Synergetic's 'Embedded Comm' moves board onto chip

In the soft logic, automation, and embedded systems markets, users typically spend several hundred dollars on communications modules, which prevents high-volume implementation of communications and networking functions.To give users an improved, inexpensive solution, Synergetic Micro Systems (Downers Grove, Ill.


In the soft logic, automation, and embedded systems markets, users typically spend several hundred dollars on communications modules, which prevents high-volume implementation of communications and networking functions.

To give users an improved, inexpensive solution, Synergetic Micro Systems (Downers Grove, Ill.) is launching a single silicon device that provides up to seven different communication technologies. EC-1 (EmbeddedComm) Communications System on a Chip (CSOC) is based on an Intel-compatible 80186 16-bit microprocessor with on-chip peripherals operating at 48 MHz to provide 12+ MIPS performance.

EC-1 also includes an AMD 960-compatible 10/100 Mbps Ethernet controller with MII PHY interface; two CAN V2.0B 1 Mbps controllers; Siemens-licensed Profibus-DP master/slave controller; and two asynchronous RS-232/422/485 serial channels with RTS/CTS and DMA support. Designed as a synchronous device with multiple networks, EC-1's dual CAN channels support native CAN, DeviceNet, and CANopen. The chip can change protocols with a simple software exchange.

Life aboard chip

Unlike other communications solutions, which install multiple chips and glue logic on a board to provide network communications, Synergetic's chip includes communications, memory, as well as the CPU. This means Synergetic's packaged solution only needs a transceiver, crystal oscillator, and connector, which reduce total application cost to less than $100, according to the company. Alone, the chip will list for about $50.

'We're laying software on the protocol stacks, which allows gateways at one 10ththe cost of other strategies. This is possible because integration occurs inside the chip,' says Mike Justice, Synergetic's president.

Besides its compatibility with Intel's processors, the EC-1 chip is designed to use standard x86 development tools, operating systems, and existing software source code, all of which can help reduce development costs. Synergetic reports that EC-1's software uses standards tools and is flexible enough to accommodate standard tools and code because the company specified commercially available ATI Nucleus real-time operating system (RTOS) and Paradigm Tools.

Memory aids speed, capacity

The chip's memory profile includes 256 K bytes of SRAM ; 8 K bytes of dual port memory; 2 K bytes of boot memory; and external 16 M bytes addressable memory space. For simple, stand-alone applications, EC-1 can serve as the system's primary microprocessor and simply interface with required external components. In more complex multi-processor applications, EC-1 is applied as a co-processor, and uses its on-board 8-K-byte x 8 dual-port memory for two-way communications with the host processor.

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Author Information

Jim Montague, news editor, ; Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief, also contributed

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