Beyond Semi Introduces 32-bit BA20 Core with Cortex M4 Performance Efficiency, and Cortex M0+ Silicon Area

Beyond Semiconductor and CAST have jointly announced BA20 32-bit embedded processor core with PipelineZero Architecture (zero-stage execution pipeline), that rivals with ARM Cortex A4 in terms of performance per MHz, while using about the same silicon area as an ARM Cortex M0+. which could be critical for applications such as wearables, sensors, and wireless communication, that may require both a small footprint and high performance efficiency.

Beyond_Semi_BA20_Block_Diagram
Beyond Semi BA20 Block Diagram

The company’s PipelineZero micro-archirtecture can execute one instruction per cycle, hence saving energy by doing more in less time, and by operating at lower clock rates.

Key features listed for BA20 IP core:

  • PipelineZero architecture for high performance efficiency with tiny silicon footprint
    • 3.04 DMIPs/MHz (vs ARM Cortex M4: 1.25 DMIPS/MHz)
    • 3.41 Coremarks/MHz (vs ARM Cortex M4: 3.40 CoreMarks/MHz)
    • 2µW/MHz (vs ARM Cortex M0+: 3µW/MHz)
    • 10K gates (0.01mm2) in 9-track 40G (vs 0.009mm2 for ARM Cortex M0+)
  • BA2 ISA Extreme Code Density for less instruction fetching energy usage
  • Interconnect – 32-bit wide AMBA AXI4-lite bus
  • Advanced power management
    • Dynamic clock gating and power shut-off of unused units
    • Software- and hardware-controlled clock frequency
    • Wake-up on tick timer or external interrupt
  • Optional Processor Units
    • Programmable Vectored Interrupt Controller Unit
    • Memory Protection Unit
    • Timer Unit
    • Debug Unit
      • MDB support
      • Trace port support
    • ROM Patching Unit
    • IEEE-754 compliant Floating Point Unit
    • Hardware Multiplier/Divider
  • Peripherals include GPIO, UART, Real-Time Clock, Timers, I2C, and SPI
  • Memory controllers, interconnects, and more

Beyond_BA20_vs_ARM_Cortex_MBA20 Processor IP Core, and peripherals IP are available now in RTL source code (Verilog) or FPGA netlists, and BeyondStudio Eclipse-based IDE for Windows or Linux can be used for software development. The company can also provide reference design boards with JTAG and serial debug/trace for both CPU and system, but no details have been provided about these hardware platforms.

As with all Beyond Semi processor Core, BA20 is royalty-free, and only a one-time license needs to be purchased. Further details can be found on Beyond Semi BA20 PilelineZero Embedded Processor page.

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Brian
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Brian

Looks interesting, thanks.

renw0rp
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renw0rp

doesn’t it sound too good to be true?

Brian
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Brian

@renw0rp
Not really, this is not ARM, it looks like this is a completely different design and instruction set done from scratch, more modern. They are sacrificing compatibility and established standards for performance and efficiency.

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[…] Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company based in Slovenia which develops their own 32-bit BA2x IP cores, has sent me one of their development tool, namely Beyond Debug Key supporting JTAG and UART […]