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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

May 2008

www.rtcmagazine.com

MicroTCA: Not Just FOR Telecom Anymore

ATCA Crams in the Performance IMS Rides 10 Gig Bandwidth into the Future SUMIT Interface Brings New Life to PC/104 An RTC Group Publication


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MicroTCA: Not Just for Telecom Anymore

26 Hybricon Air Transport Rack provides a ruggedized MicroTCA Framework

39 Critical I/O’s XGE4120 XMC provides two independent 10GbE ports with an 8-lane PCI host interface

TABLEOF CONTENTS

51 UDE 2.4 for Freescale MPC5510 32-bit MCUs with Unlimited Multicore Debugging

May 2008

Departments

Technology in Context

Industry Insight

MICROTCA

IMS Brings Data, Voice, Video

Gigabit Ethernet Enables 6 14 Multimedia 3810Broadband Applications Insider 9Industry Latest Developments in the Embedded 18 MicroTCA on the Road to Stardom System Integration Marketplace Tougher MicroTCA Tackles Form Factor Forum Small Form Factors Applications Beyond Telecom 24 12Small Atom and Eden Have No Place in Express104 Modules Upgrade ARM’s Garden PC/104 Installed Base with SUMIT 42 Interface Products & Technology Solutions Engineering 50Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders High-Density ATCA Very High Performance Views & Comment Featured Products ATCA Systems 32 Designing 64News, RoHS–Is it Worth the Chaos it Can Cause? SHB Supports the Latest Multicore Intel Processors 48Graphics-Class Editorial Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

MicroTCA: Destined for Greatness Across the Board Gene Juknevicius, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

Jack Staub, Critical I/O

David Pursley and Sven Freudenfeld, Kontron

Clayton Tucker, Emerson Network Power and Bob Sullivan, Hybricon

John McKown, Octagon Systems and Tom Barnum, VersaLogic

Thomas Roberts, Mercury Computer Systems

Trenton Technology

Integrated 1U MicroTCA 49Highly Platform with Innovative Chassis Performance Technologies

Digital Subscriptions Avaliable at http://rtcmagazine.com/home/subscribe.php

May 2008




MAY 2008 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, johnr@r tcgroup.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Warren Andrews, warrena@r tcgroup.com

Editorial EDITOR-IN - CHIEF Tom Williams, tomw@r tcgroup.com

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CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Colin McCracken and Paul Rosenfeld MANAGING EDITOR Marina Tringali, marinat@r tcgroup.com COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn

Art/Production CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jason Van Dorn, jasonv@r tcgroup.com ART DIRECTOR Kirsten Wyatt, kirstenw@r tcgroup.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Christopher Saucier, chriss@r tcgroup.com DIRECTOR OF WEB DEVELOPMENT Marke Hallowell, markeh@r tcgroup.com WEB DEVELOPER James Wagner, jamesw@r tcgroup.com

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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

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Free Online www.rtcmagazine.com Spotlighting the Trends and Breakthroughs in the Design, Development and Technology of Embedded Computers. Search Archived Editions along with the Latest News in the Embedded Community. www.rtcmagazine.com An RTC Group Publication



May 2008

To Contact RTC magazine: HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, www.rtcgroup.com EASTERN SALES OFFICE The RTC Group, 96 Dudley Road, Sudbury, MA 01776 Phone: (978) 443-2402 Fax: (978) 443-4844 Editorial Office Warren Andrews, Editorial Director/Associate Publisher 39 Southport Cove, Bonita, FL 34134 Phone: (239) 992-4537 Fax: (239) 992-2396 Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief 245-M Mt. Hermon Rd., PMB#F, Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Phone: (831) 335-1509 Fax: (408) 904-7214 Published by The RTC Group Copyright 2008, The RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of The RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders.


GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

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EDITORIAL

MAY 2008

“Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

T

he title above is an unfortunate quote from Mao Tse Tung that unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1960’s China. Mao got so frightened by what he had set loose that immediate horrid repression was brought to bear in the form of the Red Guards to reign in what people had mistakenly believed was a call for freedom. Silly them. Here we have no need for the Red Guard; we have the market. This year’s Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose indeed saw the introduction of a surge of new ideas and products on two fronts—small form factor boards and wireless sensor networks. A couple of weeks before the conference, Intel had taken the wraps off its new low-power x86 processor line, unleashing a flood of small boards based on the Atom Z500, which looks to be the first in a continuing line of 45nm devices. The day after Intel released the processor, I was flooded with press releases from companies that had developed boards based on the chip but were sitting on releasing their products until Intel released the chip. Getting that many press releases on the same day—all of which were announcing Atom-based COM Express boards— caused me to wonder how companies plan to significantly differentiate small form factor products that are basically based on the same processor from the same semiconductor vendor. What we are seeing is a variety of small form factors that differentiate in terms of size, shape and type of connector even though they carry the same processor. Still, this variety, while it may proliferate some more over the short term, cannot last. The industry will settle on a relatively small number of forms and connectors appropriate for different classes of applications and the rest will eventually go away. As you can see from the news section in this and several previous issues of RTC, there is currently no poverty of new ideas. We’ve seen innovative designs from Lippert, congatec, and in this issue, Diamond, VIA, The PC/104 Consortium and the newly formed Small Form Factor SIG. In addition, there are less known and less well-defined innovations out there, all of which we will be covering and sorting out in these pages. What does seem certain is that these newer low-power processors and the modules they populate will unlock new uses for wearable, mobile and unobtrusive applications.



May 2008

Add to this a new wave of small wireless connectivity and the possibilities become truly enormous. There has also been recent growth in the number of companies offering what may generally be called wireless sensor networks (WSNs). But sensors are only part of the picture. If you can receive data from sensors, you can also issue commands to actuators. So these small, low-power redundant network schemes also have a huge amount of unlocked potential. Perhaps they were originally conceived as sensor networks and thus designed as meshes of low-cost, lowpower nodes. Thus if one node fails, the signals from other nodes can still get back to the server by alternate routes. Here again, the applications are moving from things like environmental and military sensing to building control for green energy conservation to reading of electrical meters to other data acquisition and control applications. There are a number of approaches to the networking technology. The Zigbee Alliance, for example, has a set of mesh protocols and categories for product definition to help OEMs position their products in the market and aid interoperability. There are also approaches that advocate the use of IP addressing all the way down to the individual sensor or actuator even if it is only the size of a quarter. Another approach concentrates completely on the well-established 802.11 standard(s). The range of applications targeted by these different approaches varies accordingly. Another wireless technology that shows great promise is what might be called small-scale roaming. Thus an instrument in a hospital, for example, could be carried throughout the building or campus and automatically connect to the nearest node to maintain connection while being moved rapidly, much as cellular phones switch from base station to base station. Powering these tiny wireless networks is also leading to innovation in such areas as power management, battery technology and energy harvesting. There is definitely a new wave of innovation a-rising. It may be attributable to the availability of truly low-power processing that is unleashing ideas that had been held in check by things like current and heat dissipation. Whatever the root cause, the effects will be tremendous and cannot yet be clearly predicted.


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IndustryInsider MAY 2008

PC/104 Embedded Consortium Introduces PC/104 Express Spec Building on the vener- PC/104 Bus Evolution able PC/104 form factor, PCI Connector PCI Connector PCI Connector the PC/104 Embedded Consortium has approved a new PC/104 PC/104-Plus PCI/104-Express PCIe/104 PCI-104 specification called PC/104 ISA Connector ISA Connector Stackable PCIe Connector Stackable PCIe Connector Express, which incorporates ISA Bus ISA and PCI Bus PCI Bus PCI and PCIe Bus PCIe Bus a high-speed PCI Express bus on the 90 mm x 96 mm form factor. The PC/104 Express replaces the ISA connector with a stackable connector that includes four x1 PCIe links and one x16 PCIe link that can also be configured as two x8 links, two x4 links or two SVDO interfaces. It also supports the SMBus and +3.3V, +5V, +12V and ATX power and control signals plus +5V standby and indicator signals. While PC/104 Express has replaced the ISA bus, it retains the place for the PCI bus that was a part of the earlier PC/104 Plus specification. A configuration that includes the PCI bus connector is known as PC/104 Express while a configuration that uses only the stackable PCIe connector is called PCIe/104. Modules can be stacked up or stacked down using up to four x1 and one x16 lane. As noted, the latter can be configured in a variety of ways. The specification includes link shifting, which allows universal add-in card and automatic PCI Express link assignment. In terms of backward compatibility, the design supports automatic detection of up or down stacking and provides a consistent, interchangeable path for the stackable PC architecture across PC/104, EPIC and EBX form factors. Copies of the full PC/104 Express specification are available at the Consortium’s Web site at www.pc104.org.

Small Form Factor SIG Rolls Out Two New Specs

Defining a new electromechanical connection specification along with a new form factor specification, the Small Form Factor SIG has taken on the needs of next-generation embedded systems to integrate common high-speed and low-speed serial and legacy expansion buses independent of form factor and processor architecture. It has also defined a stackable 90 mm x 96 mm size board—the same size as PC/104—that uses the new connection specification yet retains the ability to incorporate a large number of legacy PC/104 I/O modules. SUMIT The connection specification is called Stackable Unified Module Interconnect Technol-

ogy (SUMIT) and defines two high-speed connectors and their respective signal assignments. The connector pair used is the Samtec QFS/QMS double-row, high-speed, 15.24 mm Q-strip connector pair. Each connector has 52 pins plus ground on the center blade. The standard part numbers are ASP-129637-01 and ASP-129646-01 (Figure 1). The first connector, the A connector, supports one x1 PCI Express lane, three high-speed USB 2.0 interfaces, Low Pin Count (LPC) Bus, SPI/uWire, SMBus/I²C Bus and ExpressCard signals on a single, tiny, high-speed connector. A second identical connector, the B connector, supports one additional x1 PCI Express lane, one x4 PCI Express lane plus additional power, ground and control signals. The B

connector is for applications requiring more channels and higher bandwidth. The connectors are capable of supporting 5 Gbit/s data rates, which will accommodate PCI Express Generation 2. Boards and systems can be designed using only the A connector, only the B connector, or both the A and B connectors depending on the cost/performance goals of the design. One of the key considerations is cost. The ability to use only a single, one-bank connector can save PCB board space plus the cost of an additional connector. By using two smaller, separate connectors instead of one large connector, an expansion

or add-in board built with only a single connector can plug directly into other processor or expansion cards populated with both connectors, further reducing overall system cost. It is also possible for just the second connector to be used for applications only needing one PCIe x1 and/or one PCIe x4 lane. Express104 Express104 is a stackable, I/O-centric, multi-board solution for compact embedded systems. Unlike slot-based cards, COM modules or mezzanine cards, Express104 provides a stackable multi-board solution that is neither processor architecture nor chipset dependent. It supports the use of all SUMIT connector configurations I/O connectivity technologies, depending on which combination of the A and/or B connectors is used. Express104 as defined only needs SUMIT connectors, but a special configuration has been defined to support PC/104 modules. Express104 can then maintain legacy support for the vast number of PC/104 stacking expansion I/O modules and enclosures. This is done by defining the location and use of the legacy PC/104 connector, which maintains its same placement, module physical dimensions and mounting holes. Express104 offers an

May 2008




Industry Insider

upward performance migration path for this widely used, legacy form factor. Express104 modules can work with EPIC and EBX boards because Express104 is defined as a 90 mm x 96 mm module with SUMIT stacking connectors on the board. Therefore, an Express104 module can function as either a base single board computer (SBC) or I/O expansion module. Consequently, Express104 expansion modules can also serve as stackable, rugged, I/O expansion modules for EBX, EPIC, and other custom-sized boards if SUMIT connectors are added. The Express104 specification includes mechanical connector placement for both EPIC and EBX boards for use with Express104-based I/O expansion modules both with and without the PC/104 legacy option. None of the dimensions, I/O zones, or mounting holes of an EPIC or EBX board change—only the replacement of the 120-pin PCI connector with a 104-pin SUMIT Type AB connector pair. Both the SUMIT and Express104 specifications are being offered as open standards. However, the use of the SUMIT and Express104 logos is prohibited for companies that are not members of the Small Form Factor SIG. For full copies of both specifications, go to www.sff-sig.org.

Diamond Systems Launches Modular Computing Scheme For Stackable SBCs

A new design methodology is aimed at reducing costs, reducing risk and simplifying designs for traditional users of stackable single board computers (SBCs). Introduced by Diamond Systems in what appears to be an innovative yet proprietary approach, the new paradigm consists of off-the-shelf application-specific I/O-intensive computer-on-module (COM) carrier baseboards to be used with industry-standard

10

May 2008

off-the-shelf ETX CPUs. Using this approach, a two-board “sandwich” (ETX CPU plus baseboard) will provide a complete application solution, which may have previously required three, four, five or more stackable I/O modules in addition to a CPU card. By using off-the-shelf industry-standard ETX CPU modules, each baseboard supports a wide performance range of solutions—effectively an instant product line. The new approach offers advantages over traditional stacked solutions in addition to greatly reducing overall system size and costs. The approach enables a more reliable, rugged and easier to assemble solution with reduced and simplified cabling. Diamond Systems’ initial standard product offering in this new arena is Neptune, a rugged, I/O-rich high integration EPIC single board computer. Neptune’s baseboard integrates the capabilities of five traditional PC/104 I/O modules into a single EPIC-sized board. Unlike baseboards offered by COM suppliers, Neptune is an off-the-shelf standard product intended for production deployment. Neptune’s baseboard serves as a reference design that Diamond Systems can use to create application-specific solutions meeting exact customers’ requirements. Based on Diamond Systems’ engineering building blocks, Diamond Systems will modify the baseboard design or design and manufacture a full custom baseboard for the OEM. Furthermore, Diamond Systems will integrate the baseboards with a wide performance range of ETX CPUs to deliver integrated solutions to the customer.

Kontron Publishes “nano” Spec for Computer-onModules

Kontron has published the complete specification and design guidelines for the “nano” Computer-on-Module format. The nano module format (84 mm x 55

mm), for which Kontron already offers products under the name “nanoETXexpress,” is presented as an extension to the PICMG COM Express specification that currently specifies the “Basic” (95 mm x 125 mm) and “Extended” (155 mm x 110 mm) form factors. Kontron also supports the “micro” (95 mm x 95 mm) form factor, which they intend to offer to the PICMG as an extension to the existing COM Express specification. According to Kontron, the official standardization of the nano format will have an important market impact since the smaller and more highly integrated processors that are enabling increasingly smaller, energy-saving system designs, require an official Computeron-Modules standard as soon as possible. Kontron believes this will safeguard against an array of Computer-on-Module designs based on these processors and therefore ensure maximum design security for integrators. This extension to the PICMG COM Express specification is intended to offer a platform for these processors. Kontron is already developing two modules based on this intended extension to the COM Express industry standard and will have samples available for evaluation by the end of Q2 of this year. The nano module follows the COM Express pin-out Type 1 with respect to connector location and pin definition. Different size Computer-on-Modules are therefore interchangeable and carrier board designs are reusable. This enables developers to draw upon their existing experience with COM Express-conforming ETXexpress modules and COM Express-compatible microETXexpress modules. Only the dimensions are reduced to a minimum. Kontron intends to work with other PICMG members to officially incorporate the nano form factor into the COM Express specification. The specification for the “nano” module can be downloaded from http://www.Kontron.com/ COM-Express-Nano-Specification.

Via Moves into COM Express Embedded Module Market

Via Technologies, the Taiwanese company known as a developer of low-power embedded silicon and platform technologies, has announced the extension of its embedded board portfolio to include COM Express modules that will harness the power and thermal advantages of Via’s processor platforms. Measuring 95 mm x 125 mm, COM Express is an industry-standard embedded form factor developed by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) to provide greater connectivity and data transfer bandwidth than the original COM (Computer-on-Module) standard. The COM Express specification integrates core CPU, chipset and memory on the module, providing support for extensive connectivity options, including USB, audio, graphics and Ethernet, through board-to-board connectors to an I/O baseboard. Leveraging Via’s signature low-heat, power-efficient platform silicon, the new fanless Via COM Express modules will be powered by Via Eden or Via C7 processors ranging from 500 MHz right up to 2 GHz. Support for a comprehensive feature set of I/O implementations isprovided through Via’s versatile digital media IGP chipsets, while the option of onboard system memory provides vibration resistance for in-vehicle or heavy plant environments. Via COM Express modules are targeted at industrial PC and large OEM customers focused on dynamic application segments, including gaming, healthcare and industrial automation. Customers can take advantage of a proprietary multi-I/O baseboard for evaluation purposes, or can utilize Via’s extensive technical support in developing a custom baseboard.


Industry Insider

MOST Cooperation Provides New Physical Layer Specification

The MOST Cooperation— the organization through which the leading automotive multimedia network Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) is standardized—has overhauled the Physical Layer Specification. Based on lessons learned from today’s MOST25 networking generation, a working group consisting of car, device and component makers has developed a new Physical Layer Specification for MOST150. The specification is available to members of the MOST Cooperation as part of the MOST Rev. 3.0 specification set and can be used for implementation into products. An integral approach was used to define the electrical and optical signal parameters for MOST150 as well as cost-optimized standardized packages to-

gether with pin-out descriptions for optoelectronic converters. The specification addresses the challenges of soldering processes, changeability of fiber-optic elements with alternative replacements, as well as new opportunities to organize supply chains of components. Unambiguous signal definitions for operational states, power supply ramp-up and rampdown scenarios, together with the use of established eye diagram testing methods, well known from the data and telecom industry, safeguard an easy and robust development process. MOST150 uses the wellknown and established MOST25 1 mm step index POF polymer fiber. The mechanical interface at the wire harness connector stays the same, only the optoelectronics are adapted to the new speed grade. By design, most of the elements of this new MOST150 specification can be carried over to

future, cost-optimized MOST25 generations. Later in 2008, the working group will define the updated compliance process to test products for conformance to these

requirements. This process will be carried over from MOST25 and will be enhanced with reliability testing methods.

EventCalendar 05/28-30/08

06/17/08 (NEW date)

MicroTCA Summit East Chantilly, VA www.microtcasummit.com

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Denver, CO www.rtecc.com/denver2008

06/16-19/08 NXTcomm08 Las Vegas, NV www.nxtcommshow.com

06/17/08 (NEW date) Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Denver, CO www.rtecc.com/denver2008

06/24/08 EDA Tech Forum Moscow, Russian Federation www.edatechforum.com

09/18/2008 (NEW event) Portable Design Conference & Exhibition San Jose, CA www.portabledesignconference.com

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

Untitled-2 1

5/6/08 May 2008

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4:14:54 PM


SMALL FORM FACTOR FORUM

Atom and Eden Have No Place in ARM’s Garden

A

s we complete the embedded trade show trifecta with Computex in early June in Taiwan (along with ESC Silicon Valley in April and Embedded World Germany in February), it’s time for board vendors to begin the mad scramble to position their new Eden-Isaiah or Atom-based small form factor SBCs and COM modules. With all of the hubbub over ultra mobility and the strange comparisons we’ve already seen to RISC architectures, it’s time to set the record straight. Last month, we discussed the mobility initiatives of Intel and VIA, and the outstanding benefits (except the lack of legacy buses) for the small form factor embedded community. The x86 domain is now entitled to be on the same playing field as RISC architectures. But the x86 architecture is like an expansion team—full of former and yet-to-be stars—much potential and a long road to travel. And whoever decided to compare Atom to ARM has been living in x86 fairyland too long. The notion that someone using an ARM-based SoC would suddenly start using Atom or Eden-Isaiah might be absurd even to Dilbert’s pointyhaired boss. RISC processors and cores such as ARM achieve small die sizes, low cost and low power consumption (DMIPS/Watt) by reducing and simplifying the instruction set and addressing modes compared to CISC (complex instruction set computers) machines such as x86. Small RISC cores mean that more functions can be included in the processor silicon, reducing chip count and perhaps even pin count as I/O devices are connected internally. Hence the processor chip itself can be smaller and the “chipset” device eliminated entirely. This approach yields the smallest possible PCB size as proven by dozens of PDAs, MP3 players and cell phones. Make no mistake. A two-chip solution is quite an accomplishment for high-performance x86 offerings, and a standing ovation is well earned. But x86 devices are application processors and exist to run a large installed base of legacy applications and operating systems such as Windows and Linux with significant user interface/display requirements. While some x86 boards are used in headless 32-bit control applications, they generally consume much more power and cost more than RISC solutions.

12

May 2008

The ARM architecture is commonly associated with millions of cell phones. Besides basic boot and control functions, ARM SoCs have evolved to take on more of the heavy lifting of user interface, color LCD and streaming functions, and a wealth of software and middleware libraries now exist. But this should not be confused with application processor glory like PC-derived x86 processors. In addition, RISC chips are rightfully used widely in deterministic and hard-real-time (deadline-driven) applications, including automotive, robotics and telecom/datacom. These control applications have minimal UI/display requirements but urgent needs for prompt, efficient I/O processing. Packets dropped (information lost) by desktop-style processors/operating systems that take milliseconds or seconds to service high-priority system tasks can send the application off into the weeds. And Ctrl-Alt-Del is not available under a car seat or in an Internet backbone router. Here’s the punch line. “Atom versus ARM” gives us entertaining reading, but most folks in our business are savvy enough to know that desktop/notebook/mobility processors and RISC processors get used in different types of devices, each where they are best suited. Requirements are driven by OS or application compatibility, real-time performance, cost and/or power. That said, the Darwin Award is available to the poor misguided engineer who falls for the marketing hype and puts an MID/UMPC processor/chipset in his or her router or robot design. So opportunities exist for small form factor boards with both RISC and x86 CPUs. For RISC processors, this is old hat. For x86 CPUs, this is truly a new world. Next, we’ll delve into some options on how a small form factor CPU is implemented, either as a single board computer or Computer On Module—an issue that applies regardless of whether a RISC or x86 processor is on board. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future topics at sf3@rtcgroup.com.

Colin McCracken

& Paul Rosenfeld


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Technology InContext

MicroTCA

MicroTCA: Destined for Greatness Across the Board No longer just a telecommunications architecture, MicroTCA possesses the flexibility, connectivity and advanced features that make it attractive for a very broad range of demanding applications.

by G  ene Juknevicius GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

d

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May 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

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FANS

I

n the period leading up to 2005, when FANS the AdvancedMC—a mezzanine module for AdvancedTCA blades—was finally defined and standardized, engineers quickly realized that if they took a few of these modules and connected them together, they could build small, compact FANS but highly capable systems. Thus MicroTCA was born. Despite the commonly held belief to the contrary, MicroTCA was Figure 1 Parallel Air Flow Concept envisioned from the beginning as a specipanies providing solutions now fication that would serve not only the teleration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest communications market, but would also All these benefits are obviously much more lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you be whatever well suited commercial, industrial broadly attractive than to the telecommuniice you require for type of for technology, military cations market only, and they position Miies and productsand you even are searching for. applications. Built into the MicroTCA specification croTCA as being highly suitable for wide is substantial flexibility to be compatible multi-market adoption. with a variety of chassis form factors, from small 4-module pico chassis to full-blown The Key Role of the 19-inch rack-mountable redundant sys- AdvancedMC tems. The MicroTCA specification defines MicroTCA is based on Advancedflexible and high throughput interconnect MCs, which themselves come in multiple options and it benefits from the extensive form factors. In general, AdvancedMCs platform management infrastructure that is are roughly the same size as PMCs. To already present in AdvancedMC modules. be precise, they are slightly narrower, but longer: 73.5 mm x 180.6 mm (single AdvancedMC). In terms of width, AdGet Connected vancedMCs can be single or double. A with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected double module simply doubles the PCB

FANS

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

Serial Air Flow Concept

real estate. In terms of height, AdvancedMCs come in three sizes: compact, midsize and full-size. Compact modules are 13.88 mm high; mid-size modules, 18.96 mm; and full-size modules, 28.95 mm. Even the compact Advanced MC module has a significantly higher component envelope when compared with a PMC module, allowing more and higher performance circuitry to be designed into the available space. AdvancedMCs can be provided with as much as 80 watts of power, assuming the host carrier can handle it. Practically speaking, compact AdvancedMCs are targeted for 24 watts of power, with mid-size modules targeted for 30 watts and full-size modules for 48 watts. Maximum power dissipation is obviously a function not only of the module but also the chassis that it plugs into—and from this perspective, MicroTCA opens


Technology InContext up a number of options for optimization. If the application calls for high-power AdvancedMC modules, a parallel cooling approach works best, as shown in Figure 1. On the other hand, when the required modules are not as power-hungry, but the overall chassis needs to be compact, series cooling can be employed (Figure 2). The MicroTCA specification does not dictate what the overall chassis size and organization has to be; it merely defines a maximum of twelve AdvancedMCs that can comprise a single carrier platform. There is nothing that would prohibit designing two, three or four AdvancedMC carrier platforms into a MicroTCA shelf. Examples of the variety of possible AdvancedMC systems are shown in Figures 3 and 4. MicroTCA’s flexibility extends into the realm of fully redundant systems. If the application requires high reliability and redundancy, a MicroTCA platform can be built with two redundant MicroTCA Carrier Hubs, up to four power modules and up to two cooling units. All building blocks within the MicroTCA chassis are hot-swappable. At the other extreme, applications that are driven by low cost and compact enclosures can use a system with a single power module (actually built into the chassis, for example) and a single set of fans that are not hot swappable. It’s not just the range of system sizes or the configuration flexibility that is helping the growing acceptance of MicroTCA. MicroTCA’s form factor flexibility is another key element that makes it attractive for multiple markets. Whether the requirement is to design an MRI machine, a locomotive, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, a remote solar power farm or an unmanned aerial vehicle, MicroTCA can be adapted to suit each application’s specific packaging needs. Furthermore, MicroTCA will soon be appropriate for even more environmentally demanding environments, with the rugged MicroTCA specification currently being worked on to further broaden its appeal.

Leveraging the Power of Switched Fabrics

When it comes to interconnect, MicroTCA can truly claim to be a “nextgeneration” platform. AdvancedMC, and consequently MicroTCA, are based on high-speed serial connectivity. This in-

Figure 3

GE Fanuc MP3000: example of MicroTCA Cube Chassis

cludes interconnects such as PCI Express, Ethernet, Serial RapidIO and SATA/SAS. Each AdvancedMC module has a number of interconnect options, ranging from a single Gigabit Ethernet port all the way to multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports or x8 PCI Express pipes, coupled with additional SATA/SAS interfaces. Serial connectivity brings a number of benefits beyond higher throughput. It reduces the required number of pins on the connector, reduces power dissipation and reduces silicon size. In addition, serial interconnects simplify the circuitry required for hot-swap functionality. Beyond this, Ethernet interfaces no longer require magnetics, saving precious PCB real estate on the AdvancedMC module. The heart of inter-AdvancedMC communication is a switch fabric, which resides in the MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH). Some claim that the MCH—which supports high throughput interconnects— is a fairly expensive component, driving up the overall cost of the system. This is a valid concern, but it must be balanced against MicroTCA’s inherent flexibility. MicroTCA platforms can be optimized for any point on the price/performance curve, depending on the application requirements on the one hand and available budget on the other. MicroTCA does, in fact, allow point-to-point connectivity between AdvancedMCs, bypassing the MCH. A good example might be a pro-

cessor AdvancedMC connected to a highend graphic card using a point-to-point x8 PCI Express interconnect. Furthermore, a processor AdvancedMC can have two SATA storage AdvancedMCs—again, interconnected point-to-point—with the rest of the AdvancedMCs in the chassis communicating with the processor via Gigabit Ethernet. The resulting implementation would require an MCH that has only Gigabit Ethernet switching fabric, and as such is significantly simpler than one with PCI Express switching. In addition to data interconnects, MicroTCA also supports multiple clock fabrics. Three are defined, and each can be shared between AdvancedMCs. One of the three clocks is designated by the specification as the clock for the PCI Express interface. However, the other two—typically the 8 KHz and 19.44 MHz clock signals—while widely used in telecommunications applications, are much less useful for commercial and industrial markets. The MicroTCA specification, however, does not preclude the designer from putting other frequencies on those two clock lines and thus the flexibility is provided that would, for example, enable a low-frequency “heartbeat” signal to be used that synchronizes all the modules in a chassis

MicroTCA Chassis Management

Besides providing switched fabrics for AdvancedMC interconnects, the MCH plays another important role—the management of the whole MicroTCA chassis. MicroTCA carrier management, together with AdvancedMC management and AdvancedTCA management, is based on the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI). Although IPMI software is fairly complex and is often a source of interoperability issues, it does provide significant benefits to the user. Through the IPMI infrastructure, each AdvancedMC module in the system identifies itself and describes what connectivity options it possesses and what amount of power it requires. Given this information, the MCH is able to make decisions about whether or not a specific module can be powered up, following the so-called electronic keying (e-keying) process. Driven by the AMC 0 specification, each AdvancedMC module has multiple temperature sensors. Furthermore, each module defines temperaMay 2008

15


Technology InContext

Figure 4

GE Fanuc MP2000: example of MicroTCA 2U Chassis

ture thresholds and sends a warning to the MCH if those thresholds are exceeded. As a result, the MCH can, for example, adjust fan speed down to the minimum, extending fan life and saving overall power. One other benefit the IPMI infrastructure provides is the self-test status and remote reset capability. Typically, each AdvancedMC monitors its own health, frequently by measuring voltage on its power rails, checking error counters and connectivity to various components. This information can be queried via the MCH and, if failure occurs, the AdvancedMC can be remotely reset. The IPMI software interoperability issues that affected early development have, to a large extent, now been resolved. Platform management functionality is one of the key strengths that MicroTCA brings to the table and positions MicroTCA for remote installations that are targeted to be monitored and managed over long distance without on-site human interaction. Furthermore, MicroTCA vendors are offering pre-validated MicroTCA platforms in order to get customers up and running quickly and painlessly, reducing the risk, time and effort in evaluating the technology and minimizing time-to-market.

MicroTCA and I/O

Commercial and industrial applications are notorious for requiring large numbers of specific, and often times highly obscure, I/Os. If widespread acceptance of MicroTCA is to be achieved in the minimum possible time, waiting until an appropriate ecosystem of interfaces becomes available is not practical. To alleviate this, Industry Pack (IP)—AdvancedMC and PMC—AdvancedMC carriers are stepping up to the challenge. An Industry Pack is a module small enough

16

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to fit easily onto a single AdvancedMC module. A PMC, on the other hand, being slightly wider than a single AdvancedMC, requires a double AdvancedMC carrier. For I/O-intensive modules, front panel real estate is of the utmost importance, and from this perspective AdvancedMCs have a clear lead. A double full-size AdvancedMC has approximately 4255 mm² of real estate, and a single full-size AdvancedMC has approximately: 2127 mm². Compare that to the standard PMC, which has only 998 mm² of front panel real estate. The winner is clear. Also of note is that a MicroTCA chassis typically supports both single and double AdvancedMC modules; hence, mixing and matching them is not an issue. The fundamental technologies that comprise MicroTCA allow it to be extremely versatile. Chassis form factors can be molded for a specific application. Flexible and very high performance interconnects enable small form factors, and support hot-swap functionality. The sophisticated IPMI-based board and carrier management infrastructure provides control and visibility of the system, even when it is located on the other side of the world, while support for a wide range of I/O interfaces enables connectivity to an enormous range of devices from high-speed digital cameras to stepper motors. The result is high reliability, high availability, high performance systems that are characterized by significant versatility and cost-effectiveness. All these advantages position MicroTCA to become a platform of choice for multiple markets well beyond the telecommunications market with which it is most commonly associated. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.gefanuc.com].


Technology InContext

MicroTCA

MicroTCA on the Road to Stardom MicroTCA offers increased computing power, very high communication bandwidth and high availability—all in an affordable, small form factor to meet a wide range of demanding application requirements today and into the future.

by D  avid Pursley and Sven Freudenfeld Kontron

18

May 2008

Fabric [A]

AMC Port 1

Fabric [A]

T

AMC Port 0 MCH’1 FA11 connected to MCH’2 FA11 MCH’1 FA12 connected to MCH’2 FA12

Fabric [B]

Fabric [B]

AMC Port 3 AMC Port 2 MCH’1 FB11 connected to MCH’2 FB11

PM #1

MCH #1

Figure 1

8

8

8

8

Fat Pipe

MCH’1 FB12 connected to MCH’2 FB12 Fat Pipe

he Micro Telecommunications Architecture (MicroTCA) is a complementary, smaller scale platform to the Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA). Ratified in July 2006 as PICMG MTCA.0, MicroTCA can offer embedded system designers significantly reduced development cost and time-to-market. Although originally developed as a telecommunications standard, MicroTCA is generating interest among system designers beyond the telecommunications arena for a wide range of applications, including defense, government, aerospace, industrial automation and medical. Applications in these spaces have very similar requirements—such as very high communication bandwidth and/or very high availability in a small form factor. MicroTCA offers a number of features that can meet these requirements. However, MicroTCA also has its design trade-offs. As with any engineering project, developing a system based on the MicroTCA architecture is an iterative optimization process. There continues to be a migration to open standards-based embedded comput-

8

Fat Pipe Region Ports 4 to 11 AMC #1

AMC #2

AMC #3

AMC #4

AMC #5

AMC #6

AMC #7

AMC #8

AMC #9

AMC #10

MCH #2

PM #2

Example of a MicroTCA backplane.

ing architectures, driven by the need to reduce costs and development time and improve interoperability. Table 1 provides a high-level overview of some of the more prevalent embedded computing form factors and their advantages and disadvantages. VME and CompactPCI architec-

tures, while still viable for many applications, do not support the processing and communication bandwidth required for more advanced applications. Switchedfabric extensions—such as VITA 31, VITA 41 and PICMG 2.16—offer more bandwidth, but still do not meet the com-


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Technology InContext Where MicroTCA Fits In cPCI/VME

VITA 31

VITA 41

PICMG 2.16

ATCA

MicroTCA

Compute Bandwidth (system)

Low

High

High

High

Very High

High

Comm. Bandwidth

Low

Med

Med

Med

Very High

High

High Availability

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Form Factor

3U

6U

6U

6U

8U

2U

Rugged

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Under Way

Table 1

MicroTCA meets the architectural requirements of high bandwidth, high mobility and small form factor, with standardized ruggedization on the way.

munication demands inherent in next-generation applications. Some of the biggest advantages of MicroTCA are its small form factor, high bandwidth and high availability. Despite its small size, MicroTCA offers high bandwidth, both in terms of compute bandwidth and communication bandwidth. Up to twelve compute blades on a single backplane give MicroTCA a tremendous amount of computing resources, especially when each blade could be using a multicore processor. Communication bandwidth capabilities range from 40 Gbits/s to over 1 Terabit/s—both numbers are theoretically correct because the actual bandwidth is implementation-dependent. With this amount of compute and communication power, MicroTCA has more than enough bandwidth for most demanding applications. AdvancedMC modules used within the MicroTCA system, measuring 2U in height by 3-6HP in width by 183.5 mm in depth, are a smaller form factor than even 3U VME and CompactPCI cards. AMCs use a relatively small amount of power (up to 60 watts) yet can still offer a high level of reliability, supporting up to five nines (0.99999) availability through a combination of IPMI-based health monitoring, hot swap capability and support for full redundancy. Redundancy is implementationspecific, so any given system may have full redundancy, partial redundancy—redundant power and cooling subsystems is a common configuration—or no redundancy, depending on the system’s cost and availability requirements. MicroTCA also offers a great deal of flexibility with several packaging options for different environments and support for various interconnect technologies, includ-

20

May 2008

ing Ethernet, PCIe and RapidIO. Figure 1 illustrates a MicroTCA Backplane example. There are 21 serial lanes on the backplane: • Two “common options” (0-3) • 0,1: GbE is typical • 2,3: Storage (SATA, SAS) • “Fat pipes” (4-11) • Fast, high throughput • “Extended options” (12-20) • Other connections • System management and control (IPMB) • Power • Clocks • JTAG While using MicroTCA does not eliminate software integration testing, it does make the testing as simple as possible by not adding additional complexity to the equation. To the application, a MicroTCA node and a Linux box on the designer’s desk are essentially the same. Since general software debugging can be done outside the system, software system testing can actually focus on integration and system issues. By minimizing the impact on software development, MicroTCA adds usability to its list of advantages. Based on these benefits and options, MicroTCA can provide a suitable platform for a wide range of applications spaces, as detailed in Table 2.

Next-Generation Telecom and Networking

MicroTCA re-uses many of the components and technologies developed for ATCA. This lowers the cost of entry for both component vendors and equipment manufacturers designing new systems.

Because MicroTCA targets smaller, less expensive telecom equipment, it is expected to be even more widely deployed than ATCA. Potential applications are as varied as WiMax and cellular base stations, data centers and the enterprise, along with VoIP and IMS applications. MicroTCA leverages AdvancedMC modules (AMCs) to meet the needs of compact, low-cost systems by connecting AMCs directly to a backplane, without the need for a carrier card. Eliminating the ATCA carrier allows MicroTCA to offer a wide variety of form factors. AMCs can act as building-block components that bridge the gap between ATCA’s network core applications and MicroTCA’s Internet access and telecom box functionality. This building-block component comprises a work-around to ATCA in the form of carrier blades with AMC modules, providing the potential to replace ATCA carrier blades for storage and networking applications. One area of potential growth for MicroTCA within the telecom market is IPTV-based services. The challenge is deploying an end-to-end IP-managed network that can deliver superior quality of service and quality of experience for the consumer. Since it offers high availability, low-power, ultra dense processing and lower operating costs, designers can use MicroTCA for residential media gateways. The smaller form factor and lower entry cost of MicroTCA communications servers supports a “pay-as-you-grow” business model, allowing service providers to enter a market with less initial capital expenditure and to expand their computing platform capabilities in small, low-cost increments as demand for the new service increases.

MicroTCA for Rugged Applications

Besides moving toward open standards, there is also a transition to a network-centric paradigm in many markets, particularly in the military. As a result, it is not surprising that the system architectures of yesterday struggle to meet the demanding communication bandwidth requirements of newer applications. Within the military arena, a number of high-profile programs are aimed at improving communications. One such


Technology InContext

Developing a MicroTCA System

Bandwidth, storage and I/O requirements define the basic system, and the need for high availability also has a major impact on the system design. Selecting a complete MicroTCA system involves optimizing six subsystems. As shown in Figure 2, these include power delivery, cooling, line cards (AMCs), backplane, system management and chassis. Power delivery in MicroTCA is controlled with the power module (PM), which supplies 12V and 3.3V to the system. The designer must determine which power inputs are required, as this may force other decisions for other subsystems. PMs supporting common military, telecom and commercial line voltages are available, including 12 VDC, 24 VDC, -48 VDC, -60 VDC, 120 VAC and 230 VAC. Designers also need to decide if redundant power supplies are a

MicroTCA Carrier

Power Module #N

MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) #2

Cooling Unit #2

Power Module #2

MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) #1

Cooling Unit #1

Power Module #1

MCMC Air Mover

Common Options Fabric

EMMC

Fat Pipe Fabric

Payload Power Converter J S M

Clock

program is Future Combat Systems (FCS), an Army initiative designed to link soldiers to a wide range of weapons, sensors and information systems to enable unprecedented levels of joint interoperability, shared situational awareness and the ability to execute highly synchronized mission operations. Other initiatives, such as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T), are also heavily communication-centric. In fact, significant portions of the WIN-T network-centric program are already using the MicroTCA architecture. Perhaps the biggest concern for MicroTCA in military, aerospace and industrial automation applications is ruggedization. The PICMG standards body has a subcommittee investigating standardizing rugged implementations of MicroTCA, and ruggedized MicroTCA options are already available. For example, an ATR chassis is commercially available, and MicroTCA is being used or considered for use in conduction-cooled implementations. Also, it is important to note that concerns about the MicroTCA edge connector become less of an issue in conduction-cooled deployment, because each card is physically bound to the chassis. For this reason, it is possible that conductioncooled MicroTCA will become common before “soft rugged” implementations that do not require conduction-cooling.

Power Control

Mgm’t Power Converter MCMC

Backplane Interconnect A M C #1

Figure 2

A M C #2

A M C #3

A M C #4

A M C #5

A M C #6

A M C #7

A M C #8

A M C #9

A M C #10

A M C #11

A M C #12

Setting up a MicroTCA system involves optimizing—in addition to the AMC line cards—five additional subsystems.

Communications

Industrial

Medical

MicroTCA offers TEMs/ NEPs high bandwidth and five nines (0.99999) availability and fulfills the requirements to design full systems deployed at the telecom edge and customer premise communications applications.

Cost-sensitive automation applications require network connectivity in MicroTCA’s small inexpensive form factor.

The ability to use a MicroTCA system as a small from factor supercomputer with up to 12 multi-core processing blades makes it an ideal architecture for medical imaging applications.

Ideal applications include WiFi and Wimax base stations, fiber nodes, optical network connections, IP-based multi-server access nodes and other applications at the network edge.

• Highly reliable architecture reduces Total Cost of Ownership • Minimal cost overhead via integrated MCH and Power Module functionality

• Twelve AdvancedMC (AMC) boards on a single backplane • Variety of form factors eases system integration

Military/Aerospace/ Government Systems supporting the next-generation warfighter demand an architecture with high processing power connected to a high throughput IP-based network. MicroTCA is uniquely targeted to meet these needs in a small from factor that can be widely deployed. • Small form factor with 2U AdvancedMCs (AMCs) • Scalable size and redundancy allows a single architecture to support multiple deployment targets

• Dual star Gigabit Ethernet connectivity • Modular and serviceable – hot swap Table 2

In addition to communications, MicroTCA offers advantages for a number of other application areas.

requirement, as this will also drive decisions in some other subsystems. In convection-cooled applications, one or more cooling units (CU) can be placed in the MicroTCA chassis, each consisting of air movers (fans) and associated electronics. The main decision the designer must make up front is whether redundant cooling systems are required. Airflow requirements and other thermal

issues will generally be addressed during chassis selection. The number and types of AMC boards are often two of the easier decisions when designing a MicroTCA system. Because there are no mezzanine cards in MicroTCA, the designer simply selects cards to do each purpose in the system. For example, if the system needs storage, it will need to have one (or more) SAS or SATA storage AMCs. May 2008

21


Technology InContext If high-end graphics is a requirement, the system will need a graphics AMC. If more network uplinks are required, a GbE module is needed. Of course, the system will also need an appropriate number of processor AMCs (PrAMC) to run the software, keeping in mind that dual-core PrAMCs can be used to further increase compute power. As with the other subsystems, the designer must determine if full redundancy is required, and if so, it is important to plan for the appropriate number of AMCs.

Once the rough number and types of boards are chosen, the designer must select a backplane architecture that supports the communication bandwidth between the boards. The main decisions in choosing a backplane are topology and speed. A star topology will offer switched communication over the backplane. A dual-star is similar, but supports redundant switches to increase availability. Full mesh offers the highest possible bandwidth, but is more expensive. Back-

planes supporting 1 Gbit/s and 10 Gbit/s speeds are commercially available. Faster speeds offer more bandwidth, but cost more and require that the AMCs support those communication speeds. System management is done through the MicroTCA Controller Hub (MCH), which performs electronic keying and enables and monitors power delivery to all the subsystems. It also functions as the network switch for the system, if one is needed. The MCH must be compatible with the communication architecture that was chosen, including communication topology (star, dual-star, full mesh) and communication type(s) such as GbE, 10GbE, SRIO, PCIe, SATA and SAS. The MCH must also explicitly support PM and CU redundancy, if that is required in the system. If the system requires redundant MCHs, the designer will need to choose an MCH that supports redundant MCHs (and purchase two of them). In theory, a fully compliant MCH will be able to seamlessly handle any redundancy configuration presented to it. However, a cost reduction may be available by using an MCH that only supports the redundancy required. Finally, with tentative decisions on all of the above subsystems, the actual chassis and size and shape can be chosen since a wide variety of designs is available. MicroTCA’s small form factor also makes it amenable to customized chassis developed for specific deployed installations. The designer must choose a chassis that will support current and future needs of the system. Usually, a chassis will exist that meets all of the requirements, but it may be too large for the required form factor. If this happens, redundancy or the number of AMCs will need to be reduced and/or the desired form factor will have to be increased. Usability, compute power, communication bandwidth, high availability and a small footprint—all combine to make MicroTCA a compelling choice for demanding applications across a range of markets. MicroTCA is already well on its way to stardom, and its attractiveness will only continue to grow as more solutions are added to the ecosystem. Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [www.kontron.com].

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5/6/08 4:48:51 PM


Leading Edge AdvancedTCA® Quad/Dual-Core Processor Blade

aTCA-6891 Dual 64-bit Intel® Xeon® , Dual-10GbE Links AdvancedTCA® Processor Blade • Dual-10Gigabit Ethernet (XAUI) Links • Dual-10GBASE-KX4/1000BASE-BX Fabric Interface Channels • Up to 16 GB Dual-DDR2-400 RDIMM

AMC-1000 Intel® Core™2 Duo Single-width, Mid/Full Size Processor AdvancedMC • Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor and Intel® 3100 Chipset • 2 GB PC3200 DDR2 REG/ECC SORDIMM • On-board USB interfaced 4 GB flash

aTCA-6900 • Quad-Core or Dual-Core LV Xeon® 6XUIKYYUXY • Intel® EM64T 64-bit Extended Memory Technology • Up to 32 GB Dual-DDR2-667 REG/ECC RDIMM • Intel® 5100/ICH9R Chipsets • Two AMC.0 Mid-size Bays • Two 10GBASE-KX4/1000BASE-BX Fabric Interface Channels • Soldered 24-port Gigabit Ethernet Switch-on-Chip

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aTCA-3400 10 GbE AdvancedTCA® Fabric Switch Blade • Intel® Pentium® M (1.4 GHz) on a COM Express™ module • Up to 1 GB DDR2-533 RAM • 20-port 10GbE fabric interface switch • 24-port GbE base interface switch

cPCI-3920 3U CompactPCI® Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor with Intel® 3100 Chipset SBC • Intel® Core™2 Duo and Core™ Duo processors • Intel® 3100 chipset • Two PCI-Express® Gigabit Ethernet


Technology InContext

Tougher MicroTCA Tackles Applications Beyond Telecom MicroTCA is already breaking out of the telecom mold for which it was originally conceived and moving into applications like medical devices, factory automation and robotics. Soon, with new ruggedized specs on the way, it will branch out into even more challenging applications.

by C  layton Tucker, Emerson Network Power and Bob Sullivan, Hybricon

d

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

MicroTCA

O

Double Modules

Single Modules

riginally targeting small to midsize telecom systems, the MicroTCompact-Size (3HP) Mid-Size (4HP) Full-Size (6HP) CA architecture is generating interest for other applications that utilize a network-centric structure, including military, medical and industrial systems. These and other diverse applications now seek 73.8x13.88x181.5mm 73.8x18.96x181.5mm 73.8x28.95x181.5mm to leverage the performance, management functions and high-availability features of MicroTCA while reducing cost and design time. To better address this broader panies providing solutions now range of market requirements, including ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest the need to operate in harsh environments, lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you MicroTCA begun embracing ruggeice you require for whatever typehas of technology, ies and productsdized you areconstruction searching for. so that its designs can 148.8x13.88x181.5mm 148.8x18.96x181.5mm 148.8x28.95x181.5mm thrive outside of the central office. The ability to connect to a network for control and data exchange is a key atFigure 1 The AMC modules used as building blocks in the MicroTCA specification tribute for a growing number of system provide high compute density in compact footprints. (Source: PICMG) designs. Medical systems, for example, are evolving to support decentralized diagnostic activity that allows a doctor in one toring and a host of other medical equip- systems utilize network architectures for location to utilize a diagnostic tool such as ment types are beginning to incorporate communications and control both within a an MRI on a patient in another location. wireless and wired network interfaces to factory and between locations. The availImaging, fluid analysis, bio-signal moni- become part of an entire medical system ability of wide area networking interfaces that links doctors to remote patients. even allows equipment in diverse locaIndustrial systems are also adopting tions to exchange information to create a Get Connected such a network-centric approach. Au- virtual factory that functions as an intewith companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected tomated factory equipment and robotic grated system.

End of Article

24

May 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected


To you, the advantages are clear. To your customer, it makes you the clear choice. Emerson Network Power is now clearly the leading provider of embedded computing solutions. From platforms, blades and modules, to software and services, Emerson’s industry-leading technology portfolio is ready to help solve your customers’ most demanding applications. Make our AdvancedTCA®, MicroTCA™, AdvancedMC™, CompactPCI®, Processor PMC, VMEbus and OpenSAF™ standards-based products your first choice. See how Emerson Network Power can help you build a clear advantage. Go to www.EmersonNetworkPower.com/EmbeddedComputing

Standards-based Embedded Computing Just another reason why Emerson Network Power is the global leader in enabling Business-Critical Continuity™ The Embedded Communications Computing business of Motorola is now a business of Emerson Network Power.

Emerson, Business-Critical Continuity, and Emerson Network Power are trademarks of Emerson Electric Co. or one of its affiliated companies. AdvancedTCA and CompactPCI are registered trademarks; and MicroTCA and AdvancedMC are trademarks of PICMG. © 2008 Emerson Electric Co.


Technology InContext

Figure 2

The Hybricon Air Transport Rack provides a ruggedized MicroTCA framework that mil-aero developers can use off-the-shelf to meet many harsh environmental conditions.

The need for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) activity to function across a wide operational front is prompting development of network-centric systems in military applications. Network interfaces allow the images and data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to flow directly to the field operatives that can benefit most from the information. Networking is also at the core of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) under development that would allow coordination of military activity in the field down to the level of a single individual. Other network-centric applications abound in commercial activity. Point-ofsale terminals use networks to support retail sales by providing financial transactions and inventory updates for the retailer. Information kiosks provide consumers with up-to-date and interactively customized price and availability information. On top of this trend toward network-

26

May 2008

centric system design in other application areas, telecommunications is seeing a move away from traditional equipment installations. Network edge functions such as cellular access points are moving out of the central office and into field settings such as pole-mounted installations. Other edge equipment is moving into enterprise settings such as equipment closets.

Appeal Outside Telecom

For all these diverse applications, the MicroTCA architecture holds tremendous appeal because of its many useful attributes. For one, MicroTCA provides finegrained modularity and scalability that simplifies the evolution of system function and growth in system capacity. Designers assembling a system can mix and match Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) modules, the architecture’s functional building blocks, at will. Because AMC modules have a standard backplane interface, users can upgrade system functions or increase capacity simply by changing

or adding modules as needed. This ability is particularly valuable in medical system design because it preserves the system’s overall FDA certification, reducing the recertification effort for a design upgrade to address only the new module. Another useful attribute of the MicroTCA architecture is its support for compact system design. The mezzaninecard heritage of AMC modules means they are reasonably small while still offering a high compute density in terms of MIPS per watt per square inch (Figure 1). The chassis design targets back-to-back installations, giving MicroTCA systems a shallower depth than classic thin servers or other system platforms. The specification is open as to configuration, however, allowing from two to twelve modules in a chassis to support a range of trade-offs between size and capacity. System management functions form a part of the MicroTCA specification, so the monitoring and control of system elements down to the module level is a built-in attribute. This control includes support for hot-swap and remote disabling of modules and other system elements so that redundancy for load-sharing and failover fault responses is easy to implement. MicroTCA systems thus offer built-in high availability and short repair time attributes that have been cost-prohibitive for system developers building systems from scratch. All the elements needed for a MicroTCA-based system are available as commercial off-the-shelf items. Base system hardware elements, including card cages, fans, power supplies and full system enclosures, are available from a number of vendors. Stock AMC modules include a range of processors, a wide variety of I/O interfaces, and many other functions. Developers can thus create entire MicroTCA system prototypes from tested and validated components, providing an out-of-the-box experience to immediately begin software and system development. Foundation system software is also available off-the-shelf for MicroTCA systems. Such software includes a real-time Linux operating system, full system management software, and high-availability system middleware through the Open Software Availability Forum. The wide variety of applications, customers and vendors for


Technology InContext each individual element in a MicroTCA system ensures ready availability and low cost due to economies of scale.

Full-System COTS

These many useful attributes mean that developers utilizing the MicroTCA architecture have most of their work already done. Hardware design is reduced to selecting an appropriate combination of stock system elements and occasionally designing an AMC module to address unique requirements. Even then, the specifications cover most of the design details, freeing developers to concentrate on their specific needs. Software design is also significantly reduced, requiring only applications programming within the overall system software. For a growing number of network-centric applications, then, MicroTCA represents an opportunity to develop compact, high-performance, high-reliability designs quickly and inexpensively. The one area where MicroTCA specifications may not adequately address a wide diversity of application needs, however, is in the operating environment.

Untitled-8 1

Parameter

MicroTCA.0

MicroTCA.1

Operating Temperature

+5° to +40°C

-40° to 70°C

Vibration Resistance

2-9 Hz/9-200 Hz, 0.5g

2-9 Hz/9-200 Hz, 3g

Vibration Resistance

7g, 11 msec

25g, 18 msec

Table 1

Environmental standards for MicroTCA specifications.

The current specification, PICMG MicroTCA.0, provides a baseline for commercial and telecom applications based on the NEBS and ETS Class 3.1 standard. This calls for an operating environment with a temperature between +5°C and +40°C, allowing for short-term excursions as low as -5°C or as high as +55°C. The specification also calls for designs to be resistant to earthquake (NEBS GR-63 Zone 4), to 0.5g vibration from 2 to 200 Hz, and to sinusoidal shock at 7g for 11 msec (IEC 61587-1 Class DL1). These specifications reflect the need to survive normal shipping and handling and rackmounted installation in a small, closed, climate-controlled concrete building: the central office. The many applications now considering the MicroTCA architec-

ture, however, have different needs for mechanical ruggedness and operating environment. Military and aerospace applications, which have the strictest mechanical and environmental requirements, can illustrate the correspondence and divergence between MicroTCA specifications and application needs. Military systems today need to rapidly move from design to deployment in order to address continual changes in theaters of operation. The MicroTCA architecture addresses that need in several ways. The availability of complete off-the-shelf systems supports an early start to software development, typically the pacing item in system design. Wide stock availability also supports rapid production and deployment of

AM May4/28/08 2008 10:24:10 27


Technology InContext finished systems. Because all system elements are based on standards, including custom module designs, design re-use becomes virtually automatic and can speed the development of follow-on projects. Military and aerospace systems also have a need for rapid and simple field maintenance so that systems can be quickly repaired or upgraded and returned to operation. The module-level hot-swap feature inherent in MicroTCA systems reduces system repair or upgrade to a quick

module exchange, possibly even while the system continues functioning uninterrupted. The same feature allows rapid expansion of system capability if needed.

Addressing Harsh Environments

Where MicroTCA does not meet milaero requirements is in system tolerance to harsh operating conditions. Depending on the category of equipment, requirements (MIL-STD-810-F) for operating

temperature go from a baseline of 0° to +55°C to as extreme as -40° to +125°C. Shock immunity requirements range from 20g to 40g and random vibration immunity specifications can range from about 2g to 12g. The existing MicroTCA specifications thus fall far short of addressing even the baseline environmental requirements for military systems. Similarly, though to a lesser extent, MicroTCA environmental standards don’t quite reflect the needs of desktop office equipment that might get dropped, machinery that must operate in a hot, vibrating factory space, or outdoor, pole-mounted systems. But that is about to change. Recognizing the growing interest in MicroTCA outside of the telecom industry, a MicroTCA Ruggedization Special Interest Group (SIG) arose within PICMG to stimulate development of additional standards that address non-telecom application requirements. As a result, PICMG is in the midst of creating two new specifications for rugged MicroTCA systems. The specification for an air-cooled rugged MicroTCA system, PICMG MicroTCA.1, is scheduled for release to the industry in late 2008. A conduction-cooled rugged MicroTCA specification, PICMG MicroTCA.2, is under active development. The air-cooled rugged MicroTCA.1 standard targets systems that need an extended temperature range for outdoor and uncontrolled environments and high levels of shock and vibration resistance for operation in mobile applications such as ships and around heavy rotating machinery. The standard is based on the IEC specification IEC 61587-1 and calls for operation in an ambient temperature range of -40° to +70°C (Class C3) with vibration resistance to 3g and shock resistance to 25g (Class DL3), as shown in Table 1. The MicroTCA.1 standard also foresees growth potential for future increases in shock and vibration resistance.

Maximizing Baseline Compatibility

One of the goals in developing the standard was to meet ruggedization requirements with minimal modifications to existing designs that followed the baseline standard. To address increased shock and vibration resistance, for in-

28

May 2008


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Technology InContext stance, the new standard calls for supplementing the baseline AMC module connector system with a locking device that prevents modules from disengaging. PICMG has conducted extensive environmental testing to establish that the augmented connector system will meet or exceed the target shock and vibration resistance. Designers can address the increased temperature ranges by using extended temperature components or chassis-level heaters. The rugged MicroTCA.2 standard under development aims to address the extended temperature range and higher levels of vibration and shock resistance needed in many military applications, focused primarily on conduction-cooled applications. PICMG is basing its shock and vibration resistance targets on the standards of ANSI/VITA 47, itself derived from MIL-STD-810-F. It is seeking to address as many environmental classes as possible consistent with maintaining maximum compatibility of baseline and ruggedized designs. One approach under consideration is the addition of a conduction frame to baseline AMC module de-

signs to add rigidity and provide a conduction path to side walls of the sub-rack using wedge locks. As with the air-cooled standard, PICMG will conduct environmental testing to establish the performance of designs based on the standard before its release. With the imminent release of the air-cooled MicroTCA.1 and the development of the conduction-cooled MicroTCA.2 specifications, application developers outside of telecom now have even more motivation to embrace the MicroTCA architecture, and they can begin right away. Suitable MicroTCA platforms have already begun to emerge that developers can use to get started. Emerson Network Power, for instance, has proven the applicability of MicroTCA to outside applications with its Centellis 1000 platform’s design win for Hypercom’s point-of-sale transaction network products. For more rugged applications, Hybricon has created the Air Transport Rack chassis (Figure 2) that employs locking bars and frame isolation to address military-type shock and vibration requirements along with

airflow designs to support operation to +55°C at altitudes to 10,000 feet using telco-grade AMC modules. These examples help demonstrate that the MicroTCA architecture has applicability well beyond its first target. By providing a full off-the-shelf system design, the architecture promises to shorten design cycles and lower development costs in systems ranging from medical diagnostic equipment to field military gear. Economies gained by widespread market adoption will undoubtedly make MicroTCA a significant and true Commercial Offthe-Shelf embedded technology with tremendous impact. The emergence of ruggedized specifications is now removing the last impediment to tackling tough applications beyond telecom using MicroTCA. Emerson Network Power Tempe, AZ. (602) 438-5720. [www.EmersonNetworkPower.com].

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5/12/08 6:03:20 PM


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solutions engineering

High-Density ATCA

Designing Very High Performance ATCA Systems The demand for compute power in today’s high-performance applications brings a variety of technical issues, but a standards-based approach can achieve successful solutions.

by T homas Roberts Mercury Computer Systems

d

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

I

n today’s data-stream processing paInput Output Module Module rameters, bandwidths reaching 10 Switch Gigabits per second (Gbits/s) are conProcessing Processing Module Module sidered to be high-bandwidth. For voiceprocessing applications, 10 Gbits/s is equivalent to more than 150,000 standard Input Processing voice channels under the G.711 standard, Module Module Switch although data compression techniques Processing Processing can further increase system capacity. VidModule Module eo-processing applications require even Figure 1 Switch fabrics are superior to more. bus architectures, enabling panies providing solutions now With sensor data, such as radar, or ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latestdata to move between visual camera data, the incoming data with maximum lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is toprocessors put you stream can unrelenting. For example, ice you require for whatever typebe of technology, efficiency, and data transfers camerafor.scans an area, the data ies and productswhen you areasearching to occur with very low latency must be processed in real time, because in a very deterministic there is too much of it to be stored. If 10 manner. Gbits/s of data is coming in and there is even a minimal delay in processing it, from ingress port to egress port—must storage (buffering) capacity runs out very be very low. The parameters that define quickly. a low-latency response depend on the apLatency and determinism are critical plication. For example, voice-processing characteristics of data-stream processing applications must control the signal prorequirements as well. Processing latency— cessing delay across the entire network, where latency is units of time measured including both satellite transmission delays and intra- and inter-system processing delays, to make a phone call understandGet Connected able. The goal is 200 to 250 milliseconds with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected of maximum delay end-to-end. For indus-

End of Article

32

May 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

trial control-loop applications, existing in a smaller physical environment, latencies are measured in microseconds rather than milliseconds. These very low latencies must also be reliable. For the application to perform properly, each data processing step must be performed within a well-known, extremely small window of time, and this window must be the same each time the step is performed. This characteristic is referred to as determinism. Computational density—the processing power these applications need to manage their high-bandwidth, low-latency requirements—depends on how much processing must be performed on the data. In general, an application that has a lot of data coming in, most likely needs a lot of processing power. However, the amount of processing power it requires can vary by multiple orders of magnitude, depending on what the application needs to do to the data. Several design components are required when building systems to meet the high-bandwidth, low-latency and deterministic requirements of high-end data-stream processing applications. A


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SOLUTIONS Engineering

successful system architecture does the following: • Partitions the application across multiple processors, so each processing step is handled by the right type of processor. • Uses a switch fabric to move the processing stream from processor to processor at high speeds with great efficiency. • Builds on a physical system infrastructure that can support efficient power and thermal management to densely packed multiprocessor systems.

rather than moving the data from memory to a computational unit and back, as other types of processing elements must do. For beamforming applications, which require an enormous number of simultaneous mathematical calculations, FPGAs are far superior to other processor types. Operations that can be performed with Boolean logic are best done on FPGAs. FPGAs are also good for filtering operations, which extract desirable data from an incoming data stream or remove unwanted data. For example, in applications that process antenna-generated data, an FPGA can effi-

AMCs FPGA Compute Node FPGA Compute Node FPGA Compute Node FPGA Compute Node

AMCs PowerPC Node PowerPC Node PowerPC Node PowerPC Node

Backplane

4

4 Serial RapidIO Switch Fabric

AMCs

AMCs

DSP Node DSP Node

I/O Module

4

I/O Module

4

DSP Node

I/O Module Control

DSP Node

8

1 GE Switch

I/O Module

8

Chassis Management

8

Figure 2

Shmm/IPMI

AdvancedTCA is a telecom standard built around switch fabrics; it supports RapidIO, and is conducive to many other applications.

Partitioning Processing

Deciding upon the optimal multiprocessor architecture for a specific application’s processing requires considering the type of processing needed and amount of data to be processed. Different processing elements, such as FPGAs, DSPs and network processors, are designed to handle different processing requirements. FPGAs are most effective for simple mathematical operations like add/multiply, because they perform the operations at the gate level as the data moves through,

34

8

May 2008

ciently filter out carrier information from incoming data channels. DSPs, on the other hand, are effective for data compression and decompression, known as codec operations. In addition, compression and decompression of data is often combined with echo cancellation operations, another strength of DSPs. Echo cancellation is a critical component of Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Network processors, which are specialized programmable ASICs, are best for in-depth packet inspection. The format of

a packet is clearly defined, so the desired information can be extracted efficiently. A network processor in a router, for example, can decide, in real time, where to send an incoming packet, what its priority is, and, therefore, how promptly it must be processed. These and many other similar functions of network processors are based on in-depth analysis of the packet content. When different types of processing must be applied to a data stream, it makes sense to match processing elements to specific processing needs. For example, in voice and video applications, the DSP engine compresses the data, while the network processor on the router identifies packets as voice or data-only, assigns a higher priority to voice packets, and sends them out on the network. Or, in a voiceprocessing application, an FPGA does waveform processing of the input signal from the antennae, while a network processor behind the FPGA performs packetlevel processing.

Using Switched Fabrics

To make a partitioned processing job run at optimal speed, the data stream must move between processors with maximum efficiency. The application must be able to rely on data transfers that occur with very low latency in a very deterministic manner. Switch fabrics are superior to bus architectures for this purpose in several ways (Figure 1). Since they are fundamentally pointto-point, they avoid bus contention and the current generation is well suited to high-bandwidth applications. At 10 Gbit/ s bandwidth, a serial switched fabric has substantially better performance than a bus. Switched fabrics are easier to implement, which simplifies backplane routing, and they are significantly better in terms of implementing fault detection and redundancy. Very low latency is a hallmark of switched fabrics. For example, using serial RapidIO, latency is under 1 microsecond for a one-way trip across the backplane between any two endpoints in the system. In comparison, using Gigabit Ethernet, latency is in the 1 millisecond range and up. This helps make them deterministic. Latencies are reliable, so the arrival of data


SOLUTIONS Engineering

from point to point is predictable. A bus is undeterministic, unless a sophisticated set of priority control algorithms is built in. And reliability is high as well because switched fabrics consist of many point-topoint links. A single failing node does not bring down the entire system. If needed, switched fabrics can also support parallel transactions between two elements. With 10 elements, for example, a switch can have five simultaneous transactions, while a bus can have only one. A switch itself has potential blocking issues, but they are fewer than those of a full bus, and certain architectures allow for the creation of non-blocking switches.

In addition to all that, they are also less costly. For a bus, the connector cost—the number of pins on the connector and how to create a backplane with that many lines—is expensive. Multicast is also easy to implement since nearly all switching silicon supports this functionality. Multicast is particularly useful when data is processed in parallel. The application can use multicast to send the same data simultaneously to several different processing elements. For example, an application that performs different types of filtering on data arriving from an antenna, can multicast the data to

the multiple filter processors in the system. A router can use multicast to send a block of packets out for parallel processing. Multicast can also be used in a control plane for system-wide shutdown in the face of heat-related problems or other type of errors, because all affected processing elements simultaneously receive the shutdown message.

Using an ATCA-Based Framework

A logical approach to designing a system that meets high-performance requirements is to build on an appropriate industry standard. The Advanced Telecom

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SOLUTIONS Engineering

Computing Architecture (Advanced TCA or ATCA) was conceived to specify a carrier-grade-based system infrastructure. It was built from the ground up to support a range of processors. The form factor and architecture of ATCA boards enable an unprecedented amount of I/O connections for front and rear panels. The carrier blades at the front panel allow optical or other types of I/O connections to bring data in and out, while the rear transition module (RTM) form factor provides a large amount of physical space for I/O connections from the rear. The ATCA carrier blade form factor supports well-balanced systems delivering teraOPS of processing power in a single sub-rack, and the architecture is flexible as to the types of processors that can co-exist in the system. An advanced mezzanine card (AMC), which connects to a carrier blade, can contain processing elements of very different natures. Processor types can include standard processors—for example, Freescale 8641D PowerPC or Intel single or dualcore processors—DSP engines, FPGAs, or digital-to-analog (DA)/analog-todigital (AD) converters, if the application needs to handle incoming analog signals or signals that come from some type of measuring equipment. The AMC concept even allows for the creation of highly specialized compute engines for particular applications. If application requirements change over time, as they often do, a previously deployed AMC can be removed from the carrier blade and a new AMC connected that has a different processing element to best match the new requirements more effectively. AMCs provide the flexibility to process the data and to match it to what the application really needs to do with that data. ATCA specifies a very sophisticated intelligent platform management interface (IPMI)-based infrastructure that allows for the construction of a consistent system management environment for alarms, configuration and diagnostics that can be run on a completely different medium from the application’s data and control planes. Based on multiple I2C

36

May 2008

connections, IPMI can be described as a system-management fabric. The ATCA standard defines a power maximum of 200 watts per slot, exceeding the 120 watts per slot of legacy VME, and 174 watts per slot of VME64x. More significantly, the IPMI infrastructure provides a standards-based mechanism for monitoring internal system temperatures and implementing adaptive cooling techniques, such as adjusting fan speeds based on those internal temperatures (Figure 2).

Serial RapidIO and GbE Both Have a Place

In addition to IPMI, the ATCA system defines two distinct fabrics: the data plane and the control plane. ATCA supports a fabric interface for the data plane, and 1 Gigabit BaseT Ethernet for the control plane. ATCA’s data-plane fabric interface can support many different fabrics, including 1 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet and serial RapidIO, among others. Serial RapidIO, running at 3.125 GHz, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet are very competitive with respect to high bandwidth. However, while their capabilities overlap in some areas, serial RapidIO and Ethernet were developed to solve different problems, and their underlying architectures differ in many respects. Serial RapidIO was designed for embedded applications, supporting chip-to-chip and board-to-board communications. Because most of its protocol is implemented in the hardware of its endpoints, serial RapidIO offers extremely low latency and deterministic performance, and it does not require software management to move the data. The latency of serial RapidIO switches is highly deterministic: 112 ns for unicast packets and 163 ns for multicast packets. For endpoints, the latency depends on endpoint design, but is likely to be under 40 ns. With serial RapidIO, an increase in latency occurs only when there is an enormous amount of traffic or when an endpoint in the network is too slow to process its incoming traffic. Ethernet was originally designed as a way for multiple computers to

communicate over a shared coaxial cable. The physical layer has evolved to point-to-point, but each endpoint is assumed to have a processor that is both available and capable of running software that implements the Ethernet (TCP/IP) protocol stack. Because its protocol is implemented in software, Ethernet implies higher latency, nondeterministic performance, and the need for software management. Ethernet is a “best-effort” transmission, unless quality of service (QoS) is built in. There is no guarantee data will arrive at any particular time, and packets can be dropped (and lost). With serial RapidIO, latency is in the hundreds of nanoseconds range. With Ethernet, it could be one microsecond or much more depending on the amount of traffic on the network. Although the Ethernet stack can be implemented in hardware, this approach locks in a particular version of the stack, losing the flexibility that is one of its main advantages. On the other hand, Ethernet has become the unchallenged communications interconnect for wide area networks, because its stack is highly flexible and supports essentially unlimited numbers of endpoints. Ethernet is also off-the-shelf technology. Nearly everyone knows how to deploy it, whereas serial RapidIO is less well known. Mercury Computer Systems Chelmsford, MA. (866) 627-6951. [www.mc.com].


INDUSTRY INSIG H T

IMS Brings Data, Voice, Video

d

10 Gigabit Ethernet Enables Broadband Multimedia Applications Increased bandwidth delivers improved capability and opens the door for entirely new services.

by J ack Staub Critical I/O

A

s network bandwidth increases, IMS Capability is a Function of Bandwidth Kbps Mbps Gbps new and more powerful capabilities Wide-band Sensors and applications are made possible. This has been particularly apparent in the Data Storage/Backup case of IP Multimedia Systems (IMS) Video HD where, over the last 10 years, IP-enabled Voice Over IP cell phones have moved from delivering HD Music simple text messaging to e-mail, to digiPhotos tal photo transfer and—more recently—to Text low-fidelity Web browsing and video 2002 2008 2012 sharing. Clearly, desk-top quality Web browsFigure 1 The type of service and ing is nearly at hand (e.g., the iPhone). But capability supplied by panies providing solutions now it is the pursuit of higher quality video, ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latestan IMS is a function of and ultimately HD video, which will drive client connection lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is tothe put you thewhatever futuretype of ofIMS and the Internet as a bandwidth. Eventually, the ice you require for technology, These advances will be made posies and productswhole. you are searching for. bandwidth necessary to sible through increased data bandwidth support HD video will enable new bandwidth-intensive and processing power in the wireless cell applications. phone networks and in their associated hardwired infrastructure. And as more bandwidth is made available to support of choice for the hardwired networks that video, new capabilities and services will make up the enormous infrastructure supcertainly take root. porting cellular, wireless computing and Ethernet has played a critical role the Internet as a whole. in progression of these systems, and it is 10GbE technologies are now being certain to continue to remain the network deployed to build out this next-generation infrastructure, making it more capable and extending its reach to new applicaGet Connected tions that rely on the real-time distribution with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected of wide-band data such as security sys-

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

End of Article

38

May 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

tems, data backup, medical sensors and even military applications.

Bandwidth = Capability

Your cell phone is not likely to come equipped with a 10GbE link anytime soon. However, the infrastructure that supports cell phone networks is already deploying 10GbE for backbone communications and is starting to use it to provide local connectivity between co-located equipment. These local systems must handle hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous streams of cell phone IP traffic. As those data streams become more bandwidthintensive (moving from text to audio to video to high-definition video) the infrastructure must be continually upgraded. Today it is necessary for each cell site to process hundreds to thousands of times the data that it did only ten years ago. And now, as video distribution becomes more common and consumer demand pushes that video to higher quality requirements, the required system bandwidth will accelerate and the need for a 10GbE infrastructure will surely grow for some time. It is the proliferation of video that will drive the need for more bandwidth and force improvements in system architecture. But once that bandwidth is avail-


INDUSTRY Insight able for video, other bandwidth-intensive applications will quickly make use of it. After all, from a system perspective, transferring high-quality video is not much different from transferring security camera video, wireless UAV video, archived computer data (data backup), high-resolution satellite imaging data and radar images. It’s all wide-band video that suppliers want to make available to their consumers who are willing to pay to access, archive and process that data in real time. Bandwidth made available to support video will lay the foundation for new services in the areas of data storage, security, medical and military applications that have been, by their nature, too bandwidth-intensive to leverage the IMS network (Figure 1).

10GbE Overview

Ethernet comes in many flavors of which 10GbE currently represents the cutting edge and where 40GbE and 100GbE are now being defined and represent the not-too-distant future. The 1GbE standard was defined in 1999 and while its adoption rate was slow at first, it now represents the most common form available and it has nearly replaced all prior variants. The 10GbE standard was ratified in 2002 and, likewise, its adoption has been slow. But early-stage/specialized products have been available since about 2005 and more mature products have been available since 2007. The 40GbE and 100GbE standards are in their definition phase and are expected to be finalized in 2010. The 10GbE standard includes a number of physical layer standards, including both copper and optical variants. As of today, the CX4 copper standard (known as 10GBASE-CX4) that uses InfiniBandtype copper cabling is the most popular for local connections of less than 15 meters. This is also the most popular standard for the so-called “Backplane Ethernet,” but is known as 10GBASE-KX4 in that application. The similarity of CX4 and KX4 greatly simplifies equipment design—at least for local connectivity— since the same CX4/KX4 signals can be routed over cable, backplane and mezzanine connections without expensive or complicated translation hardware. An example of a CX4 board in XMC form factor is shown in Figure 2.

Each CX4 connection uses four lanes of 3.125 Gbaud to achieve an aggregate bandwidth of 12.5 Gbaud in each direction. In practice, it is possible to achieve near theoretical sustained payload-data rates of 10.0 Gbits/sec, which equates to 80% of the total signaling bandwidth—or 1250 Mbytes/sec in each direction. Optical connections, such as SFP+, achieve the same data rates but use only a single fiber in each direction. These formats are more expensive but can be used to transfer data over much greater distances. 10GbE only supports point-to-point and switched topologies. It eliminates the problematic CSMA/CD standards of earlier versions. It has excellent flow control methods implemented at the link level. The strength of Ethernet has always been the use of solid, widely adopted interface standards and protocols, including UDP, TCP, IP, the Sockets API, and a host of other higher level protocols. While the physical interface technology has progressed through several generations, the interface protocol standards have remained relatively unchanged. These standards have ensured interoperability, straightforward development and integration, and protection against obsolescence—things that are as important today as they were 30 years ago. And today, new Ethernet-based standards continue to emerge, such as recent efforts in Ethernet audio/video bridging (AVB) that strive to provide bandwidth and latency guarantees for multimedia applications that utilize Ethernet.

Figure 2

Ethernet for Multimedia

AV applications can be quite stressing in terms of data communications, particularly with respect to data rates, determinism and quality of service (QoS); areas in which early versions of Ethernet were lacking. And while the Ethernet performance picture improved dramatically with the introduction of fully switched 1 and 10GbE, a new problem soon surfaced: excessive host CPU loading from the use of software-based networking stacks. With high data rate AV applications, the software stack implementations have become a critical performance bottleneck, a bottleneck now being addressed to varying degrees by the many (and often misnamed) implementations of TCP Offload Engine (TOE) technology. Efficient TOE technology is important for efficient 1GbE, and it is essential for 10GbE and beyond. However, there are a variety of different technologies that are commonly referred to as “TOE” that confuse the picture. For example, “partial TOE” implementations essentially mean a standard Ethernet NIC that has been augmented with some degree of offload hardware, such as checksum capability, or TCP segmentation capability. Partial TOE implementations are designed to work with existing desktop and server-type operating systems and network stacks. These stacks (the Microsoft Windows stack, for example) have the capability in certain situations to “offload” some time-consuming func-

Critical I/O’s XGE4120 XMC provides two independent 10GbE ports with an 8-lane PCIe host interface. The XGE4120 provides two CX4 connections or two SFP+ optical connections. May 2008

39


INDUSTRY Insight tions to partial TOE NICs, to improve network efficiency (as measured by reduced host CPU load) by perhaps a factor of 2 as compared to traditional allsoftware implementations. Partial TOE can be effective in office or commercial data center applications where moderate network performance needs are coupled with the availability of high-power multicore, multi-GHz host processors. But data-intensive multimedia applications generally require more that

the 2x improvement in efficiency that a partial TOE implementation can provide. And partial TOE implementations are still largely software stack-based, so they suffer from many of the other problems of traditional Ethernet, including high and non-deterministic latencies, and susceptibility to data loss under high network load conditions. While these problems can be occasionally tolerated in data centers, they are clearly not acceptable in multimedia applications.

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An alternative approach, full hardware TOE, is a hardware-based protocol offload technology that addresses the problems associated with traditional Ethernet software stack implementations. With full hardware TOE, the network stack is moved to dedicated hardware, essentially connecting TOE offload hardware directly into the user-level socket APIs. The problems associated with a software protocol stack are eliminated, because the protocol stack is instead implemented as a pipelined hardware data path. With full hardware TOE it takes no more host CPU cycles to send 100 Mbytes of data than it does to send a single byte, as every transfer is handled fully by hardware. This translates to large blocks of multimedia data being transferred very quickly and efficiently. Current hardware-based TOE implementations can now provide over a 1000 to 1 efficiency advantage over nonTOE Ethernet, with determinism, latency and performance levels that are not attainable with any other Ethernet implementations. Clearly, Ethernet and its associated protocols are here to stay. Its standards will continue to evolve and higher performance versions will arrive every 4 to 8 years. The value of protocol offload depends very much on the application and its use of Ethernet. But for bandwidth-intensive applications like video distribution, where many high-bandwidth streams must be managed and delivered in real time, hardware TOE has substantial benefits. In addition to improved system performance, this can also result in substantial system cost savings by reducing the protocol stack processing demands placed on the host processing system, with corresponding reductions in power and cooling requirements. The challenge to system designers—and especially IMS designers—is to be able to upgrade to higher performance versions of Ethernet with minimum disruption to their software investment and ensure that new bandwidth-intensive applications will be able to leverage these higher performance networks. Critical I/O Irvine, CA. (949) 553-2200. [www.criticalio.com].

© 2008 Pentair Electronic Packaging | info@pentair-ep.com

1 40Untitled-7 May 2008

5/6/08 4:28:41 PM


Where electronic design meets... Mark your calendars for the 45th Design Automation Conference (DAC) at the Anaheim Convention Center, June 8-13, 2008, in Anaheim, California, USA. • A robust technical program covering the latest research developments and trends for the design of SoCs, FPGAs, ASICs, digital ICs and more. • Worldwide attendance from leading electronics companies and universities. • Over 250 companies displaying electronic design technologies and services.

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SYSTEM INTEGRATION

Small Form Factors

Express104 Modules Upgrade PC/104 Installed Base with SUMIT Interface The new SUMIT interface is a highly flexible, modular, well-engineered approach that is independent of form factor or processor architecture. A first example of its utility is in the new Express104 specification. by J ohn McKown, Octagon Systems and Tom Barnum, VersaLogic

C

hange. This appears to be the operative word for 2008. While most of us think of this word in a political context this year, this is also the year of change for embedded design engineers using small form factor boards. We’ve had it pretty good in this community—the technology has been highly stable for over 20 years. Sure we’ve seen evolution in processors, increasing performance dramatically, accessing much greater amounts of memory and using less power. But the fundamental elements in the construction of off-the-shelf board-based embedded applications have really changed very little. This stability is derived from the outstanding longevity of underlying bus architectures. The venerable ISA bus, dating to 1982 and updated only once, to PCI, in the mid-1990s, still provides an effective, simple, easy-to-implement interconnect architecture for I/O expansion. Sadly, in desktop and industrial motherboards, ISA is finally reaching the end of the line because it simply uses too many pins. And PCI may quickly follow ISA to its demise. Popular board form factors associated with the ISA and PCI interfaces have also achieved incredible stability and longevity. The popular desktop PC motherboard form factors based on the initial ATX standard and PC plug in expansion cards have remained virtually unchanged for years, al-

42

May 2008

Voting Members Ampro Congatec Octagon Systems VersaLogic Via WinSystems

General Members Arbor Diamond Systems General Standards Portwell Samtec Seco Silicon Systems

Figure 1

Current Small Form Factor SIG membership.

though reduced size versions have become available. The implementations for embedded applications through PC/104, EBX and more recently EPIC form factors, have achieved equal or even greater stability and longevity. However, with the changes rampant on the bus side of the equation, new

looks also need to be taken at the associated form factors and standards that drive this portion of the embedded community.

All in Favor Say “Aye”

As we approach the middle of 2008, the community of board suppliers has


SYSTEMIntegration SUMIT Connector A Pin Assignments  

 

Pin 1

 

+5VSB

Pin 3

 

3.3V

Pin 5

 

3.3V

Pin 7

 

Pin 9

 

Pin 11

 

USB_OC#

Pin 13

 

Reserved

Pin 15

 

Pin 17

 

 

+12V

 

Pin 2

 

SMB/I2C_DATA

 

Pin 4

 

SMB/I2C_CLK

 

Pin 6

EXPCD_REQ#

 

SMB/I2C_ALERT#

 

Pin 8

EXPCD_PRSNT#

 

SPI/uWire_DO

 

Pin 10

 

SPI/uWire_DI

 

Pin 12

 

SPI/uWire_CLK

 

Pin 14

Reserved

SPI/uWire_CS0#

 

Pin 16

 

Reserved

SPI/uWire_CS1#

 

Pin 18

Pin 19

 

Reserved

Reserved

 

Pin 20

Pin 21

 

+5V

G

Reserved

 

Pin 22

Pin 23

 

USB2+

N

LPC_AD0

 

Pin 24

Pin 25

 

USB2-

D

LPC_AD1

 

Pin 26

Pin 27

 

+5V

 

LPC_AD2

 

Pin 28

Pin 29

 

USB1+

 

LPC_AD3

 

Pin 30

Pin 31

 

USB1-

 

LPC_FRAME#

 

Pin 32

Pin 33

 

+5V

 

SERIRQ#

 

Pin 34

Pin 35

 

USB0+

 

LPC_PRSNT#/GND

 

Pin 36

Pin 37

 

USB0-

 

CLK_33MHz

 

Pin 38

Pin 39

 

GND

 

GND

 

Pin 40

Pin 41

 

A_PETp0

 

A_PERp0

 

Pin 42

Pin 43

 

A_PETn0

A_PERn0

 

Pin 44

Pin 45

 

GND

 

APRSNT#/GND

 

Pin 46

Pin 47

 

PERST#

 

A_CLKp

 

Pin 48

Pin 49

 

WAKE#

 

A_CLKn

 

Pin 50

Pin 51

 

+5V

GND

 

Pin 52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2a Detailed pin definitions for SUMIT connector A.

been working to address the issues of evolution of their technologies for more than two years. The complexity of the issues, the strong desire for investment protection and easy migration from legacy solutions, and the sheer number of people with ideas about how to proceed, have made this a much more protracted and complicated process than ever before. It appears that multiple approaches will reach the market, placing the burden on OEM design engineers to understand the different approaches and to make their own independent decisions regarding the appropriate technology to incorporate in their new product designs. This decision is critical, as this market may not be able to sustain two different technology approaches over the long term. Dual approaches place an incredible burden on I/O module vendors to have to offer two different versions of each and every product offering. One of these new

44

May 2008

technologies based on older 3-chip chipset technology is probably going to drop by the wayside, resulting in a stunted lifetime and leaving OEMs who chose that approach high and dry in the middle of their product lifecycle.

EPIC Inventors Reunite

Just like in the political situation in this year of change, there is an upstart entrant in the technology race for new embedded designs. This is one that you may not have heard of before, but one that merits your close attention and consideration when defining a technology approach to your next embedded design. This article will help explain the design philosophy behind the SUMIT interface, how it helps you migrate gracefully from existing PC/104, EBX and EPIC designs, and why it provides you with the very best solution for continued stability and long lifecycle products.

Climb the Mountain, Avoid Crevasses

To fully understand SUMIT, you should obtain a copy of the specification from the Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFF-SIG). Compare SUMIT to other board evolutionary approaches and make your own decisions regarding which technology will stand the tests of time and market pressure. And just like the political situation, beware of selecting the technology with the famous name, just because you have heard of it before. This choice impacts your product’s success and longevity, so even more than your choice of a candidate, this choice merits your careful study. The Stackable Unified Module Interconnect Technology (SUMIT) interconnect standard is the output of a relatively new standards organization, the Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFFSIG), officially formed in late 2007 and supported today by leading embedded suppliers including board, connector and component manufacturers. Among the SFF-SIG leaders are the companies that brought the original PC/104, EBX and EPIC standards to the industry. The current membership of the SFF-SIG is shown in Figure 1. The fundamental goals established to guide the creation of the SUMIT standard were: 1. Support the implementation of a stackable architecture that could effectively replace a homogeneous PC/104 stack as well as PC/104 expansion on a larger form factor single board computer, such as EBX and EPIC. 2. Separate the interconnect standard (connector and pin definitions) from the board mechanical / form factor standard (size, mounting holes) to ease the evolution of the interface standard to multiple form factor standards. 3. Enable a graceful migration from ISA and PCI-based PC/104 stacks without the burden of multiple bridge devices and potential issues of software compatibility. 4. Support multiple high-speed and lowspeed bus technologies, including PCI Express, USB 2.0, LPC, SPI and I2C, with a path to PCI Express Generation 2 and USB 3.0 in the future.


SYSTEMIntegration 5. Provide a flexible, modular solution with a simple, easy-to-implement entry point that consumes little board space, along with a “full boat” implementation for high-performance systems 6. Take board layout and routing issues into account to ensure that products built to the specification can achieve the necessary performance levels without resorting to special tricks, shortcuts or other dubious engineering practices that can reduce product reliability and increase costs.

SUMIT Connector B Pin Assignments  

 

GND

 

Pin 2

 

B_PERp0

 

Pin 4

B_PETn0

 

B_PERn0

 

Pin 6

 

GND

 

BPRSNT#/GND

 

Pin 8

Pin 9

 

C_CLKp

 

B_CLKp

 

Pin 10

Pin 11

 

C_CLKn

 

B_CLKn

 

Pin 12

Pin 13

 

CPRSNT#/GND

 

GND

 

Pin 14

Pin 15

 

C_PETp0

C_PERp0

 

Pin 16

Pin 17

 

C_PETn0

C_PERn0

 

Pin 18

Pin 19

 

GND

GND

 

Pin 20

Pin 21

 

C_PETp1

G

C_PERp1

 

Pin 22

The resulting interface specification is the result of several man-years of effort by some of the best and most creative engineering talent in our industry. The concepts embodied in the specification have been tested and vetted through a broad set of reviews and implementation of multiple test beds. The standard defines a connector type and pin definition. It incorporates two high-density (0.025” pin pitch) 52-pin connectors that may be implemented separately or together depending on the feature content required in the resulting product.

Pin 23

 

C_PETn1

N

C_PERn1

 

Pin 24

Pin 25

 

GND

D

GND

 

Pin 26

Pin 27

 

C_PETp2

 

C_PERp2

 

Pin 28

Pin 29

 

C_PETn2

 

C_PERn2

 

Pin 30

Pin 31

 

GND

 

GND

 

Pin 32

Pin 33

 

C_PETp3

 

C_PERp3

 

Pin 34

Pin 35

 

C_PETn3

 

C_PERn3

 

Pin 36

Pin 37

 

GND

 

GND

 

Pin 38

Pin 39

 

PERST#

 

WAKE#

 

Pin 40

Pin 41

 

Reserved

 

Reserved

 

Pin 42

Pin 43

 

+5V

Reserved

 

Pin 44

Pin 45

 

+5V

 

3.3V

 

Pin 46

Pin 47

 

+5V

 

3.3V

 

Pin 48

Latest Low-Power Technology

Pin 49

 

+5V

 

3.3V

 

Pin 50

Pin 51

 

+5V

+5VSB

 

Pin 52

 

 

 

 

Connector A incorporates one x1 PCI Express lane, three USB 2.0 “lanes,” the LPC bus, an I2C / SMB interface and an SPI interface as well as control, power and ground signals. Connector B incorporates one x1 PCI Express lane and one x4 PCI Express lane along with additional control, power and ground signals. A system may be implemented with Connector A only, Connector B only, or both Connectors A and B. These configurations are known as SUMIT-A, SUMIT-B and SUMIT-AB respectively. The pin definitions for connectors A and B are shown in Figure 2. The connectors chosen for the SUMIT interface are a key element to meet the goals set for the specification. Using the Samtec Q2 family, these connectors offer a unified internal ground interface to improve routing characteristics while providing for efficient use of the 52 pins. The SUMIT interface incorporates connectors placed on both the top and bottom surface of the PCB, enabling the stacking architecture familiar from the PC/104 world. The flexibility and broad applicability of the SUMIT interface should now become clear. A simple PCI Express ex-

 

 

Pin 1

 

GND

Pin 3

 

B_PETp0

Pin 5

 

Pin 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2b Detailed pin definitions for SUMIT connector B.

pansion system can be easily implemented with a SUMIT A configuration. This configuration also enables easy migration for existing PC/104 (ISA!) applications by providing the LPC bus (and Serial IRQ – SIRQ signal) on the connector. It also enables simple, low-cost expansion through the use of LPC Super I/O devices for adding common legacy system elements such as serial ports or PS/2 keyboard / mouse interfaces. Finally, SUMIT A also enables a unique USB expansion scheme, allowing USB target devices to be placed on the stack. For more complex, higher performance PCI Express requirements, the SUMIT B interface includes both a x1 lane and a x4 lane. The SUMIT interface is optimized for the latest 2-chip (CPU plus single chip “chipset”), x86 silicon from Intel and VIA, rather than earlier PCI Express chipsets such as the Intel 915 family, introduced over three years ago, which requires three chips for similar functionality. In technology “dog

years,” 3.5 years is more than half of a typical 5-year processor and chipset lifecycle commitment, and is the difference between performance / power efficiency and inefficiency. In the world of small form factors, there just isn’t room for an extra large IC. Note that SUMIT does not incorporate x16 PCI Express video expansion capability. There are three reasons for this. First, there is a high pin cost and cooling solution cost for this very specialized usage that has limited applicability in embedded applications. Second, the video capability integrated into modern chipsets continues to improve with each generation, meeting the needs of an increasing number of applications and eliminating the need for an external graphics chip. Finally, for those desktop-style applications like digital signage, imaging and gaming, x16 connector standards are already established, such as the vertical desktop slot, Nvidia’s MXM low-profile connector for notebook computMay 2008

45


Unified I/O Across Form Factors

As mentioned, SUMIT is an interface specification that is form factor and board independent. To speed the initial adoption of the SUMIT specification, the SFF-SIG has simultaneously announced a “new” form factor standard called Ex-

0.000 [0.00]

0.650 [16.51]

press104. This form factor is mechanically identical to PC/104 in overall size and mounting holes. It specifies locations for both SUMIT A and SUMIT B connectors, enabling all three configurations to be constructed. The connectors are placed in such a way that the PC/104 ISA connector can also be placed on the board, enabling direct and immediate migration from an existing PC/104 ISA stack. The Express104 form factor standard is shown in Figure 3.

1.693 [43.01]

ers and PICMG’s COM Express standard. There is no justification and no ecosystem of boards for a fourth solution.

2.900 [73.66]

SYSTEMIntegration

0.200 [5.08] 0.000 [0.00] 0.185 [4.70]

Inch [mm]

Express104 Module

Figure 3

0.100 [2.54] 0.300 [7.62]

3.250 [82.55] 3.050 [77.47]

3.375 [85.73] 3.575 [90.80]

The new Express104 specification defines placement of the SUMIT connectors while leaving room to include the ISA connector in order to include legacy PC/104 modules.

The time for change is upon us in this election year. As PCI Express has grown in pervasiveness over the past few years, many embedded designers have played the “if-I-don’t-look-it-may-go-away” game, hoping not to have to deal with the complex migration to PCI Express-based systems. But PCI Express won’t go away. And embedded OEMs need to start to deal with the realities of how systems will be built in the future. There are choices. It is important that you understand the choices so that you can make an informed decision on the future designs of your medical, military, instrumentation or control applications. Small Form Factor SIG [www.sff-sig.org]. Octagon Systems Westminster, CO. (303) 430-1500. [www.octagonsystems.com]. VersaLogic Eugene, OR. (541) 485-8675. [www.VersaLogic.com].

1 46Untitled-7 May 2008

5/12/08 5:59:36 PM


INTO TECHNOLOGY COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU rtecc.com


FeaturedProducts Graphics-Class SHB Supports the Latest Multicore Intel Processors A graphics-class system host board (SHB) coupled with a PICMG 1.3 industry standard backplane can support multiple system designs that use the latest PCI Express, PCI-X and PCI option cards. The TQ9 from Trenton Technology and a Trenton BPG6544 backplane supports PCI Express, PCI-X, PCI and legacy ISA option cards. Trenton’s TQ9 and PICMG 1.3 backplane technology enables Trenton customers to take advantage of today’s dual- and quadcore processors and PCI Express technology while maximizing system ROI by extending the use of legacy option cards. The TQ9’s x16 PCI Express link provides 3.5 times more bandwidth than an AGP8X interface and may be used to support PCI Express graphics and video cards, including the latest ADD2 cards. Other types of PCI Express cards, as well as 32-bit/33 MHz PCI option cards, are supported directly by the TQ9 on a PICMG 1.3-compatible backplane. The TQ9 also supports 64-bit PCI and PCI-X cards on backplanes with the appropriate PCI Express-to-PCI-X bridge chip technology. The latest dual- and quad-core Intel Core 2 processors are featured on the TQ9. These processors are produced using a 45nm manufacturing process and offer key features such as a 1333 MHz front side bus and up to 12 Mbytes of L2 cache. Pairing these latest Intel processors with the Intel Q35 Express Chipset and the Intel ICH9DO I/O Controller Hub produces an SHB with an impressive feature set to tackle today’s demanding computing applications. This component combination enables dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, 12 USB 2.0 interfaces, a built-in audio interface and an 8 Gbyte, dual-channel DDR2-800 memory interface. Dual SATA2/300 drive interface capability is supported on the TQ9 to enable RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 storage array implementations. The TQ9’s LGA775 socket supports a wide variety of additional Intel processor options. The front side bus on the TQ9 supports 800 MHz, 1066 MHz and 1333 MHz processor options. Processors supported on the TQ9 also include the quad-core Intel Core 2 Q9550 and dual-core

48

May 2008

Intel Core 2 and Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Pentium Dual Core and the Intel Celeron processors. The four DDR2 DIMM sockets on the TQ9 have a maximum capacity of 8 Gbytes. The dual-channel memory interface supports non-ECC PC2-5300, or PC2-6400 DIMMs. The TQ9 supports a variety of PICMG 1.3 standard backplane I/O interfaces including a 10/100Base-T Ethernet LAN, and four USB 2.0 and two eSATA interfaces on edge connector C of the SHB. It also supports the optional edge connector D defined in the PICMG 1.3 industry standard. Edge connector D provides a 32-bit/33 MHz PCI interface to the backplane to support legacy 32-bit/33 MHz PCI option card slots and PCIto-ISA bridge chips. This capability is useful when it is cost-prohibitive to design out an older or purpose-built ISA option card. The TQ9 is priced at $1,283 including processor and heat sink. Pricing discounts and processor speed availability varies. Trenton Technology. Atlanta, GA. (770) 287-3100. [www.TrentonTechnology.com].


Highly Integrated 1U MicroTCA Platform with Innovative Chassis Designed for equipment manufacturers and application developers, a highly integrated system provides a cost-efficient 1U MicroTCA offering at a price-point of under $2,000 for volume purchases. The MTC5070 from Performance Technologies eliminates high overhead costs associated with more traditional modular approaches to building MicroTCA-based products by incorporating vital platform infrastructure functions of Gigabit Ethernet switching, PCI Express switching, MicroTCA-compliant carrier and shelf management, storage interconnect, as well as power supplies into the system. The result is one of the highest payload slot counts per 1U rack height in the industry and a substantially lower overall cost structure. This gives system architects of telecom, datacom, and aerospace and defense applications the ability to vastly reduce product costs. Key Features of the MTC5070 include a scalable 1U steel enclosure designed to meet Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) standards with six configurable AdvancedMC (AMC) payload slots and 40W per slot power and cooling with a removable 300W AC or DC power supply. Using front-to-back cooling, the MTC5070 brings in air via a bank of fans in from the front through a filter situated to one side and distributes it to the power supply in the rear and laterally across the modules. A second bank of fans in the rear pulls the air over the modules and the carrier board and out the back. It also has built-in MCH and power functions with MicroTCA-compliant carrier and shelf management. The main board supports Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express fabric along with Telco clock and SATA and SAS storage interconnect between AMC modules. The MTC5070 supports the Performance Technology’s family of modules that include a variety of x86 and PowerPC-based single-board compute modules, and the company’s recently announced AMC590 video/storage module. These embedded product offerings provide foun-

dations for new product applications such as WiMAX gateways, security gateways, wireless infrastructure equipment, media gateways and military communications systems. Embedded engineers seeking to more quickly develop new products based on the MTC5070 can also utilize NexusWare, Performance Technologies’ Carrier Grade Linux operating system and development environment that is pre-integrated throughout the company’s embedded hardware product lineup. This software distribution enables design teams to save time and resources by utilizing a carrier-grade kernel and an application development environment that is fully integrated with Performance Technologies’ MicroTCA and AMC products. Performance Technologies. Rochester, NY. (585) 256-0200. [www.pt.com].

May 2008

49


Products&TECHNOLOGY PXI Controller Combines Mobile Intel GME956 Chipset with Core 2 Duo T7500

A PXI controller combines the latest Intel Core2 Duo T7500 2.2 GHz processor Mobile Intel GME965 chipset and 4 Gbyte 667 MHz DDR2 memory to provide performance for high-end test and measurement applications, including RF testing, sound/vibration analysis and automatic optical inspection. The PXI-3950 from Adlink Technology is also designed with the combination of Mobile Intel GME965 chipset, which supports the latest Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor. It provides an overall 10 to 15 percent performance improvement over the GM945/T7400 configuration through faster CPU and memory clocks and greater front-side bus bandwidth. In addition, the PXI-3950 incorporates a dual Gigabit Ethernet port configuration, which allows the use of one GbE port for LAN connectivity and the other port for a determinative bandwidth and latency connection with LXI instruments. The PXI-3950 is an ideal controller for Adlink’s PXIS-2558T 8-slot 3U PXI chassis, which includes an embedded 8.4” LCD touch panel screen and features smart chassis status monitoring and control, an operating temperature of 32131°F, a quiet 41.6 dBA operating noise level and a lightweight 13-lb rigid construction for both bench-top and portable test and measurement applications. The PXI-3950 system controller has a list price of $3,650. The PXI-2558T portable chassis is also available at a list price of $2,495.

VXI Card Provides up to 0.005Degree Accuracy

VXI remains the proven choice for VMEcompatible instrumentation work. Supporting that area, North Atlantic Industries (NAI) offers a high-density, DSP-based, single-slot VXI card whose modular design provides up to four synchro/resolver instrument-grade measurement channels and up to four synchro/resolver instrument-grade stimulus channels; or up to eight synchro/resolver embedded-grade stimulus channels; and up to six programmable reference supplies. All functions of the 65CS4 are independent, user-programmable for either synchro or resolver format, and may be formatted for single-speed or multi-speed applications. The unit also incorporates an internal wrap-around self-test function that does not require external hardware or software.

Adlink Technology, Irvine, CA. (949) 727-2099. [www.adlinktech.com].

5.7-Inch TFT Touchscreens Offer Sunlight Readability

Displays used by those deployed in rugged environments need more than the ordinary display technology. Feeding such needs, Phoenix Display International (PDI) has introduced a new line of sunlight-readable 5.7-inch TFTs with QVGA (320 x 240) resolution. The sunlight-readable 5.7 QVTA TFT module offers improved contrast, color saturation and response time over CSTN products. PDI also offers the 5.7 QVGA as a standard transmissive module with or without a touchscreen. PDI achieves sunlight-readable performance by manufacturing the TFT cell using highaperture panel technology, high-transmittance color filters and a unique anti-reflective polarizer scheme. The result is a clear and extremely bright display that is ideal for high ambient light or outdoor, high-brightness applications. PDI’s sunlight-readable model of the 5.7-inch QVGA TFT (model no. PDI-T320240SR5.7) is illuminated with high-intensity white LEDs and offers brightness of 300 cd/m2 (typical). The unit features a contrast ratio is 400:1 and a response time of 15 ms. This model also utilizes the HX8218A (Source) and HX8615A (Gate) drivers from Himax. In 1,000 quantities, Phoenix Display offers the 5.7-inch QVGA transmissive at $62.50 each, the transmissive with touch model at $71.85 each and the sunlight-readable model at $87.25 each. Phoenix Display International, Tempe, AZ., (630) 359-5700. [www.phoenixdisplay.com].

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Synchro/resolver instrument-grade measurement and stimulus accuracy is to within 0.005 degrees. Embedded-grade stimulus accuracy is to 0.015 degrees. Instrument stimulus and reference outputs provide 2.2 VA of drive and are programmable from 47 Hz to 10,000 Hz. The 65CS4 is available with an operating temperature range of 0° to +50°C. Pricing for 100 pieces starts at $10,000 each. North Atlantic Industries, Bohemia, NY. (631) 567-1100. [www.naii.com].


Rugged, Fanless PC/104 Card Sports Pentium M

UDE 2.4 for Freescale MPC5510 32-bit MCUs with Unlimited Multicore Debugging

A Universal Debug Engine (UDE) supports Freescale’s MPC5510 Power Architecture 32-bit microcontroller (MCU) family. The high-performance automotive MCUs, with an operating frequency of up to 80 MHz, are—depending on the device type—provided with: one or two Power e200z cores, up to 1 Mbyte of flash with error correction coding (ECC) and up to 64 Kbytes of SRAM. Moreover, the MPC5510 family of devices—designed specifically for use in body electronics—provides extensive communication interfaces (FlexRay, MultiCAN, LIN), DMA, lowpower mode and additional typical peripheral units such as timer, analog-digital converter, etc. One of the important aspects is the modular construction of the UDE from PLS Development Tools, which allows real multicore debugging within one user interface. This is particularly useful with the dual-core versions of MPC5516 and MPC5514. For example, the four code breakpoints and two watch points per core, which are supported via on-chip hardware, can be used by the developer diretly in the program and watch window of the corresponding core. All further on-chip trigger options of the MP5516 are also fully supported by the Universal Debug Engine 2.4 (UDE 2.4). In the process, the debugger automatically allocates the necessary on-chip debug resources. The connection to dual-core devices, such as the MPC5516, typically takes place via a single JTAG interface. In combination with PLS’ Universal Access Device 2+ (UAD2+), download rates of up to 1 Mbyte/s can be achieved with the UDE 2.4. This guarantees users of the MPC5510 family a fast flash programming and also a short turnaround time during development. The existing Nexus unit on all devices of the MPC5510 family enables memory access by the debugger during run-time. For example, this feature can be used for real-time visualization of variables and expressions of them to represent measured values. Furthermore, in this way, a virtual input/output interface is implemented via the JTAG debug channel. The core architectures Power e200z1 and Power e200z0 support variable length encoding (VLE). This alternative instruction set consists of 16-bit and 32-bit wide instructions and enables a high code density. The Universal Debug Engine provides transparent use of VLE. An additional feature is the support of the most important compilers. Freescale’s CodeWarrior for MPC55xx devices as well as Wind River’s PowerPC Compiler and the GNU implementation can be used together with PLS’ UDE 2.4. PLS Development Tools, San Jose, CA. (408) 451-8408. [www.pls-mc.com].

A PC/104 module tackles space-constrained, power-constrained applications. MPL has rolled out its MIP10, a fanless PC/104 solution with a standard wide temperature range from -20° to +60°C as well as in extended temperature. The solution is also available with conformal coating. The MIP10 is a complete Industrial PC on a footprint smaller than two credit cards. The design is based on the Intel Centrino Mobile Technology. The Board incorporates the low-power embedded Pentium M 1.4 GHz with 2 Mbyte L2 cache. The MIP10 comes with a full set of PC features including Gbit Ethernet. The board provides soldered-on CPU and ECC protected SDRAM, Compact Flash slot and SATA interface. Also included are two serial ports integrated next to four USB ports. The MIP10 can be expanded for all requirements over PC/104 as well as PC/104-Plus. All interfaces are available on lockable headers to ensure a safe connection even in areas where vibrations cannot be avoided. The MIP10 is designed from scratch to operate under extreme and normal conditions without the need of fans or without de-rating or throttling. The MIP10 is rugged enough to be used in any application. MPL, Dättwil, Switzerland. +41 56 483 34 34. [www.mpl.ch].

DC/DC Modules Provide 28V Input, Up to 225W

Applications deployed in the field and in industry increasingly call for unique and highly reliable converters with multiple independent outputs. Martek Power Abbott has announced the addition of two high-power, multichannel models to the 28V Input DC/DC converter family. The new models, CB150D and CB225T, are available at 2 VDC, 3.3 VDC, 5 VDC, 5.2 VDC, 12 VDC, 15 VDC, 24 VDC and 28 VDC outputs, expanding the choice of output power of the CB series DC to DC power converter to a range of 5 to 225W. Measuring 2.28 x 2.90 x .0.50 inch (57.9 x 73.7 x 12.7 mm) in size, the CB150D is a 150W device with two independent 75W output channels. The CB225T, measuring 2.28 x 4.35 x 0.50 inch (57.9 x 110.5 x 12.7 mm) in size, is a triple output module with three independent 75W output channels. Both DC/DC converters feature a wide input range of 16 to 40 VDC and a power density of 45W/in3. These together with full specified performance over an operating temperature range of 55° to +100°C from no load to full load make the two new models unique in the mission-critical market segment. Pricing of the CB150D and CB225T in the quantity of 50 to 99 are $495 and $675 respectively. Martek Power Abbott, Torrance, CA. (310) 202-8820. [www.martekpowerabbott.com].

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Products&TECHNOLOGY NVIDIA G73M Graphics Climb Aboard XMC RadHard Transceiver Supports Multipoint RS-485

A high-reliability, radiation-hardened, general-purpose, high-speed, balanced interface is targeted for multipoint applications. The RadHard ACT4485 monolithic dual transceiver from Aeroflex addresses multipoint data transmission in RS-485 applications. The ACT4485 meets the requirements of the TIA/EIA-485 Standard, which specifies low-voltage differential signaling drivers and receivers for data interchange across half-duplex or multipoint data bus structures. The ACT4485 has several features that support the high-reliability application. The receiver has a fail-safe condition that guarantees a high output state when the bus is open or shorted. The driver maintains high impedance in tri-state or with power off supporting up to 32 bus transceivers connected to the bus. Manufactured in Aeroflex Plainview’s Mil-PRF38534-certified manufacturing facility, the transceiver is built with Dielectrically Isolated Bipolar technology, operates at -55° to +125°C and is screened in accordance with MILPRF-38534, Class K. The ACT4485 is $599 in lots of 100. Prototypes and production units are currently available.

Graphics processing silicon developed for the gaming realm are used extensively in graphics implementations for industrial, communications and public information applications. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing has announced its first NVIDIA G73M-based graphics display control card, the XMC-710 XMC mezzanine module. This new COTS graphics card is the company’s first designed to the new advanced XMC (VITA 42.3) open standard architecture, and is designed for use in VME, VPX and CompactPCI systems.

Aeroflex, Colorado Springs, CO. (719) 594-8035. [www.aeroflex.com].

COM Express Module Enables Ultra Mobile, Internet-Connected, Battery-Powered Apps

A low-power COM Express type 2-compatible design is based on the Intel Atom processor Z500 series with the new Intel System Controller Hub (SCH) US15W. The ExpressMLC COM Express module from Adlink Technology is a highly integrated off-the-shelf building block based on PCI Express bus architecture that plugs into custom-made, application-specific carrier boards. ExpressMLC allows for innovative designs in the area of mobile and “light” computing needs, including: portable and mobile equipment for the automotive and test and measurement industries; visual communication in the medical field, such as home care and video conferencing; entry level public gaming devices; and public points of communications. Using the Intel Atom processor and Intel SCH US15W chipset, developers can rely on a wide variety of mainstream software applications and middleware that will run unmodified and full function on this platform and that end users are familiar with already. Although much smaller, Intel’s Atom processor shares the same architecture as the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors and additionally supports Hyper-Threading Technology, a feature earlier introduced with the Intel Pentium 4 processor, allowing more than one code thread to be executed simultaneously on a single core processor. The Intel SCH US15W, the single chip chipset accompanying the Intel Atom processor, offers an integrated 3D graphics core with dual independent display support on either the integrated 24-bit LVDS or through dual SDVO extension. The true power of the US15W’s graphic core, however, resides in the built-in video hardware decoding that offers acceleration for MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, WMV9 and VC1. The integrated hardware decoding enables the system to achieve high transfer rates under very modest CPU loading. The Express-MLC will be available in a “basic” version that simply supports the feature set Intel Atom processor with the new Intel System Controller Hub US15W. The basic version supports two PCI Express x1, LVDS, SDVO, 8x USB2.0, SDIO, Audio and LPC-bus. The same module is also available with as an “Extended” feature set and offers in addition to the basic features: PCI bus, PCIe-based Gbe LAN and PCIe-based SATA. Adlink Technology, Irvine, CA. (949) 727-2099. [www.adlinktech.com].

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The XMC-710 graphics accelerator provides dual output and video capture capability. The card is powered by the NVIDIA G73M supported with a 128-bit local frame buffer interface with up to 512 Mbyte DDR2 frame buffer. To support customers with unique requirements, the XMC-710 was designed to adapt to and interoperate easily with different systems. An example of this built-in flexibility is the card’s I/O mapping architecture, which simplifies adaptation to a specific host card’s unique pinout configuration to ensure optimal I/O routing and video signal integrity. This flexibility enables system integrators to costeffectively deploy the XMC-710 on third-party basecards. Pricing for the XMC-710 starts at $4,580. Evaluation units are available now, with production unit availability scheduled for Q2 2008. Both air-cooled and conductioncooled versions, according to CWCEC ruggedization guidelines, are available. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (703) 779-7800. [www.cwcembedded.com].


Rugged HighSpeed, DualChannel 16-Bit Digital Receiver Sports Virtex-5 FPGAs

A rugged and compact high-speed, dualchannel 16-bit digital receiver XMC/PMC mezzanine card supports analog sampling rates of 160 Msps and speeds the integration of high-performance signal acquisition into rugged deployed COTS VPX, VME and CompactPCI subsystems. Designed for demanding signal acquisition applications, the XMCE2201 from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing is suitable for use in radar, software defined radio (SDR) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) platforms. Based on twin Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs, the XMC-E2201 combines input bandwidth in excess of 700 MHz, industry leading signal-to-noise ratio rated at >77 db, and high spectral purity. This small form factor mezzanine card delivers high dynamic range for sophisticated digital signal processing. Its twin FPGA architecture dedicates one “DSP” Virtex-5 FPGA for high-speed acquisition of the dual analog channel inputs. This FPGA also features 16 Mbytes of ZBT RAM memory and may be optionally configured with dual GC4016 Graychip co-processors to enhance its built-in DSP capabilities. The card’s second “Command & Control” FPGA provides high-speed I/O, including 64-bit/133 MHz PCI-X. An eight-lane PCI Express (PCIe) interconnect provides direct high-speed off-board data throughput rates up to 2.5 Gbytes/s. The board, which currently supports FPGAs rated at 160 Msps, is designed to support 180 Msps devices when they become available in the second half of 2008. To ease the integration and development of signal acquisition applications, the XMC-E2201 is supported with a Firmware Development Kit (FDK) that includes VHDL modules for interfacing the card’s ADCs, DDC, control FPGA and local bus to the user FPGA. Additional software support includes device drivers that are available for VxWorks and Linux operating environments.The XMC-E2201 is designed to operate in rugged environments and is available in a range of air- and conduction-cooled formats. Pricing starts at $9,620. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (703) 779-7800. [www.cwcembedded.com].

PMC Pair Targets Graphics and Comm Applications

PMC remains the most popular mezzanine module standard used in the board-level computing industry. Because of this continued popularity, Cornet Technology is offering the CPMC-722 and CPMC-DSCC, the first of the company’s PMC offerings. The CPMC-722 (shown) offers a variety of graphics display options for CRTs and LCDs. The board’s 8 Mbytes of internal SGRAM video memory improves the graphics controller performance by making the read/write process more efficient. It supports up to 1280 x 1024 x 24-bit color resolution, which is ideal for viewing on 19-inch monitors. For those requiring advanced graphical display applications, the CPMC-722 comes with a 128-bit 2D/3D floating-point rendering engine for enhanced precision display. The CPMC-722 is available now. Price starts at $600. An extended temperature version is also available. The CPMC-DSCC provides up to 10 Mbits/s for synchronous and 2 Mbits/s for asynchronous communication transfers. The board supports a full range of protocols including HDLC, SDLC, LAPB, LAPD, PPP, ASYNC and BISYNC. The CPMC-DSCC is available now at a starting price of $800. Cornet Technology, Springfield, VA. (703) 658-3400. [www.cornet.com].

XMC Blends Four Channels of 24-bit A/D Conversion

A mix of fast, precise analog-to-digital conversion is key in applications where vibration, acoustic and high dynamic range measurements are required. A new XMC I/O module from Innovative Integration features four simultaneously sampling, sigma delta A/D channels. The X3-SDF device has programmable output rates up to 24 bits at 2.5 Msamples/s and 16 bits at 20 Msamples/s using the programmable filter in the ADC. The X3-SDF module was developed in response to requests for DC-accurate measurements with very wide dynamic range at sample rates up to 5 MHz. A precision, low-jitter time base or external clock is used for sample rate generation. Sample rates up to 20 Msamples/s, with less than 10 kHz programmable resolution, are supported as well as external clocking. Trigger methods include counted frames, software and external triggering. Data acquisition control, signal processing, buffering and system interface functions are implemented in a Xilinx Spartan-3 1million-gate FPGA. Two 1Mx16 memory devices are used for data buffering and FPGA computing memory. Quantity one pricing is $2,125. Innovative Integration, Simi Valley, CA. (805) 578-4260. [www.innovative-dsp.com]. May 2008

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Products&TECHNOLOGY Boundary Scan Platform Extends Analog/Mixed-Signal Test Capabilities

A new JTAG/boundary scan I/O Module (SFXModule) features eight independent analog I/O channels with additional digital resources and supports application-specific in-system reconfiguration. The SFX-6308 module is a new addition to the hardware platform Scanflex from Goepel Electronic. The SFX-6308 provides four output channels with extended current yield of up to 200mA at ± 10V and four bipolar input channels with a range of ± 10V. All channels have a 12-bit resolution and can be disconnected from the UUT via relays. The module can be combined with any Scanflex controller (available for PCI, PCI Express, PXI, PXI Express, FireWire, USB and LAN). Standard features such as programmable range selection, external triggering and VarioCore technology make the SFX-6308 a versatile tool to test a variety of circuit functions, such as analog/digital converters, DC/DC transformers, digital/analog converters, digital potentiometers and extremely low-resistance input stages in interaction with boundary scan operations. The reconfiguration of the integrated module resources additionally allows the programming of complex dynamic I/O functions that can be run autonomously, further extending the achievable fault coverage. SFX-6308 is fully supported in the industry-leading boundary scan software system Cascon from version 4.x on. Module configuration and handling of analog/digital test data are based on user-friendly CASLAN instructions. CASLAN is a powerful boundary scan programming language with several hundred commands supporting IEEE1149.1, IEEE1149.4, IEEE1149.6, IEEE1532 and JESD71 as well as mixed signal operations. By simultaneously using multiple SFX-6308 modules, the channel count can be extended as needed. The modules are automatically identified in System Cascon by the AutoDetect feature. Furthermore, System Cascon executes application-specific VarioCore module configurations based on user input. Goepel Electronic, Jena, Germany. +49-3641-6896-739. [www.goepel.com].

1553 PC/104-Plus Card Boasts IRIG106 Chapter 10 Support

1553 has graced just about every flavor of embedded form factor, and PC/104 is no exception. Exemplifying that trend, Data Device Corp. (DDC) has introduced newly enhanced Software Development Kits (SDK) for MIL-STD-1553 PC/104-Plus and PCI-104 cards. The SDK allows users to develop source code to simulate, monitor, or troubleshoot 1553 data buses with support for the latest versions of operating systems including VxWorks 6, Linux 2.6 and Windows 2000/XP. This SDK allows users to quickly integrate DDC’s 1553 cards into their “C” source code applications. A common SDK exists across all operating systems allowing the programmer portability across different platforms. The easy-to-use highlevel functions abstract all low-level hardware accesses and memory allocation such that specific hardware knowledge is not required. The BU-65578C PC/104-Plus card provides up to four dual redundant MIL-STD-1553 channels, five user-programmable digital discrete I/Os, selectable external or internal time-tag clock, and an IRIG-B time synchronization input. The card has an intelligent hardware offload engine that dramatically reduces PCI bus and host CPU utilization, while storing 1553 Monitor data in a convenient and portable IRIG-106 Chapter 10 file format. Data Device Corp., Bohemia, NY. (631) 567-5600. [www.ddc-web.com].

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Dual-Core PrAMC Configured for ATCA and MicroTCA

ATCA and MicroTCA are slowly but surely gaining traction in markets beyond the NEBS environment. Emerson Network Power has announced the PrAMC-6210, a next-generation AMC available for a volume price of under $2,000. Available in both full and mid-size versions for AdvancedTCA (ATCA), MicroTCA and proprietary architecture systems, the PrAMC-6210 is based on Freescale’s MPC8641D PowerPC dual-core processor.

Developed by the Embedded Computing business of Emerson Network Power, the PrAMC-6210 is designed to provide modular, upgradeable, computing power. OEMs can use the PrAMC-6210 to boost the performance of their existing Power Architecture applications, such as protocol processing, packet processing, data management and I/O management, while lowering their total cost of ownership by consolidating hardware. To support highspeed packet data transfers on and off the card, the PrAMC-6210 features Gbit Ethernet and PCI Express interfaces to the carrier or backplane. With ever-increasing application and data transfer requirements, this combination of more traditional GbE interfaces and the emerging PCIe interface allows developers to easily migrate existing applications. Emerson expects PrAMC-6210 modules to be available in the second quarter of 2008. Emerson Network Power. Tempe, AZ. (800) 759-1107. [www.emersonnetworkpower.com].


Low-Cost ATCA Blade Features Two Quad-Core Xeon Processors and Dual AMC Bays

A next-generation AdvancedTCA CPU blade features the latest Intel 5100 chipset, two quad-core LV-Xeon processors, and two AMC bays for enhanced performance, integration and flexibility. By incorporating Intel 64-bit extended memory technology, aTCA-6900 from Adlink Technology provides telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs) with a cost-effective solution that offers increased memory capabilities, storage and connectivity options. The aTCA-6900 series of CPU blades supports up to eight CPU cores. The series also supports a flexible Fabric Interface that includes dual 10GbE Fabric Interfaces, dual PCI Express Fabric Interfaces, dual Fibre Channel Fabric Interfaces, two mid-size AMC bays for I/O and/or storage expansion and an onboard 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch for flexible traffic routing. Through these features, aTCA-6900 series CPU blades offer both increased density and performance, while providing flexible I/O and storage options. The aTCA-6900 features the latest Intel 5100/ICH9R chipset, with dual 64-bit dual dual-core 2.33 GHz LV-Xeon processors with 1.33 GHz FSB and up to 32 Gbytes of DDR2-667 REG/ECC. In addition to supporting the latest generation of Intel processors, the design also supports next-generation 45nm processors. A flexible riser card supports a variety of Fabric Interfaces including PICMG 3.1 option 1/2/4/7/9 or PICMG 3.4. The two single-width AMC.0 Mid-size AdvancedMC bays are compliant with AMC.1 P1, AMC.2 E2/Type4, AMC.3 S2. Onboard storage options include 4 Gbyte USB flash, 2.5” SATA/ SAS HDD, AMC-mounted HDD and RTM-mounted HDD. Front panel I/O includes video, 3x USB 2.0, 2 x RJ-45 Ethernet, RJ-45 serial port. Adlink Technology, Irvine, CA. (949) 727-2099. [www.adlinktech.com].

Portable Interface Tool Links 1553 to USB

With over three decades under its belt, the venerable MIL-STD-1553 bus still dominates as an internationally accepted data bus standard for many military and aerospace platforms. For applications where data integrity and low latency are the priorities, MIL-STD-1553 is likely to remain the interface of choice. Meanwhile Fibre Channel, Ethernet and Extended 1553 top the list of possible upward migration paths from 1553. Although fundamentally an avionics bus, a wide variety of systems such as tanks, ships, missiles, satellites and even the International Space Station, rely on 1553. National Hybrid Inc. (NHi), a division API Nanotronics, has developed an affordable, portable 1553 to USB interface. NHi’s 1553/USB Pocket Pal is a redundant 1553 BC/MT/RT Terminal with 64K words of internal ram. It interfaces to a 2.0-compliant USB port, enabling a laptop computer to function as an autonomous 1553 Work Station. Weighing less than 7 oz., and small enough to fit within a shirt pocket, allows the user to take this 1553 USB anywhere. NHi’s 1553/USB Pocket Pal features include: Hardware and Software development, Bus Exercisor, Bus Evaluation and Troubleshooting. Bus management and bus integrity analysis are also key applications for the Pocket Pal. API Nanotronics, Hauppauge, NY. (631) 582-6767. [www.apinanotronics.com].

Gigabit Managed Switch Delivers Redundant Ethernet

A compact and industrially hardened switch offers advanced traffic control for optimum network performance and security, along with rapid self-healing fiber-optic ring capabilities to ensure network uptime in adverse environments. The EKI-7656C 16+2 combo port industrial managed redundant Gigabit Ethernet switch from the Industrial Automation Group of Advantech features 16 Fast Ethernet (10/100Base-TX) and two combo gigabit (1000Base-T) ports, which support both copper (RJ-45) connections and optional industry-standard Small Form factor Pluggable (SFP) modules. This gives users the power and flexibility to configure the switch for their unique application requirements. About the size of an “AA” battery, SFPs are available in singlemode and multi-mode fiber models, for fiber connections ranging from 500M to 110 km (1,800 feet to 68 miles). To meet the real-time, faulttolerant needs of embedded networking, Advantech developed the ultra fast X-Ring, which in the event of a fiber cable fault or similar problem, switches to the backup connection in less than 10 ms, ensuring solid and reliable network communications. Ideal for demanding environments, the EKI-7656C features industrial-grade components, is designed to withstand extreme shock and vibration, and includes redundant 12 to 48 VDC power inputs. Advantech Corporation, eAutomation Group. Cincinnati, OH. [www.advantech.com].

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Products&TECHNOLOGY Z500 Module Hikes Performance, Lowers Cost Down for Small, LowPower Devices

A smaller, pin-out compatible variation of COM Express delivers manufacturing and size efficiency with the energy-efficient performance of the tiny but mighty new Intel Atom Z500 processor. The Procelerant Z500 from RadiSys is an 85 mm x 70 mm module compatible with the Type 2 COM Express pin-out. Manufacturers of handheld and mobile equipment for industrial automation, gaming, test & measurement and military applications now have an ultra-low-power module, based on the high-performance Intel Atom processor Z500 series. This new module enables equipment manufacturers to shrink devices, stretch battery life and increase processing performance while also cutting manufacturing costs. The Procelerant Z500 module offers feature support specifically for handheld and mobile applications, such as 1 Gbyte memory, a MicroSD socket, a slim line profile and an extended input voltage range for battery power. In addition, the module incorporates General Software Embedded BIOS with accompanying design tools that supports fast and effective implementation of a smart battery subsystem and thermal management, further enhancing flexibility for mobile designs. The Procelerant Z500 module also adds capabilities to the highly integrated processor and chipset, such as SATA storage support and Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity. The size and price point of the Procelerant Z500 module also provides an attractive crossover point for customers looking for alternatives to legacy ETX designs.

GPS Receiver Works off Single Satellite

GPS receiver technology is becoming an increasingly popular feature in a wide range of mobile embedded applications. A high-performance, precision timing GPS module from Ublox is capable of a (compensated) time pulse accuracy of up to 15 ns and needs just one satellite to operate. The LEA-5T is a cost-efficient, compact and easy-to-integrate solution suited for telecom network synchronization such as UMTS, CDMA or the Chinese TDCDMA, as well as for applications that need time-accurate data communication between geographically dispersed systems and devices such as NTP servers.

RadiSys, Hillsboro, OR. (503) 615-1100. [www.radisys.com].

Low-Cost Evaluation Kits for PowerPC 460EX and 460GT Processors

Two low-cost, easy-to-use evaluation kits for its Power Architecture 460EX and 460GT processors accelerate customers’ system development time. The new evaluation kits from Applied Micro Circuits provide users with a comprehensive set of resources including custom-designed evaluation boards, industry-standard software development tools, sample applications, system-level benchmarks and hardware design files. The “Canyonlands” 460EX evaluation board, with a 7” x 7” form factor, includes an AMCC 460EX processor operating at a clock frequency of 1.0 GHz. Other hardware features include 256 Mbytes of DDR2 SDRAM, 64 Mbytes of NOR flash, 32 Mbytes of NAND flash, two 10/100/1G Ethernet ports, a USB 2.0 host port, a USB 2.0 OTG port, two PCI Express connectors, a PCI connector, a SATA connector, two serial ports, a JTAG connector and a trace connector. The NOR flash image includes Linux (2.6 kernel) and U-Boot boot firmware, both provided by Denx, along with a file system that incorporates a range of AMCC-developed sample applications, benchmarks and utilities. The “Glacier” 460GT evaluation board has a similar feature-set, adding two additional 10/100/1G Ethernet ports in place of the SATA and USB ports that are present on the 460EX Canyonlands board. The Resource CD included in the kits contains industry-standard benchmarks for use in processor performance analysis, such as TTCP, DBench, HINT, STREAM and MPEG-4. Once customers progress to the software development phase and before their own target hardware (prototype board) is available, the Resource CD offers a wide range of sample applications that can be used as a starting point for customers’ software applications, as well as various utilities to aid in system configuration. The 460EX and 460GT evaluation kits are configured with the Linux 2.6 kernel along with U-Boot boot firmware, both provided by Denx. The suggested distributor resale price for each kit is $995. Applied Micro Circuits, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 542-8600. [www.amcc.com].

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The LEA-5T features a time mode function whereby the GPS receiver assumes a stationary position, which can be programmed manually or be determined by an initial selfsurvey. Stationary operation enables GPS timing with only one visible satellite and eliminates timing errors that otherwise result in positioning errors. A built-in time mark and counter unit provides a globally synchronized time-stamping and time-measuring functionality useful in applications such as seismic sensors or other applications with wide-area synchronization needs. The module is powered by the 50-channel, U-blox 5 positioning engine. With SuperSense KickStart weak signal acquisition technologies, U-blox 5 GPS chips and modules offer an acquisition and tracking sensitivity of -160 dBm that enables fast, uninterrupted operation, even in challenging, weak signal environments like indoor locations. U-blox, Reston, VA. (703) 483-3180. [www.u-blox.com].


Compact Module Based on Intel Atom Processor Z500

An extremely low-powerconsuming COM Express module features the brand new Intel Atom processor Z500 series and the Intel System Controller Hub US15W. The Conga-CA module is a 95 x 95 mm (3¾ x 3¾”)sized COM Express module from Congatec that has a typical power requirement of less than 5 watts. Combining this with ACPI 3.0 battery management, ultra mobile embedded applications are now possible. The Conga-CA supports up to two PCI Express Lanes, eight USB 2.0, two Serial ATA, one IDE Interface and Intel High Definition Audio. Two onboard SDIO sockets allow for flexible expansion. Additionally, it features PCI bus, multi master I²C bus, LPC bus, fan control and Gigabit Ethernet. The Conga-CA is available in two different CPU variants. The Conga-CA eco version is powered by the Intel Atom processor Z510 with 1.1 GHz and 400 MHz front side and memory bus. The high-end version is powered by the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor Z530 with 533 MHz front side and memory bus. Both versions are equipped with 512k L2 cache and can access up to 1 Gbyte onboard DDR2 memory. The Intel System Controller Hub US15W features the Intel GMA500 graphics engine. This 3D-capable onboard graphics utilizes up to 256 Mbytes frame buffer and supports DirectX 9.0E and OpenGL 2.0. It also enhances video playback applications with the use of MPEG2 and MPEG4 hardware decoding. Graphic output provides either a 1x24 Bit LVDS channel or a single SDVO port. The Conga-CA implements the EPI (Embedded Panel Interface) standard allowing for automatic recognition of the attached flat panel display. Support for the new VESA standard named “DisplayID” will also be provided. All Congatec modules are equipped with an embedded BIOS and a board controller that enhance embedded features such as system monitoring, watchdog timer and the I²C bus. With the ability to be isolated from the main x86 processor, these features are also available in stand-by mode, hence promoting further power saving functionality. In addition to enhanced power management, the Congatec Embedded BIOS supports ACPI 3.0 with battery management. The Conga-CA will be available starting in July 2008. The single-unit price based on the Intel Atom processor Z510 with 1.1 GHz is $320 U.S. Congatec Deggendorf, Germany, +49 991-2700-0. [www.congatec.com].

Integrated Fibre Channel over Ethernet Adapter with Hardware Offload

An integrated singlechip solution delivers Fibre Channel over lossless Ethernet (FCoE) functionality and can reduce the number of adapters, cables and switches while improving the total bandwidth available with the potential to consolidate all of the traffic types over the same Ethernet link. The ConnectX dual-port 10GigE “converged” NIC from Mellanox includes support for both TCP/IP stateless offload and Fibre Channel transport in hardware. The FCoE hardware offload includes processing of all CPU-intensive FC and SCSI processing tasks as currently available in highperformance FC HBAs, avoiding per-packet processing in software. This improves performance across the entire fabric (Ethernet and Fibre Channel) delivering significantly higher IOPs, throughput with better CPU utilization and reduced latency for networking, storage and clustering applications. ConnectX EN dual-port FCoE adapters, with support for PCI Express 2.0, are available today with various media interconnect support including XFP, SFP+, CX4 and 10GBaseT. Mellanox Technologies, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 970-3400. [www.mellanox.com].

Smart Network Triaxial Piezoelectric Accelerometer Includes Programmability

A 3-axis piezoelectric accelerometer with a fully digital communication interface includes all electronics for analog signal conditioning, analog-to-digital conversion, digital signal processing and RS-485 network communications. The full scale range, filter corner frequencies and sample rates for the accelerometer are all programmable. The accelerometer from Vip Sensors provides data in engineering units, corrected over the operating temperature range to improve accuracy, and stores TEDS (transducer electronic data sheet) information for complete identification of each sensor connected to the network. The Smart Network is a multi-drop transducer communication bus with a high data throughput that supports high-frequency measurements and a high level of synchronization for all channels connected to the network. A Smart Network controller card and PC software is used to communicate with all sensors channels connected to the network, for sending commands to each sensor and receiving and storing sensor data. Vip Sensors offers a range of Smart Network Sensors products and accessories in addition to the standard piezoelectric and voltage mode accelerometers, signal conditioners and cable assemblies. Shock and vibration calibration services are also available for all types of accelerometers. Vip Sensors, San Clemente, CA. (949) 429-3558. [www.vipsensors.com].

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Products&TECHNOLOGY Real-Time Java VM Pico Provides Support for Wind River VxWorks

PERC Pico, a virtual machine for real-time Java, is now available for use with Wind River’s VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS) and Wind River Workbench development suite. The joint offerings provide developers with the resources to design complex mission- and safety-critical software within large teams where modular design is essential. With PERC Pico, the same Java language advantages of portability, scalability and modularity can be designed into applications from top to bottom, thereby streamlining application development, debugging and ongoing program maintenance. The PERC Pico development environment is geared toward the creation of resourceconstrained and deeply embedded hard real-time applications and components, and is based on the emerging Java Specification Request (JSR-302) for development of hard real-time safety-critical code. PERC Pico allows Java developers to write low-level Java code such as device drivers and interrupt handlers, telecommunications control plane, and signal processing for multimedia. It offers a memory footprint measured in hundreds of kilobytes in comparison to the tens of megabytes required for other Java solutions as well as boasting performance, latency and determinism comparable to C. PERC Pico 1.1, with Eclipse plug-ins, offers Java application developers plug-and-play access to the power and real-time characteristics of the VxWorks RTOS and Workbench Eclipse-based development toolset. PERC Pico analyzer, a new memory-use analysis tool, enables developers of real-time Java systems for the first time to statically analyze memory requirements and memory footprint implications associated with source-code changes without resorting to traditional test and debug activities. PERC Pico tools enforce programming disciplines that enable the PERC Pico analyzer to calculate the stack memory requirements for running threads. This kind of analysis and enforcement is extremely beneficial to development of deeply embedded, real-time systems where memory allocation and predictability are essential. Aonix, San Diego, CA. (858) 824-0212. [www.aonix.com].

New LED Lightpipes from Elma Prevent Color Mixing

A new line of lightpipes from Elma Electronic provides distinct color output. The Elma lightpipes have optional barriers that prevent color mixing from adjacent rows. Each pipe in the LED array can block interfering light from other pipes. Sometimes these pipes are too close together and the colors can blend. The lightpipes have thin polycarbonate barriers, which not only block intruding light from other tube lanes, but also add strength. This is particularly important for lightpipes that are especially long. The result is clear, segregated color definition and a more rugged LED solution. The barriers for the light-up protected LEDs are configurable. Customers have the flexibility to have barriers between some or all of the pipes, allowing the ability to mix and match. Slide covers that completely enclose the shaft of a lightpipe tube are also available. A slide cover allows only the end of the lightpipe tube to be seen and prevents light interference in all directions. Elma’s Lightpipes are approximately priced at $0.30/ea. in volume, depending on configuration. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [www.elma.com].

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May 2008

Low-Power ARM Processor Board with StackableUSB

A network-ready controller on the 104 form factor comes with seven USB ports: five host ports through a StackableUSB connector and two separate client USB ports. The RCB1626 from Micro/sys is based on an ARM core and has dual network processing engines to drive the 10/100 BaseT Ethernet allowing embedded system users to offload networking tasks from a server, such as Ethernet filtering, which enables higher throughputs. The RCB1626 board is suited for remote, low-power applications since it consumes only 385 mA typical in its basic configuration. Applications ranging from industrial controllers to protocol converters to gateways can all be implemented on this ARM single board computer (SBC).

In addition to its networking features, the RCB1626 also features 24 digital I/O lines, eight readable DIP switches, eight LEDs for application use and four RS-232 serial ports, one RS-485 configurable. With 128 Mbytes of SDRAM and a 64 Mbyte resident flash array, high-performance control or data communications systems can be implemented with feature-rich operating systems without the need for external storage devices. There are board support packages available for Linux, Windows CE and VxWorks. The RCB1626’s Compact Flash socket supports storage devices as well as I/O devices, such as Wi-Fi cards. The basic RCB1626 starts at $450 in single quantity. An extended temperature (-40° to +85°C) version is also available. Micro/sys, Montrose, CA, (818) 244-4600. [www.embeddedsys.com].


Low-Power, Large-Memory 16-bit USB MCU Family with OTG

A 12-member, 16-bit USB microcontroller (MCU) family comes with 2.6 µA standby current, large memory (up to 256 Kbyte Flash and 16 Kbyte RAM), and is the only 16-bit microcontroller family with integrated USB 2.0 device, embedded-host, dual-role and On-the-Go (OTG) functionality. The PIC24FJ256GB1 family from Microchip Technology makes it cost-effective and easy to add advanced USB features to embedded designs. Additionally, the integrated Charge Time Measurement Unit (CTMU) peripheral—along with the royalty-free mTouch Sensing Solution software development kit—enables designers to add a capacitive-touch user interface without any external components. When combined with Microchip’s free Graphics Software Library, engineers have access to a complete, USB-enabled and cost-effective user interface solution.

Untitled-5 1

USB embedded host functionality and capacitive-touch interfaces have become critical elements for a large number of embedded designs, driven by the demand for increased user friendliness, upgradeability and expandability. Now, applications that previously required a high-end chip can utilize the cost-effective, low-power 16-bit PIC24FJ256GB1 family to easily incorporate both advanced USB OTG and capacitive-touch functionality. Additionally, Microchip provides complete software support, via free USB class drivers and USB applications. And, the PIC24FJ256GB1 has ample code space for these advanced applications, while providing up to four UARTs, three SPI ports and thee I2C ports to expand control capabilities and eliminate the space and cost of support chips. The MPLAB Starter Kit for PIC24F comes with the USB-powered MCU board, the MPLAB IDE and MPLAB C30 C complier, documentation, sample projects with tutorials, schematics and 16bit compatible peripheral libraries. Microchip also provides free source code for USB software stacks and class drivers to enable designers to get a head start on the development of their USB applications. Microchip’s free USB Host Stack, Device Stack, USB OTG Stack, Class Drivers (HID, MSD, CDC, Custom) and File Management software are available now. The 12-member PIC24FJ256GB1 family is offered in 64-, 80-, or 100-pin TQFP package options. Pricing starts at $3.47 each in 10,000 unit quantities. Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ. (480) 792-7200. [www.microchip.com].

10/8/07 11:54:09 AM

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5/13/08 10:45:51 AM


Products&TECHNOLOGY VPX SerDes Modules Directly Test Channel Compliance

With architectures moving to higher-speed Serial RapidIO, InfiniBand, PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet and other serial fabrics, it is increasingly important to measure the signal performance of the system. New SerDes Test Modules for VPX systems are being offered by Elma Electronic in partnership with DFT Microsystems. The SerDes modules are designed to plug into VPX backplanes and directly test the channel compliance. They can be used to test VPX switch and node cards and/or the backplane channels without requiring external equipment or special test fixtures. Many Time Domain Reflectometers (TDRs) and Oscilloscopes in labs today cannot handle the massive density of high-speed serial signals used in architectures like VPX. Plugging directly into the backplane/chassis, the modules allow quick and easy characterization of the signals and eliminate the need for SMA connectors, cables and capitalintensive measurement hardware. With a USB connection to a laptop or desktop computer, it is easy to create Eye Diagrams, measure Bit Error Rates (BER) and jitter and more. Plus, the module kit includes software with a simple GUI interface. Within minutes, the user can plug the cards into the test chassis, connect the USB cable to a laptop, download the GUI software and begin measurements. The first in the test module series is an 8-channel version for 6U cards. With a scalable design, configurations in 4-channel, 12-channel, or 16-channel are available upon request. Elma also offers an E-frame VPX test chassis with dedicated cooling and power options for VPX. The chassis is offered separately, but can be purchased together with the SerDes test cards. The SerDes test technology that is deployed in the VPX Test Modules is modular and can be affixed to various form factor carrier boards. So the modules can be designed for other architectures. A MicroTCA test card for AMCs is planned to be released in the summer of 2008. Pricing starts under $22,000 depending on configuration. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3783. [www.elma.com].

6U CompactPCI Express CPU Board Supports Five CPCIe Boards

Targeted for OEMs migrating from CPCI to CPCIe, a new 6U CompactPCI Express board supports up to five CPCIe add-in boards and four CPCI boards. The 6U CPCIe from One Stop systems offers two PCI Express x8 (PCIe) links plus four PCIe x4 links to the backplane while providing a Core Duo processor running at 1.66 GHz. The accompanying rear transition module (RTM) provides two Gbit Ethernet ports and two USB ports in addition to the one of each on the main board. In addition, the RTM supports a CompactFlash module and/or a 2-1/2” SATA hard drive using the hard drive mezzanine card. The main board also provides a video port to the onboard ATI Rage Mobility graphics controller in addition to one PMC site and one XMC site. The 6U CPCIe CPU board provides the performance required to power all slots of One Stop Systems’ 8U hybrid CPCIe/CPCI platform. Six individually hot-swappable blowers provide superior cooling to all boards while a system monitor supplies data on the health of the system. The 6U CPCIe CPU board is competitively priced in OEM volumes at around $3,995, depending on the configuration. One Stop Systems, Escondido, CA. (877) 438-2724. [www.onestopsystems.com].

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PMC Modules Interface I/O to Virtex-5 FPGA Optimized for UltraHigh-Performance DSP

A set of new PMC-VSX modules features a DSP-optimized Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA that is reconfigurable for high-performance I/O processing and user-developed algorithmic computation. For fast data transfer in and out of the FPGA, the PMC-VSX from Acromag provides large banks of DDR2 DRAM and dual-port SRAM for high-speed DMA transfer to the PCI bus. A PCI-X interface ensures plenty of bandwidth to rapidly move data. An assortment of plug-in I/O extension modules offers flexibility to interface various analog and digital I/O signal types. The PMC base card 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 an efficient interface for 16bit 105 MHz A/D conversion, CMOS digital I/ O, RS-485 differential signals, or extra LVDS I/O lines. Typical uses include video, imaging, radar/sonar, electronic warfare, signal intelligence and communication processing. This PMC module employs Xilinx’s VSX95T Virtex-5 FPGA with 95,000 logic cells and 640 dedicated 18 x 25 DSP48E slices. The DSP48E slice simplifies implementation of high-performance filters and complex math functions. These performance-tuned DSP engines perform up to 352 GMACs at 550 MHz for execution of the most compute-intensive algorithms. 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. Boards start at $6,750 with extended temperature (-40° to 85°C) and conduction-cooled models available. Acromag, Wixom, MI. (248) 295-0310. [www.acromag.com].


VPX Card Boasts Quad FPGAs and Dual FMC Sites

A new FPGA processing engine with support for the new FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC/ VITA 57) standard integrates four Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs with two FMC I/O sites and VPX high-speed serial backplane connectivity, allowing I/O and processing capabilities in a single 6U slot. The FPE650 from VMetro is available in air-cooled and conductioncooled rugged versions and is designed to tackle demanding digital signal processing applications such as electronic counter measures (ECM), signal intelligence (SIGINT) and electro-optics (EO). At the heart of the FPE650 are four fully interconnected user-programmable Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs. The FPGAs sites can be fitted with Virtex-5 SX95T, LX155T or FX100T platforms enabling the FPE650 to be optimized for DSP or logic-centric designs. Each FPGA has four directly connected banks of memory to maximize performance. Two of the FPGAs interface to four banks of 9 Mbyte QDR2 SRAM memory; the other two FPGAs interface to two banks of 9 Mbyte QDR2 SRAM memory and two banks of 640 Mbyte DDR2 SDRAM memory. The balance of processing performance, modular I/O and VPX connectivity is important for demanding applications. The FPE650 allows sensor I/O or system data to be delivered directly to the FPGAs. The FPE650 is pioneering use of the new FMC I/O mezzanine standard, opening the door for a new generation of products, such as ADC and DACs, tightly integrated into the FPGA resources of the carrier board without the overhead of protocol translation required by other mezzanine standards. The FPE650 addresses the I/O and data bandwidth requirements of high—performance digital signal processing applications with three interconnects features – through FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC/VITA 57) sites for front panel I/O, through a non-blocking crossbar to help optimize the FPGA topology, and VPX/VITA 46 connections for backplane I/O. For front panel I/O, each FMC site has 68 differential signal pairs supporting 2 Gbit/s data rates per pair and four full duplex multi-Gbit/s connections to enable very large amounts of data to be moved between FMC modules and the onboard FPGAs. For onboard data movement, high-speed serial links from the FMC sites, the FPGA and the backplane are routed to a non-blocking crossbar switch. By configuring the crossbar switch, the connections between these resources can be configured specifically to meet application needs. For backplane I/O, each FPGA has two x4 full duplex multi-Gbit/s serial ports routed to the VPX backplane with each x4 port able to move over 1 Gbyte/s of data. The FPE650 also provides backplane parallel I/O directly connected to two of the FPGAs. A Software and HDL development suite for the FPE650 is provided by VMetro, including IP blocks such as DMA and memory controllers and sophisticated examples and utilities for FPGA configuration and development. The majority of the resources on all the FPGAs are available for user applications.

FPGA Mezzanine Card Debuts as A/D Module

FPGAs keep gaining functionality and permeating designs, often in place of processors. Now an FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) has appeared in the form of an A/D module—not with FPGAs on it itself, but to specifically serve the I/O needs of FPGAs on a baseboard. The ADC510 from VMetro supports two Texas Instruments ADS5463 ADC devices with each device supporting a sampling rate up to 500 MSPS and providing 12 bits of digital output. The ADC device interfaces are routed to the FMC connector to enable an FPGA on a baseboard to directly control and receive data. There is a choice of sample clock sources for the ADC510 including an onboard source that supports sampling rates of 300, 320, 400 and 500 MSPS as well as the ability to utilize an external sample clock. Input and output triggers are provided to enable multiple ADC510 modules to be synchronized to increase the number of input channels. FMCs address the needs of FPGA-centric I/O by enabling I/O devices that reside on an industry standard mezzanine card to be attached to, and directly controlled by, FPGAs that reside on a baseboard. The benefits of FMCs are a small footprint, reduced I/O bottlenecks, increased flexibility and reduced cost by removing redundant interfaces. An FMC module is about half the size of a PMC mezzanine module. To maximize data throughput and minimize latency, the FMC connector has many pins that support high-speed signals for moving data between the FMC and an FPGA on the baseboard. FMCs are ideal for high-speed analog I/O, digital I/O, fiber-optics, memory or even a DSP co-processor. VMetro makes available HDL example code for the ADC510 for integration into the HDL development suite for VMetro FPGA baseboards. VMetro, Houston, TX. (281) 584-0728. [www.vmetro.com].

VMetro, Houston, TX. (281) 584-0728. [www.vmetro.com].

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Smart Network ThreeChannel IEPE Interface Module

A 3-channel IEPE interface mod-Untitled-1 ule with a fully digital communication interface incorporates all electronics for analog signal conditioning, analog-todigital conversion, digital signal processing and RS-485 network communications. In the Model 6006 from Vip Sensors, the gain and offset, filter corner frequencies, and sample rates for the accelerometer are all programmable. The module provides data in engineering units, performs self-testing functions of its electronics, and stores transducer electronic data sheet (TEDS) information for complete identification of each sensor connected to the network. The Smart Network is a multi-drop transducer communication bus with a high data throughput that supports high-frequency measurements and a high level of synchronization for all channels connected to the network. A smart network controller card and PC software are used to communicate with all module channels connected to the network, for sending commands to each module, and receiving and storing sensor data. Vip Sensors offers a range of smart network sensors products and accessories in addition to the standard piezoelectric and voltage mode accelerometers, signal conditioners and cable assemblies. Shock and vibration calibration services are also available for all types of accelerometers. The company’s strength is in its technical expertise in sensor and electronics design. Vip Sensors provides state-of-the-art, quality products at a very competitive price.

1

11/8/07 9:42:51 AM

Vip Sensors, San Clemente, CA. (949) 429-3558. [www.Vipsensors.com].

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NEWS, VIEWS &

Comment May 2008

RoHS — Is it Worth the Chaos it Can Cause?

O

ver the past several months I’ve been hearing increasingly more comments voicing concern over problems with non-leaded components in both military and nonmilitary systems. Most recently, Bob Landman, a friend of my friend and mentor in this business, the late George Rostky (of EETimes “Charley” fame), sent a note describing lead-free manufacturing as a “cancer-like growth that will kill people.” He goes on to say that it’s a “perfect storm brewing that didn’t have to happen.” The culprit, of course, being the dreaded tin and/or zinc whiskers. Landman backs up his assertion with a barrage of information from NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, GEIA and others. Much research has been devoted to problems on non-lead components dating back as far as the 1940s, so the problem is pretty well understood. However, when the EU promulgated its RoHS rules, it did exempt at least military and automotive systems. That turns out to be somewhat of a catch-22 as virtually all chip and passive component makers, in order to sell into the larger consumer market, have shifted over to non-leaded components. Further, RoHS regulations are exclusively an EU mandate and no one in the U.S. Government had the job of defending tin-lead at the EU—the U.S. has no membership and no standing according to Landman. Solutions are few and far between. NASA and the Navy have been sending parts to specialty companies to have them tin-lead solder dipped at some significant set-up and production costs. And, different companies handle chips, passive components and specialty surface-mount parts further complicating the job of procuring conforming parts. Do these reworked parts have the same reliability/survivability as original equipment where things such as lead frames are treated before chips are bonded? And to make matters worse, Certificates of Conformance issued that parts are leaded (required by many NASA and DOD contracts) are false at a 3% or higher rate.

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a.

Figure 1

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Whisker Growth--Photos courtesy NASA

Not for the Military Alone The military has so far made the most noise—and even that’s not much—but is not the only area suffering. Automotive applications, because of the severe environments, were also exempted by the EU. However, they suffer from the same problems. Telecom and medical instrumentation are not far behind. Raytheon Missile Systems, for example, hosts a teleconference for military/aerospace and medical device manufacturers addressing the problem—but with little coming out. And it’s been reported that at least one major provider of telecommunications equipment has banned lead-free components from any subsystems and systems it purchases. In all cases, failure of components can have disastrous consequences. Many suppliers of boards, subsystems and systems claim that their “green,” lead-free products are fully as robust as leaded parts. That may be true, but reliability and longevity still need to be proven. Several Web sites are available that discuss different tin-plating techniques that ostensibly eliminate the tinwhisker problem (Figure 1). However, it’s doubtful that they are able to change the physics of the problem. There may well not be a simple solution. Chip and component makers are not about to set up a completely different facility


you at warrena@rtcgroup.com. If there’s enough interest, we’ll look at working with industry leaders in finding areas that require more exploration that may lead to a real solution. More next issue.

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for leaded versus non-leaded parts. And, if they do, it may well destroy the fabric of the “COTS” component mentality—using the latest and greatest technology developed for the consumer market and get the economies of scale in embedded systems be they military, aerospace, communications or medical. More likely a second tier of products could emerge, essentially going back to what used to be the old mil-spec criterion. That was eliminated years ago as the government first allowed waivers for the use of commercial products and finally with then (1994) Defense Secretary Perry’s order, Acquisition Reform: A Mandate For Change, which established a mandate to use commercial parts, and a waiver was needed to use mil-spec parts. At least one purpose of the change was to enable the military to take advantage of the latest technology. Going back to mil-spec means handcuffing the military and other industries to old and less than state-of-the-art technology, which our enemies will exploit. Are we going to move back 20-some years? I think it’s time that the industry wakes up to the potential pitfalls of using lead-free components in critical systems—and perhaps all electronic systems with an anticipated life expectancy of more than two years. The real threat of lead contamination both here and in the EU is the careless and haphazard disposal of bulk lead either from tailings or improper handling of storage batteries or other lead containing products. Today’s environment of recycling and ecological concern largely preclude contamination due to mishandling. I don’t know about other parts of the country, but where I live, disposing of electronics is handled in an easily and ecologically friendly way. This may be the area where more emphasis needs to be placed. If anyone has a solution or consideration to the lead-free problem or would just like to chime in, I’d sure like hearing from

I waxed a little long on my discussion of lead-free problems in our industry, but I feel strongly about it. Therefore my usual market and technology updates in this space will be a little truncated. Here are some of the headlines. Sun Micro buys Montalvo hoping to break into the lowpower, mobile x86 space with Intel, AMD, VIA and others. Lower chip prices hurt Toshiba and Elpida Memory’s bottom line. After a drop of 50% in the past year, NAND flash memory chips are expected to drop another 40% to 50% this year. At the same time, as shown in the chart, DRAMeXchange reports prices for DRAM also tumbled as ASPs dropped 60%. Lower NAND prices also caused Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor to shut down its NAND fab in the third quarter to reduce output. Delayed AMD Server Chip, Barcelona, is ready for distribution. Initially scheduled for release last September, AMD’s quadcore chip is now available at frequencies of 2.3 and 2.0 GHz. Processor maker VIA Technologies is taking off on two fronts powering the new HP Mini-Note PC as well as a move into COM Express in the embedded market. VIA is among many processor makers including Intel, Sun (see above) and others targeting the low-cost, low-power market. Despite announcement above, AMD’s first quarter revenue took a hit forcing the company to cut its work force by 10%. SIA says chip sales show modest year-on-year gain—an increase of roughly 1.5%.

Warren Andrews Associate Publisher May 2008

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Website

Acromag................................................................................................................67............................................................................................... www.acromag.com ADLINK Technology America, Inc............................................................................23................................................................................... www.adlinktechnology.com

End of Article

Birdstep Technology..............................................................................................16................................................................................................ www.birdstep.com

Products

BittWare................................................................................................................22................................................................................................ www.bittware.com Critical I/O............................................................................................................33................................................................................................www.criticalio.com Design Automation Conference - DAC.....................................................................41....................................................................................................... www.dac.com

Get Connected with companies and EDA Tech Forum....................................................................................................29....................................................................................... www.edatechforum.com Get Connected products featured in this section. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

with companies mentioned in this article. Elma Bustronic Corp..............................................................................................28....................................................................................... www.elmabustronic.com www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

ELMA Electronic Systems......................................................................................46..................................................................................................... www.elma.com Emerson Network Power .......................................................................................25..........................................................................www.EmersonNetworkPower.com Eurotech...............................................................................................................17................................................................................................... www.eurotech.it Express Logic........................................................................................................19..........................................................................................www.expresslogic.com Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected Get Connected companies and products featured in this section. GE Fanuc Embeddedwith Systems. ................................................................................5................................................................................. www.gefanucembedded.com

www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

Harting, Inc. EPT....................................................................................................27............................................................................www.harting.com, www.ept.com Hybricon Corporation.............................................................................................11................................................................................................www.hybricon.com Kontron America....................................................................................................68.................................................................................................www.kontron.com McObject LLC........................................................................................................59...............................................................................................www.mcobject.com Mesa Electronics...................................................................................................59............................................................................................... www.mesanet.com Moxa Technologies.................................................................................................8..................................................................................................... www.moxa.com National Instruments..............................................................................................7...........................................................................................................www.ni.com NXTcomm..............................................................................................................43..................................................................................... www.NTXcommShow.com One Stop Systems.................................................................................................37....................................................................................www.onestopsystems.com Orion Technologies,Inc...........................................................................................63...........................................................................................www.otisolutions.com Pentair Electronic Packaging..................................................................................40............................................................................................. www.pentair-ep.com Performance Technologies......................................................................................2.......................................................................................................... www.pt.com Phoenix International.............................................................................................63............................................................................................... www.phenxint.com PMC Showcase.....................................................................................................35 Portable Design Conference & Exhibition................................................................62..................................................................... www.portabledesignconference.com Radian Heatsinks, a div. of Intricast Co., Inc............................................................4..................................................................................... www.radianheatsinks.com Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference......................................................47.....................................................................................................www.rtecc.com Sensoray Company................................................................................................30...............................................................................................www.sensoray.com VadaTech..............................................................................................................31...............................................................................................www.vadatech.com VersaLogic Corporation..........................................................................................13............................................................................................. www.versalogic.com

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.

66

May 2008


A C R O M A G

F P G A

I / O

S O L U T I O N S

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