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Networked audio reference design taps multithreaded CPU

Mar 31, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive

A vendor of multithreaded networking and media processors has announced the availability of a Linux-ready networked audio player reference design. Ubicom's multi-channel audio reference design includes an Ubicom Linux board support package (BSP), a media personality board, and a development board that incorporates the company's IP7500 multimedia processor.

The Ubicom reference design supports networked audio applications between media center PCs, storage devices, and speakers, and is intended for devices including digital media receivers and wireless speakers, says Ubicom. The design offers multichannel audio, including 7.1 and 5.1 outputs, eight or more I2S or S/PDIF interfaces, and bidirectional audio, says the company. The design is also said to support sample rate conversion, as well as audio synchronization for multi-room playback.

The Ubicom design can play audio and manage the networking stack, while concurrently providing for LCD displays of up to 15 inches and 1280 x 720 resolution, says Ubicom. Digital rights management (DRM) is supported via an on-chip hardware acceleration block.


StreamEngine IP7000 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The Ubicom StreamEngine IP7500 processor used in the design is part of the company's IP7000 family of networking and multimedia processors (see diagram above). The 14 x 14mm chip offers a 12-way multithreaded architecture that can be clocked at up to 600MHz, providing two to three times the performance at the same frequency compared with a traditional single-threaded RISC processor, claims Ubicom.

The IP7500's guaranteed hard real-time CPU allocation enables determinism for latency-sensitive applications that require lossless audio transmission and playback, says the company. In addition, an integrated SIMD video coprocessor and DSP instruction set are said to help A/V applications be more deterministic and less processor-intensive. The processor ships with 240KB of internal SRAM, as well as a memory controller that supports up to 2GB of DDR memory, and a 128Mbit flash controller.

Ubicom BSP and development board

The networked audio reference design includes a development board and media personality board, as well as related design files and fabrication data. The Ubicom BSP is based on uClinux and the Linux 2.6.28 SMP kernel, and offers open-source packages that run on its IP7500 processor. UI development and customization tools are also provided, including open-source tools like DirectFB, SDL, and GTK+, and an Ethernet based version of GDB that is said to enable full kernel and driver debugging.

The kit also includes Ethernet based user level debugging and a configuration tool for setting up software I/O features. An Ethernet-based profiler tool, meanwhile, exploits the StreamEngine multithreaded architecture to run real-time statistical profiling “without affecting system performance,” while collecting data such as CPU and memory utilization per function, says the company.

Availability

The Ubicom networked audio reference design is available now, says Ubicom.


 
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