STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) dual-core SPEAr Plus600 and single-core SPEAr Head600 configurable System-on-Chip ICs enable printer, fax, point-of-sale (POS), and other equipment manufacturers to develop complex yet flexible digital engines at a fraction of the time and cost required by a full-custom design approach. Additionally, the possibility to choose between a single- and a dual-processor device with the same footprint and architecture will enable manufacturers to address different market segments for the same application.
Manufactured in 90nm process technology, ST’s new SPEAr SoCs integrate one or two advanced ARM926 processor cores with 16k (data) + 16k (instruction) of cache memory running at 333MHz (worst case conditions) and 600,000 gates (ASIC-equivalent) of embedded configurable logic, complemented with memory interface supporting DDR/DDR2 memories and a large connectivity IP (intellectual property) portfolio.
With the dual-core SPEAr Plus600, customers can run two different operating systems on the same chip. This enables, for example, the integration of the typical functions of a multifunction printer or copier on a single chip: Linux, or a similar complex operating system, runs on one processor, handles connectivity and system management, while a RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) on the second processor manages control functions, such as motor control or timing of critical interfaces. This flexibility also allows a processor to function as an accelerator coprocessor for critical image functions. A dual-core solution also allows designers to use a common software stack, developed on one processor, and implement upgrades or additional features on the second processor.
Both the SPEAr Plus600 and the SpearHead600 come complete with a dedicated development board that allows developing and testing of the customer system with minimum time and resource requirements. By using an external FPGA that mirrors the SoC’s internal configurable logic block, designers can proceed with the software and hardware development without waiting for the final validation. Once the customer SoC passes the functional qualification, full production can ramp up in eight weeks’ time from the final RTL availability.
The price is $12 for the SPEAr Plus600 and $10 for the SPEAr Head 600, in quantities of 20,000 pieces.
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