5 microseconds. These figures are much faster than respective native Linux response times, which are measured in milliseconds, rather than microseconds, FSMLabs says.

Additionally, RTLinux's dual-kernel architecture — which combines Linux with RTCore, a tiny real-time microkernel — allows developers to meet requirements for low-latency hard-real-time responsiveness without sensitivity to application load for a wide range of CPU clock rates, according to the company.

RTLinux's dual-kernel architecture

FSMLabs CEO Victor Yodaiken stated, “RTLinux lets developers maximize performance and reliability, even on low-power deeply embedded silicon.”

AMCC's director of software, Charlie Ashton, stated, “Quick, predictable real-time response is a critical need in many of our customers' systems. We look forward to FSMLabs supporting additional AMCC PowerPC processors in the future.”


RTLinux for AMCC 440GR and 440EP is available now.

AMCC has worked to create a tools ecosystem around its 440-series chips, and it ships its Yosemite development board with trial Linux BSPs from Linux OS distributors that include TimeSys, LynuxWorks, and Denx, as well as a hardware-assistable debugger from Embedded Toolsmiths. Sysgo also supports the 440-series chips with its Linux OS and tools.

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