December 7, 2014

ARM® TrustZone® technology - a Few Good Boards

 ARM® provides a reference platform for software and hardware developers building systems based on ARM® Cortex®-A processors. The system is called the Juno ARM® Development Platform. The platform ships with a board that contains an ARM® Cortex®-A57 processor and ARM® Cortex®-A53 MPCore processor. The ARM® Cortex®-A57 processor and ARM® Cortex®-A57 processor are 64-bit and implement the ARM®v8-A instruction set architecture (ISA). A board support package can be built for this board using OpenEmbedded / Yocto.

You may notice that the Apple® A7 and Apple® A8 chips in the iPhone® 5c, iPhone® 5s, iPhone® 6, and iPhone® 6 Plus are based on the ARM® Cortex®-A53 and ARM® Cortex®-A57.  The Samsung Exynos 5433 Octa SoC also has an ARM® Cortex®-A57 and ARM® Cortex®-A53 MPCore.  The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 apparently has an 8-core Exynos 5433 processor in it.

Another development board is the Nvidia TK1 development board.  This board has a quad-core ARM® Cortex®-A15 processor.  These boards have been available for purchase at local retailers as of lately. However; the Nvidia K1 "Denver" is the latest product that they are working on and is not available for purchase yet.  It is rumored that the project "Denver" board has an ARM® Cortex®-A57 and an ARM® Cortex®-A53 MPCore.

The Freescale I.MX 6 processor has been hugely popular across a multitude of industries in a variety of embedded products. Freescale sells a development board with the I.MX 6 processor on it. The board is called the SABRE board for smart devices. The SABRE board has a Freescale I.MX 6 Quad Core ARM® Cortex®-A9 processor.   There are other vendors on the Internet that sell their variation of this development board.  One example is Boundary Devices. They sell their version of this board with the same Freescale I.MX 6 Quad Core ARM® Cortex®-A9 MPCore.  A board support package can be built for both the Freescale SABRE board and the Boundary Devices board using OpenEmbedded / Yocto.

There are a few key features of ARM development boards that should be taken into account if you purchase one. Namely; the e-fuses should not be blown out of the box. They should be left open. You can then blow the fuses to fit your configuration.

Here is a quick overview of the processors and boards I've mentioned above.

Dev Board
ARM® Cortex®-A57 and ARM® Cortex®-A53 MPCoreARM®ARM®v8-AJuno Ref PlatformYes
ARM® Cortex®-A15NvidiaARM®v7TK1Yes
ARM® Cortex®-A15SamsungARM®v7Arndale Exynos 5420Yes
ARM® Cortex®-A9 MPCoreFreescaleARM®v7Freescale SABREYes
ARM® Cortex®-A9 MPCoreFreescaleARM®v7Boundary DevicesYes
ARM® Cortex®-A9 MPCore + Zync 7000 FPGAXilinxARM®v7Zed BoardYes
ARM® Cortex®-A9 MPCore + Zync 7000 FPGAXilinxARM®v7Digilent                 

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