We’ve seen a rise in the number of “cross-over” microcontrollers lately, as fab processes improve, and prices for computation drops, microcontrollers are starting to head towards single-board-linux-computer speeds. For example, check out our previous EYE ON NPI on the iMX series of chips that come with 500+ MHz and many K of RAM.
This week’s NPI is from XMOS, which has their own architecture – not based on ARM Cortex – with really beefy specs that make it excellent for audio and AI-computation. These chips have two interconnected banks of 8 cores with 512KB SRAM, MIPI, external memory support, high speed USB and of course all the peripherals you expect.
With 2400 or 3200 MIPS of computation in this series, these are directly competing with the big players in the no-OS embedded-audio/video-goods market such as the STM32x7 Cortex M7 series of chips. And we, as the customer, benefit greatly from increased competition in that higher-power market!
The XMOS series and their SDK looks like it’s tuned specifically for voice recognition, which isn’t surprising as our first recollection of XMOS chipset is their microphone array processor. You can still do microphone array work, but now process that audio on-chip as well.
We also fancy the addition of a MIPI/CSI display or camera interface which will let you integrate modern displays at nearly any size – so it’s also very good for GUI interfaces. Given these peripherals and capabilities, we think this chip would be popular as an on-screen display driver for machinery or autos where it can do non-Internet voice control in loud environments.
It would also be good for smart speakers, or ‘smart’ anything where there’s a lot of background noises and you want to mix into or control an audio system. We notice that this chip is already being used in high end DACs for audiophiles!
If this all sounds good to you, the entire line of XMOS chips is stocked at Digi-Key, including the XMOS XU316 XCORE AI line and the featured XMOS XK Audio 316 evaluation board which comes with approximately 1-billion audio interface options. They’ll ship immediately when you place your next order at Digi-Key, so book it today and you can start creating your next smart audio interface by tomorrow afternoon.
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