19th August 2003

Metagence Announces Linux™ for META™

Multi-threaded Processor Runs Linux and Real-time DSP Applications Simultaneously

LONDON, UK: Metagence – a division of Imagination Technologies – announces the availability of Linux for the META multi-threaded RISC/DSP processor family, the world’s first Linux port to a multi-threaded processor architecture.

Linux and META are highly complementary, offering product designers a highly integrated, cost-effective, real-time, multi-threaded hardware solution and the flexibility, familiarity and functionality of the Linux software environment. Together they enable the creation of even the most demanding real-time embedded applications.

Says Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination Technologies: “”;This is a significant step for Metagence in making META the most logical choice for embedded system designers. The META core is a far more elegant, system-efficient and design-effective solution than the traditional multi-core, ‘processor-plus-DSP’, solutions.””;

META is a unique multi-threaded programmable general-purpose processor/DSP IP (Intellectual Property) core that allows real-time response while supporting efficient multi-function operation. It is available for licensing from Metagence.

Using true hardware multi-threading, the META family of processors delivers, in a unified architecture, general purpose processing, complex DSP and multimedia capabilities, real-time operation and low power consumption. These advanced capabilities make the META processor cores ideal for the next generation of entertainment and communications products. The META processor is already powering consumer products in a number of application areas, including digital radio and digital TV.

Says Ian Oliver, VP Development Systems / Tools, Metagence: “”;Porting Linux to META was an excellent way to ensure the effectiveness of both the processor architecture and the CodeScape tool chain. Only a handful of processors in history have proved themselves capable of running Linux. To make things really interesting we skipped µClinux, which is a cut down Linux for micro-controllers, and went straight for kernel 2.4.18 with full virtual memory so we could demonstrate the effectiveness of the cache and MMU on the META core. This port now enables META partners to benefit from the wealth of drivers and applications available to run under Linux.””;

Solving the Linux / DSP Problem
Most of the embedded applications where Linux has proven so effective at providing application and networking capability also require significant DSP processing power. However, to date there have been significant problems implementing Linux on DSPs. Firstly, most DSPs lack either the general purpose computing capability required and/or a good cache and MMU (Memory Management Unit). Secondly, the kind of applications which demand the power of a DSP need continuous real-time processing, which also rules out running Linux. This has previously meant that systems developers had to use multi-core solutions that are both difficult to program and inflexible.

However META solves both of these problems. META can run Linux on one hardware thread while running real-time DSP tasks on the other threads. META can also re-allocate MIPS on the fly so that each thread can be delivered the guaranteed share of processing resource and response time that it needs, while never clocking the processor faster than is required. And, because everything is on one core, synchronisation and communication between the tasks is supported within the processor architecture in the instruction set, which makes it efficient and easy to implement.

Through Imagination’s Ensigma division, Metagence has access to extensive libraries of proprietary DSP code covering areas such as audio codecs and effects, video codecs, DAB digital radio, digital TV, speech processing and additional radio baseband processing. Metagence will make this version of the Linux OS available to product designers so that they can not only develop their own applications but also easily use this DSP capability to quickly realise multi-function products with the flexibility of Linux and the real-time DSP performance of META. Developers should email metalinux@metagence.com for more information.

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