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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

August 2008

Remote Maintenance S a v es on S e r v ice C a lls

PCI Express Takes it to Cable Industrial PCs Move into Factory Operations Real-Time Java —It’s a Reality!

An RTC Group Publication

Which Way do You Want Your 10Gb Ethernet?

2500MB/sec 10G b 250MB/se

c 1Gb

Software Stack Conventional NIC Technology

Silicon Stack Critical I/O XGE

Silicon Stack Technology from Critical I/O. 10Gb Ethernet at Wire Speed. [Problem] You’re expecting 10Gb Ethernet to deliver a whole lot more performance to your embedded system. But what if you invest in it and get no gain at all? The performance of nearly all existing 1Gb applications are limited by the software overhead associated with the TCP/IP protocol stack. This bottleneck is in the software stack, not the network hardware. So, simply upgrading to 10Gb pipes will not improve your system’s performance. [Solution] Unlike conventional Ethernet interfaces or processor-based “offload” products, Critical I/O’s Silicon Stack technology eliminates this inherent bottleneck by offloading protocol processing to silicon; thereby achieving sustained line-rate performance, microsecond latency, and rock-solid deterministic behavior. And, Silicon Stack is 100% compliant with Ethernet standards, allowing you to leverage existing applications and hardware.

XGE Silicon Stack Ethernet vs. Software-based Stack

Software Stack 10Gb



40 varies with protocol



1Gb Throughput max sustained rate in MBytes/sec Host Overhead

Very High


125 µsec

Determinism typical variation Reliability

Silicon Stack

Horrible ± 200 µsec Poor when under heavy load

Very Low 12 µsec

5 µsec

Rock Solid ± 1 µsec Excellent under all load conditions, no dropped data

REMOTE MAINTENANCE Saves on Service Calls

10 PCIe cables come in four sizes supporting x1, x4, x8 and x16 link widths.

18 The Kontron KTUS15/mITX miniITX motherboard.


43 PCI Express-to-Fiber Cable Adapter Stretches Serial Interconnect to 300 Meters

August 2008



Editorial High-Powered, Low-Power—Plus it’s Neat to Beat the Heat

Insider 6Industry Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

Technology in Context


PCI Express

Real-Time Java


PCIe over Cable for HighSpeed I/O, Bus Expansion and Networking Steve Cooper, One Stop Systems

Solutions Engineering Industrial PCs

Form Factor Forum Industrial PCs Take Over a Broad 8Small The COM Interchangeability Myth 18 Range of Applications Products & Technology Embedded Technology Used by 44Newest Industry Leaders Matt Wieborg, Kontron

Views & Comment 60News, Chip Makers Mixed

Industry Insight

Remote Maintenance and Monitoring

Get Rolling with Remote 24 Railroads Monitoring Michael Heilmann, Wi-Tronix and Heidi Schubert, Real-Time Innovations


Secure Remote Device Management in Firewall-Protected Environments

Java Pushing Deeper 32Real-Time Into Embedded Systems Dr. Kelvin Nilsen, Aonix

Industry Watch System Management

High Availability with Network Management 36Integrating Asif Naseem, GoAhead Sofware and Hakan Millroth, Tail-f Systems

Featured Products

Hypervisor Runs Windows XP Along with RTOSs on 42Real-Time Intel Multicores Real-Time Systems

Express-to-Fiber Cable Adapter Stretches Serial 43PCI Interconnect to 300 Meters One Stop Systems

Taqi Hasan, Lantronix Digital Subscriptions Avaliable at

August 2008



Editorial EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tom Williams, CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Colin McCracken and Paul Rosenfeld MANAGING EDITOR Marina Tringali, COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn



Your Embedded System Specialists. Mesa Electronics is a U.S. manufacturer of a wide range of cards for embedded systems and industrial use.

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Untitled-1 1


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August 2008

Maggie McAuley, (949) 226-2024

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



High-Powered, LowPower – Plus it’s Neat to Beat the Heat by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


ow all you young whippersnappers gather round because I’ve noticed something that could represent a major change in orientation all around and it has to do with power. We want to use less of it to do more. I don’t think that such a basic shift comes from a single source like environmental concerns, worries about climate change, costs, life-cycle concerns, issues of small packaging or thermal dissipation, etc. I do believe that these are all factors, but there seems to be something else going on that is a little harder to exactly identify. Back in my day (I never thought I’d begin a sentence with those words), back in high school when gasoline was priced around 22.9 cents a gallon, real status meant that you drove around with a 480 cubic-inch V8 engine making a god-awful racket through Main Street of a nameless but dismal Midwest town. Of course, not all of us could afford that even then, but it was a sort of ideal. Now that hasn’t gone away in the automotive scene given the popularity of the SUV craze, but even that is changing due to the simple costs of fuel. But it is changing more profoundly everywhere else and it is certainly a major issue in our industry. I recently had trouble expressing the type of new processors that are emerging these days. I wanted to say, “high-powered lowpower CPUs,” but that sounds ridiculous. Of course, what I was trying to express was computationally powerful CPUs that draw low amounts of power. It appears that this trend is mainly being driven by the small form factor phenomenon. Smaller modules going into tighter and more mobile places have an absolute need to minimize power consumption and heat dissipation yet are addressing applications that demand workstation-class computational power. Thus we are witnessing a flood of high-performance low-power processors (there, is that better?) from the major semiconductor manufacturers. While these are being snapped up by COM OEMs—there were reports that demand for a time outstripped Intel’s planned supply of Atom processors—they will soon find their way into larger applications, probably starting with laptops.

But what developer would pass up the opportunity to cut a system’s power budget if he or she could get the required performance? I think this is going to rapidly migrate to the data center in the form of smaller form factor, lower powered blade servers. There are already indications that full-function blade servers are starting to appear in the AMC/MicroTCA form factor. When you multiply the power savings and the associated heat generation by the vast number of servers in a data center or an Internet server farm and then factor in the building cooling costs needed to comply with NEBS requirements, the argument is compelling. There were those who sneered and continue to sneer at the prospect of MicroTCA moving into mobile, rugged and even military applications, but it is starting to happen, and PICMG is actively pursuing two tracks in a ruggedized MicroTCA effort with both forced-air and conduction-cooling approaches. Thus, MicroTCA, which had started off as a mezzanine design for AdvancedTCA carrier boards, is taking off on its own as a major small form factor along with a plethora of small derivatives of other form factors and a passel of brand new ones. Once all the intended applications have been addressed, my prediction is that we’ll have another run of what can be compared to the old Monty Python episode of “The Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.” Only this will be “Putting Small Intelligent Modules into Things That Don’t Yet Have Them.” The end result is a very positive one for the embedded computing space. We have proven that making devices more intelligent and more connected makes them more useful and hence more valuable and makes people more inclined to buy them. But it is not only small applications that will benefit. Putting smaller, less expensive and less power-consuming intelligence into big things like vehicles and telecom systems and radar installations and much more, will be every bit as attractive for the next generations of these systems for all the reasons given plus the fact that low power is associated with higher reliability. Using less power to do more—it’s not just a good idea for a class of solutions, it’s going to permeate industry. August 2008


IndustryInsider AUGUST 2008

Microsoft’s Classic OSs a Major Driver of Revenue for Windows Embedded Recently published research by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), titled Windows Embedded and Mobile Operating Systems, Volume 2, indicates that embedded systems manufacturers and their suppliers are driving Windows Embedded revenue by incorporating Microsoft’s classic operating systems under embedded restricted licenses in device development. While the scope of the research report covers Microsoft’s Embedded and Mobile segments, VDC estimates that greater than 40% of Windows Embedded revenue in 2007 was derived from Classic OS (Windows Embedded Enterprise) production licenses. The types of applications can range from retail automation, industrial automation, large complex medical devices, and others. VDC’s description of Microsoft’s Classic OSs includes full-up versions of Windows XP, Vista, 9x, DOS, and other operating systems under embedded restricted licenses. According to the report, the main factors driving Microsoft’s success in this area are the development of PC-type devices that are not resource constrained, do not require any special hardware or software requirements and where third-party application software already exists. Real-time support if required can be achieved with real-time extensions from companies such as Ardence (RTX), TenAsys (INtime), and others. In these cases, with low volume shipments, a standard generalpurpose off-the-shelf operating system becomes an attractive fit both technically and financially for the embedded system manufacturer.

PICMG has formed a new technical subcommittee for MicroTCA to create a conductioncooled module specification appropriate for ruggedized applications with higher level of shock and vibration per ANSI/VITA 47 for application areas like the transport industry (railway, truck, ship, aircraft mounted); outdoor telecom; the machine industry where modules can be rotating machine mounted without fans; and for military airborne, shipboard and ground mobile equipment. The goal of the technical subcommittee is to identify and document the physical, environmental and various other issues related to the use of the existing MicroTCA specification in the identified markets, with the intent of extending the application of existing components including AMCs, connectors, hardware, power supplies, MCHs, etc., as well as existing requirements such as hot-swap and management. The group will also define


August 2008

mechanisms to support electrical and fiber rear I/O, two level maintenance and ESD protection as much as possible while preserving the AMC and MicroTCA form factors. Its goal is to develop the necessary specification(s) to address the identified issues while minimizing the number of variations, design impact, limitations and system cost. The group will create one or more ruggedized base specifications for conduction-cooled ruggedized AMC and MicroTCA modules, MicroTCA subracks (card cages) and for marketspecific sub-specifications as required. These specifications may define modified forms of AMC and MicroTCA modules and MicroTCA subracks. The objective of the group is to complete the specifications by Q1/Q2 2009.

Universal Graphics Module Revision 1.1 Incorporates COM.0 Compatible Height

The new revision 1.1 of the Universal Graphics Module (UGM) standard for long-term

available and custom scalable high-end PCI Express Graphics (PEG) optimizes system design and reduces costs by defining the height of UGM Graphic-onModules in accordance with the PICMG-defined COM Express specification. Published by Kontron, this revision enables designers working with COM Express modules and UGM Graphic-onModules to use a single heat sink for their entire design. The result is an extremely flat solution that maintains Computer-on-Module scalability within the design as 2 x TMDS UGM 220 Pin Connector Interface

PICMG Initiative Started for Conduction-Cooled MicroTCA

well as reduced development and production costs and the fastest time-to-market. Developers also benefit from enhanced DisplayPort mapping in UGM rev. 1.1 that implements DisplayPort and LVDS/TMDS on the same pinouts. This double assignment enables developers to easily use either DisplayPort or the LVDS/TDMS format for implementing designs based on the latest generation GPUs. UGM revision 1.1 retains all the benefits of the original specification that was launched at the end of 2007 such as mounting the 84 x 95 mm UGM module parallel to the carrier board and long-term availability of the UGM graphics module of at least three years, as well as especially simple and quick implementation of the graphics functions in customized designs, including the necessary time-consuming BIOS. Via the 220 pins of the connector that is like the one used for COM Express, UGM cards receive PCI Express signals over 1, 4, 8, or 16 lanes (PEG) and video signals, process them—including video capture functions—and then deliver the converted signals back to the carrier board, also via the 220-pin connector. For playback devices, the UGM specification currently supports dual LVDS, dual TMDS, dual CRT and TVout. The design completely elim-


2 x DPort 30bit LVDS


Graphics Controller



PCI Express Max x16




inates the need for cables to link the graphic module with the rest of the system. Thus, UGM differs from current standard graphics cards in which interfaces are led out via breakout cables because the narrow expansion card slot bracket does not offer enough room for external interfaces. Furthermore, with a 22V DC power supply, up to 132W power input is allowed in accordance with the UGM specification. As a result, the UGM can perfectly support even high-end games with the highest frame rates and all graphics optimization algorithms.

Official Release of the Qseven Embedded Computer Module Specification

The 14-member Qseven consortium has officially released and published version 1.0 of the Qseven specification. This now provides the ability for manufacturers of embedded computer modules to start their Qseven designs. The primary focus of it is directed toward mobile and ultra mobile applications. It defines fast serial differential interfaces such as PCI Express and Serial ATA but omits support for legacy interfaces like EIDE and PCI in order to provide ideal support for today’s as well as future CPUs and chipsets. Qseven is a COM standard that defines an integrative software interface. This Application Programming Interface (API) covers these important embedded features: Watchdog Timer, I²C Bus, LCD brightness control, BIOS user memory and system temperature. Qseven modules from different manufacturers can thus be easily exchanged without modifications to hardware or software. The SDIO interface is also a new COM feature. Rugged and cheap SD Cards can be used as

bulk memory. Qseven defines an 8-bit SDIO interface that is capable of supporting MMC 4.0 cards thereby providing a maximum data transition rate of 52 Mbytes/s. The Secure Digital Standard also enables other applications such as WLAN, Bluetooth, RFID, etc. while using the same card format. In total, the Qseven standard features a rich choice of interfaces: • 4x PCI Express x1 Lanes • 2x SATA • 8x USB 2.0 • 1000BaseT Ethernet • SDIO 8 bit • LVDS 2x 24 bit •S  DVO / HDMI / DisplayPort (shared) •H  DA (High Definition Audio) • I²C Bus • LPC (Low Pin Count Bus) • Fan Control • Battery Management • 5 V Power (TDP max. 12 watt) •A  pplication Programming Interface (API)

MIPS and Microchip Partner to Sponsor Prizes for PIC32 Design Challenge

MIPS Technologies has announced its participation and support for Microchip Technology’s PIC32 Design Challenge. Microchip’s 32-bit PIC32 microcontroller (MCU) family is powered by the MIPS32 M4K processor core and leverages MIPS’ IP cores for Full Speed USB 2.0 Onthe-Go (OTG) functionality. Through the year-long Design Challenge, registrants can demonstrate their 32-bit design expertise by building, testing and displaying designs using Microchip’s PIC32 Starter Kit, and can win prizes based on community and expert ratings of their design, in addition to prizes for communi-

ty participation. The total value of contest prizes exceeds $150,000, including a MIPS-based portable media player packed with features such as Bluetooth audio streaming, Wi-Fi-enabled Internet and a five-inch LCD touch screen. Kicked off on April 15, 2008 and continuing throughout the year, the PIC32 Design Challenge has already received more than 200 design entries. For PIC32 Design Challenge rules and eligibility requirements, please visit

Elma Launches New Spinoff Site for Custom Sheet Metal Enclosures

Elma Electronic has launched a new Web site dedicated to sheet metal and customized enclosures. The new site,, features application stories, capabilities, standard product platforms, services, press releases and newsletters for the Enclosures division. The site offers customers the advantage of seeing focused information on custom enclosures. These include customization for instrument cases, desktop, wallmount, rackmount, portable, and other enclosure designs. Services discussed on the site include Industrial Design, Mechanical Design, Contract Assembly, Full Integration, Validation & Test, and more. For more information, contact Troy Lauritsen of the Enclosures & Components division at 510-656-3400 or visit the Web site at or www.

PMC-Sierra Licenses a Broad Range of MIPS Cores

MIPS Technologies has announced that long-time licensee PMC-Sierra has licensed a broad range of MIPS cores for its next-

generation communications and storage solutions. Included in the agreement are MIPS Technologies’ highest performance singlethreaded cores, multi-threaded cores, and its new multi-threaded, multiprocessor IP core, the MIPS32 1004K Coherent Processing System. The code-compatible cores offer scalable solutions from entry-level designs to 1 GHz and beyond. Pro Series cores enable SoC designers to write their own instruction set extensions and create highly differentiated, highly competitive products. Using standard tools and software, designers can implement instruction extensions to significantly increase performance, reduce power consumption, implement critical operations and more. PMC-Sierra licensed a broad selection of industry-leading MIPS32 processor technologies: 1004K Core – multi-threaded multiprocessor IP core with multithreading in each core within a coherent multicore architecture of one to four cores. MIPS32 74Kc Core – synthesizable processor that surpasses 1 GHz using industry standard libraries and EDA flows, based on MIPS Technologies’ superscalar microarchitecture. MIPS32 34Kc Pro Core – exploits multi-threading for embedded applications. MIPS32 24Kc Pro Core – Low-power 24Kc cores offer 700 MHz worst-case performance in a 65nm process. MIPS32 4KEm Pro Core – configurable cores offer SoC designers a tailored solution for high-performance, low-power consumer applications. MIPS SOC-it L2 Cache Controller – Fully synthesizable, it works seamlessly with all MIPS Technologies’ cores and uses standard cell libraries and memory arrays.

August 2008




The COM Interchangeability Myth

o, you’ve decided to use an industry standard Computeron-Module (COM) for your next application. You have the expertise and tools to design a baseboard, or you’ve identified a third party to do the work for you. You gain the benefits of designing electronics to fit your enclosure and not the other way around. You simplify system cabling and reduce the cost of assembly and test. And best of all, you can reduce costs by shopping among vendors for the lowest price each time you need to buy modules. Whoa! Hold on a minute. We need to talk! One of the temptations of choosing COMs over SBCs or full custom is the perceived benefits of interchangeability and, hence, second sourcing among modules, either from the same vendor or from different vendors as well as the upgradeability of your product with a higher performance module down the line. After all, the modules all have the same connectors in the same locations. And the same definitions for each pin on each connector. Just like a pin-compatible chip. And with all the same pitfalls and more that you find when qualifying two identical components (package, pin out) for use on a PCB. All is not what it seems. There are four categories of gotchas when interchanging COM modules. We touched on the simplest category, mechanical, in the last column. If you place components on your baseboard under the module, the layout might work just fine with one module and not with others. Manufacturers tend to ignore the specification about component height on the bottom of the module. The second area involves circuits you need to place on your baseboard to complete features offered partially on the module. These may be as simple as adding line drivers to serial ports, or as complex as adding a CODEC for the audio feature or an Ethernet transceiver. Different modules may use different audio chips and different Ethernet MACs to implement these features. And that CODEC or transceiver you used on your baseboard may work just fine with one component and not with the other. Debugging this one is not fun. The third area involves how power is supplied, from start-up to ACPI power planes. COM modules receive power from the baseboard. This is a big plus. Even though the COM module requires a 3.3V, 5V or even 12V input, you get to choose any input voltage you like for your baseboard—to fit the power supplied


August 2008

by your system. Your baseboard just needs to generate the appropriate voltage for the module. Well, not so simple. First, modules vary widely in their bulk capacitance, which impacts how “stiff” or “beefy” a power supply must be to boot a module. Then, there’s this other little thing called 5V standby, and the sequencing and ramp rate of the main voltage and +5VSB are important. You need to do it just right. However, when you try to get another module to work, you may find that the power sequencing for this module is a little different. It’s trial and error time, with the emphasis on error. There’s one more biggie to consider. Some baseboard elements, typically legacy I/O or bus bridges, require BIOS support. Some COM standards incorporate these features on the module, so there is no issue. To implement legacy peripherals on your baseboard, you need to pick components supported by the module BIOS or go down the difficult path of asking your vendor to make a BIOS change. Needless to say, your alternate module BIOS may not support the same components. And there are other little gotchas, too. If you happen to use an ETX 2.x module and put a SATA chip on your baseboard, you may find that an ETX 3.0 module with built-in SATA may render the chip on your baseboard inoperable. And beware of the use of “reserved” pins and other unstandardized features. Little things like that. Does this mean that you should give up on a COM solution? Absolutely not! Should you give up on using sourcing leverage to get the best price? Absolutely not! It does mean that you must identify UP FRONT all the possible modules that you might use or eventually upgrade to and design your baseboard to work with all of them. Qualify all of them at the end of your design phase. Just remember that the more modules you add to this list, the more complex your design could become. Finally, remember that this applies not just to modules from different vendors, but also applies to multiple modules from the same vendor. Good luck with your design. Address requests for more specific information to

Colin McCracken

& Paul Rosenfeld

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Technology I n C onte x t

PCIe over Cable for HighSpeed I/O, Bus Expansion and Networking Having backplane performance levels available over a cable expands the PCIe usage model to encompass many high-end multi-chassis applications including I/O expansion, disk array subsystems, high-speed video and audio editing equipment, medical imaging systems, and many more.

by S  teve Cooper One Stop Systems


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

PCI Express


n February 2007 the PCI-SIG approved the PCI Express External Cabling Specification 1.0 that defines how PCI Express can be implemented over a standard cable. This new capability allows the full bandwidth of the PCIe bus to be utilized within multiple chassis systems and small local networks. Over the past year and a half, hundreds of applications have been implemented using PCIe over cable for highpanies providing solutions now speed I/O, bus expansion and local netFigure ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the 1 latestPCIe cables come in four sizes supporting x1, x4, x8 and x16 link widths. working. In these applications, using PCIe lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you provides of high performance, ice you require for whateverthe typebenefits of technology, The cable specification defines four Inside the Cable simplicity ies and productssystem you are searching for. and reduced costs. cable connectors—for x1, x4, x8 and x16 Although PCIe is now well known The cabled version of PCIe contains links—providing a wide range of price the same signals as the backplane version as the PC backplane interface standard, it is much less known as a high-speed and performance (Figure 1). At the low of the bus structure. These include the cabling interface. Previous parallel bus end, the x1 cable provides a 2.5 Gbit/s in- high-speed differential pairs that transfer structures such as PCI couldn’t easily be terface over a low-cost cable. At the high data as well as a number of additional sigrouted over a cable due to signal integ- end, a x16 cable provides 80 Gbits/s over nals known as sideband signals. rity problems. The serial technology and a more expensive cable. Adapter modules The differential pairs are organized embedded clocking used within PCIe such as those shown in Figure 2 support into groupings called lanes. One PCIe allows it to be used at full speeds over most of the various cable sizes and are lane consists of four wires—one transavailable in a number of form factors sup- mit pair and one receive pair of signals. backplanes or cables. porting desktops, laptops, CompactPCI, Each pair of wires is molded together CompactPCIe, VMEbus, AMC and XMC. with the pair held side by side, closely Get Connected Both the PCIe cables and adapter cards together. Each pair is then individually with companies mentioned in this article. are now available from multiple sources. shielded. This helps ensure that the wires

End of Article


August 2008 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

You’re going to like what you see. More packet processors in more form factors to give you more choices. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms has an industry-leading selection of NEBS-compliant packet processors based on Cavium Networks OCTEON™ and OCTEON Plus multi-core MIPS64 network processors. So whether you’re designing for AdvancedTCA, MicroTCA, PCI-X or PCI-Express you can stay on the cutting edge of secure IP communications. Take, for example, our high performance AdvancedTCA blade. It features two OCTEON Plus processors that give you a total of 32 processor cores, on a 10 Gigabit backplane. That’s the kind of horsepower you need to implement high performance applications like Deep Packet Inspection, Session Border Controllers, secure

Media Gateways, session-aware Firewalls and Video Services Switches. Packet processors play an important role in Next Generation Network applications which are highly interactive and complex (voice, video, data) and yet must operate at multi-gigabit speeds. If you’re designing for these applications, check out our web site. We probably have exactly the packet processor you’re looking for. And if not, give us a call and we’ll build it for you.

AT2-5800-10G ATCA blade

WANic 3860 PCI-X card

WANic 5434 PCI-Express card

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

Technology In Context




2.5 Gbit/s

5 Gbit/s


10 Gbit/s

20 Gbit/s


20 Gbit/s

40 Gbit/s


40 Gbit/s

80 Gbit/s

Table 1

Comparison of lane width performance for Gen 1 and Gen 2 PCIe.

stay length matched through the cable and that any incoming or radiated EMI is minimized. PCIe provides a wide range of performance by increasing the number of lanes within a link. A x1 —pronounced “by one”—link includes only one lane. A x4 includes four lane sets, a x8 includes eight sets, and a x16 includes sixteen lane sets of wires. The sideband signals provide additional functionality, but are not directly involved in the PCIe data transfers. In fact, it is possible to operate PCIe without any of the sideband signals present, although this would violate the specification. The sideband signals include: • Reference Clock (CREFCLKp, CREFCLKn): 100 MHz reference clock, used to implement spread-spectrum clocking over the bus. • Cable Present (CPERST#): Signals that the cable is connected between two systems.

Figure 2


Untitled-2 1

August 2008

8/14/08 9:27:26 AM

• Platform Reset (CPERST#): Allows the upstream host to reset the downstream subsystem. • Cable Power On (CPWRON#): Allows the upstream host to turn on the downstream subsystem’s power. • Sideband Return (SB_RTN): The electrical return for the sideband signals • 3.3V Power (+3.3V POWER, PWR_ RTN): Provides power to the PCIe cable connector to power active components within the connector. Note that these power connections are not bused across the cable. Thus there are 10 wires contained within a x1 cable, 22 wires within a x4 cable, 38 wires within a x8 cable, and 70 wires within a x16 cable. One can observe that there are no signals within PCIe for data clocking (clocking is embedded within each signal pair), transceiver direction (each signal is

PCIe over cable adapter modules are available for desktop, laptop and industrial bus structures.

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6U CompactPCI C tPCI EExpress with i Core Duo / Core2 Duo processor UÊ Intel Core Duo/ Core2 Duo Fanless processor

North America · Europe · Asia

UÊ Chipset: Intel E7520 U CompactPCI Express Bus: 4 x4 or 2 x8 lanes U RAM: 2 DDR2 DIMM sockets, max. 4GB PC2-3200 U Front panel I/O: SATA, video, USB, serial, Ethernet UÊ On board CompactFlash (module is optional) U 6U, 2 slot width U RoHS compliant DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR A BETTER WORLD

Technology In Context

Figure 3

This ATX form factor expansion backplane contains direct PCIe cable connections.

unidirectional), or arbitration (each link is point-to-point, so there is no arbitration). Each of these features helps enhance the performance of PCIe.

Gen 1 and Gen 2 Performance

One of the techniques used to create high performance with PCIe is the use of embedded clocking within each differen-

Host PC

tial signal pair. With the clock embedded inside the signal stream, there is no distortion or time delay between the clock signal and the data. The clock rate used within each PCIe signal is either 2.5 GHz for Gen 1 or 5.0 GHz for Gen 2. PCIe interface components automatically detect the speed capability of the other side of the link, and only utilize Gen 2 timing if both sides are capable of that performance level. The performance of various PCIe lane widths is shown in Table 1. These performance levels are identical whether the bus is routed over a backplane or over the PCIe cable. At this time, PCs with PCIe slots supporting Gen 2 timing are available, but not mainstream. I/O boards supporting Gen 2 timing are generally limited to high-end x16 graphics boards. This will inevitably change over the next few years, as more and more PCs and I/O boards support the faster Gen 2 timing. To get around the various regulatory agencies restrictions on radiated emis-

Node PC

Node PC

8-port PCIe Switch

Node PC

Node PC

Node PC

Figure 4


Untitled-2 1

August 2008

8/14/08 9:28:08 AM

Node PC

Node PC

PCIe can be used as a high-performance local networking architecture, connecting multiple PCs with software transparency to Ethernet.

Technology In Context

sions, PCIe over cable has come up with a clever technique called spread-spectrum clocking. Because PCIe contains the fundamental clock rate of 2.5 GHz or 5.0 GHz, a spike in emissions occurs at those frequencies. Depending on the chassis and cable shielding, this spike may exceed FCC and/or CE mark regulations. These regulations vary based on the intended usage of the system, with home usage the strictest. The agency restrictions are currently defined such that a radiating device cannot emit energy spikes above a certain energy level at any one frequency. Spread-spectrum clocking takes advantage of the “one frequency” portion of this definition, and spreads the radiated emissions out over a narrow range of frequencies. By dynamically modulating the clock rate from 0% to -0.5%, the spike of energy becomes a duller “plateau of radiated emissions,” which currently isn’t regulated. The reference clock signal is driven by the host side of each PCIe link to indicate to the target device how much the clock signals have been modulated.

of these, PCIe is the highest performance since there are no protocol conversions or timing delays. No cable connection can transfer data faster than the PCIe slot is capable of, and PCIe over cable is by definition at 100% performance. Any adapter that has to convert PCIe into a different protocol, send the data over the cable, and then convert it back to PCIe at the other end of the cable so that it can communicate with I/O devices, will necessarily be slower—both in throughput and latency—than a pure PCIe over cable solution. For networking, the obvious comparison is PCIe versus 1 Gbit Ethernet and 10 Gbit Ethernet. 1 Gbit Ethernet is clearly the most well accepted and lowest cost solution. 10 Gbit Ethernet has so far relatively little acceptance, and continues to demand high prices, particularly for switches. PCIe over cable is much higher performance and much higher priced that 1 Gbit Ethernet. PCIe compares favorably, however, to 10 Gbit Ethernet. In this comparison, PCIe spans a much

broader performance range—2.5 Gbit/s for a x1 Gen 1 up to 80 Gbit/s for a x16 Gen 2—than 10 Gbit Ethernet. The maximum distance for PCIe is only 23 feet, however, restricting its suitability for longer distance applications. In general, a PCIe network will perform twice as fast as 10 Gbit Ethernet and cost half as much. The PCI-SIG cable specification doesn’t specify any fiber-optic solutions for PCIe. However, several vendors have introduced products that utilize PCIe over fiber. The primary advantage of these products is that the fiber cable can span considerably longer distances—typically 500 meters. Some of the challenges with fiberoptic solutions include what to do with the sideband signals, and in particular what to do with the spread-spectrum clocking. The solutions available so far have taken a pragmatic, albeit somewhat limited, approach to these issues. They simply do not include any of the sideband signals, giving up the usefulness of these signals. Without the refer-

Advantages versus Other Cable Standards

Whether being used for high-speed I/O, bus expansion or as a high-speed network, there are several advantages associated with PCIe over cable—low costs, high bandwidth and software transparency. These advantages derive from the fact that the PC’s backplane bus is already PCIe. Thus, the cable adapter boards don’t need to convert the protocol or change the speed of the signals. The adapters simply route the signals from the motherboard out to the PCIe cable connector and provide some signal conditioning to guarantee the signal integrity is met at the other end of the cable (Figure 3). Because these adapters are simple, they are inexpensive. Because they don’t convert the PCIe protocol into anything else, they are high performance and don’t require any software drivers for the I/O expansion models. As an I/O expansion protocol, PCIe can be used in place of other protocols including: StarFabric, External SAS, Fibre Channel and USB. Compared to each Untitled-12 1

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Technology In Context

ence clock, systems connected via fiber cables can only be used with PCs where spread-spectrum clocking can be disabled within the PC. Many server-class PCs have the capability of disabling spread-spectrum clocking as a BIOS setting, but many desktop PCs do not allow this.

PCIe as a Network

PCIe was originally defined to support CPU-to-I/O communications, with the basic PC serving as the controller host. Multicomputing can be accomplished using PCIe through a combination of non-transparent bridging and CPU-to-CPU communications software. This technology expands the applicability of PCIe to a wide variety of high-end applications, including radar and sonar analysis, medical imaging, test and measurement and communications equipment. A small networking architecture is shown in Figure 4. Special hardware and software drivers are required in order to utilize PCIe over cable as a network connection between multiple PCs. In the networking model, CPU components that normally initialize and control their local PCIe buses are interconnected. If each CPU tried to initialize and control the PCIe bus, the system wouldn’t work. The solution is to use non-transparent bridge technology on the cable adapter boards to isolate each side of the bus. With nontransparent bridges, each CPU can control its side of the bus, but not interfere with the portions of the bus controlled by other CPUs. Another feature required for networking over PCIe is the ability to isolate the spread-spectrum clocking coming from both sides of the non-transparent bridging. This can also be accomplished within the cable adapter board. The PCI-SIG recently announced the basic timing and performance for Gen 3 PCIe. The individual lane performance for Gen 3 will double again, increasing transfer rates to 10 Gbits/s per lane. Gen 3 products are expected to become available by 2011. Backward compatibility will be achieved by each bus interface component starting the bus training cycle using the Gen 1 tim-


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ing. If both sides of the interface are compatible with Gen 2 or Gen 3 timing, they will both shift to the higher performance. The ability to run PCIe over cable at full performance with complete software transparency opens up a range of new application possibilities for CPU to I/O system re-partitioning. Low-cost host bus adapters extend the PCIe bus structure to expansion chassis or dedicated PCIe I/O hardware. PCIe over cable provides a simple and low-cost method for extending applications that need more I/O boards than will fit in a single chassis to a multi-chassis solution. PCIe over cable can also be used as a high-performance peripheral connection—a superfast USB of sorts. Designing compatible end-points is straightforward because the PCIe interface is available as a gate array library. When CPU-to-CPU communications are added to PCIe, the cable interface can be used as a high-performance cabled network. A x8 cabled network with Gen 2 timing will transfer data at 40 Gbits/s—or 40 times faster than today’s 1 Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces. One Stop Systems Escondido, CA. (877) 438-2724. [].

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solutions engineering


Industrial PCs Take Over a Broad Range of Applications Smaller, low-power processors combined with modular connectivity such as USB are pushing the industrial PC into new areas including a growing range of mobile applications. by Matt Wieborg Kontron


number of recent innovations have changed the Industrial PC landscape. With higher and more power-efficient processors, real-time communication capabilities, improved graphics, solid-state drives and more sophisticated control software, industrial PCs are moving off of the factory floor. Small form factor PCs are packing a lot of features into a small package, and can offer comparable feature sets and performance to what, just a few years ago, would have required a much larger box. With more compact, scalable, flexible and more efficient designs, these new industrial PCs are now being considered for new applications that include kiosks and digital signage, user terminals (such as nursing stations), automotive applications (such as infotainment), security systems and even network packet processing.

Improved Performance per Watt and Graphics

Recent innovations in processing technology have had significant impact on the market for industrial PCs. Many rugged small form factor PCs require


August 2008

Kiosk Electrical Block Diagram Data & Power Data & Power USB

Broadband Modem

Kontron PC DVD



802.11x (optional)


DVR (Kiosk Drawer)




10/100 Ethernet Cameras

10/100 Ethernet


USB VGA 10/100 MB Ethernet Hub

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Audio Out (Speaker) AC AC





Kiosk DVRs (1, 2 or 3)

UPS/AC Power Strip

AC VGA Kiosk LCDs (1, 2 or 3)




To Main AC Power Source

Kiosk Lights

Figure 1

Design of a multimedia kiosk using a mini-ITX board relies heavily on USB connectivity for flexible and modular design.

fanless systems to reduce noise and increase reliability, but have been challenged with the need for high-performance processing. The fact that Intel

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SOLUTIONS Engineering

Figure 2

The Kontron KTUS15/mITX miniITX motherboard.

equates to extended operating temperature ranges. The recently introduced Intel Atom processor Z5xx series is designed specifically for small form factor, thermally constrained and fanless embed-

1 20Untitled-11August 2008

ded applications. These new processors are power-optimized to provide robust performance per watt in an ultra-small 13x14 mm package. Its hafnium-based 45nm Hi-k silicon process technology reduces power consumption, increases

switching speed, and significantly increases transistor density over previous 65nm technology. The single-core processors are validated with the Intel System Controller Hub (SCH) US15W, which integrates a graphics memory controller hub (the Intel GMA 500), and I/O controller hub into one small 22x22 mm package. The Intel GMA 500 supports shader-based technology, 2D, 3D and advanced 3D graphics, high-definition video decode and image processing. Dual display pipes with rotation support, along with low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) and serial DVO (SDVO) display ports, permit simultaneous independent operation of one display or two. In addition, the hardware video decode acceleration relieves the decode burden from the processor and reduces power consumption of the system. Full hardware acceleration of H.264. MPEG2, VC1 and WMV9 is supported, which is useful for multimedia and videoconferencing applications. According to Intel, the two-chip platform provides more than 80 per-

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SOLUTIONS Engineering

cent reduction in total footprint over the previous-generation three-chip solution, with a combined thermal design power under 5 watts. This sub-5 watt performance combined with enhanced graphics and I/O capabilities that can run in small form factor fanless systems, opens up a number of new application considerations. These could include monitoring applications in both the security and medical markets or an interactive kiosk or point-of-sale terminal that improves customer service. In both of these applications, a battery backup can be added to maintain secure performance even during an extended power failure since the processor draws so little power. For in-vehicle infotainment systems, wireless Internet access can be added to a dashboard-based system for a mobile access point that can support many unique functions. AMD has also provided embedded system designers new options for bringing advanced capabilities to industrial PC applications. The AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile technology provides long battery life through AMD PowerNow! technology, which is a dynamic power management technology that enables performance on demand and can extend system battery life up to 65 percent. It also offers compatibility with the latest wireless and graphics technologies along with multimedia-enhanced software for high-performance streaming video and audio. When used with the AMD M690T embedded computing platform, it supports a lowpower, high-performance, small form factor system that can support highperformance graphics, enhanced video and numerous display options. This enhanced visual capability is well suited for graphic-intensive requirements often found in medical imaging and point-ofsale/kiosk applications.

Benefits of USB Adoption

Another major trend is that industrial PC manufacturers are now taking a more modular approach by taking a standard industrial PC and customizing it to meet specific application needs. With the explosive growth and adoption of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) in the PC indus-

MEN Micro’s XM1 ESMexpress® System-On-Module

try, engineers are evaluating the viability of USB in industrial environments. USB has been widely adopted as the standard bus for PC peripherals because it offers ease of use, high data throughput, and hot swap capability for an easy connection to a wide variety of multimedia and network USB devices. Generally considered to be for home or office use, USB is now finding its way into industrial applications and is readily available on industrial PCs, single-board computers and touch-panel HMIs. Since USB data uses differential signaling, it offers a reasonable amount of noise immunity for harsh environments. Power is distributed on the bus as well, often eliminating the need for external power. Low-power peripherals have no problem operating without an external power supply. The multidrop and hot swap nature of the bus allows many USB devices to be mixed and matched on the same bus for improved configuration flexibility over traditional serial and parallel ports. Since USB enables greater design flexibility, all components and functionality now do not need to be “inside the system.” Components such as data acquisition systems and module, keyboard, mouse, floppy, optical drive or storage can now be hot-pluggable when needed, reducing the number and the cost of dedicated devices that must be built into the system.

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Kiosk Application

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Kiosks and data collection terminals have typically been used for a single purpose. The current trend with PC-based terminals is now moving toward multifunction, user-friendly information systems. New features such as video and multimedia, touch screen and Web-based capabilities provide expanding application possibilities. These solutions are being used for a wide range of uses, from customer and employee services in retail stores, hospitals and airports to videoconferencing terminals. Figure 1 illustrates a block diagram of a kiosk application designed to be used to enable large screen videoconferencing in a warehouse club store. The kiosk is a large 42-inch display with touch screen capabilities. Inside the system there are

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SOLUTIONS Engineering

three sets of digital video recorders with cameras and a 19-inch LCD displaying the camera video. This system is running an Intel Atom processor-based embedded miniITX board (the Kontron KT690/ mITX), which powers the larger LCD that displays the video and does the videoconferencing functions. The Kontron KT690/mITX is a long-life miniITX motherboard based on the latest AMD

M690T + SB600 Embedded Chipset that support the high-performance low-power Mobile AMD Sempron single core and AMD Turion 64 X2 dual core Processors. It also features ATI Radeon X1250 graphics onboard. In the near future, the Kontron KTUS15/mITX miniITX motherboard will be available based on the latest Intel US15 embedded chipset that supports the Intel Atom processor 1.6

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1 22Untitled-3 August 2008


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MHz BGA CPU to enable a wide range of designs. The miniITX board (Figure 2) also powers a smaller touch screen LCD located at the front of the kiosk that is used as a remote control for the larger display, where users can select buttons on the screen to navigate throughout the system. This particular system is designed to be very modular and flexible with a broadband modem, Webcam and touch screen all running off of the USB ports. Additional functionality can be added via USB such as high-end speakers. Although this particular application is a fixed installation, mobile kiosk applications can also be developed based on the low power consumption of the design. Recent technology developments such as improved processing and I/O have enabled Industrial PC manufacturers to offer extremely small embedded PCs that offer high levels of functionality and reliability. These products are attractive to both high-end and low-end applications, giving them a much broader market potential. According to IMS Research, the global Industrial PC market is expected to exceed $2 billion by 2011. Within the past year, performance and functionality of Industrial PCs and data collection terminals have improved dramatically with multiple enhancements and features. By taking a modular approach to designing Industrial PCs, manufacturers can not only realize costsavings but the ability to differentiate and customize solutions to meet specific needs to give them a much needed competitive edge. Kontron Poway, CA. (858) 677-0898. [].




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Remote Maintenance and monitoring

Railroads Get Rolling with Remote Monitoring The oldest form of travel since the horse and carriage, trains have been pulling their weight for centuries and continue to be a vital part of our transportation infrastructure. by Michael Heilmann, Wi-Tronix, and Heidi Schubert, Real-Time Innovations


oday’s railroads work harder than ever. A growing economy and ever increasing world trade has rail traffic levels at all time highs, straining existing rail system operations beyond their capacities. Operators can still lose track of the whereabouts of a particular locomotive or train car. There is no system to enable operators to effectively monitor a diverse fleet, with forty-year-old locomotives rolling along side sleek, new highspeed bullet trains. Railroad companies want to take advantage of the tremendous revenue opportunities that come with a strong demand for their services. To do so, they must find more efficient, reliable, safe and secure ways to stay on track. They need technologies that enable them to carefully and continuously monitor their fleet utilization, manage fuel and implement predictive maintenance to keep trains up and running. A railroad’s primary obstacle to managing a geographically and technologically diverse mobile fleet is the lack of a common data interface. Electronic systems on board locomotives vary widely depending on their purpose, manufacturer, model and age. Each system has a unique physical interface and data protocol. Even though the information collected is similar, until now there has been no universal data format. Furthermore, there is no universal standard for data transfer using wireless network communications to collect data from onboard systems.


August 2008

Real-time Monitoring Apps.

Enterprise Monitoring Apps.




Figure 1




On-board Tracking App.

On-board Tracking App.

On-board Tracking App.

Block diagram of the asset tracking systems. The Data Distribution Service makes sure that data, which may come in different formats from various sensors and sources, is presented to the management system in a single, consistent data format.

This is changing with the development of new products and services that provide remote monitoring information, with real-time reporting and analysis, across diverse fleets. Wi-Tronix, a company that provides technology to wirelessly monitor high-value mobile assets, understood the challenges of having diverse data formats. Focusing on mobile assets such as locomotives, haul trucks, industrial equipment and marine vessels, they made it their busi-

ness to bridge the gap between the various data formats used by different manufacturers of onboard monitoring equipment. Wi-Tronix created a universal interface platform that renders system data from a wide array of onboard electronic devices into a common, standards-based data format. It is now possible to manage an entire fleet as one cohesive network blending new and old locomotives and equipment from different manufacturers.

INDUSTRY Insight A ruggedized computing platform, called the Wi-PU (Wireless Processing Unit) is installed on each locomotive, and taps into each onboard system. The Wi-PU includes Ethernet, USB, serial and discrete I/O connectivity in order to connect with external systems such as engine controllers, data recorders, fuel monitors, digital video recorders, remote control systems and analog sensors. Each Wi-PU is equipped with state-of-the-art wireless technologies and an embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) module, which includes Differential GPS (DGPS) correction and can locate a mobile asset to within 3 meters.

Figure 2

“Temperature” or “Location,” and publish samples associated with that topic. The Data Distribution Service (DDS) delivers each sample to all subscribers that declare an interest in that topic. The DDS publishsubscribe model virtually eliminates complex network programming for distributed applications. It also supports mechanisms that go beyond the basic publish-subscribe model including support for a variety of hardware and operating systems. The key benefit is that applications that use DDS for their communications are entirely decoupled. Very little design time has to be spent on how to handle their

Clicking on a symbol for an individual train will bring up access to all the available data about that particular train to anticipate maintenance problems, assist with scheduling and any other management issues.

To exchange data and control information between the Wi-PU on board a mobile asset and the remote tracking applications, a robust, real-time messaging architecture was needed that would serve as a universal foundation for current and future applications. A commercial-offthe-shelf, industry standard solution from Real-Time Innovations (RTI) enabled getting to market within five months. RTI provides high-performance messaging middleware based on the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Data Distribution Service standard. The DDS implements a publish-subscribe model for sending and receiving data, events and commands among the nodes. Applications that produce information create topics, for example

mutual interactions. In particular, the applications never need information about the other participating applications, including their existence or locations. DDS automatically handles all aspects of message delivery, without requiring any intervention from the user applications, including determining who should receive the messages; where recipients are located; and what happens if messages cannot be delivered. Thus, new nodes can be added at anytime and will be able to send and receive messages from existing nodes. Perhaps its most important capability, the DDS provides Quality of Service (QoS) properties for controlling the data flow. The QoS can be set to ensure that each application has the most current data

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Integration with Microsoft Virtual Earth lets the data management system work within a comprehensive mapping program supported by GPS to track not only the status, but also the location of assets.

available, enabling real-time analysis and notification of events. With the availability of real-time data, an operator can take corrective action when a problem occurs instead of after the fact. The DDS middleware is used by both the Wi-PU’s onboard software and the back office applications. Software running on the Wi-PU collects onboard information from the GPS, the data recorder, fuel level monitor and other sources. It then translates the data into a universal format to be disseminated via the DDS for use by a variety of fleet monitoring and management applications. Typically, onboard data is transmitted over a CDMA cellular network. GSM, WLAN and satellite networks are also supported. Refreshed data is published about every five minutes (Figure 1). Wi-Tronix also provides the infrastructure to make up-to-the-minute fleet data available via a data visualization Web service. Integration with the railroad customer’s existing back office applications is also available. Railroad operators are able to view current location and operational status information about their fleet at any time simply by logging on to the secure Web site. There, an interactive, auto-refreshing map shows the location and direction of each train. A color coding gives an immediate indication of whether the engine is running, if the train is moving, and the speed it is traveling. Operators can drill down into detailed location and status information by clicking on the symbol

for a particular train. A “breadcrumb” view gives detailed information about an individual train including the route traveled, the operating conditions, and events along the way (Figure 2). It is also possible to zoom in on geographical information and see 3D terrain models, bird’s eye view and satellite imagery. This results in a highly visual and immersive Web experience because the comprehensive mobile asset tracking database is now integrated with the Microsoft Virtual Earth platform (Figure 3). In addition to the Web interface, a number of alerting, notification and logging options are provided to apprise owners, operators and maintainers of actual or potential problems. To aid in predictive maintenance, the tracking application sends e-mails, text messages and trip reports when onboard sensors report out-of-bound conditions. For example, traction motors are used to power the driving wheels of a locomotive. Failure of a traction motor can stop a train in its tracks. (Where else?) Typically, before a traction motor ceases to function, it will start to exhibit ground fault relay errors, particularly in wet conditions. Often the locomotive crew will just reset the fault and not report the incident. Eventually, the reset will stop working and the train will be halted, restricting the flow of all other trains scheduled to use that same segment of track. However, when locomotive maintainers discover a pattern of ground faults via alerts or traction motor

INDUSTRY Insight overload statistics, they can schedule the locomotive for shop time. In these cases, the repair team finds the problem in advance and thereby avoids a costly road failure. In addition to predictive failure alerts, operators can be notified of events such as emergency brake applications, train overspeed and low fuel. Event information helps railroads better manage resources and further improve their response to potential incidents. Most of the information the railroad needs to monitor their fleet is captured in the event recorders, similar to the black boxes used on airplanes. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires that a working event recorder be deployed on the leading locomotive of all trains operating above 30 MPH on the U.S. rail network. The specific information captured by the event recorder and the format of the data varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, all recorders typically include a set of basic signals. These include speed, direction of travel (forward or reverse), time, distance, throttle position, operation of brakes, and status of cab signals (if the locomotive is equipped). Traditionally, the information from the event recorder has been of limited usefulness, because it has been difficult to access the data remotely in real time. Therefore, it has been used almost exclusively for post-processing after an incident, or on an occasional basis when a technician was sent into the field to retrieve the data. With the current technology, railway operators can now have a complete, up-to-the-minute snapshot of all their locomotives along with rules-based wireless alerting based on all available onboard data. This technology is deployed, or on order, for over 2,700 mobile assets across North America. This includes Class I, Regional and Short Line railroads. BNSF, Florida East Coast Railway and CN (Canadian National Railway) are all using Wi-Tronix solutions. Additionally, the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Office of Research and Development is using the technology to improve crew safety, operational efficiency and homeland security through its Advanced Concept Train Project. This project includes a revenue service proving ground for technologies such as biometric monitoring applications for crew timekeeping, safety and locomotive security purposes. For example, restricted access would allow personnel to operate a locomotive only during their assigned shifts. Possibilities continue to evolve.

Trains will be rolling with us into the future. Though rooted in the industrial revolution, railroads continue to evolve and remain a crucial mode of transportation. The information age affords an exciting landscape and is a welcoming destination, bringing wireless communications, real-time networking, universal data platforms and sophisticated management software. These technologies now offer the fundamental improvements in safety, security, efficiency and service that

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railroads require to keep them rolling for a long time to come. Wi-Tronix, Bolingbrook, IL. (888) 948-7664. []. Real-Time Innovations, Sunnyvale, Ca. (408) 990-7400. [].

August8/14/08 2008


9:23:30 AM


Remote Maintenance and monitoring

Secure Remote Device Management in FirewallProtected Environments Remote access to devices behind firewalls is possible with an end-to-end device networking platform, which can take the risk and complexity out of large-scale machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments, and make full-scale device networking more affordable.


usinesses today are constantly challenged to control costs, boost profitability and essentially do more with less. This translates into the need for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to increase output, maximize equipment uptime and improve reliability for their customers through manufacturer service programs. To meet these goals, OEMs need to provide product service solutions that are cost-effective and easy to deploy and manage, while providing a quantifiable return on investment—not an easy task by any means. OEMs are increasingly leveraging a category of solutions called remote product services (RPS). RPS solutions provide wireless or Internet-based connectivity to remotely access and monitor a company’s assets and help identify problem areas, avert failures and implement corrective actions including repairs, upgrades or new processes. RPS enables companies to meet the challenges in today’s business climate and provide better service, better product quality and improved profitability. In fact, OEMS with such service offerings are gaining a competitive advantage. According to a recent Aberdeen Group report, the average expense of roll-


August 2008


Service Personnel Figure 1


by Taqi Hasan, Lantronix

Server PLC Device

Gaining access through the firewall without circumventing IT policy is one of the biggest hurdles to establishing remote access and implementing an RPS business model.

ing a truck to service equipment is $263 per incident. The cost of technician dispatch has gone up from $206 in 2006 to approximately $263 in 2008. If an RPS solution is deployed, for example, a staff of 320 technicians who are dispatched four times a day for approximately 200 days per year, can experience a 28.1% reduction in number of dispatches, leading to a savings of approximately $19 million annually. RPS can also help increase equipment uptime by 13.5 %, decrease mean time to repair by 14.1% and boost service revenues and profitability by 17.6%.

Challenges Facing Adoption

The challenge of establishing remote access for service organizations lies in overcoming two major hurdles, the first

being the need to establish remote access within the parameters of a secure firewall (Figure 1). Firewall configuration is typically based on conservative thinking and designed to be rigorous in defending information and access. Given the work involved, many companies are unwilling to invest the energy to manage the work that comes with changing or opening a port to allow remote monitoring. Data security is the leading obstacle to RPS adoption because a company’s security policies are critical to business operations and cannot be hampered, even to increase company profitability. Therefore, the integrity of firewalls must be maintained. Changing security specifications in order to allow for remote access is not an option. By default, most firewalls are config-


Cellular vs. Broadband

Until now, many organizations have used analog modems to achieve remote access to the network and direct access to specific devices. Though this remains a typical method of connection, the very nature of modem technology makes an already challenging task more difficult. Though widely available at many speeds, modem technology is generally known to be slow and difficult to configure and


DSC Device Services Manager (DSM)

PLC Device


Service Personnel Server


Device Server Controller (DSC)


PLC Server Device

Figure 2




Step 1: Install easy-to-configure hardware equipment on the administrator’s side and at each remote location. Server

DSC Device Services Manager (DSM)

PLC Device


Service Personnel Internet



Device Server Controller (DSC)


PLC Server Device

Figure 3


ured to stop all traffic originating from outside from gaining access to the organization’s protected network. Establishing a secure proxy between system administrators and networked devices is one way to address this issue. However, even with a mutually authorized consent approach, access must be well defined and strictly monitored and controlled. Access to nonspecified devices that can pose a security risk must remain prohibited. In short, the firewall must remain intact to defend the organization against outside risks. The second challenge for OEMs is the requirement for secure, seamless deployment and configuration. Since the deployment of remote monitoring devices is typically handled by personnel who are not necessarily IT professionals, there is a risk of unnecessary downtime or potential errors that could adversely affect both the network and the equipment being monitored. Because of this, remote access devices and software must be easy to deploy and configure so that non-network professionals can initiate setup and manage it efficiently and cost-effectively. For many users, current remote access solutions that require dedicated client agents, such as IP security (IPSec) or secure sockets layer virtual private network (SSL VPNs) are not an option. In a world of standardized PC operating systems and dedicated VPN client access applications, required VPN clients are usually not available for embedded systems, which are often Linux-based or proprietary operating systems running “non-standard” software. In addition, they require additional network hardware and host-side client software. They are also very complex to install and configure and do not provide seamless access to non-PC devices. Users also have full access to all hosts on the remote LAN (whether they need it or not), which can pose another security threat to the network.


Step 2: Create virtual routes by assigning a “Virtual IP Address” to each target device.

manage. Modems have limited bandwidth and require a dedicated phone line, which involves a recurring monthly charge. Considering the issues with analog, cellular modem technology may seem like a more attractive solution, and in many situations, a cellular solution is acceptable. However, cellular modems come with their own set of difficulties. To begin with, cellular modems by their nature can be insecure. And attempting to circumvent a firewall using a cellular router solution presents an ongoing issue regarding unauthorized access to areas of the network. Poor signal quality of the cell

connection within buildings along with its limited bandwidth and availability prevents timely and accurate access to networked devices. Adding to these issues, cellular modems again contribute to unnecessary costs for organizations due to recurring monthly fees. In addition, cellular modems do not answer the deployment difficulties, thus resulting in added costs for an organization. To achieve a totally secure Internet connection and help reduce costs, broadband technology is much faster and comes with few reliability issues. Indeed, broadband connectivity has become the August 2008


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Service Personnel

Figure 4

Step 3: Start using your new VDN.

standard for most of today’s businesses and home users alike. Because of this, it makes sense to leverage this existing network connection for a cost-effective remote access solution. Users enjoy the benefits of faster, higher bandwidth to achieve real-time access to information while administrators are able to audit access and activity effectively. A broadband solution lays the foundation for the continuing evolution of managed services, including emerging and future smart services or remote product services, which will transcend simple connectivity. Data from networked devices can be easily gathered to improve business processes, manage proactive equipment maintenance and provide greater business intelligence for a broad range of improvements.

Leverage Intelligence from Networked Equipment

A Virtual Device Network (VDN)based remote access solution can provide companies the access to equipment, using existing software applications, to remotely monitor product performance, diagnose part failures, trigger corrective workflows, carry out repairs and push down configuration. This provides them the ability to easily and quickly create value-added service models and help increase revenue and competitive offerings. Utilizing popular, everyday broadband connections, a VDN is a collection of individual hosts from multiple LANs that are configured to act as a single network. VDN technology enables users to create dedicated TCP/IP connections between any two points on the Internet using low-cost hardware solutions. No special

software is typically required at either end of the connection providing a secure and totally transparent remote access solution that does not compromise IT policies or firewall integrity. And setting up a VDN is as easy as 1…2…3 (Figures 2, 3 and 4). With a VDN solution, companies can maintain existing IT policies and firewall integrity with certificate-based Secure Shell (SSH) encryption to ensure secure, end-to-end communication. As a proxy between administrators and networked devices, access is well defined and strictly controlled. And to ensure accountability, VDN solutions allow for auditing and logging providing regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Service Level Agreements (SLA). All this can help companies adopt a remote product service model and fully leverage intelligence gleaned from networked devices to develop new revenue streams such as remote monitoring and management and other specialized business intelligence applications, and decrease mean time to repair. Lantronix, Irvine, CA. (949) 453-8766. [].

System integration

Real-Time Java

Real-Time Java Pushing Deeper Into Embedded Systems Developing real-time systems with Java often requires the use of C code for critical realtime functions. The advent of real-time Java can eliminate the overhead and potential errors involved with mixed-code implementations.

by Dr. Kelvin Nilsen, Aonix


recent survey conducted by Embedded Market Forecasters found that the driving forces that motivate engineers to pursue Java for embedded development include reduced development costs, availability of open-source objects and modules, quicker development, easier recruitment of engineers, improved software reuse, increased system functionality, and reduced maintenance costs. Compared with alternative approaches to development and maintenance of lowlevel software using legacy languages like C and C++, embedded Java developers typically find they are twice as productive during development of new functionality, and five to ten times more productive during maintenance and software reuse activities. These comparative benefits are especially relevant to the domain of embedded systems, because the C and C++ library and language behavior varies so widely from one real-time operating system to the next. In spite of these benefits, the penetration of Java into embedded system software is still limited. To date, Standard Edition Java has been most successful as a programming language for enterprise development, and


August 2008

JNIEXPORT jintArray JNICALL Java_DeviceInterface_getInputData(JNIEnv *env){ jintArray result; int *data = getDeviceBuffer(); /* blocks until ready */ int length = getDeviceBufferLength(); result = (*env)->NewIntArray(env, length); if (result == NULL) return NULL; /* out of memory */ (*env)->SetIntArrayRegion(env, result, 0, length, data); return result; } JNIEXPORT jvoid JNICALL Java_DeviceInterface_putOutputData(JNIEnv *env, jintArray arr){ int length = (*env)->GetArrayLength(env, arr); jint *data = (*env)->GetIntArrayElements(env, arr, NULL); putDeviceBuffer(data, length); /* blocks until done */ (*env)->ReleaseIntArrayElements(env, arr, data, JNI_ABORT); } Code Block 1

JNI code for transferring data to be processed between arrays in Java and C.

the Java Micro Edition has proliferated in smart cell phones. However, the use of Java as a language for low-level device access has not yet gained popularity. The same survey revealed that among the top reasons why Java was not selected for development of embedded software were insufficient execution speed, excessive memory consumption, inability to satisfy

hard real-time constraints, and lack of support for device access. Recent advances in real-time Java, based on work carried out by the Java Community Process within the JSR-302 (Safety-Critical Java Technology) expert group, make it possible to address all of these concerns. An early commercial implementation has demonstrated that this

System Integration

Gnu C (gcc –O2)

Soft Real-Time Java (PERC Ultra)

Hard Real-Time Java (PERC Pico)

Min (ns)




Max (ns)




Average (ns)




Std Dev (ns)




Virtual Memory (MB)




Table 1

Comparison of code efficiency between optimized C and two commercial implementations of Java.

Java technology offers throughput, footprint and predictable latency comparable to equivalent optimized C programs. We characterize this technology as hard realtime Java. In various experiments conducted on this hard real-time Java technology, we have found that Java code runs within 15% of the speed, memory footprint, and determinism of optimized C code. Table 1 compares the efficiency of optimized C with commercial products supporting both soft real-time (PERC Ultra) and hard realtime (PERC Pico) execution of Java. The measured workload was patterned after a real-world defense industry application. Though the Sun HotSpot virtual machine (VM) is not designed to support real-time operation, we evaluated the benchmark on Sun HotSpot as well. Surprisingly, Sun HotSpot offered average speed that is even better than optimized C, 294 ns. However, the maximum time for the HotSpot implementation was 8,089 ns and the standard deviation was 228.8 ns. Also of note was HotSpot’s virtual memory consumption of over 250 Mbytes. HotSpot improves upon C by profiling the code as it runs, in-lining the implementations of certain methods, and optimizing execution of the most common path through the code. While this approach offers impressive throughput, the high variation in execution time is incompatible with the requirements of many real-time systems, and the self-modifying code is incompatible with traceability and repeatability requirements of most highintegrity systems. With the ability of hard real-time Java to approach C performance, the motivation to use C for the implementation of low-level, performance-critical code decreases. Today’s typical real-time Java

Shared Registry


Traditional Java Virtual Machine Performs Registry.lookup(“device.X”);

Figure 1

Hard Real-Time Java Virtual Machine Performs Registry.publish (“device.X”, o);

Traditional and real-time Java virtual machines consult objects in a shared registry by which the real-time VM can execute objects referred to by the traditional VM.

application incorporates a combination of Java and C code, bound together using the Java Native Interface (JNI). In general, the use of C code has been required to implement portions of the system that demand higher throughput, more determinism, or smaller (more economical) memory footprint than is feasible with traditional Java. In some cases, the use of C for lowlevel software is motivated by a need to directly interface to hardware devices. Often, in such systems, software developers come to view JNI as the Achilles’ heel of their software architectures. All of the security that is such an intrinsic part of the Java virtual machine is compromised at the boundary between Java and C. More than one customer has identified this boundary as the single most common source of programmer errors. A second weakness of the JNI interface is the high cost of marshalling data every time the boundary between Java and C is crossed.

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system Integration This marshalling is required because the data representations that are most natural to Java are very different than the data representations that are most natural to C. Consider an application that fetches a buffer of data from a device, processes the buffer contents, and transmits the processed buffer contents to another device— a common scenario in device-level software. For example, network bridges and gateways receive packets from a network interface controller (NIC), examine the

contents of the packet to determine quality of service (QOS) parameters and routing information, and then transmit the packet through another NIC. A software-defined radio captures a buffer full of radio signal data, analyzes the buffer contents, and transmits a translation of the radio signal to an audio speaker monitored by a human user. And a DVD playback application captures a block from the DVD disk, decodes the disk block, and transmits part of the decoded information to the audio subsys-


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1 34Untitled-7 August 2008

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tem responsible for generating 5.1 speaker outputs, and the rest of the decoded information to the video subsystem. In all of these applications, there is a requirement for efficient and timely processing of the captured information. For efficient operation, it is desirable to minimize the copying of data between buffers. For example, suppose a developer desires to use Java for processing the incoming data, and assume that the low-level code (which captures and transmits buffers of information) is implemented in C. To allow the data to be processed in Java, the C buffer must be copied to a Java array. After Java is done processing the contents of this array, the Java array that holds the results of processing must be copied to a C array so that the data can be output by the C device driver. The JNI code that handles these transitions is shown in Code Block 1. Note that this code copies the incoming device buffer into a newly allocated Java array within the getInputData() method. The putOutputData() method attempts to avoid making a copy of its arr argument. However, some Java virtual machines will copy the contents of the array inside the GetIntArrayElements() method. Besides the overhead of performing many function calls and data copying, this example also highlights a variety of opportunities for data corruption by misbehaving C code. For example, if the putDeviceBuffer method overwrites elements beyond position length within the data array, the JVM’s integrity will likely be compromised. An alternative approach that represents better software modularity and encapsulation, and better performance, implements both the low-level device driver software and the application code using Java. When combining low-level hard realtime Java code with traditional or soft real-time high-level Java code, the highlevel code is deployed on a traditional Java virtual machine, and the hard real-time Java code is deployed on a special hard real-time virtual machine. Conceptually, it is as if the two parts of the application are deployed on different virtual machines. This is desirable because it allows the independently developed components to experience total separation of concerns. At the discretion of the hard real-time Java developer, certain hard real-time

System Integration

public class DeviceInterface { @Scoped @ScopedThis InputBuffer getInputData(){ return device.getInput(); } @ScopedThis void putOutputData(@Scoped OutputBuffer buffer){ device.putOutput(buffer); } } Code Block 2

rewritten as hard real-time Java, it would appear as shown in Code Block 2. Note that this code is both less cluttered and less error prone. Since this code is byte-code verified by the Java execution environment, and the code runs with nullpointer checks and array subscript bounds checking enabled, there is no opportunity for Java programs running on either side of the barrier to compromise the code running on the other side. Besides demonstrating superior code quality and easier

maintainability, recent experiments have shown that the all-Java solution is able to run over twice as fast as the mixed language approach. These newer technologies represent a significant advance in the state of the art for embedded real-time software development. Aonix, San Diego, CA. (858) 457-2700. [].

JNI interface code rewritten as hard realtime Java.

Java objects are published within a shared registry. The high-level Java code can consult this registry to obtain a proxy that represents the hard real-time Java object within the traditional Java virtual machine environment. This proxy object restricts the representation of the hard real-time Java object. In particular, the proxy does not see the object’s instance variables and can only invoke the subset of instance methods that have been identified by the hard real-time Java programmer as Traditional Java methods. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 1. In comparison with the alternative approach of combining highlevel Java code with low-level C code, this offers a number of benefits. One important element is that all of the code is written in the same language, making it less likely for programmers to misunderstand the intentions of the handoff between high-level and low-level code. This means that the Java security model has not been compromised. Within each virtual machine, all of the code is independently analyzed by the byte-code verifier. This guarantees that the code running within the hard real-time Java virtual machine will not compromise the data structures of the traditional Java virtual machine, and the code running on the traditional Java virtual machine will not compromise the data structures of the hard real-time virtual machine. And finally, since this design uses the Java language for both high-level and lowlevel code, there is less of a marshalling overhead each time control flows between the two software abstraction layers. If the JNI interface code in Code Block 1 were Untitled-10 1

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industry wat c h

System Management

Integrating High Availability with Network Management Building a highly available and manageable network element is quickly becoming a reality. However, the integration and testing of these building blocks still poses a significant challenge on the road to COTS adoption in the telecommunications market.

by Asif Naseem, GoAhead Software Hakan Millroth, Tail-f Systems


uring the last decade standardization empowered the enterprise computing industry to put together systems using Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) building blocks designed by a variety of hardware, operating system and applications providers. Enterprises were relieved to have an alternative to vertically integrated systems that locked them into proprietary architectures from individual vendors. This successful transition from the vertical to horizontal business model is now showing up in other markets as well—especially in the telecommunications industry. Building a system using COTS building blocks still has its challenges. System developers may have to deal with issues like inadequate software APIs, overlapping functionality, duplicate data stores and memory footprint constraints. To unleash the benefits of a COTS ecosystem, pre-integration and testing among suppliers and adherence to industry standards and open specifications is required. The encouraging news is that the industry is recognizing this need and key alliances are being formed in response. Let us first look at the anatomy of a highly available and managed network element. The essential set of services required to create such a system can be broadly classified into four categories (Figure 1).

High-Availability Services

Forming the centerpiece of any highly available and managed platform, high-availability services typically comprise a sophisticated availability management framework and key functionality, that in combination, ensure continuous service availability in the presence of failures—hardware or software. The Availability Management Service (AMS) implements two key functional areas: a comprehensive system model of all managed resources, and an associated state model that


August 2008

Applications Configuration Management Services NETCONF



Management Services

Web UI

Hotswap Management

Core Services (access control, transactions, rollback, etc.) Configuration Database

Alarm Management

Platform Resource Management

Operational Counters/Stats


SNMP Agent


High Availability Services Availability Management



System Services Distributed Messaging

Clusterwide Logging

Management Datastore



Hardware Platform running Carrier Grade Operating System

Figure 1

A functional view of a highly available and manageable platform.

defines and governs the state of these resources. Managed resources can include applications, operating system, chassis, I/O cards, redundant CPUs, networks, peripherals, clusters and other software. The availability system model represents each system resource to be managed as a managed object in the system model. It also captures resource dependencies, including critical relationships that form a given service. It manages objects with attributes for health, operational state, administrative state, role, availability status and dependencies and also has methods for access/control, monitoring and configuration. It is also responsible for implement-


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INDUSTRY Watch ing powerful recovery policies, such as 2N, N+1, N+M, Active/ Active, etc. The AMS state model determines the state of each object, such as healthy/failed/shutting down, active/standby, locked/ unlocked and enabled/disabled. Intelligent recovery decisions are made by the AMS based on detailed information about each resource’s attributes and methods to apply during a failure. The presence of redundant resources is a critical requirement for highly available systems. Redundant resources can be configured in various ways to provide standby for active resources in case of a failure. Clustering is responsible for such a configuration. The AMS manages the service availability of hardware and software resources in the cluster. The clustering service is responsible for discovering, incorporating and monitoring the nodes within the cluster along with their associated network interfaces. An efficient messaging engine communicates the addition or failure of nodes and their network interfaces to AMS and any other relevant management applications. The clustering service also works with AMS to provide manager node redundancy to eliminate the manager node as a possible single point of failure. Stateful failover is a key attribute of highly available systems, especially those required to provide seamless, often real-time, processing failover. Checkpointing capabilities allow such systems to collect state information about the applications (e.g., any in-progress calls on an active node) and replicate it to a standby node to take on call processing should the active node fail.

Management Services

Effective monitoring, access and control of various hardware and software resources in a highly available platform require sophisticated

1 38Untitled-1 August 2008

management. The SA Forum’s Hardware Platform Interface (HPI) specification has greatly facilitated the standard implementation of hardware platform resource management capabilities. The HPI provides a set of APIs for discovering, monitoring and managing hardware resources on compliant platforms. Implemented by hardware platform providers and used by the developers of management middleware, the HPI significantly reduces the time required to design and develop the system model representation of hardware resources via default resource management capabilities. Additionally, the Platform Resource Management Service (PRMS) provides a framework for developers to create custom alarm and hot swap management policies to enhance manageability and availability of their target platform. Many telecom applications demand advanced alarm management and hot swap capabilities, which provide fault detection of system hardware resources and a set of pre-defined action policies. Alarm management is the process of monitoring a system for conditions that may jeopardize healthy operations, and implementing policies to take appropriate action. The Alarm Management Service (ALMS) provides the ability to deal with both hardware and software alarm conditions. The hot swap management Service (HSMS) allows hot swap insertion and extraction sequences for the field-replaceable hardware resources in the system. Such hardware resources, commonly known as field-replaceable units (FRUs), enable an operator to insert or extract the FRU from the system while power is currently applied to the system. Hardware platforms that support this capability provide flexibility and reduce service interruptions, because the service provider does not need to power off the equipment to replace failed hardware components or to expand the capacity of the system.

7/30/08 4:18:06 PM


Tail-f Confspec Adaption Layer

Management Application

Proxy Application



Remote Adapter


Self Reliant Process

Figure 2

Integration points between GoAhead SelfReliant and Tail-f ConfD.

A management information base (MIB) module is a process that enables access to management information and thus facilitates management of various applications and system components. A MIB module interacts with an SNMP agent rather than directly interacting with an SNMP manager. All communications occur with the agent, which relays messages as appropriate.

Configuration Management Services

The need for more sophisticated management interfaces developed as network elements became more complex. A command line interface (CLI) and SNMP Agent are no longer sufficient northbound interfaces. Network administrators expect to find Web and NETCONF interfaces available as well. As carriers leverage the power of chassis-based platforms to deploy applications such as IMS and security, they need to manage multiple applications with a common management interface. Since CLI and Web interfaces face the customer, it is important that they can be customized to meet the branding and presentation requirements of their user community. For example, CLIs often are styled after Cisco and Juniper’s CLI command line environments with all the well-known features and idioms from these CLIs. Web UIs need to be modern and dynamic and benefit from the ability to refresh data on a real-time basis. Management interfaces must be in a framework that ensures data consistency, provides session management, and delivers the requisite level of security for all users across all interfaces. A stove pipe approach to development is likely to put considerable strain on developers as recoding is required for each interface whenever a managed object is changed. In contrast, using a shared software backplane and common data model can save significant development time that otherwise would have been invested in duplicate coding on separate northbound interfaces. Modern network applications require multiple managed objects to be configured at one time to provision services like MPLS, VPNS and VoIP. If all the configurations are not correctly and consistently made, the service will not be provisioned and the network may be disrupted. The industry has responded

to these issues by working on a new standard for automated configuration management called NETCONF. The NETCONF protocol (RFCs 4741 and 4742) provides mechanisms to install, manipulate and delete configuration data on network devices. It uses XML-based data encoding for the configuration data as well as for protocol messages. NETCONF is increasingly required by network operators to configure and provision large networks in an efficient and reliable fashion. NETCONF capabilities include transaction management, validations and rollbacks. For example, a configuration change will be initially written as a candidate, and after a configured interval, devices automatically revert to their original configuration, unless the change has been confirmed by a second, confirming commit. Administrators can use this capability to test configurations that may potentially degrade or disable connectivity. Transaction management has become a critical component of configuration management services used in carrier networks and data centers. It is recommended that this capability be part of Web and command line interfaces.

System Services

Finally, key services are required to facilitate the design and integration of various building blocks to construct a highly available, easily manageable and network-ready platform. Examples include an efficient (i.e. small footprint) and fast distributed message engine (DMS) used as the main infrastructure for intra-node and inter-node communication. A cluster management service (CMS) implements functionality such as automatic node discovery, health monitoring, custom cluster policies and virtual IP address management. A browser-based console is used as a development tool to facilitate implementation and testing, which can be extended to serve as an operational console during deployment). Quite often an in-core, fast and efficient data store capability can facilitate quick storage and retrieval of system data, such as configuration and checkpoint information.

The Integrated Platform

Tail-f Systems and GoAhead Software have teamed to provide an integrated application-ready platform that provides stateof-the-art high availability, configuration management and platform management capabilities. Tail-f’s ConfD provides an XML-based application for developing on-device network management systems. ConfD includes key northbound interfaces, a shared transaction-based software backplane, and a management infrastructure delivering carrier-grade performance and security. GoAhead’s SelfReliant provides highavailability management capabilities to equipment manufacturers who design and develop continuously available systems and applications. A catalyst for the standards-based COTS ecosystem, SelfReliant enables rapid development of new products based on proven HA infrastructure and standardized underlying components. The two applications are integrated as a managed object whose availability is represented and managed through AMS in the system model. Pre-defined components manage the availability of the ConfD through SelfReliant. All relevant physical resources are represented as managed objects in the AMS system model. Each resource has a remote adapter that resides in a proxy application (Figure 2). The remote adapter defines the relevant methods, which invoke functions to instruct ConfD when and how to react to high-availability events (e.g. activate and swiAugust 2008


Web Console



ConfD Proxy




Remote Adapter


Figure 3

Web UI



Application Process



System Model SR Config App.xml

MDB SRP Manager

An integrated platform provides high availability and manageability.

tchover). These custom functions are specific to the SelfReliant ConfD Service and serve as the interface between the remote adapter and a ConfD instance. The ConfD library defines this custom interface for the relevant functions. The proxy applications house remote adapters for ConfD instances. The proxy application contains two remote adapters, one for the proxy application and the other for the local data store. The data store remote adapter interfaces with the availability manager to receive events, upon which the remote adapter calls specific corresponding methods in the ConfD library. For example, when AMS assigns the active role to a ConfD instance, the activate method is invoked for ConfD’s remote adapter, located in the proxy application. The proxy RTC?FREEADPDF0then uses the functions provided by the ConfD interface to inform the










August 2008

local ConfD instance to start performing active service. The proxy application remote adapter registers with the availability manager, but does not receive any events from the availability manager. It is important that the configuration management services allow developers to describe their networking application once and then automatically render all northbound interfaces, e.g., NETCONF, CLI, SNMP and Web UI, etc., from that single underlying model. In other words, for a coherent operation it is highly desired that all northbound interfaces implemented within the system coexist with each other and operate using the Confspec adaption layer. This allows communication with the built-in configuration database and the data provider API and instrumentation. The configuration database (CDB) maintains application configuration in RAM, as well as on a file system. The Data Provider API (DPAPI) is used as a pass through to allow SelfReliant to store data required for the bootstrap process and essential HA operations (Figure 3). The file system may reside on disk or flash memory. However, users may choose to keep the configuration on persistent storage only. GoAhead Software Bellevue, WA. (425) 453-1900. []. Tail-f Systems Leesburg, VA. (703) 777-1936. [].

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Featured Products Real-Time Hypervisor Runs Windows XP Along with RTOSs on Intel Multicores A new software product that enables the simultaneous running of multiple operating systems on multicore processors now also supports Microsoft Windows XP. The Real-Time Hypervisor from Real-Time Systems makes it possible to run—simultaneously, independently and robustly—a number of standard (homogeneous or heterogeneous) operating systems on a single x86 multicore execution platform. It is known that physical and economical factors would one day set a limit to the “Moore’s Law” promise of constantly increasing CPU performance while maintaining customary price levels. For that reason, and in order to maintain the upward trend, the semiconductor industry has turned to multicore CPU designs, which have permitted Moore’s Law to continue to be valid. While the potential for exploiting the power of multiple CPU cores has not yet been completely realized, manufacturers of standard operating systems are pressing on with development programs that will one day allow their operating systems to take greater advantage of such platforms. The situation for embedded system designs is different, however. To take advantage of multicore CPUs, more and more real-time software manufacturers have been forced to develop individual, i.e., custom, solutions. The RTH Real-Time Hypervisor makes it possible for embedded application engineers to run standard operating systems, both real-time and conventional, on Intel multicore platforms. Conventional virtualization solutions (‘hypervisors’) are generally implemented by interposing an additional software layer between an operating system and the CPU core that it uses. Unfortunately, this kind of solution often influences the deterministic behavior of the real-time system. The RTS software technology, on the other hand, does not in the least interfere with any of the supported operating systems’ timing behavior. Using the RTS Hypervisor’s configuration file, users exclusively assign each operating system to (at least) one CPU core. In a comparable fashion, they assign other system resources, such as PCI devices or memory regions, to specific operating systems. To secure and protect real-time system behavior, the RTS Hypervisor gives each real-time operating system direct control of its own assigned peripheral devices. And because such devices are neither virtualized nor simulated, it is possible to use standard


August 2008

off-the-shelf device drivers. To provide additional flexibility, a user may specify the booting sequence of the various operating systems; even in a fully running system, any individual operating system can be re-booted. Despite the strict separation of the operating system environments, provision for inter-system communication has been made by means of shared memory and a virtual network. By enabling the support of Microsoft Windows XP in the RTH Hypervisor environment, RTS has opened up possibilities for countless time-critical applications that would profit by simultaneously running both the real-time software and Windows-based man-machine interfaces on the same PC. Currently, the RTS Hypervisor supports Windows XP, Windows CE and Linux, as well as VxWorks, PharLap ETS and Microware OS-9. Support for additional operating systems is in progress. RTS Hypervisor, ver. 1.5, is available now. Version 2.0 is scheduled to be released in the fall. Real-Time Systems, Ravensburg, Germany. +49 (0) 751 359 558 – 0. [].

PCI Express-to-Fiber Cable Adapter Stretches Serial Interconnect to 300 Meters A PCI Express-to-Fiber Cable Adapter enables high-speed data transfers up to 300 meters. The Fiber Cable Adapter (FCA) from One Stop Systems converts PCIe signals from electrical to fiber optics and then back to electrical again. It will not produce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and is immune to EMI, preventing crosstalk between signals in different cables and pickup of environmental noise. Optical fiber cable offers low jitter, low power dissipation, high bandwidth and excellent performance over temperature.

fiber cable can offer a networking solution that rivals Ethernet for performance. In addition, the introduction of a Gen 2 PCIe-overcable product line means even greater speed for data transfers. Where multiple computers are networked through the SuperSwitch products, one end of the FCA connects to the host PC through a PCIe cable to a PCIe host cable adapter installed in the host PC’s PCIe slot. An optical fiber cable then connects the other end of the FCA to another FCA cabled to another PC or the 1U PCIe switch. Where a host computer is cabled to downstream expansion or I/O end points, the FCA connects to the host PC through a PCIe cable to a PCIe host cable adapter installed in the host PC’s PCIe slot. An optical fiber cable then connects the other end of the FCA to another FCA cabled to a downstream board installed in an expansion system or I/O end point. One Stop Systems, Escondido, CA. (877) 438-2724. [].

One Stop Systems’ FCA increases the cable length, a previously limiting factor in PCIe expansion, from 7 meters using PCIe cable, to 300 meters using optical fiber cable. This is a great advantage for networking multiple computers over a greater distance than 7 meters. One Stop Systems’ SuperSwitch products allow the networking of multiple computers. Combined with optical fiber cable, computers can now be networked at higher speeds than Ethernet without losing the distance. Optical fiber cable has gained popularity in the networking arena because of its high bandwidth capacity, reliability and immunity to electric and radio frequency interference and crosstalk. Combining the high-speed transmission of PCI Express, the networking solution of One Stop’s SuperSwitch products and optical

August 2008




Rugged High-Speed, QuadChannel 16-Bit Digital Receiver Mezzanine

A rugged and compact highspeed, quad channel 16-bit digital receiver XMC/PMC mezzanine card supports analog sampling rates of 160 Msamples/s 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 XMC/PMC-E2202 from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing is suited for use in radar, software defined radio (SDR) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) platforms. Based on twin Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs, the XMC/PMC-E2202 combines input bandwidth in excess of 700 MHz, a 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. Memory support provided by this FPGA includes 16 Mbytes of ZBT RAM. The card’s second “Command & Control” FPGA provides highspeed 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 Gbytes/s. In addition, the XMC/PMC-E2202 will offer a high-density Rocket I/O over the card’s J6 connector for direct high-speed FPGA to FPGA communications with the basecard. The XMC-E2202 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. Pricing for the XMC-E2202 starts at $13,950. Availability is Q3 ʾ08.

ZigBee Transceiver Solution Is a 32-Bit ARM Module

A new 32-bit ARM-based ZigBee radio module based on the Freescale MC13224V 32-bit ARM Platform-in-Package (PiP) is designed to leverage extensive processing capability with its extremely low power consumption. The processing power of the MC13224V enables the FreeStar Pro from California Eastern Laboratories to provide a very high level of integration in a ZigBee module. The ARM

MPEG4 Encoder/Decoder—CODEC Board Smaller Than a Credit Card

32-bit processor and expansive on-chip memory enable designers to eliminate the peripheral host processors often required by 8- and 16-bit transceiver solutions. This high level of integration helps reduce component count, lower power consumption, and reduce overall system costs. FreeStar Pro modules are an attractive choice for remote sensing, AMR/AMI, home and building automation, industrial control and security applications. With +20 dBm output power and a range of over 4000 feet, they are good for mesh, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint networks. Plus, with their low current consumption, they’re also well suited for battery-powered designs. FreeStar Pro modules have a footprint of 23 x 31 mm. An integrated antenna helps to reduce system size and cost, while an interface for an external antenna can be optionally specified. Modules support the Freescale BeeStack software, which streamlines development. FreeStar Pro modules will also be FCC, IC and CE certified. FreeStar Pro Evaluation Kits provide two modules mounted on self-contained interface boards. These boards can be optionally battery-powered enabling developers to create and test network connections under real-world environmental conditions. Evaluation Software is also included in the kits. Its easy-to-use GUI interface makes it simple to configure the modules’ settings: transmission channel, network ID, node ID, transmission power, send and receive packets; and determine packet error rates.

Advanced Micro Peripherals, Witchford, Cambridgeshire, UK. +44 1353 659 500. [].

California Eastern Laboratories, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 919-2500. [].

Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (613) 254-5112. [].

The microMPEG4 is a 4-channel MPEG4 Codec on a Mini PCI form factor measuring just 60 mm x 45 mm. The sub-credit-card-sized microMPEG4 from Advanced Micro Peripherals is a tiny low-power and high-performance solution for capturing and compressing up to 4 concurrent live analog video inputs to the MPEG4 standard.The microMPEG4 not only provides MPEG4 compression but can also decompress and play back recordings from storage to display. Utilizing the 32-bit PCI architecture, the microMPEG4 allows high-quality real-time video and audio capture and compression from 1, 2 or 4 concurrent PAL or NTSC video sources to disk while simultaneously providing an additional path for incoming video to be previewed on the host screen. Text overlay with time and date stamping is supported. The high-performance MPEG4 video data compression requires minimal CPU involvement. This, plus the compact size, low heat dissipation and low power consumption, makes the microMPEG4 ideal for space-constrained and deeply embedded video/audio recording applications. The microMPEG4 is supported by a suite of drivers for Windows-NT/2000/XP, Linux and QNX.


August 2008

Rugged Enclosures Get “Greener”

An “eco-friendly” line of rugged COTS system platforms is lighter and uses RoHS-compliant materials. The family of 12R1 enclosures from Elma Electronic is up to 20% lighter than the company’s standard 12R2 line of rugged COTS chassis. This contributes for fuel savings for mobile (Air, Sea, Land) applications. The lighter units also help avionics and other applications meet weight constrictions. The system platforms are modular and come in various sizes and configurations. This includes 19” rackmount enclosures in 3U, 5U, 7Uand 10U heights, and 22” and 25”.The 12R1 line is also optionally Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant. For backplanes, lead-free solder and components must be used. RoHS 5/6 versions are also available for Military applications. The 12R1 line has complete EMC shielding integrity with braided gasketing, honeycomb filtering and blind-riveting. The rugged chassis shell is made of aluminum frames and extruded profiles. Power supplies from 350W to over 1400W are available with both air-cooled and conduction-cooled options. A hinged front door panel ensures unobstructed access to boards and drives. An I/O patch panel is also located in the rear of the chassis. The light 12R1 design withstands up to 15 G’s of shock and vibration, while the heavy duty 12R2 version can handle up to 25 G’s. Pricing for the 12R1 rugged chassis starts under $12,000 depending on size and configuration. The lead-time is 2-4 weeks ARO. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].

PC/104 Express Frame Grabber Boasts 16 Video Inputs

A PC/104 Express video frame grabber can connect up to 16 video cameras or one S-Video camera respectively. The MSMG104EX from Digital-Logic is a compact module equipped with four BT878 frame grabbers with 4-channel video multiplexer, a PCIe/PCI bridge and 16 TTL Inputs/Outputs. The frame grabber supports common image formats like PAL and NTSC, and software supports toggling between both formats. The bandwidth for PAL is 4x 25 frames/sec and for NTSC 4x 30 frames/sec. The maximum transfer rate is 133 Mbytes/s. The video cameras are connected by SMA coaxial connectors, which guarantee a high mechanical robustness thanks to bolted connection. Standard pass-through connectors allow the board to be used either above or below other PC/104 modules. It is connected to the PCI Express bus via one lane. Included in delivery are drivers for Windows or Linux and optional demo software for display and storage of 16 video streams. The MSMG104EX has dimensions of 90 mm x 96 mm x 17 mm (W x L x H) and a weight of 120 grams. It requires a 5V/3.3V power supply and operates within the standard temperature range of -25°C to +50°C. The MTBF (mean time between failures) is specified with over 100,000 hours. Typical applications are security and video surveillance, image recording (digitizing) and image evaluation that have to meet highest demands in terms of bandwidth and number of channels. For shipments of 100 units or more, pricing starts at 298 Euros per unit plus VAT. Digtal-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland. +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [].

ATCA Blade with Quad-Core Processors and Memory Options Addresses 10G Apps

A new ATCA blade combines quad-core Intel Xeon processors with a wide range of memory options, plus redundant 10GbE support, to deliver performance and flexibility for server-type communications network elements. The ATCA-7350 processor blade from Emerson Network Power supports a wide range of applications, including media servers in IPTV and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) broadband networks. The blade is based on two 2.13 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon processors and features a main memory capacity of up to 32 Gbytes. Dual hot-swappable and RAID-capable onboard disk drives can provide enterprise-class disk performance and storage capacity in network datacenter applications, or dual automotive or solid-state disks in central office applications requiring Network Equipment Building Standard (NEBS) capability. The PICMG 3.1-compliant fabric interface provides two 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) interfaces for applications requiring higher network throughput in the backplane. Several rear transition module (RTM) configurations are available for external connectivity to suit application requirements, providing two or four optional 1GbE interfaces, support for 10GbE, a USB 1.1 management interface, and two optional 2 Gbit/s Fibre Channel interfaces. The ATCA-7350 can be configured with a variety of software offerings, ranging from firmware-only to fully integrated and verified software operating environments. The ATCA-7350 also features an intelligent platform management control (IPMC) management subsystem, which provides monitoring, event logging and recovery control, and serves as the gateway for management applications to access the platform hardware. The ATCA-7350 will be available in the fourth quarter of 2008. Emerson Network Power, Tempe, AZ. (800) 759-1107. []. August 2008


Products & TECHNOLOGY Quad-Core LV Xeon 6U VMEbus SBC

A dual-slot single board computer (SBC) is designed to respond to customer needs for significantly increased onboard bandwidth and advanced graphics capabilities in 6U VMEbus environments. The new V7812 SBC from GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms utilizes the latest Intel chipset to provide a computing platform for demanding commercial, industrial and military applications. Such applications would typically include data encryption, flight simulation control and video compression. The V7812 uses the newly announced Intel 5100 MCH (Memory Controller Hub) chipset and offers either an Intel Dual- or Quad-Core LV Xeon processor with 4 Mbytes of L2 cache. Graphics capability is provided via the ATI Radeon M72 graphics module, which takes advantage of the latest 65nm fabrication process to deliver high performance with low power consumption. The M72 features AMD’s Unified Shader Architecture, which brings advanced vertex and pixel processing to embedded graphics applications. The V7812 can be optionally ordered as a VXS board, providing an additional Gigabit Ethernet connection routed to P0 in addition to the standard dual Gigabit Ethernet connections on the front panel. The Intel 5100 MCH provides six onboard PCI Express connections: one each to two Gigabit Ethernet controllers; one to the Tundra Tsi148 VME bridge; one to the two PMC PCI-X expansion sites; one to the ATI GPU; and one to the SAS (serial-attached SCSI) controller. The result is significantly advanced on-board bandwidth. Support is provided for up to 4 Gbytes of DDR2 ECC SDRAM, six USB 2.0 ports and four Gigabit Ethernet ports (two via optional VXS). An optional 120 Gbytes 2.5” SATA disk or 8 Gbyte SSD SATA drive can optionally be configured on the board. Operating system support is provided for Windows XP and Linux. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Charlotteville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [].

Streamlined CANopen Configuration Tool

With the new version 1.6 of the CANopen ConfigurationStudio, an extended version of the universal CANopen network configuration tool from IXXAT becomes available. The CANopen ConfigurationStudio 1.6 significantly simplifies the configuration of PDO messages within the “Visual Object Linker.” PDO configuration is performed by simple drag & drop operations, so even users without an in-depth knowledge of fundamental CANopen mechanisms can operate the tool. Further enhancements include a complete redesign of the “CANopen Device Configurator” plug-in that enables the extensive configuration of CANopen Manager devices according to CiA 302. In addition, the configuration of node guarding and error behavior was simplified and a new front-end for LSS Master services was implemented. To access the CANopen bus, an IXXAT CAN interface with VCI 3.1 driver installed is necessary. The CANopen ConfigurationStudio can be used on systems running Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP (32 and 64 bit) as well as Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit). IXXAT, Bedford, NH. (603) 471-0800. [].


August 2008

JTAG/Boundary Scan Platform Incorporates PXI Controllers

A new series of PXI-Bus-based controllers has been added for the Scanflex Boundary Scan hardware platform from Goepel Electronic. The new SFX/PXI1149/C4-FXT controllers incorporate the normally external Scanflex TAP transceivers into the 1 slot/3U unit, whereas the TAP interface cards (TIC) are linked externally. The TICs are active so complete signal conditioning is performed directly within the test fixture or environmental test chamber for HASS/ HALT applications. Four different auto-identified TIC types are available to accommodate various applications. The differential signal interface ensures a secure transmission of the TAP signals, even through multiple interconnections and with over four meters of cable length, a TCK clock frequency of up to 80 MHz can be maintained. The new controller series offers four truly parallel TAPs and is available in three performance classes: A, B and C. The classes differ in their respective maximum TCK clock frequency of 20, 50 and 80 MHz as well as in the degree of implementation of the advanced Space II chipset for high-performance scan operations. Unlike conventional solutions, the integrated Fastscale technology allows for an upgrade of the performance class ‘on-thefly’, overcoming costly assembly of additional hardware. All Scanflex controllers feature the Adycs II propagation delay compensation and the dynamic Hyscan data splitting for serial TAP vectors and parallel I/O vectors as a standard. Moreover, resources like 32 dynamic I/Os, 2 analog I/Os, 3 static I/Os and trigger lines are included in the basic package. SFX/PXI1149/C4-FXT is fully supported by the Boundary Scan software package System Cascon (version 4.4.1 or higher). Based on the integrated CAPI Cascon Application Programming Interface (CAPI) functionality, predefined plug-ins are available for convenient system integration of LabView, LabWindows and TestStand. Goepel Electronic, Jena, Germany. +49 03641 6896-739. [].

PMC Card Provides Real-Time Video Compression and Decompression

A new rugged, conduction-cooled dual-channel video compression/decompression board is available in the PMC form factor for use in VME and CompactPCI systems. The Orion CC from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing is suited for deployed systems requiring distribution and/or storage of video sensor information. The Orion CC features dual onboard JPEG 2000 engines to support full-frame encoding of standard 625-line PAL or 525-line NTSC composite video. With significantly better low bit-rate compression performance than its predecessor, JPEG, the JPEG 2000 is a new image coding system that uses stateof-the-art compression techniques based on wavelet technology. In input mode, Orion CC can accept up to ten analog video inputs. It can select two input channels for simultaneous compression using the JPEG 2000 standard. The card’s compression engine supports full-frame rate encoding of standard PAL or NTSC composite video, outputting a

PC/104-Express Peripheral Card Connects Two SATA Memory Devices

A solution for connecting two SATA memory devices to the PCI Express bus has been introduced in the form of the MSMSA104EX from Digital-Logic. The PC/104 Express card is based on the SATA II host controller SiL3132, has two SATA interfaces and supports data transfer rates of up to 300 Mbytes/s for each channel. It is connected to the PCI Express bus via one lane. Two USB ports are available to attach further peripheral devices. Software support exists for Windows XP, Windows VISTA and Linux. The onboard flash contains RAID Ø 1 support. The MSMSA104EX has dimensions of 90 mm x 96 mm x 17 mm (W x L x H) and a weight of 120 grams. It requires a 5V/3.3V power supply and operates within the standard temperature range of -25°C to +70°C (1 Gbyte). The MTBF (mean time between failures) is specified with over 100,000 hours. For shipments of 100 units or more, pricing starts at 147 Euros plus VAT. Digital-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland. +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [].

miniITX Motherboard Targets Low-Power Mobile Apps

JPEG 2000-compliant data stream onto the PCI bus. In output mode, Orion CC receives one or two JPEG 2000 data streams via the 64-bit, 66 MHz PCI bus, decompresses the data streams, and outputs the resulting one or two independent PAL or NTSC video output signals via the card’s PMC P4 connector. As part of a video capture and recording system, the resulting compressed video streams can be stored locally or distributed over a network to a remote display. JPEG 2000 supports a programmable compression ratio and offers excellent performance for real-time video sequences with the added benefit of low latency and minimal resynchronize times. JPEG 2000 compresses each frame of video independently, which means that in the event of a disturbance to the video stream, resynchronization can occur on the next frame boundary. MPEG algorithms compress video by identifying temporally redundant data in sequences of frames: a side-effect of this is that MPEG takes longer to recover from any disturbance to the video stream. Software support for Orion includes drivers for Windows, Linux and VxWorks operating environments. A low-level driver and comprehensive board support library provides a set of C functions for the card. This library of functions is portable to many operating systems and host processor platforms, and provides a set of lowlevel functions to initialize and control operations of the card. Pricing for the conduction-cooled Orion starts at $4,500. Availability is Q4 2008. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (613) 254-5112. [].

A Mini-ITX motherboard utilizing the Mobile Intel 910GMLE Express chipset with Intel ICH6M I/O controller hub is targeted for use in embedded applications such as gaming machines, ATM, industrial control automation, medical equipment, telecom, transportation, network and security related markets. The G5G100-L10C from Itox comes equipped with a 1 GHz Intel Celeron M Ultra Low Voltage 373 processor with 512K cache, 400 MHz front-side bus and integrated passive heatsink cooler. The low-cost G5G100L10C embedded motherboard consumes less than 17 watts, making it suitable for any application with thermal or power restrictions. The G5G100-L10C features one 184-pin DDR 333 SDRAM DIMM socket accepting memory modules with capacities up to1 Gbyte. Additional features include one VGA port with integrated Intel GMA 900 graphics (2048x1536 @ 75Hz), two Serial ATA ports with speeds up to 1.5 Gbits/s, UltraDMA/100 IDE interface, eight USB 2.0/1.1 ports, four serial COM ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet controller supporting 10 Mbits/s, 100 Mbits/s and 1 Gbit/s data transmission. Expansion is provided by one PCI slot, which accepts optional riser boards with 1, 2 or 3 slots for low-profile PCI cards. Use of Intel Embedded Architecture chipsets and processors, and other long-life availability components, enables Itox to guarantee availability of the G5G100-L10C for five or more years. Pricing starts at $350 with OEM volume pricing available. (For OEM and volume pricing, please call 732-390-2815 or email Itox, East Brunswick, NJ. (732) 390-2815. []. August 2008


Products & TECHNOLOGY Ultra-Low-Power Communications Controller for Wireless Sensor Networks

An IEEE 802.15.4-compliant communications controller chip boasts extreme low-power features that enable energy harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks. Networks powered by energy harvesting bring true maintenance-free operation. The Emerald GP500C from GreenPeak Technologies incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. The Emerald GP500C device is an “autonomous transceiver” able to drive and control the data communication instead of being driven by a microcontroller, greatly reducing energy consumption. This enables end nodes to run on energy harvesting devices and to be truly wireless—free of power cords and free of batteries In addition, GreenPeak’s radio creates reliable communication over a significant indoor range (30-50m, 100-150 feet) because it utilizes embedded hardware-based antenna diversity that reduces dead spots. It also includes other link reliability features such as message-over-message enabling, high sensitivity, a robust signal processing engine and interference detection and avoidance mechanisms. The Emerald GP500C only consumes a fraction (10-25%) of the energy of traditional microcontroller-based designs (depending on the usage profile) by using a lower peak current, an ultra-low leakage current, and very short transmission times via just-intime transmission scheduling. The GP500C’s low energy consumption allows developers to build sensor systems with a peak current of about 20 mA (two times lower than typical) and a system sleep mode of below 100 nA (ten times less than typical) without compromising the network reliability. The Emerald GP500C is delivered with a reference design and development kit that allows OEMs to build their own communication modules and applications. The GP500C will also support a wide range of software stacks that can run on different processors including ZigBee Pro as well as Low Power Routing, Low Power Sensing (robust communication under intermittent power availability), a micro stack and other application-dedicated low-power protocols. GreenPeak, Utrecht, Netherlands. 32 52 45 87 30. [].

Rugged Embedded PCs Provide Three GbE Links

In the quest for ever lower power computing, heat dissipation becomes an ever greater challenge. Feeding such needs, MPL has rolled out three new models of its PIP embedded PC family. The new products, called PIP11-E, PIP10-E and PIP9-E, are based on lowpower Pentium-M or Celeron-M CPUs from Intel’s Embedded program, which guarantees long-term availability. The CPUs are soldered on board and therefore offer the highest ruggedness and best reliability. Integrated on board are numerous features like three independent Gbit Ethernet ports, four serial ports, multiple USB 2.0 ports and much more. The rugged PCs are available with 512 Mbytes of ECC protected SDRAM memory soldered on board. A socket is available where additional ECC or standard DDR RAM modules of up to 1 Gbyte can be installed for a total of up to 1.5 Gbytes of RAM. The new models are extremely flexible and easy to expand over PC/104, PC/104-Plus, PMC or PCI. Further, MPL offers various add-on options and several housings (MIL and open frame) for all needs. The PIPs are powered with a single power supply between 8 and 28 VDC—optionally up to 48 VDC for mobile applications. MPL, Dättwil, Switzerland. +41 56 483 34 34. [].


August 2008

Multiple-Port USB-to-Serial Adapters are Software Configurable

Two USB-to-serial adapters are software configurable for RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485, elminating the need to open the enclosure to change jumper settings or dipswitches. The SeaLink +4M.SC and +8M.SC from Sealevel Systems maintain their electrical interface settings locally, allowing the host computer to be repaired or upgraded without reconfiguring the serial ports. Additionally, the devices can

be configured at one computer and deployed to other computers. The +4M.SC offers four ports and the +8M.SC offers eight. The serial ports appear as standard COM ports to the host computer enabling compatibility with legacy software. All Sealevel SeaLink USB serial adapters use a state-machine architecture that greatly reduces the host computer’s overhead when communicating over multiple serial ports simultaneously while supporting data rates to 921.6 Kbit/s. Status LEDs on the front of the enclosure indicate power, serial data activity and electrical interface. The SeaLink+4M.SC and SeaLink+8M. SC are housed in rugged metal enclosures and include two USB 1.1 hub ports for easily connecting additional SeaLink devices and other standard USB peripherals. These adapters integrate SeaLATCH locking USB ports, which are fully compatible with standard USB cables. When used with the included USB cable with a locking type B connector, the metal thumbscrew provides a secure connection to the device and prevents accidental cable disconnection. Both USB hub ports can also be secured using optional SeaLATCH USB cables. All SeaLink products ship with the Sealevel Systems SeaCOM suite of Windows drivers and diagnostic utilities. WinSSD, a full-featured application providing powerful testing and diagnostic capabilities, is also included. Use WinSSD for BERT (Bit Error Rate Testing), throughput monitoring, loopback tests and transmit test pattern messages. Sealevel Systems, Liberty, SC. (864) 843-4343. [].

mini-ITX Motherboard with Atom Processor Offers Smallest ATX-Compatible Footprint

With a combined thermal design power of less than 5 watts for the processor and chipset, a new ITX motherboard is a suitable choice for solar/battery-powered mobile, in-vehicle or stationary applications that require low power consumption, excellent electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and a simple, rugged cooling concept. The KTUS15/mITX motherboard from Kontron is based on the Intel Atom processor running at up to 1.6 GHz and the highly integrated Intel System Controller Hub US15W. The small, ATXcompliant footprint of only 170 mm x 170 mm, in combination with a board height of only two USB stacks (20 mm) gives system developers the freedom to design extremely slim and, as required, fully closed and highly protected systems.

Synchronous WAN Communications Module Supports MicroTCA and ATCA Apps

An intelligent synchronous four-port WAN, AdvancedMC module is designed for providing communications connectivity in a small form factor. The AMC335 from Performance Technologies can be easily integrated into MicroTCA offerings that include the company’s 1U MicroTCA chassis, the MTC5070, and the highly integrated, ready-touse Advanced Managed Platform, the AMP5070. The AMC335 is a programmable communications subsystem that is capable of sustaining high data rates for a variety of protocols that are used in synchronous data communications. The architecture of the AMC335 capitalizes on the intelligence of the Freescale MPC8270 Quad Integrated Communications Controller (PowerQUICC II), which enables it to act as an optimized communications controller. The module is ideally suited for use in creating flexible and efficient radar gateways, radar recorders, protocol converters, serial gateways and front-end I/O elements as well as many other communications devices that require RS-232, RS-422 (RS-449/EIA530) and V.35 connectivity. The AMC335 is fully supported by NexusWare, the company’s CGL 4.0 Registered Linux OS and development environment, as well as a complete set of installable WAN communications protocols. Performance Technologies, Rochester, NY. (585) 256-0200. [].

The space-saving processor and highly integrated system controller hub leave enough room for installing up to 32 Gbyte CF-media parallel to the motherboard, enabling the development of maintenance-free systems without fault-sensitive, rotating non-volatile media. The KTUS15/mITX offers numerous features such as the network controller from Intel. Other details include a set of interfaces, including two SDIO sockets that enable peripherals such as RFID or laser scanners, card readers, keyboard, keypad and mouse, printers and WLAN or GPRS communication networks to be connected directly to the motherboard. The two x1 PCIe and one PCI slots thereby remain free for application-specific extensions. The integrated Intel Trusted Platform Module (Intel TPM 1.2) and the wide range power supply (5 V – 25 V DV) options further simplify system design. Furthermore, Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel Virtualization Technology improve system performance in the latest multithreading and dual OS applications. The motherboard addresses up to 1 Gbyte of DDR2-RAM. The integrated graphics engine, with 2D/3D acceleration and directX 9, not only supports dual independent displays, but also boasts hardware-supported WMV9, H264.A and MPEG2 decoding, which dramatically reduces the load on the CPU when playing HD-videos. Displays can be connected via the onboard CRT (1280 x 1024) and dual-channel LVDS (1366 x 768) interfaces as well as optional DVI or HDMI ports. Mass storage media are easily connected via 2 x Serial ATA 150/300 and 1 x ATA100 interfaces. External embedded peripherals can be directly connected via 8 x USB 2.0, 2 x RS-232 (up to 4 x RS-232 if desired), 1 x bi-directional LPT as well as a PS/2 interface, without the need for expansion cards. AC97-compliant HD audio rounds off the feature set. Kontron, Poway, CA. (888)-294-4558. [].

Manageable Copper and Fiber Switch Solution Is Configurable over Web

A new Ethernet Switch product family features a design that allows different combinations of fiber and copper LAN ports. The products from MPL, known as MAGBES, are available in two basic versions: a 5-port Gigabit Ethernet switch module with 3 copper and 2 fiber optical interfaces or a 5-port Gigabit Ethernet switch module with copper interfaces. The two basic versions are available in various executions. The hot-pluggable SFP transceivers are available on the open market or at MPL with a variety of different variations, allowing users to select the appropriate technology according to the application need. The MAGBES products support features such as quality of service, port-based VLAN and IEEE 802.1Q VLAN as well as Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol. To configure the switch MPL provides a Web interface. The Software is delivered together with the MAGBES modules. The complete HW & SW has been developed, designed and produced by MPL in Switzerland. The MAGBES can be used as a stand-alone product and in a PC/104 or PC/104-Plus stack. In addition, the product is available as a built-in solution for the well-known Packaged Industrial PCs (PIP). The size of the module conforms to the PC/104 mechanical specification. The units are configurable via a Web interface in several options including a port-based VLAN—IEEE 802.1Q VLAN—and to set up quality of service. Management capabilities also include IEEE 802.1X MAC Address Checking, IEEE 802.1D Spanning Tree, port monitoring, SNMP support and switch statistics. Firmware can be updated via TFTP. The MAGBES can be used basically in any industrial and/or rugged environment. On request is the product also available for extended temperature. MPL, Dättwil, Switzerland. +41 56 483 34 34. []. August 2008


Products & TECHNOLOGY SBC Brings Low-Power Core 2 Duo to the VMEbus

A VMEbus single board computer (SBC), designed to meet the needs of customers who require dual-core performance for their demanding applications, the TC2D64 from Themis is designed for a wide range of commercial and military applications in challenging environments—up to 30G shock @ 20ms. The TC2D64 is based on the low-power Intel Core 2 Duo processor clocked up to 2.16 GHz, and Intel’s 7520 chipset used in high-performance Xeon servers. The Intel 7520 chipset includes an ECC memory controller to maintain the highest system integrity, and provides the bandwidth necessary to support high-performance I/O. TC2D64 memory is expandable to 4 Gbytes of DDRII-400 memory. TC2D64’s memory modules feature a screw down design to withstand high shock and vibration. The TC2D64 has extensive I/O including two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a SATA port and two USB 2.0 ports. I/O expansion is provided by an onboard 64 bit/66 MHz PMC slot along with a PCI Express connector to a new, optional XMC expansion board with two XMC slots for either PMC modules or new PCI Express XMC modules such as the latest cutting-edge graphics solutions. With the XMC expansion board, the expanded I/O configuration also provides AC97 audio, a third Gigabit Ethernet port and two multiprotocol serial ports. A TC2D64 configuration is also available with an optional three-slot PMC carrier card. The TC2D64 and its two-slot XMC expansion board are fully RoHS compliant.

Scope Delivers Faster Throughput, High-Def Display Support

The general move toward high-speed serial technologies in the embedded arena continues to drive demand for instrumentation that can keep pace with those high-speed technologies. LeCroy’s new line of WavePro digital oscilloscopes—the 7 Zi Series—integrates performance, speed and a user interface optimized for analysis to enhance the design, debug and validation process. The unit offers a feature finder, new rare event capture technology and exceptional responsiveness, and 10-20 times faster processing throughput. The WavePro 7 Zi’s industrial design incorporates a 15.3-inch, 16:9 high-definition display equipped with a touch screen. In addition, TriggerScan and WaveScan, special modes for finding rare events and correlating what caused the problem, shorten the time to debug a new design. LeCroy has added four new high-performance probes to the WaveLink probe family. The new amplifiers boast excellent noise performance that is essential for making precise jitter and other signal integrity measurements. The high DC and midband impedance make them ideal for many serial data and memory applications such as PCI Express, Firewire and DDR. U.S. prices range from $23,500 to $69,400. LeCroy, Chestnut Ridge, New York. (800) 453-2769. [].


August 2008

Conduction-Cooled Solid State Memory PMC with up to 128 Gbyte NAND Flash

A low-power, conduction-cooled solid state flash memory PMC module offers up to 128 Gbytes of NAND flash memory. Available in convection- and conduction-cooled configurations, the Flash PMCStor module from ACT/Technico is suitable for mass storage requirements in rugged environments found in defense and aerospace applications. The Flash PMCStor uses the latest-generation USB flash disk controller. The memory is organized as an array of four flash banks with

throughputs of 15 Bbytes/s per array when seen as individual USB drives, or up to 30 Mbytes/s as a single drive in RAID mode. Additional features include wear leveling, write protect and error detection and bad block correction. Three high-speed USB ports, one type 'A' on the front panel and two ports via the rear PN4 I/O connector, allow for additional memory access options. The Flash PMCStor consumes less than 5 watts of power in operating mode and will fit single board computers and carrier boards for CompactPCI, VME, VXS and VPX, or any board with a standard PMC site. The Flash PMCStor supports PCI bus clock frequencies up to 66 MHz in non-Monarch mode at 32 or 64 bits wide. Current operating systems supported include VxWorks, Linux and Windows. The board is compatible with EMC 89/336/ ECC, EN55022 CIE and EN50082-2 as well as USB version 2.0. It also complies with USB Mass Storage Class specification version 1.0 as well as USB Revision 1.0 OHCI and EHCI. ACT/Technico, Warminster, PA. (215) 956-1200. [].

Easy Error Diagnosis for CAN and CANopen Systems

Error diagnosis for CAN and CANopen systems becomes easier with a new universal installation tester “CANcheck” from IXXAT. Besides approved functions for physical wiring, cable, termination and line length tests as well as the operational tests including signal level, busload and display of message and error frames, CANcheck now offers additional functions for recording of measurement results as well as for verifying the plausibility of these results. Up to four measurement series can be recorded on the device and afterwards be saved on a PC for longtime storage. Furthermore, the measurement results can be checked automatically for plausibility, which avoids errors in the system quality validation. The battery-powered handheld device is operated via control keys and a graphic LCD display. The test results can be displayed on the LCD display or on a PC, where CANcheck is connected via the USB-Interface. CANcheck has a high-speed CAN interface in accordance with ISO/IS 11898-2. Four mignon batteries (AA) are required to power the device. The average operation time is about 24 hours. The device has a robust aluminum housing especially designed for use in the field. IXXAT, Bedford, NH. (603) 471-0800. [].


pico-ITX Goes Low Profile, Integrates Power Supply


Intel, Pentium, Atom, Core and Celeron are registered trademarks of the Intel corp. Geode is a registered trademark of the Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

A low-profile Pico-ITX board couples features within a streamlined, ultra-compact footprint with extended I/O port options through two companion boards. Now featuring native S-ATA II support, Gigabit LAN and support for GPIO, SM bus and LPC devices, the 10 cm x 7.2 cm Via EPIA P700 Pico-ITX board from Via Technologies is based on the Via VX700 unified digital media IGP chipset and is powered by a 1 GHz Via C7 or fanless 500 MHz Via Eden ULV processor. An integrated power adapter coupled with the 5-volt S-SATA power cable negates the need for a separate power daughterboard, saving considerable space for ultra-compact systems. Linear onboard pin-header placement means developers can use a single cable to easily connect various I/O devices in a streamlined way that reduces cable clutter. Flexible battery placement is also geared toward improved miniaturization, making the Via EPIA P700 the most slimline Pico-ITX board yet. Two companion boards make light work of design implementation and product testing. The P700-A board features an RJ45 port, a VGA port and a COM port, while the P700-B sports four USB ports and three audio jacks for multichannel surround sound. The two companion boards fit seamlessly with the streamlined linear pinheaders on either side of the Via EPIA P700 to enable ultra-low-profile devices. The Via EPIA P700 Pico-ITX board is powered by either a 1.0 GHz Via C7 or fanless 500 MHz Via Eden ULV processor and supports up to 1 Gbyte of DDR2 system memory. The Via VX700 unified digital media IGP chipset boasts 2D/3D AGP graphics and video decoding acceleration for WMV and MPEG-2/4 video through the Via UniChrome Pro II IGP graphics core. The Via VT1708B high-definition codec offers eight-channel audio and DTS multichannel digital surround sound for an all-round high fidelity experience. The Via EPIA P700 negates the need for a traditional power board with an integrated +12V DC 2-pin power jack and lock, which also includes a 5V S-SATA power cable.

Lowest Power to Highest Performance Computer-On-Module Family

• conga-CA

Intel® Atom™ processor up to 1.6 GHz

• conga-B945 Intel® Core™2 Duo processor up to 2.16 GHz

• conga-B915 Intel® Celeron™ M processor up to 1.5 GHz

• conga-CLX

AMD Geode™ LX800 500 MHz

and more • • • •

Complete Battery Management Solution Rich Embedded BIOS Features Automatic Flat Panel Detection Design-In and Lifecycle Support

Find more details at : Tel. 7 6 0 - 6 3 5 - 2 6 0 0 info @

VIA Technologies, Fremont, CA. (510) 683-3300. []. Untitled-2 1

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8/13/08 9:45:55 AM

Products & TECHNOLOGY COM Express Module Sports Newest 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo

A new COM Express module features the latest 45nm Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the T9400, with a core speed of 2.53 GHz, 6 Mbyte L2 cache, a front side bus running at 1066 MHz and up to 8 Gbyte DDR3 memory. The conga-BM45 from congatec utilizes the Mobile Intel GM45 Express chipset with integrated Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD Graphics Media Accelerator. The module can be equipped with a maximum 8 Gbyte DDR3 dual channel memory. When comparing this with DDR2 memory, the power consumption of DDR3 is ~20% lower. The Intel GMA 4500MHD, which is a chipset integrated graphics controller, supports DirectX10 and hardware decoding for HDTV video streams. In order to reduce power consumption, the clock speed and voltage supply are adapted to the software utilization of the graphics controller. Depending on the software application, the graphics performance of the conga-BM45 can be up to three times faster compared to the same application running on a Mobile Intel GME965 Express chipset-based platform. Both independent graphic pipelines can use either 2x24-bit LVDS, SDVO, TV-Out, analog VGA or one of the new interfaces DisplayPort and HDMI. The conga-BM45 implements the new VESA standard DisplayID and Embedded Panel Interface (EPI) in parallel allowing for automatic recognition of the attached flat panel display. Five PCI Express lanes, PCI Express Graphic (PEGx16), eight USB 2.0 ports, four SATA-2 interfaces as well as signals for two ExpressCards allow for fast system extensions. Fan control, LPC bus for slow speed extensions and HDA, a high-performance digital audio interface, complete this full feature set. The integrated gigabit Ethernet controller is equipped with Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT) 4.0. This enables remote control and management of embedded computer solutions. The conga-BM45 is available for mass production in Q4 2008. The price will be approximately $900. congatec, Cardiff by the Sea, CA. (760) 635-2602. [].

Rugged Box-Level System Targets Avionics

Stand-alone rugged box systems have become a staple for development in avionics . Kontron’s latest offering along those lines is the Kontron MEC-PPC-AV1, a completely rugged Modular Embedded Computer (MEC) specifically targeted toward avionics applications. The Kontron MEC-PPC-AV1 is a low-cost 3U CompactPCI rugged subsystem designed to exceed requirements through its compact dimensions, low-power dissipation and realtime software with a very large I/O offering. The Kontron MEC-PPC-AV1 is targeted toward the avionics market because of its ATR footprint dimensions, 28 VDC power supply, lightweight structure in aluminum, conduction-cooled dissipation, MILSTD-1553 links, MIL-C-38999 connectors and a very low power consumption of less than 17W. The Kontron MEC-PPC-AV1 hosts a Kontron 3U CompactPCI Single-Slot PowerEngineC7 Embedded Computer, a low-power dissipation and high-performance processor board already embedded in major avionics programs. The PPCAV1 offers a large range of I/Os such as Ethernet, general-purpose I/Os, serial lines and MIL-STD-1553 links thanks to the Kontron CPMC-1553-R PCI Mezzanine. The Kontron CPMC-1553-R is a redundant MIL-STD-1553B interface with two channels. The PMC module has a 32-bit, 33 MHz PCI interface and a parallel 8-bit TTL I/O port. Kontron America, Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877. [].


August 2008

6U VME PowerPC Board Has SKY Channel Links

Sky Channel, along with a handful of other interconnect technologies, brought switch fabrics to high-end applications decades before fabrics became part of mainstream computing. The recently “restarted” Sky Computers has rolled out its new 6U LightningBolt board. It provides all the resources required to obtain optimal performance from Sky’s compute and

I/O modules. It is configured with one compute module of four MPC7448 processors. Data is transferred throughout the LightningBolt over the SKYchannel Packet Bus at 320 Mbytes/s. Data moves transparently through the SKYchannel P2 interface to other boards in a SKYchannel chassis. System control is handled by the System Processor, which performs I/O and operating system tasks that would otherwise burden the compute processors. A full VME64 interface provides communication to the host and other off-board communication. The application runs on the processors resident on the compute module. Front-panel I/O expansion modules may be added to the LightningBolt for maximum I/O performance. LightningBolt uses the 1.2 GHz PowerPC MPC7448 microprocessor and the ANSI/VITA standard SKYchannel interconnect fabric, delivering optimal computing and I/O performance. The new LightningBolt embedded computers are 100 percent compatible with Sky’s previous SKYbolt family of products. Sky Computers, Chelmsford, MA. (978)-259-2420. [www.skycomputers. com].

CompactPCI SBC Features 45nm Core 2 Duo

A single-slot 6U CompactPCI processor board uses the latest high-performance mobile dual-core processor from the Intel embedded roadmap, the 2.53 GHz Intel Core2 Duo processor T9400. The PP 512/06x from Concurrent Technologies is suitable for CPUintensive processing applications whereby the processor’s dual cores can access up to 8 Gbytes of onboard DDR3 dual-channel SDRAM at up to 16 Gbytes/s. The PP 512/06x is based on a platform consisting of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor T9400, the Intel GM45 Graphics Memory Controller Hub and the Intel I/O Controller Hub 9M. The processor utilizes Intel’s 45nm process technology, and offers a large L2 cache (6 Mbytes), 1066 MHz Front Side Bus, improved power management, plus new features and enhancements to the Intel Core microarchitecture delivering increased instructions per clock. The Mobile Intel GM45 Express chipset accesses up to 8 Gbytes of DDR3-1066 dual-channel SDRAM via two SODIMM sockets.

VXS Gateway Marries 10GbE and Embedded Processing

VXS has proven itself useful for doing real-time tasks like capturing and processing large volumes of sensor data in real time to the sensor network architecture paradigm. Mercury Computer Systems addresses that need with its new SR-110 10GE VXS Gateway, a networkcentric building block for VXS systems. The SR-110 10GE VXS Gateway from Mercury automatically transports the network data (via 10GbE) into the VXS chassis, which in turn streams the data into the serial RapidIO fabric, making the data available to all VXS compute nodes in the chassis. After user application computations are complete, the data is transported out of the system via the Gateway to the 10GbE network. The SR-110 10GE VXS Gateway self-boots at power-up and is userconfigurable. No other programming or user intervention is required to enable high-bandwidth data streams into and out of the Gateway. Based on the Freescale MPC8548 processor, the Mercury SR-110 10GE VXS Gateway is a highly integrated platform that includes a Power Architecture core, serial RapidIO, Gigabit Ethernet controllers and an integrated DDR2 memory interface. Mercury Computer Systems, Chelmsford, MA. (978) 256-1300. [].

For I/O, control and data processing flexibility, the PP 512/06x supports two high-performance PMC/XMC sites with front and rear I/O, PICMG 2.16 (Ethernet fabric), PICMG 2.9 (IPMI) and PICMG 2.1 (hot swap). Each PMC site supports up to 133 MHz PCI-X operation as well as a x4 PCI Express XMC interface. In addition, XMC site 2 can also support x8 PCI Express. The CompactPCI control/ data plane throughput can operate at 33/66 MHz backplane PCI signaling speeds; the PP 512/06x can operate as a system controller board, a peripheral board or as a satellite board (blade). A wide range of onboard I/O is available to the user: the board supports three 10/100/1000 Mbit/s Ethernet interfaces (one front and two rear), and the front panel also supports a USB 2.0, RS-232, analog graphics (2048 x 1536), keyboard and mouse interfaces. The rear panel supports three USB 2.0, RS-232, and up to four SATA300 interfaces. Other features included are a watchdog timer, long duration timer, LAN boot firmware and options for an onboard 2.5-inch SATA300 hard disk drive and/or CompactFlash storage. For applications requiring rear I/O connections, a transition module is available—and can be optionally fitted with a USB flash disk. For ease of integration, the PP 512/06x family of boards supports many of today’s leading operating systems, including Linux, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Solaris, VxWorks and QNX. Concurrent Technologies, Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].

Software Radio PMC Offers Beam Forming, Power Meter

Real-time software radio, beam forming, signal-intelligence and radar systems all have something in common. They’re all hungry for an integrated solution—and that solution does conversion, processing and beam forming all the better. Pentek does exactly that with its Model 7152, a quad 200 MHz, 16-bit A/D digitizer with a 32-channel digital down converter (DDC) configured in a PMC format. The 7152 features 32 power meters that continuously measure the individual average power output of each of the 32 DDC channels. In addition, 32 threshold detectors automatically send an interrupt to the processor if the average power level of any DDC falls below or exceeds a programmable threshold. The built-in power meters and threshold detectors offload these tasks from a downstream processor and present average power measurements for each channel in easy-to-read registers. A second set of new features makes the module ideal for beamforming applications. By adjusting the phase offset and weighting of the individual channels, followed by summation, the antenna can be “steered,” rotating the azimuth angle to enhance receptivity in a particular direction. The 7152 PMC module is also available in a variety of additional form factors. The 7152 PMC module is priced at $14,500 for the hardware. Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. []. August 2008


Products & TECHNOLOGY Low-Power Core-Duo-based 6U CompactPCI SBC

With shock and vibration immunity major goals in the design, a new Intel Core2 Duobased CompactPCI/PICMG 2.16 Single Board Computer (SBC) has been introduced by Dynatem. The CPD is a 6U single-slot CompactPCI-compatible platform that takes advantage of the L7400 Core2 Duo’s low power consumption as a rugged SBC. All major components including processor, chipset and memory are BGA based. The only socketed devices on board are the optional CompactFlash and optional battery, both of which are securely fastened when required. The CPD is available as a conduction-cooled module with wedge locks and a fullboard heat sink for high shock/vibration environments and temperature extremes. The conduction-cooled version is the CRD. Extended temperature and versions with conformal coating are available. The CPD comes installed with 2 Gbyte or 4 Gbyte DDR2-400 memory, supporting ECC. Memory is BGA for the best shock/vibration spec. The E7520 Memory Controller Hub (MCH) and 6300ESB I/O Controller Hub (ICH) chips support PCIe and PCI-X expansion, respectively. Four onboard Gbit Ethernet ports are controlled by two PCI Express-based 82571EB dual 10/100/1000BaseTX controllers. Two Ethernet ports are accessible from the front panel and two PICMG 2.16-compliant ports are routed to the backplane. Graphics are provided from a Silicon Motion SM712 GPU. SVGA is routed to J5. Front panel I/O interfaces include two Gbit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports and front panel I/O for both PMC sites. Conventional PC I/O is accessible with industry-standard connectors on the optional XPDRIO Rear Transition Module. An onboard CompactFlash site supports up to 32 Gbyte non-volatile memory, which permits single-slot booting. Dynatem offers software support for such operating systems as LynxOS, VxWorks, Windows NT, Windows XP, Linux, QNX and Solaris. Support for other operating systems is available upon request. PXE is available for diskless booting and fully volatile operation—desirable in secure systems. Pricing starts at $4,158 in single quantity. Dynatem, Mission Viejo, CA. (949) 855-3235. [].

Scan Converter PMC Card Supports High-Res Radar

Radar system development represents an extremely active segment of both the civilian aviation and the military realms. Supporting that need, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing has announced the Eagle-2, a new high-resolution radar video scan-converter card. This compact PMC mezzanine module delivers enhanced scan conversion performance and support for high-resolution screen displays and eases the integration of advanced radar scan conversion functionality into VME, VPX and CompactPCI and PC-based systems. The Eagle-2 supports the simultaneous scan-conversion of multiple radar sources into PPI, A-Scan, or B-Scan formats at display resolutions up to 2560x1600, including 2048x2048 to address the growing demand for large-screen displays. Eagle-2 delivers field-proven, high-performance radar scan conversion based on the industryleading White-Powell algorithm. The card supports both forward and reverse scan-conversion to ensure that all single point targets are displayed and that no holes or spokes appear in the displayed image, even when zooming in at long range. High-resolution (up to 2560x1600/2048x2048) and standard resolution (up to 1920x1200) versions are available. The card is available in both aircooled L0 and L100 ruggedization levels. Pricing for the Eagle-2 starts at $10,200. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (703) 779-7800. [].


August 2008

Family of PCIe Backplanes Offers Server- and GraphicsCentric Choices

Fifteen PCIe-compatible backplanes are now available from American Portwell in a choice of server-centric (from 6 to 19 slots) or graphic-centric (from 5 to 13 slots). The features of the expanded family include a selection available for node chassis and rack mount chassis up to 4U, PCI-X buses that support up

to 16 PCI-X expansion slots, PCIe x16, PCIe x8, PCIe x4 and PCIe x1 combinations, USB and SATA ports and support for legacy PCI slots. This makes Portwell’s extended family of PICMG 1.3 industrial backplanes an appropriate choice for applications in medical systems, semiconductor wafer inspection, system automation, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) X-ray inspection and the telecommunications markets. Since there is no single solution that can address all of these issues, Portwell decided to provide a growing selection of backplanes from which to choose. Portwell’s PBPE family already includes a comprehensive range of industrial PICMG 1.3 backplanes, including six server-centric industrial backplanes and nine graphic-centric industrial backplanes. American Portwell, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3184. [].

Rugged 6U VME SBC Features Advanced Freescale Processors

Many demanding embedded computing applications are deployed in confined spaces where the heat generated by the computer can be hard to dissipate. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, working with Freescale, has announced the 6U VME VG6, which features the MPC8640 and MPC8640D low-power Power Architecture processors newly launched by Freescale Semiconductor. The VG6 now offers optional support for the MPC8640 and MPC8640D, providing an alternative solution that is designed to create less heat. According to Freescale, the MPC8640(D) processor consumes up to 27% less power than an equivalent MPC8641(D). The 6U VME VG6 is available as a dual node/single node, dual node/single node single board computer, and is designed for high performance in harsh environments such as military/aerospace and industrial automation and more benign environments such as medical and scientific applications. GE Fanuc Intelligent Plat-

forms also announced that its DSP220 6U VXS quad MPC8641/ MPC8641D multicomputer and DS230 6U VPX quad 8641/8641D multicomputer will also be made available with the MPC8640 and MPC8640D processors. The VG6 can be configured as a single MPC8640 single core, single MPC8640 D dual core, dual MPC8640 single core and dual MPC8640D dual core solution, with x8 PCI Express adapter between the nodes: the same options are available for customers choosing the 8641 and 8641D options. Each node can be configured with up to 2 Gbytes of DDR2 ECC memory. Support is provided for three Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as two 10/100Mbit Ethernet ports. Two SATA ports are provided for optimum disk storage performance, while extension slots are provided for both PMC/XMC (PCI-X 133 or x8 PCI Express) and PMC (PCI-X 100). Connectivity is further enhanced by the provision of four serial I/O ports (two RS-232, two RS-422) and six (three per node) USB 2.0 interfaces. Supported operating systems include VxWorks from Wind River Systems and Linux; LynxOS from LynuxWorks and Integrity from Green Hills Software are available on request. The VG6 is available immediately with the MPC8641 and MPC8641D processors; availability of the MPC8640 and MPC8640D processors will follow availability from Freescale Semiconductor. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Charlotteville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [].

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3/17/08 1:37:08 PM

CompactPCI Showcase Featuring the latest in CompactPCI technology AcPC4610 PMC Carrier Card

cPCI-3920 3U cPCI Dual-Core SBC

3U CompactPCI card Holds one PMC module Air or conduction-cooled 32-bit 33/66 MHz PCI interface PLX PCI6540 transparent PCI/PCI bridge for bus-to-PMC data transfer Front or rear connection I/O access Supports 5V and 3.3V signaling Conduction-cooled or -40 to 85°C

Acromag Phone: (877) 295-7085 Fax: (248) 624-9234

Low power Intel® Core™2 Duo and Core™ Duo Server class Intel® 3100 chipset DDR2 ECC Soldered SDRAM Dual PCIe® GbE, three USB 2.0 and three serial ports Supports USB flash and SATA storage

ADLINK Technology, Inc. E-mail: Web:

Phone: (408) 360-0200 Fax: (408) 360-0222

Penryn 6U CPCI processor board

Flex21 cPCI Platform 13U high density chassis with 19 node and 2 fabric slots 90W per slot, redundant IPMI-based management and alarming Up to 38 Core 2 Duo (Dual Core) low voltage compute nodes Revolutionary improvements in serviceability, management, power Complete line of cPCI line cards and Trillium software also available

2.53 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo processor T9400 up to 8 Gbytes DDR3 SDRAM 2 PMC/XMC sites 4 SATA300 interfaces 3 Ethernet interfaces Graphics, serial, and USB interfaces Single slot solution

Concurrent Technologies Inc. Phone: (781) 933-5900 Fax: (781) 933-5911

E-mail: Web:

Continuous i Computing C tti g Phone: (858) 882-8800 Fax: (858) 777-3388

FlexCompute cPCI-CD1215

Phone: (858) 882-8800 Fax: (858) 777-3388

Dynatem, t IInc. E-mail: Web:

E-mail: Web:


High performance cPCI compute blade Intel® Core™2 Duo processor in a single slot Up to 2X performance of Intel® Pentium M Design accommodates PMC, memory module, and HDD simultaneously Up to 4GB of SDRAM with ECC

Continuous Computing

E-mail: Web:

CPCI and PICMG 2.16 compatible Intel® CoreT2 Duo Mobile Processor @ 1.5 GHz or 2.16GHz for 64-bit operation Supports two PMC sites, one of which optionally supports XMC modules E7520 Chipset for PCIe support and high memory bandwidth 2 or 4 GB ECC soldered DDR2-400 Bootable CompactFlash Also available in rugged, conductioncooled versions

Phone: (800) 543-3830 x105 E-mail: Web: Fax: (949) 770-3481

CPCI7200 Multi-core SBC

Conduction Cooled Enclosures

Up to 1.5 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo processor 533 or 667 MHz frontside bus Intel® E7520 and 6300ESB dual channel 3.2GB/s memory controller 2GB ECC-protected DDR2-400 Dual on-board Gigabit Ethernet interfaces PLX6466 PCI-to-PCI bridge technology

Emerson Network Power

PCI-Systems Inc.

Phone: (602)438-5720 E-mail: Web:

Phone: (301) 362-1233 Fax: (301) 362-1337

COTS modular conduction cooled chassis for VPX, microTCA, VME, CPCI and CPCIexpress. Two level maintenance models include 3U, 6U, ATR, ARINC600 and custom. Air cooled, conduction cooled (cold plate) or liquid cooled chassis. VPX 8 slot versions have PCIexpress x8 lanes per slot and a 64 lane switch. Current CPU boards include a Intel core 2 duo or a Freescale DualCore PowerPC CPU. E-mail: Web:

CompactPCI Showcase 1.8-Inch Micro-SATA SSDs Target Rugged Apps

Rugged and mobile industrial users far prefer solid state drives over rotating disks. SSDs are not only inherently more rugged, they also are much easier to erase secure data from when needed. Super Talent Technology has released a new line of 1.8-inch MicroSATA SSDs. At merely 5 mm thick, these MicroSATA SSDs are slimmer than most 1.8-inch hard drives, and hold up to 120 Gbytes of data. In terms of performance, power consumption and shock and vibration resistance, the MasterDrive KX is substantially better than hard drives. As a result, the MasterDrive KX makes for an excellent upgrade for military laptops that need greater reliability or to accelerate boot-up and load times Built with MLC NAND flash, the MasterDrive KX is offered in 30, 60 and 120 Gbyte capacities. With 0.1 ms access time and 120 Mbyte/s and 40 Mbyte/s max sequential read and write speeds, these SSDs provide lightning fast access to files. The Micro-SATA connector in a 1.8inch form factor makes these SSDs an ideal upgrade for UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs). Prices range from $299 to $679 depending on capacity.

ComputeNode Full family of 1U through 4U cPCI chassis Proven NEBS Level 3-compliant designs for high speed, high availability telecom and networking applications Built-in Alert!Node alarm card for outof-band chassis management Redundant, hot-swappable AC or DC power supplies Redundant, hot-swappable front and rear fans for superior cooling and serviceability

Pinnacle Data Systems, Inc. Phone: (614) 748-1150 Fax: (614) 748-1209

E-mail: Web:

Embedded Modem Modules, the Half-InchModems

Super Talent, San Jose, CA. (408) 934-2560. [].

Serial TTL interface -40C to +85C operating temperature Compact size: 1” x 1” x 0.2” up to 56K bps data rate 14.4K bps fax, voice AT command DTMF, ring and Caller ID detection Transferable FCC68, CS03, CTR21 telecom certifications Global safety: c/UL, IEC60950-1, IEC60601-1 (Medical) approved CE marking

VadaTech Introduces AMC220 Dual-Port Packet Processor

The VadaTech AMC220 is a packet processor for Dual10Gigabit Ethernet AMCs based on the AMC.1 specification. This two-port module is offered in a mid-height form factor with the option to order the full-height design. Pre-configured as a TCP Offload Engine, this AMC provides socket layer services to a Cavium OCTEON CN56xx/CN57xx Multicore processor, and can be loaded either by a four-lane PCIe interface or optional flash memory. This host processor enables the AMC220 to process Ethernet packets at line rate while reducing the overhead associated with new standards for packet processing on embedded CPUs. The AMC220 has options for six to twelve processor cores and is available from 600 MHz to 1 GHz speed grades. Compliance with the newest IPMI version 2.0 allows for manageability that is independent of the operating system, which is supported by Linux, Windows, Solaris and VxWorks. The two RJ-45 micro USB connectors for both USB and RS-232 are located on the front panel of the AMC alongside two SFP+ connectors. The AMC220 is hot-swappable with an ejector handle that is also located on the front panel, allowing for mechanical configuration of the module. VadaTech provides its customers with specific ordering options to meet individual product needs and performance requirements. The basic configuration pricing of the AMC220 starts around $2,000. Vadatech, Henderson, NV. (702) 896-3337. [].

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4-Channel, 32 MHz Wave Generators Feature Small Size

Applications such as radar and software radios and other complex communications gear depend on complex wave genera- tion to meet development and test needs. Highland Technology releases two new members of its T340 series of embedded complex waveform generators. Smaller than a paperback, the T346 and T344 feature four output channels capable of generating standard and arbitrary waveforms from microHz to 32 MHz, and four additional internal channels usable as modulation and summing sources. Channels can also be pulse/PWM and Gaussian noise sources, and can be summed with or modulate one another in any combination. Modulations include AM, FM, PM and PWM. Waveforms include sine, triangle, sawtooth, Gaussian noise and precision pulse/PWM outputs. The T344 version is a four-channel ARB without modulations. Four additional waveform generators are provided internally as modulation/summing sources. Channel-channel modulation capability allows generation of sweeps, chirps, I/Q and constellations, and calibrated jitter, and simulation of a wide range of radar, communications, power, encoders and electromechanical systems. Highland Technology, San Francisco, CA. (415) 551-1700. [].

4-Channel Synchro/Resolver Boasts 16-bit Resolution and 1 Arc-Minute Accuracy

A 4-channel digital-to-synchro/resolver or digital-to-LVDT/ RVDT converter comes on a 3U cPCI card. The DSP-based 75DS2 from North Atlantic Industries includes up to four independent, isolated, programmable Synchro/Resolver or LVDT/RVDT simulation channels. Each channel has 16-bit resolution, ¹1 arc-minute accuracy, and a short circuit protected output with 1.5, 2.2 or 3.0 VA drive capability. The unit requires +5 VDC and ¹12 VDC power supplies, and operates over a frequency range of 47 Hz to 10 KHz. Additionally, each unit includes wrap-around self-test, programmable output angle rotation, and an optional 3 VA programmable reference supply. The 75DS2 provides continuous background built-in-test (BIT) on all functions and channels, including reference and signal loss detection. BIT is totally transparent to the user, requires no programming, and doesn’t interfere with the normal operation of the card. Each Digital-to-Synchro/Resolver and Digital-to-LVDT/RVDT Converter channel is self-calibrating, without requiring removal of the card. The 75DS2 3U cPCI card is ideally suited for military and commercial programs, including airborne, shipboard, ground mobile and C3I applications. The 75DS2 is available with an operating temperature range of -40° to +85°C or 0° to +70°C. Conduction-cooled versions with wedgelocks are also available. Pricing for 100 pieces of the 75DS2 starts at $2,495 each. Delivery starts at 12 weeks ARO. North Atlantic Industries, Bohemia, NY. (631) 567-1100. [].


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August 2008

7/11/08 3:59:41 PM

Products & TECHNOLOGY PERC Ultra 5.1 Brings Real-Time Java Support to LynxOS

The widely used LynxOS RTOS from LinuxWorks has received support of a real-time Java implementation in the form of PERC Ultra 5.1 from Aonix. PERC Ultra is a virtual machine and toolset expressly created for embedded and real-time systems requiring J2SE support. PERC Ultra delivers the ease and efficiency of Java Standard Edition support without sacrificing integrity, performance, or real-time behavior. The currently available version, PERC Ultra 5.1 offers Ahead-of-Time (AOT) and Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation, remote debug support, deterministic garbage collection, standard graphics and extended commercial RTOS support. The port, already in use by Aonix and LynuxWorks joint customers in the military and aerospace market, is being deployed in high-availability and mission-critical programs. With the integration of the PERC Ultra 5.1 into LynxOS, customers will be able to take advantage of the latest features in both products. With its patented garbage collection technology, PERC Ultra 5.1 has been engineered to deliver deterministic behavior and customer-reported five nines uptime making it the solution of choice for real-time embedded systems. Aonix, San Diego, CA. (858) 457-2700. [].

Mini-ITX Motherboard with Mobile Intel GM45 Express Chipset

Fitted with the latest Intel platform for embedded applications, a new Mini-ITX motherboard is targeted at multiple applications such as POS, DVR, Mobile Kiosk, Lottery, Gaming and Digital Signage. The WADE-8067 from American Portwell is built with the 45nm Intel Core2 Duo processor T9400 and Mobile Intel GM45 Express chipset. The WADE-8067 is specifically designed to support the enriched display interfaces required by various multimedia devices. The dual display can be implemented by VGA, DVI, LVDS, TV-Out and HDMI connectors. A third display function can easily be activated via a PCI Express expansion graphic card. In addition to its multiple-display feature, the WADE-8067 provides two SO-DIMMs that can support dual-channel DDR3 SDRAM up to 4 Gbytes. It also includes four SATA, one RS232 port, one RS-232/422/485 port, high-definition audio codec, six USB 2.0 ports and one PCI Express x4 slot. American Portwell, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3184. [].

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5:49:17 PM


Comment AUGUST 2008

Chip Makers Mixed


n sorting through the news of the past month, there’s no shortage of happenings to report. Certainly chip makers provide us with some barometric reading of the health of our industry and, for now, they are mixed. Global chip sales rose 7.5% from a year ago in May and are up 2.8% from the previous month, while April sales rose 5.9% from a year ago according to the SIA. It said chip sales totaled $21.2 billion for the month of April and up to $21.83 billion for May. Apparently increases in consumer-electronics spending were credited with fueling the growth despite sinking prices for memory chips. Despite gains posted by chip makers overall, Taiwan’s major memory-chip makers posted larger-than-expected losses for the quarter. For example, Powerchip, Taiwan’s largest DRAM maker, said its net losses widened to $293.3 million (US) from less than half that loss in the previous year. Other DRAM makers saw similar loses with Nanya down 21% from a year earlier and Inotera Memories, a joint venture between Nanya and Germany’s Qimonda, also reporting a weak quarter. In our domestic space, analog chip maker National Semiconductor showed a loss of just about $7 million from a year earlier— mostly on extra charges. Intel, on the other hand, reported a jump in second-quarter profit of 25% primarily attributed to strong demand for laptop computers. This despite a slowing U.S. Economy. On the Intel front, the company is now delivering its second-generation Centrino chip technology and claims about 250 laptops are being designed with the latest technology. The new family includes its first quad-core processor for portables. The version of the technology that was released mid-month, the Centrino II, offers higher performance, a faster Wi-Fi and processors that draw about 30% less power than previous versions. Also, expect to hear a lot more from Intel: it’s reaching its 40th birthday soon. The company’s roadmap has it continuing to proliferate the x86 architecture into all areas including cell phones and other portable devices, and a move from 300 mm to 450 mm wafers, which the company says can reduce chip costs by as much as 40%. Other companies looking to move into the larger wafers include Taiwan Semiconductor and Samsung. Other Intel news has the chip giant getting into the multifunction chip business to diversify from its largely computer-processor orientation. Intel is going into the SoC business for everything from TV set-top boxes and robots to industrial controllers, security and communications systems.


August 2008

Changes at AMD

AMD will get a new CEO as Hector Ruiz steps down. Dirk Meyer will be the third AMD CEO since its founding by its colorful first CEO and founder, Jerry Sanders. (Makes me feel old having reported on three generations of AMD CEOs.) Meyer has been heir apparent and has served as president and COO since 2006. Ruiz will assume the role of executive chairman. Many outsiders think that AMD might be better served with some fresh blood as investors and customers have been let down lately (see below). Meyer steps in as the company disclosed that second quarter red ink will total nearly $1.2 billion—$948 million of which are in charges, much of which remain part of its 2006 acquisition of ATI.

If You Keep Doing What You’re Doing…

Over the course of the year I get to visit several companies in our industry looking to learn about their latest and greatest technology, where company leaders see the industry going, what application areas are the hottest, and how they see changes in the economy, politics and world environment affecting the embedded computer market. I also look at the company, its growth in terms of revenue, number of employees, etc. to try and put it in perspective with the rest of the industry. I often publish summations of the results in these pages. With some publically held companies, it’s relatively easy to assess the health of the company with publically released information on earnings, expenses, etc. With privately held companies it takes a little imagination to get an accurate assessment. I recently visited a leading company in the embedded computer space whose overall financial performance over the past several years was less than sterling. And while the company continues to be a technology leader, it hasn’t been reflected in corporate earnings or customer satisfaction. It reminded me very much of something said to me a while back, “if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you get the same results.” That’s pretty much true of everything. We’ve seen it in the publishing business where publications keep doing what they have been doing and move themselves into extinction. Sure, they make cosmetic changes, but fail to understand that fundamental changes are required—both in the business aspect of sales and marketing as well as editorial. And we see it in the embedded business where companies take the attitude that if they have a better mousetrap, customers

will beat a path to their door. It doesn’t quite work that way and we’ve seen companies develop an arrogance that can often have a negative impact. So if you’re in business and things are going the way you want, keep doing it. But…

Patent Gridlock

Over the past few years, there have been problems in patent land. We visited this a while ago when we talked about the “patent trolls” suing companies for billions. Research in Motion, for example, was forced to pay some $600 million in a recent case. Others have been similarly harassed. And, even in the embedded space, we’ve seen companies assert or attempt to assert patents against manufacturers for clams that are clearly a case of patent trolls. The Coalition for Patent Fairness, a group of technology and financial services companies, has lobbied for patent legislation. It says the number of patent-related lawsuits rose to 3,500 through October of last year from only 900 some in 1990. While there is currently a bill in Congress that would reduce potential damage to the value of the technology, it’s not certain it will solve the problem. Now, some tech giants are banding together to buy up key patents before they fall into the hands of the patent trolls. So far, Verizon, Google, Cisco, Ericsson and HP are among the companies that have formed what they call the Allied Security Trust. The Trust aims to buy patents that might be used to bring infringement claims against its members. Companies will pay $250,000 to join and put about $5 million in escrow toward future patent purchases.

Recent Headlines

IBM Expands Chip Plant: IBM is expected to spend some $1 billion in its East Fishkill, NY semiconductor plant over the next few years. This will include $50 million for a new packaging center, which the company will operate along with RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). Last time I visited that facility, it had somewhat over 10,000 employees, dwarfing the town. Chip Makers Chase Mobile Gadgets: Chip suppliers are chasing makers of MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) with a vengeance. Contenders include Qualcomm, TI, Samsung, ARM suppliers, Intel (of course), and a new entry, graphics chip maker Nvida. Expect to see these mobile designs filter down to the embedded space. Intel Bashing: Bashing chip maker Intel is still an active sport especially in Europe. The European Union has leveled yet new charges that Intel paid retailers not to carry computers with chips made by rival AMD. Intel responded to the charges saying that the EU has “bought into AMD’s underlying theory: that any price competition that hurts them is a problem.”

Air Force Tanker Dispute: Still much in the news. The GAO sided with Boeing to re-open the bidding for the tankers. A team of Northrop Grumman and EADS had previously won the $40 billion contract before a challenge from Boeing. The conclusion will probably make no one happy—except perhaps Boeing— and could anger some (many) in the European community. F-22 or Catch-22: Lockheed Martin’s revered F-22 Raptor continues to be in the news as the Air Force currently has no plans to order any more than the 183 planes at approximately $143 million a copy. The price tag could go much higher depending on electronics, ground support, spares, etc. The Air Force wanted to deploy the super fighter to Iraq, but DoD officials nixed the idea. Lockheed and Air Force people claimed that the plane was effective in surveillance and other jobs needed in Iraq. While the DoD hasn’t agreed to increasing the number of planes it will buy, it hasn’t yet agreed to fund shutting down the line. Lockheed Martin has yet to inform vendors of a shutdown. Because the F-22 is so advanced, not even U.S. allies are allowed to buy it—at least two countries, Japan and Australia have expressed interest. RAD Hard SBC: The latest version of BAE Systems’ RAD Hard SBC now handles 400 MIPS with future versions boosting that up to 500 MIPS. The PowerPC 750-based card (the RAD750) is completely radiation hardened and is available in different versions including 3U and 6U Compact PCI, and custom. Surprise, no VME. And I’ll bet leaded solder. Congratulations Jay: Jay (James) Bertelli, co-founder and former CEO and Chairman of Mercury Computers, announced his retirement late last month. After 25 years, Jay stepped down as Executive Chairman and formally stepped into retirement. Earlier this year Jay relinquished the reigns as president and CEO to Mark Aslett while retaining the executive chairman position. Jay led Mercury on a long and successful voyage in the embedded computer business, and we hope sometime in the future to get Jay together with other “retired” CEOs from the embedded world including Chris Amenson (former CEO of SBS), Glen Myers (former RadiSys CEO), Danny Osadka (former Dy-4 CEO) and others. Singly and collectively you all have made this an interesting and successful industry. All my best, Jay.

On the Military Front

A lot is happening and there’s only room for some headlines. FCS: Changes are coming to the Army’s Future Combat Systems Initiative. Changes to the $160 billion FCS may well push the program’s total price tag even higher. Look for scads of robots and miniature aerial drones. Good for Boeing and SAIC—and the embedded market.

Warren Andrews Associate Publisher August 2008


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August 2008

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