XMOS

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XMOS Limited
Private
Industry Semiconductors
Founded July 2005, Bristol, UK
Headquarters Bristol, United Kingdom
Products Voice controllers, Multicore microcontrollers, xCore, xCORE-200, xCORE-AUDIO, xCORE-VOICE, xCORE VocalFusion, xTIMEcomposer
Brands xCORE, VocalFusion
Website xmos.com

XMOS is a fabless semiconductor company that develops voice solutions, audio products, and multicore microcontrollers capable of concurrently executing real-time tasks, DSP, and control flow. XMOS microcontrollers are distinguished by their deterministic (predictable) behavior.

Company history[edit]

XMOS was founded in July 2005 by Ali Dixon (then final-year student at the University of Bristol), James Foster (former CEO of Oxford Semiconductor), Noel Hurley, David May (former chief architect of Inmos), and Hitesh Mehta (Acacia Capital Partners). It received seed funding from the University of Bristol enterprise fund, and Wyvern seed fund (formerly the Sulis Seedcorn fund).

The name XMOS is a loose reference to Inmos. Some concepts found in XMOS technology (such as channels and threads) are part of the Transputer legacy.

In the autumn of 2006, XMOS secured funding from Amadeus Capital Partners, DFJ Esprit, and Foundation Capital.[1] It also has strategic investors Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, Huawei Technologies, and Xilinx Inc. In September 2017, XMOS secured $15M in an investment round lead by Infineon.[2]

XMOS' processor technology is general-purpose and has been exploited in a range of different markets, including voice,[3] microphone arrays,[4] audio,[5] LED tiles,[6] communications, and robotics.[7] This enables third parties to establish products and businesses based around the technology.

In December 2009, XMOS launched a community website, the XCore Exchange as a site to enable and encourage innovative and entrepreneurial discussion and collaboration.

In July 2017, XMOS acquired SETEM,[8][9] a company that specialises in audio algorithms for source separation.

Products[edit]

XMOS has developed families of silicon devices and software based on xCORE technology:

  • xCORE VocalFusion - Launched in June 2017.[10][11] xCORE VocalFusion (XVF) devices combine far-field voice capture technologies and acoustic digital signal processing (DSP) in a single device that can also include support for Sensory, Inc. TrulyHandsfree Voice Control. VocalFusion became Amazon Alexa Voice Services (AVS) qualified in October 2017.[12]
  • xCORE-VOICE - Launched in April 2016.[13] xCORE-VOICE processors are a combination of one or more xCORE-200 processors with software that enables capture of multiple microphone signals, and aggregate those into a single signal.
  • xCORE-AUDIO - Released in April 2016.[14] xCORE-AUDIO are audio-specific processors built on xCORE-200 technology, aimed at high-resolution consumer audio and multichannel professional audio applications.
  • xCORE-200 - Released in March 2015.[15] xCORE-200 devices can execute dual-issue code at 500 MHz, have up to four tiles, with each tile executing up to eight concurrent tasks. The devices are packaged with options for embedded flash, embedded USB PHY, and an embedded RGMII interface.
  • xCORE XS1-L - Released from 2008. The first family of multicore microcontrollers, with up to two tiles executing at up to 500 MHz. There are options for embedded USB (XCore XS1-SU), ADCs (XCore XS1-AnA), DC-DC converters, or an integrated ARM Cortex-M3.[16]

XMOS coined the term Software Defined Silicon[17] to describe hardware devices that can be programmed to implement low level I/O protocols. XMOS describes its processors as event-driven.

Voice processing[edit]

XMOS launched its first microphone array for voice capture in 2016 for far-field voice capture applications[18].

In November 2016 XMOS partnered with Sensory, Inc. to deliver TrulyHandsfree voice control technology on XMOS voice processing platforms[19].

In March 2017, Infineon Technologies and XMOS demonstrated a combination of radar and silicon microphone sensors from Infineon and audio processor from XMOS at GSMA Mobile World Congress[20] in Barcelona[21].

The XVF3000 family of far-field voice processors announced in June 2017[22] includes voice pre-processing DSP for adaptive beamforming, full duplex acoustic echo cancellation with barge-in, noise suppression, automatic gain control.

In October 2017 the XMOS VocalFusion 4-Mic Dev Kit for Amazon AVS was announced as the first qualified far-field linear mic array solution for Amazon Alexa Voice Services.[23][24]

Digital audio[edit]

XMOS multicore microcontrollers are used extensively by multinational companies such as Audio Partnership, Cambridge Audio, Meridian Audio, Native Instruments, Oppo Digital, Sennheiser and Sony[25] to implement USB Audio 2.0 interfaces in their products.

In December 2014, AVnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open standards-based deterministic networking through certification, announced XMOS as the first available AVnu-certified Audio Video Bridging (AVB) audio endpoint reference platform.

xCORE multicore microcontrollers[edit]

xCORE multicore microcontrollers comprise one or more processor tiles connected by a high-speed switch. Each processor tile is a conventional RISC processor that can execute a up to eight tasks concurrently. Tasks can communicate with each other over channels (that can connect to tasks on the local tile, or to tasks on remote tiles), or using memory (within a tile only).

The xCORE architecture delivers, in hardware, many of the elements that are usually seen in a real-time operating system (RTOS). This includes the task scheduler, timers, I/O operations, and channel communication. By eliminating sources of timing uncertainty (interrupts, caches, buses and other shared resources), xCORE can provide deterministic and predictable performance for many applications. A task can typically respond in nanoseconds to events such as external I/O or timers. This makes it possible to program xCORE devices to perform hard real-time tasks that would otherwise require dedicated hardware.

xCORE devices have been used in a range of different markets, including voice processing, USB Audio, AVB and Time-Sensitive Networking, industrial communications, and robotics.

Programming xCORE multicore microcontrollers[edit]

xCORE devices can be programmed using C, C++, xC or native assembler. To help programmers access the real-time hardware features of xCORE devices some multicore language extensions for C have been added. These extensions form a programming language called xC which contains features for task based parallelism and communication, accurate timing and I/O, and safe memory management.

A tool-chain, xTIMEcomposer, come with LLVM-based compilers for C, C++ and xC, cycle-accurate simulator, symbolic debugger, runtime instrumentation and trace libraries (xSCOPE) and a static code timing analyzer (XTA). All of the components are aware of the real-time multicore nature of the programs, giving a fully integrated approach.

Industrial and robotics[edit]

In June 2014, XMOS partnered with Synapticon, leaders in Cyber Physical Systems, to support emerging trends such as Industry 4.0 in the factory automation market and service robotics market.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter Clarke (2007-09-06). "XMOS raises $16 million in Series A funding". EE Times Europe. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  2. ^ Stefan Nicola (2017-09-07). "Funding Boost for U.K. Chip Firm Aiming at Amazon, Apple Voice-Control Market". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-09-07. 
  3. ^ "XMOS links with Sensory on voice control". Electronics Weekly. 2016-11-01. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  4. ^ Bryon Moyer (2016-04-18). "How Would You Use 32 Mics?". EE Journal. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  5. ^ "Software Flaws from". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  6. ^ "XMOS LED Tile Reference Design Kit". Embedded Star. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  7. ^ "The Numerix DSP Blog, Arachnophobia!". Numerix DSP. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  8. ^ Neil Tyler (2017-07-10). "XMOS acquires Setem Technologies to drive the development of next generation voice interfaces". new electronics. Retrieved 2017-07-10. 
  9. ^ Clive Maxfield (2017-07-12). "XMOS + Setem could be a game-changer for embedded speech". Embedded.com. Retrieved 2017-07-14. 
  10. ^ Neil Tyler (2017-07-11). "Emergence of smart assistants and speakers". New electronics. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  11. ^ audioXpress (2017-06-15). "XMOS Introduces XVF3000 Voice Processor for Integrated Far-Field Voice Capture and XMOS VocalFusion Speaker Development Kit". audioxpress.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  12. ^ Rachel Bennett (2017-10-05). "New XMOS Dev Kit for AVS Brings Far-Field Voice Capture to a Linear Mic Array". developer.amazon.com. Retrieved 2017-10-05. 
  13. ^ Tom Kevan (2016-08-29). "Smart Microphones Usher in an Era of No-interface Devices". electronics360.globalspec.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  14. ^ "Multicore Microcontrollers for IoT and audio". EE Journal. 2015-03-23. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  15. ^ Graham Prophet (2015-03-23). "XMOS boosts performance & connectivity with 2nd-generation multicore MCUs | EETE Automotive". Automotive-eetimes.com. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  16. ^ "XMOS Adds ARM Core to Its Multi-Processor xCORE-XA Chip". EE Times. 2014-09-26. Retrieved 2016-04-27. 
  17. ^ Richard Terrill (2008-04-15). "Software-defined silicon: Why can't hardware be more like software?". embedded.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  18. ^ Bryon Moyer (2016-04-18). "How Would You Use 32 Mics?". eejournal.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  19. ^ David Manners (2016-11-01). "XMOS links with Sensory on voice control". electronicsweekly.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  20. ^ Infineon Technologies (2017-02-28). "Audio Beamforming: Delivering an optimal voice recognition solution for satisfactory user experience". www.infineon.com. Retrieved 2017-08-30. 
  21. ^ audioXpress (2017-03-02). "Infineon and XMOS Cooperate on New Voice-Recognition Platform that Combines Radar with MEMS Microphones and Audio Processing". audioxpress.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  22. ^ Richard Quinnell (2017-06-20). "XMOS' XVF3000 series and Qualcomm's Smart Audio Platform offer a front-end solution to enable rapid development of an Echo-like smart speaker". electronicproducts.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18. 
  23. ^ audioXpress (2017-10-05). "XMOS Delivers Amazon Alexa Voice Service Development Kit with Linear Mic Array for Far-Field Voice Capture". audioxpress.com. Retrieved 2017-10-05. 
  24. ^ Amazon (2017-10-05). "XMOS VocalFusion 4-Mic Dev Kit for Amazon AVS". developer.amazon.com/. Retrieved 2017-10-05. 
  25. ^ "Xmos selected by Sony for new portable headphone amplifier". Electronics. 2013-10-07. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°27′19.0″N 2°35′33.3″W / 51.455278°N 2.592583°W / 51.455278; -2.592583