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Linux-enabled kit targets custom SoC developers

Nov 23, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Faraday Technology has begun shipping a system-on-chip dev kit aimed at developers of custom SoCs. The “SoCreative! IV” kit’s baseboard is built around Faraday’s A380 SoC, which boasts a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, a Faraday-developed RISC core, and a high speed expansion bus for interfacing with FPGA daughtercards, and comes with Linux 3.3 and Android 4.x BSPs.

This is Faraday’s fourth SoCreative! evaluation platform, combining its FA6x RISC cores with ARM microcontroller and processor cores, and its first Cortex-A9-based version. The A380 SoC at the heart of the platform is built with a 40nm LP (low power) process. It’s designed for the “cloud infrastructure” market, including networking, computing, and storage applications, says longtime fabless chip vendor Faraday.

The SoCreative! IV platform’s A380 SoC chip is intended as a starting point for creating custom SoCs, letting customers add selected IP blocks from Faraday’s considerable inventory. The large 31 x 31mm BGA package combines a 1GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex A9 clocked at 1GHz and an ARMv5-compliant FA626TE RISC processor clocked at 500MHz. The two processor subsystems share 512MB of L2 cache, and either can be configured to be the main processor.



SoCreative! IV A380 SoC block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

 

The SoC includes an ARM AMBA-based, tri-state AHB (Advanced High-performance Bus) extension bus for connecting to an FPGA. The bus supports up to four AHB masters and eight AHB slaves.

The A380 further integrates multimedia accelerators, crypto engines, power management IC, and a 24-bit LCD controller that supports up to 1280 x 1280 pixel resolution. The baseboard supports 32-bit DDR3-1600 RAM and NAND flash, and is available with 128Mb of NOR flash, 64Mb of SPI flash, and I2C EEPROM. Boot options include NOR, NAND, and SD, with UART and USB interfaces available for recovery.

I/O ports include dual gigabit Ethernet with programmable SerDes support, as well as SRIO (Serial RapidIO), USB 2.0 host, and USB 2.0 OTG. Other peripheral interfaces include an SD/MMC controller, dual 8-channel DMA controllers, 10-bit ADC and DAC, an 8×8 keypad, and up to 32 GPIOs. In addition, you get three UARTS, dual I2C interfaces, three SSP interfaces, I2S audio, and support for DES, 3DES, and AES. Expansion capabilities include PCI Express Gen. 2 and Gen. 3.

BSPs include Linux 3.3 and Android 4.x stacks, with device driver support for interface IPs. Both the Linux and Android stacks are available with ARM DS-5 and JnD CVD debuggers, ARM DStream and JnD CodeViser ICE hardware, and GCC compilers (4.4 for Linux and 4.7 for Android). Faraday’s proprietary SoC development tools are available upon request, and include Architectural Exploration, Integration Express, and Verification Explorations.
 

Development kit baseboard

The SoCreative! IV baseboard measures 275 x 225mm, and is pre-installed with a fan-cooled A380 SoC. The board ships with 1GB of 32-bit DDR3-1600 RAM and 512MB of NAND flash.



SoCreative! IV baseboard
(see annotated photo below)

 

Coastline ports include an SD slot, dual gigabit ports, dual RS232 ports, three audio jacks, as well as a USB host port and a mini-USB OTG port. There’s a DSUB port for the 24-bit serial/parallel display interface, along with an LCD interface and touch controller on the interior of the board.



SoCreative! IV baseboard details
(click image to enlarge)

 

Also onboard is a JTAG port, a trace port, a keypad interface, SRIO, LEDs, and UART and I2C connectors. Dual PCIe slots are also supplied. The AHB interface for the FPGA is supported with a proprietary Faraday daughterboard connector. The board runs on 12V DC input, with 1.1V core power, 1.5V power for RAM, and I/O power available at an adjustable 3.3V.
 

Further information

The SoCreative! IV A380 SoC development kit is available now at an unstated price. More information should eventually appear on Faraday Technology’s SoCreative product page.
 

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