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Dual-core, Cortex-A15 Sitara arrives with Linux and Android

Oct 14, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,571 views

[Updated: Oct. 19] — TI has released its Sitara AM57x SoCs, with one or two Cortex-A15 CPU, C66x DSP, and PowerVR GPU cores, plus a pair of Cortex-M4 MCUs and a quad-core PRU.

The Linux-ready Sitara AM57x SoC family is part of the larger Texas Instruments AM5x family announced in early 2014. More information was supplied In Nov. 2014 when announced an upcoming BeagleBoard-x15 hacker board that would debut an AM35738 SoC. Both the board and the SoC were delayed, but now TI announced it has begun sampling the AM57x in conjunction with an announcement from that the BeagleBoard-x15 will ship by early December. The x15 is also the major component of the official TI AM572x Evaluation Module (see farther below).

According to TI, the AM5728 offers 40 percent greater performance than quad-core Cortex-A9 processors and 280 percent greater than “standard” dual-core Cortex-A9 SoCs. Applications are said to include industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), factory automation, machine vision, embedded computing, human machine interface (HMI), robotics, medical imaging, and avionics.

Sitara AM57x block diagrams for dual- and single-core parts
(click image to enlarge)

The Sitara AM57x is a step up from the single-core, Cortex-A9-based Sitara AM437x, which followed the Cortex-A8 based, Sitara AM335x, such as the AM3359 found on the current BeagleBone Black and very similar BeagleBone Green SBCs. Together, the Sitara SoCs have been some of the most popular ARM SoCs for embedded, along with the Cortex-A9-based Freescale i.MX6.

Like the Sitara AM437x, the AM57x includes a quad-core programmable real-time unit (PRU) for customizing interfaces. The PRU is equipped with an industrial communication subsystem (ICSS) for real-time fieldbus and industrial communication protocols such as EtherCAT.

As with the Sitara AM437x, there’s an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX GPU. The AM57x moves up from the AM437x’s single-core SGX530 to a single- or dual-core SGX544 3D GPU, depending on SoC model. There’s also a GC320 2D accelerator, a 1080p60 video accelerator, and a crypto accelerator.

TI has also integrated one or two of its C66x DSPs, which include Floating-Point VLIW digital signal processors, and are said to be capable of running OpenCL. Finally, it added dual Cortex-M4 MCUs, which previously said were used for image processing, but are here listed as general-purpose microcontrollers.

Together the Cortex-M4s and PRU subsystems are said to provide “low-latency, real-time control functions necessary for industrial applications such as controlling a motor or monitoring sensors.”

Four models include single-core and headless options

The first four AM57x models include the BeagleBoard-x15’s high-end, AM5728, a similarly dual-core, but 2D graphics only, AM5726, and two single-core models: the 3D-ready AM5718 and a 2D only AM5716. The AM5728 and AM5726 are the only models to offer dual Cortex-A15 cores and dual C66x DSPs, and the only ones to support up to 2.5MB of on-chip EEC memory in addition to the standard 1MB L2 cache.

The AM5718 and AM5716 are each limited to one Cortex-A15 core, which in the case of the AM5716 can run at 500MHz in addition to the standard 1.5GHz. They are also limited to a single C66x DSP. Once again, the AM5716’s DSP can be clocked down to 500MHz instead of the standard 750MHz.

The AM5726 and AM5716 differ from the other two models in several respect. Neither is provided in a FCBGA package. In addition, they lack HDMI and LCD interfaces, and they can’t process 1080p60 video. As such, they seem to be designed for headless embedded applications.

All four models offers support for PCIe, SATA, gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0, as well as a wide range of industrial interfaces. CSI-2 camera interface support is found only on the single-core models, not the dual-core AM5728 and AM5726, as indicated by the block diagrams above.

Sitara AM57x

Specifications listed for the Sitara AM57x include:

  • Processor and coprocessor cores:
    • CPU — 2x (AM5728 and AM5726) or 1x (AM5716 and AM5718) 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 CPU cores (AM5716 can also clock to 500MHz)
    • ARM MIPS — 10,500 (AM5728 or AM5726), 5,250 (AM5716 and AM5718), or 1,750 (AM5716 at 500MHz)
    • DSP — 2x (AM5728 or AM5726) or 1x (AM5716 and AM5718) TI C66x DSP cores @ 750MHz (AM5716 can also clock to 500MHz)
    • GPU — 2x (AM5728 or AM5726) or 1x (AM5716 and AM5718) PowerVR SGX544 3D GPU cores @ 533MHz
    • GC320 2D graphics accelerator (AM5728 and AM5718)
    • 1080p60 video accelerator (AM5728 and AM5718)
    • 2x ARM Cortex-M4 coprocessors
    • 4x PRU-ICSS programmable 32-bit RISC cores with support for 1588, EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, Powerlink, Profibus, Profinet RT/IRT, Sercos III
    • Crypto accelerator
  • On-chip memory:
    • L1 cache – 32KB (Cortex-A15) and 32KB (C66x)
    • L2 cache – 1MB (Cortex-A15) and 288KB (C66x); w/ECC except AM5728
    • Other cache — 2.5MB w/ECC (AM5728 or AM5726)
  • Other memory:
    • 64-ch EDMA
    • DDR3L DRAM w/ECC
    • QSPI
    • 16-bit GPMC, NAND, NOR, SRAM support
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet EMAC with 2-port switch
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI (AM5728 and AM5718)
    • 3x LCD (AM5728 and AM5718)
    • 1080pv60 support (AM5728 and AM5718)
    • Support for 6x configurable video ports
    • CSI-2 (AM5716 and AM5718)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0
    • USB 2.0
    • SATA
    • RTC
    • 4x MMC/SD
    • 5x I2C
    • 2x PCI/PCIe
    • 10x UART (SCI)
    • 4x SPI
    • 3x PWM (Ch)
    • 3x eCAP
    • 3x eQEP
    • 8x McASP
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 90°C (AM5728 and AM5718) or -40 to 105°C (all four models)
  • Power — 1.8 or 3.3V I/O supply
  • Operating system — Android 5.0, Linux, Integrity, Neutrino, TI RTOS, VxWorks, Windows Embedded CE; supports Processor SDK

Android, Linux, and a BeagleBoard-x15 based EVM

The mutually pin-compatible AM57x processor family supports Android 5.0, Linux, Windows Embedded CE, and numerous RTOSes. Developers can share the new Processor SDK for TI’s Sitara and DSPs. Processor SDK includes UBoot, a Yocto Project Linux file system, and Linaro tool chain. The DSPs, meanwhile, support frameworks such as Khronos OpenCL, says TI.

AM572x Evaluation Module, and its component details
(click images to enlarge)

TI is offering an AM572x Evaluation Module (TMDXEVM5728), which combines a BeagleBoard-x15 with a 7-inch, WVGA capacitive touchscreen and a 3-megapixel camera daughterboard. This appears to be the first time TI has tapped a SBC for its own professional level EVMs. This also explains why the BeagleBoard-x15 is so large, feature-rich, and expensive compared to other community-backed SBCs.

The AM572x Evaluation Module lacks a power supply, so you’ll need to add 12V/5A DC outputs. Unlike the BeagleBoard-x15, however, it includes a standard WiLink9 WiFi and Bluetooth module. More information may be found in our BeagleBoard-x15 coverage.

Further information

Samples of Sitara AM57x processors and the AM572x Evaluation Module (TMDXEVM5728) are now available from TI. Pricing is listed only for the AM5728 ($75) and AM5718 ($48) SoCs in 1,000-unit volumes. Pricing for the evaluation module is $599. More information may be found at TI’s Sitara AM57x and AM572x Evaluation Module product pages.

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One response to “Dual-core, Cortex-A15 Sitara arrives with Linux and Android”

  1. Guillaume says:

    Take a look at this page
    The Pyra device is powered by the TI’s OMAP5 SoC which looks like the Sitara AM5728.
    And the device will be probably released by the end of the year.

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