posted by Bryon Moyer
Mobile communications have been one of CEVA’s focus areas (others being audio and images). If you’re new to CEVA, they do DSP cores for SoCs, focusing on low power as a critical feature. (They have lots of hardware features, but at the end of the day, whether it’s a hardware accelerator or an optimized instruction set, it all leads to lower power and longer battery life.)
We’ve covered them before (albeit getting distracted by the incredible alphabet soup that characterizes this market). As complexity has grown, they’ve seen the need for multiple DSP cores, so they put together a multicore platform.
But most of their mobile effort was going into DSPs that would reside in a handset. And yes, handsets have being going multicore for lots of reasons. And with the proliferation of smartphones, they have to be the most abundant example of heterogeneous multicore. In other words, different cores for different purposes – applications, baseband, graphics, etc. This requires an asymmetric model, with every core having its own OS and memory image (possibly sharing some memory for message passing and such).
But now they’re going for more than just the handset: they’ve just introduced a new XC4500 family that focuses on mobile infrastructure – and, specifically, base stations. You might think this would just be a bigger version of what they use in the handset, which is the XC4000 family. But it’s not, because what happens in a base station is very different from what happens in a phone.
A handset is all about taking a single call or session or whatever and breaking it down to extract the content and send that content to the appropriate places in the phone. That’s not at all what a base station does; it manages traffic. It doesn’t care, for the most part, what’s happening with any particular call or session; it’s just making sure everything gets to the right place. This is, basically, packet processing.
So while the phone needs all these different processors to handle the different aspects of the content, the base station simply needs to be able to scale what it does to accommodate the amount of traffic it has to handle. Which means that, unlike the phone, it can benefit from a homogeneous multicore architecture using a symmetric approach (SMP). If one core can process x calls, then n cores can process n*x calls. More or less (yeah, I know it’s not quite that simple…).
Which makes the XC4500 look different from the XC4000, even though they’re on opposite ends of the same airwave. It’s much more like a router than it is like a phone. Because it is a router of sorts. Traffic management features allow multiple independent queues and provide built-in dynamic scheduling. Data for a specific task is stored in shared memory, so assigning it to a specific core merely involves sending a pointer rather than a time-consuming data copy. They have cache coherency infrastructure to keep all of the cores’ caches in synch as well.
You might wonder, by the way, what the opportunity is for new base stations. And, apparently, there’s not a lot of movement in the traditional fiber/cable-backhaul market, where your wireless call gets sent to the mothership over a wire. But new installations are starting to favor wireless backhaul over microwaves. That’s where they see things looking up.
You can find out more in their release.
posted by Dick Selwood
The scene: a top-secret conference room in the West of England.
Present: a group of high-powered technical guys.
Topic: The next stage in project X
We are now shipping quantities of project X. The press are going to start asking where we go next
We will soon be able to announce that Sony is using an 8 core device in their new headphone amplifier.
And we are going to give away 2500 startKits and then sell more for only $14.99.
That’s good as well, but we need to push the technology even more.
We can add more cores?
We have committed to doing that.
We could add a different core.
People are using our products as an add-on for a standard processor. We provide specialist I.O. and also DSP and then an ARM based device runs the application.
We could add an ARM core to our product.
How do we add an ARM.?
Well rather than implement one, ourselves we should talk to Energy Micro. They have some very low power Cortex-M3 processors. We can put in an interface between our xCONNECT switch and the ARM interface and it will look like just another core to our logical cores. Bang in some Flash and with ARM’s own memory and the xCORE RAM and then we have what is really a programmable System on Chip, with a huge range of different interfaces available through software and 100#% timing determination. And it will be very low power so it can be used in battery operated devices
We can launch it in October 2013 in time for ARM Techcon.
And that is what those clever people at XMOS have done, despite Energy Micro becoming part of Silicon Labs (The joy of a fast moving industry) And if you want a sample they are now shipping samples for the top end xCORE–XA the XAU8-1024 with seven virtual cores and a Cortex M3, producing 500 MIPs performance with a typical power consumption of around 50 mA., 192KB of SRAM, 1024 KB of Flash, 38 I.0., and USB 3.0. There are multiple levels of stand-by with the lowest drawing only 100 nA.
You can see more at
posted by Bryon Moyer
LinkedIn has just introduced a new phone app called Intro that helps provide information to you about LinkedIn members when they send you email. That info is added to the email itself. Or something like that.
Now… before I go much further, I have to admit (to anyone that hasn’t already seen this obvious point in some of my earlier stuff) that I still hold to quaint notions about privacy and keeping control over my own things and any statements or messages ascribed to me. When I tried to install the Facebook app on my phone and saw all of the things it got access to (like, everything), I backed out. So if you think that’s ridiculous, then perhaps you need read no further.
But I just saw an interesting review of this LinkedIn app, which some of the mainstream press is calling relatively innocuous (possibly because the implications aren’t obvious to them, just as they might not be to pretty much anyone that installs the app).
As much as I’m skeptical about the motives of a lot of these apps, I’m also aware that there are lots of hypesters out there that like to make mountains out of molehills to get Likes. So I don’t want to swallow this whole. But… an app that totally changes how your emails are routed? Running all your emails through their servers??? Sheesh, not even the NSA had the cojones (or the bright idea) to do that.
So I’m curious… do you guys agree with the analysis at the link above? Or is it overblown?
And if it is indeed that insidious, is this just a sign that sheeple will install anything? Or at some point will people start to become suspicious of apps? And if people stop trusting the basic app concept, what does that do to the overall cell phone business ecosystem?