The X1000 has an XMOS XCore, as the rumour mill had already suggested, and A-eon has renamed it Xena, in keeping with the traditions of the Amiga world. It’s a programmable CPU, following the Software Defined Silicon concept developed by XMOS. INMOS transputer architectDavid May is one of the people behind XMOS.
„Capable of eight concurrent real-time threads with shared memory space, at up to 400 MIPS (about 6 68060s worth), Xena gives the X1000 a very flexible, very expandable co-processor,“ A-eon writes, „The uses are endless; control hardware, DSP functions, robotics, display – even SID chip and console emulators.“
If 400 MIPS sounds a bit slow to you, wait until you hear about the Xorro slot.
To accompany ‘Xena’, we have ‘Xorro’, a new slot using an industry-standard PCIe x8 form factor to give access to the ‘Xena’ IO. This will be the route to Xena’s 64 IO lines, which are dynamically configurable as input, output, or bidirectional. ‘Xorro’ will allow bridging Xena to external hardware for control purposes, to internal systems, or to other Xcore processors. This last point is worth more exploration; XCore is a parallel processing architecture, and if you want more power, you can simply chain more XCores together [something like this]. Reference boards have been made with up to 256 cores, offering a theoretical 102400 MIPS. Those of you interested in high-end imaging or scientific applications, for example, take note.
I have to say that I absolutely love this. Of course, I can’t program such chips myself (or at all), but the idea of putting something as flexible as this in the hands of talented and resourceful programmers just makes me very, very excited about what they can come up with. It won’t catapult the Amiga into the realms of Windows and Mac OS X, but it does give it a clear-cut advantage over them.
These tools provide the ability to load programs directly into the the Xena chip as well as monitor most of the internal registers as the code is executed.
Unlike other XTAG devices, no adapter board, USB port, or JTAG cables are needed. We can access all of this directly from the AmigaOS command line.
In addition to the new tools, a new AmigaOS resource named xena.resource is included to arbitrate access to the new hardware features.
I have also included a simple .xe file that will flash two LEDs on the AmigaOne X1000 board, as a „proof of programming“ demonstration.
These tools were ported from code provided by Segher Boessenkool. Please be sure to thank him if you see him around the XCore Exchange Forums.
The tools are available now and can be downloaded directly from Hyperion’s web site by all registered X1000 users. The new tools and documentation will be added to a future release of the AmigaOS SDK as well.