LONDON – Fabless chip company XMOS Ltd. (Bristol, England) has added the XS1-S processor to its family of event-driven 32-bit embedded processors.
The XS1-S adds a 180-nm analog interface and power management IC to the 65-nm digital chip inside the original XS1 to improve performance and help the family address audio applications.
The XS1-S family delivers up to 700 MIPS of real-time performance per core with integrated analog functionality which allows low latency digital audio interfaces. The first two products available in the XS1-S Family are the single core device: XS1-SU1 and the dual core device: XS1-SU2.
The analog functionality includes an integrated USB 2.0 High Speed Phy, making the XS1-S chips suitable for USB audio interfaces, DJ products, USB speakers and intelligent USB peripherals.
The analog chip also includes an independent oscillator circuit. "As the market turns increasingly to computer-based recording equipment makers are looking for lots of channels, high quality, low latency and flexibility," said co-founder Ali Dixon who serves as marketing manager.
It is also good for bridging functions such as USB to JTAG. Although XMOS appears to have found a rather narrow niche for itself in audio applications, Mark Lippett, vice president of engineering, said it is about focus. "We are doing some work in other verticals," he said. Nonetheless, audio apps provide plenty of opportunities and peripheral designs could allows tablet computers to become essential DJ hardware that can be interfaced to music systems Without mentioning a certain computer company Lippett observed that iOS5.0 now supports multichannel audio.
Software support is now provided for a number of digital protocols including I2S, TDM, SPDIF AES/EBU and the analog support IC includes a 12-bit 1-megasample per second ADC, and the chip wraps a lot of the peripheral circuitry that customers were previously adding to the digital-only XS1 chips.
"Our customers have shipped more than half a million USB audio products using XS1 devices. The higher performance, integrated XS1-S Family and its accompanying software and tools deliver the ideal solution to an even broader range of audio applications," said Tom Lee, XMOS vice president of sales and marketing, in a statement.
XMOS processors combine flexible interfacing, control and data processing in a single device. The devices, including all digital peripherals, are programmed in software using a C-language development flow, providing both application and I/O flexibility even after deployment.
The XMOS customer list includes: Audio Partnership, High Resolution Technologies, Native Instruments, Vestax, Bluemic, Propellerhead; all well-known names in either highest fidelity consumer or in professional and semi-professional music equipment. And since the company's formation in 2005 the company has dealt with more than 1,000 customers and has more than 100 customers who are shipping in volume.
The single XCore processor XS1-SU1 with integrated high-speed USB Phy comes in a 96-pin dual-row BGA and is priced below $5 in volumes of 10,000 units. Sampling now, the XS1-SU1 will be commercially available from Q2. The dual-core XS1-SU2 is due to sample in 3Q12.
What an interesting offering with the USB and analog support for audio. I wonder if it has enough fidelity to work as a higher end analog recording/playback device that is USB based? There seems to be a high enough sampling rate, but does high-end audio need more than 12 bits for conversion? I am sure that for most of the general consumer devices this will work just fine. Looking forward to seeing what becomes of this in terms of consumer products.
12bits of conversion would sound about as good noise-wise as Dolby C NR on the old cassette tape. Not too attractive in today's market methinks. While CD at 16bits is not quite enough for the highest end, 20bits is still normally overkill.
The XMOS usb 2.0 audio devices have High Speed USB 2.0 with 480Mb/s of audio data, delivering 24-bit audio, sample frequencies up to 192kHz and from 2-40 audio channels. The one mentioned above with 1M/s samples and 12 bits can be used for other analog applications.