JSE AU1000 First Design

JSE AU1000 board

JSE’s first AU1000 CPU board.

JSE was a small innovative company in Kuils River, near Stellenbosch, South Africa, with several capable designers. They had completed an Au1000 network card when I heard about them from the Alchemy Semiconductor agents in 2002. After a phone call I visited them and we decided to share some software development effort. Our designs were fairly similar—they used the “Level One LXT970A” Ethernet PHYs, whereas I had chosen the Broadcom device as per the Ampro boards. They had also managed to get the Wiggler JTAG debugger and a Windows hosted toolchain to Flash the board with the YAMON monitor. That would have taken me a month to sort out; load up the CPU device registers to get the Dynamic RAM refreshed, download code to boot the chip, program the Flash from a RAM image and finally boot the processor over TFTP. The layout would have been over and above this effort and there were no board assemblers in Port Elizabeth who could handle BGA packages.

After the M3’s unexplained demise and one of the Natural developers suffering a stroke, the tyre company was not a safe bet for a six month hardware project. The prices JSE charged were a fraction of Ampro’s and they also offered to do a custom design for ZAR5000 (probably $1000). The company who outsourced the maintenance at the tyre company took up the offer and JSE produced this second design.

We offered to help with the Linux port, so two of JSE developers spent a few days in Port Elizabeth getting the toolchain running under Linux and modifying the kernel source for the board. We were given one of the boards for our efforts, which was a bonus. The M2 compatible board was used to get back to where we were before the M3 went to the next world.

Our attempt to design an Au1000 system was described in Au1000 Processor Board Design—au.pdf (1,45 Meg).