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64-bit And Real-Time Architectures At Arm TechCon

64-bit And Real-Time Architectures At Arm TechCon

The show floor for Arm TechCon has not even opened yet so I have not seen a lot of the demos yet but there are plenty of new Arm-related news to report one. Of course, Arm has plenty of its own announcements including the new ARMv8-R architecture destined for the Cortex-R family. I’ll cover it in more detail in the future. The 32-bit platform targets safety critical applications such as automotive and factory control. It complements the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture (see ARMv8 Development Goes Virtual).

The ARMv8-R architecture implements the Protected Memory System Architecture (PMSA). This provides deterministic memory access while providing protection between environments via virtualization. It does not support virtual memory like the Cortex-A architecture but ARMv8-R does provide protection.

Altera’s announcement was just as big. It is packing in four, 64-bit, Cortex-A53 cores into its latest generation FPGAs (Fig. 1). These use the ARMv8 architecture with a 40-bit virtual address. NEON SIMD support is included and the memory controller supports ECC. This allows high performance computing coupled with the FPGA fabric. It is ideal for demanding applications like radar processing and communications.

Figure 1: Altera is packing in four, 64-bit, Cortex-A53 cores into its latest Stratix 10 FPGAs.

Freescale and Oracle are combining expertise to deliver gateway services for the Internet of Things (IoT). Freescale’s One Box platform (Fig. 2) is designed to run Java-base IoT gateway software developed by Oracle. The i.MX platform used Arm-based SoCs to run Oracle’s software.

Figure 2:Freescale’s Arm-based One Box platform is designed to run Java-based IoT gateway software from Oracle.

Freescale also has the QorIQ LS series that adds Arm support as well. It has 1.2 Ghz, dual core Cortex-A7 cores. These platforms also target IoT gateway applications. There is even a cost optimized QorIQ LS1022A that draws under 2 W.

Applied Micro has turned their 64-bit ARM architecture license from design (see AppliedMicro Shows Off 64-bit ARMv8) to X-Gene chips. The platform looks to take on Intel Xeon processors and packs in multiple cores and multiple 10 Gbit Ethernet channels. The cores run at speeds over 2 GHz and deliver significantly more performance than the Cortex-A50 architecture.

Hewlett-Packard is also showing 64-bit Arm chips running on its Moonshot cluster. Moonshot is designed to support a range of cluster interconnects including Ethernet as well as different processors including Intel C2000 microservers.

Cavium’s 64-bit, ARMv8-based Thunder platform is still in design but that does not stop developers from testing the system courtesy of a 64-bit port of Canonical’s Ubuntu 13.10 server. I saw the x86-based simulator running the OS on multiple cores. This is more for testing functionality since the simulation speed does not compare to what the final hardware will do but it shows the commitment to ARM platforms. I’ll be talking with Linaro about the embedded side in a couple days.

Of course, it is not all about big, powerful SoCs although there was plenty of that. Atmel’s tiny Cortex-M0+ is being tasked with sensor hub chores.  It is supporting a range of third party MEMS sensors as well as sensor fusion frameworks like those from HillCrest and Smart Fusion (see Consumer Electronics Take User Interfaces Beyond Your Fingertips).

There is still more to come from Santa Clara so stay tuned.


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