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      /  XMOS - what is it all about?
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AndrewKorn 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 12-Jan-2010 18:23:51
#121 ]
Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 57
From: Unknown

@vidarh

Excellent post.

Xena/Xorro isn't something most people were ever going to 'get' overnight, but it's good to see a few people seeing what it's about pretty quickly.

My guess is that one area where this will get the most traction is as an 'anything controller'. Back in the day, lots of people used Amigas to control all sorts of things, primarily because AREXX made it easy to do what you wanted in software and dump it out to PAR: or whatever for a relatively simple hardware interface. Creating a Xorro board to do this kind of job for a wide variety of weird homebrew or custom hardware is likely to be as simple as sticking a few connectors and buffers/op-amps where necessary on the board.

The point about access to old hardware you make is also an excellent one. Interfacing the hardware is trivial, the rest is just software. Should make multi retro-interface cards a very cheap option, and that's just the kind of thing this market should love.

The real fun should be in seeing what happens when that famous Amiga market hacker ingenuity is let loose on it, though.

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umisef 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 12-Jan-2010 18:39:15
#122 ]
Super Member
Joined: 19-Jun-2005
Posts: 1676
From: Melbourne, Australia

@vidarh

Quote:
Below is a few examples of where this is useful or interesting for some of us.


I agree with most of your examples --- except that the argument typically seems to be "You could use dedicated hardware for this, or you could use what you already have". But --- you "already have" the GPIO pins inside the case, on a connector mechanically identical to a PCIe-8 slot, a fair bit away from the back of the machine (there is an actual PCIe-1 inline).
That means to access what one "already has" needs a double-sided, shaped PCB; For anything that is supposed to connect to external things (like the MIDI interface, or the software 'scope), the PCB would have to be quite large, to reach the back of the case.

Large, shaped, double-sided PCBs are not exactly the stuff of "Trivially easy interfacing to hobby projects". That's where things like Sparkfun's XMOS development board shine. Bonus points for not having to replace a $$$$ motherboard each time you mess up and send 12V into the XCore chip by accident :)

So IMO, there still is a need to explain just what the point of a "geek port" is on the inside of the machine with an expensive-to-interface-with connector --- when plenty of easier connectors exist (from internal 2.54mm headers, to *gasp* the good old DB25 printer port, which could have been used to bring out quite a few GPIO lines, and which would have had the additional benefit of saving some people the purchase of USB-to-Centronics adaptors).

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ddni 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 12-Jan-2010 20:31:03
#123 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 11-Jan-2007
Posts: 818
From: Northern Ireland

YouTube clip showing XMOS video playback....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmKrLcJGlmI

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vidarh 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 12-Jan-2010 21:24:36
#124 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 4-Jan-2010
Posts: 580
From: London, UK (ex-pat; originally from Norway)

@umisef

Quote:
I agree with most of your examples --- except that the argument typically seems to be "You could use dedicated hardware for this, or you could use what you already have". But --- you "already have" the GPIO pins inside the case, on a connector mechanically identical to a PCIe-8 slot, a fair bit away from the back of the machine (there is an actual PCIe-1 inline).


I'd have preferred an easier plug, but you can buy breadboards / prototype boards with PCI card edges cheaply, and soldering suitable headers to bring out whatever plug types you want isn't exactly a big obstacle. Protecting against too high voltages is trivial enough.

The board PCB doesn't need to be large - just enough to put in place connectors to let you pull suite cables from the back of the case. But if you want to experiment, slotting in a prototype board gives you plenty of space... Having the screws on your case is for wusses anyway

Quote:
- when plenty of easier connectors exist (from internal 2.54mm headers, to *gasp* the good old DB25 printer port, which could have been used to bring out quite a few GPIO lines, and which would have had the additional benefit of saving some people the purchase of USB-to-Centronics adaptors).


I agree with this - it'd be nice to have the IO lines accessible without a PCB at all. But who knows - all we've seen of the board so far is a partially obscured picture with plenty of bare areas, with no idea if it's a finished board or a pic of an early dev version... We'll have to wait and see I guess :)

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umisef 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 1:31:43
#125 ]
Super Member
Joined: 19-Jun-2005
Posts: 1676
From: Melbourne, Australia

@vidarh

Quote:
but you can buy breadboards / prototype boards with PCI card edges cheaply


PCI, or PCIe? Because it would need the latter.

Quote:
agree with this - it'd be nice to have the IO lines accessible without a PCB at all


I have very fond memories of my Memotech MTX500. It had an empty 20 pin DIP socket inside, with 8 inputs and 8 outputs, as well as a "printer port" at the back of the machine which was a 34pin 2.54mm header. Both were trivially connected to ribbon cables.
(Oh, and the fact that the manual had complete schematics, and it came with an integrated assembler in ROM, was very very nice, too. Man, did I do nasty things to that machine...)

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Hammer 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 2:35:32
#126 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 4270
From: Australia

@KimmoK

Quote:

KimmoK wrote:
@vidarh

Very good answer!


In short: XCore is about HARD REALTIME.

Traditional standard desktop systems can not even do soft realtime.
(cut for space)

For traditional PC, install QNX RTOS. For traditional OS and PC, Windows XP can gain RTOS via CeWin and VxWin extensions.

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Hammer 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 2:48:36
#127 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 4270
From: Australia

@vidarh

Quote:

vidarh wrote:
@persia

Quote:
I'm still not seeing any advantage to the low powered pluggable processors. I mean if it takes like 256 of them to equal a modern multicore processor why not just stick a second multicore processor in the thing and be done with it?


Because most of them don't have bi-directional IO lines that you can easily connect directly to external hardware, and b) you'll have a hard time to find a modern multicore processor that can react to IO with anything resembling the low latency that these chips can.
(SNIP)

AMD K8/K10 (Hypertransport, full duplex) and Intel Core i7 (QuickPath Interconnect, full duplex) includes bi-directional interconnects.

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BigBentheAussie 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 4:53:56
#128 ]
Super Member
Joined: 28-Oct-2003
Posts: 1690
From: Melbourne, Australia

If it is Varisys producing the boards, which is more than likely (for reasons stated here), having announced the completion of their 16th evaluation board in March of 2009, then it is more than likely that a lot of thought has gone into this board, and that your concerns have been addressed.

Varisys are in the following markets http://www.varisys.co.uk/markets.html
(they have vastly updated their Markets page in the last few days)

in brief:
Video and image processing
Telecommunications
Military and aerospace
Radar and Sonar
Industrial control
Vetronics

Now, having stated the following on March 18th, 2009
Quote:
After two and half years of working together Varisys and XMOS have complete their 16th development/evaluation board.

I find it difficult to believe that they didn't start on this project before contacted by A-eon, so they definitely had some plan for those markets, and they don't appear to mess about. I don't care though, who contacted whom first, except that it may explain the motive behind an XMOS chip on the board.

Last edited by BigBentheAussie on 13-Jan-2010 at 04:54 AM.

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vidarh 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 6:44:44
#129 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 4-Jan-2010
Posts: 580
From: London, UK (ex-pat; originally from Norway)

@Hammer

Quote:
AMD K8/K10 (Hypertransport, full duplex) and Intel Core i7 (QuickPath Interconnect, full duplex) includes bi-directional interconnects.


So does a 6510... Even if those interconnects are suitable - i.e direction can be set pin by pin etc. (I don't know if they are/aren't), it doesn't exactly help an Amiga ...

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vidarh 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 6:52:12
#130 ]
Cult Member
Joined: 4-Jan-2010
Posts: 580
From: London, UK (ex-pat; originally from Norway)

@Hammer

Quote:
For traditional PC, install QNX RTOS. For traditional OS and PC, Windows XP can gain RTOS via CeWin and VxWin extensions.


Which gives you hard realtime, but *not* the low latency. And in the case of QNX leaves you with an OS lacking most app you're likely to want to run. Hard realtime extensions for other OSs tends to be frustrating at best if you want to be able to continue normal desktop use, because it also means your realtime processes can massively interfere with the performance of non-realtime processes in order to provide the response guarantees for the realtime ones.

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KimmoK 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 6:59:06
#131 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 14-Mar-2003
Posts: 5206
From: Ylikiiminki, Finland

@Hammer

"For traditional PC, install QNX RTOS. "

Yes, sure, that enables shoft realtime (at least) + some extra HW, then perhaps even better. But that's not a standard desktop system any more.

I'm not saying that x1000 would be superior, but it might have the best straight out of the box capability for some RT need that also benefist of the desktop side.

"For traditional OS and PC, Windows XP can gain RTOS via CeWin and VxWin extensions. "

Sounds very very pervert!
Desktop Windows would have RTOS features ?
I must study those....

(sounds like it would be the way to get rid of swap file etc. without sacrificing the desktop?)

UPDATE:

"VxWin« allows Windows« XP(e)/Vista to be installed together with Wind River's VxWorks« on the same machine while keeping its full real-time capabilities."
http://www.kuka-rtos.com/en/products/vxwin/

So (initially it seems), it breaks company's desktop SW distribution package and it's extreme kludge implementation of a RTOS. (most likel÷y it would also deliver problems with security updates etc.->weekly system problems. No thanks.

Last edited by KimmoK on 13-Jan-2010 at 07:09 AM.
Last edited by KimmoK on 13-Jan-2010 at 07:09 AM.
Last edited by KimmoK on 13-Jan-2010 at 07:03 AM.
Last edited by KimmoK on 13-Jan-2010 at 07:00 AM.

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//
// Thing that I should find more time for: CC64 - 64bit Community Computer?

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BigBentheAussie 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 7:01:54
#132 ]
Super Member
Joined: 28-Oct-2003
Posts: 1690
From: Melbourne, Australia

We may not get a faster PPC for quite some time, so perhaps these XMOS co-processors may become the main mode of advancement for the Amiga platform.

Maybe it's just me, but these XMOS chips are starting to look a bit long in the tooth, and what they're using now might be greatly improved for their next generation, which may pay off in the Amiga platform's future.

If there is a purpose for purchasing a board for an X1000 containing 16 or more XMOS chips, imagine if XMOS at least double the Mghz, stick an FP unit on it and add more RAM. That could be a real game changer.

This is not a far fetched proposition, technology rarely stands still, and as XMOS seems to own the tech in its entirety, and can therefore advance it as fast as they want. With the development of PPC chips (at least in comparison to x86) proceeding at a snails pace for embedded systems, this may become the ultimate mode of expansion for XMOS integrated Amiga systems. Essentially, if we ever come to rely on a number of XMOS processors being on an expansion board, gains in that one technology may become exponential. In affect greater than the sum of its parts.



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Opinions expressed are my own and not those of C= USA.
Commodore/AMIGA "Beautiful, High-Performance, Home Computers for Creativity and Entertainment."

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Hyperionmp 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 7:08:18
#133 ]
Hyperion
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 502
From: Unknown

@vidarh

There was a very good reason why the standard PCI-E x8 connector was chosen inline with a PCI-E x1 slot.

(I doubt the cost of a standard physical connector will add a lot to the board price incidentally).

Think cheap bridgeboard.

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BigBentheAussie 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 7:46:10
#134 ]
Super Member
Joined: 28-Oct-2003
Posts: 1690
From: Melbourne, Australia

@Hyperionmp

Quote:
Think cheap bridgeboard.

What? Like those Xcore86 boards?
edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-W8jD_KEKs


Last edited by BigBentheAussie on 13-Jan-2010 at 07:48 AM.

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Commodore/AMIGA "Beautiful, High-Performance, Home Computers for Creativity and Entertainment."

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Hyperionmp 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:00:30
#135 ]
Hyperion
Joined: 8-Mar-2003
Posts: 502
From: Unknown

@BigBentheAussie

No immediate connection with the old bridgeboards from Commodore.

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Hammer 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:06:47
#136 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 4270
From: Australia

@vidarh

Quote:

vidarh wrote:
@Hammer

Quote:
AMD K8/K10 (Hypertransport, full duplex) and Intel Core i7 (QuickPath Interconnect, full duplex) includes bi-directional interconnects.


So does a 6510... Even if those interconnects are suitable - i.e direction can be set pin by pin etc. (I don't know if they are/aren't), it doesn't exactly help an Amiga ...

The context was "Modern multicore processor". 6510 is hardly a "Modern multicore processor".

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umisef 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:09:40
#137 ]
Super Member
Joined: 19-Jun-2005
Posts: 1676
From: Melbourne, Australia

@BigBentheAussie

Quote:
What? Like those Xcore86 boards?


You *do* realise that neither XCore, the company, nor XCore86, their x86 SoC product (a rebadged Vortex86), has anything whatsoever to do with XCore, the "customisable silicon", from Xmos, the company, right?

I must admit I am baffled by the talk about "bridge boards". What would be bridged? In the classic Amiga bridge boards, the bridging was from the Zorro bus to the ISA bus, allowing the (Zorro-side) 68k to control (ISA-side) PC peripherals.
But neither Xorro nor PCIe are really busses. Both are point-to-point connections. Furthermore, there is only one Xorro slot, and no existing "foreign" Xorro cards --- so the idea of using a bridge board to allow the PPC CPU access to existing Xorro cards is doubly pointless.

That leaves a bridgeboard allowing the XCore chip to show up on the PCIe connection --- which might be useful, as that would, in theory, allow access to main memory and even (through PCIe-to-PCIe communications) other PCIe cards. However, such a "bridgeboard" would *also* take up the Xorro slot, and thus the only access to the XCore's GPIO --- and without external access to its GPIO, the XCore chip is rather useless.

Also, if the intent is to have a standard board (produced in numbers comparable to the motherboard itself) to bridge between the XCore chip and PCIe-1, why bother with connectors and a separate bridge board? Both the PCIe lane and the XCore are already on the motherboard, so simply adding whatever bridge chip is on the "bridge board" to the motherboard itself would make for a much cheaper solution, *and* leave room to bring out the remaining GPIO in a hobbyist-friendly way.
In contrast, if the idea is that only a fraction of people will want to make use of the XCore, and thus the PCIe-to-XCore logic should be on the optional bridge board --- then why put the XCore onto the motherboard at all, rather than on a PCIe-1 card (which can be smaller, and thus cheaper, than the bridge board, would be easy and cheap to replace if blown, and would allow for multiple XCore chips to be used in a single X1000)?

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umisef 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:12:32
#138 ]
Super Member
Joined: 19-Jun-2005
Posts: 1676
From: Melbourne, Australia

@Hammer

Quote:
The context was "Modern multicore processor". 6510 is hardly a "Modern multicore processor".


Actually, the context was "bidirectional GPIO". Hypertransport and QPI are hardly GPIO.

The IO ports on the 6510, however, *are* GPIO, just like those on the XCore (although XCore has some nice timing-related extra functionality :)

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Hammer 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about?
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:15:53
#139 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 4270
From: Australia

@KimmoK


Quote:

KimmoK wrote:
@Hammer

"For traditional PC, install QNX RTOS. "

Yes, sure, that enables shoft realtime (at least) + some extra HW, then perhaps even better. But that's not a standard desktop system any more.

I'm not saying that x1000 would be superior, but it might have the best straight out of the box capability for some RT need that also benefist of the desktop side.

"For traditional OS and PC, Windows XP can gain RTOS via CeWin and VxWin extensions. "

Sounds very very pervert!
Desktop Windows would have RTOS features ?
I must study those....

(sounds like it would be the way to get rid of swap file etc. without sacrificing the desktop?)

UPDATE:

"VxWin« allows Windows« XP(e)/Vista to be installed together with Wind River's VxWorks« on the same machine while keeping its full real-time capabilities."
http://www.kuka-rtos.com/en/products/vxwin/

So (initially it seems), it breaks company's desktop SW distribution package and it's extreme kludge implementation of a RTOS. (most likel÷y it would also deliver problems with security updates etc.->weekly system problems. No thanks.

Refer to http://www.tenasys.com/products/intime.php

"INtime software combines deterministic, hard real-time control with standard Windows operating systems (including Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003) without requiring additional hardware".

Both Intel and AMD ships hardware assist virtual machine instructions with thier X64 CPUs.


Refer to http://www.on-time.com/rtos-32.htm

On Time's royalty-free hard real-time embedded operating system for 32/64-bit x86 CPUs implements a Windows subset kernel in only 16k of memory. It provides about 290 Win32 API functions and can load Windows DLLs

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Hammer 
Re: XMOS - what is it all about
Posted on 13-Jan-2010 9:20:01
#140 ]
Elite Member
Joined: 9-Mar-2003
Posts: 4270
From: Australia

@umisef

Quote:

umisef wrote:
@Hammer

Quote:
The context was "Modern multicore processor". 6510 is hardly a "Modern multicore processor".


Actually, the context was "bidirectional GPIO". Hypertransport and QPI are hardly GPIO.

The IO ports on the 6510, however, *are* GPIO, just like those on the XCore (although XCore has some nice timing-related extra functionality :)



To quote
Quote:
I'm still not seeing any advantage to the low powered pluggable processors. I mean if it takes like 256 of them to equal a modern multicore processor why not just stick a second multicore processor in the thing and be done with it?

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