Power Architecture Processors Still Have What it Takes for Embedded Defense Applications

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September 22, 2015

Power Architecture Processors Still Have What it Takes for Embedded Defense Applications

NXP (Formerly FREESCALE) Continues to Offer Solutions Extremely Well-Suited to Embedded Applications for SWAP-Constrained Environments.

For over 20 years, NXP Power Architecture microprocessors have been critical components driving embedded compute-intensive applications. Embedded system designers now have many more processing options than they did in the past but one of the most attractive remains the Power Architecture System on a Chip (SOC). It’s worth reviewing exactly what Power Architecture SOCs offer designers and why they still have what it takes to create state-of-the-art embedded applications. 

Continued Enhancements to Multi-core Processing Technology

In 2008, NXP released its QorIQ Communications Multicore P series line of microprocessors, enabling new levels of programmability and performance with multiple cores. Each QorIQ microprocessor is an SOC, performing a set of functions that previously required multiple devices, including on-chip cache, memory control and a range of I/O interfaces including PCIe, Ethernet, RS-232/422, SATA and USB. The QorIQ P series parts were followed by the T series processors released in 2014, and will be followed by the Layerscape LS3 series in the future. 

RISC Architecture Delivers Outstanding Performance per Watt 

Power Architecture is a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) architecture, using a simplified instruction set that requires fewer microprocessor cycles per instruction than CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) alternatives. The simplified nature of RISC also results in a lower transistor count than its competitors. The combination of fewer cycles per instruction and a lower transistor count allows RISC to deliver a superior MIPS (Million Instructions per Second) to watt ratio. The end result is that Power Architecture processors demand less power, a crucial advantage for embedded, SWaP-constrained applications. 

Deterministic, non-throttling operation

One of Power Architecture’s most well-known characteristics is its determinism, the ability to execute an operation on a given data set within a defined and consistent time interval. Processors do not throttle back performance with increasing temperature, but "just keep on going", critical for applications that must perform as expected in all situations and conditions. 

Enhanced security capabilities 

NXP’s Trust Architecture provides multiple functions that enable enhanced security for both embedded IP and application code. Salient features of the Trust Architecture are Secure Boot, an embedded hypervisor, hardware encryption engines, peripheral access management units (PAMUs), internal boot ROM, secure debug controller, security monitor and a run-time integrity checker. This comprehensive set of functions allows developers to create systems with a combination of the specific security functions demanded by their applications. 

NXP’s focus on embedded applications 

The embedded market continues to be important to NXP. NXP designs its microprocessors with silicon libraries specially targeted to the extended temperatures that are expected for embedded processors. All processors are also tested to an extended temperature range, which provides a high degree of confidence that they will work reliably in harsh embedded environments.  

NXP actively supports Safety Certifiable solutions, which must comply with strict FAA/EASA guidelines and are increasingly in demand by avionics applications. (Safety Certified systems provide documented assurance, rather than hope, that they will work as designed within applications.) NXP continues to work closely with Curtiss-Wright and those designing into this application space to provide the data necessary to achieve DO-254 Safety Certifiable compliance.  

It all adds up to a solid choice for embedded applications

Power Architecture continues to be extremely well-suited to embedded applications for SWaP- constrained environments, maximizing performance and efficiency while maintaining determinism. Additional support for a wide range of flexible I/O, extensive security capability and Safety Certifiability all combine to make Power Architecture a preferred choice for the most demanding embedded applications.  

For detailed information on Power Architecture solutions, contact us today.