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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

March 2008



Keeping Cool from Chip to Board to Box Bring Small Devices onto the Big Web without Tears .NET Micro Framework— A First Look An RTC Group Publication

Performance down to the core Discover the next generation of Computer on Modules

(65 x 58) mm

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Discover more Embedded PC highlights from LiPPERT at the Embedded System Conference, Silicon Valley, San Jose from April 15. to 17. booth 1635.

LiPPERT Embedded Computers Inc. 5555 Glenridge Connector, Suite 200 Atlanta, GA 30342 Phone (404) 459 2870 · Fax (404) 459 2871 ·

Champion in all Embedded PC domains: • Smallest form factor (65 x 58 mm) • Intel® Menlow Platform • Lowest heat production • Least current consumption • Best Performance-per-Watt • Optimized passive cooling • Simple EMC protection


Get Automated Systems Moving

44 PMC I/O Modules Simplify the Use of Reconfigurable FPGAs for High-Performance Logic Applications

46 Networking Module Configurable for Application-Specific Interfaces


51 Tablet PC Is Built for “Anywhere” Use

MARCH 2008


Technology in Context

Industry Insight

Small Form-Factors Push Automation In New Areas

Embedded Web Servers

6 ETX Takes Robotic Automation 12 to a New Level Industry Insider 9Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace Re-Thinking Small Form-Factor 18 Embedded PCs Products & Technology 46Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders Editorial The Message of Nuremberg

the Myths of Remote Device Management 34Shattering Joel K. Young, Digi International

Christine Van De Graaf, Kontron America

Colin McCracken, Small Form Factor SIG


News, Views and Comment As Goes the Economy, So Goes...

Solutions Engineering Thermal Management

Materials and Techniques Tackle PCB Thermal Management 26 New

System Integration Embedded Windows Ma! No RTOS! Getting to Know Microsoft .NET Micro 38Look, Framework Sean D. Liming and John R. Malin, SSJ Embedded Micro Solutions

Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies

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March 2008

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March 2008

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

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© 2008 GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Inc. All rights reserved.


MARCH 2008

The Message of Nuremberg by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

It might be presumptuous to think that a trade show can send a message, but it is hard to resist hearing one sometimes. Here in this charming city, which has been a center of trade and craftsmanship since the Middle Ages, the home of artist Albrecht Dürer, the ceremonial center of the Holy Roman Empire, the place where the world’s first pocket watch was handcrafted, where Germany’s first railroad was built in 1835, one does get a sense of the continuity of commerce and enterprise and pride in workmanship and quality. That sense has continued to this day with Nuremberg being the center of a wide variety of trade fairs, ranging from the world’s largest toy fair to the present Embedded World show, which has become the largest and most important embedded systems event in the world. This year’s show boasted over 670 exhibitors from 28 countries and over 16,000 attendees. The overriding theme has been automation and industrial control. The most noticeable products tend to be small—mostly PC-based—modules and boxes that are connected by industrial networking and used in all manner of factory automation, automotive control, mobile and rugged applications. There is also a smattering of consumer and military, but the overwhelming emphasis is on automation and control. If I were asked to give an off-the-cuff diagnosis, I would have to say that both are the result of increasing electronic commerce. It also reinforces a saying I’ve had for years, which states that no matter how deeply buried in a factory or a data center a particular system or product may be, its ultimate end is to touch and be touched by a normal customer or user. That ATCA rack in a data center exists so that Sally can text message her friends about Missy’s new boyfriend. Controller boards go into plastic extrusion machines to precisely control the manufacture of Barbie dolls. Think about how many checks you write or bills you pull out of a wallet each month compared to the number of times you swipe a card or click “buy” on a Web page. Behind each swipe and click are huge data centers filled with cards, software, interconnects and protocols produced by companies represented in

March 2008

this magazine. This then translates to purchase orders to retailers who pass them on to manufacturers running lines of automated machines. It pours data into banking systems and shows up immediately at your ATM or bank Web page. The neat thing that the Internet has provided is that a customer can customize his or her purchase on the spot. If the exact configuration of a product is not already in the inventory, the order can be quickly inserted in the queue of a manufacturing line without disturbing the flow of operations. The data generated is used to facilitate on-time inventory, purchasing and marketing research. This is not being done to eliminate the job of Joe Boltturner, but to do things that a human assembly line worker could never do to bring about better customer satisfaction and better commerce. At the same time, automation can be brought to bear to make factory operations greener and more energy efficient. And, as more of these embedded modules become available at lower cost, smaller size and with greater processing power, and—most importantly—with greater connectivity, they will continue to permeate our everyday lives. These factors will lead to ideas for embedding computing power that were not previously possible and so it will go. The major trend is definitely “small and connected.” The size of this trade show and the sheer volume of products and technologies designed to address exactly this kind of growth in automation tell me that the industry is extremely healthy. Smaller start-ups are finding niches to get a leg up while at the same time there is a wave of mergers and acquisitions trying to feed what looks like an insatiable demand for more automation, more efficiency and a better consumer experience. Because, again, even though we in this industry are concentrating on playing the role of the “man behind the curtain,” the entire engine is driven by the customer, and the end customer in almost all cases is the person on the street. And that person neither knows nor cares about all the magic that goes on in the background. It is our job to see to it that the computer remains hidden behind its own usefulness.

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IndustryInsider MARCH 2008

New COM Specification Addresses Mobile Applications Within a short timeframe, Computer-on-Module technology has established itself within the embedded PC marketplace. However, the standard dimensions of a COM Express module (125 x 95 mm), its power consumption (up to 40 watts) and the required heat dissipation, make the use of COM Express modules impractical in most mobile applications. The compelling demands of mobile applications require minimizing to the smallest extent possible size, weight and power consumption and optimizing heat dissipation. These facts have led Lippert Embedded Computers to develop a new COM technology, CoreExpress. This COM technology has allowed Lippert to shrink the COM Express size by 68% to a size that is smaller than a credit card (65 x 58 mm). The new CoreExpress-Menlow module, the first product to be introduced based on the new specification, is assembled with 1 Gbyte of DDR2 memory on board and weighs only 26 grams, which makes it suitable for mobile applications. The reduction Figure 1 65 x 58 mm CoreExpress module mounted in heat of the size and the module weight was achieved through sink. the use of Intel‘s latest chip technologies. The new Intel CPUs and chipsets are manufactured in Small Form-Factor (SFF) packages and are designed for the mobile Internet device (MID) and notebook markets. In addition, they will be available for the embedded market. The new CoreExpress technology is based on a 220-pin, high-speed SMD connector and is not dependent on analog signals. Removing the analog signals assures higher flexibility and reduces the integration and development efforts of the needed carrier boards. The following interfaces are incorporated in the CoreExpress specification: • 4x PCI Express x1 lanes • 1x LVDS (24-bit) • 8x USB 2.0 • 1x Gigabit MAC (GLCI) • 2x SATA • 1x SMB • 1x PATA • 1x CAN • 1x SDIO/MMC (8-bit) • 1x HD Audio • 1x LPC 1.0 • Fail Safe BIOS Support • 1x SDVO The supply voltage for the CoreExpress module is 5 VDC, and the power consumption of the entire module, while dependent on the technology used (Single Core or Dual Core) and the CPU speed, is only 5 to 10 watts. The CoreExpress-Menlow module comes with a passive heat sink that additionally acts as an EMI shield. At Embedded World 2008 (February 26t-28t, 2008 in Nuremberg/Germany), Lippert presented the first CoreExpress module, based on the Intel Menlow chipset. The Intel Menlow chipset is manufactured with a 45 nm process and consists of the Silverthorne processor and the Poulsbo chipset. Developed for mobile applications, this technology is not limited to mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Further application areas include unmanned vehicle systems, mobile gaming platforms, medical applications, point-of-interest (POI) and point-of-sale (POS) applications.

>> continued page 10

“Father of PC/104” Returns to Ampro as CTO

Ampro Computers has appointed Rick Lehrbaum as the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Lehrbaum, a wellknown visionary in the embedded SBC market, was one of Ampro’s founders in 1983. Between 1983 and 2000 he served as Ampro’s Vice President of Engineering, Executive Vice President of Strategic Development and interim President. In 2000, Lehrbaum turned his attention from embedded hardware to embedded software, founding LinuxDevices, a popular technology Web site. LinuxDevices and its sister site, WindowsForDevices, were acquired in 2004 by Ziff Davis Media where Lehrbaum subsequently held the position of Vice President and Executive Editor. As CTO of Ampro, Lehrbaum will be instrumental in defining Ampro’s technology, market and product strategies. Additionally he will represent the company within key standardization initiatives pertaining to the embedded hardware and software industry. “These are exciting times for the embedded market, as parallel buses and interfaces morph into high-speed serial alternatives and processors trend toward multiGHz speeds and multiple CPU cores,” Lehrbaum said. “Ampro has a long track record of innovation and market leadership in this industry—it will be a privilege to contribute to the company’s continuing success. I‘m impressed with how much Ampro has matured from its early PC/104 days,” added Lehrbaum. “Today, the company has a much broader appeal thanks to its growing line of COM (computer-on-module) and ready-to-use system products.” Lehrbaum holds Bachelor of Science and Master of SciMarch 2008

Industry Insider

Another feature of the CoreExpress module is the integration of a specialized microcontroller, which in addition to Power-On and Power-Off sequencing, also provides useful additional functionality that can be accessed through the SM-BUS. Additional microcontroller functionalities include: • Operating hour counter • Temperature logger • 128-bit security key (one time writable, afterwards only readable) • Manufacturing data (serial number, etc.) • Read/Write flash area for user data • Fail Safe BIOS support Lippert is offering an EPIC carrier board for evaluation. This allows the user to expand the system by using standard PC/104 or PC/104 Plus cards. Two separate displays can be attached through the DVI and LVDS interfaces. The onboard High Definition Audio Codec provides high-quality sound. Mass storage can be attached through the USB 2.0 ports, the PATA interface (HDD or CFD) or through the 8-bit SDIO/MMC card slot. Additionally, two COM ports (RS-232/422/485), a 10/100BaseT Ethernet port, USB 2.0 ports and WLAN, implemented using a Mini PCI Express card, are available for expanded communication. Figure 2

65 x 58 mm CoreExpress module mounted on EPIC carrier board.

ence degrees in Physics from New York University’s School of Engineering and Science and the University of Louisiana at Monroe, respectively. In recognition of his pivotal role in transforming the industry’s first embedded PC modules into the highly popular PC/104 standard, Lehrbaum is often referred to as the “father of PC/104.”

Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Advances Portend Surge in Bandwidth Usage

Neptuny, an IP network planning and capacity management specialist, has signaled organizations offering Internet services to the public, as well as those firms using intranets, to prepare for a revolution in wireless technology that is coming in the next 12 months.


March 2008

“The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has this week announced a major enhancement to the Bluetooth personal area network standard that allows compatible devices to hop on to Wi-Fi networks whenever extra range and/or bandwidth is required,” said Fabio Violante, Neptuny’s founder and CEO.  “This enhancement, which essentially makes Bluetooth devices capable of handing off data calls to Wi-Fi networks—and vice versa—is known as alternate MAC/PHY and will be seen in the Bluetooth 3.0 standard due out later this year,” he added.  According to Violante, Bluetooth PAN technology was designed as a short-range standard for use by voice accessories on mobile phones, but is now poised for use with mobile data. “The main limitation with

Wi-Fi on mobile phones has always been battery life issues, but a Bluetooth 3.0-enabled mobile phone will be able to hop between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at will, meaning that many more mobile devices will start using Wi-Fi services,” he said. “As a result of this breakthrough, any organization offering user-facing Internet or intranet facilities can expect to see a surge in their WiFi bandwidth usage as hundreds of millions of mobile phone users start to come on-stream. The need to plan ahead has never been greater,” he added.

Curtiss-Wright Acquires Business/Assets of Pentland Systems

Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing has announced that it has acquired the

business and assets of Pentland Systems Ltd., Livingston, Scotland, UK, a supplier of rugged signal acquisition solutions. The purchase enhances CurtissWright’s sensor processing product portfolio adding RF/IF signal acquisition, analog, digital I/O and synchro/resolver products for radar, software defined radio (SDR) and signal intelligence applications. Pentland’s products and technology will be organized under Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing’s Modular Solutions group, and will be managed by Rob Hoyecki, Director of the Digital Signal Processing Division. The acquisition of Pentland’s business and assets is also intended to strengthen Curtiss-Wright’s presence in the UK and European markets, adding to their existing video and integration business unit located in Letchworth, UK. This expanded presence will increase Curtiss-Wright’s profile and accessibility as a supplier of advanced rugged deployed boards and subsystems for UK and European customers.

OpenSAF Foundation Joins Mountain View Alliance

The Mountain View Alliance (MVA), a consortium of open specification and open source development groups and related trade associations, has announced that the recently formed OpenSAF Foundation has joined as a new member. This addition brings the MVA membership to nine leading organizations representing more than 1000 companies ranging from carriers to component vendors. “We are pleased to have the OpenSAF Foundation join the Mountain View Alliance,” said Rob Davidson, PICMG representative to the MVA. “The OpenSAF Foundation adds a new and very important dimension to the Mountain View Alliance in representing an open source project focused on the base platform middleware environment that is cru-

Industry Insider

cial to completing a commercial off-the-shelf-based High-Availability base platform,” he added. OpenSAF is an Open Source Project established to develop a base platform High-Availability middleware consistent with Service Availability Forum (SA Forum) specifications, under the LGPLv2.1 license. The OpenSAF Foundation was established by leading communications and computing companies to facilitate the OpenSAF Project and to accelerate the adoption of the OpenSAF code base in commercial products. The OpenSAF Project was launched in mid-2007 and has been under development by an informal group of supporters of the OpenSAF initiative. The OpenSAF Foundation was founded on January 22, 2008 with Emerson Network Power, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, HP and Sun Microsystems as founding members. For more information, see: SA Forum and SCOPE are both members of the MVA. As a new member of the MVA, OpenSAF Foundation looks forward to participating in the MVA Comms Ecosystem Conference (MVACEC08), along side the other MVA member organizations, in San Francisco on March 11-12, 2008. Visit for details.

VITA Releases “2008 State of the VME Technology Industry” Whitepaper

The VME Industry Trade Association (VITA), has just released a whitepaper titled “2008 State of the VME Technology Industry” from the perspective of the executive director, Ray Alderman. In this paper, Alderman discusses significant markets, technology, mergers/acquisitions, VME forecasts and risk management trends for the VME industry. “I predict that the market for VME products will grow about

10% in 2008 from the current base of $1 billion. A large portion of that growth will be in new VME technologies and in maintaining legacy programs in the MIL/COTS and industrial market segments,” stated Alderman. New advancements continue to be made in the technologies required for critical embedded system applications, and VITA is very active in developing new architectural standards for use in these applications. The VITA Standards Organization (VSO) has several working groups working on new standards. The VSO currently has more than 35 working groups active and in various stages of progress. Most urgent among these are: • T  he completion of VPX, a new computing standard combining the latest in connector and packaging technology with the latest in serial fabric and bus technology. • Ruggedized Enhanced Design Implementation (REDI), a new computing standard defining mechanical specifications for cooling and maintenance strategies for embedded computing modules. • Reliability Prediction Community of Practice, to ensure that companies have the adequate tools, best practices and selfassessment methods to conduct reliability analysis. • An integrated modular chassis standard defining a family of Line Replaceable Integrated Electronic Assemblies based upon best practices in industrial design and suitable for mobile applications and harsh environments. •  New mezzanine standards to meet changing application needs.

Static Analysis to Drive Market Demand for Test Automation Tools

Software development teams continue to look toward automated testing technology as a means to improve code quality and reliability while also reduc-

ing time-to-market and back-end debugging. Recently published research by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), “Volume 7: Embedded Software Test Automation Tools,” indicates that the demand for static analysis tools will drive growth within the market for test automation tools used in the development of embedded software. Increasing device and project complexity, the geographic distribution of development teams, and the growing costs to OEMs from product recalls, will continue to justify investment in automated testing technologies. Although dynamic test tools have traditionally generated the majority of revenue associated with the embedded test automation tool market, VDC expects revenue from static analysis tools to grow at more than three times the rate of dynamic test tool revenue. While the market for dynamic testing tools is still predicted to grow through 2009, VDC believes that much of this growth in dynamic test revenue will result from sales of solutions that offer both static and dynamic functionality. In addition, the majority of automated test tool use has occurred within industries typically associated with safety- or mission-critical requirements. According to Chris Rommel, Research Associate with VDC’s Embedded Software Practice, “The continued introduction and evolution of software development standards, such as MISRA and DO-178B, within these verticals will increasingly drive OEMs toward static analysis technologies as a means to ensure coding compliance.”



04/01–03/08 Muticore Expo Santa Clara, CA

04/10/08 EDA Tech Forum Tempe, AZ

04/29/08 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Chicago, IL

05/01/08 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Minneapolis, MN

05/06/08 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Greenbelt, MD

05/07/08 EDA Tech Forum Austin, TX

05/08/08 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Boston, MA

05/22/08 EDA Tech Forum Ottawa, ON

If your company produces any type of industry event, you can get your event listed by contacting sallyb@ This is a FREE industry-wide listing. March 2008


ETX Takes

Robotic Automation to a New Level by Christine Van De Graaf Kontron America

As robots become more mobile, more complex and more useful, the ETX standard form-factor offers the ruggedness, processing power and ability to connect to complex I/O subsystems through a standard connector that is needed in present and future designs.


Technology InContext

Small Form-Factors Push Automation in New Areas

utomated robots are popping up more and more in factories and critical field applications. From robotic arms to freestanding and mobile “helping” machines programmed to perform multiple tasks, robotic automation is changing the way many organizations do business. No longer passed Get Connected with technology and off as the stuff of science fiction, this companies providing solutions now trend is becoming more real every day, Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration as organizations are tasked with obtain- into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly ing optimum efficiency, reducing headwith an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the count and costs, and maintaininggoalworkof Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, place safety. Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products As the technology and computing you are searching for. platforms behind it continue to improve, the benefits of robotics within an automation environment become more apparent. Adaptable, small and rugged, today’s crop of computing platforms for automated robots offers a variety of adGet Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now vantages that enable them to do what and Get go where humans cannot for optimum Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the datasheetFigure from a company, directly with an Application Engineer, orVehicle jump to a(AUV) company's technical page, 1 Thespeak SONIA Autonomous Underwater developed by the goal of Get Connected safety and efficiency. in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of serviceatyou require for whatever type of technology, undergraduate students the École de Technologie Supérieure uses ETX technology has become aGet key Connected will helpthe youETX connect with the companies and products you areand searching for. form-factor to simplify hardware connector complexity factor in advancing automation designs while providing the computing power needed for the vehicle’s complex in safety products, control modules, software. sensors and switches. A closer look at the specific advantages ETX 3.0 offers makes the connection between this stan- of conventional expertise with enabling painting or checking for irregularities in dard and the advancement of robotic au- technology is robotics. assembled products. tomation more apparent. The older industrial robotics segment The newer generation is mobile, consists of immobile, single-task robots interactive robotic devices with a high Robotics Poised for Growth that have little interaction with humans degree of intelligence built into them. Manufacturers in all industries are or the world around them. They are often These robots are able to freely interact recognizing that significant increases in termed industrial robots because they are productivity can be realized by imple- exclusively employed in manufacturing Get Connected with companies and Get Connected menting the appropriate products mix of estaband factory floor automation. These feafeatured in this section. with companies mentioned in this article. lished and emerging automation tech- ture articulated robotic arms to position nologies. One of the key automation components and tooling to achieve the technologies characterizing this blend required accuracy for spot welding cars,

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Get Connected companies mentioned in this art Marchwith 2008 13

Technology InContext

with humans, other robots and their surroundings. When combined with the use of automated methods, this new breed of robotics can provide significant performance and productivity in medicine, defense, space and underwater exploration, service industries and manufacturing applications. These intelligent machines and systems can do work too dirty, too danger-

ous, too precise or too tedious for humans. iRobot Corp., a company that specializes in behavior-based robots that help people complete tasks with better results, claims that its adaptable, tough and reliable robots “go where you can’t, shouldn’t or don’t want to.” The U.S. military has been developing robotic systems for all sorts of jobs for years now, and some of them Figure 2

The ETC-CD is an ETX 3.0 board with Core2 Duo processor that allows for two serial ATA ports while not violating the ETC 2.8 pin usage.

are even on the front lines in Iraq. iRobot already has commercialized a broad range of tactical mobile robots to keep military personnel out of harm’s way and tackle a variety of missions. These include surveillance and reconnaissance, bomb disposal, bomb identification, checkpoint, inspection and explosive detection, route clearance, sniper detection and force protection, perimeter patrol and resupply, among other critical missions. Despite a recent slowdown, the outlook for the robotics industry continues to be optimistic. According to Dedham, MA-based ARC Advisory Group, “The robotics market will continue to be driven by innovation. Advances in the methods in which humans interact and work with robots and the ability of robots to work together will drive the market forward. Also driving market growth will be industries that may not have previously considered robotics but have applications that can be effectively performed by them.” ARC adds, “The growth is driven by small- and medium-sized businesses in developed markets and strong sales in developing markets like China, India, Korea and Taiwan. The hardware market was US$3,590 million in 2005 and is forecasted to be over US$5,118 million in 2010.” Academics promise to help boost the robotics industry even further.


March 2008

Technology InContext

Georgia Tech recently announced that it will offer the first American interdisciplinary doctoral degree in robotics. The degree program will be part of the university’s new Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and aims to prepare researchers for the expanding global robotics market.

ETX Benefits for Automation

Critical to enhancing robotic functionality is the Embedded Technology eXtended (ETX) 3.0 specification, one of the principal COM implementations currently available in the market. The ETX standard was developed to provide an open standard to meet the needs of embedded industrial applications with PCI and ISA. The original ETX standard offered a number of advantages: • Full PC functionality • Minimum engineering and adoption cost • Low cost • Reliable connectors • Extremely slim design • Simple upgradeability and scalability As technology has evolved, the ETX standard has undergone further development in scalability and performance. The ETX 3.0 specification offers all of the benefits of the original ETX standard while adding in 2x Serial ATA without changing any of the ETX pins, making new modules 100 percent pin-to-pin compatible with previous versions to ensure long-term support. This interchangeability allows for optimum scalability and reduced design risk. Offering continued ISA support, Ethernet, USB 2.0, graphics, audio and other features, are also standards supported by multiple vendors, assuring greater design flexibility. Further benefits come from its ruggedness of ETX and its ability to withstand exposure to extended temperatures, which is critical for robotic automation in the military market. ETX modules are very compact (measuring only 100 mm square, 12 mm thick) and highly integrated COMs, allowing them to be easily used in a variety of robotic design applications.

ETX modules can include a variety of common personal computer (PC) peripheral functions including graphics, parallel, serial and USB ports, keyboard/mouse, Ethernet, sound or IDE. Peripheral PCI or ISA buses can be implemented directly on the baseboard rather than on mechanically unwieldy expansion cards. Since all ETX modules feature a standardized form-factor

and a standardized connector layout that carries a specific set of signals, designers can create a single-system baseboard that can accept present and future ETX modules. This ability to build a system on a single baseboard using the computer as one plug-in component, simplifies packaging, eliminates cabling and significantly reduces system-level cost.

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Untitled-4 1

AM March1/22/08 2008 10:43:52 15

Technology InContext

Developing AUVs

The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and ONR, is an annual competition. Unmanned vehicles were put to the test at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. The fate of each vehicle was entrusted to an onboard embedded computer that was responsible


March 2008

for processing physical data from numerous instruments, processing camera inputs for machine vision and running the complex software that enables autonomous operation. In 2007, Kontron sponsored a team of participating students from Canada’s École de Technologie Supérieure engineering university. Kontron’s role was to provide the team with its advanced

embedded computing platform and expertise, providing the essential computing “brain” to power the team’s unique vehicle, named “Système d’Opération Nautique Intelligent et Autonome” (SONIA). From 2003-2007, the SONIA Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) design team has taken full advantage of its modest budget and of corporate sponsorship opportunities to achieve second and third place standings in competition. SONIA illustrates a great example of an application with very specific embedded computing requirements beyond the obligatory small form-factor (Figure 1). The vehicle’s operation is dependent on data and telemetry from various instruments and sensors, each of which requires an independent interface to the processing board. The complexity of the software algorithms demands that the processor be capable of reliable and continuous program execution. This implies a higher consumption of power and greater thermal footprint due to reduced idle time of the processor. However, thermal considerations must not be ignored in SONIA’s operating environment. A typical embedded system takes advantage of outside air circulating through the chassis to aid in cooling its components, which is not possible when the system is sealed in an airtight box underwater. Thermal management options are limited, thus it is essential that the onboard computer processor sets an example of power consciousness, robustness and efficient system operation to minimize the thermal impact of the embedded system. The SONIA design team was comprised solely of undergraduate students on a volunteer basis. Another constraint was its small budget, in terms of both money and time, and the varied backgrounds of team members. The expense, lead time, attention to detail and testing that would be necessary with a fully customized embedded computing solution would not be feasible for this team. Any hardware used in the system needed to be readily available in case of necessary replacement, and pricing

Technology InContext

needed to allow for a backup to be purchased at any time. The modularity of stack and individual boards offered an attractive solution. This is one of the major reasons the team selected a Kontron embedded SBC, as it allowed them to mix, match and add different combinations of I/O. Standard desktop computer memory, for example, makes it easy to upgrade the capacity and speed of the system memory at any time. It is always readily available, competitively priced and requires no rework or soldering on the board. An added cost and reliability benefit was the absence of cables to connect the CPU board and the extension boards. This simplicity allowed every SONIA AUV design team member to understand the complicated embedded system interfaces without having a background in electrical or computer engineering.

computing power to enable the next generation of SONIA. In labs and research institutes across the world, fueled by military funding, space exploration and healthcare needs, robot concept devices and prototypes of these visions of our future reality are finally starting to emerge. Technologies, like ETX, are helping to enable the robotic automation move-

ment and begin the inevitable march toward practical and then commercial development. Kontron America Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877. [].

. . . dening synchronized


ETX – A Critical Enabler of the Robotic Automation Movement

The SONIA team is expected to base its future AUV designs on the fullfeatured Embedded Technology eXtended (ETX) module. Using a COM would solve the team’s need for high processing power in a small form-factor. Since all ETX modules feature a standardized form-factor and a standardized connector layout that carry a specific set of signals, the SONIA design team could create a single system baseboard (off-the-shelf carrier boards also are available) that would accept present and future ETX modules as needed. This would eliminate cabling, and significantly reduce the system level cost for the team. Using an ETX solution can give the team the full range of functions and performance found in a desktop PC motherboard all in a cost-efficient compact package. Now that the SONIA team has started development of their next-generation AUV, they are utilizing two ETX solutions—the ETX-LX and the ETX-CD (Figure 2)—at the core of their design. These are then paired with an off-the-shelf carrier board from one of Kontron’s Certified Design Partners to provide all of the necessary

Analyzing and Monitoring Embedded Systems

key features

• Time-correlated, RTNI, Scaleable, Heterogeneous data collection • Simultaneous monitoring of multiple busses • Modular, distributed architecture • Long-term data acquisition storage

key benets • A system-wide view of operations correlated-in-time aids analysis • RTNI monitoring does not affect system operation during measurements thereby giving accurate results • Supports entire life-cycle of the instrumented embedded system reducing instrumentation cost • Common GUI for dissimilar targets saves time and training investment

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With the increasing complexity of embedded systems, there is an ever-present need to provide visibility on how the system operates from a “system wide” perspective. SystemTrace is the best tool available to support entire systems throughout the life cycle of the product.

1.800.439.4039 AM March3/14/08 2008 11:11:13 17

Technology InContext

Small Form-Factors Push Automation in New Areas

Re-Thinking Small FormFactor Embedded PCs New I/O perspective challenges conventional wisdom about stackable architectures. by C  olin McCracken Small Form Factor SIG


n amazing thing happens when engineers and product marketers talk directly to customers and end users. This direct, unfiltered interchange provides not only “what” is required, but “how” and “why” specific choices are made. Applying this principle to the small form-factor computer arena provides a fresh round of customer data, which can be used to create standards with cohesion, consistency and stability over a 10-year-plus horizon. Talking to users about their evolving small form-factor embedded computing needs is leading to a new set of governing standards that can move this fragmented market forward. Coordination and cooperation in what has become the fastest growing area of the embedded computing market can replace the lack of standardization and diffusion common today.

Decades of CPU-Driven Standards

For small form-factor SBCs, boardto-board interfaces have been nothing more than repackaged PC chipset buses for decades. Going forward, these CPUcentric notions must be re-examined, as pressures to bring more functionality into smaller spaces requires flexibility and leaves no room for inefficiency. When looking at new processors or chipsets, once again the tendency is to bring their highest-speed buses to off-board expansion connectors, with the belief that anything slower can be created with bridge chips or


March 2008


Low power consumption PC-compatible processors and chipsets, to avoid unreliable cooling fans and/or gigantic heatsinks demanding hurricane-style airflow


Integrated chipsets with good internal graphics and small chip packages enabling small form-factor boards, which in turn enable compact system packaging that is easy to assemble


A simple, low-speed bus for interfacing various kinds of simple, low-speed I/O devices such as serial ports and modest analog I/O


Industry standards suitable for many form-factors, buses, connectors and pin definitions and a coherent long-term roadmap for standards growth


Long life cycle, so that embedded designs can live five or even ten years in the market without major redesign

Table 1

Generalized CPU requirements.

FPGAs. After all, PCI Express is newer than the PCI Bus, which was newer than the ISA Bus. Imagine the possibilities with a PCI Express x16 interface! Now imagine the overhead and waste in this when running relays that operate traffic signal lights if only a x16 PCI Express interface is available. It is quite easy to examine the current chipsets on the market and create a new interface standard that showcases the highest bandwidth bus. That is essentially how most previous board-to-board interfaces were defined. This approach automatically dictates a particular CPU architecture in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Considering PCI Express high bandwidth versus the low-speed I/O and 100-600 MHz processors used broadly in today’s embedded market, the big question is whether or not the I/O community can drink from a fire hose to supply many garden-variety peripherals of the future.

Power to the People

For the majority of system manufacturers and integrators, what their equipment does and how it operates is all about the application, hardware and software. The Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFF-SIG), a new industry collaboration of many types of suppliers, including component vendors, board vendors, power supply and enclosure designers, wants to give system manufacturers a voice regarding the standards that drive the embedded computers they will purchase in the future. The SIG members have been out talking to embedded systems designers during the last 6 months. These customers are system OEMs who rely upon off-the-shelf embedded computer systems and boards for long-lived applications. The design alternatives of either proprietary (singlevendor) non-standard solutions or full cus-

Technology InContext tom designs are plagued with vendor risk and alternative sourcing issues. The open market has always thrived on choice, so it is appropriate to query customer needs and then create useful, multi-sourced standards from their input.

With all of the “legacy free� hype in the market, the members were a bit surprised to learn that in many cases, the concern was not about how many Gigabytes per second will need to flow across the board-to-board interfaces, but rather PCI


PCIe x1

Serial Ports

Mainstream 80% of apps Muxed or Local Bus


biometrics sensor

CPU Speed:


Platform Power:

Figure 1


logistics 100MHz 10W


avionics surveillance

DAQ control

2-wire serial



PCIe x4



RAID/NAS PCIe x16 instrumentation gaming portable scientific signage

400MHz 20W

1GHz 30W

how easy it needs to be to continue to attach low-speed input and output devices in the future. It appears that rumors of the death of legacy peripherals and the ISA Bus have been greatly exaggerated. Some of the feedback we received is depicted in Figures 1 and 2. Figure 1 represents an aggregation of customer feedback regarding where the requirements for the majority of systems fall with regard to processor power and speed and the capabilities of the I/O.


Dual Core



Applications and interfaces with processor requirements mapped to a bell curve.

The venerable serial port has vanished from desktop motherboards. Many embedded processor boards continue to provide these thanks to legacy serial and super I/ O devices. Whether synchronous or asynchronous, serial ports are mainstream in embedded systems, both as external DB9 connectors and as cabled board-to-board interfaces. Medical, industrial, point-of-sale and portable devices all require support for serial peripherals. Bar code scanners, cash drawers, keypads and low-speed wireless converters are just a few examples. Customers have stated they will be asking for serial ports for years to

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1 20Untitled-1 March 2008

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Technology InContext come. Sustainability of their application, software, hardware and cabling is built around using them. Fortunately, the Low Pin Count (LPC) Bus Specification, originated by Intel to reduce the number of pins necessary to implement the ISA interface, has led to many long lifecycle serial components that are functionally identical to previous ISA bus-based serial ports. For customers who can use plugand-play automatic resource assignment and modern operating systems, PCI Express-based UARTs are starting to appear on the market. USB-to-serial converters are also readily available.

A/D, D/A and Other Low-Speed I/O


Customers are asking for pluggable/removable devices for OS loading during boot, for data collection, even for diagnostics. Embedded systems typically require a mounting structure for removable devices. Consumer and Enterprise dongle-style solutions would be prone to dislodging, accidental bumping and overall reliability concerns. There are two better solutions for embedded. One is to create a mounting bracket for the device, whether internal or external, with a short cable providing strain

Replacing PCI

PCI peripherals have already moved to PCI Express in the desktop/notebook market. These will easily follow suit in the embedded market. PCI Express is a serial interconnect that is much more space efficient on small form-factor boards while offering 2.5 times the performance of legacy parallel PCI. PCI Express retains software

and driver compatibility to parallel PCI, enhancing throughput to devices in a straightforward hardware migration without adversely affecting application software. As PCI has already given way to PCI Express in the desktop PC market, a similar trend is already occurring in the embedded SBC market. 10/100 Megabit PCI Ethernet has been replaced with Gigabit Ethernet controllers on PCI Express x1 (“by one�) links on many new embedded systems. IEEE 1394 FireWire is moving to FireWire 800 (1394a) using PCI Express controllers. Wi-Fi (802.11) using mini-PCI will soon migrate to a standard mini-PCI Express socket as well. Other existing uses for PCI like frame grabbers, PC Cards (32-bit PCMCIA cards) and a second video controller are moving as well. Frame grabber chips can be implemented with standard silicon as well as programmable devices (FPGAs) on PCI Express. The PCMCIA organization has successfully launched ExpressCard, which uses both PCI Express and USB, in the consumer/commercial space. Embedded is not far behind. Many chipsets now have integrated graphics controllers with

Redeďƒžning the User Experience

PEGÂŽ GUI Development Tools

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Data acquisition and process monitoring applications involve frequent sampling, but compared to GHz processors and Gigabyte per second interfaces, their data rates are quite slow. Data sampling can occur from mere hundreds to sometimes millions of times per second. This is because the processes being measured simply don’t change very rapidly or the A/D conversion itself has only modest throughput. Sample data storage can also become large and unnecessarily costly at higher rates. Control and sensor applications, including turning on and off signals, lights, engaging latches, triggering events and energizing relays, require even less bandwidth. Low-speed, two-wire buses, or multiplexed address-data-control buses with speeds from several hundred Kilohertz to no more than 33 MHz, can provide space-efficient, easy interface solutions for embedded designers. Interfacing to PCI Express by contrast would be a poor use of space and cost, and possibly could complicate device drivers.

relief. Another would involve multiple USB ports on a board-to-board expansion interface, so that removable devices would have a mounting scheme on a printed circuit board expansion card. With USB, the rule of thumb is “more ports are better.� With 6, 8, or even 10 USB ports, laptop-derived chipsets have more than enough for embedded usage. Since only two differential pair pins are needed per port, plus over-current signals, SBCs can bring some ports to pin headers, some to PC-style connectors, and/ or some to an expansion interface for flexible coverage of many uses. In Figure 2 we see the above points summarized in a consolidation of customer feedback regarding the I/O requirements of a system without regard to the processor architecture.

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AM March2/28/08 2008 10:20:30 21

Technology InContext two rendering pipes, which eliminate the need for an external controller in all but the highest-end applications. New standards are needed soon to quickly complete this transition in the

embedded market, so that bulky PCI connectors can be replaced on small SBCs where real estate is at a premium. PCI Express requires only 5 pins per x1 link.

Display FireWire LANPorts

PCIe x1

ExpressCard Flash

CPU Core, Architecture-agnostic



UBS Ports Keypad Serial Ports


A/D, D/A GPIO Sensors, Switches, Replays, LEDs


Figure 2

Diagram depicting I/O-oriented view of systems.

1 22Untitled-3 March 2008

From the chipset point of view, x16 PCI Express graphics are mainstream now, and come with two de facto standard interfaces: The vertical desktop x16 slot and the MXM interface originated by nVIDIA for low-profile applications. Looking at these examples, and with the cost and complexity of designing 50+ watt graphics cards, a new connector definition just for the embedded SBC market is simply not warranted. At these levels, power delivery, power density and thermal management can easily overwhelm every other system cost and design constraint. SIG membersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; customer feedback also reflected that chipset integrated graphics have improved to the point where they are suitable for nearly all embedded-class applications. The use of short-lifecycle consumer graphics chips and boards is relegated to gaming, signage and imaging applications that have solutions in place already. Storage interfaces are more stable, but the transition from PATA (EIDE) to SATA is being dragged out over quite a long time horizon. Embedded engineers want to continue to use rugged pin head-

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Technology InContext ers (2 mm 44-pin and 0.1â&#x20AC;? 40-pin) for IDE, as well as the standard, space-sensitive SATA connectors directly off the motherboard, rather than putting any of these signals through board-to-board expansion connectors. These peripherals are ultimately cabled anyway, so consuming precious and comparatively expensive expansion connector pins does not make sense. Solid-state storage continues to be requested for some of the most rugged and

highest reliability applications. System OEMs are asking for long-term availability from embedded suppliers, along with high data integrity over extended readwrite cycles, and stable, consistent firmware, rather than consumer-grade media that targets digital cameras.

Revisiting the CPU Core

For years, designers of embedded systems have been providing solid, consistent feedback to chip and board suppliers

asking for a few simple requirements, as summarized in Table 1. In the not so distant past, we have seen warmed over processors and chipsets, power hungry designs with onerous cooling requirements, board space requirements that compete with the original PC motherboard in size, a lack of small chip packages to support small form-factor boards, and a host of new product introductions and end-of-life notices on processors and chipsets with little regard to embedded product lifecycles. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t despair; there is hope on the horizon. After a long hiatus from true embedded CPUs and chipsets, the revived Mobility and new Ultra Mobility product categories are driving useful, small, lowpower, mid-performance processors and chipsets into the market. The lowest power and smallest package entries will be available starting this year, and ready for the mainstream by next year. Chip vendors are finally listening in that regard. These ultra-small, very low-power chipsets include only a few legacy interfaces in favor of more modern buses like PCI Express, USB and SATA. Standards groups are left to make the best use of the features included in these chipset so that I/O and ease of use requirements can be met to satisfy the systems discussed. If a suitable mix of moderate and fast chipset interfaces are chosen, the door can be wide open for easy peripheral connectivity, and even cross-architecture (x86, RISC, MIPS, etc.) participation in the next generation of small form-factor SBC standards. SFF member discussions with customers over the last six months have yielded a fresh, enlightened user perspective and replaced outdated notions as the approach to develop new standards. Successful products combine an understanding of customer needs with innovative implementations, so why shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t small form-factor PC standards be created the same way? The Small Form Factor SIG is determined to make this happen, at last. OEMs and vendors who share this I/O and application perspective are invited to help create the badly needed specifications by joining this forward-thinking, inclusive trade group. Small Form Factor SIG [].

1 24Untitled-2 March 2008

3/10/08 10:30:24 AM

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solutions engineering

New Materials and Techniques Tackle PCB Thermal Management Chipmakers do their part. But at the printed circuit board level, using the right mix of old and new materials effectively ushers out increasing heat.

by Z  ulki Khan NexLogic Technologies


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

Thermal management


ew thermal management materi- sociated cost budgets, PCB designers, als and techniques are being ap- hardware engineers and PCB fabricaplied to subsystem PCB designs tors implement a variety of different to meet heat dissipation demands intro- materials and techniques to deal with duced by new generations of mostly an- those CTE mismatches and manage alog and some digital ICs that dissipate thermal issues. high current and high power. Thermal While chipmakers are doing their management focuses on effectively dis- part to improve thermal management for sipating heat generated by those high- their devices, EMS providers are placing panies providing solutions now power designs, on high thermal con- special attention on thermal manageoration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest ductivity, and on maintaining low co- ment issues at the PCB design level. In lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you of ofthermal these instances, remedies range from usice you require efficients for whatever type technology,expansion (CTE), ing applicable board materials to paying ies and productswhile you are managing searching for. CTE mismatches between components, their interconnects special attention to mounting holes. In and the PCB. between, there are several new as well Chipmakers use a variety of pack- as tried-and-proven materials and methaging such as plastic, ceramic, flip ods to improve thermal conductivity and chip, leadless chip carrier (LCC) and heat dissipation. wafer-level packages (WLP). Each has The industry continues to patent a lower CTE than a standard PCB. Con- new inventions and offers a variety of sequently, a CTE mismatch occurs be- new thermal management materials tween device packaging and the PCB. and techniques. There are too many to Depending on the application and as- cover here. However, those discussed here are prominent ones in the tool kit of seasoned PCB designers and engiGet Connected neers. They include advanced thermal with companies mentioned in this article. modeling software, new heat sink ma-

End of Article


March 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

terial, new in-plane high conductivity carbon composite material, special casing material and edge plating. Proven techniques include copper thieving, increasing trace thickness, and ultimately, exploiting even the mounting holes to dissipate heat.

Thermal Modeling

New advances are being made to PCB thermal modeling and performance prediction software to give hardware engineers and designers a head start on managing thermal issues. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an invaluable tool to the PCB designer to assist him or her to quickly and easily understand the relationships between components and how their placement affects a PCBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thermal dynamics. Thermal modeling is used at the most basic levels of board layout, mapping, for investigating system airflow, heat sink design and other cooling mechanisms. With this tool, PCB designers can extend computer-aided design into prototyping and testing, thus

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SOLUTIONS Engineering


saving considerable time and expense. Also, designers can build a virtual prototype of the system and test the airflow and heat distribution at both the board and the system level. Equally importantly, thermal modeling gives the PCB designer the critical tool for conducting thermal fatigue failure analysis. In turn, these analyses can be modeled to provide failure prediction models. While board failures may not occur for a period of time, prediction models can forecast when certain PCB materials will incur thermal fatigue and cause field failures.

Heat Sinks


(c) Figure 1


Several varieties of heat sink: (a) 2”x2” aluminum flat heat sink for analog and digital applications, (b) omni-directional low profile heat sink, suited for limited space applications and (c) 2”x2.5” fin-based heat sink for high powered analog circuits.

March 2008

Heat sinks have historically been the PCB workhorse for thermal management. They help keep devices at temperatures below their specified maximum operating temperature. There are many versions, different designs and various ways of optimizing heat sinks. Over time, the technology has progressed with the use of new materials. For example, carbon fiber and boron nitride are recent materials applied to heat sinks. High thermal conductivity fiber spreads heat well at 800 watt per meter Kelvin (W/m-K) in the direction of the fiber. However, at 0.5 W/m-K, it doesn’t spread heat up and down very well. Developers have applied boron nitride crystals as a way to efficiently move heat from one fiber ply to the next. These crystals are used to “salt” carbon fiber sheets or prepregs. Two or more sheets are then laminated together to form the heat sink material, and throughput for up-down directions has been improved from 0.5 to about 4 W/m-K. Due to their high cost, however, these materials will likely find limited use in future PCB fabrication and may not replace aluminum heat sinks in many applications. Still, carbon fiber heat sinks may best be used in systems that don’t use air-cooling. These may include aircraft, missile and spacecraft components, automobiles, high-end computers and medical equipment.

SOLUTIONS Engineering

On the other hand, fin-based aluminum or copper heat sinks find greater acceptance in many applications due to their low cost and ideal thermal dissipation characteristics (Figure 1). Aluminum has a highly acceptable 205 W/mK thermal conductivity, while copper is about twice as high at about 400 W/m-K. Aluminum heat sinks are inexpensive; copper ones cost more and they weigh more. Consequently, aluminum gets the nod for most cost-effective applications, and copper is used in selected ones where cost isn’t an issue. Most heat sinks are finned to provide a simple way of increasing surface area for heat radiation and conduction. Some vendors claim their special aluminum fin material is 15 percent more conductive than fin material used in competitive heat sinks. They assert the overall performance of the bonded fin part increases and compensates for the minor conductivity loss from an epoxy joint.

Carbon Composite Material

The industry is creating a buzz over the new carbon composite material that is thermally and electrically conductive and primarily aimed at a PCB’s ground planes. Its objective is to improve in-plane thermal conductivity with its 3 to 6 parts per million per degree centigrade (ppm/°C) CTE. It compares favorably to traditional epoxy-glass and polyimide-glass-based materials with in-plane CTEs ranging from 15 to 20 ppm/°C. This type of material has multiple benefits. For thermal conductivity, it is ideal for conduction cooling and reducing PCB hot spots. Its low CTE permits the PCB designer to tailor the PCB’s CTE to match that of ceramic or flip chip packaging. Carbon composite material is rigid, thus eliminating the need for stiffeners. Lastly, it is as light in weight as typical glass fiber composite material. Carbon composite material also performs as a built-in heat spreader and moves heat away from a hot spot to colder areas of the PCB. Since it is located close

to the PCB’s surfaces, there is a short thermal path from the heat source to this material. The material then enables heat to move from the heat source to the nearest carbon composite layer and from there to the chassis via mounting holes or wedge locks. Figure 2 shows the stack-up of two different boards. One is based on twocore construction and the other on threecore. Layers number 2 and 9 in the twocore construction are thermally conductive layers using carbon composite material. In the three-core construction (<0.093”) PCB Prepreg



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board, layers number 3, 8 and a middle one designated electrically non-functional (NF) use carbon composite material and serve as thermally conductive layers for heat dissipation. If carbon composite material is implemented as multicore, it effectively reduces PCB hot spots by two to three times compared to its use as a single core. Heat is thus dissipated not only from the component and solder sides, but also through those layers discussed above. Instead of the conventional two avenues with traditional in-plane mate-

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SOLUTIONS Engineering

rial, heat is now dissipated through four different paths. The material can also be used to augment PCB mounting holes to further dissipate heat from the PCB surface through to the chassis to the ambient. It can also be used for thermal vias to re-direct heat from hot spots to

Edge Plating

Figure 3


Edge plating is the best way to manage thermal issues associated with PCBs that are highly populated with high voltage or high current generating components.

cooler PCB areas. Here, the material is used to plate vias shut, thus creating more volume to dissipate heat. Instead of leaving an air gap in between, it is closed with a thermally conductive material, allowing heat to dissipate from the top of the PCB to the bottom. The result is a 5% - 10% greater PCB area dedicated to heat dissipation. Further, carbon composite-based thermal vias can be used in conjunction with edge plating, discussed below, to increase heat dissipation even more. Special casing or enclosure materials are complementing those used in PCBs to further manage heat dissipation. In some instances, for various reasons, PCB designers don’t factor system enclosure materials into an overall thermal management strategy. However, with today’s drive to portable electronics and more powerful chips, it is vital for EMS providers to forge all thermal aspects of an OEM’s design.


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Thermoplastic materials represent a forerunner in this respect. They are making significant headway by replacing or augmenting metal casings for small and increasingly thermally intense cell phones, notebooks and other portable gear. Recently, various fillers have been used to further improve thermoplastics with thermal conductivities in the highly acceptable area of 1 to 10 W/m-K. The three general classes of filler used are carbon, metallic and ceramic.

Edge Plating

Some PCB applications are highly populated with components that generate high voltage or high current. An effective thermal management technique is to connect them to the outside chassis acting as ground. In these cases, edge plating provides the best way to manage thermal issues. As shown in Figure 3, the PCB’s edge is connected through the chassis, thus the entire chassis is used as ground, as well as a means to dissipate heat. The larger the area of edge plating, the greater will be the heat dissipation. Edge plating, while highly effective for dissipating heat, is limited to certain military, aerospace and industrial applications that permit a large chassis to be used as ground. Moreover, edge plating calls for experienced PCB fabricators who are equipped to implement special techniques to plate a PCB’s edge.

Copper Thieving

Aside from these new methods and materials, copper thieving is a well-proven PCB thermal management technique. Thieving adds copper to board sections sparsely populated with copper as a way to dissipate heat, besides balancing the surface density. Its use is limited to large boards with considerable copper density on one side and minimal on the other. An example is a board with analog circuitry and considerable copper on one side of the PCB and digital ICs and little copper on the other side.

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Adding copper to the digital side dissipates heat more effectively. For example, Figure 4 shows thieving applied to such a PCB. In this instance heat dissipation increased by 20% to 25% after thieving was applied.

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Finally, the seasoned PCB designer investigates even the least likely candidates to squeeze out as much heat as possible. Two examples are tantalum capacitors and mounting holes. A tantalum capacitor has resin fused through the lead frame that conducts and dissipates heat. The designer also takes advantage of the mounting holes on the board for heat spreading and dissipation. That’s done by using the mounting screws so that the heat on these outer planes can be spread around to the outer casing or chassis. This provides a larger surface area for heat dissipation into the ambient.

Thieving adds copper to board sections sparsely populated with copper as a way to dissipate heat and balance surface density. Thieving is applied here to a PCB with analog circuitry and considerable copper on one side of the board and digital ICs and little copper on the other side. Copper is added to the digital side and heat dissipation increases by 20 to 25%.

Implementing thicker copper traces on the PCB is another proven technique to spread and dissipate heat. In these cases, regular 6 mil traces are increased to 8 - 10 mil traces, for example, by depositing larger amounts of copper. This technique is highly acceptable in applications that don’t have impedance requirements. Copper traces on some applications can go even thicker, for instance, 5 mil traces can be doubled to 10 mils as long as the PCB application allows for it and there are no impedance control restrictions.

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Embedded Web Servers

Shattering the Myths of Remote Device Management Connecting small intelligent and less intelligent devices on a network is one thing. Achieving end to end seamless connectivity between such small networked nodes and applications running on a larger IP network running on larger servers is quite another.

by J oel K. Young Digi International


he last several years, others have described our environment as a world where affordable and easy remote machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is just around the corner. As such, most people when starting to read this article will no doubt think it is an extension of that same theme. Sorry to disappoint. Rather, we’re going to discuss intelligent remote device management and how it is here, has been here and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. What’s the difference? Is this yet another M2M story in disguise using some new catch phrase? Is this not another story where an equipment vendor tells everyone that the promise of remote management is just around the corner? No. It turns out that the solutions snuck up on all of us—and we were looking in the wrong place. So let’s discuss where the real solutions are today and where to find them. M2M has been a general term used to describe all aspects of machine-to-machine, machine-to-human, machine-to-enterprise type communication for the purpose of management and control of assets


March 2008

and devices. The goal was to drive efficiency and/or new revenue streams. Much of what has been written about M2M has been the promise of managing high-value assets—those assets that can speak for themselves. Of course, there needed to be some big software application, listening and tracking. And usually connectivity was handled by a friendly, wired IP pipe. While this was interesting and beneficial for a class of assets, it was certainly limiting. The challenge of scalability was limited by the need to either give the lesser devices the ability to speak (sort of an intelligence boost using intelligent hubs), simplify the software on the application side or improve the connectivity efficiency by using more wireless media. Over the past several years, many have carved out targeted, fragmented solutions to address each of these limitations. For example, some have given the communication challenged devices the ability to speak. Others have used a network communications firewall friendly phone home model. Of course, others have been working to simplify the software by creating

an ASP or hosted software model. Finally, others have been cutting the cord on various segments.

What’s Missing?

Today, there is a steady stream of partial solutions for remote device management. Nonetheless, we still hear cries that the ramp is yet to come. In order to find the best remote device management successes, it is useful to first take a look at the barriers that have kept some from realizing the dream. Difficulty in reaching the device – the need for wireless: Running wires has always been a nuisance, except where the wires were already in place. Wireless offers a new promise to avoid wiring. However, we have learned that RF, with the complexities of interference, range and configuration has made this difficult for the novice. End-to-end connectivity: Just because you now have wireless connectivity to the device, doesn’t mean that the protocols, addressing and routing mechanisms that enable communication between the


device and the necessary application are defined and work. Missing humans: When sitting and using a computer, if something goes wrong, we have all been trained in the art of Ctrl-Alt-Delete. However, remote device management means that the device is “remote,” making the presence of human beings a luxury that is often not affordable. This means that somewhere along the value chain, communication must be enabled and maintained without human intervention. Intelligent and non-intelligent devices: Intelligent devices that have a processor and lots of memory are smart enough to have additional functionality programmed in. However, the non-intelligent devices require more subtle approaches, which often require analysis of various sensor inputs. This means programming and a detailed understanding of device behavior. Cost-effectiveness—enabling the monitoring of lower cost assets: While seemingly obvious, this is also often overlooked. Cost-effectiveness, defined as the total cost to monitor or manage a device, is directly related to the value of the device or commodity being monitored. The lower the value, the less that needs to be spent. Making it EASY—reducing the big professional services costs: Integration into the back end database and converting the data into a useful form are the final keys into a productive solution. Big professional services may still work for a new ERP system, but they are increasingly less palatable, driving the need for hosted services.

Components of a Drop-in Network

In order to best describe the solutions being used to address the aforementioned components, it is important to introduce the concept of a drop-in network. Figure 1 provides a high-level view of the drop-in network concept. The goal of a drop-in networking solution is to provide

Management Programmable Gateway

Embedded Device

Router/Bridges PAN

Device Adapter

WAN Remote application

Device Adapter

Legacy Device

Figure 1

A drop-in network is used to provide end-to-end connectivity between embedded and legacy devices and the wider IP/WAN network architecture.

complete, end-to-end connectivity to devices in locations where wire-line infrastructure doesn’t exist or satisfy customer needs. They are primarily wireless (if you have a wire you should use it), cost-efficient, non-intrusive, secure, reliable and easy to deploy. Starting at the lower left, Figure 1 illustrates a cluster of devices, both legacy and embedded. These devices are connected with personal area network (PAN) technology like ZigBee, 802.15.4 or proprietary mesh. These are then connected through a router back to a programmable gateway device. Note that in the simplest case, the PAN can be rolled up back into the gateway. So in the simplest form, the gateway may be connected directly to the end device. The programmable gateway provides data aggregation, routing and conversion of data between the device side and the IP/WAN side of the network. Also connected to the IP/WAN is a management server and remote application server. The management server provides the ability to manage the connectivity of the end device up through the network while the application server provides the business application associated with the end device. While the figure shows them being physically separate, they could be remote from each other or in the same

premises. Nonetheless, functional separation of these applications means they can be hosted in different media, i.e., one may be a hosted service, and the other may be deployed at a customer premises. The concept behind this architecture is to provide a method for end-to-end connectivity while simplifying the aggregation points. Because the gateway is programmed with a high-level language like Python, common functions can be added by someone with a Web or IT developer skill set, without touching the lower level connectivity functions associated with the PAN or WAN networks. In addition, connectivity management is also handled with an agent on the gateway, separate from the programming engine, providing a level of protection from application errors. Further, because of the remote connectivity management infrastructure, the system is protected from needing a human presence at the remote locations.

Application Connections

Now that we understand the concept of a Drop-in network, it is important to solve the problem of application connectivity. Figure 2 illustrates four different options that depend as much on the inherited environment as they do on the needs March 2008



Hosted Service/ Virtual Server

Collaboration Client

(1) Legacy Application (2) Web Services Application (3) Application from Search (4) Collaboration Client

Hosted Management & Routing


Device Adapter

Figure 2

Device Adapter

Device Adapter

Direct or via Mgmt Server Legacy = More Python

Different Web-based scenarios can achieve end-to-end connectivity to small embedded devices by connecting through a drop-in network.

of the application. This is particularly important in order to provide the most costeffective and efficient solution. When looking at the different environments, it is easiest to split them into four different application types. These application types all share the device options, functionality of the gateway and connectivity management described in the previous section. These are the legacy applications, Web service applications, applications from “scratch” and collaboration clients. In the case of the legacy application (orange), the end customer has a pre-existing application environment that they wish to use. While it could be either in a hosted service or customer premises model, the legacy applications tend to be in an onsite data center. The notion here is that the application has been in existence connecting a typically local, wired infrastructure for some time. In this scenario, it is the job of the gateway to masquerade as a local, wired device, masking the complexities of the WAN and wireless networks. A common usage model for this scenario is Modbus/TCP, where the software on the gateway masquerades as a Modbus/TCP slave device—front-ending the end devices. This is the most common deployment seen today because it provides an easy economic justification and is related to an existing business model. In a scenario involving a Web service application (blue), the end customer has a Web services back-end system and a proficient Web development-oriented


RDM Application

March 2008

IT staff. Because of the Web services front-end to the application, the gateway is programmed to send and receive data via XML. While it could be used in either a hosted service or customer premises model, the application is typically already deployed within the end customer’s data center. Both the gateway application and the corresponding application integration logic tend to be completed by the end customer’s local IT organization. Like the legacy application, this also is a very common deployment seen today for the same reasons. Often there is no application to begin with (green) and the customer needs to start from scratch—usually because they are entering a new business model where they are going to add value through a service offering. Most of the time, this means they are neither IT savvy nor have any legacy application to build from. Therefore, there are really only two options: go with an ASP and subscribe to a hosted application, or spend money on professional services to create a custom application. Typically, the ASP model is most cost-effective in this case because ASP partners most likely already have integrated the gateway products. If this is the case, generally this scenario looks very much like a hosted Web services application model. Given the growth in new applications and the need for new revenue streams, this model is emerging as more common, but is only now starting to ramp. The case of a collaboration client (brown) is perhaps the newest trend

in remote device management and has yet to really begin to scale. However, it promises to be the wave of the future as more end customers need to have a more intimate relationship with their devices. In this scenario, the collaboration client often takes the form of a focused application that filters and aggregates key information. The information can be populated into a database or can be displayed as a dashboard item, gadget or widget on a mobile phone or PC. The key here is that the application can be easily pulled from a pool of focused applications and customized by the user for a specific purpose. It is almost always front-ended by a virtual server in the sky using Web 2.0 constructs, mitigating the need for big IT investment. The application on the gateway can be very focused on the constructs that are important to the user. So where does this leave us? What we know is that the direct pieces of a drop-in network are happening and have been happening for some time, but we need to take steps. It turns out that legacy application connectivity and Web services approaches have been happening for some time, as have wired connections to intelligent devices. This part is merely an evolution of connectivity options. The revolutionary part, which includes the seamless wireless connectivity from the device to the application, is now beginning to ramp. This is enabling many different applications that we haven’t ever seen. The enabler here is the availability of the drop-in network, which provides cost-effective, seamless connectivity to most any device, even those devices of lesser intelligence. Finally, this connectivity is enabling the applications to go beyond the typical premises-based, big software to efficient hosted services. It is also beginning to drive demand for the set of collaboration clients, previously only available for Web-based “gadget” functions. Digi International Minnetonka, MN. (952) 912-3444. [].

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Embedded Windows

Look, Ma! No RTOS! Getting to Know Microsoft .NET Micro Framework Is your application small, relatively simple, cost-sensitive? Do you not need all the bells and whistles of a full RTOS? Microsoft’s new .NET Micro Framework might get you going with less hassle, less overhead and shorter development time.


er exploration ther your goal speak directly cal page, the ht resource. echnology, s and products

by S  ean D. Liming and John R. Malin SJJ Embedded Micro Solutions


ouldn’t it be nice to have an off-the-shelf platform that was ready to be programmed with your custom application? No need to spend a big budget to develop the hardware andnow adapt firmware from some OS vendor, where docmpanies providing solutions umentation and support is lacking in both areas. Maybe simply ploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest control I/O and sendpage, information to Connected a screen or pplication Engineer, or jumpsome to a company's technical the goal of Get is toover put youa rvice you requireserial for whatever type of technology, connection. Best of all, wouldn’t it be nice to write the anies and products you are searching for. tools that you already have and in a known application using programming language? Well, this is the concept behind the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework. Program using C# in Visual Studio and download your application to a device that already has the firmware running on a feature-rich system running a 32-bit RISC processor. Microsoft’s latest offering for embedded developers, the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework (.NET MF), addresses the needs of smart, small-footprint devices for such applications as robotics, security systems and simple interfaces. Built from the ground up, .NET MF exposes hardware like GPIO, I2C, SPI, Serial, etc. and allows developers to write C# applications in Visual Studio to accessGet thatConnected hardware directly. The footprint is about 1 Mbyte with companies in this article. so it is much smallermentioned than Windows CE. As with any new nology, there are always a number of questions.

Class Library Libraries Layer


March 2008





Execution Engine

Type System

Garbage Collector







Platform Device Drivers TinyBooter

Hardware Layer

Figure 1




End of Article

Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

User Applications & Libraries

Application Layer

Processor, I/O, and Peripherals

There are four layers to the .NET Micro Framework. The abstraction allows .NET MF to be ported to different hardware platforms, while the layers allow expansion for future technology. Currently only ARM processors are supported.

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What is .NET Micro Framework?

The .NET Micro Framework consists of a TinyCLR that allows developers to write managed code (C#) applications in Visual Studio. CLR means Common Language Runtime. The CLR is an agent that manages code at execution time, providing core services such as memory management, thread management, exception handling and debug services, while also enforcing strict type safety and other forms of code accuracy that promote application security and robustness. The TinyCLR is a smaller footprint implementation of the full CLR used in .NET Framework or the CompactFramework. For .NET MF, the TinyCLR sits directly on top of a Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), which makes it possible to port .NET MF to different processors. Currently, it supports ARM7 and ARM9 processors. .NET MF has been ported to the Cirrus Logic 93XX series, FreeScale i.MXS, Atmel AT-

cessing of the applications. The HAL and the PAL control the underlying system hardware. Both the HAL and the PAL are groups of C++ / assembly functions called by the CLR. The HAL is the component that can be modified to support different processors and different hardware configurations. It contains some bootstrap code, as well as the drivers that make up the system. The HAL can also be adapted so .NET MF can run on different hardware platforms or on an operating system. Hardware Layer: The hardware layer contains the microprocessor and the microprocessor support and I/O devices. Currently, .NET Micro Framework only runs on ARM7 and ARM9 RISC processors. There is also an independent boot loader known as TinyBooter that loads the TinyCLR into memory. Although the TinyCLR can be booted directly, the TinyBooter is used so that it can also update the TinyCLR code, when desired.

How Does This All Work?

Figure 2

Debugging .NET Micro Framework applications is the same as the desktop. Break points and stepping through the code is managed over a remote connection.

91SAM9 and the NXP LPC2000. .NET MF consists of four layers: Application, Class Library, Runtime Component and Hardware (Figure 1). Application Layer: The top layer simply consists of the managed application you write in Visual Studio. These applications are specific to the hardware that you are writing them for. Even though Visual Studio and .NET support different languages, C# is the only language currently available to write .NET MF managed code applications. Class Library Layer: The class libraries are the re-usable objects that you can use when writing applications. Communication libraries, I/O access, storage and support for Windows Presentation Foundation are available. TinyCLR: This layer consists of three components. The TinyCLR is the interpretive engine that handles all the pro-


March 2008

Probably the first question that most designers will ask is, “What is the processing architecture?” First of all, the .NET Micro Framework is NOT a real-time kernel or OS. Windows CE is Microsoft’s real-time embedded operating system. The TinyCLR is not deterministic, and interrupts are currently not preemptive. .NET MF is really an embedded CLR or managed code engine. Only a single application can run at a time, but the application supports multiple threads. The .NET MF has a scheduler that manages priorities, time slices and interrupt routines. Threads at the same priority run in a round robin with 20 millisecond time slices. The time slice interval cannot be changed. Interrupts are not preemptive, but an interrupt routine activated by an outside event will run after the currently running process has completed its 20 ms time slice or if the process has gone to sleep. For application development, the developer needs Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Micro Framework SDK. The SDK provides an emulator to test applications, but most developers will want to get started on real hardware. There are several board vendors and IC manufacturers that offer generic development platforms. For example, SJJ’s EDK supports EMAC’s iPac-9302, which is a productionready platform that has the .NET Micro Framework onboard. All the developer has to do is write a C# application in Visual Studio and download it to the board. The .NET MF stores the application in flash. When the .NET MF boots, it either finds an application in flash to run, or it waits for a new download. The developer can continue to download different test applications, which will overwrite any previous application in flash. Developing a .NET MF application in Visual Studio is no different than any other application development. The application can be remotely debugged using the Visual Studio Debugger


while it is running on the hardware. Multiple break points can be set, variables can be set in the watch, and you can step line-byline through the application. .NET MF applications can directly control I/O like SPI, GPIO, I2S, I2C and LCD output. Because it is .NET and most of the code is based on predefined classes, the number of lines of code are few compared to other solutions, which require developing the whole OS and device drivers plus the application. As you can guess .NET MF development is like the popular Basic Stamp or Java Stamp solutions, but instead of running on simple PIC processors, .NET MF runs on high-speed ARM7 or ARM9 processors with faster code execution and a wealth of I/O to address most applications. Even though .NET MF doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feature real-time, deterministic capability, its performance is fast enough for many small embedded systems. Many education and research facilities are using off-the-shelf .NET MF platforms to quickly prototype systems for testing because traditional porting of the embedded OS takes too much time.

Figure 3

SideShow Device Simulator runs SideShow Applications and Gadgets.

If you want to build your own board, then you will either have to get the .NET MF porting kit from Microsoft to port the TinyCLR to the hardware or have one of the .NET Micro Framework porting partners perform the port. The porting process is like any low-level embedded development. The startup code has to be developed, the device drivers have to be created, etc., but once the port has been completed, application development comes right back to Visual Studio. A full .NET MF built from scratch still uses the standard two-path development process: Use a .NET MF development board to start on the application development, while the custom hardware and port are being completed. Besides the low-level I/O support, .NET MF has graphical support based on the new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) architecture found in Windows Vista. Developers can create a rich graphical interface using WPF. SideShow devices are the most common .NET MF platform to support graphics. SideShow is a defined platform and application that runs on top of .NET MF. An LCD and a few buttons for navigation are needed to run SideShow. Figure 3 is


March 2008

the SideShow Device Simulator used for testing applications and gadgets. The layout of the simulator is very similar to various embedded controller interfaces. Although touch screen support is not currently supported, it is possible to create a custom solution or overlay.

What Is Supported Now and in the Future?

We mentioned earlier that .NET MF exposes GPIO, I2C, SPI, Serial, etc. These I/O are the core for the first release of .NET MF. Other I/O like ADC and PWM can be custom added by OEMs and exposed as virtual COM ports interfaces. Probably the most important addition is networking support. For .NET MF to be truly considered for embedded devices, TCP/IP support has recently been added. .NET MF devices can communicate over the network using simple socket communications. A socket server and client are provided in the SDK. There is also support for Devices Profile for Web Services (DWPS). Simply put, a .NET MF platform running a Web service (DPWS) application can be easily detected/discovered by a PC, which invokes the Web service functionality each device provides. There are already a few commercial devices that use the .NET Micro Framework technology such as the SPOT/Smart watch and the Windows Vista SideShow display. There also already are a few remote control solutions using .NET MF and SideShow. Beyond these applications, .NET Micro Framework serves as an appropriate platform for deeply embedded applications where smart control is needed. Interface for exercise equipment, home theater control, basic robotic controls, inexpensive software solution for pin pads, pallet tracking systems, industrial control interfaces/communication, security systems and environmental controls are just a few of the applications for which .NET MF can provide the right support. Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded have addressed the needs for many high-end embedded systems. There are many low-end devices that are becoming smarter and friendly to use. .NET Micro Framework offers the right features, functionality and development tool support to address these smart solutions. SJJ Embedded Micro Solutions San Diego, CA. (858) 485-1059. [].

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FeaturedProducts PMC I/O Modules Simplify the Use of Reconfigurable FPGAs for High-Performance Logic Applications New PMC I/O modules provide a Virtex-5 FPGA for fast processing of custom logic routines supported by large banks of high-speed memory, a highthroughput PCI-X interface and plug-in I/O. The PMC-VLX series of modules from Acromag features a logic-optimized Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA that is reconfigurable for high-performance I/O processing and custom logic routines. An assortment of plug-in I/O extension modules offers flexibility to interface various analog and digital I/O signal types. By wrapping the FPGA with just the features needed for fast and easy implementation, the PMC-VLX puts ultra-high-performance FPGAcontrolled computing within reach of many applications. The PMC base card is ready for use in conduction-cooled systems and provides 64 LVDS I/O channels accessible via P4 rear connectors. Inserting optional front-connecting AXM I/O extension modules augments I/O processing capabilities with interfaces for 14-bit 105 MHz A/D conversion, CMOS digital I/O, RS-485 differential signals, or extra LVDS I/O lines. Typical uses include hardware simulation, in-circuit diagnostics, military servers, communication processing and signal intelligence. These PMC modules offer a choice of three Virtex-5 FPGAs to match the logic and signal processing requirements needed to execute custom logic routines and user-defined algorithms. Cards can be ordered with a model VLX85T, VLX110T, or VLX155T FPGA featuring up to 155,000 logic cells and 128 DSP48E slices. Extended temperature versions operate across a -40° to 85°C range. Acromag supports the Virtex-5 with two banks of 32 Mbyte x 16-bit DDR2 SDRAM, which are ready to receive data from the I/O ports for FPGA processing. Processed data moves to two banks of 256 Kbyte x 32-bit dual-ported SRAM for high-speed DMA transfer to the PCI bus. A high-bandwidth PCI-X interface delivers rapid data throughput. The PCI-X interface supports 133 MHz, 100 MHz and 66 MHz PCI bus modes. Application-specific programs are downloaded directly into the FPGA or to flash memory from the PCI bus. Acromag’s Engineering Design Kit provides utilities to


March 2008

help users develop custom programs, load VHDL into the FPGA and to establish DMA transfers between the FPGA and the CPU. For easy integration of the boards with embedded Windows applications, Acromag developed a DLL driver software package for compatibility with Microsoft Visual C++ and Visual Basic. Sample files with “C” source demonstration programs provide easy-to-use tools to test operation of the module. For connectivity with real-time application programs, Acromag offers C libraries for VxWorks, QNX and other operating systems. The libraries provide generic routines (source code included) to handle reads, writes, interrupts and other functions. Demonstration programs enable the developer to quickly exercise the I/O modules before attaching the routines to the application program. This diagnostic tool can save hours of troubleshooting and debugging. Free Linux example programs are also available. The boards start at $4,750 with a choice of FPGA processors available. Acromag, Mixom, WI. (248) 295-0310. [].

6U CompactPCI Express CPU Offers Low-Power Core Duo and XMC Sites A CompactPCI Express-based single board computer incorporates Intel’s low-power Core-Duo (Yonah) processor using the Intel E752 chipset. The EPD from Dynatem is a 6U single-slot CompactPCI Express platform. The new CompactPCIe connectors provide more power connections, high-speed differential pairs and a path for hybrid slots, which can hold either legacy CompactPCI or the new CompactPCIe I/O boards. The EPD also provides full support for PICMG 2.16. Backplane PCI Express bus connections are via ADF connectors XJ2 & XJ3, which support either two x8 connections in two-link configuration or four x4 connections in four-link configuration With its two execution cores,

the Intel Core Duo processor is optimized for multi-threaded applications and multitasking. The EPD uses a 1.66 GHz BGA processor that runs at only 15 watts. This low power performance suits it to embedded, industrial applications where high bandwidth processing is required. The Intel E7520 chipset acts as the central hub for all data passing between the core system elements including processor, memory, PCI Express I/O and legacy I/O subsystems. The EPD routes x20 PCI Express to the backplane. Two PMC sites are provided with 64-bit/66 MHz PCI-X routed to both sites. One of the two PMC sites also supports XMC modules with x4 PCI Express. Both sites have rear I/O accessibility. Two SO-DIMM sockets support a total of 1, 2, or 4 Gbytes of ECC DDR-2 533 MHz memory. Retention clips provide some vibration immunity. A Silicon Motion SM 712 ultra low-power display controller with 4 Mbyte onchip memory is provided. One HD-DB15 VGA connector is located on the front panel. Higher resolution graphic solutions are made possible via the PCI Express-compatible XMC site. The XPDRTM optional 6U x 80 mm CPCI Express rear I/O transition module is also available with form-factor per PICMG EXP.0 specification with connectors RXJ4, RJ3, RJ4 & RJ5 loaded. It includes interfaces for two USB, two Ethernet and two rear PMC interface module (PIM) interface headers. Additional RTM interfaces include interface for SATA hard drive, CompactFlash, audio interface header, parallel port connector, two serial connectors and standard floppy connector. The optional 6U TBE drive carrier daughterboard includes bays for two mass storage drives, which can include ATA or SATA hard disk drives, CD-ROM drives or CompactFlash. Pricing for the EPD starts at $4,298 in single quantity. Dynatem, Mission Viejo, CA. (949) 855-3235. [].

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3/17/08 1:37:08 PM



Wireless Network Test Tools for the RF Side

A new 2.4 GHz spectrum analyzer software package and a 2.4 GHz, 11-channel signal generator are designed for personnel who need to install, test, troubleshoot, analyze and optimize wireless networks. Called the AirSleuth Pro and AirHorn (respectively), these products from Kaltman Creations are intended to address the RF side of the Wi-Fi and WLAN equation. The AirSleuth Pro allows the user to view Wi-Fi channels 1 through 11 individually or simultaneously with Peak, Average and Raw trace modes. There are 10 diagnostic modes including Traces, Spectrogram, Channel Time Course, Differential Channels and Pie Charting. AirSleuth Pro also includes a real-time calculation of “Best Wi-Fi Channel”—i.e., the channel with the least interference. There is even a logging and playback recorder for extended monitoring. Working independently or in conjunction with AirSleuth Pro is a new product called AirHorn, a stable and accurate 2.4 GHz ISM band signal generator that can be selectively set to generate RF signals for any number of the 11 Wi-Fi channels. It has three transmission modes of Single Channel, Traverse all Channels and Peak. AirHorn can be used to assist in antenna placement, RF shield effectiveness, wireless network stress testing, etc. The AirSleuth Pro is sold as a software-based (CD provided) application, which includes an antenna, user’s guide and a frequently asked questions document. USB or PCMCIA versions are available for the same retail price of $395. AirHorn is also sold as a software-based (CD provided) application at a retail price of $135. Kaltman Creations has also bundled the two together for a combined discount price of $499.

Dual Core ETX CPU Serves Wide Temperature Range Applications

Designed to meet the demands of embedded systems through compact design, low power consumption, wide operating temperature range and high reliability, an ETX CPU module from Arbor Solution includes dual-core processor technology with the Intel 945GME/ICH7M chipset. The ETX-832E, the high-end ETX CPU module for embedded designs requiring PCI, ISA, SATA and USB 2.0 interfaces extends Arbor’s wide temperature product line. The ETX-832E can be functional and stable in extended (-40° to +80ºC) operating temperature range.

Kaltman Creations, Suwanee, GA. (678) 714-200. [].

Networking Module Configurable for Application-Specific Interfaces

A new Ethernet networking module enables users to custom configure it for the specific needs of an application. The ConnectCore 9p 9215 from Digi International features two flexible interface modules (FIMs) built into the ARM9 microprocessor that will allow customers to load and use application-specific interfaces such as Secure Digital, Controller Area Network (CAN), 1-Wire, additional UARTs and others. Adding interfaces in the FIMs reduces complexity and overall product cost by minimizing the number of components necessary for a design. It also features advanced networking protocols like IPv6, SNMPv3 and SSL, which allows customers to easily upgrade protocols over time without having to replace hardware. The ConnectCore 9P 9215 also offers an on-chip AES encryption engine that provides 10 times the secure data throughput of comparable software-based solutions. Additionally, it features low power consumption and advanced power management features including Digi patented switchable processor speed. Switchable processor speed allows customers to change processor speed from an application or shut down selected features to reduce power use, making it suitable for portable/mobile devices. Digi JumpStart Kit development solutions are available that minimize product design risks and dramatically shorten time-to-market by providing all the hardware, software and development tools necessary for design engineers to begin embedded product development and are compatible with all Microsoft Windows operating systems. The ConnectCore 9P 9215 module is priced at $59 in quantities of 1,000. The JumpStart Kit is available for an introductory price of $399. Digi International, Minnetonka, MN. (952) 912-3444. [].


March 2008

ETX-832E delivers integrated graphics performance with the Intel 945GME’s Graphics Media Accelerator 950. The GMA 950 graphics core supports dual display, CRT and LVDS. Onboard DDRII SO-DIMM socket has a maximum memory capacity of 2 Gbytes. Additionally, ETX-832E is equipped with all required interfaces including four PCI slots, ISA slot, two SATAII, four USB 2.0 ports, two serial ports, parallel port, high-speed 10/100 Ethernet LAN, ATA, KB/MS, AC97 Audio and Watchdog Timer. ETX-832E has all the necessary features and expansion capability in compact dimensions and possesses high-performance data acquisition and control interfaces and advanced graphic capability, which makes it ideal for applications where space is limited but multiple I/O configurations are needed. Arbor Solution San Jose, CA. (408) 452-8900. [].

Low-Power Platform Tackles Performance and Power Challenges in Handsets

A new data transfer engine function supports multi-media capability in portable products using QuickLogic’s “fabric and functions” configurable companion device for handset applications. Among a number of new configuration options is a data transfer capability that allows PC-to-handset communication of large files such as videos independently of the handset’s host processor, with traffic flowing directly between a handset’s USB port and hard disk. QuickLogic’s ArcticLink device provides hard-wired cores, plus an array of programmable fabric with a large library of proven functions for handheld products. The platform can act as a versatile companion device for handset processors to enable product differentiation, and is suited to integrating most of the features for handset development. For example, it can autonomously perform high-level functions in the display and/or mass storage interface paths, relieving the load on the host processor. The programmable fabric element has a very low power consumption and can be used to implement an application processor interface plus (typically) several additional functions such as DRM or Bluetooth EDR-compliant UARTs. The latest option in this area is an independent data transfer capability that is designed to provide fast and power-efficient file transfer and/or synchronization between PCs and handsets controlled by utilities such as Microsoft’s ActiveSync. QuickLogic, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 990-4000. [].

Dual-Head Graphics XMC Mezzanine Card Combines 3D with Low Power

A second-generation dual-head graphics XMC mezzanine card is targeted for avionics and military applications such as terrain overlay systems, graphic consoles and where rendering of several live video channels is required. The XMC-G72 from Thales Computers fits any x8 PCI Express XMC-compliant single board computer. The XMC-G72 incorporates 128 Mbyte on-chip GDDR3 memory and low power dissipation using the M72-CSP128 graphics controller from AMD/ATI technology. The M72-CSP128 graphics controller supports 2D and 3D acceleration as well as DirectX and OpenGL. The XMC-G72 mezzanine card features dual independent displays through two front connectors. Both digital DVI and CRT or dual CRT are offered. The rugged conduction-cooled build version of the XMCG72 routes the digital DVI video output to the Pn4 rear I/O connector of the mezzanine. The XMC-G72 interfaces with the single board computer using an x8 PCI Express link that peaks at 2.5 Gbytes/s, about ten times faster than graphics PMC mezzanine products currently available. This high throughput interface between the host CPU and the graphics controller significantly improves the performance of applications that intensively use bitmap transfers. Samples of the commercial build version of the XMC-G72 are currently available, and the card will be available in volume early in March 2008. The rugged conduction-cooled version will be available in the second quarter of 2008. Thales Computers, Edison, NJ. (732) 494-1010. [].

Module Enables VoIP Integration into Measurement Technology and Automation

TCP/IP-based Ethernet LANs in the laboratory and factory are not just suited for data communication. As in the office world, numerous other services are also possible in the industrial Ethernet environment. The DIL/ NetPC DNP/5370 from SSV Software Systems enables the integration of VoIP technology into measurement systems and automation components. This 32- bit mini-computer in DIL-module form is an embedded device server that provides sufficient power reserves to process VoIP tasks in addition to typical measurement data transmissions at the same time. The DIL/NetPC DNP/5370 is based on an Analog Devices BF537 Blackfin 32-bit microcontroller running at 600 MHz. Memory resources of 32 Mbytes of SDRAM, 3 Mbytes of NOR and 8 Mbytes of NAND flash memory and a 128 Mbyte SD/MMC memory card are available. In addition to the 10/100 Mbps Ethernet LAN interface, the DNP/5370 offers a host of other interfaces, such as two UART, one CAN, one SSI, expansion bus with interrupts and chip selects. A uClinux operating system with many drivers is stored in the NOR flash memory. The NAND flash and an SD/MMC card are integrated into the Linux file system as drives. A starter kit is available with the DNP/SK28 for evaluation. This includes the RJ45 LAN connector, two RS-232 interfaces, an audio codec with plugs for a microphone and speaker, LCD and buttons and a hole grid surface for individual adaptation in addition to the DNP/5370, all on a carrier board. An audio headset and CD-ROM with Windows software are included in the scope of delivery. Direct VoIP connections between the starter kit and a Windows PC are established via this software. The preinstalled embedded Linux of the DNP/5370 is already equipped with an Internet server that enables easy system configuration via an Internet-based interface using a browser. SSV Software Systems, Hannover, Germany. +49 (511) 40 00 045. [].

March 2008


Products&TECHNOLOGY 1 GHz Mini-ITX Board Pulls Just 19W

A Mini-ITX board boasts low power and a rich digital media experience as well as dual LAN support and a wide array of connectivity and digital media features. The EPIA EK Mini-ITX embedded board from Via Technologies is available with the 1 GHz or fanless 800MHz Via Luke CoreFusion processor platform and boasts a rich array of connectivity and digital media features to make possible a new generation of bandwidth-efficient network devices focused on digital media applications. Features integrated into the Luke CoreFusion processor platform include the Via UniChrome IGP Pro graphics processor with MPEG-2/4 hardware decoding acceleration to enable smooth playback and transmission of digital media, as well as the Via Vinyl VT1618 6-channel audio with Via Smart 5.1 Surround sound. Hardware security is available too, with the Via PadLock Security Engine. Designed to offer real-time military-grade protection of data stored and exchanged, the Via PadLock Security Engine enables developers to offload the computational process involved in complex encryption algorithms, freeing processor loading to handle more data faster. The Via EPIA EK Mini-ITX mainboard incorporates dual LAN support that includes the option for a single Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as up to four COM and eight USB ports, a printer port, a PCI port and Digital I/O (4 GPI/GPO). The mainboard also boasts both Serial and Parallel ATA support and utilizes DDR400 memory. The Via EPIA EK Mini-ITX has a maximum power consumption of 19W and is fully compatible with all Mini-ITX, FlexATX and MicroATX chassis and associated accessories such as the new Via 120W DC-DC converter, external PCI riser card, Via DVI interface and Via LVDS panel support module. It also is compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000/XP, XPe and CE, as well as Linux. VIA Technologies, Fremont, CA. (510) 683-3300. [].

Adapter Kits Improve Functionality of PC/104 Stacks

A set of adapter kits greatly improves the functionality of PC/104 stacks by making it easier to include CompactFlash memory, hard drives and other common devices. The kits, introduced by Sealevel Systems, are mechanical adapters that mount to the PC/104 stack but do not interface with the stack; the interface is made using the IDE or USB connector on the device being added. The mounting holes on the adapters are arranged with slots at the corners so the board can be mounted in-line with the PC/104 stack or rotated 180 degrees along the long axis. The ability to choose two mounting options simplifies cable routing and access to connectors. The PC/104 CompactFlash adapter allows you to quickly add a CompactFlash memory card in a PC/104 stack and supports Type I and Type II cards, or IBM Microdrives. An onboard jumper allows the user to set the flash drive to master or slave mode. The adapter connects to the host via an IDE interface and both 40-pin and 44-pin IDE connectors are provided. The PC/104 hard drive adapter provides a convenient mounting platform for a 2.5” hard drive. The PC/104 hard drive adapter includes a 44-pin IDE ribbon cable and hard drive mounting screws. A PC/104 adapter kit with a 60 Gbyte hard drive is available. The PC/104 multipurpose adapter allows users to add Sealevel OEM products including SeaDAC Lite modules and embedded 4-port USB hub. SeaDAC Lite modules provide a low I/O count solution in a small PCB form-factor and offer convenient expansion of embedded computers using only an internal USB connection. Models are available with optically isolated inputs, Reed or Form C relay and TTL outputs. The PC/104 multipurpose adapter includes a rectangular cutout to allow the relays on SeaDAC Lite OEM modules to clear the board so that the module is able to mount very closely to the PC/104 adapter board, further minimizing the PC/104 stack height. The PC/104 CompactFlash adapter is $90, the hard drive adapter is $30 and the multipurpose adapter is $15. Sealevel Systems, Liberty, SC. (864) 843-4343.[].


March 2008

PC/104-Plus Pentium M Board Offers Power/ Performance Options

A Pentium M embedded computer board in PC/104-Plus format lets the customer determine the performance and select among the Intel processors from Celeron M 300 up to Pentium M 755 with equivalent Pentium 4 performance from 600 MHz up to 4.0 GHz. The MSM855 from Digital-Logic is based on the Intel 855GME chip set with 400 MHz front side bus and provides all standard PC interfaces such as COM1/2, LPT1, a floppy interface, an IrDA interface and two PS/2 ports for mouse and keyboard. There are up to 1024 Mbytes of DDR RAM as main memory on the module available. CPU and memory are mounted exchangeable, but mechanically protected against vibrations and shocks. The standard version further includes five USB-V2.0ports, an AC97 V2.3-compatible sound interface, a 100/10-Base-T port and interfaces for a CompactFlash card and an IDE hard disk. In addition, all necessary power supplies and a Microcontroller for advanced ACPI power management functions are integrated. For multimedia applications, the MSM855 board provides a real 5.1 sound system with six output channels and two input channels. It uses the “Extreme Graphic” video controller, which is integrated in the Intel-855GME chip set, and supports DirectX 9 compatibility with video memory of up to 64 Mbytes. The video controller has two different video outputs, VGA-Analog and DVI/LVDS, to control two different monitors. As all power saving functions of the Intel 855GME chip set are supported, the MSM855 only consumes between 10 watt and 25 watt (depending on the performance selected). The smartModule design ensures the thermal connection so that the computer module can be integrated optimally in the housing of the application. The board is supplied by a voltage of 5V and runs under Windows CE/98/2000/ NT4, Linux, QNX, RTXDOS, etc. Equipped with a new 1 Mbyte Flash BIOS, the board is able to boot the operating system from different media such as hard disk, floppy disk, USB, PCCard, or LAN. Digital-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland, +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [].

“E-Frame” Open Access Test Chassis Takes Variety of Backplanes

A new open frame chassis for test/ debugging does not have side or back walls around the card cage area, leaving it open for easy access. The E-frame from Elma Electronic was designed with the high (and flexible) power and cooling requirements for VPX (VITA 46/48) systems. However, any 3U or 6U backplanes can be used. This includes VME/ 64x, VXS, CompactPCI and other backplane architectures. The Type 39E Portable Tower has a convenient carrying handle. With a rugged modular aluminum construction, the E-frame tower can support up to 21 slots at .8” or 17 slots at 1” pitch. There are frontaccessible test points and monitoring LEDs for all VME, VPX, VXS and cPCI voltages. This includes +3.3V, +/-5V, +/- 12V, +/- 24V and +/48 VDC. The E-frame features high-performance cooling with 3 x 150 CFM fans under the card cage. The fans are speed controlled with fan fail indication. A system monitor with remote monitoring via Ethernet capability is optional. The black-coated powder coated finish of the E-frame enhances aesthetics while other features include a Rear A/C PEM (Power Entry Module) with fuses, GND Stud and front-located ESD jacks. The unit also offers full RTM (rear transition module) support. Pricing for the E-frame is under $3,000 depending on volume, backplane architecture and options. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].Untitled-5


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10-Gigabit Ethernet XMC/ PMC Module Integrates New Optical Transceiver

With the integration of SFP+, the latest 10-gigabit optical transceiver technology, a new configurable XMC/PMC module with 10GbE connectivity and packet processing provides high-bandwidth data-pipe performance with flexible processing functionality in a single chassis slot. This V1021 10 Gigabit module from AdvancedIO enables system developers in resource-demanding real-time applications such as radar, signals intelligence and sensor processing to pack more functionality into a system while reducing its size and cost. AdvancedIO’s V1021 is an open-standard form-factor VITA 42.3 XMC/PMC mezzanine module that connects real-time embedded systems to extreme high-speed Ethernet networks and integrates onto standard off-the-shelf platforms for wide applicability. It has standard PCI-X and PCI Express host interfaces for easy integration and high performance and incorporates the SFP+ 10-Gigabit Ethernet optical transceiver technology, which is being widely adopted throughout the networking industry. It also offers customizable functionality via Xilinx FPGA for application optimization and in-field upgrades. It also features a compatible optimized udpXG communications protocol for offloading and streamXG data streaming acceleration cores and software designed specifically for real-time applications as well as standard sockets-based software API for easy integration and future software portability. AdvancedIO, Vancouver, BC. (604) 331-1600. [].


Your Embedded System Specialists. Mesa Electronics is a U.S. manufacturer of a wide range of cards for embedded systems and industrial use. PC104 . PC104 Plus . PCI . PCI Express . USB . IDE Adapters

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March Month2008 2007


Products&TECHNOLOGY Re-Circulating Air-Cooled Rugged ATR Enclosures Protect COTS Cards

A series of re-circulating air-cooled rugged ATR enclosures has been engineered for maximum protection of commercial off-theshelf (COTS) cards deployed in caustic environments. The 715 Series from Carlo Gavazzi is designed to withstand extremes in temperature, vibration, humidity and contaminants. The series’ re-circulating air-cooling system provides a contaminant-free environment for COTS convection-cooled cards. While functioning as a typical conduction-cooled system on the outside, the cooling system for the 715 Series uses a re-circulating fan on the inside to transfer circuit card heat energy to the conducting walls. The conducting walls are engineered thermal cores providing maximum heat transfer to the exterior surfaces of the system. For high dust environments, the 715 Series provides an advantage over conventional cooling methods since it does not draw outside air in to cool the system. Featuring a rugged, brazed aluminum frame construction, the 715 Series is available with scalable power options and can be configured to custom form-factor requirements for a variety of airborne and vetronics applications. Carlo Gavazzi Computing Solutions, Brockton, MA. (800) 926-8722. [].

New Power Architecture Processor Offers Performance and Features at 3.5W

Targeted for a wide range of cost-sensitive applications, such as secure gateway solutions, network appliances, multifunction printing platforms, networking line cards and other embedded systems, is a new Power Architecture-based processor from Applied Micro Circuits. The PowerPC 440EPr features up to 500 MHz of processing speed, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, 32-bit PCI, USB 2.0, support for 32-bit DDR2 high-performance memory and an integrated Turbo Security Engine, while offering typical power dissipation of only 3.5 watts. The PowerPC 440EPr is offered for cost-sensitive customers who still require the 1000 DMIPS performance and features of the superscalar 440 processor core. In addition, the PowerPC 440EPr includes a high-performance double precision floating point unit compatible with the IEEE 754 floating point standards, resulting in exceptional performance for print and image processing and other compute-intensive applications. The Turbo Security Engine in the PowerPC 440EPr supports a broad range of standards-based security protocols, such as IPSec, SRTP and SSL and delivers outstanding throughput across the full range of packet sizes. The 440EPr USB2.0 port can operate in either Host or Device mode and features an integrated PHY to further reduce system design costs and complexity. Customers can start developing software now for the Power PC 440EPr processor using AMCC’s “Sequoia” evaluation kit. This evaluation kit includes a custom, Linux-based evaluation board, software development tools from Denx and Corelis and a Resource CD with benchmarks and sample applications. Applied Micro Circuits Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 542-8600. [].


March 2008

Fan-less PCI Express Computer System with Core Duo Processor

A totally silent and scalable computer system for high-performance applications is based on the Intel Core Duo L7400 processor with a 2,048K L2 cache. The MicrospacePC50 (MPC50) from Digital-Logic provides features such as a 2x1.5 GHz clock rate, a modular memory design of up to 2 Gbytes, a maximum 2 Terabyte hard disk capacity and expandability via PCI Express, using the Intel 945GM chipset. The CPU, power supply and both hard disks are separately cooled, each by a patented fan-free and totally silent cooling design. Typical applications are video streaming servers, extremely scalable PCI Express peripherals and robust, mobile multimedia computers. The MPC50 provides standard interfaces such as seven USB 2.0, printer, COM1 and COM2 ports. In addition, it is equipped with a 10/100Base-T-Ethernet, a 1 Gbyte Ethernet and two Firewire IEEE1394 ports. The graphics controller is integrated in the Intel 945GM chip set with up to 256 Mbyte video memory and allows the independent operation of two different displays, QXGA and DVI, with resolutions of up to 2048 x 1536 pixels at 75 Hz. MPC50 runs with operating systems such as Windows XP, Linux and VISTA. It has compact dimensions of 300 mm x 280 mm x 160 mm (W x L x H.). Its aluminum case is CE/FCC-certified and IP40-protected as well as tested for shocks of up to 10G and vibrations of up to 1G. Digital-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland, +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [].

Tablet PC Is Built for “Anywhere” Use

Equipped with an 8.4inch brilliant sunlight-viewable, SVGA-resistive touch screen and an AMD Geode LX 800 Processor or Intel Celeron M 1.0 GHz, a new rugged Windows XP-based tablet PC from Roper Mobile Technology packs up to 1 Gbyte memory and up to 120 Gbyte storage (up to 64 Gbyte solid-state drive). Its hot swappable battery feature diminishes downtime and extends battery life. The Duros is equipped with integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and optional built-in GPS for flexible communication options for extremely remote or harsh field applications, such as mining, construction, utilities, public safety or the military. Unlike a laptop, the Duros’ form-factor was designed around requirements for customers who carry their computers into highly variable environments. These customers demand excellence and reliability and the Duros was designed to meet these needs. The Duros is available immediately through Roper Mobile’s worldwide distribution channels. Roper Mobile Technology, Tempe, AZ. (480) 705-4200. [].

Digi Extends HighSpeed 3G Cellular Router Product Line

A targeted function Ethernet-to-cellular router supports both HSDPA and EVDO 3G standards with a cost-optimized, high-speed solution. The Digi Connect WAN 3G from Digi International is aimed at primary and backup connectivity to remote sites and devices by providing primary Wireless WAN connections to remote sites containing Ethernet and serial devices. Applications include new construction locations, power utility substations, retail/POS sites, temporary facilities and many more. For backup network applications, the Digi Connect WAN 3G integrates with remote locations via an Ethernet WAN port. This provides a diverse network connection for remote locations requiring maximum uptime, such as retail/POS sites and financial applications. The Digi Connect WAN 3G features built-in VPN for secure connections, one Ethernet port, one serial port, a sensor port for connecting Digi’s Watchport sensors, and a USB port for local data storage via a USB memory stick. The USB port can also be used for connecting Digi’s Watchport USB camera or for connecting an external GPS. The router features Digi SureLink for persistent connections over wireless networks and Digi Connectware Manager for easy setup, configuration and maintenance of large installations. It also supports Python, an easy to use, object-based, free, open-source programming language for developing customized controlling applications. Digi International, Minnetonka, MN. (877) 912-3444. [].

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3/10/08 10:23:35 AM

Products&TECHNOLOGY Hardware-Independent Vision Software Available for Download

A new suite of machine vision software can now be used with any camera or image source, making it easier to get started with a trial version of the VisionPro 5.0 software available for download from the new Cognex Web site. Acquisition software in VisionPro provides pre-configured, tightly integrated acquisition support for the complete range of industrial cameras and video formats. This allows cost-effective image acquisition using GigE Vision, FireWire, Camera Link, high-speed analog, or any other image source. VisionPro’s “QuickBuild” application development capabilities ensure that applications get deployed quickly and efficiently. Configuring acquisition tools, defining vision tasks and making pass/fail decisions can all be done without any programming. Advanced “vision power tools” such as PatMax, PatInspect, PatFlex, IDMax and OCVMax, accurately gauge, guide, identify and inspect parts with reliable and repeatable results, despite variations in part appearance due to the manufacturing process. A trial version is available for download from the Cognex Web site. Everyone who downloads the trial software is eligible for special pricing until the end of June on a low-cost development starter kit, which contains the full range of vision tools. For deployment systems, Cognex is offering a range of packages at competitive price/performance levels.

COM Express CPU Module Intel Core 2 Duo Supports APM and ACPI

Designed for high performance and graphic-intensive applications, a new COM Express CPU module from Arbor Solutions supports the Intel Core 2 Duo process and the 945GME/ICH7M chipset. The EmETXei9455 is suitable for applications in the automation control, DVR, medical equipment, in-

Cognex, Natick, MA (508) 650-4141. [].

Emerson Network Power - Dual Core VME Board

Featuring a dual core PowerPC processor and 2eSST high-speed VMEbus interface, the MVME7100 from Emerson Network Power is designed to enable industrial, medical and defense/aerospace OEMs to add performance and features for competitive advantage while providing backward compatibility to protect their investment in VMEbus technologies. The MVME7100 offers flexibility to support varying I/O requirements with the same base platform, simplifying part number maintenance, technical expertise requirements and sparing. It also provides optimal speed, which is achieved due to the independence of the PCI buses for each PMC site. In addition, the board’s non-volatile memory feature prevents system memory loss in the event of a power loss. The MVME7100 is based on the system-on-chip Freescale MPC8641D with dual PowerPC e600 processor cores, high-capacity DDR2 memory, up to 8 Gbytes of NAND Flash, PCI-X, USB and 2eSST. The MVME7100 series features dual integrated memory controllers, DMA engine, PCI Express interface, Gigabit Ethernet and local I/O. The system-on-a-chip implementation offers power/thermal reliability and lifecycle advantages not typically found in alternative architectures. The MVME7100 also supports packages for VxWorks and Linux. The MVME7100 will be available in July 2008 with prices starting at $5,495. Emerson Network Power, Tempe, AZ. 608-831-5500 [].


March 2008

dustrial imaging, gaming and digital signage markets. EmETXe-i9455 delivers integrated graphics performance with Intel 945GME’s Graphics Media Accelerator 950. The GMA 950 graphics core supports dual display, CRT and LVDS. Onboard DDRII SODIMM socket has a maximum memory capacity of 1 Gbyte. Additionally, EmETXe-i9455 is equipped with all required interfaces including PCIe x16 slot, three PCIe x1 slot, PCIe Gigabit Ethernet, ATA, two SATAII, two serial ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, KB/MS and AC97 Audio. EmETXe-i9455 is RoHS-compliant and supports Advance Power Management (APM) 1.2 and Advanced Configuration and Power Interfaces (ACPI) 2.0 for optimized power management and system reliability. EmETXe-i9455 supports many mainstream operating systems, such as Windows 2000/ CE/XP and Linux. It is fully compliant with the COM Express industry standard controlled by the PICMG. Arbor Solution, San Jose, CA. (408) 452-8900. [].


C OTS Dual Bridge Motor Driver Has Selectable Overcurrent Limits

The 7I29 is a dual bridge driver for two brush-type motors or other inductive loads. The 7I29 is rated at 15A continuous at 175 VDC per axis. Each bridge on the 7I29 has selectable overcurrent limits of .75 times and 1.5 times rated current. Low-resistance MOSFETs and high-performance gate drivers give the 7I29 high efficiency and low dead time to support switching rates up to 100 KHz. Gate power is derived from logic side power so that unlike other bridges, the drivers are functional all the way down to 0V motor power supply, allowing safe and easy initial setup and testing. The 7I29 has 2500V RMS isolation from motor power to logic side control signals. The 7I29 also includes encoder input conditioning. Encoder inputs can be either single-ended or differential. The 7I29 is compatible with the MESA’s 4I27 or the 4I34M, 4I65, 4I68, 5I20, 5I22 and 7I60 Anything I/O cards with SoftDMC or HostMot firmware, or can be used with a customer-supplied controller. Price of the 7I29 is $205 in 100s Mesa Electronics Richmond, CA. (510) 223-9272. [].

Your product


Standard & custom designs Extended temp. conduction or convection cooled SBCs Fast, flexible, reliable

ISO 9001:2000 Certified 321-452-1670 Visit us:

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11/8/07 9:42:51 AM

SimulinkBased I/O “Cube” Offers Flexible I/O

Models built in the Mathworks’ Simulink can now be deployed directly on a new and flexible I/O target called UEISIM from United Electronic Industries (UEI). Once programmed using The Mathworks’ Real-Time Workshop, the UEISIM can operate stand-alone, or may be continuously monitored by a host computer over the Cube’s Ethernet port. This offers the Simulink user a new tool for the creation and tuning of a wide variety of applications, including simulation model verification, rapid prototyping and hardware-in-the-loop testing. The UEISIM 300 allows the installation of up to three I/O boards. The UEISIM 600 is slightly larger at 4” x 4.1” x 5.8” and allows the installation of up to six I/O boards (containing up to 150 analog inputs or 288 DIO). The I/O boards installed are determined by the user’s application. There are currently over 30 different I/O boards available including analog input, analog output, digital I/O, counter/Timer, quadrature Encoder, serial I/O, CAN bus and ARINC-429 interfaces. Pricing for the UEISIM 300 is $1,995 and for the UEISIM 600, $12,295. United Electronic Industries, Walpole, MA. (508) 921-4600. [].

March Month2008 2007


Products&TECHNOLOGY Small Tactical Mission Computer at AFCEA West

A rugged mission computing system, optimally designed for space/weight-constrained military/aerospace ground mobile and airborne deployments, targets manned and unmanned applications where reliable high-performance computing is required. The DuraCOR 820 from Parvus delivers compliance to MIL-STD-810F environmental conditions (high altitude, thermal, shock, vibration, humidity), MIL-STD-461E EMI/EMC levels, and 28 VDC avionics power supply standards (MIL-STD-704E). Less than 3” in height and 3 lbs in weight, the DuraCOR 820 features a conductively cooled 1.4 GHz Intel Pentium M processor and a solid-state disk preloaded with a Linux or Windows XP Embedded operating system image. Rugged watertight ultraminiature MilSpec performance connectors bring out dual 10/100 Ethernet network connections, three USB, two RS-232, DIO, Keyboard, Mouse and power. Its robust combination of function and small form-factor ruggedness enables the DuraCOR 820 to support a wide range of field applications, including Command and Control (C2) On-the-Move, Unmanned Vehicle Operator Control, C4ISR Situational Awareness, etc. The DuraCOR 820 is currently in preproduction and has an estimated list price of $9,995.

Rugged USB 2.0 Hubs Offer Four or Seven Ports

The popularity of USB is growing rapidly in all embedded applications. Feeding such needs, Sealevel Systems has expanded its USB hub family to include new high-speed 4- and 7-port USB 2.0 hubs. Both the 4-port (HUB4P) and 7-port (HUB7P) versions are USB 2.0 compliant, providing a full 480 Mbit/ s data rate to the host, and are backward compatible with USB 1.1 and 1.0 devices. Each includes a convenient wall-mount AC adapter that supplies a full 500 mA to each attached USB peripheral.

Parvus, Salt Lake City, UT. (801) 483-1533. [].

High-Density Gigabit Clustering Switch Enables Flexible Management Architecture

A new Gigabit switch utilizes single chip architecture to ensure wire-speed delivery of data packets while maintaining security through the use of SSL, SSH and other security measures required by today’s SMB networks. The TigerSwitch 10/100/1000 from SMC Networks provides flexibility in network configuration. It incorporates power over Ethernet (PoE) and an IP clustering solution that facilitates grouping switches for efficiency and network extension with other SMC81-Series Gigabit Switches or SMC61-Series Fast Ethernet Switches. Its support for PoE makes placement of network components and accessories like IP phones and cameras that require power, easy and flexible. The 8124PL2 is the newest in SMC’s TigerSwitch family of edge switches that includes the 50-port 8150L2 and 26-port 8126L2. All three are designed to provide a flexible, extensible management architecture for growing and changing networks—from the SMB to the Enterprise. And, its support for clustering of as many as 32 switches means that, with the current products on the market, as many as 1664 available ports can be managed as one system. Application Filtering and per-port bandwidth management, complemented by MAC-based Security, make the 8124PL2 ideal for the most demanding SMB and emerging business environments. And, flexibility goes beyond PoE and clustering—the SMC8124PL2 has two combo ports that accept 1000BASE-SX, -LX or -ZX mini GBIC transceivers. The 24-port SMC8124PL2 is priced at $1,199.99 MSRP. SMC Networks, Irvine, CA. (800) 762-4968. [].


March 2008

The HUB4P integrates patent-pending SeaLATCH locking USB ports that are fully compatible with standard USB cables. When used with the included SeaLATCH USB host cable, the metal thumbscrew provides a secure metal-to-metal connection to the hub and prevents accidental disconnection of the USB cable. Both the upstream USB type “B” connector and four downstream type “A” connectors can be secured by using SeaLATCH USB cables. Both hubs are housed in rugged, attractive plastic enclosures. The HUB4P is ideal for mounting on walls, under counters, or inside panels. The HUB7P conveniently stacks together with Sealevel’s SeaDAC digital I/O data acquisition modules. The HUB4P is available from stock and prices start at $159. Sealevel Systems, South Carolina, SC. (864) 843-4343. [].

FPGAs Enable Custom PMC and XMC Solutions

When applications need custom or specialized processing capability in a small space, an FPGA solution is becoming ever more attractive. MEN Micro now offers its FPGA-based Universal Submodule (USMT) concept on two additional mezzanine cards: the P699 XMC and the P598 conduction-cooled PMC (ccPMC). All products based on MEN Micro’s USM concept use one or more IP cores in an FPGA to help designers easily and quickly turn individual I/O requirements into production-ready products reducing design time and costs. The use of Cyclone FPGAs on the two new cards enables exceptional I/O combinations in a very small space for moderate volumes and at a low cost. The corresponding line drivers are implemented on the individually designed USM submodule that plugs into the main XMC or ccPMC. Because they function independently of other electronic components, the IP cores provide trouble-free, long-term operation over the temperature range of -40° to +85°C (-40° to +185°F). A USM development package includes a main PMC with a USM submodule, test hardware and an FPGA package with a Nios CPU, memory control, connection to the PMC, Avalon/Wishbone bridges and detailed documentation. Pricing for a USM development kit starts at $2,993. MEN Micro, Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. [].

Dual Multiband Transceiver Climbs onto XMC

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Software radio system designers are always hungry for improvements in analog performance specs like signal-to-noise ratio and the spurious free dynamic range. The Model 7141 Dual Multiband Transceiver from Pentek is a complete software radio system for connection to HF or IF ports of a communications system and joins Pentek’s family of high-performance PMC/XMC transceiver modules. The Model 7141 is an enhanced successor to Pentek’s Model 7140 transceiver, which is widely deployed by many customers for SIGINT, software radio and communications applications. Pentek has significantly boosted analog performance in the Model 7141 so that the signal-to-noise ratio and the spurious free dynamic range are improved by 10 dB when compared to many competitive products. The Model 7141’s optional XMC connection complies with the VITA 42 XMC specification and supports high-speed switched-fabric interconnects such as Serial RapidIO and PCI Express. Dual 4X links between the XMC module and the carrier board handle serial-bit rates up to 3.125 GHz. These links operate independently of the PCI interface and achieve streaming data transfer rates of up to 2.5 Gbytes/s. The PMC/XMC commercial version of the Model 7141 Dual Multiband Transceiver with FPGA is priced at $10,995.

3/18/08 11:24:03 AM



Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].

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11/13/06 5:55:59 PM

Products&TECHNOLOGY Rugged Tablet PC Is Ready for Rough Duty

Rugged tablet PCs are finding their way into an increasing number of field applications where harsh conditions are the norm. Industrial Computing offers the Guardian Tablet, which features a rugged Mil-Spec design—MIL-STD-810F and MIL-STD 461E—making it a highly reliable performer in the field under any conditions. With its powerful functionality and ability to perform under the harshest conditions, it serves as a powerful tool at a very cost-effective price. The Guardian’s key features are a rugged design, built to military standards, Via Eden low-power or Intel Core 2 Duo processors, a daylight-viewable 10.4-inch display and resistive touch screen. The magnesium alloy housing will withstand a 4-foot drop. Communications capabilities include 802.11 WLAN and Bluetooth. Compact flash and hard drive storage is available along with a PCMCIA TypeII slot. A wide range of I/O ports are offered. A GPS module is also available. Industrial Computing, Waltham, MA. (781) 890-3111. [].

1553 Meets USB in Pocket Terminal Unit

The MIL-STD-1553 bus may be getting long in the tooth, but for avionics and other realtime control functions, the technology remains popular. Today 1553 interfaces can be found in nearly every flavor of embedded computing form-factor there is. Now users can get that functionality in a portable USB device. API Nanotronics has announced that its National Hybrid Inc. (NHi) division has developed an affordable, portable 1553 to USB interface. NHi’s 1553/USB Pocket Pal is a redundant 1553 BC/MT/RT Terminal with 64 kwords of internal RAM. It interfaces to a 2.0-compliant USB port, turning a typical laptop or notebook into an autonomous 1553 Work Station. Weighing less than 7 oz., and small enough to fit within a shirt pocket allows users to take 1553 USB anywhere. NHi’s 1553/USB Pocket Pal is useful for hardware and software development, Bus Exerciser, Bus Evaluation and Trouble Shooting. Bus management and bus integrity analysis are also key applications for the Pocket Pal. API Nanotronics, Hauppauge, NY. (631) 582-6767. [].

Flat Panels Are Designed for Marine Environments

Tablet Computer Integrates GPS and Wi-Fi

It can probably service a few drops on a hard floor, but that’s about where the ruggedness ends for an ordinary consumer tablet PC. Industrial users need a whole different level of toughness. With that in mind, Glacier Computer, a vendor of rugged data collection hardware, offers the Ridgeline Tablet. These portable, rugged, tablet computers are Windows XP devices capable of running any application while withstanding extremes of water and humidity at virtually any temperature. Each tablet computer is equipped with a convenient touch screen interface used to retrieve and send information. The Ridgeline Tablet has a 10.4-inch display with options for daylight readable functionality. It was designed and tested to withstand repeated 3’ drops to concrete as well as IP 65 sealing mandates. Each unit comes with integrated 802.11 a/b/g radio, Bluetooth, numerous I/O and many hard drive options. Users can input data via touch screen or pen. Special software allows for signature capture and character recognition. Glacier Computer, New Milford, CT. (603) 882-1560. [].

Many military and commercial marine applications share a need for flat screen displays rugged enough to survive marine environments. Computer Dynamics, a GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms company, offers just that with their new SeaBrite family of flat panel monitors. Resistant to shock and vibration, and designed to fulfill the demanding requirements of the marine industry for reliability with their wide operating temperature range and rugged, anti-corrosion mechanical design to provide optimum operability, SeaBrite monitors are available in a wide range of nine screen sizes from 8.4 inch through 23.1 inch. The SeaBrite family offers a wide voltage range for power input and can accept RGB, composite video, s-video and DVI signals, as well as deliver PIP, ensuring that almost any marine display requirement can be met. The SeaBrite is sealed to IP65 standards on the front surface. All SeaBrite monitor designs follow IEC 60945 fourth edition (2002) Maritime Navigation and Radio-communication Equipment and Systems requirements and IACS-E10 for international standards. GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [].


March 2008


Products&TECHNOLOGY IC Eases Design of HighEfficiency POL Converters

Voltage Controlled Oscillator Boasts Low Phase Noise

How power subsystem’s pointsof-load (POLs) are partitioned and configured can have a huge impact on system heat dissipation, reliability and performance. International Rectifier has introduced the iP1206, a fully optimized solution for synchronous applications. The iP1206 is the latest addition to the iPOWIR integrated power conversion stage product line, designed for two-phase single output applications up to 30 amps or dual independent outputs up to 15 amps. Both options utilize synchronized 180-degree out-of-phase operation, reducing input current ripple and input voltage ripple. The device is comprised of an optimized power stage and a full function PWM Control IC to achieve high power density. The iP1206 is simple to design and easy to replicate across a wide range of voltage and current rails because all of the critical components are integrated and only a few external passive components are required for a complete POL solution. Features include a switching frequency up to 600 kHz per channel, loss-less current limit, over-voltage and overtemperature protection, pre-bias start up, external synchronization, output voltage tracking and sequencing. Pricing for the iP1206PBF devices begins at $6.89 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) performance can make or break any design where timing synchronization is critical. A VCO is an oscillator where the principal variable or tuning element is a varactor diode. Moving that technology evolution forward, Crystek has rolled out its CVCO55CC-3175-3375 variable clock oscillators that operate from 3175 MHz to 3375 MHz with a control voltage range of 0.1V to 16V. This VCO features a typical phase noise of -106 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset and has excellent linearity. The model CVCO55CC-3175-3375 is packaged in the industry standard 0.5 x 0.5-inch SMD package. Input voltage is 8.0V, with a max current consumption of 35 mA. Pulling and Pushing are minimized to 3.00 MHz and 0.50 MHz/V, respectively. Second harmonic suppression is -15 dBc typical. Pricing for the CVCO55CC-3175-3375 will start at $19.52 each in volume. Crystek, Ft. Myers, FL. (239) 561-3311. [].

International Rectifier. El Segundo, CA. (310) 726-8512. [].

ITX/ETX SHOWCASE Featuring the latest in ITX/ETX technology Neptune Single Board Computer

Industrial Temperature ETX Module CPB904

Compact EPIC SBC, 4.5x6.5” Selection of ETX CPUs from 500MHz to 1.4GHz PC/104-Plus expansion (PCI & ISA) Standard ETX I/O 32 16-bit autocalibration analog inputs 4 12-bit analog outputs 8 Opto-isolated GPIOs 5-28VDC, 40W power supply Perfect for industrial, vehicle, and instrumentation applications

Diamond Systems Corporation Phone: (650) 810-2500 Fax: (650) 810-2525

58rtc0803_scv1.indd March12008

E-mail: Web:

Fastwel Phone: (877) RU-Rugged Fax: (718) 797-0600

Ultra Low Power 6 watts total Industrial Operating Temperature: –40°C to +85°C AMD Geode™ LX800 166/500 MHz Two 10/100 Fast Ethernet Ports, Four USB 2.0 ports, three RS-232 COM ports 256MB Soldered DDR and MiniSD flash card slot 64 MB Soldered flash disk Windows XPR Emb, CE.NET 4.2, QNX® 4.25 & 6.3x and Linux® 2.4 Windows CE.NET 4.2 SVGA, LVDS and LCD Panel support up to 1600x1200 KIB 1282 Development Environment E-mail: Web:

3/14/08 12:02:06 PM

Long-Life ATX Boards Support Intel Core2 Duo and Quad Processors

Conduction-Cooled VME SBC Has 1.5 GHz Core 2 Duo

Two new ATX motherboards that support Intel Core2 Duo and Quad processors are designed specifically for embedded applications requiring a stable revision-controlled platform, with long-term availability. Utilizing the Intel Q35 Express chipset, the boards introduced by Itox have guaranteed availability through December 2012. The LGA775 socket supports a wide range of Intel Embedded Architecture processors, including the Intel Core2 Quad processors, Intel Core2 Duo processors and Intel Celeron 400 series processors with 800, 1067 and 1333 MHz front-side bus speeds. The Itox model BL630-DR motherboard utilizes an Intel ICH9DO Southbridge providing RAID 0, 1, 5 & 10 disk configuration using Intel Matrix Storage Technology. Setup controls incorporated into the system BIOS allow pre-OS RAID creation, naming and deletion of disk arrays. Full management and status reporting of the RAID array storage devices is performed using Intel Matrix Storage Manager utility software. An auxiliary powered hardware and firmware solution incorporates Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), enabling remote monitoring and control of system resources. These features make the ITOX BL630-DR suited for data-intensive applications such as medical imaging, security & surveillance, interactive Kiosks and additional applications requiring higher data security. The ITOX BL630-D utilizes the Intel ICH9 Southbridge and is available for applications not requiring RAID and Intel AMT support. Optimized for the Intel Core 2 Quad processor, the BL630-D and BL630-DR motherboards retain full compatibility with Intel Core 2 Duo processors and Intel Celeron 4xx sequence processors. Maximum performance is leveraged with up to 8 Gbyte DDR2 800 MHz dual-channel memory, dual PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers and onboard Intel GMA 300 graphics accelerator. Pricing for the BL630DR is $400, and $390 for the BL630-D with volume pricing available.

Demand remains high for marrying the latest and greatest computing technology to legacy VME64 slots. With just that in mind, Concurrent Technologies has introduced a VME64 SBC supporting a dual-core processor, IEEE 1101.2 conduction-cooling and dual PMC/XMC sites. The single-slot VP 417/031-RC uses the latest mobile dual-core processor and server chipset from the Intel embedded roadmap—combining the performance of the 1.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with the Intel E7520 serverclass chipset interfacing with up to 4 Gbytes of soldered DDR2 ECC SDRAM at up to 6.4 Gbytes/s. The VP 417/031-RC conduction-cooled board, including conformal coating, operates at altitudes of -1000 to +50,000 feet (-305 to + 15,240 meters) and meets various VITA 47 classes and associated MILSTD-810F test methods including operating over -40° to +85°C (VITA 47 class CC4) and the ruggedized design operating at a shock of 40g (11 ms, half-sine) and random vibration, 0.1 g2/Hz (10 Hz-1 KHz) with 6 dB/octave from 1 KHz to 2 KHz (VITA 47 class V3).

Itox, East Brunswick, NJ. (732) 390-2815. [].

Aaxeon Technologies, Brea, CA. (714) 671-9000. [].

Concurrent Technologies, Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].

Ethernet Switches Feature Slim Form-Factor

The wide proliferation, longevity and bandwidth roadmap of Ethernet are just what long life cycle designs need. Aaxeon has released slim line models of its Lanolinx line of Industrial Ethernet Switches. In order to meet the demands for rugged Ethernet switches that minimize panel space requirements, the company’s line of Unmanaged Ethernet Switches are 45% thinner than its previous models. The current models being released have four 10/100 Copper ports and either one or two 100FX Fiber ports. Both single-mode and multi-mode models are available. The design of the LNX-501A and LNX-602A units offers an attractive price performance ratio. Unlike other products on the market that use plastic housings on their thinner models, Aaxeon maintains a metal housing with an IP-30 rating. In addition, they have maintained the industrial temperature ratings of -10° to 70°C. The units also have a Redundant Power Input and a Contact Closure for a local alarm. Prices for the LNX-501A and LNX-602A start at $169.

March 2008



Comment MARCH 2008

As Goes the Economy, So Goes...


he economy is no doubt showing some signs of slowing, yet the embedded-computer business appears to be holding up. According to a sampling of vendors across the landscape, we’ve heard largely upbeat comments. Even in the military market for embedded computers there is still some feeling of buoyancy—though perhaps not as much as in previous months. There exists an inevitability that the military market is going to change—and probably not for the better—with the change in administration come January. There are some dark clouds on the horizon. Just in case you blinked sometime in the past week or so—or have been over at the Embedded Computer show in Nuremberg—here’s a quick catch up of some of the bad news. Oil closed at over $100 a barrel for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago and has risen since—gaining more than 11% in February alone. The euro hit another all time high against the dollar, topping the $1.50 mark. And the stock market, which has shown courageous resistance over the past couple of months, took the leap year to heart. The Dow average plummeted almost 316 points leaving it down more than 7.5% for the year. The techstock-heavy NASDAQ fared no better, dropping more than $60 on the same day and it’s down a disappointing 14% for the year. And the bad news continues. Payroll numbers have jobs falling by 17,000 in January, the first monthly decrease in over four years. The GDP failed to be revised for the fourth quarter, continuing its limp performance of 0.6%. Of course the banking, insurance and credit markets continue to roil with write-offs of record proportions. And the latest nail is that rising prices are starting to hit consumer budgets. The signals of inflation are there. The price index for January rose 0.4% from the previous month. Even the dean of Wall Street, Warren Buffet, was quoted as saying “The party is over.” Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reports


March 2008

a drop of 18% in its most recent quarter on lower investment gains and a drop in insurance-underwriting fees. Even “gentle” Ben Bernanke, Chair of the Federal Reserve, delivered an economic forecast fraught with risks from housing, labor and credit markets.

China’s R&D spending has been increasing by

15% to 20% each year trying to catch up to the U.S. in total numbers

Click Recession

There are also signs of a “click” recession on the horizon. ComScore, a leading follower of Internet activity, released data showing a 7% decline in ad clicks on Google in January compared to December. According to the firm, clicks on Internet advertising have declined almost 40% from a year ago. Closer to home, Nortel plans to cut another 2,100 jobs to stay alive; the EU fines Microsoft $1.35 billion (a number that could escalate to over $2 billion); and the Air Force is giving its $40 billion tanker order to EADS.

R&D Spending Taking a Hit

To make matters worse, it looks like R&D spending in the U.S. will take a hit according to a report by Battelle Memorial. It projects spending will increase only about 3% to $367 billion from $355 billion. After accounting for inflation that amount would shrink to only 1.3%. Authors of the report expect R&D spending

in the U.S. not to top 2%—on the optimistic side—for the next three years. This is about half of the growth projected last year. In contrast, China spends more on R&D than any other country except the U.S. China’s R&D spending has been increasing by 15% to 20% each year trying to catch up to the U.S. in total numbers. The world’s biggest technology buyout in history by a private-equity firm may be showing signs of weakness. A little more than a year after the momentous deal, the loans used to finance the purchase are trading in the secondary market at 85 cents on the dollar. Freescale is suffering from slack demand from Motorola and automakers. In addition, the company’s and the industry’s prospects have grown increasingly dim. Freescale’s owners, a consortium of four private-equity partners, think there is light at the end of the tunnel. They have just brought in a new CEO, Rich Beyer, the former CEO of Intersil. Analysts are mixed over the prospects of Freescale’s survival. Early on after the purchase there was speculation that the owners might try to split up Frescale’s divisions and sell them off, believing that the sum of the parts would exceed the value of the whole. That hasn’t happened—at least yet. As indicated last month, there seems to be a rash of activity surrounding small, low-cost computers providing a variety of capabilities—particularly Internet-enabled. Intel is in the process of completing a new microprocessor, code-named Diamondville, designed specifically for a class of computers costing $250 or less. Intel has dubbed the new family of machines Netbooks after the portable market, but it also expects the chip to end up on lowend desktop computers. Intel is not the only one to be chasing this market as we reported last month. Start-up, Via, is targeting the small computer market with an x86 chip of its own featuring dramatically reduced power dissipation, and is targeted to draw a maximum of 3.5 watts—compared with the 17 to 35 watts of today’s laptops. And, demand for Asustek Computer’s Eee PC is starting to pick up. What’s interesting about almost all of these new entrants is that they will undoubtedly find themselves on a variety of embedded as well as consumer platforms. Further, as these become available, it has to be remembered that the distinction between what we have traditionally thought of as “embedded computers” and consumer and other computing machines is dimming as the two families in many cases begin to look the same. Typical of that trend may be Intel’s latest motherboard, Skulltrail, designed to bring “extreme” performance to motherboard-based systems. Already the industry has seen some pretty heavy-duty gaming PCs working in military and commercial simulators as well as other applications. The new motherboard has sockets for two Intel quad-core processors and can use multiple graphics adapters, and has four slots for external cards. But performance doesn’t come cheap. It’s expected that computers based on Skulltrail will sport price tags closing in on $6,000. Undoubtedly the computer game business will look to capitalize

Sun moves to Taiwan Semiconductor to build its chips after nearly 20 years with Texas Instruments. on this motherboard; however, there are many performancebased applications in the embedded arena that may well look in this direction. Sun moves to Taiwan Semiconductor to build its chips after nearly 20 years with Texas Instruments. According to sources, TI isn’t planning to bring its manufacturing technology beyond the current 65 nm levels. Sun is looking for the latest 45 nm design rules for its latest family of SPARC processors. TI will apparently continue to package and test the chips made for Sun by TSMC. Sun is beginning to look beyond its own products for its SPARC chips and is trying to get other companies to use its processors. The deal with TSMC will bring competitive technology and lower prices according to the company, which should help that effort. In addition, the strategy could be aided by having chips fabricated at TSMC since many potential Sun customers already have their existing products fabricated at TSMC factories. Enough. I started by saying the embedded-computer business has remained relatively aloof from the depressing news. And it’s hoped that it can continue. RTC is working on its sales forecast for the embedded-computer industry for the second half of the year and hopes to be able to present it in these pages next month.

Warren Andrews Associate Publisher March 2008


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, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for.

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Mesa Electronics...................................49............................

ADLINK Technology America, Inc............23...............

Microsoft Windows


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End of Article

MicroTCA Summit..................................39................. National

Birdstep Technology..............................30.............................

One Stop Systems.................................

Concurrent Technologies Plc..................51.................................

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Datalight...............................................33............................ products featured in this section.

Performance Technologies.......................7...................................... Digital Logic AG.....................................32......................... International.............................53............................

ELMA Electronic Systems......................16....................

Radian Heatsinks, a Div. of Intricast Co., Inc.........................4.................

Embedded Systems

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Red Rock Technologies, Inc...................55.......................

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Themis Computer..................................15...............................

ITCN...................................................... 17...............................

ITX/ETX Showcase................................58.........................................................

VersaLogic Corporation..........................63..........................

Lippert Embedded

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RTC (Issn#1092-1524) magazine is published monthly at 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 250, San Clemente, CA 92673. Periodical postage paid at San Clemente and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to RTC, 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 250, San Clemente, CA 92673.


March 2008

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