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XMOS at eclipseCON 2014

Posted: 09 April 2014
Matt Fyles
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Matt Fyles

Matt FylesKris Jacobs and I recently attended the worldwide eclipse developer conference, a four-day event in San Francisco
https://www.eclipsecon.org/na2014/

eclipse is one of the key foundation platforms for xTIMEcomposer studio and helps us to deliver industry leading tools for our multicore microntrollers.

The conference itself was very well attended with the key themes being the Internet of Things, eclipse for embedded platforms and how the eclipse platform is evolving to support the new features of Java. It was great from an XMOS perspective to meet some of the developers responsible for the base platform we use and discuss plans for the future.

The industry and in particular open source tools are still moving slowly to support multicore, particularily in the areas of debug and trace and these are things which at XMOS we are constantly pushing forwards to help our growing user base. Of particular note was the presentation about multicore visualization which demonstrates how debugging has to change in order to scale to larger systems https://www.eclipsecon.org/na2014/session/cdt-and-parallella-multicore-debugging-masses.

A personal favourite presentation was one from NASA about how they use eclipse to develop the PC applications for their intelligent robotics group. eclipse in space seemed to be very popular with everyone in attendance; hopefully they will have a chance to play with the startKIT I left them in their robotics research https://www.eclipsecon.org/na2014/session/nasa-verve-interactive-3d-visualization-within-eclipse

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Programming multicore: the right way?

Posted: 24 March 2014
David Lacey
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Dr Dave Lacey, Technical Director of Software ToolsLast week I attended the NMI (National Microelectronics Institute) event on Multicore Processors and Programming. The event was focused on how the embedded industry will adapt to the new wave of multicore processors.

One thing that struck me at the event was the range of systems that come under the banner "embedded". Everything from 8-bit micro-controllers to large SOCs running a version of Linux or Android are used in embedded systems. In all these areas, multicore is here and being used today.

At the larger end of the scale, you have chips running a full blown OS with large memory, dedicated graphics processors, many peripherals etc.

These are the same kinds of chips that are used in modern smart-phones. These generally exploit multicore via a single OS that decides at run-time which processes to run on which core (the symmetric multiprocessing approach). This route seems a natural one that builds on the current paradigm used for these kinds of system.

That is not to say it is without is perils however. As a good talk from Feabhas' Niall Cooling showed, programmers still need to know something about the system to avoid subtle race conditions in their code. There is also the lingering question of how to ensure real-time constraints in your program.

However, can we only exploit multicore with large, resource rich systems capable of running a large SMP-enabled OS? The answer is clearly no. We need to exploit multicore in deeply embedded systems where power and price budgets lead to natural resource constraints and a need for a large level of efficiency. The talk I gave at the event was on one way to program multicore for these kinds of systems.

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XMOS joins UK trade delegation to China

Posted: 03 December 2013
Andy Gothard
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China Trade Mission

XMOS was invited to be part of this week's trade delegation which is currently visiting China led by the UK Prime Minister plus four cabinet ministers. Nigel Toon -- CEO of XMOS, flew with David Cameron to Beijing on Sunday Dec 1st with a busy schedule that includes high level meetings in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

Being invited to take part in this important trip and to represent leading technology from the UK, alongside companies like Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren, Airbus, and Atkins is an important validation of XMOS's rapid growth and world beating technology. China is an important market for XMOS and we have plans for major expansion there in 2014.

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Q&A Section in XCore Exchange Community

Posted: 28 November 2013
Sethu chandan Jangala
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I’m sure many XMOS users are already aware of the XCore Exchange Community , the online community where new and experienced users, established third party services partners and XMOS staff members can post technical support requests, contribute to a Question and Answer list, and discuss ideas and projects.

The Q&A section is a recently added feature that helps community members to get answers to specific technical questions related toxCORE multicore microcontrollers, xSOFTip and the xTIMEcomposer design tools. In addition to XCore members and moderators, many XMOS employees visit the Q&A on a regular basis: so your questions will get answered quickly.

The number of questions in the Q&A section is increasing day by day, so community members can search related issues and get the best possible answer to their specific problem. When XMOS Employees and XCore Moderators come across a fix for an issue which they feel may help other community members, they will add it into the Q&A. This means that the “knowledge base” of questions that have already been answered is constantly growing, and you’ll often be able to find a solution, even before posting a question of your own.

Unlike the discussion forums at xcore.com, the Q&A includes the facility for members to up- and down-vote answers, and for the original poster to choose the best answer. So when you visit the Q&A, you can find the right answer to your problem, based on the number of votes an answer has received. And if you want to exchange further thoughts about a particular answer, there’s a ‘Discuss’ button that allows you to open a forum discussion quickly and easily.

We are planning to make some more changes to the XCore Community over the coming weeks to help our community members get more information about xCORE technology.

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve the XCore Community, please share them via the forums at xcore.com, so we all can take the community forward to make it a better platform in answering all our issues.

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Hackathon - a flying start for startKIT

Posted: 23 October 2013
Andy Gothard
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Photo of Andy Gothard

Our startKIT development board got a flying start last week when the first startKIT Hackathon took place at the XMOS offices. In fact, as you can see from the YouTube video here, in some cases it was literally a "flying start"!

As well as XMOS engineers, we were visited by some guests from partners including Afterthought Software, and by one of the moderators of the XCore Exchange community, where startKIT has already created quite a buzz.

Projects ranged from the "wi-fi controlled rocket launcher", a "startKIT says" game, and a game cube interface, to an audio flanger that could be controlled via the board's capacitive sensors.

We'll be posting more videos on our YouTube channel and in the startKIT part of this site in the coming days.

Meanwhile, don't forget to visit the startKIT promo page, for your opportunity to win a free board!

AVB finalized for media over Ethernet

Posted: 16 September 2013
Andy Gothard
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Photo of Andy Gothard

It's great to hear that the first phase of standardization for Ethernet AVB (Audio Video Bridging) is complete. We now have an industry standard way of transferring digital audio and video data via Ethernet - the most successful networking technology the world has ever seen.

In case you weren't aware, AVB is the IEEE 802.1 standard that allows the transfer of digital audio and video data over Ethernet. With AVB, products can send multiple media channels simultaneously through a single network connection. Needless to say, as with all communications technologies, standardization and certification are essential with AVB. The ability to seamlessly connect products from multiple vendors is good for customers, creates a broad ecosystem, and moves the concentration of effort away from simple connectivity ("just make it work") to creative thoughts about how to make the most of that connectivity.

The aim with AVB is to leverage the established truth of Metcalfe's Law - that the value of a communications network is proportional to the square of the number of people connected to the system. If we all join the club, we all benefit.

AVB is now a fully-featured standard, including capabilities such as automated QoS, (quality of service) bandwidth allocation and stream tunneling; it also specifies techniques for discovery, enumeration, connection management and control. This rich feature set promises to carry it into industries as diverse as professional audio, automotive, enterprise conferencing and building automation.

Next week we'll be at the 3rd Automotive Ethernet Tech Day in Stuttgart, demonstrating XMOS solutions for AVB, including a system that uses Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables and Broadcom's BroadrReach technology. We'll also be showing a mixed-use demo that combines CAN data and audio on a single network. At the conference, Thomas Gmeinder of XMOS will be taking a look at the particular technology requirements for manufacturers working on automotive AVB products. If you're attending the event, we look forward to seeing you there. If not, drop back to this page at the end of next week, where we'll have a summary of all the important news!

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Young engineer Michael Jewell receives the 2013 XMOS prize

Posted: 29 August 2013
Ross Owen
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A few weeks ago I was pleased to present 2013 Bristol University graduate Michael Jewell with this year's XMOS Prize. This annual award goes to the top Computer Science graduate from the University’s four-year degree course.Ross Owen and Michael Jewell

Since spinning out of the University several years ago, XMOS has continued to collaborate closely with our friends and colleagues there. I myself was a student on the self same Computer Science course, and was even on the receiving end of a prize at the same presentation six years ago!

At XMOS we're proud of our heritage and our close connection with the University. It's important to recognize the achievements of the young engineers of tomorrow and the XMOS Prize allows us to do just that.

At the ceremony in Bristol Michael went on record saying he was delighted by the award, and looked forward to implementing his skills overs the coming years. Here at XMOS we're certain that he has a bright future ahead of him.

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Ethernet AVB creates a buzz at busier-than-ever Infocomm

Posted: 03 July 2013
Ali Dixon
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This year’s Infocomm show was the busiest ever, with around 35,000 attendees. The event gives professionals in the audiovisual, information communication and systems integration industries a chance to explore tens of thousands of audiovisual products. Amongst them was our latest Ethernet AVB reference design, announced at the show.AVnu stand at Infocomm 13

The new AVB Daisy-chain (AVB-DC) offering allows the connection of several network-enabled audio and media products without the need for a central AVB switch.  This will dramatically reduce AVB installation and infrastructure costs.

The buzz around Ethernet AVB was centered on the AVnu Alliance pavilion, where XMOS was a leading participant. The standard is gaining acceptance rapidly – we spoke to a number of installers and integrators who have already completed commercial installations. There was also much talk of Apple’s announcement that the upcoming OS X Mavericks operating system will include native support for AVB.

We counted a growing number of XMOS-powered products at the show, including beyerdynamic’s Quinta audio conferencing system, the Revo labs Executive Elite Wireless Microphone System, Renkus Heinz digital steerable loudspeakers, , the Pivitec Personal Monitor Mixer, the DSP4YOU 8-channel endpoint module, and our very own AVB Daisy-chain reference design.

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XMOS showcases multicore microcontrollers in China

Posted: 21 June 2013
Mike Furnival
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A few weeks ago XMOS China hosted a packed seminar on multicore microcontrollers for embedded systems developers in Shenzhen. Over 100 engineers attended the event which ran over two days. Feedback was excellent: particularly well received were the hands-on demonstrations and interactive sessions hosted by local sales manager Wilson Zhang and field applications engineer Quinn Wang.Engineers using the xTIMEcomposer design tools and sliceKIT development kits in Shenzhen

The excellent turnout and high level of interest illustrates the ‘buzz’ surrounding XMOS in China – and in Asia more broadly – at the moment. We have recently relocated to a new facility in Shenzhen, and strengthened the team not only with the addition of Quinn, but also the appointment of a new regional sales director, David Lee.

At the event the XMOS team demonstrated all of the benefits of the xCORE architecture, including its flexibility, deterministic operation and its ability to eliminate the need for a real-time operating system (RTOS) in many designs. Delegates were drawn from a broad range of market sectors, including consumer products, digital audio and automotive; most attention was drawn by the XMOS solutions for industrial networking, robotics, Ethernet AVB and other forms of time-sensitive networking.

The success of the event means that it’s certainly something we’ll repeat. Watch this space for news of future events near you!

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XMOS and EMBAS demonstrate BroadR-Reach/AVB

Posted: 11 June 2013
Ali Dixon
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In-car network at Stuttgart Automotive showLast week the XMOS team was in Stuttgart at the Automotive Testing Expo, showing off its work on Ethernet AVB with partner EMBAS, which amongst other things is developing AVB using xCORE multicore microcontrollers and BroadR-Reach® technology based on twisted pair infrastructure.

The EMBAS demo created quite a buzz, as did an emerging networking protocol called CAN FD, (Controller Area Network with Flexible Data-rate). This extends the capabilities of the current CAN communications protocol, (which allows devices and microcontrollers to communicate without a host computer), by supporting higher bit-rates. CAN FD has the potential to dramatically enhance the speed and determinism of these networks.

Ethernet AVB network with BroadR-ReachAutomotive companies at the show told us they are seeing an increased demand for a variety of applications that require AVB capability ranging from time-sensitive networking and low-cost industrial communication to infotainment and futuristic solutions capable of linking up with the latest wearable technology products. Watch this space!

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