Thursday, April 2, 2009

Now there is an Overo Water board out!

Stop the press! Stop the PRESS! (always wanted to say that)...

There is a new Overo board out - it is called "Overo Water"... Hmmm - seems like there is an Alchemy Theme going here! The Overo Water board is built on the same board as the Overo Earth. This is possible because the difference between the Overo Earth and Overo Water boards is the TI OMAP Computer on Chip integrated circuit which has the same pinouts.

The Overo Earth board comes with the TI OMAP-3503 integrated circuit with the RAM and FLASH memory contained in an integrated circuit mounted on top of the TI integrated circuit, called a "Package on Package" or POP configuration. The Overo Water board comes with the TI OMAP-3530 integrated circuit with the memory in the same configuration.

There are a good deal of similarities between the two TI integrated circuits but there are also some very distinct differences:

To the right is the hi-level block diagram of the TI OMAP-3503 integrated circuit. Most, but not all of the functionality of the integrated circuit is accessible on the Overo Earth or Overo Water board - this is because of the actual physical size constraints of the two boards - there just is not enough real estate to have all the capabilities available external to the TI OMAP integrated circuit. This is really not a limitation to the capabilities of the computer board as most of the really useful functionality is directly or indirectly accessible on the expansion board (Summit Expansion board) and if the Summit board does not make the specific function you are looking for accessible but it is available on one of the two 70-pin connectors on the computer board you can either fly-wire the connection on the summit board (really tricky to do) or have a custom board fabricated with the functionality accessible (pricey but possible).

The hi-level block diagram for the TI OMAP 3530 looks a great deal like the TI OMAP 3503 (after all they are in the same Applications Processor Family) but you will notice there is a dedicated Video processing section in the TI OMAP 3530 that does not exist in the TI OMAP 3503! This difference is BIG as it allows the Overo Water board to perform some video magic the Overo Earth would have problems with!

If you notice on the upper left there is a block that is dedicated to Video processing and Audio processing that does not exist in the previous block diagram of the TI OMAP 3503 processor. This is hardware video acceleration which is completely distinct and separate from the ARM 7 processing core. What this does is allow the video processing to be performed in parallel with the running of applications so speeds up the video capabilities quite a lot! The TI OMAP 3530 has some very impressive capabilities in the video department as compared to most other embedded computer systems:

High Performance Image, Video, Audio (IVA2.2™) Accelerator Subsystem
430-MHz TMS320C64x+™ DSP Core

  • Enhanced Direct Memory Access (EDMA) Controller (128 Independent Channels)
  • Video Hardware Accelerators

POWERVR SGX™ Graphics Accelerator (OMAP3530 Device Only)

  • Tile Based Architecture delivering 10 MPoly/sec
  • Universal Scalable Shader Engine: Multi-threaded Engine Incorporating Pixel and Vertex Shader Functionality
  • Industry Standard API Support: OpenGLES 1.1 and 2.0, OpenVG1.0
  • Fine Grained Task Switching, Load Balancing, and Power Management
  • Programmable High Quality Image Anti-Aliasing

Fully Software-Compatible With C64x and ARM9™

Commercial and Extended Temperature Grades
Advanced Very-Long-Instruction-Word (VLIW) TMS320C64x+™ DSP Core

  • Eight Highly Independent Functional Units
  • +Six ALUs (32-/40-Bit), Each Supports Single 32-Bit, Dual 16-Bit, or Quad 8-Bit Arithmetic per Clock Cycle
  • Two Multipliers Support Four 16 x 16-Bit Multiplies (32-Bit Results) per Clock Cycle or Eight 8 x 8-Bit Multiplies (16-Bit Results) per Clock Cycle
  • Load-Store Architecture With Non-Aligned Support
  • 64 32-Bit General-Purpose Registers
  • Instruction Packing Reduces Code Size
  • All Instructions Conditional

Additional C64x+™ Enhancements

  • Protected Mode Operation
  • Exceptions Support for Error Detection and Program Redirection
  • Hardware Support for Modulo Loop Operation
  • C64x+ L1/L2 Memory Architecture
  • 32K-Byte L1P Program RAM/Cache (Direct Mapped)
  • 80K-Byte L1D Data RAM/Cache (2-Way Set-Associative)
  • 64K-Byte L2 Unified Mapped RAM/Cache (4-Way Set-Associative)
  • 32K-Byte L2 Shared SRAM and 16K-Byte L2 ROM
  • C64x+ Instruction Set Features
  • Byte-Addressable (8-/16-/32-/64-Bit Data)
  • 8-Bit Overflow Protection
  • Bit-Field Extract, Set, Clear
  • Normalization, Saturation. Bit-Counting
  • Compact 16-Bit Instructions
  • Additional Instructions to Support Complex Multiplies

The above information only "touches" on the capabilities of the TI OMAP 3530 integrated circuit - for a complete list check out the TI site here:

This thing is Packed for Graphics processing! TI (Texas Instruments) says it best:

"OMAP3530 and OMAP3525 high-performance, applications processors are based on the enhanced OMAP™ 3 architecture. The OMAP™ 3 architecture is designed to provide best-in-class video, image, and graphics processing sufficient to support the following:

  • Streaming video
  • 2D/3D mobile gaming
  • Video conferencing
  • High-resolution still image
  • Video capture in 2.5G wireless terminals, 3G wireless terminals, and rich multimedia-featured handsets, and high-performance personal digital assistants (PDAs).

The device supports high-level operating systems (OSs), such as:

  • Windows CE
  • Symbian OS
  • Linux
  • Palm OS "

Nuff said! Once I have my hands on this puppy (Overo Water), which is on order and on it's way from Gumstix to me, I plan to do some interesting 2D/3D programming to see how well it handles some games - one of which is Quake-1 ( a very FAST FPS game).

More to follow! Stay Tuned! (always wanted to say that too).

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