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Royalty-free XAP RISC processor moves to 32bits

Posted: 16 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cambridge consultants? processor? verilog rtl? xap processor?

Cambridge Consultants Ltd (CCL) has recrafted its XAP RISC processor architecture to handle up to 32bit data. Available for license as a Verilog RTL file, the design can be implemented in less than 50,000 gates, the company claimed Tuesday (Sept. 14).

CCL, a consultancy active in the electronics and healthcare sectors, developed the XAP processor as an extremely low gate-count 16bit RISC design in the early 1990s. The XAP2 is used by CCL spin-off Cambridge Silicon Radio Ltd in all its Bluetooth cores.

On Tuesday CCL claimed the XAP3 brings code density and power economy to deeply embedded 32bit applications. CCL's near neighbors ARM Holdings plc has claimed to offer the industry's lowest MIPS-per-watt figures at the 32bit level.

The XAP3's instruction set has been optimized to exploit the code-efficient features of state-of-the-art C language compiler technology, reducing memory requirements and power consumption, compared with other designs. The design can be made using either ASIC or FPGA techniques.

The XAP3 has a Von Neumann architecture allowing code and data to be mixed within its flat 4GB memory space. There is hardware support for position independent code and secure operation though privileged modes that prevent user programs from corrupting the OS kernel.

The XAP3's instruction set, assembly language and ANSI C compiler were designed in parallel. The compile chain is based on Codemist C compiler technology, which has many novel features to optimize performance, while minimizing program size and memory requirements.

A Linux RTOS port for XAP3 is underway. The XAP3 roadmap includes software support for the Nucleus OS, the GCC compiler (providing C++ and Java), and TCP/IP.

"Because XAP3 programs are position independent, it is easy to locate them anywhere in memory with minimal load-time fix-ups. This will enable XAP3 systems to run multiple software applications or device drivers from different suppliers. It will be easy for software houses to publish new products for XAP3 hardware devices already in the field, thus creating a flourishing software market for this novel new platform," said Alistair Morfey, head of the ASICs group at CCL, in a statement.

- Peter Clarke

Silicon Strategies

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