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C is for core

A codesigned core and C compiler should encourage 8bit to 32bit upgrades. By Louise Joselyn.

French start up Cortus has joined the growing list of 32bit microcontroller core vendors with the recent announcement of its APS2 and APS3 devices. Claimed to be power efficient, high performance, small and, above all, low cost, the cores are launched into an increasingly competitive marketplace. So, what makes these stand out?
Company founder and president Mike Chapman says there is a growing niche of applications where 8bit devices are running out of steam, but typical 32bit micros are too expensive or too daunting to contemplate. Target applications include automotive, consumer and chip card sectors – particularly encryption, image processing and acceleration – and for wireless headsets and next generation rfid nearfield communications products.
Chapman has 25 years experience of working with microcontrollers for embedded applications, previously with Infineon, and most recently, with Synopsys’ Bluetooth division. “We had been working with an 8bit architecture, but it was not quite perfect for the application,” he explained. “I’ve always thought I could do better and, when Synopsys closed the Bluetooth division, I had the perfect opportunity to try.”
The APS2 is 250MIPS 32bit risc processor with 4Gbyte of addressable memory. The core is small – just 7kgates, including register file – and takes up no more space than an optimised 8051 or 6811 8bit core. It also has low power consumption, quoted at 18µW/MHz. On chip peripherals include uarts, memory interfaces, cache controller, configurable interrupt controller and general purpose I/O. AMBA AHB and APB wrappers are in development.

Graham Pitcher

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