Most people will probably think about Intel and AMD when asked about x86 processors, at least those who understand the question… But there are also other companies such as Zhaoxin (based on VIA Technologies designs) and DM&P.
Last time I wrote about the latter was in 2015 with the introduction of DM&P Vortex86DX3 dual-core x86 SoC for embedded systems and the corresponding evaluation board. The company is still making new x86 processors, and I’ve just been information the company unveiled Vortex86EX2 dual-core processor last year with master and slave cores suitable for running two operating systems at the same time without the need for virtualization, nor hypervisor. The new processor still supports ISA & PCI interfaces for legacy expansion cards and targets real-time industrial or automation applications.
- Processor Cores
- Master @ 600MHz max with Build-in FPU L1/L2 Cache for user interface
- Slave @ 400MHz max with Build-in FPU, L1 Cache for real-time control
- GPU – N/A, external Vortex86VGA chip available from DMP
- System Memory – DDR3 Control Interface
- Storage – 3x SD/MMC
- Display I/F – 24 bit DVO, TTL LCD interface with Linux frame buffer driver
- Audio – HD Audio codec
- Networking – Dual 10/100 Mbps Ethernet (2x MAC, 1x PHY)
- Other I/O and peripherals
- PCIe – 1x PCIe Host Target Gen1, 1x PCIe Host Gen1
- 8-channel 12-bit ADC with DMA support
- Up to 128 GPIO
- 1x Parallel port, 2x SPI, 2x I2C
- Serial – 10 x UART, 2x CAN bus v2.0
- USB – 1x USB 2.0 Host, 1x Host/Device
- Legacy interfaces – ISA bus, PCI bus, PS/2 Keyboard & Mouse
- Package – 19x19mm LFBGA, 441 balls
- Operating Temperature – -40 to 85 ℃
- Manufacturing Process – 65nm
What the processor is missing compared to older DM&P processors is a storage interface like SATA or IDE.
The company mentions the processor supports “truly two BIOS, two OS, no need hypervisor and OS virtualization”. Vortex86EX2 processor supports Windows CE 6.0 and Embedded Compact 7, Linux up to kernel 4.14 with Qt support, and buildroot build system. Other OS such as QNX, VxWorks and RTOS 32 may be available on request.
VEX2‐6890 is the name of the official evaluation / development board for Vortex86EX2 with the following key features:
- Processor – DM&P Vortex86EX2 dual-core x86 processor
- System Memory – 4 Gbit DDR3-1866 (Micron)
- Storage – SD card slot
- Display I/F – 44-pin LCD header (white)
- Audio – 3.5mm audio jack(s)
- Networking – 2x 10/100Mbps Ethernet (RJ45)
- USB – 1x USB host port, 1x USB host/device port
- Serial – 1x DB9 port, 5x 3-pin COM headers including 1x RS485, 2x 10-pin COM headers, 1x CAN header
- ISA slot
- PCI slot
- mini PCIe socket
- 26-pin parallel port header (red color)
- Various I/O headers to access GPIO’s
- Misc – RTC battery, Keyboard and mouse port
- Power Supply – 5VDC via terminal block
The company can provide a detailed reference design including schematics, Gerber, layout, and layout guide to those who contact them. They also have a download section on the processor’s product page, but it’s not working for me right now. Since Vortex86EX2 targets the embedded space, the company provides a 10-year life cycle for the chip.
The 1-hour video presentation below is in Chinese, but with slides in English.
Thanks to Anonymous for the tip.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.