Scaleable DSP systems

Eonic Systems has introduced a family of fully integrated systems for the development of scalable, processor-independent DSP systems. Called, Atlas Universal Digital Computers, these systems include all the hardware and software needed to implement virtually any DSP system before any hardware is available.

Because Atlas designs are completely portable between different DSP architectures, system design can start immediately, and proceed in parallel with processor selection and board development. This capability can shave as much as a year from the product development cycle, and offers an enhanced migration path. Once the design is complete, it can be ported to any processor, or board.

Eonic is introducing two entry-level products, the QuickStart Atlas I and the QuickStart Atlas II. Both Atlas systems come in a 19-inch, 3U ruggedized enclosure with a single Atlas board. The Atlas I board has two 120 MFLOPS floating-point ADSP-21060 processors, and the Atlas II board has two 480 MFLOPS ADSP-21160 processors.

Each Atlas board also has 2 MBytes of SBSRAM; boot flash memory; a 30,000 gate Altera FLEX 10K30 FPGAs for building custom I/O interfaces; a PCI controller; two 16-bit Industry Pack (IP) slots; and a communications slot that can be tailored to accept CAN, USB, RS232, SPI, IRDA and I2C communications modules.

The Atlas system is pre-loaded with Eonic’s Virtuoso suite of DSP development tools that includes a preemptive multi-tasking real-time operating system (RTOS). The host system is based on a 3U Compact PCI Pentium board from Innova Computers running Windows NT.

Additional members of the Atlas family will be introduced in the next six months that offer Tiger SHARC, Power PC G4 and Texas Instruments’ TMS320C6202 processors, as well as higher-density FLEX 10K50 and 20K400E FPGAs.

Off-the-shelf Industry Pack (IP) I/O modules from SBS, PMC and other hardware vendors can be used to tailor the Atlas I/O to the specific needs of the application. Atlas’ modular hardware and software architectures allow the designer to add as many processors as needed up to a theoretical limit of 64,000.

The Atlas computer comes pre-loaded with Eonic’s Virtuoso, four-layer, microkernel-based, RTOS for DSPs. Virtuoso is designed to efficiently handle the intensive computation, high number of interrupts and massive amounts of data that characterize DSP systems.

The four layers ensure a clean separation of resources and register use, so context switching is very fast. Low level interrupts are generally handled in less than a microsecond. Virtuoso offers a variety of scheduling options including pre-emptive, prioritized scheduling, that allows more important tasks to interrupt less important ones. This capability is critical for predictable real-time behavior.

Atlas’ Virtuoso RTOS employs a ‘Virtual Single Processor’ programming model that allows designers to write the application without regard for processor architecture or the number of processors in the system. The C-language ‘tasks’ that comprise the DSP application are simply dragged and dropped onto the various processors in the system.

Tasks may be reassigned to different processors at will and processors may be added or removed, as may all other kernel objects such as semaphores, mailboxes or resources. The source code is fully topology-independent, so processors with different architectures may be used in the same design.

Real-time behavior is preserved during communication through the use of prioritized packet switching. Large intertasks are split into several blocks so that a smaller, but higher-priority task is executed in between these blocks.

Analysis tools help designers identify bottlenecks and over- or under-utilized resources so performance objectives can be met. With Atlas, system development and prototyping can happen simultaneously with processor selection and board design, radically speeding up the product development process.

Since Eonic’s Atlas Universal Digital Signal Computer is a complete pre-tested DSP system, only the I/O modules and software need to be added to implement a ready-to-ship end product. By using Atlas as the end-product, vendors can virtually eliminate all manufacturing and testing activities. Inventories can be ordered only when needed, eliminating inventory investment and obsolescence problems.