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ARM suite promises performance gain

Posted: 01 Jun 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Katsumi Yamashita? EE Times? Panasonic Electronic Devices Co.? aluminum electrolytic capacitors? TS-EE series?

The latest upgrade to the RealView Development Suite (RVDS) is billed as not just an evolution of the ARM Ltd software development tools, but a best-of-class integrated development environment (IDE). Version 3.0, unveiled last April at the Embedded Systems Conference, supports new and existing ARM architectures, including the Cortex M3 and A8 processor cores. It includes a multicore graphical debugger, an ARM/Thumb/Thumb2 compiler, instruction-set simulation models and a new compiler optimization engine that is said to deliver better than a 10 percent improvement to the EEMBC benchmark scores.

A Neon intrinsics compiler lets designers write assembly code for the single-instruction, multiple-data 64/128bit hybrid Neon DSP engine with C-language commands. The compiler does all the register allocation and scheduling, ARM said, making it easy for programmers to leverage the Neon engine for multimedia and signal-processing applications.

Providing designers with an end-to-end solution that enables hardware/software co-design, the RVDS 3.0 suite integrates the ESL design tools needed for a complete modeling system, said Brian McAllister, director of marketing for development systems at ARM. "The tools also include enhanced debug visibility and CPU control for developers, thus shortening the time needed to debug the software," he said. The RVDS software also works with either the Eclipse or CodeWarrior IDE, thus allowing designers to use whichever environment is most familiar.

Early collaboration
The tool suite fully works with system models developed with ARM's RealView SoC Designer with MaxSim technology. This allows software and hardware developers to collaborate earlier in the design cycle than ever before, while using tools they are both familiar with, McAllister said. "A key point here is that either tool can control the other," he said. Thus, the software architect can set breakpoints and then examine the state of the hardware model when the breakpoint is hit, McAllister explained. Conversely, the hardware architect can set breaks on signals within the model, and when the signal occurs, the model halts and the debugger shows what code was being executed at that moment.

According to the company, the enhanced compilation tools offer improvements of 5 percent to 10 percent over the previous tool release and 25 percent over the GNU GCC when compiling ARM code, and more than 30 percent over the GNU software when compiling Thumb code. RVDS 3.0 is also the first ARM suite to support the company's CoreSight advanced debug architecture, including debug access port, ETM 3.3 trace support and legacy scan chain.

All the software tools are backward-compatible with previous versions of RVDS. Version 3.0 sells for $6,500.

- Dave Bursky
EE Times

Capacitor has 1.5x rated ripple current

Panasonic Electronic Devices Co. Ltd has released its TS-EE series of aluminum electrolytic capacitors, with a rated voltage range of 400-450V, and capacitance range of 82-560F. This is said to be an increase of approximately 1.5 times the rated ripple current of Panasonic's current product range. The capacitors target primary-side filtering capacitors of AC/DC converters (switching power supply circuits) for digitally-controlled home appliances and inverter circuits in white-goods appliances.

By raising the rated ripple current, electronic device manufacturers can derive benefits such as reduced mounted surface area and mounting height. It would be necessary to install a capacitor with dimensions of 35-by-40mm to withstand a ripple current of approximately 3A rms using Panasonic's current models (TS-HC series). Panasonic said its capacitors can achieve this with dimensions of 25-by-40mm, reducing the mounted surface area by 50 percent. For applications where the mounted height is crucial, a product measuring 35-by-25mm will be able to withstand 3A rms. In other words, a reduction in height of 15mm will be achieved.

An additional advantage is that when connecting multiple capacitors in parallel, the number of capacitors required can be reduced by one-third to withstand even larger ripple currents.

However, there is one point that must be noted when focusing solely on ripple current while replacing existing products with the new capacitors: the capacitance is lowered by about 20 percent. When used as the primary-side smoothing capacitor for an AC/DC converter, the product's voltage drop times will be shortened.

According to Takeyasu Yamagishi, chief engineer of the capacitor business unit at Panasonic, response time to instantaneous drops in voltage differs with each electronic device manufacturer. For manufacturers that design a comparatively long response time, it will not be possible to perform a simple replacement with the new capacitor because the rated ripple current is the same.

There are two reasons for the ability to facilitate an increase in the rated ripple current. The first is that a new method has been devised for creating the oxide film on the surface of the anode's aluminum electro foil. Although the technical details have not been unveiled, Yamagishi said that by implementing this method, the oxide film can be made more uniformly than in the current product. This means that the occurrence of electrical current being concentrated and reaching high temperatures in the thinner sections of the film can be avoided.

The second reason is that an electrolyte with lower resistance is used. This has resulted in a lower equivalent series resistance and dielectric loss factor for the capacitor, enabling suppression of heat divergence.

The life of the capacitor types in the TS-EE series is 3,000hrs (at 105C), which is said to be approximately double that of current models when compared at the same ripple current. When tested with a 3.08mA ripple current at an ambient temperature of 60C, the capacitor's life is said to reach 10 years, compared to the current models' four years.

Yamagishi believes that there is still room for improvement of the product. "We hope to introduce even smaller products that achieve higher performance."

Mass production of the capacitor began earlier this year. Its sample price is $1.26.

- Katsumi Yamashita
EE Times

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