Electronic Design
Tunnel Creek Takes A Number

Tunnel Creek Takes A Number


Intel has finally put a part number on 45nm Tunnel Creek System-on-Chip (SoC). It is the now the embedded Intel Atom E6xx.The E6xx architecture (Fig. 1) is based around the same Atom architecture of its siblings but this chip comes with a x1 PCI Express links instead of a proproprietary front side bus. The companion EG20T Platform Controller Hub provides peripheral interfaces such as USB 2.0 host and client, Gigabit Ethernet and SATA 2 storage interfaces. For the embedded crowd, the hub includes the familiar SDIO/MMC storage interface plus the SPI, I2C, and CAN interfaces. Mix this with Atom's virtual machine support and a host of other features with Intel's long term support and you have an embedded match made in heaven.

The processor can actually be used standalone because it can boot from a range of on-chip interfaces including LPC and SPI flash. The chip has a 32-bit, 800 MHz DDR2 memory interface as well as on-chip graphics and hi-def audio. The inclusion of PCI Express means developers are not locked into Intel's hub controller although it is ideal for many applications. Instead, third party hub controllers will be prolific but custom controllers or links to standard PCI Express devices will be the norm for E6xx-based designs. Even links to FPGAs can now be done directly through PCI Express eliminating glue logic and design complexity.

The E6xx family already comes with a range of chips from the 2.7W 600MHz E620 to the 3.9W 1.6GHz E680T. The current crop of chips are single core with a 512 Kbyte L2 cache. All support Intel Hyper-Threading Technology as well as Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x). The chips come in a 22mm by 22mm, 676-ball FCBGA package.

The 400 MHz Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600 is a 2D/3D subsystem that supports OpenGL and OpenVG. It incorporates HD video decode and encode hardware. The chip can drive 80MHz LVDS displays as well as 160MHz SDVO displays.

The EG20T Platform Controller Hub support includes a pair of SD/MMC/SDIO ports, four UARTs, 12 GPIO pins, an SPI port, an I2C port, a CAN port, Gigabit Ethernet with 1588 support, a USB 2.0 client and six USB 2.0 host ports. It also has SATA 2 support. The chip uses only one PCI Express link. The TDP (thermal design power) for the hub is 1.55W. It comes in a 23mm by 23mm 376-ball, PBGA package.

Macraigor is delivering support for the E6xx's JTAG interface. The Macraigor usb2Demon (Fig. 2) comes in versions that support the range of Atom processors. It is available with a 31 or 60 pin interface for $799. The 24 pin version is priced at $949.

Macraigor's usb2Demo JTAG emulators come with OCD Commander fully supports the Atom processors. There is a Java-based version as well. The platform can handle low level debug, board bring up, and system test. Free Eclipse/GNU development environment and tools are available as well.

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