FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Synopsys Corp. has just inaugurated the embARC.org website where developers can access its new Open Software Platform. The site offers a variety of open-source drivers, operating systems and middleware for use with the company's ARC processor architecture in a wide range of Internet of Things applications.
While the ARC architecture has considerable success so far, with cores licensed by more than 190 companies in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications, the nature of the company's strategy for adoption meant that ARC's widespread adoption is not widely recognized, Allen Watson, product marketing manager for ARC Development Tools, Systems and Ecosystem, told EE Times. The cores are used in more than 1.5 billion products a year in a wide range of applications such as solid-state drives, connected appliances, automotive controllers, media players, digital TV, set-top boxes and home networking.
At the heart of the ARC is a 16-/32-bit RISC-based instruction set architecture that provides good performance and code density for embedded and host SoC applications. But the secret sauce of the architecture is that unlike most embedded microprocessors, extra instructions, registers and functionality can be added using the ARChitect processor configurator that allows developers to analyze a given task, choose the appropriate extensions, or develop their own ISA extensions.
Targeting ARC customer's customers
“In the past we have targeted developers who often worked for major semiconductor manufacturers with domain expertise and understanding of key market applications and used that knowledge to develop a complete hardware/software package for an OEM customer,” said Watson. “Now the nature of the embedded market in the age of the Internet of Things has changed things. Many applications and environments for microcontrollers and processors are completely new. To fill that void we now want to make ourselves and our architecture more visible and accessible by our customers' customers.”
To do that it has come up with the embARC Open Source Software platform (above), an online resource that includes commonly used components for the Internet of Things (IoT), such as MQTT and CoAP internet protocols as well as FreeRTOS and Contiki OS operating systems. The site will offer a range of documentation about using and implementing the ARC architecture, access to company and third party experts, as well as a range of user forums.
Also available online is Synopsys' ARC EM Starter Kit, a low-cost ($99) software development board (Figure 2) consisting of pre-installed FPGA images of ARC EM Processors with peripherals and a software package. The starter kit is designed to allow developers to quickly do rapid software development, code porting, software debugging and profiling for the EM4, EM6, EM5D and EM7D processor cores. The development board is based on a Xilinx Spartan-6 LX150 FPGA and supports a variety of hardware extensions via six 2×6 connectors supporting a total of 48 user I/O pins (plus power and ground pins) that can be used to connect components such as sensors, actuators, memories, displays, buttons, switches, and communication devices. A Digilent Pmod Compatible extension board containing a 4-channel 12-bit A/D converter with an I2C interface and an AC power adapter is included in the package
Downloadable free from the embARC.org website, the Open Software Platform contains device drivers, operating systems and middleware ported to and optimized for ARC processors. Available initially are pre-ported drivers for the GPIO, UART, SPI, I2C and other peripherals as well as so-called free RTOSes such as FreeRTOS and Contiki OS.
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