SAN JOSE -- Palmchip Corp. here has introduced the first in a planned family of developmentboards to support SoC (system-on-chip) design teams working with its PalmPak Fast SOC Integration Platform.
The PalmPak Platform allows fast interconnect and verification of multi-sourced IP, accelerating development of complex subsystems or complete SOC solutions by several months, according to the company. The PALM-DT-8810 SurfBoard features the PalmPak Platform pre-programmed in an Altera Corp. high-density APEX 400 programmable logic device.
This combination shortens time to initial working silicon and allows design teams to begin hardware verification and initiate software co-development very early in the SoC design process.
In addition to the Altera device, the SurfBoard hardware includes an ARM7TDMI processor, popular peripheral and I/O connectors, and an alphanumeric LCD display.
PalmPak HAL (hardware abstraction library) software helps users develop operating system device drivers and application software. It includes all register definitions and common hardware interface functions.
"Palmchip's Surfboard played a critical role in our wireless system development, enabling early, real-time hardware and software co-verification," said Louis Pandula, vice president of engineering at Telencomm Inc., a wireless-chip designer in Santa Clara, Calif. "The Surfboard platform has proven to be very flexible and reliable in meeting the needs of our aggressive development schedule."
The speed of the SurfBoard is specified at 32 MHz; actual performance depends on logic synthesis results. The PalmPak Platform occupies about 25% of the APEX 400 device's gate capacity, leaving substantial real estate for designers to play with a number of re-usable IP cores. Designers will need their own Altera tools. Two connectors are available to allow the SurfBoard to communicate with an Altera SOPC board, should a more comprehensive reference environment be required.
"The SurfBoard creates a measurable advantage where fast time into first silicon is critical," said Melissa Jones, vice president of marketing for Palmchip. "With a roadmap that includes higher gate count PLDs and a choice of embedded processors on daughter cards, the family will offer designers a scalable, platform-based 'playground' for SoC development."
In a co-development environment, while hardware engineers are using the Altera PLD to begin early hardware verification, software engineers can start parallel software development. For software development, the SurfBoard not only enables an earlier start, it offers the benefit of being able to run code at speeds that are much higher than those achieved using hardware simulation, the company said.
An audio codec is also contained in the Surfboard for applications requiring audio, such as MP3 players, VoIP (voice over IP) controllers, or Bluetooth baseband controllers. The SurfBoard also contains an secure digital media card and a multimedia card interface and connector, making it suitable for applications requiring the use of small-form-factor flash storage devices, such as PDAs, mobile communication devices, or games. It also supports telecommunications and data communications networking applications.
Four mezzanine connectors on the top of the board can be used for mounting daughterboards containing other embedded processors. Two 64-pin mezzanine connectors on the bottom of the board, with 50 I/O and 26 grounds, allow piggybacking onto other boards. There are two IDE connectors and a corresponding extra power output connector on the bottom. The IDE connectors are configured as host-side, but alteration of one of the connectors enables it to be configured as an IDE drive-side circuit. With a power connector nearby, a PCMCIA or other custom daughterboard can be attached.
The SurfBoard has a 14-pin JTAG connector for attaching an ARM emulator. It has an RS232 UART interface with a DTE connector for debugging real-time applications, 1 megabyte of flash memory and 512 kilobytes of SRAM.
The PalmPak Fast SOC Integration Platform is based on Palmchip's CoreFrame interconnect architecture. It contains all the peripheral functions required for a basic SOC design. Features include the CoreFrame architecture with a PalmBus controller and CPU-MBus bridge, a DMA channel, a flash/SRAM memory controller, a timer and 16450 UART.
Palmchip will demonstrate the PALM-DT-8810 SurfBoard at the Design Automation Conference next week in Los Angeles. It will be available starting in July.
The PALM-DT-8810 has three components, each of which may be ordered separately. The PALM-DT-8110 Starter Surfboard is $6,000, with the ARM7TDMI/APEX400 device. The PALM-DP-1100 PalmPak Fast SOC Integration Platform in Altera netlist version is priced at $25,000. The PALM-DT-8250 HAL Software to support the Altera netlist version also lists for $25,000.