A change of context

Start-up Xyron figures it has found a faster way to perform the context switch function, a perennial bug-bear in the life of embedded system designers.

Embedded systems designers have always been concerned with the speed at which their microprocessor-based real-time systems can perform context switching. Now, Vancouver, WA based Xyron figures it has found a faster way to perform the function.

The key to the Xyron development is to offload the function from the CPU and onto its proprietary Zero Overhead Task Switch (ZOTS) Intellectual Property.

Put simply, the ZOTS is an integrated hardware interrupt and task-switch management mechanism. With it, all internal and external interrupts are directed to the RTOS hardware, which manages information for each task. Tasks can be initialised for different priorities, can ramp at different rates and can be managed and monitored on each clock cycle.

Xyron-enabled microprocessors and controllers can perform rapid task context switching with little or no overhead time or latency delays, thus increasing microprocessor efficiency and speed by 10 to 100 times that of current technologies. The patented Xyron technology can be applied to any existing or future microprocessor and is both modular and scalable.

The good news for embedded systems designers is that there is no need to rewrite their application code. The ZOTS Task Manager interrupt controller simply requires a library change and/or RTOS patch to direct all interrupts to the ZOTS Task Manager hardware instead of the processor’s software. In addition, developers need to do a one-time set up of the interrupt table to indicate the ramp rates, and priorities of the various interrupts.

To allow designers to test out the idea, Xyron will be introducing a Xilinx Virtex-II FPGA based development board that contains its Intellectual Property combined with all the connections needed to give it a test drive.

To market the IP, Xyron has joined forces with Voyageur Technical Sales, a provider of North American marketing and sales channels for intellectual property (IP) suppliers. They can be reached by e-mail at info@voyageurtech.com or through their website, www.voyageurtech.com.