Blog: Page 7

Multicore programming: XMOS shows how at electronica '14

Posted: 26 November 2014

This was my first time at electronica... it is a large show, to say the least! That said, once you’re in the right area, there are many relevant stands conveniently placed close by. That area for me, and the rest of the XMOS team, was on our distributor’s stands Macnica and Topas. Some of the notable discussions we had related to AVB and its adoption in automotive networks. This was a common theme with many other stands presenting information on Automotive Networking. In addition to the automotive applications, I also found out about a really interesting AVB application, implemented using XMOS, involving a network with hundreds of endpoints. Watch this space for more details!

On the Thursday of the show, Elektor Magazine had invited us to present a couple of workshops on multicore theory, applications and programming. This was a great opportunity to get people involved with XMOS hardware and show how to solve real-time applications.


The aim of the workshop, after the initial introduction to the architecture, was to create a servo motor server with the angular position of the motor controlled by a capsense slider on an XMOS startKIT. For those eager for the challenge, there was also an extended task (for homework!), to connect two startKITs/servo motor servers using CAN bus and synchronize the positions.

This was actually quite easy and within an hour there were motors zipping backwards and forwards as the capSense slider was swiped. The startKIT is a great platform for this type of development. The peripheral hardware support is supplied as an easy to use source code library allowing fast implementation, and there is plenty of GPIO accessible on the header to connect additional peripherals.

Hopefully, the attendees learnt some of unique benefits of multicore architectures in solving real-time embedded problems and enjoyed the hands-on exercises.

Many Thanks to the Elektor team for the invitation and hospitality during the workshops.

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How to optimize start-up time for automotive AVB

Posted: 10 November 2014

XMOS recently attended the 2014 IEEE-SA Ethernet & IP @ Automotive Technology Day in Detroit. The event is in its fourth annual edition and was held for the first time in the US, after previous events were held in Germany. It was also the first time the event was organized through the IEEE Standards Association, a sign of the growing applicability and maturity of Ethernet as a technology in the automotive industry.

The theme of the event was “Moving towards a mature and pervasive automotive network: from infotainment to autonomous driving, how Ethernet is uniquely qualified to transform the vehicle”.  The two-day conference program showcased a number of themes, including the status of IEEE standardization efforts and physical layer developments that will enable an automotive Gigabit Ethernet network. New applications and use cases of the technology, security aspects, and testing methods and tools were also presented.

I co-presented on "AVB in Automotive Infotainment Networks” alongside Günter Dannhäuser from Daimler. The presentation focused on work that we have been doing with Daimler to reduce the startup time of XMOS AVB endpoints to meet a number of use-cases in automotive. Through a combination of hardware and firmware optimization, we presented a reduction from 7 seconds to just over 500ms from cold boot to first audio output.

You can see our presentation slides here.

A new aspect of the 2014 event was a joint session with the 7th AUTOSAR Open Conference where the software aspects and the Ethernet integration into the AUTOSAR software platform were presented and discussed. Marc Weber from Vector Informatik presented a roadmap to integrate AVB driver capability in a future version of AUTOSAR.

The event was a unique opportunity for OEMs, suppliers, semiconductor vendors and tool providers to come together. In parallel with the conference, XMOS exhibited alongside forty other companies, which allowed participants to experience the technology and directly interact with vendors. We showed XMOS AVB Daisy Chain endpoints, streaming audio to and from an Apple Mac, via a single twisted pair using Broadcom BroadR-Reach PHYs. A number of other vendors were showing XMOS endpoints interoperating with their equipment.

With the recent innovations in vehicle electronics in the Infotainment, Active Safety, Powertrain and Body domains, there is greater need than ever for a new generation of network that can scale with the bandwidth, time synchronization and quality-of-service needs of endpoints. There was consensus at the event that Ethernet and AVB/TSN meets these needs and will be prevalent in cars in the coming years.

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Touching on the world of haptics technology

Posted: 16 October 2014

Haptics has been defined in academia as “the science of applying touch (tactile) sensation and control to interaction with computer applications”. By using input/output devices users can receive feedback from computer applications in the form of ‘felt’ sensations. The potential uses for haptics technology are almost infinite and blogs such as: Haptic Antics and Haptic Feedback are great places to do some further reading.

In this blog post I’ll be explaining some of the specialist language used in the haptics domain and providing an overview of the technologies involved. I’ll be following this up with a series of posts looking at how haptics technology can be applied to markets such as the automotive, consumer electronics and home appliances industries.

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The XCore Exchange Community at Wuthering Bytes

Posted: 12 September 2014

I had the chance of speaking at Wuthering Bytes / OSHCAMP this year along with the pleasure of running workshops on the Sunday. I chose to talk about concurrency in the embedded world and focused on what I termed "the concurrency grey scale". This grey scale has simple low cost microcontrollers at the lower end and highly parallel FPGAs at the other.

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Young Engineer XMOS Prize Winner 2014

Posted: 28 August 2014

Following the close of the academic year at Bristol University’s Computer Science faculty – and as we now look forward to new one – it is time to announce and congratulate the winner of the XMOS Prize 2014.

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