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"A Guide to Embedded Processors" provides an in-depth look at 32- and 64-bit high-speed embedded processors with one to four CPU cores. This completely revised report from The Linley Group contains nearly 300 pages of information on Altera, AMD, AppliedMicro, Broadcom (Avago), Cavium, Freescale (NXP), Intel (including Axxia), Marvell, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Xilinx.
The report focuses on general-purpose RISC and x86 processors that have one to four CPU cores running at 600MHz or more, excluding specialized architectures (e.g. DSPs, NPUs). Note: some previous editions of this report covered all processors in this category, but this one focuses on chips with four or fewer CPU cores. We cover 32- and 64-bit embedded processors with four or more cores in another report, "A Guide to Multicore Processors."
"A Guide to Embedded Processors" covers Altera's SoC FPGA processors (agreed to be acquired by Intel); Freescale's QorIQ processors (agreed to be acquired by NXP); AppliedMicro's Helix-1 and Helix-2 ARMv8-compatible processors; AMD's Embedded R-Series processors and G-Series Processors; Intel's embedded Atom, and former LSI Axxia processors; Cavium's Octeon III processors; Broadcom's XLP-II and StrataGX processors (agreed to be acquired by Avago); Marvell's Armada and MoChi processors, Texas Instruments' Sitara processors; and other products.
This handy guide, packed with valuable information, brings you up-to-date on the newest developments in this important market and gives you the analysis you need to help choose a supplier or partner in this field. In addition to networking, the report discusses processors that can be used in high-end consumer applications and printers. It also provides market share and market size data for the embedded segments covered.
"A Guide to Embedded Processors" begins with tutorials on the key technologies implemented by these products, background on the embedded market, and a discussion of the newest technology and market trends. Following these introductory chapters, the report delivers thorough coverage of all announced products in this area. For each major vendor, the report examines the performance, features, and architecture of each product, highlighting strengths and weaknesses in a consistent, easy-to-compare fashion. The report concludes with our own comparisons of these products and conclusions about which will fare best.
What's New in This Edition
Updates to the Ninth Edition of "A Guide to Embedded Processors"
"A Guide to Embedded Processors" has been updated to incorporate new announcements made since the publication of the previous edition.
- Freescale has introduced new QorIQ LS1-series processors with ARM CPU cores.
- Intel has acquired LSI's Axxia processors, is now acquiring Altera, and has introduced new x86-based embedded processors manufactured with 22nm and 14nm FinFET technology.
- Cavium has completed its Octeon III family of embedded processors and is looking forward to ARM-compatible ThunderX processors.
- Texas Instruments has new ARM-based Sitara processors with integrated DSPs.
- Xilinx has new FPGAs with embedded ARM Cortex-A9 cores.
- Broadcom is being acquired by Avago and has introduced new ARM-based StrataGX processors with Ethernet switching.
- Marvell has new and the first 64bit Armada processors using its modular chip (MoChi) architecture as well as the AP806 MoChi processor using ARM Cortex-A53 and A72, respectively. AMD has introduced new Embedded R-Series processors with the latest Excavator CPU cores and integrated south-bridge logic.
- 2014-2017 market-size and vendor-share data
- Updated market forecast through 2017
The simplest definition of embedded processor is a microprocessor for systems other than computers. This report focuses on general-purpose processors with one to four CPUs running at 800MHz or greater. Primary applications include communications and "PC-like" uses. At one end of the scale, communications includes low-cost, low-power systems for home networking, such as Wi-Fi routers. At the other end, it includes control-plane processors for service-provider routers. PC-like uses also span a wide gamut, comprising industrial controls, interactive kiosks, digital signs, casino games, and network-attached storage (NAS). This report analyzes the products, capabilities, and strategies of each vendor to determine which offerings are best suited to each embedded application and which vendors are most likely to succeed. We have researched the offerings from major vendors to gather in one place the information designers need to shorten the list. Among our conclusions are the following:
- Intel is the leading supplier of embedded processors, having a 41% market share. Although most of its embedded revenue comes from selling processors for PC-like systems, the company has made great strides in strengthening its portfolio for communications. Intel's newest CPU, Skylake, appears in embedded Core, Pentium, Celeron, and Xeon E3v5 processors. Atom SoCs offer better integration, but the company has yet to upgrade this family to its newest CPU.
- Freescale is the largest supplier of embedded processors for communications. It's currently managing a transition from its QorIQ T-series chips (Power Architecture) to its LS series chips (ARM). Freescale's challenge is to manage this transition without losing customers or market share. The by NXP is a major consolidation that will strengthen the merged company's position.
- Broadcom targets high-performance embedded applications with the 32-bit ARM-based StrataGX and MIPS64-compatible XLP I/II product lines. In 2014, StrataGX led competitors in revenue growth, but the higher-end XLP business contracted. In 2016, Broadcom will begin moving the high-end line from the MIPS64 architecture to new ARMv8-compatible processors. The company's pending acquisition by Avago could alter the product roadmap.
- In 2015, AMD launched new Embedded R-Series and G-Series SoCs, which integrate the south-bridge functions, upgrade the CPU core, and match favorably against Intel's Atom SoCs. Although they still fall short of Intel's Skylake in performance, they offer superior graphics at a lower price. In 2013, AMD embarked on a dual-architecture strategy by developing ARM-based processors, but recently, the company appears to be shifting resources back to the x86 architecture.
- Cavium has completed its Octeon III family, including processors that have one to four CPU cores, enabling the company to win more low-end designs that sometimes eluded the earlier Octeon II family. Like most other vendors, Cavium is shifting future investment to ARM-based processors, starting with high-end members of the new ThunderX line.
- Marvell's new MoChi (Modular Chip) family expands its Armada portfolio to the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture while adding networking accelerators. This strategy should expand the company's target market and significantly increase its embedded-processor revenue after MoChi processors reach production, which it expects in 4Q16.
- AppliedMicro was the first vendor to introduce ARMv8-compatible processors and is already rolling out its second-generation designs. The packet-processing acceleration inherited from its older PowerPC products makes the company's Helix embedded processors attractive for networking applications.
- Texas Instruments continues to expand its ARM-based Sitara family and is distinguishing itself from other ARM vendors by adding powerful DSP cores, real-time controller cores, and other features optimized for industrial controls, medical instrumentation, and military/aerospace systems.
- Xilinx and Altera compete in the fast-growing category of FPGA-integrated processors. By being first to market, the Zynq family from Xilinx took the lead. Altera countered with its FPGA SoCs and added unique features. Both companies are now bringing to market their second-generation processors. Although Xilinx again has the early lead, Intel's acquisition of Altera could tilt the technology balance toward the latter for future generations beyond the 14nm node.
- Qualcomm made a good entry into communications, but it has yet to follow up with newer designs.
Two major disruptions will characterize the next few years. First is the transition to ARM from other CPU architectures. Second is industry consolidation as vendors look to increase profitability and expand their markets. During these transitions, system companies must select the right vendor and either redesign systems around a different processor or lose market share.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
About the Authors
About the Publisher
1. Processor Technology
- Processor Basics
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- MMUs and TLBs
- Bus Bandwidth
- CPU Microarchitecture
- RISC Versus CISC
- Scalar and Superscalar
- Instruction Reordering
- Pipelining and Penalties
- Branch Prediction
- Multicore Processors
- Main Memory
- DRAM Basics
- DDR Versions
- Memory Subsystems
- I/O and Network Interfaces
- Ethernet Interfaces
- PCI and PCI Express
- SAS and SATA
2. Embedded Applications
- Networking and Communications Equipment
- Control Plane vs. Data Plane
- Control-Plane Processing
- Data-Plane Applications
- Networked Storage and RAID Controllers
- Broadband Infrastructure
- Cellular Base Stations
- Consumer Electronics
- Set-Top Boxes
- Home Networking
- IP Phones
List of Figures
- Figure 1-1. Basic processor design.
- Figure 1-2. Simple superscalar processor design.
- Figure 1-3. CPU pipelining examples.
- Figure 1-4. Generic multicore processor.
- Figure 1-5. Interleaved tasks on a multithreaded CPU.
- Figure 1-6. DRAM evolution.
- Figure 2-1. The control plane and the data plane.
- Figure 4-1. Standalone and integrated general-purpose processors.
- Figure 4-2. Typical curve of IPSec performance versus packet size.
- Figure 5-1. Revenue share of top eight vendors of embedded microprocessors, 2013-2014.
- Figure 5-2. Worldwide revenue market share of the top six vendors of embedded processors for communications, 2013-2014.
- Figure 5-3. Worldwide revenue market share of the top six vendors of embedded processors for storage, 2013-2014.
- Figure 5-4. Worldwide revenue market share of the top three vendors of embedded processors for other applications, 2013-2014.
- Figure 5-5. Revenue share of embedded processors by instruction set.
- Figure 5-6. Revenue of embedded processors by application, 2014-2019.
- Figure 5-7. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by communication segments, 2014-2019.
- Figure 6-1. Block diagram of AMD Excavator CPU.
- Figure 6-2. Quad-core compute unit based on Jaguar.
- Figure 6-3. Block diagram of Jaguar microarchitecture.
- Figure 6-4. Block diagram of AMD Embedded R Series SoC.
- Figure 6-5. Block diagram of AMD Embedded G Series SoC.
- Figure 6-6. AMD R Series evaluation platform.
- Figure 7-1. Block diagram of AppliedMicro Potenza CPU.
- Figure 7-2. Block diagram of AppliedMicro Helix 2 processor.
- Figure 7-3. Block diagram of a gateway based on AppliedMicro Helix 2.
- Figure 8-1. Broadcom XLP II family.
- Figure 8-2. Broadcom StrataGX family.
- Figure 8-3. Block diagram of Broadcom FC4400 CPU core.
- Figure 8-4. Block diagram of Broadcom XLP208 (XLP II family) processor.
- Figure 8-5. Block diagram of Broadcom StrataGX BCM58535 processor.
- Figure 8-6. Switch card with Broadcom XLP208 control-plane processor.
- Figure 9-1. Cavium Octeon III family.
- Figure 9-2. Block diagram of Cavium Octeon III CN71xx.
- Figure 9-3. Integrated network appliance based on Cavium Octeon III.
- Figure 10-1. Freescale QorIQ T-series processors for communications.
- Figure 10-2. Freescale QorIQ LS processors for communications.
- Figure 10-3. Block diagram of Freescale Power e6500 microarchitecture.
- Figure 10-4. Block diagram of Freescale QorIQ T2080.
- Figure 10-5. Multifunction printer based on Freescale QorIQ LS1021A.
- Figure 10-6. Avnet AgateRP reference platform for IoT gateways.
- Figure 11-1. Schedule for Intel's embedded products.
- Figure 11-2. Simplified Skylake microarchitecture.
- Figure 11-3. Block diagram of Skylake system architecture.
- Figure 11-4. Block diagram of Silvermont CPU microarchitecture.
List of Tables
- Table 2-1. Single-board-computer standards.
- Table 5-1. Revenue of the top eight vendors of embedded microprocessors.
- Table 5-2. Worldwide revenue of the top six vendors of embedded processors for communications.
- Table 5-3. Worldwide revenue of the top six vendors of embedded processors for storage.
- Table 5-4. Worldwide revenue of the top three vendors of embedded processors for other applications.
- Table 5-5. Revenue of embedded processors by application, 2014-2019.
- Table 5-6. Industry revenue of embedded microprocessors by communication segments, 2014-2019.
- Table 6-1. Key parameters for AMD embedded Opteron 4300 processors.
- Table 6-2. Key parameters for AMD R Series processors.
- Table 6-3. Key parameters for AMD Embedded G Series processors.
- Table 7-1. Key parameters for AppliedMicro Helix 2 processors.
- Table 8-1. Key parameters for Broadcom XLP100-series processors.
- Table 8-2. Key parameters for Broadcom XLP200-series processors.
- Table 8-3. Key parameters for Broadcom StrataGX BCM530xx processors.
- Table 8-4. Key parameters for Broadcom StrataGX BCM585xx and 586xx.
- Table 8-5. Key parameters for Broadcom StrataGX BCM583xx processors.
- Table 9-1. Key parameters for Cavium Octeon III CN70xx and CN71xx.
- Table 10-1. Key parameters for QorIQ T1020, T1022, T1040, and T1042.
- Table 10-2. Key parameters for QorIQ T1013, T1023, T1014, and T1024.
- Table 10-3. Key parameters for QorIQ T2 processors.
- Table 10-4. Key parameters for Freescale QorIQ LS1 32-bit processors.
- Table 10-5. Key parameters for Freescale QorIQ LS1 64-bit processors.
- Table 10-6. SEC 5.3 security-engine performance.
- Table 11-1. Intel code-names and product numbers.
- Table 11-2. Intel embedded processors with four or fewer CPUs.
- Table 11-3. Key parameters for embedded Intel Xeon E3v5 and Pentium.
- Table 11-4. Selected Intel Core embedded processors.
- Table 11-5. Key parameters for Intel Atom E38xx, Atom C2xxx, and Pentium.
- Table 11-6. Comparison of Intel CPU-microarchitecture resources.
- Table 11-7. Chipsets for Xeon and Core processors.
- Table 12-1. Key parameters for Marvell Armada processors.
- Table 12-2. Armada processors based on the AP806 MoChi interface.
- Table 13-1. Key parameters for Texas Instruments Sitara AM437x.
- Table 13-2. Key parameters for Texas Instruments Sitara AM57x.
- Table 13-3. Key parameters for Texas Instruments KeyStone II.
- Table 14-1. Embedded-processor suppliers and their products.
- Table 14-2. Key parameters for low-end and midrange Altera SoC FPGAs.
- Table 14-3. Key parameters for higher-end Altera SoC FPGAs.
- Table 14-4. Key parameters for Qualcomm Atheros IPQ806x processors.
- Table 14-5. Key parameters for Xilinx Kintex-series Zynq-7000 APSoCs.
- Table 14-6. Key parameters for Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC.
- Table 15-1. Comparison of selected sub-3W processors.
- Table 15-2. Comparison of selected 3-6W processors.
- Table 15-3. Comparison of selected 6-15W processors for networking.