PCIe—Poised to Dominate the Future of Backplanes? The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry
3U VPX On Target for Small, "Ruff and REDI?"
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Squeeze Multiprocessor Designs onto Multicore High Availability: Can You Manage It?
GE Fanuc Embedded Systems
MicroTCA™ minus the surprises. Application-ready platforms take the ‘time’ out of time to market. The process of getting a hardware platform up and running can be full of nasty little surprises, like cooling issues, interoperability problems, power distribution challenges and even component availability. Unless, of course, you choose a pre-validated, pre-tested and pre-integrated MicroTCA™ platform from GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. We spend a lot of time putting the system together for you, so you can spend your time fine-tuning your applications. With one of our systems, you can jump right in, knowing that all the cards speak to each other and to the MCH, that the OS and drivers work, that the IPMI
functions flawlessly and that you just got a huge jump on your competition. To make things go even smoother, we have developed one of the biggest selections of AdvancedMC™ cards on the planet. Everything from Cavium Octeon™ packet processors to Intel® Pentium® M processors, Gigabit Ethernet to OC-12, and VGA to GPS. With our pre-validated systems and AdvancedMC selection, the only surprise you may encounter is just how easy MicroTCA can be.
MicroTCA 2000 Prevalidated Modular Platform
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TABLEOF CONTENTS September 2007
5 Editorial There’s Got to be a Better Way Industry Insider developments in the 7 Latest Embedded Marketplace Publisher’s Letter
Form-Factor Boards 11 Small Up and Coming & Technology 40 Products Newest Embedded Technology used by Industry Leaders
Technology in Context The Future Face of Backplanes
12 PCI Express
Steve Cooper, One Stop Systems
On Target for Small, Ruff and REDI Cover Photo: Designed for space-constrained applications, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing’s 3U VPX3-125 is a next step in the evolution of rugged small form-factor Single Board Computers.
VME, VPX and Beyond
VPX: Small, Rugged and REDI 20 3U Michael Monroe, Elma Bustronic
VPX: Rugged, High28 3U Performance Small Form-
Factor COTS Comes of Age Jing Kwok, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing
From Multiprocessor to Multicore
28 CompactPCIe Form-Factors
3U VPX Board with Single or Dual Power Architecture Cores and Two 4-Lane PCI Express fabric ports
from Multiprocessors 34 Moving to Multiple Cores William Lundgren, Kerry Barnes and James Steed, Gedae
Software and Development Tools Managing High Availability
44 Latest Core 2 Duo Embedded CPU Powers COM & XTX Modules
New LabView 8.5 Supports Multicore Development for Embedded Design
Environments 38 Operating through Open Source John Fryer, Motorola Embedded Communications Computing
Building a Highly Available
Station Controller Using 46 Base COTS Components Asif Naseem, GoAhead Software
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september 2007 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, johnr@r tcgroup.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Warren Andrews, warrena@r tcgroup.com
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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry
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HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, www.rtcgroup.com 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
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There’s Got to be a Better Way by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief
ere we sit at the beginning of the 21st century burning oil and coal. Not only that, we are also tearing up the planet to find them and fighting wars to control oil, at least. Everybody knows this can’t continue, that resources will get scarcer and hence more expensive, but here we sit like some dazed drug addict refusing to acknowledge the situation. And at this point I’m just talking about generating electricity. Transportation is a whole different, albeit related, matter. The vast majority of our electricity is produced by electromagnetic induction, which as we all know, involves moving a conductor through a magnetic field causing current to flow in the conductor. The process essentially converts kinetic energy into electricity—with varying degrees of efficiency. We build enormous power plants, coal-fired, oil-fired, nuclear plants and hydroelectric dams fitted with huge generators whose mighty armatures turn to produce our power. And, with the exception of hydroelectric, how do we turn these generators? By boiling water. Yes, coal, oil and nuclear-powered plants all boil water to turn turbines that run the generators and that has consequences that we have taken for granted for generations. One of them is centralization. Large facilities being more efficient than small ones, the motivation is toward centralized power plants. The inefficiency that comes from this is the losses incurred in distribution over the grid. We’ve been doing it this way since the 20s and the grid that has evolved over that time is so rickety and vulnerable to attack that the power industry is terrified of making any major changes. Even newer sources of alternative energy like wind power tend to be concentrated where there is a good source of kinetic energy, namely wind, to turn the propellers that turn the generators. Anyone who has driven through California’s large wind farms will appreciate that they are there because that’s where the wind is. Many of the gains achieved by using wind are still offset by the inefficiency of centralized distribution. Now what does all this rehashing of our antique power grid have to do with embedded systems? A lot. For producing power, “There’s got to be a better way.” There is so far only one proven technology that produces electricity by a means other than electromagnetic induction and that is solar
power. Advances in efficiency, life expectancy and fabrication (such as solar film) are coming at a furious rate. There are roof shingle solar panels and even grid-synchronous panels that have internal inverters to connect directly to the grid. Solar panels inherently lend themselves to decentralization—but only under a new distribution model that would heavily depend on distributed computer processing and networking, technologies that are already well understood. There have been attempts in Germany to install large solar facilities that cover whole hillsides and they have led to opposition over spoiling whole areas of land. This is not only symptomatic of backward thinking; it is also unnecessary. We still need a grid. But with intelligent metering and networking, distribution can be kept much more localized than it is today with attendant reduction of transmission losses. Organizations like the Zigbee Alliance are already pioneering wireless distributed metering to eliminate sending meter readers around in trucks every month. By the same token, intelligent meters at every solar node could easily take advantage of recent developments in powerful, small form-factor boards with on-board networking, both wireless and wired Internet, to start building a modern, efficient solar-based power grid with panels on virtually every rooftop. Power bills would then reflect the power that a given node contributed to the grid versus how much was drawn off the grid in a given period. These would have to communicate with central servers for both billing and load balancing, as well as working with the existing centralized facilities on the new grid. As an added advantage, such a decentralized intelligent grid with huge numbers of distributed networked nodes would be far less vulnerable to attack and massive outages than the precarious thing we’re dealing with today. It would represent a huge opportunity for applying embedded control, monitoring and networking for participating vendors in addition to those developing and supplying the underlying solar technology. We can go on this way or we can change. And we can change by taking advantage of our technology and our initiative as a massive economic and national opportunity because, “There’s got to be a better way.” September 2007
THE ADVANTAGES ARE CLEAR Motorola is the clear choice for MicroTCA™. Motorola’s cutting edge MicroTCA products can help cut your costs, risk and design cycle while increasing your flexibility. Whether your applications need specific I/O, flexible packaging, ruggedization or a choice of processors, we can customize solutions to meet your needs. That’s why our MicroTCA products are quickly being adopted for network-centric applications across telecommunications, defense, aerospace, industrial and medical industries. Looking for a clear advantage over the competition? HELLOMOTO™ See why Motorola should be your first choice for MicroTCA solutions at: motorola.com/computing/MTCA
MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office. MicroTCA and the MicroTCA logo are trademarks of PICMG. All other products or service names are the property of their respective owners. © Motorola, Inc. 2007. All rights reserved.
IndustryInsider september AUGUST 2007
Both companies are heavily committed to the VITA 46/48 (VPX/ VPX-REDI) standards; this commitment combined with Micro Three years after the 2004 launch of the ETXexpress specification, which has become the Memory’s Serial RapidIO IP will PICMG COM Express (COM.0) standard, Kontron has defined a new footprint variant of the Combolster VMetro’s VPX product puter-On-Modules (COMs) standard: nanoETXexpress. introduction. The nanoETXexpress specification is targeted to deliver power-saving COMs with mid- to highIn addition to providing performance x86 technology on a footprint of only 55 mm x 84 mm. This is 39 percent of the origiVMetro a broader embedded nal COM Express module Basic form-factor 125 x 95 mm footprint and 51 percent of microETXexproduct portfolio, the acquisition is intended to enable further dipress (95 mm x 95 mm). The new COM form-factor follows the PICMG COM Express standard and versification into a new market will be 100 percent compliant with the COM.0 Type 1 connector. The locations of the identically sector for the company through mapped pin-outs will also be 100 percent COM.0-compliant. sales of Micro Memory’s Umem According to Kontron, the goal of the nanoETXexpress specification is to build PCIe-based NVRAM cards. These products COMs on the smallest possible form-factor. Many new applications that will benefit from the nano are solid-state, non-volatile ranGet Connected with technology and size include handheld units for medical, companies providingmobile solutionsdata now solutions and other emerging applications dom access PCI memory cards that have not been possible as of yet due to resource size restrictions. The specification documentation for that increase performance while Get Connected is a new for further exploration nanoETXexpress will be under a non-disclosure agreement intoavailable products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal in Q4 2007. Kontron plans to maintaining reliability in storage is to research the latest datasheet a company, launch its first nanoETXexpress-based COM from in Q2 2008. speak directly servers and appliances that are with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the currently utilized by leading Tier goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. I/II OEMs to satisfy applications level of service you require is foran whatever type ofmilestone technology, VMetro Acquires Micro Arch Rock, Whichever Sensinode stration important in the rapidly growing segments Get Connected will help illustrating you connect with the companies and productsMemory how open standards Conduct First of Enterprise Network Storage. you are searching for. will accelerate the adoption of VMetro and Micro Memory Interoperability Test of With this acquisition, www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected wireless sensor networks. The have announced that VMetro has IETF 6LoWPAN Standard VMetro expects to leverage Milong-standing IETF emphasis acquired 100% of the shares of Wireless sensor network cro Memory’s U.S.-based operaon ‘rough consensus and runMicro Memory. VMetro is a provendors Arch Rock and Sensinode tions, which will enable selling ning code’ is highlighted here vider of embedded computing, have conducted the first successinto programs where U.S. Engiin a pragmatic standard leading data recording, storage and protoful interoperability demonstration neering and Manufacturing facilrapidly to multi-vendor interopercol analyzer products for over 20 of the IETF 6LoWPAN standard ities are strongly favored—espeGet Connected with technology and companies providing now ability.” years.solutions Micro Memory, a privately for IPv6 communication over the cially those programs that involve Get Connected resource for further exploration technologies and companies. Whether sensitive your goal is information to research the latest whose technical teaminto products, held U.S.-based company with IEEE 802.15.4 low-power radio. is a newCuller, subject to speakRock directlymade with ansubstantial Application Engineer, or jump to ain company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you at Arch headquarters Chatsworth, CalThe test, completed datasheet early in from July,a company, United States International Trafin touch with the right contributions resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, to the draft stanifornia, has provided board-level was the first to show two indefic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Get Connected will help yousaid, connect with the companies and products you are searching for. dard, “Over the past decade products for streaming signal and pendent implementations of the which limit the involvement of www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected we have seen a proliferation of image processing, real-time data Internet Engineering Task Force non-U.S. personnel. Additionally, wireless mesh routing specificaacquisition, memory nodes and (IETF) 6LoWPAN standard comVMetro’s sales offices in Europe tions from industry forums and Enterprise Network Storage for municating with each other over a and Asia will open up untapped proprietary protocols, but none over 30 years. low-power wireless network. markets for Micro Memory’s is compatible with any of the othMicro Memory’s real-time The IETF 6LoWPAN stanproduct lines. ers. The introduction of a simple embedded system products are dard defines how IP communicaIP option opens a path to converexpected to add breadth and depth tion is conducted over low-power gence and mainstream adoption.” Lantronix Announces Third to VMetro’s embedded Digital wireless IEEE 802.15.4 personalThe IETF 6LoWPAN workSignal Processing (DSP) and Annual Wireless Design area networks; it utilizes IPv6, the ing group was formed in 2004 high-performance data recordContest latest and most scalable version to address the challenge of ening offerings. Micro Memory’s Lantronix has announced the of the ubiquitous Internet Protoabling wireless IPv6 communicaMemory-Only Node products are 3rd edition of its popular Wirecol. In March 2007 Arch Rock tion over the newly standardized building blocks for adding bulk Get Connected with companies and less Design Contest. This year’s introduced the first commercial Get Connected products featured in this section.in IEEE 802.15.4 low-power radio storage to DSP and Recording sys-in thiscontest with companies mentioned article. challenges engineers, stuimplementation of 6LoWPAN www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected for devices with limited space, tems. Thewww.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected Micro Memory VITA dents and hobbyists to develop a its Primer Pack/IP offering, folpower and memory, such as sen41 (VXS) products strengthen creative and practical wireless lowed shortly by Sensinode with sor nodes. VMetro’s existing VXS position. its NanoStack protocol solution. Dr. David E. Culler, Arch Rock cofounder and chief techGet Connected with companies mentioned in this article. nology officer, said, “This demonwww.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.
Kontron Introduces Smallest ETXexpress-Compatible Footprint
End of Article
product using Lantronix’s new MatchPort b/g, an 802.11 b/g embedded wireless device server module. With MatchPort b/g, contestants can add Wi-Fi to virtually any electronic device with a serial interface so it can be accessed, monitored and controlled wirelessly over the Internet. To enter, contestants simply submit their application concept through the Lantronix Web site and later submit a working prototype design. All design entries must be received on or before March 3, 2008. Winners will be announced at the Embedded Systems Conference (April 14-18, 2008) in San Jose, Calif. Entries will be judged on technical merit, originality, business value, cost-effectiveness and design optimization. In addition to travel compensation to the awards ceremony at ESC, Lantronix will award cash prizes for the following categories: • First Place – $6,000 • Second Place – $4,000 • Third Place – $2,000 • Best Entry from a Student/Edu cational Facility – $3,000 • Most Likely to Succeed – $2,000 a new category this year for the most commercially viable design
The 2007 WDC winners included: First Place ($6,000): Damien Hubaux and his engineering team from CETIC in Belgium for their SAND (Smart Adaptable Network Device) System, a small, autonomous and flexible embedded system based on a “soft processor.” The SAND System can be used by transportation companies looking to acquire objective data about its driver’s behavior in order to better train workers and decrease fuel consumption. Second Place ($4,000): Kevin Hubbard, from Washington, for his WiFi Clock, a fully functional alarm clock with Internet access. With its unique features, the WiFi
8/28/07 11:10:16 AM
Clock provides end users an innovative design to retrieve customized, real-time information such as weather, news or e-mail. Third Place ($2,000): Mohamad Abou El-Nasr, assistant professor at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Egypt. His Wi-Aquarium allows users to remotely control and monitor an aquarium anytime from anywhere in the world, and ensures an optimum aquarium environment and healthy fish. All contest details, including rules, entry form and more information on past winners, can be found at www.lantronix.com/ wirelesscontest.
Azonix Acquires the MRD Division of Kontron America
Azonix Corpora, a Division of Crane Corporation, has announced an agreement to acquire the MRD Division of Kontron America, a Division of Kontron Embedded Computers AG, of Munich, Germany. Azonix is a solution provider of rugged computers and displays primarily for the Oil and Gas Exploration, U.S. Military and Automation Markets, and will purchase all of the assets of the MRD Division, a developer of rugged computers and flat panel displays for the Military, Oil and Gas Exploration, and Test & Measurement Industry. MRD will assume the Azonix name once details are finalized. Azonix intends that the combination of MRD will help create best in class in the rugged computer/display markets. It combines the strong manufacturing and supply chain of Azonix with the innovative and forward-thinking engineering team of MRD. The action is aimed at helping increase Azonix’ competitive position in the marketplace, enhance its strategic objective of market diversification, and serve to strengthen our ability to survive the cyclical nature of our current markets. It is also projected to provide benefits such as improved
manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies, increased innovative and value-added solutions, as well as enhanced strategic relationships.
Adaptec, AIC/Xtore, Emulex, Finisar, Fujitsu CPA, Intel, LeCroy, LSI, Marvell Semiconductor, PMC-Sierra and 3ware.
SCSI Trade Association Completes Seventh SAS Plugfest
IBM and Excendia Join to Deliver Speech-Enabled Mobility
The SCSI Trade Association (STA) held its seventh Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) plugfest July 23-27, 2007 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). The plugfest was attended by both STA member and non-member companies. Tests made available to attendees included single zoning, multiple zones and interoperability of Serial ATA (SATA) drives in an SAS environment Mike Fitzpatrick, senior research executive, Fujitsu Computer Products of America and chairperson of the SAS Plugfest Technical Committee, stated, “Since the first SAS plugfest in March, 2004, SAS technology has made great strides in functionality, SATA interoperability and acceptance by the storage market. The recent plugfest continued SAS product fine-tuning with results that indicate the successful completion of the first generation of SAS. Particularly significant were the results of zone testing, as zoning is becoming an important part of data management within a SAS datacenter.” Backward compatibility is key to the SAS user’s ability to easily mix and match SAS and SATA technologies and to flexibly maximize storage cost. In the interest of backward compatibility, 3 Gbit/s SAS will be tested over several future plugfests, including those where 6 Gbit/s SAS will also be tested. It is essential that 3 Gbit/s SAS be compatible with 6 Gbit/s SAS as well as the earlier 1.5 Gbit/s SATA. The next SAS plugfest is anticipated for early 2008 when 6 Gbit/s SAS products start to become more widely available. STA Member Companies attending the Plugfest included
Excendia, a developer of speech-enabled unified communications and speech mobility solutions, announced today the availability of Excendia Virtual Assistant on IBM WebSphere Voice Server. The solution provides mobile workers with handsfree, eyes-free access to their business information and office communications tools from any telephone. Using speech commands, users can access and manage their phone calls, e-mails, appointments and contacts while on the road, driving or visiting customers. They can listen and reply to their e-mail messages, review and schedule appointments, call contacts by name or send them voice e-mails. Excendia uses the IBM WebSphere speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies to understand user voice commands and deliver text content over the phone. Excendia Virtual Assistant acts as a bridge between the user and her/his office messaging and telephone infrastructure to deliver new and unique services. In fact, Excendia uses the business data to make the phone intelligent, and uses the company phone to make corporate data accessible remotely.
Dual-Core Processors on AMC, cPCI and VME
AdvancedMC™ � up to 2.0 GHz Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processor LV � up to 16 Gbytes DDR2 ECC SDRAM � double-width/full-height � for AdvancedTCA® or MicroTCA™
3U/6U CompactPCI® � choice of Intel® Core™ Duo processor, ® Intel Core™ 2 Duo processor or ® ® dual Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors � up to 8 Gbytes DDR2 ECC SDRAM � extended temperature operation available � rugged versions available
VME/VXS � choice of Intel® Core™ Duo processor, ® Intel Core™ 2 Duo processor or dual Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processors � up to 8 Gbytes DDR2 ECC SDRAM � extended temperature operation available � rugged versions available
http://www.gocct.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (781) 933-5900 All Trademarks acknowledged
9/5/07 10:02:17 AM
What’s the matter? Power supply won’t reach that far? There it is. Wide open space. Just crying out for your best ideas. Like portable medical imaging devices that you can use on the battleﬁeld. Or emergency networks that keep everyone connected — even during a hurricane. Or…? So what’s holding you back? Certainly not battery life and power supplies — at least not anymore. New ultra-low power Intel® embedded technology will support designs of less than 7 watts. Now how far away can you get carried on that idea? To learn more go to: http://developer.intel.com/design/info/896.htm
Intel Embedded Technology. Igniting Innovation. Intel and the Intel logo are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Copyright © 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.
Small Form-Factor Boards Up and Coming
ver the past weeks I’ve been talking to some of our friends in the PC/104, Com Express and other small form-factor board communities and have come to some interesting realizations. First off, in the past, I’ve been casual in referring to the small formfactor board market as PC/104 and derivatives—often in headlines and taglines we referred to small form-factor subsystems generically as simply PC/104. It turns out that’s wrong. First, the “derivatives” have far outstripped the original PC/104 products and concept. But more important is that the embedded computer market has far outrun the bounds of standard form-factor boards and is now playing to the tune of a different drummer. Second, while I viewed the small form-factor business as a staple in the embedded computer business, I failed to recognize how widespread the technology was and the overall dimensions of the business. PC/104 itself, the brainchild of Dave Feldman, Rick Lehrbaum and the crew at Ampro back in the early 1980s, has outrun its own headlights. The underlying ISA and even PCI chipsets are fast moving toward end of life, and capabilities are limited. However, despite much of traditional PC/104 CPU and chipsets moving toward obsolescence, such products continue to fill an important niche in relatively low-technology embedded applications. There are thousands of applications that don’t need any more power than a 386 or 486 can deliver, yet are being pushed up the technology ladder because of end-of-life issues. It’s been estimated by market research firms that the total market for PC/104 CPU and I/O cards has reached somewhere between $400 and $500 million annually. That’s about as much as the venerable VMEbus is managing to scrape out these days. Further, if we start to include the other small form-factor boards, that number swells to well over $1 billion. According to some sources there have been over 500,000 ETX modules shipped over the past few years. In addition, it’s currently estimated that there are approximately 60 different small form-factor offerings on the market today including several that incorporate PCI Express. One of those garnering increasing attention is EPIC Express, first introduced in these pages almost a year ago. This holds out increasing promise as it fits well into the markets and volume expectations of many application areas, including upgrades to
the transportation, pipeline and other commercial infrastructure, factory automation and control, medical instrumentation and other areas. Criticism has recently been leveled at the PC/104 consortium for not keeping pace with changes in technology. Personally, I’m surprised that it has survived as long as it has and continues to have members that have been posting double-digit growth rates over the past several years. However, as the embedded computer business—and particularly that for small form-factor systems— continues to grow almost exponentially. Has, perhaps, the consortium lulled member companies into some belief that they need not go and plow new territory? The new world is embracing wireless technology, even greater portability, lower power and more flexibility. From the portable scanners in the hands of clerks in drug and grocery store aisles to new biometric security devices, passport and driver’s license scanners, small form-factor boards are going to be very much on the horizon and will undoubtedly take on a variety of form-factors. PC/104 has enjoyed a good useful life and will wind down gracefully as components go to end of life and there is no longer economic viability in alternative approaches such as implementing functions in programmable logic. Further, the number of small form-factor approaches is swelling as the demand increases. Often these approaches are somehow, if not directly, competitive. That begs the question: can a single trade association supporting several different competitive approaches survive—even if they address slightly different applications? Did we learn the lesson of Futurebus+? The bottom line is that there is some combination of price, power, flexibility and ruggedness that will determine the applicability of a particular subsystem to a product. As applications swell and as volumes increase, the significance of standard form-factors becomes of decreasing significance. Certainly this has been obvious in many of the systems we see out there today that are complete systems roughly based on some standard, but without the need for interoperability. It has to be remembered that the market determines the success or failure of a product family, not the existence of some fiat standard.
Warren Andrews Associate Publisher September 2007
The future face of backplanes
PCI Express: The Future Face of Backplanes PCI Express is transforming backplane design and bringing performance back in-line with todayâ€™s CPU and I/O performance. New bus performance and features are reshaping the usage model of the backplane system.
Ad Index by S teve Cooper One Stop Systems 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 ackplane systems have a long hisgoal of Get tory of providing flexible, modular Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, expansion capability for Get systems Connected will help you connect with the companies and products relatively low cost. In some you systems are searching for.
at a where the physical constraints orwww.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected lowestpossible cost constraints warrant, system designers reduce or forego a bus structure and design all the desired functions into a single monolithic design. But, more often than not, some form of modular system Get Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now expandability is designed in. As compoGet Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research t nents continue to get smaller and faster, datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connect will backplane structures go the wayinof touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, the dinosaurs? Probably notâ€”the Get ecoConnected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for. nomic case for backplane designs is simwww.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected ply too strong. In the bus/board marketplace, designers take advantage of off-the-shelf Figure 1 Backplane architectures such as this CompactPCIe backplane facilitate boards and enclosures where they can, rapid time-to-market for high-end low to medium volume applications. and develop custom boards and software where needed to complete the application. This approach greatly reduces ware. This typifies several application Included among the economic advanR&D time and expense and takes advan- areas, including instrumentation, test tages for the continued use of backplane tage of the combined market economies equipment, communications, military architectures is the reduction of R&D exof scale for the off-the-shelf modules and high-end medical equipment. One used. Such an economicGet model works with of the highest performance backplanes Connected companies and Get Connected products featured in this section. well for low to medium volume applicaavailable is the CompactPCIe backplane with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected tions with a fair amount of unique hard- shown in Figure 1.
End of Article
September 2007 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected
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Which Way do You Want Your 10Gb Ethernet?
2500MB/sec 10G b 250MB/se
Software Stack Conventional NIC Technology
Silicon Stack Critical I/O XGE
Silicon Stack Technology from Critical I/O. 10Gb Ethernet at Wire Speed. [Problem] You’re expecting 10Gb Ethernet to deliver a whole lot more performance to your embedded system. But what if you invest in it and get no gain at all? The performance of nearly all existing 1Gb applications are limited by the software overhead associated with the TCP/IP protocol stack. This bottleneck is in the software stack, not the network hardware. So, simply upgrading to 10Gb pipes will not improve your system’s performance. [Solution] Unlike conventional Ethernet interfaces or processor-based “offload” products, Critical I/O’s Silicon Stack technology eliminates this inherent bottleneck by offloading protocol processing to silicon; thereby achieving sustained line-rate performance, microsecond latency, and rock-solid deterministic behavior. And, Silicon Stack is 100% compliant with Ethernet standards, allowing you to leverage existing applications and hardware.
XGE Silicon Stack Ethernet vs. Software-based Stack
Software Stack 10Gb
40 varies with protocol
1Gb Throughput max sustained rate in MBytes/sec Host Overhead
Determinism typical variation Reliability
Horrible ± 200 μsec Poor when under heavy load
Very Low 12 μsec
Rock Solid ± 1 μsec Excellent under all load conditions, no dropped data
penses. Integrating off-the-shelf modules is much easier than designing and debugging a monolithic system from scratch. In lower volume applications, where the R&D costs often exceed the cost of the purchased hardware, reducing R&D as much as possible is key to economic success. In the future when engineering resources are even scarcer than they are now and time-to-market pressures dominate, more and more designers will take advantage of off-the-shelf modules to complete their designs. The reduction of engineering expenses and the time required to produce a given solution, saves not only considerable cost, but also gets the resulting product to market more quickly. In many situations, the value of quicker time-to-market is considerable. Economically, accelerating the revenue and profit stream makes a considerable difference in a project’s return on investment. This is compounded by the market share effect, where the products that reach the marketplace sooner have greater marketplace success. Modular systems allow individual elements to be upgraded over time without requiring a full system redesign. A designer can typically get two or three technology infusions within the same base design with relatively little additional effort. These product upgrades extend a product’s market competitiveness at a relatively modest cost. There is also an advantage in terms of lower per-unit costs. Some designers argue that designing with modules connected over a backplane is more expensive than the cost of a monolithic solution. And in high-volume consumer applications this is true. However, in low to medium volume applications, it makes sense to use off-theshelf modules that are produced for many users in much higher volumes than any one user would need. The lower production costs for a manufacturer who is producing modules in 1,000-unit quantities versus a user who might produce 50 units, more than covers the module maker’s profit margin mark-up. It seems clear that markets for highend equipment will continue for the foreseeable future. And with the rapid pace of technology advances, this equipment will
need to be continually redesigned and enhanced to enable new features. It also seems clear that the economics of busbased designs will also remain valid. The combination of a solid market need and an economically valid solution will keep bus-based solutions alive and well for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the number of standard form-factors is proliferating. Due to the pressures of reduced engineering and accelerated time-to-market, more and more designers are looking for offthe-shelf modules upon which to base their designs. And because of the diversity of applications, there is clearly no “one size fits all” backplane solution. Historically, the marketplace seemed to settle on a small number of form-factors that provided a range of capabilities, but also a fair amount of commonality. Going forward, however, there are already more than 60 unique board form-factors defined for use with the PCIe bus. It appears that the standards bodies are more concerned with allowing maximum flexibility than in enforcing form-factor discipline. Thus, it will be left to the marketplace to determine which of the many “standard” form factors become successful. Figure 2 shows PCIe boards in the desktop, laptop and CompactPCIe form-factors.
With PCIe becoming established as the PC bus for the next decade, it will also dominate as the electrical bus in all other form factors. This is inevitable because PCIe is a very well-defined, high-performance, low-cost bus structure and because it has the marketplace of 200 million PC units per year driving the underlying components. PCIe comes out of the Intel chip sets. PCIe is the bus that Ethernet, graphics, disk controllers and virtually all new I/O components interface with. Libraries exist where PCIe interfaces can simply be “dropped in” to custom gate array devices. In a few years time, it will be nearly impossible to design a system product that doesn’t include PCIe. Other bus structures may continue to exist in specialized niches or as secondary bus September 2007
structures along side of PCIe. Although even this usage model will be curtailed as PCIe adds additional performance and multicomputing capabilities. Even though PCIe is already one of the fastest bus structures in the market, the PCI-SIG is committed to driving several generations of backward-compatible performance upgrades. The first performance upgrade, known as Gen 2 timing,
doubles the transfer rate of each lane of PCIe from 2.5 Gbits/s to 5.0 Gbits/s. Since most boards utilize x4 or x8 lane connections, the Gen 2 data rates will typically be 20 or 40 Gbits/s. The first PCs to include Gen 2 timing are expected to be generally available at the end of 2007. This technology should become available within the bus-board modules by the end of 2008.
The PCI-SIG also recently announced the basic timing and performance for Gen 3 PCIe. The individual lane performance for Gen 3 will double again, increasing transfer rates to 10 Gbits/s per lane. Gen 3 technology is expected to become available by 2010. Backward compatibility will be achieved by each bus interface component starting the bus training cycle us-
PCIe boards in the desktop (a), laptop (b) and CompactPCIe form-factors (c).
PCIe over cable extends the bus to expansion chassis or dedicated I/O.
ing the Gen 1 timing. If both sides of the interface are compatible with Gen 2 or Gen 3 timing, they will both jump to the higher performance. PCIe was originally defined to support CPU-to-I/O communications, with the basic PC serving as the usage model. CPU-to-CPU communications are more critical within the bus-board industry as designers commonly utilize multiple CPU boards to achieve complex solutions. Typically one CPU board captures incoming data, then passes the data onto one or more CPUs to perform data manipulation. Then, often another CPU is used to display the resulting graphical representation. This style of multicomputing is being added to PCIe through a combination of non-transparent bridging and CPU-to-CPU communications software. When available in late 2007, this technology will expand the applicability of PCIe to a wide variety of high-end applications, including radar and sonar analysis, medical imaging, test and measurement and communications equipment. For CompactPCI applications that currently utilize 2.16 Ethernet over the backplane, the advent of CPU-to-CPU communication over PCIe represents a compelling reason to upgrade to the new CompactPCIe architecture.
PCIe over Cable
The ability to run PCIe over cable at full performance with complete software transparency opens up a range of
new application possibilities. Low-cost host bus adapters as shown in Figure 3 extend the PCIe bus structure to expansion chassis or dedicated PCIe I/O hardware. PCIe over cable makes it easy and economical to extend applications that need more I/O boards than will fit in a single chassis to a multi-chassis solution. PCIe over cable can also be used as a high-performance peripheral connection—a sort of super-fast USB. Designing compatible end points is straightforward because the PCIe interface is available as a gate array library. When CPU-to-CPU communications are added to PCIe later this year, the cable interface can be used as a high-performance cabled network. A x8 cabled network with Gen 2 timing would transfer data at 40 Gbits/s—or 40 times faster than today’s 1 Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces. Having backplane performance over a cable will expand the PCIe usage model to encompass many high-end multi-chassis applications including I/O expansion, disk array subsystems, high-speed video and audio editing equipment and medical imaging systems.
PCI Express Adoption
The adoption rate for PCIe in various form-factors is shown in Figure 4. Currently, PCIe is incorporated in nearly 100% of desktop PCs, 70% of laptops and 5% of the traditional bus-board applications. This progression of acceptance
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Adoption Rate for PCIe in Various Form Factors August 2007
The adoption rate for PCIe in various form-factorsâ€”desktop, laptop, system host board (SHBe) and CompactPCI.
is consistent with the acceptance for the original PCI bus. Acceptance of new bus structures within the traditional bus-board marketplace tends to follow the PC and laptop marketplaces for several reasons. First, the applications within the bus-board marketplace are much more complex than a PC or laptop, and require considerably more time to develop both the hardware software elements. Second, the lifespan of high-end products is typically 3 to 5 years versus the 6-month to 1-year life spans for PCs or laptops. This means that it takes up to 5 years before each new high-end product comes up for redesign, greatly slowing the infusion of new bus technology. Given that the PC marketplace has already transitioned to PCIe, and that this market drives the component manufacturers, it seems inevitable that PCIe will be adopted as the primary bus structure within all backplane buses for the next decade. It may not be sexy, but copper and fiberglass appear to be sufficient to meet backplane needs for at least another decade. Design considerations such as controlled impedance and differential pair length matching become
much more important with the higher speed buses, but they are still within the parameters supported by multilayer printed circuit boards made from FR4 material. Backplane layer counts are also expected to remain similar to todayâ€™s backplanes, as the number of physical interconnections remains the same. Alternative technologies such as optical interfaces through a backplane or backplanes made from exotic materials will have to wait at least another decade before they are needed within the mainstream marketplace. Backplane technology tends to change at a slower rate than many other computing technologies. Major bus structure changes occur only once every 10 to 12 years. Even when the transition is clear, it takes many years for applications to fully convert to the new technology. PCIe is here now in the desktop and laptop PCs, and the technology represents the future face of backplanes. One Stop Systems Escondido, CA. (760) 745-9883. [www.onestopsystems.com].
VMe vpx and beyond
3U VPX: Small, Rugged and REDI With so many new architectures and form-factors there often seem to be a multitude of solutions for every application. One new formfactor may not be getting the attention it deserves because it has been in the shadow of its larger 6U sibling. It is 3U VPX. by M ichael Munroe Elma Bustronic
When the features of 3U VPX are examined, the strength of this compact architecture becomes clear. The
1.60 (0.063 in)
Max. Component Height Secondary Side 4.06 (0.160 in). Includes Board Thickness 14.70 (0.579 in) Max. Component Height 13.72 (0.540 in) Primary Side
7.65 (0.301 in) .00 (0.000 in) 7.25 (0.285 in)
100.00 (3.937 in)
21.65 (0.852 in)
50.45 (1.986 in)
84.70 (3.335 in) 2.50 (0.098 in) Guide Rail Clearance 2 PLS.
U VPX is much more than just a half-size version of 6U VPX. Unlike 3U VME’s relationship to 6U VME, 3U VPX can support the same speed and bandwidth of its larger 6U brother. Unlike the trade-off between 3U cPCI and 6U cPCI, 3U VPX doesn’t require the user to make such a dramatic decision between bus width and I/O capability. It is true that 3U VPX has a much more limited number of potential I/O channels than the larger 6U version. However, with two fabric connectors offering 32 differential bi-directional channels (64 links total), 3U VPX probably has more than enough connectivity for most applications. One popular system configuration that a number of individuals have inquired about is a 3U VPX system with four x4 transport channels for the card to card topology and the remaining 16 bi-directional channels used for rear panel I/O.
160.00 (6.299 in) 170.60 (6.717 in)
3U-160 x 5 HP conduction-cooled module (XPedite 8070 – Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc.).
mechanics of the form-factor are particularly compelling when compared to other small serial fabric solutions (Figure 1). 3U VPX compares favorably to
the other smaller form-factors with regards to total available PCB area as well as total front panel space as shown in Table 1.
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SOLUTIONS Engineering (d) (a)
VPX Twisted Ring
B C (3 hops from end to end both directions)
Logical View P2
VXP Dual x4 Rings 2
Port 1 Port 2
config4 conf ig5
Star Switch VITA 46.20 2
Port 6 Port 7
Thin Pipes x2
Ports AB and CD in slots 1-5 would be fat pipes (x4) and would on one twisted ring which would be the primary VITA 46 fabric such as PCIe, sRIO or 10G Ethernet (10GBASE KX-4).
Some possible interconnect topologies for 3U VPX: a) twisted ring, b) hybrid mesh with star fabric overlay, c) dual ring or looped pipeline and d) a hybrid topology combining a fat pipe fabric with a star or dual-star thin pipe fabric.
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1 22Untitled-6 September 2007
8/6/07 9:54:47 AM
The 3U VPX module is based on Eurcard packaging standards defined by IEEE 1101.1, IEEE 1101.10 and IEEE 1101.11. This is a widely supported modular packaging system that is also used by VITA 1.0, 1.1, 41.x, 46.x, CompactPCI, CompactPCI Express, PXI, PXI Express, VXI and VME in Physics. The modular approach is cost-effective for prototyping and small volume production but has also been executed cost-effectively in sheet metal for higher volume requirements. One ergonomic success of the 3U x 1.0” Eurocard front panel is a very rugged insertion/ejection lever handle with an integrated micro-switch. Front panels with bezel opening to allow access to a PMC mezzanine card are also readily accomplished with Eurocard front panels as narrow as 0.8”. While many other form-factors are still grappling with how to best accomplish conduction-cooling, 3U VPX conduction-cooled modules are already available from two suppliers. VPX modules can be built to the older IEEE 1101.2 conductioncooling standard or the newer VITA 48.2 or 48.3 configurations. VITA 48.3 even provides a design for liquid flow-through cooled 3U VPX modules. Another feature that is attractive for 3U VPX is that the form-factor is compatible with existing PMC mezzanine modules as well as the newer XMC mezzanine modules. The substantial existing ecosystem of PMC modules means that many interface standards can be supported immediately, through the use of either XMC/PMC carrier cards or VPX SBC cards with a PMC/ XMC socket.
The MultiGig Backplane Connector
The pin and socket backplane connector used by VPX has been on the market for a number of years and is also being utilized by the VXS architecture. This modular connector is available in versions for differential signaling, single-ended signaling (many system management signals are single-ended) as well as for high power. The connector has recently been
3U VPX Vita 46
3U cPCI PICMG 2.0
Express Mezzanine VITA 56
MicroTCA PICMG AMC.0
ATX Short Card Table 1
Nominal PCB area and front panel area.
tested by a number of end users and has met all requirements for shock, vibration and signal integrity. Because it is a press fit connector with a footprint designed for the demands of differential signaling, it is efficient to install, and backplanes can be repaired if necessary. The design
of the MultiGig connector system was specifically focused at avoiding damage during insertion as well as for superior electrical performance. The flexibility of the backplane interconnect topologies is an important feature. The 3U VPX architecture has
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1 2 3
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
J1 and J2 differential signal assignments.
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