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|Founded||July 2005, Bristol, UK|
|Products||Voice controllers, Multicore microcontrollers, xCore, xCORE-200, xCORE-AUDIO, xCORE-VOICE, xCORE VocalFusion, xTIMEcomposer|
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.
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).
In the autumn of 2006, XMOS secured funding from Amadeus Capital Partners, DFJ Esprit, and Foundation Capital. 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.
XMOS's processor technology is general-purpose and has been exploited in a range of different markets, including voice, microphone arrays, audio, LED tiles, communications, and robotics. 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.
XMOS has developed families of silicon devices and software based on xCORE technology:
- xCORE VocalFusion - Launched in June 2017. 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. The VocalFusion 4-Mic Kit for the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) and VocalFusion Stereo Dev Kit for Amazon AVS have been qualified by Amazon.
- xCORE-VOICE - Launched in April 2016. 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. 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. 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-L1 - 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.
XMOS coined the term Software-Defined Silicon to describe hardware devices that can be programmed to implement low level I/O protocols. XMOS describes its processors as event-driven.
XMOS launched its first microphone array for voice capture in 2016 for far-field voice capture applications.
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 in Barcelona.
The XVF3000 family of far-field voice processors announced in June 2017 includes voice pre-processing DSP for adaptive beamforming, full-duplex acoustic echo cancellation with barge-in, noise suppression, automatic gain control.
XMOS multicore microcontrollers are used extensively by multinational companies such as Audio Partnership, Cambridge Audio, FiiO Electronics Technology, Meridian Audio, Native Instruments, Oppo Digital, Sennheiser and Sony 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
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 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.
Programming xCORE multicore microcontrollers
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, comes 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
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.
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