XMOS builds development system with industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus

September 25, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Featuring a real-time hardware debug capability, it is based on the xCORE-XA architecture, which combines an ARM Cortex-M3 processor and XMOS’ configurable xCORE multicore microcontroller

The modular development system for the xCORE-XA range of eXtended Architecture xCORE devices features a base processor board with real-time hardware debug facilities, xTIMEcomposer Studio tools for integrated code development, and a range of application specific daughter- and mother-cards, the first of which, for Industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus systems, is available.

The system allows embedded designers to develop, debug and prototype products based on the range of xCORE-XA devices, which combine multiple deterministic 32-bit xCORE logical cores with an ARM Cortex M3 processor in a single device. xCORE-XA can be programmed in C with the exact set of interfaces and peripherals required for any design. In the same design, engineers can re-use existing ARM code and use the ARM ecosystem, including standard code libraries that can dramatically accelerate product design time.

The xCORE-XA industrial solution will, XMOS believes, be particularly useful for independent software vendors (ISVs) seeking a single programmable platform capable of supporting multiple Industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus protocols. It also allows industrial automation OEMs and other customers to exploit the flexibility and programmability of the xCORE architecture while continuing to build on their existing protocol stacks and other IP designed for the ARM architecture.

The heart of the development system is the core processor module, featuring an eight-core xCORE-XA device and fully-featured real-time hardware debug facilities allowing integrated development of ARM and xCORE code. The board communicates via USB with a host PC running XMOS's free-to-download xTIMEcomposer Studio development tools. xTIMEcomposer includes comprehensive design entry, compilation, real-time debug and software-based logic analysis for ARM and multiple xCORE processor cores via a single screen.

The xCORE-XA I/O is fully routed to 0.1-in. pitch header connections, with each set including power, ground and reset, allowing maximum flexibility and easy prototype configuration. Power to the debuggers can be disabled so that the module can be used as part of a target system.