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64bit x86 SoCs target high-performance embedded apps

Posted: 27 Oct 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:AMD  SoC  processor  embedded  GPU 

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has recently unveiled its Embedded R-series processors intended for digital signage, high-end gaming, and media storage to industrial control and communications networking applications. According to the company, the devices combine a graphics processing unit (GPU), power management and the 64bit x86 processor core called "Excavator."

The processors provide forward-looking support for DDR4 memory and follow the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation's Platform System Architecture Specification 1.0 for efficiency in parallel processing.

The Embedded R-Series SoCs combine AMD's next-generation x86 cores with its third-generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architectures for a substantial boost in performance over their previous generation offering, according to Colin Cureton, AMD's senior manager for embedded products. Cureton pointed out benchmark scores showing as much as a 25 per cent increase in CPU performance and up to a 23 per cent increase in graphics performance over prior devices. At the same time, Cureton noted, the chips provide developers with a 30 per cent reduction in board footprint needed because they also incorporate what previously had been an external Southbridge chip.

Embedded R-series processors

The Embedded R-series processors announced by AMD is aimed at application markets from digital signage, high-end gaming, and media storage to industrial control and communications networking.

The advanced power management features of the R-series SoCs allows a performance boost without an increase in power requirements, as well. "The BIOS and operating system can control the thermal envelope in which the device operates," said Cureton. Using configurable thermal design power (cTDP), developers can specify the tradeoff between power and performance, adjusting the TDP from 12W to 35W in 1W increments. But even at the same power level (15W) as prior generations the R-series has greater graphics performance than prior generations, Cureton pointed out.

The devices contain other features beyond raw performance aimed at the needs of embedded applications, as well. There is a dedicated secure processor that performs a hardware validated boot (HVB) of the SOC to create a trusted boot environment before starting the x86 cores. Memory can support either DDR3 or the DDR4 memory types with ECC, providing forward compatibility with upcoming changes in memory technology. There are also a host of industry interfaces, including PCIe Gen. 3, USB 3.0, SATA3, SPI and others. AMD also plans extended-temperature versions and an assured 10-year supply for R-series SoCs to meet the environmental requirements and long product lifecycles of industrial embedded designs.

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