One of the brightest stars in today's technology constellation continues to be the wireless market. Big and small players alike have joined in the consumer craze for wireless products. New devices are based on everything from 2.5G and 3G technology to Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/a/g). In fact, many experts see the wireless market as the main driver for the semiconductor industry's next growth spurt.
It therefore seems appropriate that the Alchemy product line continues to be a source of transmuted gold for its developer—Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. The Alchemy Solutions line was first introduced several years ago. It targets the non-PC Internet-appliance market by focusing on computing devices, Internet-access products, driver information systems, and entertainment devices.
Now, this product line features low-power, high-performance mobile processors and wireless-local-area-network (WLAN) chip sets. The first new grouping consists of the Au1000, Au15000, and Au1100 processors along with associated development-board kits and the Mobile Handheld reference-design kit (RDK). Note that the "Au" product name is directly derived from the periodic table, which lists Au as the symbol for gold. On the wireless side, the Alchemy Solution includes the Am1772 WLAN chip set, the PC card, and mini Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) reference-design kits.
As a follow up to the original Au1000 processor, the Alchemy Au1100 offers the required low-power, high-performance features. In addition, it provides on-chip controllers for SDRAM, SRAM/Flash EPROM, LCDs, and 10/100 Ethernet devices. It offers controllers for USB host devices, UARTs, and GPIO interfaces as well.
Like all of the Alchemy line, the Au1100 is based on a MIPS core. It operates at speeds that range up to 500 MHz using only 0.5 W of power. Among the primary applications for this processor are Web pads, telematics products, PDAs, and multimedia handheld devices. The accompanying development board, which is denoted as DBAu1100, allows designers to evaluate the processor's operation and performance.
To simplify the development process even further, Advanced Micro Devices and Metrowerks Corp. (www.metro
werks.com) recently joined forces. They have designed and introduced a reference platform for the creation of mobile connectivity devices based on the Linux operating system (OS). Dubbed the OpenPDA Development Studio, this platform combines the DBAu1100 development board with Metrowerks' multimedia PDA hardware and software tools. A host of standard applications also is included, such as gaming, a multimedia player, an image viewer, voice recording, and browsing. The platform offers support for both Personal Java and Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) technologies.
The Au1500 processor targets Internet devices like thin clients, routers, wireless gateways, and handheld-computing products. It boasts a 66-MHz PCI 2.2 controller and Internet-access peripherals. It supports most of the popular operating systems, such as Windows CE.NET, Linux, and VxWorks. A development board, called the DBAu1500, also is available (see figure).
Recently, Microsoft announced the release of a Board Support Package (BSP) for AMD's DBAu1500 development board. With this BSP, Windows CE developers can hasten the deployment of next-generation devices to the Au1500 processor. The Board Support Package includes the source code for a boot loader. This boot loader can be used for initializing and customizing hardware, device drivers, and configuration files.
As for the wireless-LAN portion of the Alchemy formula, the Am1772 chip set supports the IEEE 802.11b standard. This two-chip design combines a CMOS RF transceiver with a medium-access controller (MAC) and baseband processor. By using a direct-memory-access (DMA) architecture, it maintains a low host-CPU load. This low load works to eliminate on-chip microcontrollers and the associated Flash and SRAM. Device driver updates will be available to support future 802.11 MAC enhancements. Both PC-card and mini-PCI-card reference-design kits are available for the Am1772 WLAN chip set.
The entire Alchemy family of processors, WLAN chip sets, and associated development boards are available now. Contact the company directly for specific pricing information.Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. One AMD Pl., P.O. Box 3453, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-3453; (408) 749-4000, www.amd.com.