Unboxing my XMOS “StartKIT” and discovering xTIMEComposer under the hood

I got my free XMOS StartKIT courtesy of XMOS (THANK YOU!!):


Reading this:


And start discovering lots of projects available at:


First, connect the StartKIT via USB to the computer, use “lsusb” to discover the vid and pid. Update this into the /etc/udev/rules.d/80-xmos.rules:

ATTRS{idVendor}==”20b1″, ATTRS{idProduct}==”f7d3″, MODE=”0660″, GROUP=”plugdev”

And then “sudo service udev restart” to restart the udevd services.

The purpose of above procedure is so that access to the device via USB does not need to be root, but just ensure that the current user or owner is member of the “plugdev” group.

Downloaded the xTIMEComposer (13.2.1, 64-bit and my OS is Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit), and ensure that you have 64-bit Java. Unpack the tarball downloaded from www.xmos.com, and then starting up the “xtimecomposer”.   Many snapshots of xTIMEComposer can be found on the web:


Autodetection of USB device will be done, and subsequently go through the tutorial to create your first application. Mine is “spinning app”:


Now, at this point, doing a process enumeration, we can see hat the xtimecomposer (pid=3472) has started “xgdb” process (pid=5511) to access the hardware device via USB:

tthtlc 3472 3471 1 19:38 pts/3 00:02:19 /usr/bin/java -Dcom.xmos.cdt.disableMozillaBrowserCreation=True -Dorg.eclipse.swt.browser.UseWebKitGTK=True -jar /home/tthtlc/Downloads/XMOS/xTIMEcomposer/Community_13.2.1/xtimecomposer_bin//plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.1.1.R36x_v20101122_1400.jar -os linux -ws gtk -arch x86_64 -showsplash -launcher /home/tthtlc/Downloads/XMOS/xTIMEcomposer/Community_13.2.1/xtimecomposer_bin/xtimecomposer.exe -name Xtimecomposer.exe –launcher.library /home/tthtlc/Downloads/XMOS/xTIMEcomposer/Community_13.2.1/xtimecomposer_bin//plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher.gtk.linux.x86_64_1.1.2.R36x_v20101019_1345/eclipse_1310.so -startup /home/tthtlc/Downloads/XMOS/xTIMEcomposer/Community_13.2.1/xtimecomposer_bin//plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.1.1.R36x_v20101122_1400.jar -exitdata 20800e -vm /usr/bin/java -vmargs -Dcom.xmos.cdt.disableMozillaBrowserCreation=True -Dorg.eclipse.swt.browser.UseWebKitGTK=True -jar /home/tthtlc/Downloads/XMOS/xTIMEcomposer/Community_13.2.1/xtimecomposer_bin//plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.1.1.R36x_v20101122_1400.jar

tthtlc 5511 3472 0 21:28 pts/3 00:00:20 xgdb -q -nw -i mi2 –cd=/home/tthtlc/.xmos/repos/sw_startkit_examples/app_spinning_bar –command=.gdbinit /home/tthtlc/.xmos/repos/sw_startkit_examples/app_spinning_bar/bin/app_spinning_bar.xe

From above we learned that xTIMECOmposer create and stored its repository inside $HOME/.xmos directory (see pid=5511 above). “xc” is the extension for a C file to be compiled by “xcc”, and output file is “xe” as the extension. Using “xobjdump -d xxx.xe” we can list the assembly as below:

Loadable 1 for tile[0] (node “0”, tile 0):

Disassembly of section .text (size: 240)

0x00010000: 00 68: ldc (ru6) r0, 0x0
0x00010012: 40 6a: ldc (ru6) r9, 0x0
0x00010014: 00 f0 6c d8: ldap (lu10) r11, 0x6c <.label0>
0x00010018: fb 37: set (1r) cp, r11
0x0001001a: 00 f0 7b d8: ldap (lu10) r11, 0x7b <.label1>
0x0001001e: eb 37: set (1r) dp, r11
0x00010020: cb 6a: ldc (ru6) r11, 0xb

Detailed instruction sets described here:
And listing the xgdb’s (pid=5511) /proc/5511/fd directory:
lrwx—— 1 tthtlc tthtlc 64 Jan 29 22:31 5 -> /dev/bus/usb/001/005
The line above indicate that the /dev/bus/usb/001/005 is open for both read and write.
Next is to trigger a “Run Configuration” to run the program on the device.

From “ps -ef” output we can see it is “xrun” that get executed (pid=6438):

tthtlc    6438  3472  0 22:52 pts/3    00:00:00 xrun –adapter-id 0ecxWIbrM.3O. –io /home/tthtlc/.xmos/repos/sw_startkit_examples/app_spinning_bar/bin/app_spinning_bar.xe

tthtlc    6443  6438  0 22:52 pts/3    00:00:00 xgdb -q –return-child-result –batch –ex set $xcore_id=0 –ex set $xcore_boot=0 -x /tmp/.xrun6438-3BP1TC2N/xeload_auto.gdb /home/tthtlc/.xmos/repos/sw_startkit_examples/app_spinning_bar/bin/app_spinning_bar.xe

Now xrun will fork a new process running xgdb (pid=6443).

So how was xgdb able to copy the program into the remote USB XMOS device from the PC host?

The details are covered in here (page 180):
How the xcc compiler, is used is explained, and “xflash” command is shown it can be used to copy the program into the flash.   After the image is flashed, and subsequently how it is booted? The page below can provde some answer:
Hardware-wise, it is possible to integrate with RaspberryPi:
At the heart is this multicore processor:
Hardware datasheet is mainly this two:
Many other examples lies at:
After downloading, take a look at the startKIT_port_mapping.h to see all the portmap for programming hardware peripherals.
Another amazing feature is the XSwitch:
Other references:

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