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‘Flexible microcontroller’ unveiled at ARM TechCon

Flex Logic has demonstrated an initial version of what it calls a flexible microcontroller design. The approach, unveiled at ARM TechCon, integrates an embedded FPGA on MCU processor and peripheral buses. This, says the company, will enable ‘unprecedented improvements in performance, cost and time to market for next generation chips’.

“This announcement is a major milestone in the industry as it shows designers a complete implementation of embedded FPGA and provides a ‘breadboard’ for MCU and SoC architects to experiment with the architecture to develop their own products,” claimed Geoff Tate, Flex Logix’ CEO. “A flexible microcontroller has a block of embedded FPGA, with appropriate RAM resources, on the processor bus and can be configured and reconfigured by the customer to accelerate the workloads that matter in their applications. The embedded FPGA also can implement programmable I/O either directly or on the peripheral bus, enabling customers to implement the flavour of serial I/O they require and/or to do processing of I/O to offload the host processor.”

A flexible microcontroller with embedded FPGA is said to save mask costs, speed time to market and to enable customers to deploy their own accelerators.

The concept design is based on a Cortex-M0 core, with peripherals from Silvaco combined with a reconfigurable accelerator and reconfigurable I/O. It also features Flex Logix’ TSMC16FFC validation chip, which implements an EFLX200K array and ‘substantial’ RAM.

Jim Bruister, Silvaco’s director, digital systems, noted: “Our AMBA subsystems and peripherals are an excellent match for the EFLX array family and we look forward to working with Flex Logix’ customers to provide reconfigurable solutions.”

Graham Pitcher

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