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in this issue

The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

March 2007

Mezzanines •

Pack Power and Configurability into Systems

M O T I O N CONTROLLERS take on loads

BIG & SMALL M2M Links •

Pull Small Nodes into Big Systems

Embedded Windows • Opens New Vistas


Christian Jebsen:

“VXS takes the tradition of VME further by offering a multi-vendor board concept.”

An RTC Group Publication

GE Fanuc Embedded Systems

“Wouldn’t it be great if …?” Imagine the possibilities, now that Radstone is part of GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. Our goal is to move the line between what you can dream and what you can do, and the addition of Radstone Embedded Computing is a big step toward that goal. We’re building an exciting new embedded company so you can build exciting new systems with amazing new capabilities. This new company gives you more technology options, more global support, more engineering resources – plus the backing of GE, one of the most admired companies in the world.

With the addition of Radstone, you can now choose from the most extensive line of rugged products in the mil/aero market. So whatever you’re looking for – from powerful multiprocessing systems to software defined radio, from sonar and radar to high-performance video and graphics – let your imagination take you places you haven’t dared to go. We’ll be right there with you.

Now a part of GE Fanuc Embedded Systems © 2007 GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Departments 7

Editorial: The Pervasive PC in Control and Automation


Industry Insider

64 Products & Technology

Features Technology in Context


125 MHz 14bit A/D 125 MHz 14bit A/D


125 MHz 14bit A/D 125 MHz 14bit A/D

CLK A Clock & Sync Bus

Mezzanines and Small Form-Factor Boards

12 R  ight-Sizing FPGA Mezzanines Expands Application Space Joe Primeau, Acromag



Dual Timing Bus Gen

500 MHz 16bit A/D


320 MHz Interpolator & Up Converter


VIRTEX-4 FX FPGA XC4VFX60 or 100 Parallel Digital I/O & Gigabit Serial I/O

32 32 64

PCI 2.2 Interface 64 bits/66 MHz



XMC Dual 4x Gigabit Serial 64 PCI Bus

Model 7142 XMC Module using Virtex-4 FPGA for Gigabit Serial Interface. • Pg. 18

18 X  MC Delivers a Future-Proof Mezzanine Standard Rodger H. Hosking, Pentek

Solutions Engineering

Motion Control

24 O  ptimize Motion Control by Matching Motor Types to Applications Chuck Lewin, Performance Motion Devices

30 D  igital Motion Controllers Provide Precise Motion in a Wide Range of Applications Andy Herum, Galil Motion Control

36 M  otion Control and Mixed-Signal FPGAs Glen Young, Actel

Industry Insight Machine to Machine 40 M  2M Applications Challenge Design Security Alan Singer, Connect One

44 D  evice Networking Enables M2M Technology Shaye Shayegani, Lantronix

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model Upper Layers Application Layer (7)

Lower Layers

Presentation Layer (6)

Session Layer (5)







Web Applications



File Transfer



Host Sessions



Directory Services



Network Mgt.



File Services


RPC Portmapper

Transport Layer (4)

Network Layer (3)

Data Link Layer (2)

Physical Layer (1) RS-X, CAT 1

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

Internet Protocol Version 6



FDDI 802.2 SNAP User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

CAT 1-5

Internet Protocol Version 4 Ethernet II

Coaxial Cables

The TCP protocol, operating over the IP protocol, is well suited for use in telemedicine applications. Expertise is required to efficiently integrate upper-layer protocols, such as HTTP, SMTP, POP3, MIME, FTP and Telnet, into the application. • Pg. 40

Executive Interview 50 RTC Interviews Christian Jebsen, CEO, VMETRO Software & Development Tools Embedded Windows 55 T he Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Windows Vista for Embedded Engineers Shelley, Gretlein, National Instruments

61 D  esigning Scenarios with New File-Based Write Filter Milong Sabandith, Microsoft

TCP/IP Offload Engine PMC is IPv6 Compliant • Pg. 64 March 2007

March 2007 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, johnr@r EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Warren Andrews, warrena@r


EDITOR-IN - CHIEF Tom Williams, tomw@r SENIOR EDITOR Ann Thr y f t, annt@r MANAGING EDITOR Rebecca Bauer, rebeccab@r COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn


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To Contact RTC magazine: HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, EASTERN SALES OFFICE The RTC Group, 96 Dudley Road, Sudbury, MA 01776 Phone: (978) 443-2402 Fax: (978) 443-4844 Editorial Office Warren Andrews, Editorial Director/Associate Publisher 39 Southport Cove, Bonita, FL 34134 Phone: (239) 992-4537 Fax: (239) 992-2396 Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief 245-M Mt. Hermon Rd., PMB#F, Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Phone: (831) 335-1509 Fax: (408) 904-7214 Ann Thryft, Senior Editor 15520 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006 Phone: (831) 338-8228

March 2007

Published by The RTC Group Copyright 2007, The RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of The RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders.

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Editorial March 2007

The Pervasive PC in Control and Automation by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


here is a series of obnoxious commercials on television these days depicting the PC as a kind of nerdy, insecure person who always gets caught up in complexity. The Mac, on the other hand, is portrayed by a “cool dude.” Of course, when we hear the word “PC,” we normally think of a desktop system running Windows. Who wouldn’t? But in the embedded space, especially in the realm of control and automation, the much-maligned PC is center stage and everywhere. Some of them even run Windows—in fact, a lot of them do. Now, exactly what do we mean by PC in the embedded space? Basically, it refers to an x86 processor and chipset, memory and standard I/O, although things like a mouse and keyboard are often optional. We find them in a wide range of standard form-factors: ETX, PC/104, EPIC, COM Express and PMC to name a few, and of course, in a vast variety of custom form-factors. What differentiates the PC-based systems, besides the application software, is usually the I/O. Modules like COM Express were intended to allow the design of custom I/O boards onto which one could plug a COM Express CPU module. When the application grows, as applications will, one can swap in a higherpowered CPU and bring up more functionality while retaining the specialized I/O, such as the sensors in a medical instrument. There are many well-known reasons for this pervasive acceptance. First, there is the cost of the components, which spreads across the vast universe of desktop users and finds uses in the embedded space. Second, there is the widespread familiarity with the architecture as well as the software, so there is a very large pool of programmers and developers. There is a wealth of development tools available, and it is a straightforward matter to develop on a desktop PC and move the application over to an embedded target with minimal effort and hassle. We continue to see technologies developed for the PC moving into the embedded space. Well, PCI Express might represent a technology developed to serve the embedded market that is also—in a case of reverse osmosis—finding its way onto the desktop. USB, on the other hand, has recently

moved from the desktop into a PC/104 specification. Now, on top of all this, embedded PCs (as well as modules based on other architectures, it is true) are becoming increasingly connected via small industrial buses such as CAN, Profibus, Device Net and, of course Ethernet, which now comes in several industrial flavors. Now there is even a little module available from Lantronix for under $20 that can connect a device into Ethernet or the Internet without requiring an embedded Web server. The packets simply transmit control and status data back and forth and somewhere in the mix it shows up on a GUI. Alternatively, it can be used autonomously by other nodes in a “machine-tomachine” scenario. The not-so-well-kept secret is that a vast number of applications do not require the most powerful, fastest and latest processors. You don’t need a 2.5 GHz Xeon to run a gas pump. The demand in a huge number of areas is for low power and low cost. Many moderate-performance, low-priced x86 processors are entirely adequate for the tasks they are given—truck scales, pointof-sale terminals, handheld inventory control devices and more. The list is endless. Of course, the pervasiveness of the PC in control nodes and small devices has an influence on the choice of processor architectures for the higher levels of things like factory networking. Often one will find servers based on much more powerful PC architectures to handle the high-speed data traffic in an enterprise operation. And, of course, the PC is not universal by any means. Control applications, especially the high-end complex ones, are often turning to DPSs. Mission-critical applications use tried and true VME or CompactPCI hardware. But there is a vast and growing network of control nodes based on the ubiquitous PC. They may not take the stage for the most dramatic, sizzling systems, but they represent a huge infrastructure that runs much of what we encounter in our day-to-day lives, and they represent a large and steady stream of revenue for those companies and entrepreneurs who offer them as solutions to the demands of today’s applications. March 2007

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Industry Insider

March 2007

CP-TA Releases Interoperability Compliance Document and Test Procedure Manual for ATCA The Communications Platforms Trade Association (CP-TA), an association of communications platform and building block providers, has released the group’s first Interoperability Compliance Document (ICD) 1.0 and Test Procedure Manual (TPM) 1.0. The ICD defines a set of interoperability requirements to build interoperable communications platforms. The TPM defines test procedures for those requirements. Together, these two documents will allow vendors to design and deliver interoperable open specifications-based products. The ICD and TPM address three integral areas of interest for communications providers who construct AdvancedTCA platforms: thermal, manageability and data transport. “Thermal interoperability of AdvancedTCA shelves and boards is a critical factor for true plug-and-play, and the thermal section of PICMG 3.0 was subject to too much interpretation,” said Eike Waltz, Technology Consultant. “CP-TA has standardized a measurement method to characterize shelf airflow and board impedance. By defining thermal requirements and the appropriate test tools, CP-TA is providing for repeatable test methods and thermal performance classes to be met. CP-TA thermal provides critical information for the designer, the integrator and end user alike.” CP-TA members will be able to conduct self-testing in the first half of the year with plans for a third-party interoperability lab to be running in Q4 2007. Products that pass third-party certification will be labeled CP-TA-certified. In the near future, CP-TA will also address interoperability requirements for PICMG’s MicroTCA and AMC specifications as well as specifications from OSDL and the Service Availability Forum. The ICD and TPM are available for download at

Cavium Networks and Jungo Deliver Residential and SMB Gateway Solutions

Cavium Networks, a provider of semiconductors that enable intelligent processing for networking, communications and security applications, and Jungo, a provider of broadband gateway middleware, have announced the availability of Jungo’s OpenRG and OpenSMB gateway software for Cavium’s Octeon CN30XX MIPS64-based Processor family. The production-ready reference platforms deliver solution performance from sub-100 Mbits/s to greater than 500 Mbits/s using the same board design and software and are suitable for next-generation Multi-Play Residential and Business Gateways. Broadband Gateways are rapidly evolving to support higher performance and richer

functionality at current price points. Octeon CN3010 and CN3005 processor families provide the needed performance and processing capability to support Jungo’s middleware, and a high degree of scalability. The Jungo feature set includes Stateful QoS, DSLHome, advanced routing, security, VoIP, IP-PBX, wireless LAN, print server, file server and UPnP AV Media Server. Gateways based on this platform are designed to enable Service Providers to rapidly deliver advanced broadband services to the residential and small business markets. Services such as IPTV, home media distribution, remote file access, video surveillance and content filtering are available, and more services can be added in a timely manner, designed to allow service providers to not only keep up with but stay ahead of market demands.

Green Hills Software Partners with CurtissWright for Board Support

Green Hills Software has teamed with Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, who will offer developers complete embedded hardware/ software solutions based on the Green Hills Integrity RTOS and the Multi development tool suite for high-performance modular computing and integrated subsystem applications in the defense and aerospace markets. Curtiss-Wright will develop, market and support board support packages (BSPs) and core drivers for the latest versions of the Integrity real-time operating system using Multi development tools provided by Green Hills under the partnership agreement. Support for Integrity will be available for selected CurtissWright VME and VPX/VPX-

REDI single board computers, including the popular SVME/ DMV-183, and digital signal processor (DSP) engines. “Like Curtiss-Wright, Green Hills Software is a recognized leader in providing embedded computing solutions for the defense market,” said Lynn Patterson, vice president and general manager of Modular Solutions, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing. “Support for Integrity on our single board computers and DSP engines opens up great new opportunities for both of our companies and our customers. We are excited about strengthening our relationship with Green Hills Software.” Dan Mender, director of business development, Green Hills Software, said: “For customers developing deployed embedded military/aerospace systems, Green Hills Software’s proven and widely popular Integrity real-time operating system is an ideal match for Curtiss-Wright’s high-performance rugged board and subsystem solutions. The combination of our products delivers a winning set of features that system integrators are certain to embrace.”

One Stop Systems Acquires SBE’s Embedded Products Division

One Stop Systems has agreed to purchase the Embedded Products division of SBE. One Stop Systems designs and manufactures many board-level and packaging products for the industrial computing marketplace. SBE is an established provider of high-speed communication board-level products. In addition to procuring the complete line of SBE communication products, One Stop Systems will hire the current SBE Embedded Products Division employees. “The SBE communication March 2007

Industry Insider

products complement One Stop Systems’ product offering of CompactPCI and passive backplane products by adding T1/ E1, Gigabit Ethernet, encryption and intelligent carrier boards,” said Steve Cooper, CEO. “In addition, the SBE team brings with them a high level of expertise in board development and manufacturing. One Stop Systems will employ this expertise to develop nextgeneration communication and PCI Express-based products. SBE customers will benefit by having access to One Stop Systems’ broad product line, offering them more options in procuring systems and components.” “We’ve received very positive feedback from the current set of SBE embedded hardware customers. They are enthusiastic about the synergies that the combined product lines provide. They look forward to working with the great organization that One Stop has created with this acquisition,” said Greg Yamamoto, president and CEO of SBE.

MicroTCA systems are developed to provide a compact, flexible, cost-effective platform for evaluating, developing and deploying wireless infrastructure systems. Emerson’s wireless basestation demo utilizes their new MicroTCA EMC6000 Series Platform. Featuring independent control and data plane operation, the system is equipped with a MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) module, power supply, application/protocol processing and a system controller card. The MCH provides IPMI management, Gigabit Ethernet switching for the control plane and optional telecom clock distribution. The basestation’s EMC6000 doublewide MicroTCA chassis will be housed in a Knürr Tecoras outdoor cabinet. Equipped with an air-to-air heat exchanger and a CoolBlast (-48 VDC version) fan unit, the cabinet supports three phases of 230 VAC, features a -48 VDC Emerson power supply, and is available with optional battery back up.

Emerson Previews MicroTCA WiMAX Basestation

Power Architecture Developer Conference to Provide Technical Training and Demos

Emerson Network Power’s new Embedded Computing business, formerly Artesyn Communication Products, has previewed a new MicroTCA WiMAX basestation at 3GSM. The proof-of-concept demo, featuring an Emerson MicroTCA system housed in a Knürr outdoor enclosure, will include an Intel WiMAX baseband processing card, E1/T1 and Gigabit Ethernet backhaul cards, and a system controller card. Emerson’s

Event Calendar If your company produces any type of industry event, you can get your event listed by contacting This is a FREE industry-wide listing. 10

March 2007

The industry’s first vendorneutral event to focus on technical training and developer networking for a broad set of Power Architecture solutions, the Power Architecture Developer Conference will be held in Austin, Texas, September 24 - 25, 2007. Hosted by, the open collaborative organization that enables, develops and promotes Power Architecture technology, the inaugural conference will present

the latest technology innovations, ground-breaking demonstrations and practical design information. Power Architecture covers the architecture that was formerly known as PowerPC. Technical papers from the design engineering community supporting the theme, Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation, and offering advice on the development of Power Architecture solutions will be considered through April 20, 2007. Proposals should be submitted online at by April 20, 2007. Technology Panels will engage industry experts and attendees in face-to-face discussions around current trends and standards, as well as the future of Power Architecture technology and its markets. The Power Architecture Lab will provide a handson environment for exploring readily available, innovative Power Architecture platforms. Trainers will deliver step-bystep demonstrations of real-world development projects. The Power Architecture Landscape presents an open environment for interacting with product and technology demonstrations from more than 20 vendors. Attendees can discuss design challenges and explore potential Power Architecture applications with industry experts.

RadiSys and VirtualLogix Partner on Real-Time Multicore Development

real-time development kit using multicore systems based on Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The RadiSys Multi-core Development Kit, which includes RadiSys’ OS-9 real-time operating system and real-time virtualization software from VirtualLogix, provides embedded systems designers with the software tools and real-time operating systems they need to develop innovative multicore-based designs on RadiSys Procelerant ComExpess solutions, embedded servers and motherboards. The trend toward multicore processors represents tremendous opportunity for consolidation and cost reduction for embedded systems designers; however, innovative software solutions are needed to capture the benefits, said Mark Milligan, vice president of marketing for VirtualLogix. “With VirtualLogix’s VLX virtualization software, multiple operating systems can run concurrently on a single hardware platform, while maintaining real-time performance and high I/O throughput. We are pleased to partner with RadiSys to deliver the multi-OS, multicore development kit to customers.” The RadiSys Multi-core Development Kit runs on Intel Core 2 Duo processors, which are well suited for numerous applications including networking equipment, interactive clients (i.e., point-of-sale terminals and ATMs), gaming platforms, industrial control and automation, digital security surveillance and medical imaging.

RadiSys and VirtualLogix have announced a partnership to deliver a high-performance,


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Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Bethesda, MD

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TechnologyInContext Mezzanines and Small Form-Factor Boards

Right-Sizing FPGA Mezzanines Expands Application Space FPGA mezzanine modules are being offered for a broader base of application and user needs, typically at a much lower price point. by J oe Primeau, Embedded Board Group Acromag


ield-programmable gate arrays provide the equivalent of custom hardware but require less development and at a significantly lower cost. Manufacturers of FPGA-based modules have thus leveraged open-architecture bus board standards such as VME, PCI and PMC to serve high-end signal- and image-processing applications. The rigorous requirements of these and other sophisticated applications such as software defined radio (SDR), however, have relegated field-programmable design to the high end, where large FPGAs, fast uplink/downlink converters and large, high-speed memories have driven the price of FPGA modules into the five-figure price range. Yet many applications would benefit from the use of FPGA-based board-level products. As a result, board manufacturers have begun offering FPGA modules for a broader base of application and developer needs, typically at a much lower price point (Figure 1). They are becoming popular for an ever widening range of applications. Well suited to working with a CPU or as stand-alone controllers, they are also the most reasonable design approach when obsolescence is an issue. Moreover, a rich trove of advanced tools and a wealth of IP cores help speed the development process. 12

March 2007

Right-sizing FPGA modules for use across the gamut of embedded computing applications involves balancing variously sized FPGAs—ranging from roughly 5K to 50K logic cells each—with appropriate mixtures of memory, bus interface and I/O components. Nevertheless, selecting the right FPGA module for a particular design can be difficult for newcomers to this product type. Successfully putting the selected module to work, in turn, will depend on the scope and quality of the tools provided in the board support packages (BSPs), or engineering design kits, provided by board vendors. At the very least, a BSP should provide example VHDL code, both compiled and in source form, for everything the FPGA touches, including memory, I/O, buses, DMA and interrupt controllers. Having the source code on CD is essential. But when code is pre-installed in the module’s onboard memory, designers can exercise the module out of the box and confirm its proper operation without writing any new code. Many new designs allow code to be downloaded directly to the FPGA. If new programming downloaded to the FPGA doesn’t work, the developer can power down and reload the original programming from flash memory.

Widening the Application Field

A broad variety of possible FPGA, memory and I/O combinations can be integrated into the physical envelope of a mezzanine board standard such as Industry Pack or PMC. Modules can be generally characterized by tiers of complexity— as defined by the capacity of their FPGA, types and availability of onboard memory, speed and type of bus interface—as well as specialized technologies supported such as digital signal processing (DSP). The application’s data processing speed requirement may also dictate the choice of FPGA chips and modules. For relatively slow applications, device families such as Altera Cyclone and Xilinx Spartan are adequate, while higher-speed requirements dictate devices like an Altera Stratix or Xilinx Virtex 2. Applications requiring the utmost in FPGA speed call for the latest technology, such as the Xilinx Virtex 4 or 5 family or an Altera Stratix III. At the module level, the application also dictates the amount and speed of memory provided for the FPGA, the I/O and bus structures that are used and other factors. Module designs can be divided into basic FPGA modules, medium-powered modules with expanded memory and bus support, and finally larger, more powerful


modules supporting the latest high-performance FPGAs, with a full array memory and high-speed bus support.

Entry-Level FPGA Processing

Small modules with a single FPGA are appropriate for a broad range of applications requiring as few as 5K or up to 35K or more logic cells.

FPGA I/O Clock

Bus Clock

I/O Controller

Bus Controller

Serializer/ Deserializer

Interrupt Controller

Process Clock

Memory Clock

Program Controller


DSP Processes Control Computation


Bus Power

Figure 1

Digital I/O: TTL, CMOS, RS485, LVDS

A basic module with an FPGA containing as few as 5K logic cells, some simple digital I/O and a modicum of SRAM can serve many basic applications. They are usually offered in the form of a small mezzanine module with a three-figure price tag. Up to about 10K or 20K logic cells, FPGAs such as the Altera Cyclone II and Xilinx Spartan families are appropriate. These modules are well suited for classic machine control applications, such as multi-axis controllers for satellite downlink systems. They also excel at collecting data, making control decisions based on this data and sending status information to the CPU, a common scenario in many machine control and test applications. Using the FPGA’s high-speed, localized processing capacities is common in applications where transferring data across the bus to the CPU would be too slow for proper control. Basic FPGA modules are particularly suited for applications requiring fast processing of collected data, such as serial protocol conversion applications. Here, data must be collected at a relatively high speed (100 - 200K baud), and managed through the FPGA’s control lines (such as clear-to-send and ready-to-send) from the I/O or “field” side of the board. As data is received, the FPGA can strip packet information down to its basic text and pass this pre-processed data across the bus to the CPU. Applications appropriate for a basic, low gate-count FPGA module typically require little memory and relatively slow memory external to the FPGA (Figure 2). Many can get away with 64K x 16 of SRAM or less. As far as bus bandwidth is concerned, the needs of small FPGA applications are also minimal. The 8 MHz or 32 MHz operation of an 8- or 16-bit Industry Pack bus, for example, is usually sufficient for an FPGA-based mezzanine module to effectively interface to a CPU board or carrier

Data Storage

EPROM/ Flash


5k - 20k Logic Cells

Figure 2

A module with a small FPGA, a little simple digital I/O and a bit of SRAM is suitable for many classic machine control applications.

board. Likewise, the demands on interfaces to the real world beyond the computer are not very high, and basic digital interfaces such as RS-422 or RS-485 and various TTL-level interfaces are usually sufficient. Toward the higher end of this entrylevel tier, though, and into the mid-performance FPGA arena, faster digital I/O interfaces are sometimes brought to bear, usually in the form of low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS). Many basic FPGA implementations dedicate at least some capacity to DSP functions and DSP cores are readily avail-

able. Moreover, a relatively small FPGA can comfortably accommodate as many as 26 18x18 multipliers on-chip. In many applications, the FPGA’s DSP portion is dedicated to pre-processing tasks and does not pass much data on to the CPU. Even the very simplest FPGAs typically provide at least a fixed clock and one or more phase-locked loops (PLLs) to create internal and external clocks, giving the flexibility of multiple timing domains. Multiple clock managers and PLLs let the designer optimize timing domains for actual application characteristics. March 2007




Program Controller

Digital I/O: TTL, CMOS, RS485, LVDS High-Speed Analog I/O

FPGA I/O Clock Data Storage

I/O Controller

Bus Clock Interrupt Triggers

Serializer/ Deserializer

DMA Controller

Process Clock DSP Processes

Data Storage


Data Post-Processing Memory Clock

EPROM/ Flash

Signal Processing

Specialty IP Cores

11k - 33k Logic Cells

Figure 3

Digital I/O: TTL, CMOS, RS485, LVDS High-Speed Analog I/O

Low-Jitter Clock

DMA PCI Bus, Power


I/O Clock I/O Controller Serializer/ Deserializer Process Clock DSP Processes Signal Processing

SDRAM Memory Control High-Speed Clock Soft CPU Core

CPU Clock > 35k Logic Cells

Program Controller

Bus Clock Interrupt Triggers

PCI Bus Interface

DMA Controller

PCI DMA PCI Bus, Power

Data Storage


Data Post-Processing Memory Clock

EPROM/ Flash JTAG Port

Modules with large FPGAs often contain soft CPU cores for offloading complex data analysis tasks from a host.

There are further advantages, as well. An FPGA such as a Cyclone II, with four to six PLLs on-chip, can be programmed to multiple clock frequencies. This is necessary to handle the different data rates that the FPGA must accommodate. Even in a relatively simple application, the FPGA might have to generate external clocks to synchronize serial inputs running at various baud rates while simultaneously communicating with the bus at 32 MHz.

Basic FPGA Modules in Action

The flexibility of an FPGA-based design is particularly useful in automated test and in-circuit diagnostics, allowing 14


Midrange FPGA applications typically require a module to handle greater amounts of data at a faster rate with higher efficiency.


Figure 4

PCI Bus Interface

March 2007

new configurations and diagnostic routines to be quickly downloaded, either to on-module memory by means of a bus or to flash memory via a JTAG port. One Acromag customer uses a basic FPGA module in a roll-up tarmac tester for commercial aircraft, which puts critical aircraft systems through their paces and monitors the process: a simple “go/no-go” scenario. Although this application requires very tight real-time coordination, the data collected by the CPU from the FPGA module is minimal. In another customer application, a small FPGA module serves to simulate the different pieces of third-party hard-

ware that comprise a satellite. At one time the module might simulate a power supply subsystem from one manufacturer in order to test its interaction with a solar panel controller from another manufacturer, or an RF subsystem from yet a third. Some time later, with new programming downloaded, the same module can be used to simulate additional subsystems. The benefit of hardware simulation in this application is fairly obvious, since it’s not advisable in large, expensive systems to simply plug subsystems together just to see if they work. Using even a relatively slow FPGA here, such as a Spartan or Cyclone II family device, is fast enough to deliver real-time simulation performance.

Into the Midrange

Large data sets and high-speed I/O are the primary reasons for moving to midrange FPGA modules (Figure 3). These typically utilize FPGAs with between 20K and 34K logic cells and provide a step up in bus bandwidth, memory and I/O. While small FPGA modules can comfortably handle a pre-processing application, those applications that must pre-process a lot of data and transfer it across a bus usually call for a medium-sized FPGA such as a Xilinx Virtex 2 or Altera Stratix. Midrange FPGA applications typically require 256K x 36 of SRAM or more. Real-world interfacing is also frequently more complex, with high-speed analog signaling often added to the I/O mix. Further, the amount of DSP processing being conducted is often significantly higher. This is a Matlab environment where pre-processing can contain multiple stages of multipliers, FIR filters and other DSP functions. As many as 56 18x18 multipliers can be comfortably incorporated into a medium-sized FPGA. Architectures of medium-sized FPGA modules may contain several modifications to handle the higher demands on memory and speed of more complex applications (Figure 3). The simple Industry Pack mezzanine bus can be replaced by PMC and its 32-bit, 33 MHz PCI bus, for example. A PCI bus interface chip can be incorporated to provide DMA service between the FPGA and bus for greater transfer efficiency. The module’s SRAM may be dual-ported between the FPGA and PCI chip to optimize

TechnologyInContext data movement. Once the FPGA post-processes its calculations and sends them on to SRAM, the PCI bus controller picks up the data and transfers it to the host under DMA control, independent of the FPGA.

Midrange FPGA Modules in Action

In one customer example, a midrange FPGA module takes the inputs from four audio signal sources, performs a series of algorithms and post-processes the remain-

ing data to be sent back out as analog outputs to a set of headphones. This application requires both higher memory capacity and a higher data rate, with processing and I/O operating simultaneously and continuously. Sonar systems provide another scenario where medium FPGA modules can be effective. The example module can accommodate a high-speed analog frontend for an FPGA, which pre-processes the data to remove noise, strips off extraneous data, repackages the remaining signal and

forwards it to SRAM. At this point, the PCI bus controller picks up the data and transfers it by DMA to the CPU for display or further analysis. Midrange FPGA modules are also appropriate for sophisticated simulation systems, such as flight simulation systems, which require a lot of high-speed control capability as well as the DMA capability to accommodate real-time image display.

Top-Tier Capacity and Speed

Currently, large FPGAs provide over 35K logic cells, such as members of the Xilinx Virtex 4/5 family and the Altera Stratix III family. What differentiates this top tier is the degree of analysis performed by the FPGA-based module, which is called on to conduct some complex processing tasks onboard rather than passing them off to a CPU (Figure 4). FPGAs in this realm can comfortably provide as many as 192 18x18 multipliers on chip. High-end FPGAs are complex enough to host a soft CPU core in addition to other onchip processing resources. As with previous steps up in the complexity tier, modules containing such an FPGA must offer greater capabilities to handle more demanding applications. High-end image and communications processors and sonar/radar downlink analyzers, for example, may demand as much as 256K x 36 of SRAM. When demands are particularly high, faster DDR DRAM can be used. PCI bus width and frequency may have to expand to 64 bits and 66 MHz. For the most demanding applications, a step up from PCI to the PCI-X bus may be required, or even a move to a serial, pointto-point link such as PCI Express. In the past, because of their cost, fieldprogrammable modules have been limited to the tip of the performance pyramid. But now, with the current trend toward rightsizing, the application field for FPGA-based design has broadened considerably. What’s required to fuel this revolution in flexibility are modules with appropriate combinations of FPGA, memory and interfaces to match real-world application needs. Acromag Embedded Board Group Wixom MI. (248) 624-1541. [].


March 2007

Photographer: Remco Frank

What Do These Embedded Applications Have In Common? Each embedded application is unique. That’s why VersaLogic offers an extensive line of embedded products with choices of size, performance, and features. That’s also why VersaLogic works closely with customers to tailor standard products to meet their needs. Product customization is available in quantities as low as 100 pieces! More importantly, embedded customers have many common needs. Meticulous quality standards, dedicated customer support, and reliable product delivery are just a few that VersaLogic provides. That’s why customers from a wide range of industries rely on VersaLogic for their embedded computer needs. Could you use uncommonly-good support? Call today to see if your unique application is a good match with VersaLogic’s unique approach to service and support. We may have more in common than you think!

Call 800-824-3163. Visit

Rated a “Platinum Vendor” by Venture Development Corporation (2002-2005) for excellence in customer service.

(800) 824-3163 •

TechnologyInContext Mezzanines and Small Form-Factor Boards

XMC Delivers a Future-Proof Mezzanine Standard FPGA-based XMC modules are ideally suited for adding peripheral I/O functions, can be easily updated to future standards and protocols and can be made fabric-agnostic, making them virtually future-proof.

by R  odger H. Hosking Pentek


exploration her your goal peak directly al page, the t resource. chnology, and products


ezzanine cards have played an nectors to support a PCI bus interconnect 42 Switched Mezzanine Card (XMC), essential role in real-time em- to the carrier board, as well as a fourth the XMC specification extends the PMC bedded systems since the earliest 64-pin connector for user I/O. card by adding new connectors to support days of SBCs and standard backplanes. During the next decade, important gigabit serial interfaces plus a growing list They offer a wealth of specialized signal extensions to the PMC standard included of alternative I/O standards. interfaces, data converters, connectors conduction-cooled versions for severe and transceivers along with dedicated environments, pin definitions for P4 I/O VITA 42: A Mezzanine for All engines for protocols, networks and sig- and the adoption of the processor PMC Seasons mpanies providing now Standardization of the nal solutions processing. (PrPMC) specification. The hallmark of any successful stanmechanical and characteristics dard is that it continues to evolve with oration into products, technologies and electrical companies. Whether your goal is to researchWhen the latesta proposal for standardizing plication Engineer, jump tomezzanine a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to putswitched you oforthese cards enables system gigabit serial fabrics shook the technology, and none offers a better exvice you require for whatever type of technology, integrators to deliver specialized, high- embedded computing community in 2002 ample than XMC (Figure 1). The VITA nies and products you are searching for. performance embedded applications by as part of the VME renaissance, a natural 42.0 base specification includes general judiciously combining open-architecture extension of that technology to PMC mod- information, reference and inheritance I/O products with processor boards. ules was inevitable. Defined as the VITA documentation, dimensional specificaMaking its debut in 1994 as the IEEE VITA Doc Description Status P1386.1 standard, the PCI mezzanine card 42.0 Base Specification, general info, connectors, mechanical, etc. Draft released for trial use (PMC) was successfully adopted for both commercial and government electronic 42.1 Parallel RapidIO Approved systems. Based on the mechanical specifi42.2 Serial RapidIO Approved cations for the P1386 common mezzanine 42.3 PCI Express Approved card (CMC), it included three 64-pin con-


End of Article Get Connected

with companies mentioned in this article.









General Purpose I/O


Figure 1

Status of XMC VITA 42 Standards.

March 2007 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

GE Fanuc Embedded Systems

Add more security to your network applications. Control your network traffic with our Cavium-based packet processor. Administrators are increasingly turning to deep packet inspection at full Gigabit Ethernet line rates to control their network traffic. This level of control is necessary for managing traffic flows and security, and the Cavium Octeon™ is the chip of choice for these demanding high speed applications, including network address translation. With our single width AdvancedMC™ module, you can now create content-aware applications in one MicroTCA™ slot or AdvancedTCA® bay. This allows you to quickly build devices such as Session Border

Controllers, Media Gateways, Edge Routers, Firewalls and Video Services Switches to name a few. GE Fanuc Embedded Systems is a leader in AdvancedMC™ design with more than a dozen modules in production, including this Caviumbased packet processor which is already deployed in customer applications. So we can offer you the security you need to make your wired or wireless networks more secure.

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© 2007 GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


P15 Primary XMC


P16 Secondary XMC


Each XMC Connector: 6 x 19 pin array 114 pins total



(component side)

Figure 2

P15 and P16 Connector Definition for VITA 42.0 Single-Width PMC.

tions, connectors, pin numbering and primary allocation of pairing and grouping of pin functions. This document is still designated as a draft document, but it was released for trial use for an 18month period that ends in March 2007. Recommendations gathered during the trial will be used to produce a final released specification.

1 20 Untitled-2March 2007

XMCs can be single- or doublewide modules that use a pin-socket connector with 114 pins arranged in a 6 x 19 array. A single-width XMC can have one or two connectors with pin functions (Figure 2). A double-width XMC can have up to four connectors. To support gigabit serial interfaces, both P15 and P16 connectors define 10 full-

duplex differential pair lines. The VITA 42.0 base specification does not dictate signal types, data rates, protocols, voltage levels or grouping for these signals. Instead, it wisely leaves that up to the several subspecifications that follow, allowing XMCs to evolve as new standards emerge. In fact, contrary to the fundamental mission of supporting serial interfaces, the first sub-specification, VITA 42.1, defines these same pins for Parallel RapidIO. Although VITA 42.1 is approved and fielded, few vendors have embraced this standard and have instead opted for the more popular serial protocols. VITA 42.2, 42.3 and 42.4 define true serial switched fabric protocols for Serial RapidIO, PCI Express and HyperTransport, respectively. The first two are already approved and beginning to appear as mainstream choices for a widening range of board and silicon vendors. In fact, two major silicon vendors have announced new processors well suited for embedded computing applications that incorporate serial interfaces and protocol engines right on the chip. Texas

2/9/07 9:38:21 AM


Instruments offers the TMS320C6455 DSP processor with Serial RapidIO, while the Freescale MPC8641 includes both PCI Express and Serial RapidIO interfaces. These native interfaces simplify carrier board design and significantly boost peripheral I/O transfer rates by taking advantage of XMC modules. VITA 42.5 defines the popular Xilinx Aurora protocol for use in XMC. This lightweight link-layer protocol is quite attractive for XMC modules because many XMCs only need to move data from a dedicated source, such as an A/D converter, to a dedicated destination, such as memory on a processor board. The extra protocol layers necessary to support a full switched network and routing can significantly reduce the payload data rate and add complexity and cost at both ends of the link. This standard is still in the definition phase. Most of the pins on P15 are reserved for serial links, power and other functions, but P16 has a wealth of user-defined pins now being addressed by the VITA 42.10 General Purpose I/O draft specification. It offers a standardized way of implementing interfaces for popular system I/O including Ethernet, USB ports, RS-232, RS-485, Serial ATA, Fibre Channel and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The clear benefit here is that by following these definitions, XMC and carrier board designers can achieve a much wider range of interoperability, the essential goal of industry standards.

FPGAs: The Vital Ingredient

In recent years, FPGAs have permeated mezzanine card architectures for reasons entirely incidental to XMC, yet today FPGAs represent the single most significant catalyst for XMC adoption. FPGAs offer a collection of resources ideally suited for peripheral I/O functions. FPGAs can be configured to implement numerous electrical interface standards as well as a variety of protocol engines. By the reconfiguration of its FPGA, not only can a single I/O product replace several legacy products, it can also be adapted to future standards and protocols. This forestalls product obsolescence, both at the board level and at the deployed system level. Another reason that FPGAs find their way onto mezzanine cards is their unmatched ability to implement real-time

signal processing and high-level local control. FPGAs deal effectively with the very high, front-end data rates for A/D and D/A converters, network interfaces, sensor arrays and high-speed data channels by mustering a troop of high-performance hardware resources, configured to match the specific task at hand. For more sophisticated front-end processing, most FPGAs now feature DSP engines with built-in hardware multipliers to tackle the toughest algorithms with CH A IN CH B IN

125 MHz 14bit A/D 125 MHz 14bit A/D


125 MHz 14bit A/D 125 MHz 14bit A/D

CLK A Clock & Sync Bus CH A OUT

Figure 3

500 MHz 16bit A/D

efficiently, often well beyond the scope of larger systems with more loosely coupled elements. With such widespread use of FPGAs on mezzanines, the emergence of built-in gigabit serial interfaces on these devices was a major windfall for XMC. During the last five years, both Xilinx and Altera have invested heavily in developing this technology, and have now produced three generations of FPGAs with gigabit serial interfaces. 256 MB SDRAM 256 MB SDRAM 256 MB SDRAM


Dual Timing Bus Gen

XC4VSX55 or XC4VLX100

320 MHz Interpolator & Up Converter

32 32 32 64

VIRTEX-4 FX FPGA XC4VFX60 or 100 Parallel Digital I/O & Gigabit Serial I/O PCI 2.2 Interface 64 bits/66 MHz



XMC Dual 4x Gigabit Serial 64 PCI Bus

Model 7142 XMC Module using Virtex-4 FPGA for Gigabit Serial Interface.

ease. Arrays of these engines can be deployed in parallel, completely surpassing the capabilities of general-purpose programmable RISC or DSP processors that must execute serial instructions. By performing these types of intensive protocol, formatting, decoding and DSP functions on the mezzanine, the workload for the processor on the carrier board can be significantly reduced. This may lead to fewer processors or fewer processor boards in the system, for considerable savings in system cost and size. With integrated microcontrollers, FPGAs can implement a complete system-on-a-chip. Executing a program coded into the FPGA or from external flash memory, these microcontrollers can perform complex processing tasks to implement real-time control functions for adaptive processing, signal classification, target identification and object recognition. Having intimate contact with the surrounding DSP hardware, FPGA microcontrollers can modify real-time operating parameters and modes very

Xilinx offers its RocketIO GTP transceivers on the latest Virtex-5 LXT family of devices with bit rates of up to 3.125 GHz. Altera offers its Stratix-II GX multigigabit transceivers with bit rates of up to 6.375 GHz. Both vendors support these physical interfaces with SERDES hardware engines that perform serial/parallel conversion so that data and clock are combined in the signaling on each differential pair over the external serial channel. Protocol engines for specific standards can be configured using FPGA logic so that FPGAs can adapt to different protocols as required. They interface to the SERDES and correctly process protocol-specific packets, header information, control functions, error detection and correction, and payload data format. This strategy makes FPGA-based XMC modules truly fabric-agnostic and allows a single hardware design to be deployed in several different fabric environments. The new Xilinx Virtex-5 LXT devices advance the technology even further by including a built-in PCI Express endMarch 2007



point engine. This saves FPGA resources for other tasks and offers a standardized internal interface for sending and receiving data.

Putting FPGAs to Work for XMC

Intel® Pentium®M up to Core™(2) Duo CompactPCI®/Express

■ ■ ■

F17 – Core®2 Duo T7400, 2.16 GHz F15 – Core® Duo T2500, 2 GHz F14 – Pentium® M 760/Celeron M 373, 1.2 GHz Side Cards – UART, Multimedia, USB, etc. Compatible 3U Intel® family with scalable computing performance Long-term availability due to easy system adjustment For harsh industrial environments and mobile applications

Visit MEN at Booth #2132 MEN Micro, Inc. 750 Veterans Circle Warminster, PA 18974 Tel: 215.956.1583 E-mail:


March 2007

One XMC module that takes maximum advantage of FPGA resources is the Pentek Model 7142 for software radio applications. It includes two Xilinx Virtex-4 devices (Figure 3). One FPGA provides interfaces to the module’s many A/D and D/A converters, timing and memory resources. Because of compatible footprints, either an SX55 or an LX100 device can be installed. The SX55 offers a generous 512 DSP slices, the highest in the Virtex-4 family, to maximize performance of algorithms critical to software radio like digital downconversion, analysis, energy detection and demodulation. Alternatively, for applications requiring maximum logic resources, the LX100 offers over 110,000 logic cells, nearly double that of the SX55. A second Virtex-4, an FX device, is harnessed for its excellent control and I/O capabilities. A nine-channel DMA controller and a complete PCI interface ensure efficient data transfers to and from the host PCI interface. The RocketIO gigabit serial interfaces, not available on the SX or LX devices, are connected directly to the pins of the XMC connection, per VITA 42.0. By installing the appropriate protocol engine inside the FX100, any of the popular serial standards can be supported. Commercial intellectual property cores for both PCI Express and Serial RapidIO are available from Xilinx, Altera and third-party sources to save development time. The module’s XMC connector delivers the dual 4x gigabit serial links to the XMC carrier board, and supports data transfers at up to 2.5 Gbytes/s in both directions (Figure 4). Architectures like this one illustrate the central role of FPGAs in PMC and XMC modules. These FPGAs replace hundreds of discrete devices for improved density and function. The ability to add custom signal processing algorithms, control functions and protocol engines helps

Figure 4

Model 7142 Software Radio Module Showing XMC Connector.

broaden the market space and extend product lifecycles. As FPGAs acquire more functions, future XMC offerings will surely benefit, ensuring them a secure and long-lasting role in high-performance embedded systems. The claim that FPGAs have been the single most important factor in XMC adoption has been clearly demonstrated. Because of FPGAs, the only incremental hardware cost to the PMC card vendor is adding copper traces from the FPGA gigabit serial interface pins to the pads of the XMC connector. The larger investments in software, drivers and FPGA development can be tuned to the market demands as appropriate. Now that XMC-compliant hardware is proliferating, these investments are already being made. Pentek Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].

Acromag introduces affordable FPGA I/O. For ALL your projects.


s an engineer, your projects are unique, ever-changing, and budget-bound.That's why our new PMC modules give you an affordable solution to create custom I/O boards. But if you thought FPGA computing was only for top-end applications, think again. Our PMCs are ideal for protocol conversion, simulation, in-circuit testing, and much more. So why settle for generic I/O when you can design exactly what you need while staying in budget and reducing your time to market? • Virtex®-II FPGA with 500K, 2M or 3M system gates • 1Mb on-chip RAM, 9Mb on-board SRAM • Fast PCI with 32-bit, 66MHz dual DMA

Cost-effective custom I/O Choose from a variety of I/O configurations: • Digital I/O:TTL, RS422, or LVDS I/O • Analog I/O:four 20 or 65MHz A/D and two D/A Faster time to market Why waste precious time building a board from scratch? Our new FPGA modules let you process your I/O signals any way you want. Quickly. Flexibility to meet unexpected challenges Acromag FPGA I/O will help you bring your projects in on time and under budget. And with FPGAs, you'll be ready to adapt to all the inevitable changes. Thinking about FPGA I/O? Think flexible. Think affordable. Think Acromag.

Industry Pack FPGA I/O also available



Manufactured in Wixom, Michigan, USA



Call or visit our website today – for VME, CompactPCI, PCI, PMC, and Industry Pack solutions. 800-881-0268 or 248-624-1541



All trademarks are the property of their respective companies

SolutionsEngineering Motion Control

Optimize Motion Control by Matching Motor Types to Applications For many motion projects, motor selection plays a central part in the search for improved system performance. Knowing which motor to use in a given application will improve the cost and performance of your machine. by C  huck Lewin Performance Motion Devices


exploration her your goal peak directly al page, the t resource. chnology, and products


he three motor types commonly used Stator N in positioning control systems are Winding C the step motor, the DC brush motor Stator S Winding A and the brushless DC (permanent magnet) S motor, also called a synchronous AC moNN tor. A fourth motor type, not as common Q Force (Quadrature) in positioning but very popular in fixedSS speed applications, and rapidly becoming D Force popular in velocity and torque control ap(Direct) N plications, is the AC induction motor, also Stator called the asynchronous AC motor. Winding B mpanies providing solutions now All electric motors use electromagnetic oration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest S fields to create torque. Motors can be conplication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you totype create torque along a rotating vice you requirestructed for whatever of technology, nies and products you are axis, or searching they constructed on a plane Figure 1 Three-phase brushless DC motor showing the relation giving linear motion. Whether the motor is to the direct and quadrature rotary or linear does not affect the fundaforces in relation to the rotor mentals of how torque (force) is created. and stator windings. From the standpoint of torque generation, a good working model for most motors is the simple bar magnet. The bar erated perpendicular to the axis of rotation. magnet spins around its center (the motor’s This force is known as the Q (quadrature) rotor) and interacts with magnet fields gen- force. Torque generated parallel to the axis erated in the stator by fixed, non-moving of rotation is known as D (direct) force, coils. Optimally, force should only be gen- and if non-zero, means the stator and rotor electric fields are not correctly aligned. Figure 1 shows the rotor magnetic field in Get Connected relation to the D and Q forces for a 3-phase with companies mentioned in this article. brushless DC or AC induction motor.

End of Article


March 2007 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

For some step motors and all brushless DC motors, the rotor magnetic field is generated by magnets mounted directly on the rotor. For AC induction motors, the rotor magnetic field is generated by induction (therefore the name of the motor) by the magnetic fields in the stator. DC brush motors are different in that the stator usually has fixed magnets, and the rotor contains the coils. Since the rotor rotates, this immediately suggests the problem of how to get current into the rotor, and this problem is solved using some sort of mechanical contactors (usually carbon brushes) for commutation. By comparison, brushless DC, step motors and AC induction motors are all commutated electronically rather than mechanically. DC brush motors require one phase of control, while brushless DC motors typically require three phases, and step motors typically two phases. AC induction motors use a few different winding configurations, including a 3-phase identical to that used for brushless DC motors, and suitable for more advanced control of AC induction such as in positioning, velocity and torque control applications. Another popular version of the AC induction mo-

Intel. Igniting Innovation.

The Engines of Innovation Building on its storied legacy as the inventor of the microprocessor and microcontroller, today Intel offers one of the broadest lines of Intel速 processors, chipsets, standards-based processor boards and software components for the embedded market segment. With Intel速 multi-core processors serving as the building block foundation for industrial automation, interactive clients, automotive, communications and the newest in-vehicle infotainment applications, Intel remains the catalyst for innovation. The universal motor for electronics has now become the engine for change.

SolutionsEngineering tor is the single phase AC induction motor. This is the workhorse found in most household air-conditioning units, refrigerators, washers and dryers, although it does not lend itself to the more advanced control because the stator windings cannot be individually controlled. With this overview behind us, the following sections provide more information on each of these four motor types.

Step Motors: Do We Have a Pulse?

Hall Inputs

6-step (Trapezoidal Commutation)

Sinusoidal Commutation

Step motors are self-positioning and thus do not require an encoder, although many applications often add an encoder so that a “stall” can be detected during motion. Step motors are also “brushless,” meaning there is no direct electrical/mechanical contact to the rotor. That eliminates problems that can occur with mechanical commutation such as arcing or physical degradation. Finally, step motors I II III IV V VI produce a high torque for a given size and weight. A Despite these advantages, step motors have drawbacks. B The most significant is that C step motors create noise and induce vibrations that can disturb the load. Vibration can be A reduced using microstepping drive techniques or even mechanical dampers, but these solutions seldom eliminate the B problem completely. C Another significant limitation of step motors is that they have low high-end speeds. For A most systems 5,000 RPM is the most that can be expected. And the torque that is available from B a step motor drops significantly C at higher velocities. Finally, step motors are generally not 0 60 120 180 240 300 available in power ranges above several hundred watts. The Figure 2 The excitation schemes of a brushless most common National ElectriDC motor showing the relationship cal Manufacturers Association between the drive signals and the (NEMA) motor sizes for step feedback Hall sensor signals. motors are 17, 23 and 34. Desired Torque

Q +_ Loop

Q PI Command Filter

D Loop

D Command



Park Transfer

PI Filter

Clarke Transfer

Phase A Inverse Park Transform

Phase B

Phase A

PWM Generator Phase B

Motor Encoder

Phase C Measured Current A Measured Current B Encoder

Figure 3


Control of an AC induction motor involves much more compute-intensive processing, but the declining cost of the electronics is making this an increasingly popular choice.

March 2007

DC Brush Motors: Old Faithful

DC brush motors are used in a wide variety of applications that require positioning, and often in simpler applications such as speed or torque control. A special kind of DC servo motor known as a universal motor has windings in both the rotor and stator, and is used in high-volume everyday items such as hand drills and kitchen appliances. By itself, however, a DC brush motor has no sense of position. This means it must be connected to an encoder for use in positioning applications. The encoder provides the feedback, which is connected to a controller, which in turn generates an output command using a PID algorithm or similar servo scheme. The servo controller’s “job” is to minimize the difference between the desired motor position and the actual measured position. DC brush motors are available in a large variety of sizes, up to a kilowatt and beyond. They can operate at speeds of 10,000 RPM and even higher. DC servo motors run smoothly, and relatively quietly. DC servo motors have two primary disadvantages however. The first is that DC brush motors require a mechanical device for commutation. These brushes can wear out, or cause electrical arcing. The second disadvantage is that DC servo motors have a relatively low torque output for a given size and weight. This is due to the fact that DC brush motors drive current through coils located on the rotor. From a thermodynamic standpoint the rotor is not well-connected to the motor frame, and therefore the total amount of energy that can be removed from the coil is limited. This in turn limits the available torque output of DC servo motors.

Brushless DC Motors: The Overachiever

Brushless DC motors are rapidly becoming the overall motor of choice because for many applications they provide a “no compromise” solution to positioning control. Brushless DC motors are relatively smooth and quiet, and do not require mechanical brushes for commutation. In addition, brushless DC motors locate heat-generating coils in the stator, which is directly connected to

SolutionsEngineering the motor case, allowing the brushless DC motor to generate high torque for a given package size. Brushless DC motors are available in a wide variety of power ranges up to and beyond a kilowatt, and they can be made to operate at very high speeds. Some motors can go up to 30,000 RPM and beyond. Despite these important advantages, the brushless motor has two main disadvantages. Like the DC brush motor, it has no sense of its own position, and thus requires a position encoder. Another disadvantage is that they are generally, but not always, more expensive than DC servo or step motors. This is due to the fact that they utilize rare-earth magnetic materials to generate torque. Another disadvantage of brushless DC motors is that they must be commutated externally. This increases the complexity of the amplifier controller, and requires the installation of Hall sensors, or equivalent phasing tracks on the optical encoder disk. But here again, brushless DC motor controls have come down in price so that they are often no more expensive than other motor types. Figure 2 shows typical arrangement of the feedback Hall sensor signals and the output drive signals for a 3-phase brushless DC motor.

AC Induction: A tale of Two Bfields

Historically, using AC induction motors for anything other than “all on” or “all off” control was unusual. These motors were “simple, cheap and rugged,” because they used no magnets in either the rotor or stator, and required no sensors for basic rotation. However, these same qualities made them unsuitable for positioning applications, or even velocity or torque control applications. In the last ten years, however, this has changed dramatically due to the availability of powerful and low-cost electronics that can perform the complex calculations needed to provide variable speed and torque control. Compared to fixed-speed control, variable speed and torque-control techniques mean that motors can be run more efficiently, be sized more optimally, and operate with less heat generation. It also allows features such as direction reversal, and may allow

Figure 4

Performance Motion Devices ION drive.

Desired characteristic

Favors use of


low cost

step motor, DC brush, or AC induction motor

Brushless DC motor costs are coming down but are still above step motor or DC brush motor costs in most applications.

smooth operation (minimal noise or vibration)

DC brush or brushless DC

Brushless DC motors can be made smoother using highperformance commutation techniques such as sinusoidal commutation.

high speed

brushless DC or DC servo

Step motors are not generally suitable for applications beyond 5,000 RPM.

high power

brushless DC or AC induction

Step motors and DC motors are not commonly used in kilowatt and above applications.

high torque to size ratio

brushless DC, step motor, or AC induction motor

Over the full velocity spectrum brushless motors are superior to step motors, whose torque drops off at higher speeds.

ease of use

step motor

For positioning applications, no feedback required and no servo tuning.

simplest control circuitry

DC servo

Step motor, brushless DC motors, and high-end AC induction motors are multi-phase devices and require more than one amplifier circuit per motor.

Table 1

elimination of external hardware such as brakes or clutches. The key to gaining access to these capabilities is the use of fast algorithm platforms in the form of DSPs and specialized microprocessors. Several different algorithmic techniques are available, including “flux vector control” and its related cousin called “field-oriented control.” These techniques attempt to maximize productive (torque generating) current flow in the rotor, and minimize nonproductive current flow. But because there

is no way to directly measure the current in the rotor, this can be tricky. One approach is to use back-EMF measurement of the driven motor coils to infer the rotor current angle. Figure 3 shows a block diagram of a motor controller for an AC induction motor using the field-oriented control technique. In any case, despite these obstacles, AC induction motor controllers are becoming less expensive, more capable and easier to use. Sophisticated AC motor controllers are increasingly beMarch 2007



ing used to improve efficiency in white goods and other mainstream industrial applications. Although technically feasible with the new control techniques, it should be noted that AC induction motors are not usually the first motor of choice for positioning applications because they generally are not manufactured with required items such as feedback position encoders.

Selecting the Right Motor

To help in the selection process Table 1 shows a summary of the operating characteristics of each of the four motor types examined in this article: step motor, DC servo motor, brushless DC motor and AC induction motor. The emphasis here is on suitability for positioning applications, but these motors can be used for other applications such as velocity or torque control as well.

Except for very simple positioning applications where step motors can be used, engineers are increasingly opting to use a brushless DC motor to solve their problem. Robust, powerful and increasingly affordable, this motor type is becoming the motor of choice for many industries including Semiconductor equipment, medical equipment, machine tools and many other areas. AC induction motors are still the workhorse for low-cost higher-power applications, and they will undoubtedly become even more popular as the cost of electronics comes down. OEMs designing cost-sensitive machines have typically steered clear of “motion brick” solutions, such as PLCs and stand-alone drives. Big and bulky, they often required the user to learn special motion languages and they tended to be expensive. But the latest generation of motion modules is entirely different. Measuring just inches on a side, these intelligent controllers provide advanced motor control techniques and connect by high-speed network to the central controller, usually a PC, which holds the user’s software control program. The ION digital drive from PMD is an example of such a product (Figure 4). Measuring just 4” x 3” x 1.5”, this product offers serial or CANbus connectivity and can control DC brush, brushless DC, or step motors. It has features typically found in much larger drives including field-oriented control, S-curve profiling, PID position loop with bi-quad filtering and MOSFET drivers. When starting a motion control project, try to see your system’s requirements as a whole, factoring in the cost of the motor as well as the control system. Don’t forget also to factor in your own comfort level working with more controls-intensive technologies such as PID/servo control and external commutation, or advanced flux vector control techniques used with AC induction motors. Performance Motion Devices Lincoln, MA. (781) 674-9860. [].

1 28 Untitled-1March 2007

3/6/07 3:45:18 PM


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SolutionsEngineering Motion Control

Digital Motion Controllers Provide Precise Motion in a Wide Range of Applications A motion controller provides a set of basic functions that can be tuned to meet the needs of different applications, motor sizes and types and different inertial loads.


exploration her your goal peak directly al page, the t resource. chnology, and products

by A  ndy Herum Galil Motion Control


he world is in motion. A robot transPosition Θ Host Motion Command V I porting delicate silicon wafers durAmplifier Motor Computer Controller ing semiconductor processing, a large telescope automatically tracking C star position, an automatic sewing arm that precisely stitches quilts, steering conPosition mpanies providing solutions now Position trol of an autonomous vehicle that tracks Feedback Position oration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest Sensor position targets from a GPS; the applicaplication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you are endless. vice you requiretions for whatever type of technology, nies and products you While are searching Figure 1 Motion Control System Overview. thefor.applications are varied, what they have in common is that they require precise and automatic motion control. At the heart of each application is There are five elements that make up the appropriate power to drive the motor. a motion control system, which includes a typical motion control system: motion The motor converts the electrical energy an intelligent motion controller. It is the controller, amplifier, motor, feedback sen- from the amplifier into torque, which is job of the controller to make sure the me- sor and a host computer or HMI. Figure transferred to the mechanical system. The chanical devices get to the right place at 1 shows the block diagram of a simpli- feedback sensor provides position inforthe right time. How can a motion control- fied motion control system. Each of the mation, which is sent to the controller. ler handle such varying loads and varying elements in the system performs a dif- The controller is the brain of the system types of motion? ferent function. The Host computer or and processes information received from HMI sends high-level commands such the host computer and feedback sensor. as motion specifications to the controller. There are two main functions of the Get Connected The amplifier receives a command signal motion controller. First, it provides a refwith companies mentioned in this article. from the controller and translates it into erence position, a function commonly re-

End of Article


March 2007 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.


Filter KP DAC R







Motor I



Kt Js2


KI s Position Sensor Kf

Figure 2

Block diagram of a typical PID Filter. Velocity







Time (ms)

Position 10000


Motion Profiling

7500 (b) 2500 0


Figure 3

Desired Velocity Profile (a) and Corresponding Position (b).

ferred to as the motion profiler. Secondly, it compensates for the position error, which is the difference between the reference position generated by the profiler and the actual position received from the feedback sensor

Closing the Loop

Looking at the complete motion control system, we can see that the size of the motor must be selected to accommodate the size of the load. Similarly, the power drive for the motor must be sized to meet the torque and speed required to move 32

reference position. In servo motion control systems, the actual position feedback sensor is used by the controller to determine the position error. This is “closingthe-loop.” In order for the system to be stable, the motion controller must provide compensation for the position error. The most typical compensation is proportional integral derivative (PID). The PID filter, as seen in Figure 2, creates three command signals based upon an error in the system. The Proportional (KP) signal is a direct multiple of the error, the Derivative (KD) is a multiple of the rate of change of the error, and the Integrator (KI) provides a command based upon the error integrated over time. The proportional term provides system stiffness, the derivative term provides damping, and the integral provides position accuracy. Proper tuning of a motion control system means that the KP, KD and KI terms are adjusted to achieve the best performance. Many motion controllers offer tuning software, which automatically selects the optimum PID parameters. It is important for a motion controller to have a robust PID tuning algorithm with adequate range and resolution of KP, KI and KD parameters to accommodate a wide range of amplifiers, motors and loads.

March 2007

the load. The motion controller must be able to perform the two main functions described above and send a proper signal to the motor drive regardless of the size of the load. When operating in what is called an “open-loop” mode, the motion controller only provides a reference position and does not compensate for error or a difference between the reference and actual position. This mode is most commonly used when controlling stepper motors; where under normal circumstances the actual position of the motor can be assumed equal to the

The other important task of a motion controller is motion profiling. Motion profiling is where the controller generates the reference position. Here, the controller receives motion parameters such as distance, speed, acceleration rate and deceleration rate from a host computer or HMI. From these specifications, the controller computes a continuous trajectory of reference positions. Consider, for example, the velocity profile illustrated in Figure 3 (a). The motion time of 150 msec is divided equally among the acceleration, slew and deceleration. The slew velocity is 100,000 counts/ sec and the total displacement is 10,000 counts. In response to these specification parameters, the motion controller generates the reference function R(t), shown in Figure 3 (b), with the corresponding position versus time. Just as there are many sizes of loads, there are many types of motion. Intelligent motion controllers allow the user to spec-

SolutionsEngineering ify virtually any type of motion. Various modes of motion include jogging, pointto-point positioning, 2D coordinated motion, electronic gearing, electronic cam, and contouring. Regardless of the motion type, it is the job of the motion controller to generate the reference position. The following section reviews two examples that show how the motion profiler and PID filter of the motion controller are used to provide a complete solution to the application.

Y axis: Derivative gain (KD) = 300 Proportional gain (KP) = 33 Integral gain (KI) = 6

two-dimensional path, the controller’s 2D vector mode was used. This mode allows two axes to be linked together to perform linear and circular interpolation such that complex XY patterns can be executed. In the vector mode, the X and Y axes are linked together and referred to as the S axis. Vector speeds anywhere along the path can be specified to tailor the motion profile. The simple example next draws a square of 1000 counts per side in vector mode:

Z axis: Derivative gain (KD) = 315 Proportional gain (KP) = 42 Integral gain (KI) = 15 Since the application required that the XY axes be coordinated to follow a

Example – Automatic Stitching

An intelligent motion controller generates the reference position by performing trajectory calculations based on the specified positions, speed and accelerations. A three-axis textile machine provides an example of an intelligent motion controller used in creating intricate XY patterns on a quilt. The stitcher consists of a two-axis gantry mechanism that moves the needle in the XY plane (Figure 4). A third axis drives the needle, which is driven in and out of the stationary quilt material. The needle motion is synchronized with the XY motion such that the number of stitches per inch is a constant. A mechanical cam links the Z axis motor to the needle, such that if the Z motor spins at a constant speed, the needle reciprocates at a constant rate. For this application, a three-axis Ethernet-based motion controller was selected. To minimize wiring, a multi-axis servo amplifier was installed directly into the controller and provided 500W per axis. The motors used were Nema 23 frame brushed servo motors. Galil’s Webbased motor sizing tool (http://galilmc. com/support/motorsizer/index.html) was used to appropriately size the amplifiers and motors for the specific mechanics. Each axis was tuned with Galil’s WSDK Servo Design Kit software, which selected the best PID parameters for the system. Each axis had different parameters because of the differences in mechanics. The tuning parameters are as follows: X axis: Derivative gain (KD) = 225 Proportional gain (KP) = 25 Integral gain (KI) = 3





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Figure 4

Quilt Stitcher.




’specify xy axes ; for vector mode ;’specify points  to travel through

VP1000,0 VP1000,1000 VP0,1000 VP0,0 VE BGS AMS

’end the vector ; sequence ;’begin motion ;’wait until  motion is complete

The application also required that the stitch length be constant, regardless of the speed. To meet this need, an advanced gearing feature of the controller was used. This feature links the motion of one axis (Z) to the vector motion of two axes (XY or S). The Z motion is proportional to the arc length along the XY path. This causes the stitch length to be constant regardless of how fast the XY axes traverse the stitch path. The simple example below gears the Z axis to the XY vector path length. The gear ratio depends on the desired stitch length and the drive train connecting the Z axis motor to the needle. Command



’gear z axis to ; xy path length ;’set gear ratio



March 2007

For more details about this example and to review the complete motion code, see With the quilt stitching machine, the main complexity of the system is the coordination of the three axes, and the solution utilizes the ability of the motion controller to create coordinated motion profiles. The controller adjusts the XY and smaller Z axis with only small and simple modifications to the PID filter constants. Applications with larger inertial loads present added complexity to the system, but because of the flexibility of the digital motion controller, the additional complexity does not require the use of a whole new controller.

Example – Satellite Tracking

An application where the user is controlling a land-based satellite to track orbital satellites provides a perfect example of the motion controller’s ability to provide stable and precise control of a system with a high inertial load. The satellite tracking machine consists of a rotational azimuth base and an elevation axis. A two-axis motion controller is connected to a custom, high horse power amplifier and motor combination. A host computer receives information about the orbiting satellites and sends positional data over an Ethernet connection to the controller. The controller’s position tracking mode al-

lows the program to make changes to the profiled trajectory without having to first wait for previous trajectories to complete. Programming on the host computer is done in Visual Basic 6.0 using the drivers available from the controller manufacturer. In applications with large inertial loads and high gain amplifiers, it is often desirable to start the mechanics moving before there is an error created in the system. This allows the PID filter gains to stay at lower levels and avoid instances where the overall gain in the system becomes too large and causes the system to become unstable. In the case of the satellite tracking system, the feed-forward velocity (FV) function available on all Galil controllers is used on the rotational axis to provide a torque output to the system proportional to the commanded velocity. The feed-forward provides an input to the mechanical system that is already based upon the desired motion, thus the motion is not completely reliant on an error generated during a move. The gains for the Rotational axis are as follows: Derivative gain (KD) = 400 Proportional gain (KP) = 4 Integral gain (KI) = 0.2 Feed-forward velocity (FV) = 3 Because of the high gain amplifier used in the system, the Proportional and Integral gains are relatively low compared to many other systems, yet because of the intelligence of the motion controller, the overall control system is able to be stabilized and precisely controlled. By offering flexible PID compensation and motion profiling, today’s motion controllers can handle an unlimited variety of applications. Regardless of the size of the mechanical load or the type of motion, intelligent motion controllers ensure devices get to the right place at the right time. Galil Motion Control Rocklin, CA. (619) 626-0101. [].

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SolutionsEngineering Motion Control

Motion Control and Mixed-Signal FPGAs Motion control applications increasingly exist in networked environments using a variety of interfaces, protocols and encoding schemes. Mixed-signal FPGAs can offer time and cost savings in programming, protocol and interface implementation and fine-tuning the application.


exploration her your goal peak directly al page, the t resource. chnology, and products

by G  len Young Actel


ecent advances in electronic component performance and integration at a lower price point have spurred the proliferation of electronic control units. Crossing many technologies mpanies providing solutions now and applications—from home appliances oration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest to automated industrial manufacturing plication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you focus is on increasing design vice you requirelines—the for whatever type of technology, nies and products you power are searching for. and efficiency while reducing design, development and total system costs. Simultaneously, motion control applications are increasing in complexity from simple on/off-type controls to variable speed applications with precise control systems that operate in a highly integrated environment. The key components that apply to multiple control schemes across AC, DC, brushed and brushless motors are: user interface, microcontroller (MCU)

End of Article

Figure 1

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with companies mentioned in this article.



Hall Sensor or BEMF

Control Logic

Control Command

Networking Interfaces

3 Half H-Bridge VH



Power Stage

Traditional motion control implementations can require several discrete components. This closed-loop motion control system uses a networking interface, microprocessor, analog, a hall sensor interface and control logic.

March 2007 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

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and control logic. A sensor interface is an add-on component for closed-loop motion control (Figure 1). Moving motion control logic into the digital domain allows for control in a distributed control environment. The pairing of motion control electronics and a distributed network brings new capabilities to the manufacturing floor, including remote management, the ability to respond to changing protocols, performance monitoring and scheduled maintenance at planned intervals. For example, robotic arms driven by stepper motors are widely deployed in today’s automobile assembly lines. Robotics complicates the distributed control scheme with various robot arms screwing different parts on several vehicles simultaneously. One of the system designer’s primary challenges is to synchronize with other robot arms and other industrial automation equipment through a local area network. To complicate matters further, remote management capabilities, such as monitoring, data sharing and remote configuration, are often critical to the complex central control topology, making an effective distributed control mechanism even more essential. With technology improvements in semiconductor processes and integration, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have emerged as an important platform alternative for many electronic motion control applications. FPGAs continue to outpace market growth, replacing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in many applications. Nonvolatile FPGAs are a cost-effective alternative to ASICs, thus eliminating ASIC-related development costs and speeding time-to-market. Further, using FPGAs in lieu of fixed logic, designers have an efficient and reliable way to upgrade and customize features, at design time, or in the field. A flash-based, mixed-signal FPGA can offer a new level of integration in a single-chip implementation. Thus, these solutions can replace a host of discrete components at less than 50 percent of the cost and board space while maintaining system reliability (Figure 2). Further, the integrated flash memory of the mixed-signal solutions allows designers to store design files, eliminating the need for a sepa-


March 2007

rate configuration PROM, like those associated with SRAM-based FPGAs, on the board. Also, much like other reprogrammable FPGA solutions, a configurable and flexible mixed-signal FPGA device enables design changes to be easily implemented whether during development or even after the unit is deployed. The ability of FPGAs to accelerate mathematical computations via parallel processing is well documented, making them ideal for control logic implementation for motor control. FPGAs enable tighter control loops. Therefore, they offer better control and reduced ripple and noise. With the emergence of mixed-signal FPGAs with integrated flash memory, designers can also integrate a soft processor core, run directly from on-chip memory, and tightly couple control logic and interrupt-driven processing needs. The amount and type of logic, as well as the functionality of control logic in the design, varies for each application based on performance requirements. Therefore, programmable logic is often preferred for implementing the various user interfaces and digital control logic, including network and peripheral interfaces, pulse width modulation (PWM), quadrature-encoder interface and sensor inputs, critical to today’s motion control systems.

Network and Peripheral Interfaces

In motion control systems, network and peripheral interfaces allow users to issue commands for initializing, configuring and running the control logic in addition to remotely managing the control systems. Depending on the function and topology, each implementation may have its own unique network and peripheral interface scheme. However, common across all motion control systems is the use of interfaces to enhance system accessibility. A variety of industry-standard interfaces exist, such as Universal Serial Bus (USB), RS232-based serial and Controller Area Network (CAN) interfaces for local access as well as 10/100 Ethernet for a TCP/IP-based networking scheme. In harsh environments, such as an automotive manufacturing floor, a wireless network interface may be required. This

interface enables system synchronization, data sharing, status monitoring and failure alarms on the manufacturing floor. Further, a TCP/IP-based network interface extends the ability to remotely access the central manufacturing control from any distance. In many cases, the industrial automation applications require special control algorithms and mechanisms to perform unique tasks. For functions outside standard interfaces, proprietary interfaces are considered. To achieve the full potential that a distributed control environment can offer, industry-standard interfaces or proprietary networking protocols have to be added at the board level or embedded in programmable logic. An FPGA is an excellent platform on which all interfaces can be implemented. In particular, with their analog front end, today’s mixed-signal FPGA solutions can support a wide variety of user input types as well as providing the voltage, current and temperature monitoring capabilities related to motion control. PWM logic is not “one size fits all” for all motion control applications. As the number of windings, voltage/current ratings, torque profiles and other parameters widely vary, each PWM system needs to account for these variances. In a PWMcontrolled system, the sequence in which voltages are applied determines the rotational direction. Based on the inductance of each winding, the duty cycle, or frequency and duration of each pulse, determines the peak current and magnetic flux, or torque, achieved. The mechanical momentum and winding inductance, which is partially set by the number of turns used, will integrate or smooth out the PWM voltages. By controlling the sequencing, frequency and duty cycle of the drive electronics, PWM systems can control direction, speed and average torque. With an FPGA implementation, the designer can build the PWM solution that best suits the system requirements instead of having to “make do” with the capabilities of the traditional MCU/DSP solution. Most high-precision motors, like the servo-type stepper motors used in robotic arms, support quadrature-encoder interfaces. The control system must provide


quadrature-encoder interface logic to determine accurate speed, position and acceleration of the motion rotors. Certainly, with a programmable logic implementation, accuracy and dynamic speed can be adjusted to fit in various modes, depending on the characteristics of the motors used in the motion control system. For closed-loop motion control systems, rotor position and/or tachometer inputs are needed. These may be halleffect sensors built in or externally mounted optical position encoders, synchro-resolvers, or magnetic induction sensors. With an integrated analog front end, the mixed-signal FPGA offers a more integrated solution, reducing part count, system cost, and increasing reliability.

Fusion Flash Memory



MCU/MPU/DSP Flash-Based User Programmable Gate-Array


External Memory Interface User Interface Network/Peripheral Interface





Gate Drive



Analog Interface


Reliability and System Uptime

For today’s electronic systems, high performance, lower integration costs, and rapid diagnostics are critical. Diagnostics and prognostics, or the ability to determine failure modes and predict them, are quickly gaining momentum in system management implementations. The ability to read back time-stamped system parameters about board operation or review post-production failure analysis is invaluable to system development. Similarly, the ability to put together a “black box” would save valuable time and effort when trying to identify failure modes and design weak spots. The on-chip flash memory of a mixedsignal FPGA offers the designer the ability to save and time stamp key system parameters, such as current consumption of power rails, device temperatures and voltage rail fluctuations. Not only can this data be analyzed post-failure to identify the root cause of failure, but innovative designers are looking to analyze system trends during operation. For example, a designer might measure the current to the windings as well as motor vibration (as a voltage input) to determine when to bring the equipment down in a planned fashion. In industrial applications, a planned shutdown is dramatically less expensive than an unplanned one due to the cost to fix the problem as well as the possibility of lost profit from equipment shutdown. By analyzing how a particular parameter varies over the life of the board, a mixed-signal FPGA enables designers to

•Voltage •Current H-Bridge

•Voltage •Current •Temperature

Soft IP Hard IP


Figure 2

The Actel Fusion programmable system chip delivers integration for motion control systems in a single-chip implementation. This chip integrates configurable analog, large flash memory blocks, comprehensive clock generation and management circuitry, and high performance programmable logic in a monolithic device. The architecture can be used with soft ARM7 or 8051 cores and other application-specific IP such as a pulse width modulator (PWM).

predict a failure before it occurs, thereby maximizing machine availability, increasing system uptime and reducing the risk of costly crashes. Electric motors are employed in a wide variety of applications, many of which are evolving from electromechanical to electronic designs. One obstacle to wide-scale use of electronic motor controls has been the costs of computer and power electronics. With technology improvements in semiconductor processes and functional integration, this obstacle is diminishing. Still, FPGAs have become an important alternative for many motion control applications as today’s fixed-function implementations incur high design costs, often requiring different components and board-level changes with each minor design iteration.

Flash-based, mixed-signal FPGAs support both algorithmic and control logic updates to support industry-standard or proprietary user interfaces, remote management capabilities, advances in control algorithms and sensor inputs. Because an ideal motion control design consists of a few interoperable components designed to plug together and operate with minimal hassle, mixed-signal FPGA solutions address this need with unprecedented integration, thereby reducing component count, board space and total system cost, and increasing reliability and uptime. Actel Mountain View, CA. (650) 318-4460. [].

March 2007


IndustryInsight Machine to Machine

M2M Applications Challenge Design Security Ensuring secure data networking communication in M2M applications can require extensive hardware and software redesign. One alternative is the use of an IP communication controller that offloads security and networking tasks from the host processor and application. by A  lan Singer Connect One


s machine-to-machine communication brings more and more applications onto the Internet, it is imperative to ensure the security of both the applications and the data transferred by them. This is particularly true for applications where privacy of information is paramount, such as remote medical monitoring and diagnostics. Not only must the machine-to-machine (M2M) system be physically secure, but outgoing data must be encrypted to prevent the compromise of personal privacy. The application itself must be secure from direct or indirect attacks and hackers. Implementing security and encryption results in significant additional costs for designers of M2M systems. In existing products, the application runs on hardware and an RTOS, both of which were designed for whatever level of security was deemed acceptable at the time. Upgrading existing designs with a higher level of security typically is solved by adding new encryption and security protocols to the application. New designs often offer more systemlevel flexibility, but even here frustrating 40

March 2007

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model Upper Layers Application Layer (7)

Lower Layers

Presentation Layer (6)

Session Layer (5)







Web Applications



File Transfer



Host Sessions



Directory Services



Network Mgt.



File Services


RPC Portmapper

Figure 1

Transport Layer (4)

Network Layer (3)

Data Link Layer (2)

Physical Layer (1) RS-X, CAT 1

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

Internet Protocol Version 6



FDDI 802.2 SNAP User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

CAT 1-5

Internet Protocol Version 4 Ethernet II

Coaxial Cables

The TCP protocol, operating over the IP protocol, is well suited for use in telemedicine applications. Expertise is required to efficiently integrate upper-layer protocols, such as HTTP, SMTP, POP3, MIME, FTP and Telnet, into the application.


compromises must be made. A new processor and more system memory may be needed, since encryption adds significantly more code that must run concurrently with the host application. Finally, the application must be rewritten, debugged, tested and released.

Using Communications Protocols for Internet Connectivity

Historically, most remote medical monitoring and diagnostics applications have employed dial-up modem lines for remote M2M communication. During the past several years, however, IP-based cellular networks such as CDMA2000 and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) have become very popular for telemedicine applications because of faster transmission time and less costly communication and infrastructure. Cellular connections and transmissions take just two to three seconds, compared to the 15 or more seconds required for a dial-up transaction. Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks also eliminate the need for costly modem banks and phone lines. The TCP protocol, operating over the IP protocol, is ideal for use by medical devices. Organized as a stream of bytes, it keeps track of a message’s packet sequence and puts the data back in the right order. TCP assures reliable data delivery by adding sequence numbers to coordinate transmitted data with received data. It retransmits when data has been lost. It also provides flow control, manages data buffers, and coordinates traffic so that its buffers will not overflow. Alongside the TCP protocol is the UDP protocol, which is especially suited to latency-sensitive file transfer, such as large medical images or videos. Unfortunately, packets may get lost before reaching their destination when using UDP, because this protocol does not divide a message into packets, sequence and reassemble it at the other end. Above the TCP and UDP layers are the upper-layer protocols, such as HTTP, SMTP, POP3, MIME, FTP and Telnet (Figure 1). Each protocol is appropriate

Figure 2

Connect One’s iChipSec CO2128 communication controller offloads IP networking and security protocols from the main CPU. Such coprocessors are commonly used for secure connectivity in applications such as pointof-sale terminals, ATM machines, medical devices and fleet trucking.

for certain applications, but expertise is required to efficiently integrate them into the application. Since the Internet is a dynamic environment, protocols must constantly be maintained.

Securing Data Input/Output and Internet Communication

Since medical privacy laws require that patient records must be kept confidential, medical data and files must be encrypted when transmitted. To secure data input, designers must start with the processor’s boot loader. The unit should have a secure boot loader and a true random number generator for generating private keys, which are used for encryption. The private keys must be stored in a secure memory area and must be erasable immediately upon tampering. The unit must have a secure cryptographic library, which typically will include the following encryption cipher suites: RSA 1024- and 2048-bit private key encryption, 3DES, AES-128/192/256,

ARC4, MD5 and SHA-1. Ideally, encryption should be done in hardware, which can be more than 10 times faster than software-based encryption. Medical device manufacturers are also obligated to embed security protocols into their IP-enabled devices. The Secure Socket Layer v.3/Transport Layer Socket v.1 (SSL3/TLS1) protocol provides secure TCP socket communication. FTPS is a secure version of the File Transfer Protocol. HTTPS provides secure HTTP client or server communication. To send secure emails, the secure SMTPS protocol is used for text messaging or S/MIME is used to send secure email attachments. POP3S is used to download secure e-mails. To open a secure socket, the client terminal must first open a standard TCP/IP socket to an SSL3 server. The terminal’s security application initiates an SSL3 handshake over the open socket and the client application establishes and negotiates the SSL3 session based on several SSL3-related parameters. A lot of proMarch 2007


IndustryInsight gramming is required to integrate the secure application, including various cipher suites and the ability to create private keys in the terminal application. The client then requests from the server one of a list of cipher suites ranked according to the client’s priority. The server accepts the cipher that it supports and the client receives by default the server certificate to authenticate the server. The server then provides a certificate signed by a Certificate Authority (CA) that the client recognizes and is preinstalled in the client. In some

cases, client authentication is required by the server, whereby the client must send its signed certificate to the server. The server and client agree on encryption/decryption keys during this phase, which requires them to exchange random numbers. Following a successful SSL3 handshake, the processor encrypts all data sent across the socket according to the cipher suite and keys agreed upon during the SSL3 connection. Data received on the socket is then decrypted by the processor. Traditionally, the security application

is added to the main application on the terminal. A commercially available SSL3 software stack may be around 500 Kbytes in size. If the original hardware design does not leave enough spare memory available for the secure application, additional memory is required. If the host processor is not powerful enough to run the application and the security protocols, a more powerful processor may be required.

Redesigning Hardware for Security

As we have seen, the traditional way to implement the security protocols in a medical device is to add them to the application. Since the host processor is running the application and the security protocols, the addition of new security protocols, such as SSL3, to the application requires more processing power and more memory. Since these protocols run over TCP/ IP, this stack must also be added to the application, if it is not there already. Thus, the task calls for a hardware redesign as well as a software redesign. This can easily constitute a 12- to 18-month project involving many engineers. Many older medical designs are based on 8- or 16-bit processors, but higher processing power is required because of the need for increased security. ARM9-based processors have become the processor of choice for new designs. However, at a price of approximately $6 each for these processors with embedded flash and SRAM in quantities of 250,000 units, they cost 30% more than a comparable ARM7-based processor. In addition, the security protocols require roughly an additional megabyte of memory, adding about one more dollar to the bill of materials. Thus, adding more security to the application creates a major increase in the BOM.

An Alternative Security Implementation

Instead of following the traditional route of redesigning the hardware and the application, which is time-consuming and costly, an alternative solution for medical device manufacturers is to use a coprocessor to offload networking and security functions from the host application. Such coprocessors reduce the complexity, risk and time-to-market for introducing new levels of security for medical devices. 42

March 2007


Serial/ Parallel Host CPU (8-32 bit)




Comms. Interface


Host Interface

A secure IP communication controller chip can include various levels of encryption and networking protocols that ensure secure data networking communication (Figure 2). Depending on the application, such a chip may include Internet security protocols, physical security implementations or highlevel Internet protocols. The various security protocols may be stored in on-chip memory or in the application’s memory. The coprocessor minimizes time-tomarket and eliminates the need for a more powerful host processor, additional memory, longer development time, paying licensing fees and royalties, and budgetary risk. It also eliminates the need to master new, complex technologies and to maintain a solution that integrates the application with the security and communication protocols. An IP communication controller works with any host processor and operating system. All it requires is an asynchronous, binary connection to the host CPU. The controller includes onboard SRAM and flash memory, which are updatable. The flash memory stores the device’s configuration parameters and Internet protocols, including multiple simultaneous TCP or UDP sockets, listening sockets that enable the terminal to act as a server, an embedded Web server, a Web client, and clients for e-mail, FTP and Telnet. For secure applications, the IP controller supports a range of Internet security protocols and supports multiple certificate authorities. It should also support the cipher suites used by the secure server for client authentication. The controller includes drivers to enable use of the communication peripheral used for network access. The controller also includes a logical interface between it and the host CPU that facilitates easy updates of parameters and protocols and enables fine-tuning of connections to the host and the network (Figure 3). Because the Internet is a dynamic and unpredictable environment, the IP controller should have remotely updatable firmware to make it future-proof. An IP controller enables easy design-in. The typical development time is one manmonth for the hardware redesign and modifications to the application. New protocols or configuration parameters can be updated remotely to the IP controller’s flash memory. Integrating security protocols and techniques into a medical device is com-


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Figure 3

The iChipSec IP controller includes CPU, memory, drivers for network access communication peripherals, and a logical interface between controller and host CPU that facilitates updating parameters and protocols and enables fine-tuning the controller’s connections to host and network.

plicated, time-consuming and costly. Implementations are needed for securing both data input and output. Data transmission must be secured according to the communication medium that is used. Security and communication protocols must be constantly maintained and upgraded. The traditional way to implement the security function is to add it to the application. But the complication, risk and long development time involved with this traditional ap-

proach can be minimized by using a secure IP communication coprocessor, which offloads the security and networking tasks from the host processor and application. Designers must decide which solution is in their best interest after evaluating all of the trade-offs. Connect One Kfar Saba, Israel +972-9-766-0456. [].

March 2007


IndustryInsight Machine to Machine

Device Networking Enables M2M Technology Device networking can help create unified machine-to-machine networks for tracking and monitoring attached equipment remotely. However, designers must understand the challenges involved in implementing this technology. by S  haye Shayegani Lantronix


he proliferation of machine-to-machine technology, coupled with advances in device networking, has increased exponentially over the last few years due largely to the benefits of realtime access to information from virtually anywhere. However, network-enabling new and legacy equipment entails communication and network integration design challenges, including security and the use of wireless technologies. By embedding machine-to-machine (M2M) networking technology, such as device servers, into their products, OEMs can offer an unprecedented level of service and support to their customers. Because of its ability to maintain device connectivity, this technology creates the opportunity to increase revenue streams and reduce maintenance costs. A device can be tracked throughout its entire lifecycle, making it possible to anticipate and respond to events in real time. This tracking can provide significant data and insight into product performance and usage in different scenarios and stages. The information garnered can yield optimized technologies and services as well as significant reductions in service costs.

ter. A technician is then deployed, hopefully with the correct parts and equipment. With M2M device networking technology, however, networked equipment can be tracked and monitored, equipment failures can be predicted before they happen, and preventative maintenance can be performed, thereby saving time and money. A networkenabled electronic device, such as a security system, commercial refrigeration unit or medical diagnostic equipment, can even perform self-diagnosis and self-reporting.

Customer Lantronix M2M

M2M Networks Enable Device Tracking

A typical equipment service call is initiated by the customer via telephone. The information is taken by a call center, logged into a database, and sent to the service cen44

March 2007

Remotely managed, value-added field services can increase customer satisfaction and generate an additional revenue stream (Figure 1). Service technicians in a central location can determine the status and operating conditions of equipment located anywhere. When they leave the service center they know exactly what needs to be repaired and arrive with the necessary equipment and parts. In addition, unnecessary service calls can be eliminated. Equipment can

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Figure 1

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IndustryInsight connect to a network, monitor itself and ensure that it is functioning properly. Often, when something is wrong, a simple change of setting or configuration is all that is required. When something irregular is noted, it frequently can be diagnosed and repaired over the network, avoiding the need for an on-site trip.

Integrating Network-Enabling Devices Poses Challenges

Prior to attempting to embed M2M technology into a product, designers and

system integrators must understand the challenges associated with implementation. Integrating serial devices into a network infrastructure offers distinct advantages, including centralizing their operation, overcoming the distance limitations of standard serial communications and lowering the costs associated with handson administration of these devices. However, integrating serial communications into a network is very challenging. Before networking became widespread, devices communicated using a

Figure 2

The Lantronix XPort embedded device server provides essential networking features, including OS, Web server, security and protocols stack, in a compact, integrated solution.

serial RS-232 or RS-485 interface. In spite of the many advancements of the computer industry, serial communication remains so well established that a large number of off-the-shelf and inexpensive hardware devices and software applications continue to be designed without networking in mind. Serial communication was never designed for long distances, for connection over a network, to be routed or to go over the Internet. Instead, it was created simply to provide a direct connection between two devices using a point-to-point connection that is limited in distance. In a similar manner, Ethernet cannot be used to directly transmit serial data from one device to another. The challenges of enabling serial Ethernet communications extend far beyond the obvious differences in physical and electrical interfaces to the protocols that are being communicated over those interfaces.

Overcoming Serial/Networking Integration Challenges

An efficient, economical way to meet these challenges is possible using embedded device servers (Figure 2). Compact enough to fit almost anywhere, embedded device servers contain the necessary components for delivering complete network connectivity to virtually any kind of device. Device servers typically consist of an operating system, an IP stack, remote management features, and serial and network interfaces. 46

March 2007

IndustryInsight The role of the device server appears to be a straightforward and simple process of connecting serial and Ethernet interfaces. But the device server’s job does not end at the serial/Ethernet interface. It also includes the transport of serial data across the Ethernet network, a task that is much broader and more complex than merely converting data between disparate interfaces. In order to understand this complexity, it is important to realize that TCP/IP consists of a suite of transport mechanisms that defines how information moves from the sender to the destination. First, data is divided into packets and a destination address is added to each packet. Next, the packet is enclosed in an IP datagram, and a datagram header and trailer are inserted into the packet. The packet is then sent to either a destination or a gateway. The TCP/IP protocol suite’s network interface layer accepts the IP datagram and transmits it as a frame over a specific network, such as Ethernet. Finally, the destination device receives the data and reassembles it. The steps involved are basic ones. However, the challenge occurs when they are applied to serial data, because this type of data was never meant to be networked. Instead, it was designed to be transmitted as a data stream between one device and another. The intricacies associated with transporting serial data over an IP network become even more daunting when one considers that different devices have their own unique requirements for data. For example, one device might have stringent timing constraints that require all data packets to be received within a particular time frame. Another might require a particular number of bytes in every message it receives. Yet another device may not care about the number of bytes received, but does require that the packet be complete and have a particular starting or terminating character. In all three cases, if these expectations are not met the data being transmitted may be rendered unintelligible or even discarded by the device. Device servers take the complexity out of transporting serial data over Ethernet. Without requiring additional software, configuration or customization, they execute the basic transport mechanisms to


Access Point

Personal Computer (PC)

WiBox Wireless PC

POS Device

A/V Device

Medical Device

Figure 3

Wireless device networking provides the added mobility and flexibility needed to access remote equipment and is ideal where running cabling is impractical or cost-prohibitive.

ensure that serial data can be transported across the TCP/IP network and reassembled into meaningful information once it reaches its destination. A device server should be accompanied by an intuitive, point-and-click graphical user interface (GUI) that allows it to be easily and quickly customized to meet the specific application requirements. Device servers that include a Web-based interface provide the ability to access the unit from any location using a Web browser. However, users who prefer typing over clicking may opt for communicating via a command-line interface (CLI). If included, the CLI should be sufficiently intuitive to allow system designers to get the device server up and running in a matter of minutes.

M2M Goes Wireless

Wireless device networking is especially attractive in industries where some functions may be difficult to perform because of large distances, harsh operating conditions or other restrictions. From automotive to warehouse environments, the need to attach new or legacy essential devices such as PLCs, process and quality control equipment, pump controllers, bar-

code operator displays, scales and weighing stations, printers, machine vision systems and many other types of manufacturing equipment is common (Figure 3). Mobility, access to remote areas and easy deployment are some of the benefits of wireless M2M networks. The benefits of wireless communications are clear, especially as an increasing number of solutions incorporate IEEE 802.11 technology. One would therefore expect the success of wireless device networking to mirror the success of wireless computing. But, along with the fast evolution of wireless communications and the freedom resulting from it, there are some unique concerns and challenges. In addition, embedded designers who are unfamiliar with wireless communications may be plagued with new questions exclusive to implementing a wireless solution. For example, is the speed/bandwidth of wireless networking comparable to that of wired networking? Is implementing wireless networking too complicated for a particular application or environment? What security is needed in a wireless implementation and how can data be protected from hackers and eavesdroppers? What are the regulatory March 2007



Without Data Encryption

With Data Encryption

Data Encryption for Transfer Over the Network (+@


Unencrypted Data Transferred Over the Network to the Device Server Transferred

Data Transfer

Data Transfer Data Transfer

Figure 4

Data Transfer

Incorporating encryption and authentication methods is imperative in order to protect data in M2M networks.

requirements? Is FCC approval required and how is it obtained? Early wireless technologies were limited to 1 to 2 Mbits/s and were only half duplex. For many applications, the disparity between wired and wireless throughput was too great to allow widescale deployment. Today, improved modulation and the additional spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands provide greater wireless bandwidth to burst speeds of 54 Mbits/s. However, as speeds have increased, receiver sensitivity has decreased. With 802.11b/g solutions, the speed of the connection can be selected to allow for slower speeds when the wireless link needs higher receiver sensitivity for more link margin. The most widely used technology today is 802.11b/g. The standard does provide a plug-and-play type of setup when used in infrastructure mode with a broadcasted service set identifier (SSID). The SSID, the channel and the speed are all configured automatically behind the scenes. In ad hoc mode, the setup requires selection of SSID, channel and speed. Some off-theshelf-wireless solutions allow an OEM to automatically configure the units via the network or the serial channel.

Implementing Security

Proper implementation of security, a core consideration, can improve system 48

Unencrypted Serial Connection b/t Device Server & Equipment


Ethernet • TCP/IP • WAN

Over Network

Ethernet • TCP/IP • WAN


March 2007

robustness and reliability, as well as open up new product applications. Implementing security measures in an embedded system has a number of challenges. System resources such as memory and processing power are often limited. Time-to-market and overall cost concerns may limit how much can be implemented. While security is more than encryption, various encryption algorithms are some of the best and most popular ways to protect data in an embedded application. However, incorporating encryption presents unique challenges in the form of memory resource restrictions and the fact that it can be very processor-intensive. In addition to encryption, there is a group of very useful tools for bolstering security. Authentication can provide a defense against many attacks. To strengthen security even further, SSL and SSH are recommended for certain embedded applications. Encryption and authentication are most effective when used in conjunction with a hardened OS that has been developed and tested with security precautions in mind. All of these measures will provide a secure perimeter between the non-secure application software, the secure application software and potential threats to the embedded device (Figure 4). As the connectivity provided by networked M2M devices grows, so will

the number of ways they can be exploited. Many security tools and tests are available to assess security vulnerabilities in a system, but it is essential to identify the correct tools or tests that apply to a particular application in order to minimize system disruptions. The value of adding M2M technology into a device is tremendous. A unified network reduces operating costs and such integration can differentiate a product or service as well as provide new sources of revenue. In addition, it can help facilitate opportunities such as network-enabled business models, applications and services while enhancing processes such as workflow improvement, asset tracking, customer service and product maintenance in a wide variety of vertical markets. There are several options for connecting equipment and several considerations before implementing. Understanding the challenges associated with Ethernet, wireless connectivity and security can help to make the dream of a device-networked environment a reality. Lantronix Irvine, CA. (800) 526-8764. [].

Executive Interview

“VXS takes the tradition of VME further by offering a multi-vendor board concept.” RTC Interviews Christian Jebsen, CEO, VMETRO RTC: Having followed VMetro for many years, in the past it was primarily a supplier of bus analyzers, first for VME, then cPCI and on to other buses. Your company has now branched out offering a variety of embedded-computer platforms and data recording and storage devices as well. In what area have you seen the greatest growth? Why? Jebsen: We have clearly seen the greatest growth within our processing products, which are mainly centered around FPGA processing with a lot of I/O options, and combined PowerPC and FPGA processing. We entered this area after a strategic decision made about five years ago, when we saw that our MIDAS I/O products as a stand-alone product range would not be able to contribute with enough growth without also getting into processing. We also realized that to get into processing on our own would be timeconsuming, so as a consequence of this, we acquired the UK company Transtech DSP in 1984. We were both deeply involved in products for VXS, with a perfectly complementary product line, quickly allowing us to offer a full solution of processing, I/O and recording for VXS. The result was a hugely successful acquisition, greatly benefiting both parties. RTC: Your protocol and bus analyzer family now includes an AMC analyzer. The AMC and MicroTCA market is still relatively new and in development. Do you have any feeling for when AMC will be ready for large-scale commercial deployment? When do you believe MicroTCA will be ready for the commercial market? Jebsen: AMC is a great standard for applications that do not have strict environmental constraints in terms of shock, vibration, etc., and I see it is gaining a lot of attention. And MicroTCA is a clever extension of the AMC 50

March 2007

scheme, allowing systems to be built with a very convenient form-factor and a nice level of granularity in terms of functionality. MicroTCA is definitely accelerating the adaptation of AMC modules, and I would say that both are in for commercial deployment just about any time. RTC: Looking at your lineup of bus analyzers—including PMC, PCI, PCI single slot, CompactPCI, VME, XMC, PCI Express and AMC—ATCA is conspicuously absent. Why?

Jebsen: We have little or no requests for bus/ protocol analyzers for ATCA. Remember that ATCA uses solely serial communications between modules, so to attach a bus/protocol analyzer to such a system one would have to insert the analyzer between a particular module and the backplane, just like an extender card (just as we do for AMC and the other PCI Express variants). But since there can be several serial communication links between an ATCA module and the backplane, this would also require some form of selection of which link to pass through the analyzer. All in all, it’s just too complex relative to the de-

mand to devise a standard analyzer product for this architecture. RTC: Here in the U.S., the EU’s RoHS requirements have caused quite a stir in terms of manufacturing, inventories and compatibility among products. Since the same requirements also apply to European companies, our readers would be very interested to hear how VMetro has gone about achieving compliance and what problems and solutions you have found most interesting. Jebsen: Many of the end-user applications of our products are still exempt from the RoHS directive and therefore do not need to comply. However, we quickly realized that the uncertain availability of leaded parts after 2006 made it necessary to develop and implement a strategy for RoHS compliance. We started this work back in 2003/2004 by defining the existing and planned products that we knew had to comply with the requirements from the EU. We decided that new VMetro products introduced after July 1, 2006, should be designed to comply with the RoHS directive, and some older products had to be converted to comply. However, some of our legacy products could not be converted and therefore we no longer supply these for end uses that need to comply with the directive. At the same time, we also decided that some new products may be made available in non-RoHS versions for customers and applications requiring that. Consequently, customers in the EU ordering non-RoHS-compliant products are asked to confirm that the end use of the product is exempt or outside the scope of the RoHS directive. For our U.S. customers this is not an issue. As you correctly say, there have been plenty of challenges along the path toward RoHS compliance. We saw a lot of end-of-

ExecutiveInterview life (EOL) notices coming from component manufacturers in the beginning of the RoHS transition. Manufacturers often used RoHS as an excuse to obsolete some older, leaded parts, without replacing them with RoHScompliant parts. We have had to secure a sufficient supply of critical parts to continue production of our legacy products in their remaining lifetime. For existing products that are being converted from non-RoHS to RoHS-compliant versions, we are always verifying the manufacturing process by assembling a small quantity of boards first. These samples are then subject to extended tests to verify their reliability and functional compatibility with the leaded versions. Just because a material or component is classified as RoHS-compatible doesn’t necessarily mean it is process-compatible. Components and PCBs have to meet the higher temperature profiles required in lead-free manufacturing. RTC: We’ve noticed that VMetro is offering quite a number of products based on advanced FPGAs—even some board products with FPGAs only and not a separate CPU. Could you tell us about the rationale behind these products and some of the applications areas you have identified for them? Jebsen: This relates to what CPUs and FPGAs are good at, and therefore the system architectures. CPUs provide a rich, sophisticated environment whereas FPGAs provide raw, extreme processing supporting high data rates. Our customers need both—but the mix (architecture) can vary. For example, some real-time imaging applications use FPGAs to perform the pixel-rate calculations such as convolutions, warping and interpolation. This may require many GOPS (Giga Operations Per Second) and are ideal for FPGAs, but the target tracking calculations are best done with CPUs. For this, closely coupled CPUs and FPGAs work well—conceptually the pair forms a “super processor.” Other solutions, such as radar, can require a lot of front-end processing before passing the data, usually at a lower data rate, to the back-end processing typically by PowerPC CPUs. Here the FPGAs form a separate processing block in the pipeline, often with special I/O requirements that can easily be implemented in an FPGA, so separate FPGAs cards make sense.

a major player. What do you see as the future of this technology in terms of application requirements, technical advantages or caveats and—not least importantly—potential market size? Jebsen: The greatest advantage of VXS is the mechanical compatibility with VME. This provides VME users a low-risk way to start using high-speed serial (HSS) interconnect technology. When upgrading the performance of a system many customers have certain boards they want to keep, typically special I/O and utility functions, and

these are often on VME format. But even more importantly, VXS is the only viable modern standard for customers who want to buy boards off-the-shelf (COTS) from multiple vendors and perhaps provide some themselves. This is possible since VXS is well defined enough to offer interoperability between vendors, typically by means of FPGAs in the HSS data stream that can be programmed with the right protocol to match a board from another vendor. Thus, VXS takes the tradition of VME further by offering a multi-vendor board concept or

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RTC: VXS is now becoming a commercial reality and VMetro appears to be March 2007


ExecutiveInterview ecosystem if you like. VME has stayed with us for 25 years, I think this speaks for itself with respect to the future of VXS. We are counting on an annual growth of the VXS market by 50% for the next four years. Intel® Pentium® M 745 1.8GHz, 2MBL2, ATX



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RTC: MicroTCA is still a relatively unknown commodity, yet there are already two approaches going forward to ruggedize it and offer conduction-cooled versions. The first and most obvious applications are as communications companies move more processing power to field operations where equipment must survive harsh environments. However, recent reports indicate a large level of interest by the military in MicroTCA. Do you believe it will be possible to develop packaging that will allow conventional AMC cards to survive in a rugged MicroTCA application? Jebsen: We are watching those developments with interest. I think there is quite some work remaining to convince military customers that this is a viable standard for deployed systems in the upper scale of rugged environments. But for medium-scale rugged it would seem that it should find its applications. RTC: On a similar note, among the standards that may soon emerge from the VITA standards organization (VSO) is VITA 56, which is envisioned as a frontpanel access, live insertion/hot swap ruggedized mezzanine card. It appears to be targeted at the AMC/MicroTCA arena, which so far has not completed a ruggedized spec but appears to be closer to doing so than VITA 56. Do you see VITA 56 and AMC (should it find a ruggedized version) as vying for the same space such as military applications? Does VMetro have any plans for getting into the ATCA/ AMC market or are your intentions directed elsewhere? Why? Jebsen: We have not seen or heard anything about VITA 56 from customers, other vendors, etc. It will be a hard fight to convince users to give up the well established PMC standard, with such a vast number of modules available on the market. And with XMC as a natural migration of PMC with slot compatibility on carriers, we believe this combination of PMC and XMC will prevail for years to come. But, as I said before, the AMC format on the other hand is definitely an interesting format, and VMetro is engaged in developing some every excit-

ing products with this standard to address markets like telecom and medical imaging. RTC: Within your data storage and recording family of products, I notice you offer VXS, VME, CompactPCI and PCbased versions of your products. Over the recent past, which form-factor has had the most demand? Why? Jebsen: Definitely VME. This is the perfect standard for these applications, again because of the vast number of modules available on the market with this format. Many recorder solutions require tight integration with I/O such as A/D converters, and in other cases with DSP processors with connections such as RACEway or StarFabric, and here VME dominates. RTC: VMetro, having started with bus analysis in a variety of form-factors and then growing into data recording and storage products, is now making a strong push into embedded processing platforms. Can you give our readers a look ahead to where you are taking your company and your product lines? Jebsen: We are deeply involved in developing new products for all three product areas. Bus analyzers will support the faster second-generation HSS protocols such as PCI Express 2.0. Data recorders and associated storage products will evolve with higher speed and channel density, and more solutions with solid-state storage. We also have an intense development program going on to expand our processing product offerings, not only on existing platforms like VXS and AMC as indicated above, but also on the new VPX and VPX REDI standards. Our VPX products will be available in both 6U and 3U versions, and will include state-ofthe-art solutions for FPGA and PowerPC processing as well as Analog and Digital I/O products. It is, of course, a challenge to support all these different form-factors, but we are relying heavily on reuse of building blocks in the designs so that these can be ported to the different formats. This broad offering will allow our customers to choose the optimal architecture for their demanding Data Acquisition, Processing and Recording applications within our key market areas, which include Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) programs, including Electronic Warfare (EW), Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Imaging.

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Discover how Dan and the QNX team deliver the shortest migration path to multi-core. Call 1 800 676 0566 or visit QNX, Momentics, and Neutrino are trademarks or registered trademarks of QNX Software Systems GmbH & Co. KG and are used under license by QNX Software Systems International Corporation. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners. 301786 MC339.05

Off-the-shelf BSPs for multi-core platforms based on MIPS®, PowerPC®, and x86 architectures

Software&Development Tools Embedded Windows

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Windows Vista for Embedded Engineers Ad Index Get Connected with technology and After more thanproviding fivesolutions yearsnow of development, the Windows Vista companies Get system Connected ishas a new resource for further exploration operating finally been released. As with all big changes, into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to researchcomes the latest datasheet a company,exciting speak directly new features (some applicable to this release withfromsome with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with theadditional right resource. engineers, many more not), capabilities, and some caveats for Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, Get Connected will help youreal-time connect with the companies and products developing your applications. you are searching for.

by Shelley Gretlein, National Instruments Get Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now


Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, Windows Vistawillboasts lot of with fancy new features derstand their impact on applications. Windows Vista does not Get Connected help youa connect the companies and products you are searching for.

n general, targeted at the home user and, frankly, a lot of “user ence” features aimed to directly compete with the Mac. For the engineers of the world, however, there are some relevant changes, specifically regarding security, the networking stack, new communication capabilities, potential performance gains and faster memory access. At the same time, real-time developers face big challenges with Windows Vista such as determinism, reliability, application control and compatibility issues (especially with I/O). First, consider the beneficial changes. If you are involved in a lot of networking and communications applications, you probably have experienced some Get Connected with companies anddifficulties and will be happy products in this section. to hear thatfeatured the Windows Vista networking stack has been pletely rewritten. Instead of the dual stack model that exists in Windows XP, Windows Vista implements a new architecture for which there is a single transport and framing layer that supports multiple IP layers. While it’s a good thing that this new stack is more modular, it will cause some compatibility issues, Getdevelopers Connectedmust with companies and products featured section. to unand carefully evaluate thesein this changes


support several TCP/IP stack elements, including the firewallhook driver functions, the filter-hook driver functions and the Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) protocol. Another communication area that brings some exciting changes is the new .NET Framework Version 3.0 (formerly known as WinFX). In the past, engineers created software for Windows by interacting with the operating system through calls to the Win32 application programming interface (API). In Windows Vista, .NET Framework 3.0 is the new interface for interacting with the operating system. This interface was completely redesigned to be easier to use and more consistent across all Windows Vista features. 3.0 is based on Microsoft .NET 2.0 Get Connected and addswithfour new mentioned technologies: Windows Workflow Foundacompanies in this article. tion (WF), Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows CardSpace (WCS). These new complementary technologies were added to

End of Article

Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

March 2007



address some of the most arduous challenges of contemporary software development. Even though the API was redesigned, if you have existing applications that call into Win32, they should User

System Isolation


Elevation Prompt

Elevation Prompt Yes

No Isolation Defrag (Admin)

Secure Desktop Enabled? Y/N

Explorer (User)






Installer Detection


Kernel Virtualization

File System and Registry New

Figure 1



The goal of User Account Control (UAC) is to reduce the exposure and attackable surface area of the operating system by requiring all users to run in standard user mode. As shown, several new components have been added to the architecture.

continue to work just as they did before due to Microsoft backward compatibility. Security is definitely the biggest change and the driving force for Microsoft behind the Windows Vista release. Any improvement in Windows security should be viewed as positive even though to implement a more secure OS may mean a bit more hassle on the part of the end-user. Windows Vista is delivering a more secure desktop through something called User Account Control (UAC). The main goal of UAC is to reduce the exposure and attackable surface area of the operating system by requiring all users to run in standard user mode. This limitation minimizes the ability to make changes that could destabilize the computer or inadvertently expose the network to viruses through undetected malware that has infected your computer. It also, however, limits the access and control you have over the OS and installations. For example, anytime you encounter a system task that requires administrator privileges, such as attempting to install an application, Windows Vista will notify you and require administrator authorization (Figure 1). The other big feature is 64-bit capabilities. At first glance, any engineer would hope for and assume instant performance gains such as those seen during the move from 16- to 32-bit applications and operation systems. The move to 64-bit, however, is different. To start, 64-bit applications do not magically get faster access to memory or any of the other key components that would help most applications perform better. Other caveats around the 64-bit issue: you cannot run a 64-bit application on a 32-bit chip or a 32-bit operating system. That means all of your drivers will need 64-bit versions that will be separate binaries from the 32-bit version. A separate binary has a huge cost, from a development point of view, associated with it—but it’s required at the I/O level—so you need to look for that from your vendors. Apart from driver software, many 32-bit applications will not be updated for Windows Vista x64 Edition; however, most 32-bit software will still function because of a Microsoft emulation layer. This emulation layer, known as Windows on Windows 64 or WoW64, enables 32-bit programs to run as though on a 32-bit version of Windows by translating instructions passing in and out of 32-bit applications into 64-bit instructions. Emulated programs act as though they are running on an x86 computer and operate within the 2 Gbytes of virtual memory that a 32-

Vista x86 (32-Bit)

Vista x64 (64-Bit)

Executes in User Mode

32-Bit Application

WoW Emulation 32-Bit Application

64-Bit Application

Executes in Kernel Mode

32-Bit Service or Driver

64-Bit Service or Driver

64-Bit Service or Driver

Most Application Software Figure 2


Future Versions

Despite the Windows on Windows (WoW) emulation layer, 32-bit programs on Windows Vista x64 Edition cannot take advantage of the larger 64-bit address spaces or wider 64-bit registers on 64-bit processors. Applications eventually will need to move to 64-bit.

March 2007


Figure 3

I/O Module

I/O Module

I/O Module


I/O Module

Host Computer (Windows Vista)

Real-Time Deployment Platform Real-Time Target

Development System

Windows Vista can still be used as the host-side application to your real-time application. This ensures you can have a deterministic I/O and processing application along side your development or monitoring machine.

bit version of Windows allocates to every process. However, despite Wow64, 32-bit programs on Windows Vista x64 Edition cannot take advantage of the larger 64-bit address spaces or wider 64-bit registers on 64-bit processors (Figure 2).

Challenge Areas

When it comes to porting to and using Windows Vista, the biggest challenges for real-time developers are compatibility (I/O), determinism, reliability, and control of the OS itself. As mentioned, 64-bit system requirements and 64-bit application security designs are going to cause compatibility issues mostly if your applications involve I/O and hardware device drivers. The above 64-bit discussion pointed out several of the issues that you may experience if you try to upgrade—specifically because your tool vendors will eventually need to create separate binary versions of their application software and drivers. Additionally, application software will at least need patches because many application development tools access the Windows registry in a manner incompatible with Windows Vista rules. Basically, you need to think about and engage in compatibility discussions if you either plan to move to an entirely 64-bit-based version of Windows Vista (need new drivers and application software) or use the Windows Vista networking stack. The next area for consideration is performance. Moving to Windows Vista will not deliver instant performance gains and, in some cases, may slow your applications down. Similarly, many of the new features such as the Windows Vista GUI also cause slowdowns for your current applications. While detailed benchmarks will eventually be released, it seems like there are some generalizations we can make. It sounds like heavy GUI applications like games will typically run 10 to 15 percent slower on Vista than on Windows XP. For less intense applications, Windows Vista seems to perform roughly as well on the same hardware as does Windows XP. One caveat: don’t expect your 512 Mbyte machine to run Windows Vista effectively, unless your normal workload involves running a single application at a time. From an overall performance perspective, it’s a little sad that Vista doesn’t take more advantage of multicore processors. On both Windows XP and Windows Vista, multicore processors are certainly more efficient than their single core predeces-

sors. But they both handle multicore processors identically. It will take a future reengineered Windows version to truly take better advantage of the unique capabilities offered by that kind of hardware. To help monitor many of the Windows Vista performance issues, the operating system comes with a new, built-in benchmark tool called WinSAT. WinSAT runs during the setup procedure to perform a batch of tests to determine whether or not the system is capable of running the new user interface and compositing system. While it doesn’t provide application-based benchmarking information, it does tell you how Windows Vista performs on specific hardware. The tool is really designed for OEM system providers to make sure they meet Microsoft marketing requirements, but can be used by you as a rough guide to performance of Windows Vista on your system as well as a system diagnostic tool.

Advantages to a Real-Time System

Even with new tools and techniques, general-purpose OSs such as Windows Vista are designed to host a diverse set of applications including your e-mail programs, accounting software, desktop publishing, video gaming and engineering tools. A general-purpose OS is expected to respond to all user inputs from the mouse and keyboard instantaneously. As a result, you cannot optimize desktop OSs for deterministic performance. In contrast, real-time operating systems (RTOSs) are designed for highly reliable, deterministic performance. Your RTOS differs from desktop OSs such as Windows Vista in three ways: •OS scheduling mechanism ensures that high-priority tasks always execute first. •Software developer has explicit control over all system tasks. •System does not require user input from peripherals such as a mouse and keyboard. However, you can (and should expect the ability to) use a Windows Vista system to develop and download code for an RTOS just as you would from Windows XP. In the beginning, some tools may lag in native 64-bit system support, but, in general, the development of a real-time application should not be too different on Windows Vista. March 2007



Mass Storage Modules for VMEbus and CompactPCI®

While Windows Vista is clearly not a good RTOS, nor was it intended to be, Microsoft has created guidelines to help you design some applications to be more reliable and manageable (Figure 3). Windows Vista offers a set of new APIs and developer services to make your applications a bit more predictable and manageable as well as some tools to help diagnose them when they are not. These include the following: •The Event Logging System has been rewritten for added performance and scalability. Using the new event logging for monitoring, troubleshooting and analysis of events, you can make your application (especially for smart clients) easier to deploy by using Windows Installer and ClickOnce. •C  ancelable I/O allows for the asynchronous cancellation of I/O requests and the detection of times when a device is not responding to a cancellation request. • Restart Manager reduces the need to reboot the PC by giving applications and services the ability to “freeze-dry” their states before being stopped by Windows Vista so that installations can update shared files. •Application Recovery enables applications to control which actions are taken on their behalf by the system when they fail. •T  ask Scheduler 2.0 provides the programmatic creation and scheduling of tasks. So, do you need to rush out and get Windows Vista on your development machine? It definitely has a cool factor that’s in- edrock_04.indd triguing to many developers, and the security capabilities are worth the investment. If you have an upcoming break in projects, it may be a convenient time to upgrade your PC and OS. A good litmus test to gauge the port involves answering the following questions:

PMC CompactFlash Module Two Type I/ Type II CF Sockets

See the full line of Mass Storage Products at

or call Toll-Free: 800-808-7837 Red Rock Technologies, Inc. 480-483-3777


2/2/07 1:21:52 PM

• Are you only developing real-time applications on Windows and then deploying them? •Do your projects and applications require minimal or no hardware support? • Does your hardware vendor have 64-bit drivers available? • Do your tools vendors offer Windows Vista compatibility? •Is security a top concern for your organization or current projects? • Are speed and performance not top concerns for your application? If you answered “yes” to more than two of these questions, it may be worth your time to schedule the port to Windows Vista. However, if you have a lot of I/O and need minimal jitter, it is clearly not a replacement for your RTOS or a good place to host your real-time systems. In the end, Windows Vista should be a more productive and secure environment for developing many of your real-time applications. Happy Windowing! National Instruments Austin, TX. (512) 683-0100. []. March 2007


Software&Development Tools

Designing Scenarios with New File-Based Write Filter Ad Index Tools like the FBWF enable production of, among other things, new thin client device scenarios that can enhance operating system reliability and Get Connected with technology security companies while reducing wear.and providing solutions now


Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal by Milong is toSabandith, research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the Microsoft goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for.

indows XP Embedded Service Pack 2 Feature Pack Reduce Multiple Partition Devices to One 2007 shipped with a new embedded enabling feature Typical embedded devices contain multiple partitions to (EEF) called file-based write filter (FBWF). FBWF separate the OS and data. This separation is required to protect provides the necessary write filtering capability to ensure a the OS but allow writes to the data. However, it results in wasted robust embedded system. With a servicing and configuraspace and increases complexity for imaging. This can be solved tion feature set, the embedded developer can fine-tune his or if the same partition can be used to hold the OS and data but still Get Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now her devices to enable their scenarios. This new EEF provides provide protection boundaries. Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest stateless protection of solid-state devices with user-controlled For example, developing a media playback device requires datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you file protection. For embedded, stateless protection is critipartitions. contains the OS allowing stateless operation in touch with the rightthe resource. Whichever level of service you requiretwo for whatever type ofOne technology, cal for OS resiliency and reliability. it helps and with byyouprotecting writes. The second partition holds the meGet Connected will help youAdditionally, connect with the companies products are searchingagainst for. device wear from constant writes. The ability to selectively dia files, which can be downloaded from the Internet and saved. protect some files and not others is a differentiating feature The media files need to persist across reboots. The OS partition of FBWF. will need some buffer room to allow for updates and system temFBWF performs stateless operation by redirecting writes porary files. This is wasted space that can otherwise be used for to a cache in RAM. The cache can be thought of as an overlay the media files. The media files can only be written to the second on top of the media where the composite view is a combinapartition. During the development process, you will find more tion of the contents on disk and the RAM overlay cache. On and more files will need to go on the second partition and the system reboots, the RAM overlay is discarded so the operatneed to repartition the device and reevaluate partition sizes can ing system is left in a pristine state. Figure 1 shows the combe difficult. posite view of modified files and new files in the cache. FBWF solves this problem by adding a folder for the media Since FBWF hooks in at the file level, it can perform infiles to the write-through list. Now one single partition can be telligent filtering based on files,andfolders or any file system data used forGet both OS and data. The OS is protected against writes Get Connected with companies Connected products featured in this section. structures. Basically a user can selectively choose to not prowhile media files persist across This makes imaging a with companies mentioned in thisreboots. article. files by adding them to a “write-through list.” All files simple procedure avoiding complex partitioning operations or a on a protected volume are protected by default. Additionally, sector-based imaging tool. Additionally, the total free space is FBWF enables “file commits,” which can bypass the protecflexible and can be used to update the OS or it can be used to save tion. These features and others can be used to advantage in Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. embedded scenarios.


Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

End of Article

March 2007



Composite File System View Directory A’

Directory B

Single Partition Protected by FBWF Directory C

File 1

File 3

OS Files protected by FBWF

Write Filter Cache Directory A’

Protected Region

Directory C

File 2

Modified Directory New Directory

Write Through Region Free space can be used to update OS or save media files

Media Files

File 3

Deleted File New File

Protected Volume

Figure 2

Single partition application of FBWF. This allows free space to be shared by protected and unprotected areas. The specific use is dynamic and allocated as required at run-time.

more media files. Figure 2 depicts such a system using FBWF, which protects the OS but allows writes to the media files.

difficult to diagnose issues if the machine is rebooted. The fix is to allow writes to these special files to persist. The event log files are great to check for application and system faults. These are located at c:\windows\system32\config with filenames ending in .evt. Add these files to the write-through list and events can be analyzed to access the health of a system over time. Also, if you are trying to diagnose setup or PNP issues, c:\windows\setupapi.log is a good candidate to add to the writethrough list. Developers can also add their own log files to help them diagnose their applications.

Debugging Involves Log Files and System Events.

Application Updates Without Reboot

Directory A

Figure 1

Directory B

File 1

File 1

Composite view presented by FBWF. Shows how modified files, File 2 and File 3 are represented in the cache but not touched in the underlying volume.

Write protecting the OS volume means application log files and event files are not propagated across reboots. This makes it

1 62 Untitled-2March 2007

Rebooting is a painful and slow process for customers. It puts the machine out of use causing delay for the customer, and the boot

2/9/07 9:40:36 AM

Software&DevelopmentTools process display itself is not the most appealing. However since write filters prevent writes from persisting, they must be disabled before performing an application update. After the update is performed, another reboot is required to re-enable the write filter. FBWF has the “File Commit� functionality allowing single files to be committed to a protected volume. The commit is immediate and persists through reboots. If the file is not in use, updating an application is as simple as downloading the new application and calling FBWF to commit. An added option is to do one commit after all writes are completed. Say you have some configuration file that is written throughout the application usage numerous times. These writes go to the FBWF cache. Once the final write is completed and the application exits, the whole file can be committed in one operation. This can save wear and tear to the storage device. Depending on the scenario, this may be the desired behavior instead of adding it to the write-through list. You can think of the FBWF cache as your temporary storage. This solution can be used in many other scenarios. For example updating virus signatures that are frequently released, or updating the database which holds customer information. For enterprise environments, running SMS is an important mechanism to update a device. SMS inventories the system and may do so on every reboot if state information is not persisted across reboots. Adding SMS directories to the write-through list solves this problem.

Registry Filter and Limitation on HKCU.

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Write filters prevent changes to the registry hive from persistWeb: Fax: (585) 321-5218 ing, and FBWF is no different. There are many scenarios where persisting registry keys will enable important scenarios. The Reg1 3/8/07 9:01:03 istry filter component is preset to allow keys to enable terminalrtc0703_scv2.indd time use, but with the FBWF user mode APIs, tight integration can AM server licensing and keys to enable domain join participation. be enabled within the application. FBWF cannot selectively enable write-through to individual keys. For configuration, the comprehensive API allows all settings It can only preserve the whole registry hive file, meaning all keys such as cache memory type, the write-through list and size diswithin a hive will be permanently saved. So FBWF must also rely play modes to be changed. For complex updates to the device, you on the registry filter for this feature. can also disable and enable the device programmatically. AllowThere is one set of keys that are currently not handled by the ing applications to query memory usage and cache contents also registry filter. These are the HKey Current User (HKCU) keys. facilitates device management. The application can watch memory These keys are loaded too late in the boot process to be protected consumption and force reboots periodically to free up memory. by the registry filter. However, some applications save their keys in This can allow for improved device robustness. As well, files can this location so users can have their own individualized settings. be committed programmatically to update the device intelligently FBWF can be used to allow writes to individual user hives and al- avoiding reboots. The API is programmed via a supplied header low keys to persist. Preserving the whole user hive may actually be and library. desirable for maintaining per-user states on the device.

Use FBWF API to Integrate with an Application

Embedded devices are usually developed for a single purpose, for example, a Point of Service device, a game machine, a robotic controller or some other specific function. This also means writing a custom application that performs all operations necessary to carry out this purpose. The application may also need to apply updates to the device or configure FBWF in a seamless experience for the user. The File-Based Write Filter Manager provides a command line tool for embedded developers to quickly integrate and prototype FBWF with their embedded devices. This is great for design

Microsoft, Redmond, WA. (206) 882-8080. [].

March 2007


Products&Technology AMC Is Based on Intel Core 2 Duo L7400

Advanced Mezzanine Cards provide the modularity for many demanding telecom and military communications systems. The Momentum Series AXA-110 from Mercury Computer Systems is a single-wide AMC that combines a dual-core Intel processor and an FPGA for flexible switch fabric connectivity. It is well suited to the role of processing and communications heart of ATCA or MicroTCA systems. The AXA-110 delivers up to 40 Gbits/s of I/O through the FAT pipes. At a core speed of 1.5 GHz and with a thermal design power of 17 watts, the AXA-110’s Intel Core 2 Duo processor L7400 provides leading energy-efficient performance for small form-factor embedded platforms and enables high-performance implementations of 64-bit architecture. Using a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA, the AXA-110 connects to up to 16 high-speed serial lines totaling 40 Gbits/s. The AXA-110 supports registered DDR2-400 SDRAM with ECC. Up to sixteen lanes of switched fabric interfaces are implemented in multiple configuration options using Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs in the FAT pipes region on the AMC.1/AMC.2/AMC.4-compliant fabric interface. Two 1000Base-BX Ethernet ports and two SATA interfaces are provided in the common options region. Pricing starts at $4,495 for a single board. Discounts are available on higher volumes. Mercury Computer Systems, Chelmsford, MA. (978) 256-1300. [].

Module Targets Embedded Control, Data-Logging Apps

Equipped with with 10/100 Ethernet connectivity, GPIO with onboard analog input and serial flash memory, a new module family from Rabbit Semiconductor is powered by the Rabbit 4000 microprocessor running at up to 58.98 MHz. The RCM4200 RabbitCore features hardware DMA, quadrature decoder, up to 35 GPIO lines shared with up to five serial ports and four levels of alternate pin functions. It targets applications such as embedded data-logging, remote device monitoring and control, serial to Ethernet communications, industrial control and building automation/security and networking. The RCM4200 comes in two flavors, the RCM4200 and the RCM4210, with varying processor speed, analog availability and serial flash size. The RCM4200 has 8 Mbytes of onboard serial flash memory (4 Mbytes for the RCM4210), optional 8-channel analog input for simple interfacing to a wide variety of sensors and an operating temperature range of -40° to +85°C for applications in mobile or industrial environments. A RCM4200 Development Kit is available, which includes the higher-speed RCM4200, a development board and the latest Dynamic C integrated development software with samples and libraries. In quantities of 100, the RCM4200 is priced at $89 and the RCM4210 at $81. Pricing for the RCM4200 development kit is $269. Rabbit Semiconductor, Davis, CA. (530) 757-8400. [].

3U VPX SBC Features Power Architecture-Based P.A. Semi CPU

TCP/IP Offload Engine PMC Is IPv6 Compliant

Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (703) 779-7800. [].

Critical I/O, Irvine, CA. (949) 553-2200. [].

A 3U VPX SBC from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing brings the benefits of VPX—including high-bandwidth, serial switched fabric support and rugged ESD protection—to space- and weight-constrained 3U embedded applications in defense and aerospace. The VPX3-125 is the company’s first VPX SBC in a compact, lightweight 3U form-factor. A VPX-REDI version is also available. The card features the P.A. Semi PWRficient PA6T-1682M, a single- or dual-core, low-power, Power Architecture Platform processor running at 1.5 GHz. This processor is especially well suited for driving new platforms, such as the VPX3-125 SBC, with support for high-speed serial switched interconnects, such as PCI Express and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, with outstanding performance per watt. The card also includes 512 Mbytes/1 Gbyte of 400 MHz DDR2 memory, 128 Mbytes of NOR flash, 1 Gbyte of NAND flash and 512 Kbytes of NVRAM. An XMC/PMC site, two x4 lane PCI Express egress ports off board, two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, RS-232 and RS-422 serial channels, a USB 2.0 host port and discrete digital I/O are provided for connectivity and expansion. The VPX3-125 conforms to Curtiss-Wright’s Continuum Software Architecture (CSA) interoperability initiative. Drivers for VxWorks/Tornado 6.x and Linux are included. Pricing starts at $6,919.


March 2007

For high-performance, real-time systems, the software-based approach to implementing network stack protocols, including IPv6, can quickly run out of gas. A TCP/IP offload engine (TOE) from Critical I/ O offers complete hardware offload of IPv6 connections in a PMC form-factor, enabling Ethernet data networks to satisfy even the most demanding real-time system applications, such as radar, sonar, SIGINT, data acquisition and video distribution. The Critical I/O XGE4032 PMC offers 442 Mbytes/s sustained wirespeed throughput, ultra-low 1% host processor overhead, low 6 microsecond latency and deterministic behavior of +/- 1 microsecond variation typical, with no dropped frames. Unlike software stack implementations, the company’s Silicon Stack Ethernet technology offloads the entire TCP/IP protocol stack (10/100/1000 Ethernet, TCP, UDP, IP, iSCSI and RDMA) in dedicated silicon. An integrated firmware-based protocol engine permits easy protocol extensions and customization. The XGE4032 processor interface features a dual-channel design in PMC and conduction-cooled PMC versions. Options include copper or optical versions. Driver support for standard OS platforms as well as real-time VxWorks and RT Linux are available. A comprehensive library for applications that bypass the OS or have no OS runs on embedded processor families such as PowerPC, Intel/AMD x86 and DSPs. Low quantity pricing starts at $2,479.


Enter a World of Embedded Computing Solutions Attend open-door technical seminars and workshops especially designed for those developing computer systems and time-critical applications. Get ahead with sessions on Multi-Core, Embedded Linux, VME, PCI Express, ATCA, FPGA, Java, RTOS, SwitchFabric Interconnects, Windows, Wireless Connectivity, and much more.

Meet the Experts Exhibits arranged in a unique setting to talk face-to-face with technical experts. Table-top exhibits make it easy to compare technologies, ask probing questions and discover insights that will make a big difference in your embedded computing world. Join us for this complimentary event! Be sure to enter the drawing on-site for an iPod Video

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Products Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

Industrial Panel Computer Sports NEC Flat Panel Display Module

For rapid deployment of human-machine interface, digital signage, medical and operator control applications, industrial panel computers can provide an application-ready solution. Ampro Computers’ new ReadyPanel 10 all-in-one industrial panel PC is equipped with the NEC LCD Technologies NL10276BC20-04 LCD module. An NEC LCD 10.4-in. XGA color TFT flat panel display module provides 1024 x 768 resolution and includes an integrated touch screen. The ReadyPanel 10 includes a standard EPIC form-factor Pentium processorcompatible SBC. A selection of Ampro ReadyBoard SBCs are available with processor speeds ranging from 500 MHz to 1.4 GHz. Up to 1 Gbyte of DRAM can be configured. Standard connectors are provided for easy access to USB ports, RJ-45 Ethernet ports, serial ports (DB9), CRT video ports (when required), PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports and audio ports. External access to the CompactFlash slot is through an EMI-protected cover. Options include a 2.5-in. HDD and CANbus. ReadyPanel 10 supports embedded Linux and Windows XP Embedded, XP Pro or CE 5.0. It comes with embedded Linux on 256 Mbytes of CompactFlash storage and 256 Mbytes of system memory. Pricing starts at $1,599 in volume quantities. Ampro Computers, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-4324. [].

Core 2 Duo-Based Mini-ITX Board Has Tiny Footprint

In response to demand for a simplified system board combining robust computing power, a smaller footprint, lower power and increased product longevity, American Portwell Technologies has released the WADE-8056, an Intel Core 2 Duo-based Mini-ITX embedded system board (ESB). Its 170 mm x 170 mm footprint is aimed at applications in medical equipment, storage device control, gaming machines, digital signage, kiosks, semiconductor equipment and automation control. The WADE-8056 ESB utilizes the Intel Q965 GMCH and 8280 1HB ICH8DO chipset to support Intel’s 1.066 GHz Core 2 Duo and Pentium 4/Celeron D processors. The Q965 chipset includes the fourth-generation Intel integrated graphics controller and a Graphics Media Accelerator 3000 that supports widescreen LCD displays and accelerated DirectX 9.0c. The board’s dual video outputs can drive two displays simultaneously at 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution or 1920 x 1080 for HDTV. System memory is up to 4 Gbytes of 533/667/800 MHz dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM. Other features include a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port, PCI and miniPCI expansion slots, four SATA ports with data transfers of up to 3 Gbits/ s, four COM ports, GPIO, RAID (0,1,5,10) and six USB 2.0 ports. Linux and Windows are supported. Pricing is $330 per unit. American Portwell Technologies, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3399. [].

DSP Platform Targets Mobile, Converged Telecom Apps

A high-capacity, programmable platform for processing-intense telecom applications is required by developers converged audio/ featured in this Get Connected withofcompanies and products video/data/VoIP equipment. The SurfExpress/PCIe—a DSP farm with VoIP, audio, video and data processing capabilities in a PCI Express formfactor—fills those needs. The single-lane, half-length, full-height board is optimized for mobile applications and provides convergence of audio, video and data across wireless and wireline networks. With two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a computer telephony bus for additional TDM interfaces, the SurfExpress/PCIe meets the requirements of V2oIP enterprise-scale media servers, media gateways, 3G-324M video servers, Multimedia Messaging Service Center content adaptation engines and computer/telephone integration applications. It supports 1,088 voice ports and up to 224 low-resolution video ports on a single PCI slot. The SurfDocker plug-in module is used to supply the PCIe carrier card with DSPs. Each module carries up to four pairs of mixed types of DSPs, including Texas Instruments’ TMS320C64x communications infrastructure optimized DSPs. Up to four SurfDocker modules can be plugged into a single SurfExpress/PCIe for a total of eight DSPs per PCIe board. The SurfExpress/PCIe comes with the company’s SurfUP telecomready media processing software that concurrently processes audio, video and data (fax + modem) on TI’s DSPs, enabling real-time intelligent resource management and load balancing for maximum flexibility. Depending on configuration, pricing is $3/port for voice and $80/port for video. Surf Communication Solutions, Arlington, MA. (866) 644-3379. [].

Adapter Facilitates XMC Development, Migration

A new PCI Express-to-XMC adapter facilitates XMC card and related software development and migration, and is especially useful for software development where an existing PCIe solution is to be ported to an XMC equivalent. The Technobox 4876 PCIe-to-XMC Adapter can be used to adapt a PCIe card to an XMC site on a carrier card or SBC. The RoHS 6/6-compliant 4876 supports up to eight PCIe lanes, 2.5 Gbits/s per lane each direction. A pair of XMC connectors for the P15 and P16 interfaces on side one of the 4876 mate with the host XMC site. A single 8x PCIe connector is located on the opposite side of the adapter, along with headers and jumpers. Two 64-pin headers are provided to permit probing of various XMC signals from the P15 and P16 connectors. Pin assignments conform to VITA 42.0-2005 and VITA 42.10-200x. A 7-pin header allows access to several XMC signals that do not pass over the PCIe bus. I2C and JTAG are accessible through a 16pin header with jumpers. The 4876 is equipped with a connector to accept external 12-volt power. Pricing is $895. Quantity discounts are available. Technobox, Lumberton, NJ. (609) 267-8988. []. March 2007



GPS/GSM CompactPCI Card for Mobile Wireless Applications

A wireless interface card for use in mobile applications supplies interfaces for GSM-R and GPS. The F-210 from MEN Micro is a CompactPCI board that combines GSM/GPS/UART in a single Eurocard format. It has a GEM-Rail (GSM-R) controller for applications in trains. GSM-R was specified to guarantee safety in the railway industry. The F-210 supports the frequency bands EGSM 900 and GSM 1800 as well as GSM 850 and 1900 in North America. Additionally, a GPS controller on the card can be used to transmit the location of a vehicle via mobile phone (SMS). The GPS receiver supports the 12-channel GPS and AGPS technology and is capable of receiving even weak signals. In addition to the GPS/GSM functionality, which is optically isolated, the F-210 offers two serial interfaces that can be flexibly used with RS-232, RS-422 or RS-485. Additionally, other optional functions can be implemented as IP cores inside and FPGA on the F-210, including additional serial interfaces, fieldbus interfaces such as CANbus, IBIS, etc. Physical interfaces to the external GSM and GPS antennae are implemented by way of robust reverse SMA connectors. The card is tested to a temperature range of -40° to +85°C. Availability and RoHS conformity are guaranteed at least until 2012. MEN Micro, Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. [].

Configurable Telecom Blade Provides Four AMC Expansion Sites

An enhanced high-speed switched fabric interface provides dual 10Gigabit Ethernet channels for accessing the ATCA High-Speed Fabric on the KAT4000 AdvancedTCA telecom blade from Emerson Network Power. The KAT4000 is a configurable PICMG 3.1 (Option 9) ATCA blade that can accommodate up to four AdvancedMC modules. To maximize system throughput and flexibility, the KAT4000 provides separate control/management and data planes, each with its own independent switching capability and ATCA fabric connection. The control/management plane, available with an optional Freescale 8548 Management Processor complex, utilizes separate Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express switches to connect each AMC site to the ATCA Base Fabric. The KAT4000’s data plane utilizes Gigabit Ethernet (one channel per site) to connect each AMC site to an onboard switch, and dual 10 Gbit/sec Ethernet channels to link the switch with ATCA’s 10 Gbits/sec High-Speed Fabric. The KAT4000 features a PICMG 3.0 Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI version 1.5 with ATCA extensions), which extends to each AMC site. This interface, incorporating dual I2C-based Intelligent Platform Management Buses (IPMB), enhances system management by making it easy for shelf management controllers to monitor, control and exchange management with the KAT4000 and its AMC modules. Software support for the KAT4000 includes Carrier Grade Linux. Emerson Network Power, Madison, WI. (608) 831-5500. [].

6U cPCI Boasts Two Dual-Core Xeon Processors and 8 Gbytes

A new 6U CompactPCI single board computer features two 1.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon ULV processors. The PP 421/23x from Concurrent Technologies is suited for CPU-intensive processing applications whereby the four processor cores can access up to 8 Gbytes of onboard DDR2 ECC dual channel SDRAM, while maintaining a single-slot solution. The Intel E7520 server class chipset and Intel 6300ESB ICH are used to complement the two Xeon processors to achieve a high-performance, yet low-power, dual-processor, dual-core architecture A PMC site supports both front and rear I/O, two SATA150 interfaces, two graphics interfaces, four Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, PICMG 2.16 (Ethernet switched fabric), PICMG 2.9 (IPMI) and PICMG 2.1 (hot swap). The PP 421/23x can operate as a system controller board or as a satellite board (blade) in a CompactPCI system, along with support for various operating systems. A wide range of onboard I/O is available to the user: the board supports four 10/100/1000 Mbit/s Ethernet interfaces (two front and two rear), and the front panel also supports a USB 2.0, RS-232, analog graphics, keyboard and mouse interfaces. As well as the PMC rear I/O, the rear panel supports three more USB 2.0, two more RS-232, two SATA150, one EIDE, digital graphics, keyboard and mouse interfaces. For ease of integration, the PP 421/23x family of boards supports many of today’s leading operating systems, including Linux, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Windows XP and QNX. Concurrent Technologies, Colchester, UK. +444 1206 752626. []. 68

March 2007

Module Enables IP Network, Internet Connectivity for Under $20.

A complete, miniaturized communications subsystem is targeted at applications that need to move commands, status and information over IP networks or the Internet, to or from remote devices. The XPort Direct from Lantronix is an embedded networking device gateway module that breaks the $20 price barrier, bringing Ethernet and Internet connectivity to new, high-volume, costsensitive applications in commercial and consumer markets. The XPort Direct is a component that is mounted onto a device manufacturer’s printed circuit board, enabling “drop-in” network connectivity. This allows OEMs to differentiate their products by delivering a wide range of capabilities such as remote diagnostics, monitoring, maintenance and control. XPort Direct can be quickly integrated into existing or new products with minimal hardware and software engineering investment. The XPort Direct reduces the cost of connecting remote devices and is ideal for products requiring access to critical time-sensitive information such as temperature conditions, inventory updates and machine status. Applications include home automation, entertainment systems, home security, appliances, POS (point-of-sale) terminals, vending machines, industrial refrigeration, commercial lighting and audio/visual equipment. XPort Direct will be available at prices below $20 to qualified, high-volume customers and at slightly higher prices for volumes under 20,000 units annually. Lantronix, Irvine, CA. (949) 453-3990. [].

Products Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

Distributed Drive Eases Motion Control System Design

A distributed control module that combines network connectivity, positioning motion control and power amplification in a single rugged package has been introduced by Performance Motion Devices. The ION Digital Drive is a single-axis module available for DC brush, brushless DC and stepping motors and is suitable for medical, scientific, semiconductor, industrial, robotic and general automation applications. To construct a complete low-cost, multi-axis controller, one networkconnected ION Drive is used per axis. This integrated approach eliminates the wiring complexity and cost of dedicated motion control cards connecting to separate amplifiers. ION provides profile generation, servo compensation, stall detection and field-oriented control. It supports distributed control in an asynchronous serial network (RS-485) version or a CANbus network version. Multiple ION modules (up to 127) can be connected on a single network. ION provides an output capability of up to 15 amps peak, and 500W at 56 volts. Other features include hardware performance trace, on-the-fly profile changes, and PLC style inputs and outputs. ION can be programmed using Pro-Motion, a Windows-based exerciser that allows quick and easy drive setup of C-Motion and VB-Motion software libraries, which let users develop their own applications in C/C++ or Visual Basic. The ION Drive is CE marked and RoHS compliant. Prices start at $223 in OEM quantities.

MicroTCA Tower Chassis Has Handle for Portability

A new MicroTCA Portable from Elma Electronic be featured in this GetTower Connected with companies andmay products the first of its kind in the industry because it features a carrying handle for easy portability. The Type 32M MicroTCA Portable Tower is suitable as a development chassis. Utilizing Elma’s modular extrusionbased design, the chassis facilitates a wide rage of configurations. It allows up to six AdvancedMCs in the full size format. The modules could be either single- or double-width format in the same backplane. With two MicroTCA carrier hubs (MCH), the backplane has a dual star architecture. There are also redundant power modules, connections for two cooling units and M4 power bolts. The MCH slots come in 1-4 tongue styles. The Type 32M features advanced EMC shielding, scratch-resistant vinyl clad aluminum covers and power components. Cooling is achieved with 2 x 90 CFM fans. Elma has performed thermal simulations to ensure the optimal performance. Elma’s Type 32M MicroTCA Tower price is under $2,500, depending on volume and options. The lead time is 6-8 weeks.

Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].

Performance Motion Devices, Lincoln, MA. (781) 674-9860. [].

USB Data Acquisition Offering Extends to 40 Devices

Two new high-performance M Series multifunction data acquisition (DAQ) devices for USB provide up to 32 analog inputs with a 250 kSamples/s single-channel sampling rate The USB-6221 and USB-6229 from National Instruments extend its USB DAQ offering to 40 devices. The complete NI USB offering now includes low-cost devices starting at $99, high-speed devices featuring 1 MSample/s sampling speeds and modular USB data acquisition systems for low-, mid- and high-channel-count applications. The USB-6221 and USB-6229—as well as bus-powered and other USB DAQ devices—feature NI signal streaming technology, which utilizes the bandwidth and performance of Hi-Speed USB technology to allow bidirectional high-speed transfer of data between the USB device and a computer. The new devices include up to 32 16bit, 250 kSample/s analog input channels; four 16-bit, 833 kSample/s analog output channels; 48 digital I/O channels with up to 32 clocked at 1 MHz; and two 32-bit counter/timers, all backed by M Series technology including a low-noise NI-PGIA 2 amplifier and NI-MCal, a third-order calibration methodology correcting for gain, offset and nonlinearity errors at all input ranges. Additionally, each device is shipped with free data-logging software to help users take full advantage of the ease of use and plug-and-play capabilities offered by USB by shortening time to measurement. The software driver works with National Instruments LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, Measurement Studio and SignalExpress, as well as C/C++/C# and Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual Studio .NET languages. National Instruments, Austin, TX. (800) 258-7022. [].

DuraNET Rugged Ethernet Switches Meet Rugged Demands

Two rugged Ethernet switch products have been developed specifically for military and harsh mobile applications. These products, the DuraNET 2955 and the DuraNET 1059, feature mechanical packaging enhancements designed for MIL-STD810F airborne environmental compliance and high reliability. The units have been specially hardened to improve ingress, impact and shock/vibration protection, as well as eliminate all moving parts through passive cooling, and interface through sealed MIL-C-38999 circular connectors. The DuraNET 2955 is a ruggedized version of the Cisco 2955T-12 Ethernet switch, a fully managed industrial-grade network switch offering 12 Fast Ethernet ports, 2 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks and Cisco IOS software functionality for traditional data, video and voice services with enhanced intelligent services features for additional security, advanced Quality of Service (QoS), high availability and manageability. Administrators can easily configure features, monitor performance and troubleshoot using a standard Web browser. The DuraNET 1059 is a compact, unmanaged Ethernet switch node designed to provide local area network (LAN) connectivity to network-centric devices. Hardened with a black anodized finish, internal heatsinking and MIL-C-38999 connectors, this rugged Fast Ethernet switch node serves as a reliable yet affordable solution for expanding port density to DuraMAR mobile IP routers and other network-centric solutions. Designed for simple plug-and-play operation, any of its five transceiver ports are flexibly designed to serve as an uplink. Support for auto-crossover, auto-polarity, auto-negotiation and bridge loop prevention are all integrated. Parvus, Salt Lake City, UT. (801) 433-6300. []. March 2007


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Micro Memory LLC................................. 72.....................

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Ampro Computers,

Performance Technology........................37......................................


Phoenix International...............................4............................

BittWare. ...............................................51............................. Get Connected with companies and products featured in section. QNX Software Systems, Ltd...................54....................................


Real-Time &

Data Devices Corp...................................8.............................

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Red Rock Technologies, Inc...................59.......................

ELMA Electronic, Inc..............................16..................................


Embedded Planet..................................33................


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Themis Computer..................................35...............................

GE Fanuc Embedded Systems............2,

TRI-M Systems......................................52.................... www.Tri-M

General Micro Systems, Inc.........6, 20,

Ultimate Solutions................................. 71.................................

VersaLogic Corporation.......................... 17..........................

Logic Supply,

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March 2007

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Imagine the possibilities, now that Radstone is part of GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. 0 Digital Motion Controllers Provide Precise Motion i...

The magazine of record for the embedded computing  

Imagine the possibilities, now that Radstone is part of GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. 0 Digital Motion Controllers Provide Precise Motion i...