Generating compact network device designs quickly is a key selling point for three technologies shown at the Embedded System Conference in Chicago last month. EDevice Inc. uses a single-chip DSP approach, while i2Chip Inc. and Yipee Inc. offer network support for small, 8-bit processors (see the figure). All three provide configuration software that allows selection of network options while reducing system design time.
EDevice's approach is ideal for applications requiring DSP support. Modem and Ethernet support is available with the company's 100-pin DSP chip. A minimal three-chip solution starts with a DSP chip, a 2- or 4-Mbit flash memory chip, and an Ethernet PHY or a telephone data-access arrangement (DAA) chip. About half of the flash memory is used for eDevice's SmartStack software, which supports standard Internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, and Telnet. The remaining memory is sufficient for many applications.
I2Chip's technology works with almost any processor. Its three-chip solution assumes processor memory is part of the microcontroller unit (MCU). The i2Chip device incorporates its own processor and memory for handling the TCP/IP stack to relieve the MCU of these chores, enabling the use of inexpensive MCUs.
Yipee's multichip NodEm Cricket module employs a conventional 8-bit processor from Motorola, Microchip, or Intel and couples it with a Cirrus Logic CS8900A Ethernet controller. The runtime configuration program streamlines TCP/IP configuration, letting developers concentrate on application software.
Development kits and IP are now available from all three companies. More information is available at www.edevice.com and at www.i2chip.com, as well as at www.yipeeinc.com.