Ultra-compact 64-bit multi-core module

Jon Lawson

If it’s your task to deliver high performance computing in challenging environments, especially in high reliability and industrial markets, the pace of technology advancement is doing you no favours. However, advanced electronics firm e2v, think they have a solution that eliminates some design complexities, provides access to the best of contemporary embedded processing whilst assuring you guaranteed long term product supply.

Qormino, holds the key to this treasure trove of potential. It is a specialised embedded processor solution from proven high reliability component specialists, e2v.

The module combines the benefits of a powerful NXP QorIQ multi-core communications processor teamed with optimised DDR3L SDRAMs for a fast turn design, all contained in an ultra-compact, modular form factor. Furthermore, e2v through its managed obsolescence program (SLiM), provides an all-important ‘time-in-market’ guarantee, so sorely missing from other high performance embedded solutions.

Surely it was only a matter of time before someone smart would see a benefit to packaging these key components in an ultra-tiny substrate. This is exactly what e2v have done. Taking up less than a quarter of the area of a credit card, the Qormino provides a 50% space reduction over alternatives.

DDR SDRAM provides a dense and fast local data memory to augment the core processor’s on-chip caches for data handling. As such, DDR SDRAM ultimately places a maximum limit on the processing capabilities of the QorIQ core.

DDR memory control design proves far from trivial. Each memory block of a DDR3 chip is daisy chained to the next. On the plus side, this helps ensure that memory data lines are properly terminated. On the downside, a time skew is introduced between each block which must be countered by a specially modified memory controller using a technique called levelling.

Competitive pressures force SDRAM vendors to focus on rapid migration to further die shrinks to maintain profitability. Products quickly reach end of life (EOL) and disappear from market. Long-term focused customers face continual re-design headaches driven purely by external market forces. In the gap between embedded processor choice and the paired memory lies a major supply chain problem.

Designed for long term product availability, Semiconductor Lifecycle Management (SLiM) at e2v is a program focused solely on supporting clients eager to find a stock management system that extends product availability over the project lifetimes demanded by sophisticated customers. SLiM provides a minimum of fifteen years of component supply security. Though semiconductor supply chains are agile, they remain highly profit focused and are designed to support consumer product cycles that run between 6 to 18 months in duration. Aerospace, military and even some industrial programs can ill afford strategic silicon disappearing that quickly; especially when end customers demand component spares and maintenance supplies that must remain available for as long as twenty years.

Qormino’s first prototype is available with an NXP T1 series processor that’s capable of running at -55°C to +125°C and being showcased at Electronica.