SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Scott Bampton, Greg Ness, Elizabeth White, Glenn Rossman, Pat Romanski

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XMOS Fuels the Move to High-Fidelity Audio

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XMOS today announces its Multi-Function Audio (MFA) platform, enabling designers to address the growing demand from consumers and the music industry for higher audio quality from their professional and audiophile products. A fully featured reference design that provides the core USB audio capabilities required in next-generation audio products, the MFA platform leverages XMOS technology already in use by customers such as Meridian, OPPO, Sennheiser and Sony.

“People are demanding higher quality music from their portable devices, and xCORE multicore microcontrollers allow product developers to deliver this,” said Dr Paul Neil, VP Product Management, XMOS. “We are at one of the music industry’s periodic tipping points – new services and products from players like Linn Records, B&O music service, PonoMusic and HD Tracks are springing up to satisfy the pent-up demand for high-resolution content. xCORE is the power behind this revolution – the de facto standard for USB audio in the professional market. Now listeners can also use this technology to hear their content as the artist intended.”

Based on the xCORE XS1-U8-64 8-core multicore microcontroller, the MFA is a fully featured USB Audio Class 2.0 reference design that makes it easy for developers to quickly create great-sounding digital audio products such as high-end speaker docks, headphone amps and audio DACs. It is capable of PCM audio sample rates of up to 384kHz at 16, 24 and 32-bit resolution, Direct Stream Digital (DSD) and DSD-over-PCM (DoP) formats, and USB B and A connectivity in USB device or host mode. Developers can use the MFA platform to build products that exchange USB audio with a wide range of source devices including Windows and Mac PCs, portable music players, current and legacy Apple devices, and common Android tablets and smartphones.

Because it is based on programmable xCORE technology, the MFA can easily be customized with value-added features, while XMOS itself is constantly upgrading the core platform capabilities via a rolling upgrade program. Audio developers can therefore quickly create the exact combination of connectivity and audio features they require by customizing the MFA platform source code software via the industry-leading xTIMEcomposer Studio tool suite.

Audiophiles have long considered the xCORE range of multicore microcontrollers to provide an industry-leading solution for high-end digital sound quality. The xCORE architecture, with its unique combination of determinism, parallelism and extremely low latency, is ideal for high-quality audio streaming. As such, XMOS devices are already in use powering a huge range of audio products aimed at discerning pro-audio listeners, including offerings from Advance Acoustic, Behringer, Focusrite, HRT, Meridian, Musical Fidelity, Native Instruments, Peachtree, PS Audio and Vestax.

“xCORE devices can be programmed to support a wide variety of streaming formats, including asynchronous data transfer to ensure that jitter is removed,” added Dr Neil. “Beyond the technical specs, the bottom line is that XMOS enables products that sound better. XMOS is known as the solution for high quality audio. The Multi-Function Audio Reference Platform leverages this pedigree, combining standard interfaces and audio connectivity into a configurable solution for almost any type of audio device.”

The XMOS Multi-Function Audio Platform is available immediately, with a rolling program of firmware upgrades enhancing the feature set throughout 2014 and 2015.

- ends -

About XMOS

XMOS is a young fabless semiconductor company based in Bristol, UK. The wide range of xCORE multicore microcontrollers with Hardware-Response™ provide a unique combination of parallel multitasking, deterministic performance, support from a large library of software-defined peripherals, allowing you to meet your exact design requirements. This makes xCORE multicore microcontrollers ideal for demanding embedded applications in audio, automotive, consumer and industrial products, where other microcontrollers struggle. XMOS provides xTIMEcomposer™ Studio, an easy to use development system, that makes it simple to design complex embedded systems.

For more information please visit www.xmos.com

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