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TI Samples Its First 64-Bit Arm

December 4, 2018

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Seven years after the Arm v8 debut, Texas Instruments is sampling its first products using the 64-bit architecture—and they’re worth the wait. The new Sitara AM65x embedded processors are the most full-featured chips yet seen for next-generation “Industry 4.0” applications. They supersede the 32-bit Sitara AM57x series and surpass in most ways the industrial-oriented processors from rival vendors, including some new chips that NXP recently announced.

The flagship Sitara AM6548 has four 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPUs plus two 32-bit Cortex-R5F microcontroller cores with functional-safety features. It also integrates an Imagination Technologies GPU, video in/out interfaces, a dozen proprietary RISC cores in three real-time-control subsystems, and six Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports that implement the IEEE Time-Sensitive Networking standard. Cryptography acceleration, secure boot, PCI Express, USB, and scratchpad memories round out the mix. The DRAM interface and all internal memories and caches have single-bit error correction (ECC) to improve reliability.

Sitara AM65x chips are well equipped for their primary target: modern factory networks that need real-time processing and deterministic communications. They can serve as gateways between low-level machine controllers and high-level supervisory systems, aggregating the data and transmitting it over a standard Ethernet network. Their dual Cortex-R5F microcontroller cores can run factory machinery in isolation from the main CPUs, and the PowerVR GPU can drive industrial-control terminals. The video input can connect to cameras for surveillance or remote monitoring, and the 12 real-time cores can power advanced robotics systems.

TI began sampling the quad-core AM6548 in October, and all the chips are scheduled for production in 2H19. So far, the series comprises five products: the quad-core AM6548 and AM6546 and the dual-core AM6528, AM6526, and AM6527. The AM6546, AM6526, and AM6527 omit the PowerVR GPU. List pricing ranges from $23 to $70.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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