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Multi-threaded processor goes dual-core

Apr 30, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 23 views

Raza Microelectronics, Inc. (RMI) is shipping a new low-end XLS MIPS64-based processor called the XLS208 that offers dual 1GHz cores and comes with a Linux-compatible evaluation board and software development kit (SDK). RMI also announced that Macraigor's hardware debugging tools will support both the XLR and XLS processor lines.

The XLS208 accelerates packet-oriented and control plane applications for SMB (small- and medium-sized businesses), says RMI. Applications are said to include security appliances, wireless access points and switches, ATCA and AMC service cards, radio controllers, network signaling products, telecom media gateways, and secured wire-line routers and switches.

While the XLS208 falls at the low end of the XLS family, which in turn is a scaled-down version of RMI's XLR family of multicore MIPS64-based processors, the chip provides considerable processing power. Compared to RMI's existing low-end 200-Series XLS, the XLS204, the XLS208 offers two multi-threaded, MIPS64-compatible cores instead of one, and boosts the clock rate from 750MHz to 1GHz. Built on TSMC's 90nm LP process, it includes eight parallel processing elements that RMI calls vCPUs. These fine-grained hardware processing units are said to use single-clock, zero overhead, and context switching features.

Additional features listed for the XLS208 include:

  • 32KB instruction and 32KB data level-1 caches
  • 3 x on-chip interconnects
  • 512KB level-2 banked cache
  • 1Gbps Autonomous Security Acceleration Engine
  • On-chip memory controller supporting 32/36/72b DDR2 memory
  • Quad gigabit Ethernet MACs with network accelerators
  • Quad PCI-Express controllers

A new “Office-in-a-Box” evaluation kit for the chip is based on a LiTE Evaluation Board, which appears to replace RMI's earlier “ArizonaATX” line of evaluation boards for the XLS208 and the pre-existing dual-core XLS408 processor. The board is said to offer a smaller form factor than the ArizonaATX, while offering DDR2 support, gigabit Ethernet, PCIe, USB, flash memory, and diagnostic interfaces.

The LiTE board also comes with BOM, schematics, and layout collateral, as well as RMI's XLS SDK, which includes reference software, tool chains, diagnostics, firmware suite, and device drivers for “open source Linux and other commercial operating systems,” according to RMI.

Recently, Embedded Alley announced that RMI had joined its Silicon Vendor Partner Program (SVPP), which offers customized SDKs that vendors can freely distribute, and includes mainline Linux kernel maintenance and regression testing. Also this week RMI announced new technology partners for its XLR and XLS processors. As previously reported, Wind River ported its Carrier Grade Linux distribution, Platform for Network Equipment, Linux Edition (PNE-LE) 2.0 to RMI's XLR platform. According to a Wind River spokesperson, XLS support is “on the roadmap.”

In addition, Macraigor Systems announced it has joined the RMI Partner Alliance, and will provide RMI's XLR, XLS, and Alchemy customers with its hardware and software JTAG debug interface products. The company is also offering a free port of Macraigor Eclipse + GNU Tools Suite (including gcc, gas and gdb) for RMI's processors. The package is based on Eclipse 3.3 (Europa), and includes Zylin Embedded CDT 4.0, a variety of open-source GNU tools/utilities, and a program called OcdRemote that provides an interface between Eclipse, the GDB debugger, and a Macraigor On-Chip debug device.


The XLS208 processor and Office-in-a-Box is currently available, says RMI. The XLS208 is priced as low as $40 in volume, and the evaluation kit starts at $1500.

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