xcore-XA Startkit

All technical discussions and projects around startKIT
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PTBarnum
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xcore-XA Startkit

Postby PTBarnum » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:01 pm

We are planning to release an xcore-XA startKIT, what would be great things to include ?
Of course startKITs are intended to be a low cost introduction to the xCore technology so we wont be including a whole bunch of expensive peripherals. What clever ideas have you got to allow users to get coding on the XA and doing some useful eXploration ?
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pstnotpd
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Postby pstnotpd » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:18 pm

- "real" Slice kit compatible connector (i.e. 16 bit port for the sdram slice) so softIP can be used
- Easily accessible xsys & links to allow more xcores to be linked without much fuss
- Don't lock OTP
- inclusion of yagarto stack (or similar) into the ide
- integrated debugger like the regular startkit (but allow to overwrite if wanted)
- all possible pinouts connected to a header.
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lilltroll
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Postby lilltroll » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:19 pm

What about the ARM part in XA. It should show typical uses of the ARM+XMOS.
Do you have any proposals what that could be ?
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pstnotpd
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Postby pstnotpd » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:08 pm

lilltroll wrote:What about the ARM part in XA. It should show typical uses of the ARM+XMOS.
Do you have any proposals what that could be ?
To be honest I cannot deduce from the product brief if the integrated ARM is limited to the 128 KB on chip memory, or that the full adressable memory map is potentially available through clever use of the Xcore ports like done with the SDRAM on the slicekit.

If so, and some amount of external memory is added to the board, that would open the ARM up as potentially a bare bones platform with hugely configurable interfaces through the logical cores. I can imagine such a board booting up in a sort of hypervisor mode which would present a prompt when connected to the usb.

I would certainly have a go at trying to get some sort of small OS running on the ARM that could then possibly be used to program logical cores "natively".
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Folknology
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Postby Folknology » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:59 pm

1. Built in USB debugging (like startkit) for all cores incl M3
2. Realtime Energy profiling, essential for low energy XA work
3. Single Slice socket for expansion pref horizontal (unlike startkit)
4. Breadboard friendly GPIO like proteus (unlike startkit)
5. If 32bit port exposed consider an i8080 header common for display purposes, more useful than RPi header IMHO
6. UEXT comms header for UART/I2C/SPI
7. low power RGB LED blinky
8. Button Battery socket

regards
Al
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TSC
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Postby TSC » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:12 am

PTBarnum. What company do you represent, if any? Announcing an xcore-XA startKIT might make some people assume you're an XMOS employee.

I'm just a bit wary because the real life P.T. Barnum was a famous hoaxster.
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PTBarnum
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Postby PTBarnum » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:34 am

TSC wrote:PTBarnum. What company do you represent, if any? Announcing an xcore-XA startKIT might make some people assume you're an XMOS employee.

I'm just a bit wary because the real life P.T. Barnum was a famous hoaxster.

Hello TSC.
I am an XMOS employee as you can see from my public profile.
My initials are P.T. so that is shared, maybe a poorly chosen pseudonym but i was thinking of the talented showman and excitement that Phineas created. Maybe i was also swayed by a fond memory of Michael Crawford playing the part in the Barnum musical in the west end. If there is any more confusion or concern i will change my handle.

All the best - and thanks to those people who have contributed ideas so far. We will put everything into the melting pot and attempt to come up with something funky. As you know we wont be able to please everyone, but we will try.
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segher
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Postby segher » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:03 pm

Hi P.T.,

For all other XMOS employees the forum shows that at every
post. Maybe it has something to do with that you do not
have an avatar image?

All profile pages are empty pages today. Stuff is broken :-(

What I want on a startkit board: lots of blinkies yes! They
are very handy when learning how ports work, or for quick
feedback for debugging, etc. But there should be a way to
turn them off so you can use that pin for something else;
maybe just a row of jumpers, one side the xcore pin (which
you want on headers anyway) and the other side the LED.

I don't see how external RAM or a debugger will be good value
for the cost (both in money and in pins used up).

For external links it would be nice if there was some cheap
standardized connector we can have on all boards, probably
a 2w link is best, ideally something that works over half a
meter or so cables. That may be too much to ask for ;-)
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pstnotpd
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Postby pstnotpd » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:38 pm

segher wrote:I don't see how external RAM or a debugger will be good value
for the cost (both in money and in pins used up).
Valid point I guess. If the SDRAM slice can be used that would do nicely.

Which still leaves my question, can we get more addressable space for the ARM core this way, or is the ARM core limited to the on chip RAM?
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segher
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Postby segher » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:24 pm

pstnotpd wrote:Which still leaves my question, can we get more addressable space for the ARM core this way, or is the ARM core limited to the on chip RAM?
As far as we know, the chip used is an EFM32GG ("giant gecko").
That chip has an external bus interface (EBI). We do not know
if the necessary connections are pinned out on the XA (and
perhaps it is used for the xcore<->M3 interface, even); again,
using it on the startkit-XA board would tie up lots of I/O pins;
and it is a slow interface (asynchronous protocols only).

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