MCU to Intel architecture conversion

by Lee Eng Kean , TechOnline India - August 18, 2010

Architecture migration takes multiple areas into consideration, including hardware architectural differences, operating systems, system firmware, and migration/development tools. Another architecture aspect to be considered when migrating from MCU to Intel' Atom™ microarchitecture is moving from a uni-processor serial code to a software system that supports Intel' Hyper-Threading Technology. This paper mainly focuses on hardware interrupt architectural analysis which is an essential consideration for real-time industrial control applications.

About 8.3 billion microprocessors were produced worldwide in 2009. However, microprocessors for information processing such as personal computers (PC) is about 0.15 billion (which is only 2% of the total sold). The remaining 98% is used for embedded systems.

A real-time system is required to complete processing in a timely and reliable manner. Its output results must be produced in response to input conditions within a deterministic time limit (often in a range of micro seconds). If the results are not produced within that time limit, unpredictable consequences will occur, potentially damaging the system or the people relying on that system.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is one of the real-time control systems widely used for electro-mechanical process automations such as machinery control in factory assembly lines. Unlike consumer applications, electro-mechanical automations require real-time processing capability. A microcontroller (MCU) is commonly chosen for PLC implementation due to its simple architecture which ensures real-time interrupt response.

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