10
\$\begingroup\$

Ok, so I recently have been seeing the name XMOS appear in places. I've looked on their website and searched online but I can't quite figure out what it is? So what is it? It appears to be a cross between a microcontroller and an FPGA?

I've also looked on their site and I wasn't able to see anything I could understand (just example designs and other reference documents) for what XMOS is and what is different about it from other microcontroller lines.

\$\endgroup\$
18
\$\begingroup\$

I've got a lot of XMOS hardware. The chips can replace FPGAs and DSPs in a lot of applications, with development being much quicker and cheaper. They are mainly programmed in XC (a superset of C intended for parallel processing), C, C++ and assembler. The languages can be mixed in the same application. Other programming languages are becoming available.

They are basically very fast multicore controllers, with up to eight hardware threads per 400 MIPS core, operating in round-robin fashion. Each thread can run at 50 or 100 MIPS, and can be thought of as a separate processor. The four-core device thus offers up to 32 threads, delivering a total of 1600 MIPS. Threads, cores and chips communicate via very fast communication channels, making it very easy to design parallel processing systems using arbitrary numbers of chips. Peripherals like UARTs, SPI etc. are implemented in software. They are fast enough to handle high-speed (480 MBit/s) USB and 100 MHz Ethernet in software. Single-core, dual-core, and four-core devices are available with 64 I/Os per core. On-chip RAM is 64k per core.

Killer applications include those massive LED displays used at sporting arenas, where FPGAs have been used up to now. They typically use hundreds of XMOS chips, one per display tile. They are also ideal for high-end robotic applications.

Board prices start at about 50 dollars for a prototyping board with a single core device. The JTAG interface needed for programming and debugging applications is another 50 dollars. Development software is free. Support is good, via the XMOS web site and a users forum. They are getting popular with hobbyists.

A new $7 XS1-L01A-TQ48 device is now in production. They are listed on Digi-Key.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The chips are cheap too, ~$7.50 in single quantities, for the single core, TQFP packaged device. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Dec 17 '10 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great response by Leon above, the only thing I would add to that is if you would like to learn more, do come and chat with our huge community over at xcore.com - if you have any project ideas I am sure we can help you out to decide if XMOS is right for you. Also as Miguel mentioned above, do check out our videos and our YouTube channel (MyXMOS) to see XMOS in action and what our community has made already - some great inspiration. \$\endgroup\$ – user2317 Dec 17 '10 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or about $41 for prototyping board: sparkfun.com/products/10113 \$\endgroup\$ – Earlz Dec 17 '10 at 21:13
3
\$\begingroup\$

David May of XMOS presented an introduction to XMOS at the first OSHUG (Open Source Hardware) event last year: http://www.vimeo.com/11624968

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

XMOS is a powerful, multicore, 32bit microcontroller. There is no FPGA involved, but they go great together.

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

XMOS is an event-driven processor, perhaps check some out their videos

http://www.xmos.com/videos

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Give us a bit more information about it before you just link to your videos. This is no more than an add right now. We are glad you have taken the time to come to our site, but lets make this a long term high quality answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 17 '10 at 16:46
0
\$\begingroup\$

I'm also interested in this processor and am poking around their site. I wouldn't mind spending $100 for the bare minimum to get started, as Leon had mentioned. However, I wasn't sure what to buy -- their development board page talks about different chips, but I couldn't figure out the differences between them.

Here's a helpful link that outlines the types of XMOS processors. I wasn't able to find it by clicking around their website.

In a nutshell, it looks like they have 4 different processors:

XS1-G4: 4 cores XS1-G2: 2 cores XS1-L1: 1 core XS1-L2: 2 cores

The strange thing is that, for beginners, I would expect the XS1-L1 to be the best choice, as you can still learn how to leverage multithreading, but possibly save a little money on the development board. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. Both the XK-1A and XC-1A are $99, and include JTAG hardware.

Maybe Leon can add a comment here and let us know what he thinks is the best starter kit for those interested in getting into XMOS.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd start with the $99 XC1-A. It's got everything you need, including lots of LEDs and buttons, and interface connectors. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller May 16 '11 at 11:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.