The bus of the future for industrial applications is possibly Ethernet. If so, the question is not whether Industrial Ethernet will prevail, but rather how soon Ethernet-based systems will replace other bus systems. The functions that must be provided by the semiconductor components in all these systems are often identical. In addition to the actual Ethernet connection, a processor system is required for control and coordination of the data. Often the demands made on such systems differ only slightly. The quantities are however far too small to justify a special price-sensitive ASIC implementation, while suitable FPGAs are either too expensive or merely announced and not yet available. To address this problem, NEC Electronics offers a new system-on-chip (SoC) concept that provides the basic functionality and supports affordable, customized extensions via a sea-of-gates structure.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 2, No. 3