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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

September 2008

www.rtcmagazine.com

MicroTCA: On the Track for Rugged Apps

Stackable USB Stakes Out the Middle Ground Clearing out the Bandwidth in Vision Systems Virtualization Gets to Work in Real Time An RTC Group Publication


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temperature and shock and vibration specifications, plus proactive management of design changes. The cost of re-certification for industrial servers can be extremely high, especially if it involves work slowdowns or downtime. For more information on how our industrial servers can address this issue and lower your total cost of ownership, please visit:

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

All other brands or names are property of their respective holders.


MicroTCA: On the Track for Rugged Apps

49 Chipset Is Optimized for High-Frequency DC/DC Apps

52 Module Provides Data Acquisition Control for Factory Automation

TABLEOF CONTENTS

54 Round Solutions Presents WLAN Module for Wireless Machine Control

September 2008

Departments

Technology in Context

System Integration

I/O Subsystems

Virtualization

5 10 Insider 6Industry Latest Developments in the Embedded Solutions Engineering Marketplace Editorial The Network Is the Automobile

StackableUSB: The Right Amount of Umph to Get the Job Done Susan Wooley, StackableUSB Consortium

Rugged MicroTCA

a Handle on Virtualization and Putting it to Work 32Getting Paul Fisher, TenAsys

of Real-Time Operating Systems Means REAL 38Virtualization Real Time

Why Rugged MicroTCA? 8 16 Featured Products & Technology Working Groups Are Getting There: Newest Embedded Technology Used by 49Products Launches Range of Small Progress Report on Rugged 18 AMicroTCA Industry Leaders Factor Embedded Solutions 48GEFormFanuc Views & Comment Embedded Computer Market Shows 64News, Resilience; Retrenching May Be the Small Form Factor Forum PC/104 Gets a Refresh... or Two

Joe Pavlat, PICMG

Jeff Marden, GE Fanuc Intelligent Systems

Wrong Move

Gerd Lammers, Real-Time Systems

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

Industry Insight Vision Systems

Image Acquisition 26 Increasing Rates for Bandwidth-Hungry Applications Neil Chen, Adlink Technology

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

September 2008

3


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

Editorial EDITOR-IN - CHIEF Tom Williams, tomw@r tcgroup.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Colin McCracken and Paul Rosenfeld MANAGING EDITOR Marina Tringali, marinat@r tcgroup.com COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn

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

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

4 Austin_01.indd 1

September 2008 6/3/08 4:56:04 PM


september 2008

by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

S

Is

the Automobile

omething is happening in the state of Denmark—and for that matter in Israel as well. Both countries have signed deals with a Palo Alto, California-based company called Better Place to move their national transportation systems off of oil entirely and onto electric vehicles. That’s right. It’s already happening. And the prospects for embedded computing and networking technology could not be brighter. We’re talking all electric vehicles with an intelligent infrastructure to support them, which will effectively accelerate the use of wind and solar power generation because the existence of such a system will make them more cost-effective than coal and gas or nuclear. Electric cars? Aren’t they those teeny boxes that can go 50 miles before they need to be recharged for eight hours and get 40 MPH tops? Wrong. These are sedan-sized vehicles made by Renault/Nissan that can go 100 miles on a charge and accelerate from 0 to 60 in 7.3 seconds—and they’ll be far cheaper than similar-sized gas vehicles. The trick is separating the battery from the car and in the intelligent infrastructure. The infrastructure being built consists of an intelligent network of charging stations in parking lots, homes and at business locations as well as a network of automatic battery exchange stations where drivers can pull into a bay and have their batteries swapped out within five minutes for trips that go more than 100 miles. With electronic IDs and GPS systems in the cars, the internal computer can establish how much energy is left, and if needed, locate a battery exchange station. At the heart of the system is an operating system/application called AutoOS, which runs in the cars and across the infrastructure. An electronic key fob matched to the car’s ID tells if it is fully charged. Then, when the driver unplugs and starts out, the system asks for the destination and the driver responds with voice input. The system then checks to see if there is enough energy and either locates a battery exchange station or several charging spots close to the destination. The driver then parks at a charging spot where an automatic arm connects to the car. The service is by subscription—much like cellular phone service. The driver may own the car but does not own the batteries. Rather, they are supplied as part of the subscription, which is based on the amount of energy used. Subscriptions can be for unlimited miles, maximum miles per month or pay as you go.

EDITORIAL

The Network

The traditional ways of generating power often create an excess at night that goes to waste only to have to scramble for enough power during the peak hours of the day. The electric recharge grid would use the excess power at night when most people are recharging their cars, increasing power company revenues. Then during the day, when most cars start out fully charged, the much smaller number of cars actually charging would have a minimal impact on the peak hours. The recharge grid acts, in effect, like a giant capacitor. The somewhat irregular output of wind and solar energy production would then tend to be smoothed out by such a widespread subgrid, making them much more attractive as a source of revenue for power producers. The amount of embedded computer intelligence required to make all this work staggers the imagination, but it does not rely on any radically new innovation. I emphasize that this is happening now. Better Place got an initial $200 million in committed capital plus the cooperation of Renault/Nissan and the cooperation of the two governments to promote the transition with tax incentives. Denmark and Israel can be described as “beta countries” because they are a bit like islands. They are the right size to set up an infrastructure and prove its effectiveness. Another possible candidate would be the islands of Hawaii. Although that has yet to happen, an estimated $8.7 billion (14%) of Hawaii’s domestic product goes for oil, so there are definite financial incentives. If this seems like a daunting task for a country the size of the United States, we need merely remember that we wired the whole country for telephones, pushed out rural electrification and built an Interstate Highway System. Did I mention going to the moon? Given the proper incentives, nothing is impossible. Once such a transformation starts, you’ll see automakers offering a wide selection of models, advances in battery technology and more innovative ways of storing energy, such as the recent announcement from MIT of an easy and inexpensive way to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water for later use in fuel cells. Fuel cells might show up on the grid as yet another way to store off-peak and irregularly produced energy. So the ideas of using hydrogen to power cars might still be a possibility. It’s just that the hydrogen would never actually be in the car. Check out this incredibly interesting technology at www.betterplace.com September 2008

5


IndustryInsider SEPTEMBER 2008

Curtiss-Wright Signals Intent to Acquire VMetro On 24 August 2008, VMetro ASA received a letter from Curtiss-Wright Controls stating that Curtiss-Wright Controls intends to make a voluntary offer for all outstanding shares of VMetro at a price per share of 12.06 Norwegian Kroner in cash (the Offer). The launch of the Offer is subject to completion of a limited due diligence and there being no material adverse change in the business and business assets of VMetro before the launch of the Offer. The completion of the proposed Offer will be conditional upon a 90% level of acceptance of the outstanding shares of VMetro and obtaining regulatory approvals, including from relevant competition authorities. Further, the Offer will be based on customary terms appropriate for a voluntary offer under Norwegian law and market practice, including, inter alia, that no event has occurred that has material adverse effect on the business or assets of VMetro. Shareholders representing in total 13,325,875 shares and 55.7% in VMetro have given irrevocable undertakings to accept the Offer. The shareholder-elected representatives on the Board of Directors of VMetro believe that the offered price represents a fair pricing of the company`s shares based on its current knowledge. On this basis, the Board intends to recommend the VMetro`s shareholders to accept the Offer unless provided with material new information. In accordance with the Norwegian Securities Trading Act section 6-16, the Board will issue a statement regarding the Offer at least one week before the acceptance period for the Offer expires. The Chairman of VMetro ASA, Tore Engebretsen states: “The Board of Directors considers Curtiss-Wright to represent an attractive industrial partner for VMetro and appreciates Curtiss-Wright`s industrial and long-term perspective on business development.”

Universal Graphic Module Standard Gaining Support

6

September 2008

UGM 220 Pin Connector Interface

DRAM

2 x DPort 30bit LVDS 2 x CRT

Graphics Controller

TV/HDTV

DRAM

Capture PCIExpress Max x16

12V-22V

DC/DC

Bios 84.00 95.00

Kontron has announced that AMD will support the Universal Graphics Module standard (UGM). As a leading vendor of the well-known ATI computer graphics processing technologies, AMD’s support for the UGM standard is expected to accelerate its rapid and widespread acceptance. The UGM standard provides off-the-shelf embedded graphics on an industry-standard modular platform with multiple display configurations to guarantee customers the shortest time-to-market. With its ATI product portfolio, AMD serves the particular needs of the embedded market. AMD’s support of the UGM Consortium should thus accelerate the adoption of AMD’s ATI advanced graphics technologies in the embedded market. The UGM open standard has been especially created for

2 x TMDS

scalable, high-end PCI Express Graphics (PEG) graphics with long-term availability. It represents a standard designed to fit the requirements of many new applications in the field of embedded computing: The latest high-resolution flat panels and operating systems as well as the latest CPUs and GPUs are now able to bring advanced graphics-driven technologies into embedded designs. Adoption of the UGM standard will change OEM solutions for many embedded industries, including medical equipment, casino gaming and arcade markets,

vision control technologies for security and industry markets and simulation technologies. UGM offers quick and easy implementation of advanced graphics functions in custom designs for all these applications—including all the necessary drivers. The specification of the new UGM standard is available for third-party providers at http://www.ugm-standard.org/.

Actel Increases TCA Market Commitment with Acquisition of Pigeon Point Systems Actel has announced that it has acquired Pigeon Point Systems, a privately held supplier of telecommunications computing architecture (TCA) management components. With the acquisition, Actel now offers a comprehensive solution for proprietary and standardsbased system management implementations in the industrial,

military, telecommunications and medical markets. Defined by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG), the industry-standard TCA specifications cover the AdvancedTCA, Advanced Mezzanine Card (AdvancedMC) and the MicroTCA frameworks. According to industry estimates from market research firm VDC, the opportunity for the overall standards-based TCA system market is expected to be roughly $1.8 billion by 2009. The acquisition of a TCA management company by a programmable logic company might at first seem counterintuitive. However, earlier this year, Actel and Pigeon Point announced a partnership to develop and market solutions based on the Actel Fusion mixed-signal FPGAs to speed the design of AdvancedTCA blade and AdvancedMC carrier blade management controllers. The two companies’ combined portfolio of reference designs, development kits, easy-to-use development environments and expert design services gives designers the capability to address system and power management issues throughout the design process. With more of the system management functionality moving onto mixed-signal FPGAs instead of separate components, the result is lower costs, reduced board real estate, lower power consumption and the ability of the OEM to more easily adapt base designs to their specialized needs by adding or modifying the IP on the FPGA.


Industry Insider Emerson Network Power Launches Value Added Partner Program

Emerson Network Power has announced the Value Added Partner (VAP) program for its Embedded Computing business. Formed to organize an ecosystem of partners that provides additional value to Emerson’s embedded computing solutions, the VAP program increases Emerson’s penetration into its traditional markets and extends its reach into new markets. Current partners include ACT/Technico, Emtech LLC, NEI, Network Allies and Suntron Open Systems Solutions, companies with expertise in specific product and service offerings and/or market segments, including the telecommunications, defense and aerospace industries. This expertise facilitates the development of customized solutions by companies who are the most familiar with the challenges within a specific industry and application environment. For example, a defense prime needed a solution that included the high performance of Emerson’s MVME6100 VMEbus single board computer (SBC) but also required extended temperature ranges. Using Emerson’s SBC, ACT/Technico created a customized solution by adding the extra thermal capability required by the customer, thus driving innovation and adding value. Partner benefits include direct communication, sales and technical training, as well as direct marketing support from Emerson Network Power. Consideration for the VAP program is at the sole discretion of Emerson Network Power. 

Hybricon Receives Notice of Allowance for Liquid Cooling Flow Patent  

the impact of their work is borderless and challenged them to collaborate and use their technology expertise to inspire and empower the billions of people who have recently joined the world’s free economic system. Barrett also announced that Intel will award four $100,000 prizes to the most innovative ideas for applying technology to meet unmet needs related to education, health care, economic development and the environment. Ideas will be evaluated primarily for sustainability and innovativeness of the solution. Intel’s Inspire•Empower Challenge is calling for the best technology solutions to address four areas of global need—education, healthcare, economic development and the environment. The contest will award seed funding of $100,000 to one winner in each category. The Challenge is designed to inspire developers, individuals and organizations to innovate and empower them to deliver new ways to apply technology to these issues. The Inspire•Empower Challenge advances the commitment of the Intel World Ahead Program— to connect people to a world of opportunity. More details on the Inspire•Empower Challenge are available at www.intelchallenge.com.

Intel Chairman Challenges Developers to Promote Social, Economic Growth Worldwide

National Instruments and Lego Develop Robotics Platform for Elementary Students

Hybricon has announced that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has issued a Notice of Allowance to Hybricon for its patent application entitled Card Cage With Parallel Flow Paths Having Substantially Similar Lengths. The allowance recognizes Hybricon’s Liquid Cooled technology.   This technology has been implemented in both standard and custom Liquid Cooled ATR solutions. The technology provides for superior thermal properties, while dramatically reducing the pressure drop of the coolant flow path. With Hybricon Corporation being the industry leader in standard and custom solutions for electronic packaging needs, we are extremely pleased by this patent allowance.    Hybricon is a company providing integrated system solutions, electronic enclosures and backplanes for military, telecom and commercial applications.  Hybricon Corporation is an ISO 9001 registered company, dedicated to ensuring the highest level of quality—a necessity for products that must be able to function anywhere, anytime.

During the Intel Developer Forum’s opening keynote, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett applauded the developer community for technology innovations that have contributed to advances in entertainment and business productivity during the past 40 years. He said

vironment that students ages 7 to 11 can use to easily program their own robotics inventions. Using WeDo software, students learn basic programming skills while designing their robotics applications. Teachers can incorporate the WeDo concept in a broad range of curriculum areas including science, technology, mathematics, language and literacy. When designing their robotics applications, students use creativity, teamwork and problem solving, which are crucial skills needed to compete in the global marketplace. WeDo software operates on the Intel Classmate PC running Windows XP, the One Laptop per Child XO running the Linux OS, any PC supporting Windows XP or Windows Vista (32-bit) and any Mac running Apple Macintosh 10.5. Lego Education WeDo encourages teachers to issue curriculum-based challenges that students must solve. Working in teams, the children invent their own solutions by building Lego models and programming them to perform certain tasks. Cause-and-effect learning is enhanced by the models remaining tethered to a computer; similar to scientists in working labs, children can test and adjust their programming in real time. After reflecting on what did and did not work, students can consult with peers, adapt programming, adjust models or begin again.

National Instruments and Lego Education continue their long-standing educational robotics collaboration with the new Lego Education WeDo classroom robotics platform. Powered by NI LabVIEW graphical design software, Lego Education WeDo Software is a drag-and-drop, icon-based enSeptember 2008

7


SMALL FORM FACTOR FORUM

PC/104 Gets a Refresh …or Two

A

fter much discourse about Computer-on-Modules (COMs), let’s turn our attention to the stackable PC/104 architecture. Actually, versions of PC/104 CPUs with stack-through I/O pins in 1992 could be labeled the first COMs, ten years before ETX volumes ever began to ramp. The Small Form Factor arena exists today because of the pioneering efforts of PC/104. The resemblance between PC/104 and ETX ends right there, however. A stackable architecture thrives because of a healthy off-the-shelf I/O ecosystem. The COM I/O ecosystem consists of circuits provided by third-party design services for each custom carrier board. PC/104, on the other hand, is marked by the availability of hundreds of off-the-shelf I/O cards. After an extended lull in the PC/104 product evolution, marked only by a sprinkle of end-of-life notices for 386 and 486 class CPUs that have long been obsolete in other form factors, this boutique community is suddenly up in arms over competing notions of how to welcome PCI Express into the architecture. The sudden simultaneous emergence of divergent next-generation standards seems all-too-coincidental. The harsh realities of the SFF world are to blame. Faced with processors and chipsets handed down from the rapidly churning I/O-and-bus-rich desktop / laptop arena, SBC vendors must evolve their technology with the components at hand. “Small” form factors require choices to be made about which buses and I/O are available for user applications. The PC/104 form factor simply doesn’t have enough space for the entire kitchen sink and oven, much less the added space for cooling them. Worse still, the desktop and laptop communities can invent new buses and kill old ones at a whim, while embedded OEMs actually want to go into 3-5 years of production with the device they’ve been diligently developing, qualifying and certifying for the past 3 to 5 years. So why not just squeeze all of the buses and I/O, old and new, into a tiny fraction of the space of a desktop or laptop motherboard? Yeah, right. In one corner, meet the defender: The venerable PC/104 Consortium. In the other, the challenger: The upstart Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFF-SIG). One standard emphasizes high bandwidth and a “legacy-free” future with PCI Express and PCI; another prioritizes easy connectivity and “legacy-

8

September 2008

friendly,” with PCI Express and ISA. At the core of the fight is not just disagreement over implementation of the primary bus for new CPU designs, but the ease of migration from the timetested designs of the past decade. Considering that the majority of PC/104 I/O cards in production are still ISA-based, the latter may be the more important decision. ISA in 2008? How about 2012? Who would have thunk. It looks like a ten-rounder, at least. But keep in mind that it’s not about right and wrong. In the embedded market, it’s not always winner-takes-all. Each approach has merits depending on your exact situation. The diverse market can support multiple standards. And many suppliers will hedge their bets and keep one foot securely in each camp, resulting in multiple product lines. Unfortunately, this approach burdens some relatively small manufacturers with double the R&D effort, but at least much of the design and layout will be re-used between the two approaches. Regardless of which path you take as a user, several things are clear. You are fortunate to have choices, since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution in the SFF domain. Choices and competition are hallmarks of the free market. You will be able to address the unique requirements of your application, considering the business needs of what to upgrade and when. Some might ask why the two sides can’t patch things up and agree to a single standard going forward. Aside from some bruised egos and entrenched positions that would make the Shi’ia and Sunni look friendly, peace would need to be made here very rapidly—before suppliers get too far down their implementation curves with both solutions. We’re clearly on the cusp of it being too late. And in the final analysis, it may be best that both solutions are offered to the market—they do uniquely address different sets of needs, and may both have homes for the long term. Sure as the sun will rise, products representing both approaches will still be in production a decade or two from now. Look at VME, PICMG 1.x slot cards, and even the venerable STD bus. If you come, they will build it. As always, we welcome your perspective on this topic at sf3@rtcgroup.com.

Colin McCracken

& Paul Rosenfeld


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Š2008 National Instruments Corporation. All rights reserved. CompactRIO, LabVIEW, National Instruments, NI, and ni.com are trademarks of National Instruments. Other product and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies. 2008-9579-821-101-D

800 450 8999


Technology In Context

StackableUSB: The Right Amount of Umph to Get the Job Done Choosing one of the new serial I/O channels for an embedded design can be a daunting task. There is a delicate balance between selecting an I/O channel that delivers more bandwidth than your application requires without burdening the system with excessive costs for bandwidth you will never use.

by Susan Wooley StackableUSB Consortium

d

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

I/O Subsystems

T

he easiest seduction today is to buy Bus Speed Maximum Latency more computing power than you High 125 usec – 4 sec need for your control application. Full 1 - 255 msec This burdens your system from the very Low 10 - 255 msec beginning. It takes longer to develop, consumes more memory, adds programming Table 1 complexity, requires more system power, and necessitates adding a cooling feature and enlarging the physical space. All these throughput has been lead by high-volume, factors burden development costs, time to high-speed applications in video and netmarket and manufacturing expenses for working applications. Embedded designpanies providing solutions now ers need to sort their way through these your system. ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest This seduction happens because the issues and determine what their system lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you popular protocols we are all too needs really are. ice you require for whateverserial type ofI/O technology, A couple of years ago when CPU chip with onfor.our desktops deliver more ies and productsfamiliar you are searching manufacturers removed the ISA interface throughput than is required in embedded from CPU chipsets, a powerful catalyst control applications. The fact that we have for change in the stackable I/O world was known their name for years leads us to beset in motion. The leading standard in this lieve they are “old” technology. The facspace for the previous 15 years had been tors that pushed these large pipelines of PC/104. Its potential EOL status motithroughput on desktops are not the typical factors that govern best practices when vated manufacturers to develop the next designing for efficient, elegant and cost- generation of stackable alternatives for effective measurement and control sys- their users. Part of PC/104’s charm was the intertems. The pedal to the floor mentality for section of three key design elements for embedded users: adequate bus throughGet Connected put aligned with cost effective plug on I/O with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected boards and easy to implement technology.

End of Article

10

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

It’s been difficult for other bus standards to match this cost effective model that PC/104 established for the 8-bit or lowend 16-bit controller market. Domestic manufacturers will continue to provide single board computers with PC/104 connectors for years to come as part of their commitment to support legacy products for their customers. However, continuing to urge designers to use the PC/104 I/O channel for new designs is not in the customer’s or vendor’s best interest. So the question is, what is lined up for the next generation of products?

The Offering of Serial I/O Buses

A newly emerging trend to fill this market need is to define a specification that utilizes popular serial buses from the PC chipsets, in a mix-and-match approach. For example, some combination of USB, I2C, SPI, LPC and PCIe are defined in a connector scheme with a written specification and name. In the truest sense, this is not a bus, or a new protocol, rather it is a defined serial I/O channel. Conceptually it is similar to how ISA evolved into the stacking PC/104 I/O channel. Practically speaking, there are numerous combina-


Technology In Context tions possible and the market will need to settle on one or two to make them attractive to adopt. Over the last couple of years three such stacking I/O channels have been defined and introduced to the market. The three introductions line up in a one, two, three progression with increasingly higher throughput capability, system complexity and implementation costs. Each uses the same core Q2 connector from Samtec, with each one utilizing a different number of “banks” to support the serial I/O definition. One is a single “bank” connector called StackableUSB, another is a twobank version called Express104, and the last is a three-bank version PCIe/104.

Finding Your Way

When standardizing on a “mixed use” serial I/O channel for your embedded system, it is a good rule of thumb to select one that reflects the bus throughput that most closely matches your application. Not getting enough throughput puts your system in jeopardy of not performing well, but too much throughput will burden your system cost for the entire life of the product. Figure 1 contrasts the differences between the three I/O channels. On the bandwidth and throughput rate parameter, it is difficult to give absolutes or actual rates since often this is not an A to A comparison; rather it is more like an A to B comparison. However, using the theoretical throughput rates does give embedded system designers a “birds-eye” perspective. The serial I/O channel trends reflect the growing popularity of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) in the embedded board level space. Although USB is called a bus, instead of having a single shared bus, USB is a hub and spoke (star) topology, making it more of a network than a traditional bus. With the growing number of analog, sensor and signal conditioning chips being released with USB interfaces, the important role USB will be playing in embedded systems in the future is very clear and very exciting. The most basic of the three serial I/O channels is simply called StackableUSB. StackableUSB supports a total of 10 USB root hubs (5 up the stack and 5 down the stack), I2C and SPI. The throughput of

StackableUSB exceeds PC/104 but is less than the other two serial I/O channels. The StackableUSB specification increases the desktop defined power from 500 mA for each USB peripheral to close to 1A. For embedded systems this enables I/O boards to be powered through the stack from a single power source. The stack-on I/O boards are easily fashioned into compact sizes with the smallest, called a quarter-size board, measuring approximately 1.8” x 1.9”. StackableUSB I/O boards are CPU agnostic, meaning they stack onto a Pentium SBC, ARM SBC or any hostenabled microcontroller board that has the popular StackableUSB connector. This encourages I/O manufactures to support StackableUSB because of the breadth of

Connector Footprint Size

the boards with plug and play capability. At this point, StackableUSB holds the distinct honor among these three serial I/O channels to be shipping the widest assortment of single board computers and I/O boards. Expess104 notches up the serial I/O channel throughput by expanding to a two-bank connector and adding the PCIe protocol (PCI Express). This specification reduces the number of USB ports, keeps I 2C and SPI, and then includes LPC, two x1 PCIe and one x4 PCIe. The inclusion of the PCIe protocol is balanced by the trade-off of reducing the number of available USB ports, losing the compatibility of the StackableUSB I/O boards and restricting USB to a one-

PC/104 Benchmark for 8and 16-bit control applications

Stackable USB

Express104

PCIe/104

W:0.395” (10.00mm) L:3.220” (8.20mm)

W:0.296” (7.26mm) L: 0.820” (20.83mm)

W:0.296” (7.26mm) L:1.660” (42.17mm)

W:0.296” (7.26mm) L:1.660” (42.17mm)

I2C x1 PCIe (4) x16 PCIe (1)

Protocols Supported

ISA

USB (10) I2C SPI

USB (3) I2C SPI LPC x1 PCIe (2) x4 PCIe (1)

Stacking I/O Board Compatibility

x86 Pentium 4 ARM

Pentium 4 ARM Microcontrollers (Host Capable)

Pentium 4

Pentium 4

Stackability

Stacks Up & Down

Stacks Up & Down (5up/5down)

Stacks Up Only

Stacks Up & Down

Time to Market

Quickest

Quickest (Plug & Play Approach)

Some System Integration

Serious System Integration

Theoretical Calculated Maximum Bandwidth/ Throughput

ISA 8 MBs

USB 2.0 60 MBs

4xPCIe 1,000 MBs

16xPCIe 4,000 MBs

Form Factor Compatibility

PC/104 Form Factor EPIC

1/4size (104) 1/2size (104) 104 Form Factor EPIC Form Factor

104 Form Factor EPIC Form Factor

104 Form Factor EPIC Form Factor

I/O ChipSupport Availability

Most

Many

Few

Least

Hardware Cost

Low

Low

Mid

High

Figure 1

As Serial I/O Channels become more popular, they are being compared to the PC/104 standard, which has served as a benchmark for 8- and 16-bit embedded systems for the past 15 years. This chart is a summary analysis of how the four standards “stack up” to one another. September 2008

11


Technology In Context way stacking configuration. The stackable I/O boards for Express104 must include either a PCIe bridge chip to PCI, SATA, Ethernet, or VGA to implement the PCIe protocol. Consequently, each I/O board and single board computer is burdened with a conversion chip as compared to USB where the conversion is happening inside the analog, sensor or microcomputer itself.

Figure 2

12

September 2008

9/11/08 11:30:14 AM

System Level Considerations

Once you have determined that USB is the serial I/O channel for your application, there are three factors you should consider to maximize system performance. First is how you will accommodate any interrupts you may need. Second is what you can ex-

Board real estate is a precious commodity in embedded systems. The StackableUSB connector is by far the most compact of the three connectors.

PCIe/104 includes the PCIe and I2C, and although USB is reserved, it is not defined in this specification. The added throughput requires this specification to use all three banks of the Q2 connector, providing the maximum throughput of the serial I/O channels being compared. The x16 PCIe protocol is not currently mainstream for I/O control applications so the number of applications this is targeted for is limited to video and fast networking for the present time. Figure 2 shows a comparison of the size and placement of these connectors among the three approaches. Contact information for the three consortia supporting these approaches is given in Figure 3. The take away from this discussion is that there are development and production costs for adding additional types of serial protocols in a serial I/O channel. So, for the design engineer, determining the per-

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formance level required for the application is the key to a successful system.

pect in terms of actual transfer rates, and third is what to expect to see on the software side of development. USB supports interrupt transfers, however they are not the same interrupt transfers we are familiar with from the ISA bus. On the ISA bus, when a system event occurs, the device would interrupt the host and the host would then begin servicing the interrupt. On a USB device the device can make the interrupt transfer data available when a system event occurs, however, it is up to the host to poll and check to see if an interrupt has occurred. Once the host sees there is an interrupt it will then begin servicing the interrupt. This polling for interrupts is accomplished at a set interval that is specified during enumeration of the device. Once it has been set, the host polls the device at this interval continuously after enumeration is complete from then


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Technology In Context

on. Table 1 shows the maximum interrupt latency (per device) for each of the USB bus speeds. This is one reason to distribute timecritical control routines to the I/O boards, which has been recognized as a good design practice for embedded systems for many years. The higher level, less critical control features or routine data updates are best moved across the USB interface. When starting to design a control sys-

tem, it is helpful to know what you might expect for update rates on an A/D. For USB there is ongoing communication on the I/O channel that includes retransmission (for endpoints supporting it), data padding, status reports, acknowledgements and packet wrapping tokens. These all affect the data transmission rate. Industry experience shows that for USB 2.0 the attainable pure data transfer rates are somewhere close to 11 Mbytes/s. This

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would mean that if you are sampling a 16-bit A/D as a USB device, you could attain sampling rates somewhere around 5.5 Msample/s. This is a significant gain when compared to the sampling rates of PC/104 at 1 Msample/s. Of course, results such as these are always dependent on the hardware, software and designer. Lastly, you will want to consider the software that is provided with the stacking I/O board you select. To utilize the StackableUSB interface, one would need to call the high-level API functions located in the DLL file provided by the hardware vendor. This firmware is an important part of any product provided by hardware vendors. This eliminates the tedious registry-level programming complexity, providing the developer with a shorter time-to-market for his/her project. Many chip-level analog, sensor, signal conditioning and micro controller chips are being released to the market today with USB interfaces. Combining this with CPU road maps that show USB ports increasing in the future, and USB 3.0 proposed to reach 600 Mbyte/s transfer rate, StackableUSB has a bright future in embedded control as the next generation of stacking embedded controllers become more USB-centric. StackableUSB Consortium (818) 249-5386. [www.StackableUSB.org].

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/…iÊ6>`>/iV…Ê1/ ää£ÊˆÃÊ̅iʓœÃÌÊvi>ÌÕÀi‡ÀˆV…Ê Ê­ˆVÀœÊ / Ê >ÀÀˆiÀÊÕL®ÊvœÀÊ̅iʖ/ ÊV…>ÃÈÃʈ˜Ê̅iʓ>ÀŽiÌ°Ê̽Ãʓ>˜>}i‡ “i˜ÌÊÜvÌÜ>ÀiʈÃÊL>Ãi`ʜ˜Ê6>`>/iV…½ÃÊÀœLÕÃÌÊ >ÀÀˆiÀÊ>˜>}iÀÊ >˜`Ê-…ivÊ>˜>}iÀÊ܅ˆV…Ê…>ÛiÊLii˜Ê`i«œÞi`ÊvœÀʓ>˜ÞÊÞi>ÀÃÊ ÜˆÌ…Ê «ÀœÛi˜Ê ÀiÃՏÌÃ°Ê /…iÊ   Ê “>˜>}iÃÊ Ì…iÊ «œÜiÀÊ “œ`ՏiÃ]Ê Ì…iÊÌÜœÊ 1Ê­ œœˆ˜}Ê1˜ˆÌîÊ>˜`Ê̅iÊ£ÓÊ ÃÊ܈̅ˆ˜Ê̅iʖ/ Ê V…>ÃÈðÊÌÊ>ÃœÊˆ˜ÌiÀv>ViÃÊ̜Ê>˜`ʓ>˜>}iÃÊ̅iʜ˜‡Lœ>À`Êv>LÀˆVʈ˜‡ ÌiÀv>ViðÊ/…iʓœ`ՏiʈÃÊ>Û>ˆ>LiÊ܈̅Ê* i]Ê-,"]Ê£äL ]ÊL Ê >˜`Ê--Êv>LÀˆVʈ˜ÌiÀv>Við The UTC001 runs Linux 2.6 on it’s MCMC CPU and is hot-swappable and fully redundant when used in conjunction with a second instance of the module. The firmware is HPM.1 compliant which allows for ease of upgrade. The UTC001 has sophisticated clocking features. It has options for Telcom, GPS and/or Fabric clocks. Stratum-3 TCXO and VCTCXO is the default configuration. VadaTech can modify this product to meet special customer requirements without NRE.

W W W . V A D A T E C H . C O M T E L 1 . 7 0 2 . 8 9 6 . 3 3 3 7


solutions engineering

Rugged MicroTCA

Why Rugged MicroTCA? A Statement from PICMG by J oe Pavlat, President PICMG

S

ince its ratification two years ago, the MicroTCA platform architecture has generated a lot of interest in the usual places and in some unexpected ones. Based on the hot-swappable, fabricbased, managed AdvancedMC mezzanine card, MicroTCA offers much of the robust architecture of its bigger brother, AdvancedTCA, but in a physically smaller and less expensive configuration. Like AdvancedTCA, the operating environment for MicroTCA was originally intended to be the telecom central office. While the shock, vibration and temperature requirements for that environment are higher than those of standard commercial or Enterprise grade equipment, MicroTCA was not intended for outdoor or pole-mounted applications or for mobile equipment. About a year ago a number of industry veterans began work on developing a more ruggedized version of MicroTCA, but still with telco applications primarily in mind. PICMG started a working group, and at the same time an independent group led by then-Motorola and Hybricon was also working on the problem. Last year, both groups sensibly decided to join forces to develop a single standard. Then an interesting thing happened. Several experienced military electronic vendors, including BAE Systems and Boeing, became involved. The military has taken a keen interest in MicroTCA, and for some very good reasons. Traditionally, ruggedness in military systems comes from conservative design, attention to mechanical issues and extended temperature range components, among other things. But milling an enclosure out of a solid block of aluminum doesn’t help when a single component in the system fails and the box stops doing its job.

16

September 2008

MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA take a fundamentally different approach to keeping an application running. They are “highavailability” architectures where the system is designed to keep operating in the event of any single failure. While the actual implementation of high availability is complex, the basic concept is to have redundant resources in the system that are switched in automatically and seamlessly when a failure occurs. In modern and future battlefields where computing and communications are ever more important and lives increasingly rely on them, high-availability systems are a perfect solution to keeping things running. When you explain high availability to military designers, you can almost see the light bulb going on. They get it. Interestingly, it’s one place where an architectural approach that the telcos have been using for many years is moving into a completely different industry. It is worth noting that MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA systems can be built without the extra complexity and expense of high availability for applications that are cost sensitive and do not require it. So, there is a lot of “scalability” in the architecture. The requirements for the telecom and military markets have many similarities, but also many differences. Military communications systems are increasingly packetbased, global and wireless—just like modern telecom systems. But military designers want higher levels of ruggedness in temperature, shock and vibration. EMP hardness is often a requirement, too. They also want extensive testing to be performed and want comprehensive test procedures to be incorporated into the standards themselves. This is a bit more rigorous than has been typical of previous PICMG standards, and PICMG is moving to adopt these requirements. The

first ruggedized specification for air-cooled MicroTCA has been designated µTCA.1. The military market has also asked for what they call “two-level maintenance.” This involves replacing a board or module without having to take the entire system to a repair depot. It often means replacing a board or module in the field without the benefit of grounded work areas, wrist straps, etc. What this practically requires is a high level of ESD protection for any fieldreplaceable module. The easiest way to do this is to encapsulate the board in a metal enclosure and to keep any discharge source away from the connector pins. There are a variety of ways to do this, and the group is investigating this option now. It may mean that the ruggedized air-cooled MicroTCA specification ends up being two specifications, one optimized for commercial communications applications and one intended for the military. As we go to press, this issue is being carefully debated. Air-cooling is appropriate for many applications, but not for all. Conductioncooling, whereby component heat is removed through a variety of metal-to-metal and sometimes liquid interfaces, has long been popular for the toughest military jobs. PICMG has formed a different specification development group to define a conduction-cooled version of MicroTCA, and their specification has tentatively been given the designation µTCA.2. While it is primarily directed at military requirements, there is considerable sentiment that this platform can address a wide range of applications in the commercial markets, including transportation, energy exploration management and avionics. For a more in-depth look at progress to date, please read Jeff Marden’s excellent article in this issue.


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solutions engineering

Rugged MicroTCA

The Working Groups Are Getting There: A Progress Report on Rugged MicroTCA To fulfill the potential of MicroTCA, there is a definite need for a rugged version. Work on this new open standard is proceeding quickly in an effort to specify two base types of ruggedization—one that places the MicroTCA system in a “less than ideal” environment, the other placing it in a harsh environment.

by J eff Marden GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

M

icroTCA is an appealing system architecture for many reasons, including its management features, flexibility, field upgradeability, scalability and system bandwidth. For all these reasons, system designers, OEMs and prime contractors from outside the telecom field (the original target for MicroTCA) have shown interest in the technology. Some of these new application environments are more demanding than the telecom central office, so a need began to be felt for “rugged MicroTCA.” As an example, in a typical office setting, at a small- to medium-size business, MicroTCA would be an ideal architecture for network elements such as firewalls, VoIP gateways or other packet processing devices. However, most office network closets don’t offer the controlled environment of a telecom central office. In smaller business places, there’s a much higher risk of equipment being subjected to conditions that are less than ideal. In this situation, a more robust version of MicroTCA would be a welcome development. Similarly, in a factory setting, with rotating machinery and the potential for

18

September 2008

External thermal environment per MicroTCA-XT1 or Application-Specific requirement

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Figure 1

Proposal for using the cocoon concept to provide thermal isolation. Source: PICMG.

quite high temperatures, there’s the possibility of a significant level of shock, vibration and thermal load. Also, an outdoor network cabinet installation, or pole-

mounted system, would face extremes of temperature that violate the thermal envelope of MicroTCA.0 at both the high and the low ends of the scale. For these types


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of applications, a more rugged version of MicroTCA is desirable because it would offer affordable hardware that could operate in harsher environments. Even more extreme conditions are the norm in military and aerospace applications. Many military computing systems are completely sealed off from the envi-

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September 2008

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Supplemental retention device

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Figure 3

A proposed method of retaining modules within the subrack for rugged environments. Source: PICMG.


SOLUTIONS Engineering Shortly after ratification of MicroTCA.0, an industry group spearheaded by Motorola and Hybricon began work on a rugged MicroTCA proof-ofconcept. Their strategy was to define initial concepts for air-cooled and conduction-cooled MicroTCA by merging existing ruggedization approaches with the MicroTCA platform definitions to create new chassis concepts. The result was a set of defining documents and some implementations, like a cocoon that isolated the MicroTCA chassis from shock and vibration with a protective outer case. Their efforts generated enough interest within the industry that the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) formed their official Rugged MicroTCA Subcommittee, and the Motorola/Hybricon industry group collaborated with the subcommittee, joining it shortly thereafter. This combined group comprised the majority of interested parties, and has proceeded with the work of formally defining the new standard, which was named MicroTCA.1 (µTCA.1).

opment work to map MicroTCA to this new class of ruggedization. Many of the PICMG members who participated in the µTCA.1 specification effort also joined the µTCA.2 subcommittee. This group is taking the opportunity to draw from the military and aerospace industries for members who are interested in MicroTCA for their applications. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, for example, has extensive long-term experience and expertise in the development of rugged systems

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After review and integration of the industry group’s concepts for ruggedization, the subcommittee began their effort by concentrating first on the forced air-cooled portion of the specification. They spent approximately the next twelve months discussing the concepts for ruggedization and developing the elements of the PICMG specification for a forced aircooled rugged MicroTCA definition. In March of 2008, the subcommittee recognized significant differences between air-cooled and conduction-cooled applications and markets. A military-class rugged platform that needs conductioncooling must also cope with higher levels of shock and vibration, two-level maintenance, and special consideration for ESD protection and platform I/O. With these differences in mind, it was decided that the two efforts should be addressed by separate subcommittees. For the conduction-cooled effort, a new PICMG Subcommittee was formed, called MicroTCA.2 (µTCA.2). This subcommittee created its own Statement of Work, elected new officers and began the concept definition and specification devel-

for demanding applications, and this will be shared with the µTCA.2 subcommittee. The intent is that these members will be able to make significant contributions using proven methodologies. For example, it should be theoretically possible to remove heat from a MicroTCA system with the simple addition of heat frames to the standard AdvancedMC. The use of a more rigid chassis and rails, and the addition of wedge locks could also provide added immunity to shock and vibration.

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Aug08/US01

AM September8/27/08 2008 10:06:47 21


SOLUTIONS Engineering

MicroTCA.0

MicroTCA.1-AC1

MicroTCA.1-XT1-L

MicroTCA.1-AC1-XT1-L

MicroTCA.1-XT1

MicroTCA.1-AC1-XT1

Table 1

However, these are early days for this new effort, and a substantial amount of work remains. Work on µTCA.2 is now active and the subcommittee has the goal of releasing the µTCA.2 specification in the first half of 2009. The original goal for publication of the air-cooled portion was late summer or early fall of 2008. At the moment, this appears to be a bit optimistic as the subcommittee continues to discuss what levels of thermal, shock and vibration immunity ought to be required for µTCA.1. In June of 2008, a µTCA.1 draft numbered 0.9 was circulated. Subsequent discussion has turned toward whether µTCA.1 should be more closely aligned with µTCA.0, focusing on the commercial requirement for ruggedization and allowing for a more rapid introduction, or whether it should be aligned with µTCA.2 - the “military” implementation. Such discussions are an important part of the creative process in developing new specifications. However, at the time of this writing, a new draft has not yet been generated, and so this article will confine itself to the contents of the last draft, D0.89.

Severity levels for MicroTCA.1

MicroTCA.1 (Forced Air-Cooled)

MicroTCA.1 (µTCA.1) is based on MicroTCA.0 and on the AMC.0 module, and as such it is an extension of the existing standard, bearing in mind the intended applications in the targeted industries. Indeed, it is conceivable that a µTCA.1-compliant system could be created simply by using a cocooning strategy (Figure 1) to isolate a MicroTCA.0 system from external shock and vibration. The cocoon would extend the amount of shock and vibration, for example, that a MicroTCA.0 system can tolerate, and thus achieve compliance with µTCA.1. Another requirement for the new standard was a set of well-defined tests that can be used to confirm whether or not an individual module, chassis or system meets the requirements set forth. The µTCA.1 document describes in detail the test rigs and procedures that must be used in order to claim compliance with the standard. 1 22Untitled-16September 2008

9/8/08 11:20:35 AM


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September 2008

8/13/08 9:45:55 AM

The original MicroTCA.0 specification focused on central office telecom applications and used standards such as NEBS, ETSI and ITU. MicroTCA.1 builds on these foundations by increasing the requirements, and follows the same strategy of using existing industry standards from IEC, ETSI, EN, EIA, etc. These standards are well established, and the ecosystem is familiar with the requirements. For example, whereas MicroTCA.0 requires compliance with IEC 62587-1 Class DL1 and C1, MicroTCA.1 adds a category that must meet IEC 61587-1 DL3 and C3. It is not clear at this time what coverage for VITA 47 will also be included. In order to create a level playing field for competition, the subcommittee defined these standard classes of ruggedization and the related testing regimes. The goal is to make it possible for both vendors and customers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between competing products.

The Severity Levels of µTCA.1

With the addition of µTCA.1, the MicroTCA architecture will be able to offer six levels of ruggedization that can be tested and proven based on the new testing procedures. The base level is MicroTCA.0 itself, and then there are five new levels shown in Table 1. In the most recent draft of MicroTCA.1, the suffix AC1 stands for Air-Cooled 1 and it defines an increased level of immunity to shock and vibration over and above the level defined in MicroTCA.0. Specifically, AC1 requires that a rugged MicroTCA shelf or chassis pass IEC 61587-1 shock and vibration testing at the performance level DL3 (Figure 2). This means it must withstand vibration and shock of 2-9 HZ/9-200 Hz, 3g and 25g, 18 msec. This of course may change as the subcommittee continues its discussions over what VITA 47 shock and vibration levels to include. In MicroTCA.1, XT1 and XT1-L refer to Extended Temperature levels, and refer to both higher and lower temperatures than those required for MicroTCA.0, which covers the range of +5° to +40°C (the typical telecom central office environment). Together, XT1 and XT1-L cover the range of -40° to +70°C. Depending on the application, this may require heaters,

chillers and components with extended temperature capabilities. By achieving compliance with more than one of these standards, systems can be created with the ability to meet the needs of many of the applications that are now beyond the reach of MicroTCA.0. MicroTCA.2 is being written to increase system capabilities even further for applications in extreme conditions such as military battlefields.

Additional Requirements and Capabilities

There are a few other new requirements within MicroTCA.1 that deserve mention. First is the new module retention design (Figure 3). The existing AdvancedMC latch has been reviewed, and supplemental retention mechanisms have been added to the faceplate of the module. This was a fairly obvious need for systems that will experience levels of shock and vibration not seen in the telecom central office, and the changes are designed to hold the modules more firmly in place within the subrack. Second is the addition of new sources of electrical power and new input connectors. The power sources defined in µTCA.0 are +24V and -48V. In µTCA.1, as it currently stands, input connectors for +12 V DC and +28 V DC are added, along with certain recommendations to take into consideration power module design for these new sources and the applications where they are most likely to be used. Finally, µTCA.1 includes a cocoon concept to protect a system by isolating it from external environmental forces within a protective enclosure. The cocoon itself would most likely be designed for a particular application, and therefore the details of the implementation would depend on each individual case. However, µTCA.1 does offer this strategy as one way to meet and perhaps exceed these requirements. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms Charlotteville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.gefanuc.com].


INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Vision Systems

“Bandwidth-hungry� vision applications run into a bottleneck transferring image data. But now PCI Express, Camera Link and FPGA technologies have been implemented to increase image acquisition and processing rates. by Neil Chen Adlink Technology

d

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

Increasing Image Acquisition Rates for Bandwidth-Hungry Applications

E

lectronics component manufacLighting Frame Grabber turers must continually improve productivity and quality to remain competitive. Motion control and machine vision play an important role in this effort by providing automated inspection capabilities that are more reliable and scalable than legacy methods. As manufacturers require increased imCamera age throughput and more sophisticated image processing, transferring the data panies providing solutions now from the camera to the PC, or bandration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest width, often becomes a limiting factor lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you that must type be addressed. ice you require for whatever of technology, Figure 1 Computer-based Machine Vision System. Standard VGA resolutions and 30 ies and products you are searching for. frame/second capture rates were sufficient for most production lines in the remained the main bottleneck for PC- was developed as an open specification for cameras and frame grabber cards to past. However, industry requirements based machine vision systems. Camera Link, a new camera stanbe used in such machine vision systems. are now demanding an increase in the dard, was introduced to address the bandThe Camera Link interface specification dimensions scanned, e.g. line scan, 3D width issue. Combined with the PCI Exwas defined by the Automate Imaging inspection, OCR, barcode and 3D barcode. In addition, there is a push for press bus, Camera Link image solutions Association, an industry group consistan increase in the production line con- provide unprecedented data transmission ing of industrial camera, cable and frame veyer speed, and more complex image for machine vision applications. Figure grabber card manufacturers. Camera Link processing. Meanwhile, bandwidth has 1 shows the primary components of a utilizes Low Voltage Differential Signaltypical computer-based machine vision ing (LVDS) technology to transmit digital system. These components include a cam- data. Both a parallel-to-serial transmitter Get Connected era with lighting, cabling, plug-in frame and a serial-to-parallel receiver are used with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected grabber card and computer. Camera Link to transmit image data.

End of Article

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


INDUSTRY Insight

Camera Link

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP Port D, E, F

STRB D, E, F

TxIN

FULL

Z3

CLKZ

CLKZ

90CR283

Y1

Y3

Y3

TxIN

X1 X2

STRB A, B, C

90CR283

CLKY

CONNECTOR 2 CONNECTOR 1

X3 CLKX

PORT G, H

90CR284

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP Port D, E, F

90CR284

X0

STRB D, E, F

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP

X1

Port A, B, C

X2 X3 CLKX

90CR284

Camera Control 1, 2, 3, 4

STRB A, B, C

Camera Control 1, 2, 3, 4

SerTFG SerTC

Figure 2

STRB G, H

Y1 Y2

X0

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP

Y0

Y2

CLKY

Frame Grabber

Z2

Z3

Y0

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP Port A, B, C

Z2

MDR26F

90CR283

Z1

MEDIUM

STRB G, G

Z1

MDR26F

Port G, H

TxIN

Z0

MDR26M

LVAL, FVAL, DVAL, SP

Z0

BASE CONFIGURATION

Camera

MDR26M

The Camera Link standard provides for three configurations: base, medium and full signaling modes. Image data from the camera is transmitted through a designated port to the corresponding port connected to the frame grabber (Figure 2). The base configuration consists of a set of transmitter/receiver pairs (24 bits of video data organized into three 8-bit ports: A, B, and C. Additional signals include frame valid (FVAL), line valid (LVAL), data valid (DVAL) and spare signals plus one clock signal, one serial communication channel and four LVDS general-purpose camera control signals. The camera control signals are typically used with external triggering to capture images in real time. The clock runs at rates between 20 to 85 MHz for an image data transmission rate of up to 2.04 Gbits/s. The medium configuration adds a second set of transmitter/receiver pairs to double the number of image data bits to 48 bits, which also doubles the number of 8-bit ports to six: A, B, C, D, E and F. The image data transmission rate is also doubled to 4.08 Gbits/s. The full configuration further increases the number of image data bits to 64 bits for eight 8-bit ports: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H, and improves image data transmission rates to 5.44 Gbits/s. The Camera Link data routing is illustrated in Figure 3. Of the currently available camera interfaces (such as analog connections, USB, FireWire, GigE), Camera Link provides the following advantages: • Highest bandwidth: Camera Link streams image raw data at rates up to 5.44 Gbits/s over dedicated point-topoint link topology without protocol overhead. • Noise reduction: The minimal LVDS signal of the Camera Link specification increases image throughput between the frame grabber, cable and camera. • Real-time signals: There is no network latency or protocol overhead with Camera Link. • Reduced CPU workload: The Camera

SerTFG SerTC

Camera Link Hardware Structure.

Link specification includes standard chipsets that can be used for on-camera image processing. Camera Link frame grabbers also utilize direct memory access (DMA) for optimal data transfer efficiency. Using DMA, the transmission of image data from the frame grabber to the memory of the host PC is executed without utilizing any CPU resources of that host system. • Support for line scan cameras: Camera Link offers the camera control, serial communication and data streaming methods needed for line scan applications. Most line scan cameras available today already support Camera Link

PCI Express

Computer systems used in machine vision applications may now utilize the new PCI Express (PCIe) bus technology. The PCIe bus implements a serial packetbased protocol along with a switch-based topology to provide high bandwidth and robust point-to-point interconnects, which is a significant improvement over the predecessor PCI bus that offered bus-based connections where all the devices shared the same 32- or 64-bit parallel bus. The PCI Express bus maintains complete software compatibility with the existing base of operating systems, PCI drivers and software, in addition to offering a scalable bus bandwidth. The physical layer of a PCIe link is a set as serial lanes in September 2008

27


INDUSTRY Insight

PC Memory

Camera Port H

Port G

8 bit: H0-H7

S6

12 bit: D8-D11

S5

8 bit: G0-G7

S4

12 bit: D0-D7

BYTE 8

BYTE 7

S3

8 bit: F0-F7 12 bit: C8-C11

BYTE 68

Port E

8 bit: E0-E7 12 bit: C0-C7

BYTE 5

Port D

8 bit: D0-D7

S2

12 bit: B8-B11

S1

Medium

Full

Port F

Port C

Base

8 bit: C0-C7 12 bit: B0-B7

Port B

Port A

Figure 3

8 bit: B0-B7 12 bit: A8-A11

8 bit: A0-A7 12 bit: A0-A7

FPGA-Based Image Processing

As the amount of transferred image data increases, additional computing power is required in computer-based machine vision systems to maintain perfor-

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September 2008

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BYTE 3

BYTE 2

BYTE 1

Camera Link Data Routing.

groups of 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16. Each lane provides a 2 Gbit/s data transmission rate, which equates to a rate of 8 Gbits/s for a 4-lane link. The PCIe lanes also provide dedicated bus connections whereas bandwidth on the PCI bus is shared among all PCI devices and some system functions. In other words, the PCIe bus provides a dedicated link for image data transmission so that bandwidth is not shared during transmission.

Untitled-5 1

BYTE 4

mance. As mentioned above, the majority of frame grabber cards support DMA to reduce CPU loading. Image processing on the host computer also loads the CPU, and can often lead to a system bottleneck. In the past, the only solution for image processing bandwidth was to place processing in the form of an ASIC onto the camera or frame grabber. However, ASIC solutions significantly increased development costs, delayed time-tomarket and limited processing flexibility. More recently, users have taken advantage of computer processor advances, such as multicore, to increase image processing bandwidth. But processor solutions also have limitations in


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INDUSTRY Insight

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FPGAs are able to perform pre-processing functions such as shading correction, color space conversion, image rotation and look-up table operation. FPGAs can also provide enhanced images on-thefly, ready for further processing on the host CPU, further supporting the concept of a proper balance between system performance and cost. The combination of Camera Link, FPGA and PCIe technologies can pro-

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Untitled-1 1

September 2008

that they are unable to integrate other hardware I/O signals. The use of a programmable component in the form of an FPGA is able to address the limitations of both ASIC and processor-based throughput solutions. An FPGA provides a set of logic elements through which the pre-processing functions are executed on the frame grabber card, in parallel with the image acquisition and without causing any loading on the host CPU. The combination of the CPU and FPGA provides the proper balance between the performance and the cost of the machine vision system. Advantages of incorporating an FPGA include: • Flexibility: The FPGA is a processing core that provides programmable and configurable functions. • Parallel processing: To increase performance, an FPGA provides parallel computing power for image pre-processing algorithms (such as generic matrix multiplication) to speed up calculation. • Reusability: An FPGA can quickly integrate intellectual property (IP) blocks without any modification of the logic program, thus reducing time-tomarket. • Memory Access: Certain image preprocessing tasks need to perform operations between multiple frames or lines. Reference image or lines are stored in the system’s memory where the FPGA is able to access these memories in parallel. • Implementation of PCI Express: Many FPGA vendors offer PCI Express IP cores for the implementation of the PCI Express protocol. Utilizing such FPGAs will reduce the hardware cost of the frame grabber.

12/21/07 10:39:00 AM

vide the high bandwidth and high transfer speed required by advanced machine vision applications such as line scan and 3D inspection. For example, flat panel surface inspections typically require the simultaneous capture of multiple image channels. A PCI Express-based system supports multiple frame grabber boards and provides each board with a dedicated link to the host memory. Because the bandwidth of the PCI Express bus is guaranteed, each frame grabber can operate at full speed without sharing bandwidth. Thus the frame grabbers will not affect the performance of the other frame grabbers in the system, resulting in an inspection system with maximum throughput. Yet, as the image quality and image processing speed in machine vision applications increase, performance requirements may not be met solely through the host PC; the addition of an FPGA offers both increased performance and design flexibility. Camera Link offers the optimal solution for bandwidth, real-time signaling and robust image transmission of the currently available machine vision solutions. Overall performance can be further improved when this technology is combined with other technologies, such as FPGA, to provide the system developers with the high-speed and high-resolution capabilities they need at a price they can afford. ADLINK Technology Irvine, CA. (949) 727-2099. [www.adlinktech.com].


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SYSTEM INTEGRATION

Virtualization

Virtualization in embedded systems can offer a range of advantages from hosting different operating systems on a multicore processor, to isolating hardware resources for a given OS, to emulating obsolete devices and more.

by Paul Fisher TenAsys

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

Getting a Handle on Virtualization and Putting it to Work

V

irtual memory, virtual storage, virtual hardware, virtual I/O, virtual systems, virtual functions, virtual F(s) machine monitor… Are these devices Shared Memory � D(s) G(s) part of a virtual reality where we live and work in virtual worlds with our virtual H(s) colleagues, friends and pets? That might depend on how you define your friends! There are many ways to use the term GPOS Kernel Embedded Kernel “virtual” in the context of computing systems. The term is heavily overloaded, panies providing solutions now with many specific meanings, but all of ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest them emanate from a sense of being “real lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you Embedded VMM without actual, ideal without beice you require for whateverbeing type of technology, abstract.” philosopher Gilles ies and productsing you are searching French for. Deleuze described the concept of virtual Dedicated I/O & RAM Dedicated I/O & RAM as “that [which] every object carries with it, which is neither its reality, nor merely Figure 1 An embedded hypervisor (VMM) can assign specialized I/O devices what it could have been, but rather what it and memory directly and exclusively to the guest OS and drivers for the is imagined to be.” In other words, a virapplications that control them. tual system is what we make of it. Thus is the challenge of applying virtualization technology to real-time embedded sys- ism. Stay too close to home and you will virtual machine manager (VMM) for tems. Stray too far from reality and you never reap the benefits. consolidation of multiple physical servcompromise performance and determiners onto a single hardware platform. The Virtualization for Servers obvious benefit is cost reduction brought Much of the information available about by using less hardware and decreasGet Connected about virtualization revolves around ing energy consumption. Other benefits with companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected the use of a hypervisor also known as a include the ability to quickly reconfigure

End of Article

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


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SYSTEM Integration

DSP VM

RTOS VM

Windows VM

Embedded Virtual Machine Manager

DSP CPU

Figure 2

GPOS CPU

RTOS CPU

GPOS CPU

Example of an embedded VMM (hypervisor) supporting three guest operating systems on a quad-core processor.

Guest OS #1

Guest OS #0 PCI Header

PCI Header

BAR 0 BAR 1 Virtual Device

BAR 0 BAR 1

Shared Memory Region

Virtual Device Virtual IRQ

CPU #0

Virtual Device Driver

CPU #1

Real-time Hypervisor

Figure 3

Virtual devices can be used effectively to implement an inter-OS protocol.

and redeploy virtual servers on different physical hardware platforms as a function of loading and performance. In server applications the VMM presents a standard set of virtual hardware to each guest OS (the operating system running inside the virtual machine). For example, the network interface card (NIC) presented by a server VMM might always appear to be an NE2000 network card. The I/O is defined by the server VMM, regardless of whether your real hardware is a 3Com, Realtek, or Brand X NIC. The server VMM translates all I/O requests inside your guest OS into real I/O access to real hardware. This virtual to real translation happens for sound cards, keyboards, mice, etc. Limiting the size and scope of the virtual hardware presented to the guest OS makes it easy to support a range of real hardware platforms and without constraining the amount of I/O needed to support common server applications.

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Hypervisor technology is becoming part of the server operating systems in the form of VMware ESX Server, Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V. If you’re consolidating multiple servers this is good news. But these hypervisors are not appropriate if your application is embedded and you require real-time services or access to special hardware.

Virtualization for Embedded Applications

The server VMM is targeted at solving problems for corporate IT networks by maximizing the use of server resources and simplifying deployment and maintenance. A server VMM can’t easily accommodate providing a variety of specialized hardware devices to the guest OS because it is trying to present the application with a standard “white box.” Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work well for embedded applications, where predictable performance and the

need to interact with unusual and special hardware are paramount. Embedded developers need a different approach to virtual machine management to support their specific I/O hardware needs and to simultaneously provide the performance needed for a deterministic environment. Such an approach requires a VMM that assigns hardware directly to the applications and drivers that control them, as illustrated by Figure 1. A key difference between the embedded VMM model and the server VMM model is how physical resources are allocated to each virtual machine. The embedded VMM model partitions CPU cycles, RAM and I/O between each guest OS rather than multiplexing those resources among the virtual machines, as is the case with a server VMM. This AMP (asymmetric multiprocessing) model of resource allocation is useful where determinism and performance are more important than equal access and maximum hardware utilization. The virtualization technology built into many of the multicore processors available today can be used to isolate resources for use by a specific virtual machine and its guest OS. Even in the AMP model, which is the basis of the embedded VMM, not all I/O is required to be exclusive. Some may or should be shared, such as the hard disk, an enterprise Ethernet adapter and a console device. In these instances the VMM includes virtual devices to facilitate sharing hardware between virtual machines.

Hardware Required

Key to ensuring determinism in an embedded VMM environment is the use of multicore processors, which allows the hypervisor to dedicate CPU cores to specific guest operating systems. This removes the requirement to share or time slice CPU cycles between each virtual machine and has a dramatic impact on real-time performance metrics, such as interrupt latency and determinism, when compared to platforms that must share CPU cycles between each virtual machine. Dedicating individual cores of a multicore processor to a VMM is a simple and relatively inexpensive option, given the number of multicore processors now available.


system Integration In addition to the use of multicore processors, different levels of virtualization technology are available, mostly as a function of the processor, chipsets and I/O devices. Table 1 outlines those technologies as defined for Intel Architecture processors. VT-x: Hardware virtualization assists the process of implementing an embedded hypervisor (or VMM). Many of the latest embedded Intel multicore processors include VT-x (Table 1), which is a fundamental component used to create deterministic virtual machines. VT-x is a collection of processor instructions, special traps and a privileged “root mode” that helps VMM software efficiently host multiple virtual machines on a single hardware platform. Prior to the availability of VT-x, creating a virtual machine required that the hypervisor and each operating system share ring 0, or supervisor mode, of the CPU, where both have full access to system level instructions (applications generally run in ring 3, or user mode). Implementing virtualization without the aid of VT-x requires that the VMM or hypervisor be carefully sandwiched between the CPU system-level hardware and the OS, a complicated chore that incurs significant overhead on the part of the hypervisor. Using VT-x, the hypervisor runs in the new overarching “root mode,” allowing each guest OS to run in ring 0 without modification and without the complicated sandwiching tricks required to share a CPU in ring 0. Instead, the hypervisor sits between each guest OS and the CPU system-level hardware. From this vantage point the hypervisor can emulate and isolate hardware devices. For example, a virtual NIC in each guest OS can be used to transparently provide communication services between guest operating systems. VT-d: By remapping DMA (direct memory access) operations, VT-d allows bus-master devices to run at near full speed in a VMM environment. Without VT-d the VMM must emulate such hardware, resulting in significant execution overhead by the hypervisor. VT-d assigns I/O devices to domains by providing remapping hardware that restricts DMA transactions from a specific I/O device to operate only in the physical memory pres-

VT-x: CPU & MMU Virtualization

Special CPU root mode to trap system-level instructions.

VT-d: Chipset Virtualization

Hardware supported DMA and interrupt and timer remapping.

VT-c (aka PCI-SIG IOV): I/O Device Virtualization

Address Translation Services (ATS) to accommodate sharing PCI Express I/O cards between multiple operating systems.

Table 1

Intel Architecture System Virtualization Technologies.

Untitled-5 1

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SYSTEM Integration ent in its virtual machine, avoiding costly device emulation. The remapping hardware sits between the DMA peripheral I/O devices and physical RAM and is programmed by the hypervisor to restrict transactions to a specific memory range or domain. Each domain represents that subset of the physical memory corresponding to a virtual machine. While VT-d is not explicitly required to implement a virtual machine, hypervisor overhead can be reduced by using VT-d because VMM operations are limited to only those required to facilitate access to protected resources by the guest OS (such as I/O configuration space, interrupt controllers, timer hardware, etc.). VT-c: More widely known as “PCISIG IOV,” VT-c is a set of standards for sharing PCI Express devices between multiple independent entities. A PCI Express device that supports IOV includes facilities to negotiate and share its internal device functions. The IOV extensions effectively make a single PCI Express card appear to contain multiple virtual functions that can be discovered, configured and managed by multiple operating systems. In a VMM environment the primary IOV mechanisms of interest are ATS or “Address Translation Services” and SRIOV or “Single-Root I/O Virtualization.” Combined, these provide a means by which multiple operating systems, each running in a virtual environment on a single machine, can share a PCI Express device with minimal hypervisor overhead. Like VT-d, VT-c is also not required to implement a virtual machine. It can be used, however, to further reduce the overhead associated with a VMM, thereby increasing the performance of each of the guest operating systems hosted by the hypervisor.

Working with Windows

While a segmented form of virtualization is possible on a 32-bit x86 architecture, for example without VT-x, it must be tailored to the specific operating systems in use. An embedded VMM can support a wide range of general-purpose and real-time operating systems and can emulate legacy hardware for migration of legacy operating systems to new hardware

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platforms and combine multi-platform systems into single-platform systems for significant cost savings. To be of value, each guest OS must run unmodified in its own virtual machine, without losing determinism or access to specialized hardware. Thus, the primary role of an embedded VMM is to isolate and partition each guest OS with minimum overhead. This is the tactic implemented by the TenAsys eVM Platform for Windows, an embedded VMM designed to combine a variety of standard real-time operating systems with the Windows OS (Figure 2). Granting exclusive access to essential I/O is necessary for real-time responsiveness because it means each virtual machine has real physical access to its key hardware. Without exclusive physical assignment of key I/O, you run the risk of waiting indeterminately for hardware. A server VMM emulates each I/O request from the virtual machine by translating guest OS accesses into real I/O accesses to the physical hardware, something an embedded VMM cannot afford to do in order to ensure deterministic behavior. Exclusivity of I/O does not apply only to a real-time guest OS. For example, medical imaging applications need access to real hardware for maximum performance. A virtual frame buffer may be too slow and inadequate in features for it to render moving 3D images. In that case the Windows guest OS would benefit from direct access to the physical frame buffer and its control I/O.

Inter-OS Protocols

Virtual device drivers can be used to facilitate inter-OS communication and signaling protocols in a multi-OS virtual machine environment. For example, an inter-OS protocol has been implemented entirely within a virtual PCI hardware interface in the TenAsys eVM platform. The guest operating systems are configured to share an area of physical memory to which common data is posted. After a guest updates its data structure in the shared memory region, it signals the other guests of the update via a register in the virtual PCI interface. In Figure 3, each virtual PCI device presents two memory ranges to each guest. The first memory range, pointed

to by PCI configuration register BAR0, maps the shared memory buffer. The second range, pointed to by BAR1, presents an I/O address to each guest OS. When an application within the guest OS accesses the BAR1 I/O address, a trap is made into the virtual device driver hosted by the hypervisor. The virtual device driver then injects a virtual IRQ into the target guest OS, which responds by accessing the shared memory area for updated data. With the help of an embedded VMM, legacy code can migrate from obsolete hardware to modern embedded platforms. Because I/O can be virtualized, it’s possible to simulate old hardware devices, minimizing rewrite of proven legacy code. For example, an obsolete ISA device could be simulated within the hypervisor by intercepting I/O requests and redirecting them to equivalent on-board PCI I/O devices. Multicore processors easily support multiple operating systems and highperformance, low-latency, deterministic applications by dedicating a CPU core to each guest OS. The CPU instruction cycles of each core are available exclusively to its dedicated virtual machine. Virtualization technology can be used to remove I/O contentions by isolating and dedicating hardware for the exclusive use of an individual guest OS. I/O that can be shared, like disk and network interfaces, are presented as virtual devices for use by all virtual machines. The net gains from the application of embedded VMM technology on x86 multicore processor platforms are the elimination of redundant computer and communication hardware, faster communication and coordination between guest operating systems, improved reliability and robustness, re-use of proven legacy applications, and simplified development and debugging. Significant cost savings can be achieved by condensing systems comprised of separate hardware platforms onto a single, multicore, hardware platform. TenAsys Beaverton, OR. (503) 748-4720. [www.tenasys.com].


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SYSTEM INTEGRATION

Virtualization

Modern multicore processors now offer the ability to use specially designed hypervisor technology to dedicate different operating systems to specific hardware resources, facilitating real-time performance and allowing communication among OSs

by G  erd Lammers Real-Time Systems

d

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

Virtualization of Real-Time Operating Systems Means REAL Real Time

U

p until a few years ago, x86 microprocessors were seldom used in embedded designs. The x86 processor Operating System #2 Operating System #1 architecture was oversized for most emReal-Time Linux Windows XP bedded applications. Sometimes it could Windows CE Linux not be used because of its high power conPhar Lap ETS VxWorks sumption, and often its use could not be QNX OS-9 justified economically. Today, however, Shared Memory ... ... there is a large number of devices based on the x86 architecture. The reasons for this Virtual Network can be found in the machine automation, panies providing solutions now medical instrumentation and measurement ration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest technology sectors where there is a growReal-Time lication Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you ingwhatever requirement for increased computing ice you require for type of technology, Hypervisor CPU Core #2 CPU Core #1 arising for. from the demands being ies and productspower, you are searching Memory Memory placed on them for user interfaces, data visualization and data processing. The trend I/O I/O toward using increasingly fast and more powerful CPUs in the embedded market Multi-Core & Multi-OS System has now become unstoppable. The use of dual- and quad-core processors is already well established in the Information TechFigure 1 Like a wedge, the RTS Hypervisor sharply divides hardware into mutually nology (IT) sector. Similarly, growing exclusive systems. numbers of control system manufacturers are switching to architectures of that sort, and they are doing so for several reasons, that Intel’s Embedded Road Map now denot the least among them being sharply clares the company’s long-term commitGet Connected falling prices and lower power consump- ment to dual-core processors for embedwith companies mentioned in this article. www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected tion. A further important aspect is the fact ded applications.

End of Article

38

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


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Drive your business [FORWARD] A full 3-days of classrooms, panels and theater presentations you can’t afford to miss if you’re currently designing or evaluating an ARM Processor-based application. Nowhere else can you learn about the latest ARM processors, its road map and strategies, and how to integrate these into your next design? [COMMUNICATE] with over 2,500 other engineers and industry leaders. [CONNECT] with companies and colleagues developing on the cutting-edge of technology [CREATE] with products specifically designed for your needs.

October 7–9, 2008

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find yourself [HERE] [COMMUNICATE] [CONNECT] Speed your time to market by communicating and exchanging ideas on the latest techniques for designing with the ARM architecture. This three-day event includes: > Over 120 conference sessions providing a full technical design tutorial for embedded applications from hardware and software partners and ARM Licensees. > Wide range of exhibits and product demonstrations from the ARM Connected Community. > Hands-on workshops and theater presentations on the exhibition floor. > Discussions on latest industry trends, strategies and design methodology in forums and panel sessions.

[CREATE] Strengthen your ARM Design Expertise with Special Industry Sessions that will immerse you in current design methodologies and issues Keynote Presentations Tuesday, October 7 Warren East, CEO, ARM The Web Driven Society – Trends, Challenges and Opportunities Kevin Meyer,Vice President, Chartered Semiconductor Interdependence in an Era of Accelerating Technologies Wednesday, October 8 Bill Miller, Director of FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Innovation Is Dependent on Inspiring the Youth

exhibitors and sponsors Actel Corporation Alchip Technologies, Inc. American Arium ARM Arrow Electronics Atmel Cadence Design Systems Carbon Design Systems, Inc. CEVA, Inc. ChipEstimate.com CodeSourcery, Inc. Common Platform Coverity Coware, Inc. CriticalBlue DFI Committee Elliptic Semiconductor Evatronix SA EVE USA, Inc. Express Logic Faraday Technology Fraunhofer IIS Green Hills Software GSA Hitex HUONE, Inc. IAR Systems Keil Software Lauterbach

Luminary Micro, Inc. Macraigor Systems Magma Design Automation Marvell Semiconductor Mentor Graphics Corporation Micrium, Inc. Micro Digital, Inc. NXP Open Kernel Labs Parasoft Embedded pls Development Tools Prolific Inc. QSound Labs, Inc. Quadros Systems, Inc. Signum Systems Silistix STMicroelectronics Symbian Synopsys The Dini Group Texas Instruments Text100 Public Relations TRANGO Virtual Processors VaST Systems Technology Vector Software videantis GmbH VirtualLogix VisualOn Inc. Wipro Technologies

ARM presents... ARM Product Roadmaps and Future Technologies

networking reception

Industry Panel Sessions

Tuesday, October 7 5:00pm-7:00pm

Experts will discuss the latest trends, design challenges and future technologies to address power management, mobile computing, gaming and multimedia, security, hardware and software integration and multi-processor technology. ARM Theater

Join the celebration! Everyone is invited! Fifty years ago Nobel Prize laureate Jack St. Clair Kilbey invented the first Integrated Circuit. Join us for a cocktail reception and ARM Powered fashion show in his honor. Brought to you by:

Acquire a broad understanding of how things are built, from choosing the processor, applications and tool chain, and putting it all together. The trademark symbols, logos, service marks and copyright material displayed in this publication (collectively “Marks”) are the property of ARM or third parties. Except as specifically permitted herein no portion of the information in this publication or the Marks contained therein may be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission from the Marks’ owners. Users are not permitted to modify, distribute, publish, transmit or create derivative Marks from any material found in this publication for any public or commercial purpose. The RTC Group is also not responsible for the accuracy or correctness of the content of the material provided to RTC by third parties.


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SYSTEM Integration

Figure 2

The RTS Hypervisor Configuration Tool.

The use of dual-core and other multicore processors will dramatically increase over the coming years. There already exists today a variety of software concepts that have been developed for use in multiple CPU environments. Modern operating systems can manage multiple CPUs, thereby increasing overall system performance. The customary method for doing

1 42Untitled-2 September 2008

that is accomplished via symmetric multiprocessing or SMP. In this mode of operation, all processors share a common address space and software processes can be dynamically distributed among individual CPUs. SMP is supported by MS Windows (starting with NT 4.0) or Linux (starting with Kernel 2.0). But some real-time operating systems—QNX, for example, or

more recently, a version of Wind River’s VxWorks—already offer the possibility of symmetrical multiprocessing. SMP represents just one possibility for an operating system to utilize multiple CPUs. Virtualization and hypervisor technologies have long since proven their merit, above all in the IT and server markets. Using these techniques, multiple operating systems can be run in separate, secure and mutually exclusive partitions on a common hardware platform. While in some ways dissimilar to one another, these techniques provide a satisfactory means to simultaneously run multiple operating systems or multiple instances of operating systems on a common hardware platform. Products such as VMware have been used successfully for years, and every year new products of this sort are introduced into the market. In fact, so much attention is currently being focused on virtualization that it has become one of the hottest subjects in the IT world. There are several reasons for this. While today’s processors are becoming more and more powerful, it is often only the use of virtual machines that makes it

8/27/08 9:55:56 AM


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October 21-23, 2008 “AdvancedTCA Summit is one of the purist trade shows in the technology industry …. If you are involved with ATCA or any of its related specifications then you need to be at this show.” — Eric M. Mantion, Embedded & Communications Group, Intel Corporation

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SYSTEM Integration

LAN / WAN Real-Time Ethernet

OS1

Figure 3

OS2

OS3

OSn

Bridge

NIC

NIC

Virtual Network in a quad-core system with two NIC cards.

is possible to really utilize that computer power intelligently. Considerations for security as well as the need for flexibility result in the need to assign various applications and data to their own operating

systems. By doing so, they separate and protect them from one another. Another and more obvious reason for the use of virtualization is the requirement to use two or more different operating systems

such as, for example, Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000 and/or Linux. If we take a closer look at systems for machine control, medical instrumentation and measurement technology, we discover that their requirements differ little from those for information technology systems. In this case, critical control or data acquisition applications must be cleanly separated from applications running user interfaces, visualization methods, traditional data processing and, of course, accessing corporate networks. For this reason, is customary to use different operating systems to handle these various applications. For data visualization and to connect to a corporate network, a general-purpose operating system such as Microsoft Windows or sometimes Linux is used. Then, machine control or data acquisition functions are carried out under a real-time operating system on separate hardware—hardware that typically uses a microcontroller such as the PowerPC, ARM or MIPS. In this case, too, it is only seldom that the processing power of the x86 ar-

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SENSORAY’s data acquisition applications range from controlling conveyor belts for candy production to controlling water pressure at laser jet cutting factories. We specalizie in the development of devices for including Ethernet, PC/104, sdindustrial ionelos & sroapplications tom lortnoC on deeseveral ps & noitibuses, sop rotin oM PCI, and PCMCIA. We support operating Linux, Pocket slevel diulf systems etalugeR which erutarinclude epmet eruWindows, saeM PC/Windows CE, Real-Time OSs and QNX. We offer off-the-shelf, custom or modified soultions, live technical support and evaluations. Model 2426 | Industrial I/O via Ethernet

1 44Untitled-18September 2008

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All the cards...

…for all the solutions Targeting high-performance applications, Extreme Engineering Solutions presents the XCalibur4100, a 6U CompactPCI single-board computer designed to provide maximum performance and I/O options while minimizing power consumption. With the Low Voltage Intel® Core™2 Duo processor and Intel 3100 chipset, the XCalibur4100 offers: • Intel® Core™ Duo or Intel® Core™2 Duo processor. • Up to 8 GB of dual-channel DDR2-400 ECC SDRAM . • Two front-panel Gigabit Ethernet ports. • One PMC/XMC module slot at up to PCI-X 133 MHz/x4 PCIe. • Integrated graphics support with front and rear DVI/VGA. • Windows, Linux, VxWorks, QNX, and INTEGRITY support. For customers looking for one vendor to provide the complete system solution, X-ES provides full component selection, operating system support and integration services.

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SYSTEM Integration

chitecture, on which the general-purpose operating system runs, is really utilized. The use of a virtualization solution would therefore make perfect sense, sparing, above all, the costs associated with the additional microcontroller-based hardware. So why, despite that, has virtualization not been used for such embedded applications? One reason is that the use of real-time operating systems brings with it the highest demands for deterministic operations and a corresponding need for high rates of software execution. Some commercially available virtualization solutions make liberal use of tricks to provide each operating system with its own “virtual” PC. Some of these solutions, however, partially simulate hardware elements or permit a single operating system to exclusively control the hardware. It is not even unusual to see a virtualization solution that implements round-robin time-slicing, giving each operating system in turn an opportunity to run. These kinds of virtualization techniques, however, all compromise a real-time system’s deterministic behavior.

Controlling Real Hardware for Real Time

It is indispensable that a real-time system directly control “real” hardware devices, not “simulated” hardware devices. It is equally important that the interrupts from PCI and ISA (legacy devices such as serial or parallel ports) get directly and without delay to the real-time operating system for processing. Emulated hardware can in no way fulfill these requirements. Beyond that, device emulation requires that special or modified device drivers be used, software that must be provided by the virtualization method’s manufacturer. To avoid having to use tricks like time-slicing or emulation to run multiple operating systems on a single platform, it is necessary to assign the available computer resources to specific operating systems. For the first time, multicore technology has made this latter approach to virtualization practical, a solution that does not necessitate compromises either for the general-purpose operating systems or for real-time operating systems. Since there is now a CPU available for each operating system, no CPU has to be virtual-

46

September 2008

ized. Similarly, peripheral devices, such as plug-in peripheral cards, need not be emulated or virtualized. The ideas in the foregoing discussion gave birth to the concepts that make it possible to completely partition the resources of a multicore system into several, independent, hard real-time capable, quasi-independent systems. Each operating system is assigned its own processor core. It goes without saying, of course, that SMP-capable operating systems can be assigned multiple processor cores. As shown in Figure 1, the available memory is divided up for use by individual operating systems. Hardware devices, whether PCI or legacy (ISA) devices, are configured in such a way that their corresponding interrupts are exclusively and directly assigned to individual CPU cores and thus to specific operating systems. Because of this architecture, the hypervisor adds nothing to nominal latency times and every system retains fully its hard real-time capabilities. Since each operating system, directly and without modification, addresses its own assigned hardware devices, all available standard device drivers may be used. It is for these reasons too that existing application code and drivers may, without additional work, be directly used in connection with the RTS Hypervisor. During the conceptual design, an important criterion was set down that disallowed one operating system from having to depend on another for services and disallowed any operating system from having to perform services for the hypervisor itself—design considerations that distinguish the hypervisor from other virtualizing solutions. The elimination of inter-system dependencies also makes for robust and safe end-systems. The thorough separation of individual operating systems makes it possible not only to specify the boot sequence of individual operating systems, but also, under normal running conditions, to selectively restart individual systems. This capability is not only relevant in case of error conditions, for some applications actually profit from the ability to dynamically start a new image without having to re-boot the entire system.

Communicating Among Operating Systems

Despite the thorough separation among the operating systems, it is nonetheless required that one system be able to communicate with others. To this end, two inter-system communication mechanisms have been implemented. The first provides a means for communicating over a readily configurable shared memory. Using this mechanism, large or small amounts of data can be made available for sharing among one or more operating systems. This is of great advantage when, for example, a real-time operating system uses shared memory to buffer acquired data, data that would then, subsequently, be processed by another, simultaneously running, operating system for purposes of display, processing or archiving the data. Functions to access and use Shared Memory are provided in a standardized application programming interface (API) for each supported operating system. The hypervisor can be used to specify various-sized portions. A software tool is available for the purpose of configuring this and other user parameters, for assigning interrupts and PCI devices to specific operating systems, for example in Figure 2. Another, very elegant method for communicating data between operating systems was implemented in the form of a TCP/IP-based virtual network. For this purpose, a special driver is provided that is adapted for use with each supported operating system. Then, in the context of the virtual network, each operating system appears to possess a (virtual) network adapter with its own MAC and IP addresses. Since the interface was implemented in accord with industry standards, application programs can communicate over the virtual network using standard protocols such as OPC, DCOM or FTP. The virtual network is not limited only to communicating among the supported systems, however. By taking advantage of “network-bridging” features, such as those found in most operating systems, it is possible for all operating systems (i.e., their applications) to communicate across an external physical network as well. Unaffected by that is the


system Integration

user’s ability to exclusively assign a physical network card to an operating system for its own exclusive use, a feature that is indispensable for applications that use a real-time Ethernet utility. Figure 3 shows a network configured with two physical Ethernet cards, one of which is used exclusively by one operating system to run a real-time Ethernet utility. The other NIC card is used by another operating system to provide communications for itself and other operating systems, via network-bridging, to an external LAN/WAN. The RTS Hypervisor makes it possible to simultaneously run both similar and dissimilar operating systems, in all variations, on a common execution platform. In this way, for example, parallel instances of the same real-time operating system could be started, even systems that were originally developed for single-core hardware. This kind of system design might be desirable for several reasons. For one, since the complexity in developing embedded systems is steadily growing, distributing the application over individually manageable, independent software modules tends to increase the reliability of the entire system. For another, this configuration make it possible to update or exchange individual software modules without influencing others. One could make changes in the user interface, for example, without in any way affecting critical real-time control operations. Another typical application is the simultaneous running of several different kinds of operating systems. In industrial automation, an x86-based Windows XP system is often used for the user interface, graphical displays and communication functions, while real-time machine control operations are carried out on a separate hardware platform that uses a controller architecture, such as ARM or PowerPC. The advantages of migrating multiple-platform designs of this nature to a single multicore platform without having to change operating systems are fairly obvious. The same advantages can be realized by migrating multi-platform solutions in medical instrumentation, measurement systems or simulation systems to a single multicore platform.

By means of the Real-Time Hypervisor, many kinds of embedded designs systems can now take advantage of multicore execution platforms. Indeed, this is the next logical step in embedded system design. This leading-edge software technology not only reduces overall system costs, but it simultaneously increases the dependability and performance of the entire system.

Real-Time Systems Ravensburg, Germany. +49 (0) 751 359 558 – 11. [www.real-time-systems.com].

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For Sun® Solaris™, Linux®, and Microsoft® Windows® environments When it comes to computing in harsh environments, nobody is more at home with its surroundings than Themis Computer. For over a decade, Themis has delivered high performance, high availability computing for the most demanding military, aerospace and communications applications. Themis’ new family of 1RU, 2RU and 3RU Rugged Enterprise Servers™ (RES) includes the latest quad-core processors from AMD and Intel, offering ruggedized systems with the fastest, widest range of performance options and scalability. Themis servers provide far greater reliability, improved life cycle management and substantially lower TCO than other COTS systems solutions. For more information on rugged Themis servers or its new T2BC™ blade servers that run Solaris™ applications on the Sun® UltraSPARC® T2® processor, please visit us at www.themis.com or call (510) 252-0870.

Transformational. ©2008. Themis Computer, Themis, the Themis logo, Rugged Enterprise Servers, and T2BC are trademarks or registered trademarks of Themis Computer. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Untitled-7 1

AM September9/11/08 2008 11:25:38 47


Featured Products GE Fanuc Launches Range of Small Form Factor Embedded Solutions GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms has launched an effort to deliver embedded computing solutions across a wide range of applications and environments. Traditionally, the company has provided solutions for military/aerospace, telecommunications and industrial applications, but these new products are aimed at companies operating in light industrial, simulation and testing, medical, security, point of sales and gaming/entertainment. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms plans to make these new single board computers available unchanged over a period of up to five years. The products announced today are: ePIC-M965 The open architecture ePIC-M965 Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing features the Intel Core2 Duo low-power, high-performance processor with up to 2 Gbytes of memory. The ePICM965 is expandable through the growing array of off-theshelf PC/104 I/O modules to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of application requirements. Connectivity is provided via two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two rear panel USB 2.0 ports (four additional USB 2.0 ports are provided on board) and three RS-232 ports. Mass storage support is provided by both SATA-II capability and up to two IDE interfaces. A CompactFlash socket and floppy disk drive interface are also provided. Both VGA and LVDS graphics are supported, with DVMT 4.0, Smart 2D display technology, MPEG-2 and Microsoft DirectX9 and DirectX10 support. BPC-S113O A PC-based embedded system designed for maximum performance and flexibility, the BPC-S113O provides system integrators with the choice of sourcing an Intel Core2 Duo, Core Duo/Solo or Celeron M processor. It features a robust mechanical design, using a Mini-ITX motherboard in an aluminum housing. The BPC-S1130 can be optionally desk or wall mounted, and features two drive bays, an integrated 2D/3D graphics engine, AC’97 sound and Ethernet. It also features up to 2 Mbytes of fast memory, support for SATA disk, Gigabit Ethernet, three COM ports and up to eight USB 2.0 ports. mITX-945E-ER The mITX-945E-ER is a Mini-ITX single board computer with PCI Express and PCI expansion slots featuring Intel Core 2 Duo, Core

48

September 2008

Duo, or Celeron M processors; up to 2 Gbytes of DDR2 on-demand memory; one Gigabit Ethernet port on the rear; six USB ports; two COM ports; VGA port; and various mass storage devices. The mITX-945E-ER offers a wide range of multimedia implementations via the PCI Express x16 expansion slot as well as limited power dissipation. mITX-M965-P The mITX-M965-P is a Mini-ITX single board computer with a PCI expansion slot and features Intel's Core 2 Duo Mobile processor; up to 4 Gbytes of DDR2 on-demand memory; two Gigabit Ethernet port on the rear; eight USB ports; two COM ports; VGA and DVI port; and various mass storage devices. The mITX-M965-P offers a wide range of multimedia implementations. mITX-945E-P (pictured) The mITX-945E-P is a Mini-ITX single board computer with a PCI expansion slot featuring a choice of Intel Core 2 Duo, Core Duo, or Celeron M processors; up to 4 Gbytes of DDR2 on-demand memory; two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the rear; eight USB ports; three COM ports; a VGA port; and various mass storage devices including CompactFlash. The mITX-945E-P offers a wide range of multimedia implementations and limited power dissipation. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Charlotteville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.gefanuc.com].


&TECHNOLOGY

Products

19-Inch Rack Cases Boast Rugged Frames

There’s been a slow shift among military customers whereby they’re asking for ever more complete and integrated systems. This often means providing the system completely with the enclosure and racks. A new family of 19-inch rack cases from Hammond Manufacturing is available in 1, 2 and 3U heights and depths of 8 inches (203 mm), 13 inches (330 mm) and 18 inches (457 mm). The cases are suitable for housing a wide range of equipment, either mounted in a 19-inch rack or, if required, the units can be used a desktop enclosure. The all-aluminum construction consists of a heavy-duty extruded frame, removable vented or plain top and bottom covers and optional 19-inch rack mounting angles and self-adhesive rubber feet. The front and rear panels are removable and interchangeable; they are of flat construction to make machining and screening a simple process. Front panel handles that mount to the rack mounting angles are optionally available to assist with insertion and removal from a rack; to provide greater support for heavy loads, rear-mounting brackets can also be specified. The RM family is finished in durable black powder coat paint as standard.

as

Hammond Manufacturing, Cheektowaga, NY. (716) 630-7030. [www.hammondmfg.com].

Chipset Is Optimized for High-Frequency DC/DC Apps

In this age of distributed power and mixed voltage levels, power system design is getting ever more complex. International Rectifier eases the way by introducing a 25V synchronous buck converter DirectFET MOSFET chipset for point-of-load (POL) converter designs. The new 25V chipset combines IR’s latest-generation HEXFET MOSFET silicon and benchmark DirectFET packaging technology to deliver a high-density, single control and single synchronous MOSFET solution in the footprint of an SO-8, and with slim 0.7 mm profile. The IRF6710S2 is ideally suited as a control MOSFET due to the device’s very low gate resistance of 0.3 ohms and very low Miller charge (Qgd) of 3.0 nC, which significantly reduces switching losses. The IRF6795M and IRF6797M feature extremely low RDS(on) to significantly reduce conduction losses while the integrated Schottky reduces diode conduction losses and reverse recovery losses, making these devices well suited for high-current synchronous MOSFET circuits. Pricing for the IRF6710S2TR1PbF begins at $0.66 in 10,000-unit quantities. Pricing for the IRF6795MTR1PbF and IRF6797MTR1PbF begins at $1.35 and $1.65 respectively each in 10,000-unit quantities.

Ethernet Device Server Talks to RS-232/422/485 Ports

In industrial and automation applications, Ethernet has become a common means to talk to a wide array of serial I/O. The Industrial Automation Group of Advantech introduces the EKI-1524 Serial Device Server, which is the latest addition to the EKI-1500 family, allowing up to four RS232/422/485 serial devices to be remotely monitored, managed and controlled over Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Equipped with dual 10/100Base-TX Ethernet ports and dual Media Access Controllers (MACs), this innovative device ensures data transmission even in the event of a network link failure. The EKI-1524 offers a number of conventional operating modes that allow connections to be initiated by either attached serial devices or remote Ethernet hosts using both UDP/IP and TCP/IP protocols. The EKI-1524 Serial Device Server is packaged in a compact and thin DINrail mount chassis. They are ruggedized for demanding industrial applications with 4,000 VDC Ethernet ESD protection, dual 12 to 48 VDC power inputs with power line surge (EFT) protection of 3,000 VDC, and feature an operating temperature range of 0° to 60°C to ensure system uptime. Advantech, Irvine, CA. (949) 789-7178. [www.advantech.com].

International Rectifier, El Segundo, CA. (310) 726-8512. [www.irf.com]. September 2008

49


Products & TECHNOLOGY FPGA Development Kit Eases DSP System Design

FPGA computing has had a tremendous impact on a wide variety of applications that call for a dense amount of signal processing. Easing the process of FPGA system development, VMetro has rolled out its FusionXF FPGA development kit. FusionXF is targeted at reducing the design time and optimizing the performance of complex FPGA and PowerPC processing systems. FusionXF includes FPGA HDL functions, software APIs, drivers, utilities, example designs and documentation to simplify the task of integrating FPGAs into an embedded real-time DSP system design. It provides the building blocks to build a fully functional FPGA design that a customer can easily integrate their FPGA algorithms and logic into. FusionXF enables the control and utilization of FPGA resources from PowerPC processors and efficient data streaming within a single FPGA and between processors and FPGAs in a system. With the core functionality and glue logic to create a fully functional FPGA design provided by FusionXF, valuable project time can be spent implementing application-specific functionality, e.g., optimizing computational algorithms. FusionXF is currently supported on VMetro’s VPF2 (VXS) and HPE640 (VPX) hybrid PowerPC and FPGA boards, FPE650 quad-FPGA VPX board, and AD1500 and AD3000 A/D XMC/PMC modules.

PCI Express Expansion Backplane in MicroATX-Form Factor

A 3-slot expansion backplane in MicroATX form factor provides x4 and x8 cable connections. The OSS-PCIe-uATX-EBP-2018 backplane from One Stop Systems is suitable for a wide variety of applications including video game cards, servers, storage systems, communication platforms, blade servers and embedded-control products. A PCIe x4 or x8 cable can be inserted into the 3-slot backplane accessing its expansion capabilities. Powered by a standard 24-pin ATX connector, the backplane features three x8 downstream slots with x16 connectors.

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

Board Family Tests PCIe Slots Via IEEE Std. 1149.6

Modern test systems no longer require the complexity of a mass of racks and boards. Now quite a bit of test and debug functionality can be done on the desktop using PCI Express. Along just those lines, Goepel Electronic recently introduced the CION Module /PCIe-x(1/4) family as additional interface cards within the popular CION Module product range. The new low-cost modules are plugged directly into a x1 or x4 PCI Express slot and controlled by means of a TAP (Test Access Port). Because of the onboard IEEE 1149.1 and IEEE1149.6 test channels, all high-speed signal pins, low-speed signal pins and voltage supply pin of PCI Express-compliant connectors are structurally testable. The CION Module /PCIe-x1 and the CION Module /PCIe-x4 are plugged directly into the connector to be tested. They are able to completely test PCI Express Standard V2.0-compliant slots via dot1/dot6 for correct pin contacting. Because the modules provide transparent TAP, several CION modules of the same or different type can be cascaded due to the daisy chain principle. Altogether, the CION Module product family already has ten different models for the flexible test of numerous analog and digital interfaces. Goepel Electronic, Jena, Germany. +49-3641-6896-739. [www.goepel.com].

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One Stop Systems’ 3-slot PCIe expansion backplane is a compact mechanical design for anyone who needs a few extra high-speed slots. Pricing for the PCIe 3-slot expansion backplane is $985, with OEM volume pricing available. One Stop Systems, Escondido, CA. (877) 438-2724. [www.onestopsystems.com].


Timing Boards Support Low-Latency Computer Systems

Two new bus-level timing boards for ultra low latency computer architectures enable accurate timing information into embedded, real-time computing environments. The new models, TPROPCI-66U and TSAT-PCI-66U from Spectracom, offer zero latency time reads of precise time stamps to benefit organizations that rely on extremely fast transactions across their computer networks to support critical operations. Key to the integration of precision bus-level timing into high-performance systems is the availability of Spectracom’s driver interfaces. Drivers for the PCI66U boards greatly reduce start-up time and therefore reduce the total cost of integrating precise timing into applications. Drivers are available for operating systems such as Linux, Windows and Solaris. The precise time of the TPRO/TSAT-PCI-66U products are based on their ability to synchronize onboard clocks to an authoritative time source for accuracy. The model TPRO-PCI-66U synchronizes to a master clock through IRIG and other time codes. The model TSAT-PCI-66U leverages the GPS satellite system to synchronize to coordinated universal time without the need of a local source of official time. The PCI-66U boards support PCI bus specification 3.0 and are PCI-X-compliant. They are optimized to run at a 66 MHz bus speed with a 32-bit data interface that results in time reads on the order of one-millionth of a second. Their design and manufacturing processes provide for greater reliability and flexibility and are compliant to lead-free initiatives such as RoHS. Spectracom, Rochester, NY. (585) 321-5800. [www.spectracomcorp.com].

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

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

5x7 SMD True Sinewave SAWBased VCO

A 500 MHz Voltage Controlled surface acoustic wave (SAW) Oscillator, or VCSO, provides low-noise and low-jitter performance with true sine wave output. The lead-free, RoHS-compliant CVS575S-500 from Crystek is offered in a 5 x 7.5 x 2.5 mm SMD package. Phase noise is excellent at -135 dBc/Hz @ 10KHz offset. The oscillator has no sub-harmonic, and the second harmonic is typically -14 dBc. The CVS575S-500 operates from -20° to +70°C from a +3.3V power supply. Applications for the CVS575S-500 VCSO include frequency translation, test & measurement, avionics, point-to-point radios, and multipoint radios. Pricing for the CVS575S-500 will start at $45 each in volume. For additional pricing details, contact Crystek Corporation. Crystek, Ft. Myers, FL. (800) 237-3061. [www.crystek.com].

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Products & TECHNOLOGY Module Provides Data Acquisition Control for Factory Automation

A new distributed programmable automation controller (DPAC) is designed specifically for remote data acquisition systems with standard serial communication ports (RS-232 or RS-485). The DPAC-1000 from Adlink offers a distributed control solution for digital and analog I/O and motion control, while enabling a 15 to 20 percent cabling reduction compared to other Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) solutions on the market today. “The DPAC-1000 further demonstrates Adlink’s leadership in distributed control solutions by providing an intelligent remote data acquisition controller that can collect data from both digital sensors such as discrete I/O modules, pressure sensors and temperature sensors, and analog I/O modules up to 4000 feet away. This data acquisition controller is rated for use in high-shock settings of up to 100G for stable data logging even in harsh environments,” said James Gau, VP of the Measurement & Automation Product Segment at Adlink. The DPAC-1000 enables direct remote data acquisition through Adlink NuDAM modules via standard serial communication ports. Adlink’s Intelligent Remote Data Acquisition & Control Modules (NuDAM) are designed for data acquisition systems based on PCs and other processorbased equipment with standard serial I/O ports (RS-232 or RS-485 with auto direction control). These modules convert input/output signals to engineering units and transmit/receive, in ASCII format, to/from any host computer with an RS-232 or RS-485 port. The NuDAM modules are the key components in flexible and cost-effective remote data acquisition and control systems. The DPAC-1000 also provides a wide DC input range of 10 volts to 30 volts, in addition to featuring a front control panel for system integrators to design their own user control interface. The DPAC-1000 is specifically designed for use in a wide variety of factory applications such as water monitoring, UPS monitoring in a fabrication facility, and boiler leakage detection. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0210 [www.adlinktech.com].

PC/104 Express 1G Ethernet Card with Four Ports

PCI Express (PCIe) is used more and more in the embedded systems market. The serial bus standard provides more bandwidth, higher signal integrity and a simple system layout. Unlike the conventional PCI bus, the PCIe technique works with point-to-point connections. By using PCIe switches, a single PCIe port can be equipped with several PCIe devices. The new Microspace MSM4E104EX PC/104-Express extension card from Digital-Logic now offers four ports on a 1G Ethernet card for applications in data servers and Ethernet video cameras. The compact card is based on the PEX8505, a PCIe switch IC, which has five ports/five lanes, cut-through architecture with low latency of 138ns and low power consumption of 0.8W. For fast network connectivity the MSM4E104EX contains four Intel 82573L PCIe 1 Gbyte LAN controllers (low power), which are connected over the PCIe switch to the PCI/104-Express bus using one lane. Network access takes place via four RJ-45 ports. Drivers are available for Windows and Linux. The card requires a 5V/3.3V power supply and operates within the standard temperature range of -25°C to +70°C (1 Gbyte). On request, it is also available for an extended operating temperature range from -40°C to +70°C. For shipments of 100 units or more, the MSM4E104EX is priced starting at $415. Digital-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland. +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [www.digitallogic.ch].

Miniature IP Controller for Mobile Machine-to-Machine Solutions

Offering IP connectivity and security in small form factor, 10 x10 mm LFBGA 144ball package, a new mobile IP controller supports wireless LAN and all cellular standards. The CO2144 from Connect One is targeted at applications such as automotive, remote monitoring and medical devices where secure, robust connectivity is essential. Multiple power-save modes increase battery life for these mobile devices. Since CO2144 works as a coprocessor, developers do not need to program or write code that controls connectivity or application security. Instead, the logical interface between the host application and CO2144 is Connect One’s AT+i Protocol, a text-based API that enables fast and easy implementation of Internet networking and security protocols. AT+i requires no programming expertise on the part of the designer. Only a few hours are required to create full-featured Internet access, including TCP sockets, SSL encryption, routing, e-mail and file transfers. CO2144 serves as a “firewall on a chip,” protecting the embedded device from the Internet attacks. It also includes the latest WLAN (64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2 enterprise) and Internet (AES-128/256, SHA-128/192/256, 3DES; SSL3/TLS1 protocol for a secure client socket session) encryption algorithms for complete, end to end encryption support. CO2144 offers flexible connectivity. The chip supports seamless WLAN roaming, multiple SSID and WPA2-Enterprise authentication commonly required in large scale WLAN deployments. It supports dial-up and LAN wired networks, as well as 802.11b/g WLAN and practically all cellular solutions (e.g. CDMA, GSM, GPRS, UMTS). CO2144 includes a 10/100BaseT Ethernet MAC and supports 10 simultaneous TCP/UDP sockets; two listening TCP sockets; SMTP, MIME, POP3, FTP/Secure FTP, Telnet, and HTTP/HTTPS clients; and SerialNet mode for serial-to-IP bridging. CO2144 is available now and is priced at under $7 for large volume customers. The II-EVB-630 evaluation board ($575 list price) provides an environment for developing applications and testing CO2144/2128. Connect One, San Jose, CA. (408) 572-5675. [www.connectone.com].

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High-Accuracy Temperature Measurement Instruments in Affordably Priced Options

A series of temperature measurement instruments starts with an 8-channel entry-level version that can be easily extended to 16, 24, 32, 40, or 48 channels over time. This modularity allows customers to upgrade their system as needed while keeping their entry-level costs low. The TEMPpoint instruments from Data Translation are stand-alone boxes offering 8 to 48 separate 24-bit resolution inputs, each with its own A/D converter and CJC circuit, providing the ultimate in accurate temperature measurement. Thermocouple or RTD versions are available, as well as a USB or Ethernet (LXI) port for connecting to a PC. Key design features include up to 48 dedicated 24-bit A/D converters for ultimate resolution along with up to 48 dedicated CJC circuits guarantee ultra-high (+/-0.01%) accuracy. The instruments also feature 1000V Channelto-Channel galvanic isolation for superior signal protection with anytime auto-calibration. Automatic linearization of B, E, J, K, N, R, S and T standard thermocouples is included, and simultaneous throughput across all channels at rates up to 10 Hz/channel make for improved accuracy. The units come in a compact, rugged 2U rack-mountable enclosure.

USB-Powered Board for Open Source Community Development

A powerful, low-cost and fanless embedded development board offers open source developers the ability to realize their creative design ideas without being restricted by expensive hardware development tools. The Beagle Board from Digi-Key is based on Texas Instruments’ low-power OMAP3530 applications processor, which features an ARM Cortex-A8, 2D/3D graphics engine and high-performance TMS320C64x+ digital signal processor (DSP) core. The Beagle Board gives the open source community access to a high-performance ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC), the OMAP3530 device, which integrates a 600 MHz superscalar ARM Cortex-A8 core that utilizes highly accurate branch prediction and multiple instruction pipelines. As the superset device of TI’s OMAP35x platform, the OMAP3530 device provides more than 1200 Dhrystone million instructions per second (MIPS) to run a full Linux operating system with desktop windows managers and office applications, and also integrates an OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible graphics engine to achieve photo-realistic, real-time pixelshaded graphics for gaming and 3D user interface acceleration. A 430 MHz C64x+ DSP core is capable of handling high-definition (HD) video (MPEG-4 decode at 720p) for embedded applications, such as home media centers, robotics, Web kiosks and digital signage. Developers can utilize the standard expansion buses to add their own peripherals they already own via standard expansion buses, such as a high-speed USB 2.0, MMC/SD/SDIO and DVI-D. In addition to utilizing the DVI-D port to add a digital monitor, an S-Video port can be used to add a TV or the USB miniAB connector can be used to add a high-speed hub for a keyboard, mouse, Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection and Web camera. The MMC/SD connector can be used to add multiple gigabytes of storage or SDIO-based Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionalities. The Beagle Board is now available for $149. Digi-Key, Thief River Falls, Minnesota. (218) 681-8000. [www.digikey.com].

Enhanced Temperature Versions of Hercules II EBX SBC Family TEMPpoint software enables customers to utilize the full functionality of their TEMPpoint instrument. The TEMPpoint application is complete with a chart recorder to view and analyze up to 48 channels as well as export directly to Microsoft Excel. The channel overview provides a digital readout of up to 48 channels in one easy-to-view window. Post analysis, zoom and print functions are provided in the file viewer. Setting limits and controlling external events are also included in this turnkey application. The TEMPpoint application is an executable program created with Measure Foundry that can be easily modified or expanded to meet a particular need. Pricing for TEMPpoint ranges from $2,995 to $8,495 depending on number of channels (848), sensor input type (Thermocouple or RTD) and interface to PC (USB or Ethernet). Data Translation, Marlboro, MA. (508) 481-3700. [www.datatranslation.com].

Four new members of the Hercules II EBX single board computer family from Diamond Systems offer enhanced temperature ranges, which are below the extended temperature ranges but lower in cost. The HRC800-5N512 model offers 512 Mbyte of RAM without data acquisition. Three more new Hercules II models are available with an enhanced temperature range of -20°C to 70°C as compared to the extended operating temperature range of -40°C to 85°C on the current Hercules II products, and offer the same full breadth of functionality as the current models, including onboard data acquisition, digital I/O, power supply and soldered RAM. Hercules II is an EBX form factor (5.75” x 8” or 146 mm x 203 mm) single board computer integrating a Pentium III-level CPU with data acquisition and a DC/DC power supply on a single board. Hercules II uses a low-power 800 MHz VIA Mark CoreFusion processor with either 256 Mbyte or 512 Mbyte RAM and a broad set of system I/O including 10/ 100BaseT Ethernet, four RS232 ports (two with RS422/485 capability), four USB 1.1 ports or four USB 2.0 ports, dual IDE controllers (with IDE FlashDisk capability), PS/2 keyboard / mouse, an advanced 2D / 3D video controller supporting both CRT and LVDS flat panel displays and AC ’97 audio with amplified speaker output. Hercules II data acquisition section includes 32 16-bit analog inputs with a 250 KHz sample rate and a 2 Ksample FIFO along with four 12-bit analog output channels. Auto calibration on both A/D and D/A ensures maximum accuracy over time and temperature. Hercules II also includes 40 digital I/O lines with programmable direction, as well as two counter / timers. For models with data acquisition, prices start under $800. Without data acquisition, prices start at $500. Volume discounts are available. Diamond Systems, Mountain View, CA. (650) 810-2500. [www.diamondsystems.com]. September 2008

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Products & TECHNOLOGY FPGA Enables Real-Time Signal Processing Exceeding 300 GMACs per Second

An XMC I/O module uses FPGA technology to boost real-time signal processing. The X5-GSPS from Innovative Integration features the National Semiconductor 1.5 GSPS ADC08D1500 dual-channel, 8-bit A/ Ds connected to a Virtex5 FPGA computing core, DRAM and SRAM memory plus an eight lane PCI Express host interface. A Xilinx Virtex5 SX95T with 512 Mbyte DDR2 DRAM and 4 Mbyte QDR-II memory provides a very high-performance DSP core for demanding applications such as emerging wireless standards. The close integration of the analog I/O, memory and host interface with the FPGA enables real-time signal processing at extremely high rates exceeding 300 GMACs per second. The X5-GSPS provides engineers a turnkey, modular solution suited to radio-frequency demodulation applications or other wideband analog signal capture applications. IP blocks available from Innovative can be embedded within the FPGA to perform digital down-conversion and decoding, unburdening the host of this computationally intensive processing function. The X5 XMC modules couple Innovative’s Velocia architecture with a high-performance, 8-lane PCI Express interface that provides over 1 Gbyte/s sustained transfer rates to the host. Private links to host cards with > 1.6 Gbyte/s capacity using P16 are provided for system integration. The X5 family can be fully customized using VHDL and MATLAB using the FrameWork Logic toolset. The MATLAB BSP supports real-time hardware-in-the-loop development using the graphical, block diagram Simulink environment with Xilinx System Generator. Software tools for host development include C++ libraries and drivers for Windows and Linux. Application examples demonstrating the module features and use are provided free of charge. Quantity one pricing for the X5-GSPS is $9,995.

Round Solutions Presents WLAN Module for Wireless Machine Control

So far, a hardwired communications path realized with Ethernet has usually been necessary to control machines from the CNC turning lathe to the coffeemaker. This often led to quite complicated and thus expensive line installations. Round Solutions now presents a control solution based on WLAN. The module, which is the size of a matchbox, communicates with a WLAN router at 54 or 11 Mbits/s (802.11 g+b); both stacks for TCP/IP and/or UDP are integrated as well as the server for HTTP and e-mail. Special drivers are not necessary. Because the module is programmable using BASIC, specific applications can be integrated quickly and simply. In addition, software interfaces are available for Windows CE and Linux.

Innovative Integrations, Simi Valley, CA. (805) 578-4261. [www.innovative-dsp.com].

8-Slot Star VXS Backplane

An 8-slot VXS Backplane features a Star routing topology and fits in most 4U-high horizontal mount enclosures. The 8-slot Star VXS Backplane from Elma Electronic complies with the VITA 41.0 specifications. It features one hub slot and seven payload slots in a 14-layer controlled-impedance stripline design. Backplane simulation confirms strong signal performance. The 6U-high backplane has power studs in 3.3V, 5V, 12V and GND along the top and bottom of the backplane to allow for flexible power options. Elma also offers VXS Star backplanes in 5 slots and an 8-slot with one hub, 5 payload and 2 legacy VME64x slots. Dual Star topologies include versions in 8, 12, 18, 20 and 21 slots. Other innovations for VXS include a Switchless Mesh, Processor Mesh, VXS/VPX Hybrid backplanes and Extender Card. The Switchless has three point-to-points mesh slots and two legacy VME64x slots. The Processor Mesh has a unique Mesh configuration for VXS. Pricing for the 8-slot VXS Star backplane starts at under $1,500. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 490-1853. [www.elma.com].

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The heart of the module is the machine interface, which processes standardized serial data streams like SPI, I2C, UART and CAN. Additionally, eight I/O ports can be defined by the user. WLAN communication is protected by WEP or WPA coding. In addition to a module with a built-in antenna, Round Solutions also offers a version for the connection of an external antenna. For the power supply, 3.3V is adequate with a supply current of 100 to 300 mA. For further wireless applications, the module can be combined with the Starter Kit S3, available from Round Solutions. This allows the range of applications to extend to communication via UMTS, GSM/GPRS, CDMA or Bluetooth. Round Solutions, Neu-Isenburg, Germany. +49 6102 79928-0. [www.roundsolutions.com].


Two Rugged Software Radio PMC Modules Up Performance and Density

A family of rugged software radio modules with two FPGA IP cores can be installed on Pentek’s recently introduced Model 7141 Dual Channel 125 MHz 14-bit A/D and 500 MHz 16-bit D/A Transceiver. Because the IP cores are pre-installed, the end user is completely free from any FPGA development tasks. The 7141-420 and 7141-430 with GateFlow cores from Pentek are the first modules in a new family and transform the 7141 into two distinct and highly integrated products addressing a diverse range of applications. The 7141-420 FPGA installed core with dual wideband DDC and interpolation extends the bandwidth range of both the digital up converters (DUCs) and digital down converters (DDCs) from very narrow to very wide. The range of the DUC has been extended from 2 to 32,768 versus 2 to16 without the core. As a result, the 7141-420 can handle signals from 40 MHz down to 2.44 kHz, nicely matching the range of the receive–signal bandwidths. The 7141-420 is best suited for general-purpose transceiver functions—such as military-radio and signal intelligence transceivers—where engineers need to transmit and receive in a very flexible arrangement of different bandwidths and frequencies for a limited number of channels. The 7141-430 FPGA installed core with 256 channels of narrowband DDC provides a large number of relatively narrowband channels. This is of value to customers who need a high-density receiver in an unusually small space. For example, two 7141-430 modules support 512 receive channels in a single 6U VME or cPCI slot. Each module digitizes a 60 MHz bandwidth using either of the two 125 MHz A/Ds. The DDC core supports independent tuning of each channel across that bandwidth for downconversion of up to 256 different frequencies. These modules are also available in a variety of form factors, including PCI, 3U and 6U cPCI, as well as a conduction-cooled PMC version. Linux and VxWorks drivers are available for the 7141-420. Windows drivers are available for the 7141-430, and Linux drivers will be available for this module in the future. Pricing for the Model 7141-420 begins at $12,995, and for the Model 7141430 at $11,995. Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5904. [www.pentek.com].

Bustronic Upgrades its 5-slot ATCA Backplane

An upgraded 5-slot AdvancedTCA Backplane from Elma Electronic now comes with a new shelf manager interconnect scheme. The upgraded 5-slot ATCA backplane now features standard MicroTCA connectors, which are small and dense, for Elma’s IPM Sentry shelf manager connections. In addition to saving space, the connectors are widely available, reliable, and with compression mount design are field-replaceable. If damaged, the MicroTCA connector can be unscrewed from the backplane and replaced. The 5-slot ATCA backplane features a 3x replicated Mesh topology, although a standard Full Mesh or even Dual Star can be implemented. The backplane has 18 layers and is optimized for performance via signal integrity studies. Pricing for the 5-slot ATCA backplane is under $1,400 depending on volume. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 490-7388. [www.elma.com].

Tiny Dual Hot Swap Controller for Optical Networks

A compact, low-voltage hot swap controller protects boards and backplanes that use two 1V to 6V voltage supplies. Systems using the LTC4224 from Linear Technology, including fiber optic networks, will benefit from the simplified control with independent turn-on and adjustable ramp of the two supplies. In recent years, multisource agreements have defined fiber optic transceiver modules that provide transmission rates up to 10 Gbits/s over distances as long as 80 km. Since then, more versatile definitions like X2 or Xpak have emphasized smaller form factors for space-constrained applications. The LTC4224 supports the trend in shrinking modules by providing a compact hot swap solution that requires minimal external components. The LTC4224 enables safe insertion and removal of a module into a rail by limiting any inrush currents large enough to create a glitch on the rail that can cause other plug-in modules to malfunction. The LTC4224 is suitable for optical networking, as well as lowvoltage hot swap control and electronic circuit breaker applications, especially in cases where space is very limited. The LTC4224 is offered in two versions: the LTC4224-1 latches off after a fault, whereas the LTC4224-2 provides automatic retry after a fault. The LTC4224 is available in 10-lead 3 mm x 2 mm DFN or 10-lead MSOP RoHS-compliant packages. Pricing starts at $2.40 each in 1,000 piece quantities. Linear Technology, Milpitas, CA. (408) 432-1900. [www.linear.com].

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Products & TECHNOLOGY Blu!Box MicroTCA Chassis Boasts Full Redundancy

A new MicroTCA enclosure is fully redundant and features high-performance cooling. The Blu!Box from Elma Electronic is a 19” rackmount system in a 5U height. It is compliant to the MicroTCA.0 core specification. With redundancy throughout, the chassis features two MCH, two Power Modules and two high-performance EMMC cooling units. All of the modules/components are hot swappable and controlled via IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface). The cooling units feature five each high-performance fans and have PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) control. The chassis holds up to 10 full size AMCs in the single module format. The backplane for the Blu!Box offers a Dual Star topology in 22 layers. It has been optimized for high-speed routing via signal integrity studies. Other features include redundant FRU (Field Replaceable Unit) information devices and carrier locaters. Pricing for the MicroTCA Blu!Box is under $4,000 depending on volume and configuration options.

Industrial-Grade Embedded Computer Capable of DIN Rail Installation

Two new embedded computers for industrial automation feature four RS-232/422/485 serial ports, dual Ethernet, four digital input channels, four digital output channels, and a PCMCIA cardbus and SD socket in a compact, IP30 protected, industrial-strength rugged chassis. The DIN-Rail vertical form factor is cost-effective for users to install the IA241/ IA240 from Moxa into a small cabinet. This space-saving solution also facilitates easy wiring, and is the best choice of front-end embedded controller for industrial applications.

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

PMC-X/PCI-X Dual Channel ADC Features AC or DC Coupled Interfaces

A platform for rapidly fielding application-specific I/O functions relieves the expense of custom hardware development. The Channel Accelerator Plus 14/400 dual channel receiver from Red Rapids is based on the Texas Instruments ADS5474 A/D converter. The sample clock is supplied by an onboard frequency synthesizer or an external source. The frequency synthesizer can be phase locked to the local 10 MHz TCXO or an external reference can be used to achieve system-wide phase coherence. The analog inputs can be either AC or DC coupled to the A/D converters. The AC coupled configuration supports direct IF sampling (bandpass sampling) beyond the first Nyquist zone. The FPGA can be selected from the Virtex-4 high-performance logic (LX) or signal processing (SX) platforms. A variety of size and speed grade options are offered to further optimize the price/performance ratio over a wide range of applications. The SX-55 device includes 512 DSP slices for math-intensive applications. The FPGA is connected to four 16-bit QDR SRAMs for high-speed local data storage. The QDR SRAM provides separate read and write ports to achieve a combined 8 Gbyte/s data transfer rate between the FPGA and memory. This memory can also be used to store data snapshots for high-speed signal acquisition or generation independent of PCI bus traffic. A DMA FPGA core provided with the product manages data transfers between the Channel Accelerator and host memory. The DMA engine allows the transceiver to automatically initiate a PCI/PCI-X burst transaction when data is available. DMA chaining and scatter-gather techniques are supported by both the hardware and software to optimize data transfer efficiency. Red Rapids, Richardson, TX. (972) 671-9570. [www.redrapids.com].

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In addition to the standard model, IA241/ IA240 also comes in wide temperature models. IA241-T and IA240-T fit the -40° to 75°C operating temperature range, and are appropriate for harsh industrial automation environments. The industrial mechanism of the IA241/IA240 design provides robust, reliable computing. Due to the RISC-based architecture, IA241/IA240 will not generate too much heat while working. The high communication performance and fanless design make the IA241/IA240 suitable for industrial automation environments. It is based on the Moxa ART 32-bit ARM9 industrial communication processor with 64 Mbyte RAM on board and a 16 Mbyte flash disk. In addition to the serial and digital ports, there is a dual 10/100 Ethernet for redundant networking, and PCMCIA wireless LAN expansion that supports 802.11b/802.11g and support for SD socket for storage expansion. Moxa, Brea, CA. 714-528-6777. [www.moxa.com].


Easy-Assembly 1U EMC Enclosure Hits Low-Cost Level

A new 19-inch EMC enclosure in a 1U height, called the “SlimKit” from Elma Electronic, combines a slim profile, EMC performance and an efficient design. The SlimKit features excellent EMC performance without the expense of separate gaskets. Instead, EMC contacts are integrated into the sheet metal. First, the covers of the chassis have EMC tabs that provide protection. The enclosure sidewalls also have punched and formed EMC “spoons” that provide extra EMI/RFI suppression. The enclosure design minimizes the assembly time required with only a few identical screws. Typically, enclosures require a lot of screws to minimize gaps in the chassis for EMC. As Elma’s enclosure has EMC built into the sheet metal, fewer screws are required. This saves assembly time and costs with less (and more common) parts to assemble. The SlimKit is available in 240 mm and 360 mm depths and other chassis heights are available. Optional accessories include grounding terminals and tilt feet in grey or black. Applications for the SlimKit include telecommunications systems, medical and lab instruments, event recorders, rackmount servers, audio and radio equipment, Mil/Aero communications, signal converters, and much more. Single unit pricing starts at under $100. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400.[ www.elma.com].

Atom-Based Motherboard with Smart Battery Management

A PC motherboard measuring only 72 mm x 100 mm makes an express point of intense energy efficiency for OEM developers of ultra-mobile PCs, mobile Internet devices and other mobile battery operated devices. The FireFly from InHand is built around an Intel Atom processor and System Controller Hub and can be used by itself or with an expansion board for applicationspecific functionality. As a stand-alone board, the FireFly offers a full range of peripherals including: USB 2.0 Host, USB 2.0 Client, video output, serial port, touch screen controller, microSD slots and an ExpressCard slot. Battery charging and wide voltage power input are available as well. For expandability, the FireFly has a daughter card connector with industry standard interfaces, including PCI Express, USB, SMBus and SDIO, making system integration easy. For highly secure applications, the FireFly incorporates a FIPS 140.2-certified trusted platform module offering secure boot, hard disk locking and key management. The processor is the Intel Atom Z530 running at 1.6 GHz and the US15W system controller hub. Memory is up to 512 Mbyte or 1 Gbyte DDR2. There are additionally 16 general-purpose I/O pins (8 interrupt capable) and options for onboard wireless in the form of 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 and 20 channel GPS. Battery support is a 14.4V quad-cell LiIon/LiPolymr smart battery. The FireFly is equipped with InHand’s patented BatterySmart technology. In addition to low-power design and component selection, BatterySmart extends the life of portable and mobile devices through intelligent use of the processor’s Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS). All aspects of the Firefly’s hardware and software work together to find the optimal balance between performance and battery life.

VPX Conduction-Cooled Rugged Enclosures

New VPX conduction-cooled rugged enclosures encompassing a variety of COTS modular designed conduction-cooled chassis for VPX, VME, CPCI and CPCI Express applications enable accelerated development of rugged conduction-cooled embedded systems. Two-level maintenance models from PCI-Systems include 3U, 6U, ATR, ARINC600 and custom chassis and all are available with interchangeable backplane-bus versions. The design allows the user to select different top and bottom parts for the enclosure to get an air-cooled, conduction-cooled (cold plate) or liquid-cooled chassis. During development an easy exchange of chassis parts generates a different type of cooling of the chassis. Also, during development, each slot has its own rear I/O PCB to ease definition and testing of the final custom wiring. This setup can be easily exchanged with a custom rear I/O PCB set. Thus cost of ownership is minimized, since development and production versions of the chassis have the same basic design components. VPX versions are available with a PCI Express bus implementation on the backplane, having 8 lanes per slot and a 64 lane switch, therefore allowing up to 7 add-on slots and a CPU slot for very high bandwidth computing applications. Current CPU boards are available with x4 or x8 lane PCI Express configuration and include a Intel core duo board based on the Intel 3100 chipset with ECC and a Freescale MPC8572E CPU dual core PowerPC processor board. The 3U Conduction-Cooled Chassis shown here comes with a 5-slot backplane plus CPU slot, 220 watt Modular PS with 12-36 VDC input and an external AC input adapter for lab testing. The 5-slot backplane will accommodate the Modular PS, a one-slot width CPU, and five add-on card slots. CompactPCI Express Type 3, CompactPCI and VPX backplanes with Rear I/O are available. PCI-Systems, Laurel, MD. (301) 362-1233. [www.pcisystems.com].

InHand Electronics, Rockville, MD. (800) 983-8441. [www.inhand.com]. September 2008

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Products & TECHNOLOGY PC/104 Express Adapter for ExpressCard

3U VPX SBC Features Freescale Dual-Core MPC864OD Power Architecture

A new Power Architecture-based 3U VPX (VITA 46) single board computer brings the high-bandwidth, serial switched fabric support and ESD protection benefits of the VPX board architecture to space and weight constrained 3U embedded applications. The VPX3-127 from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, when used with that company’s VPX3-215 ExpressReach 3U IO expansion carrier card, provides a powerful card set for small system development. The VPX3-127 features Freescale’s MPC864OD Power Architecture system-on-chip (SoC) platform processor operating at 1.0 GHz. The VPX3-127 combines this processor with highbandwidth serial fabrics and a complementary set of I/O features together in a form factor suitable for space and weight constrained harsh environment defense and aerospace applications. The board includes 512 Mbytes or up to 2 Gbytes of DDR2 memory with ECC @ 500 MHz on dual memory controllers 256 Mbytes of NOR flash and 1 Gbyte of NAND flash along with 512 Kbytes Non Volatile Memory (NVRAM). There is one XMC/PMC site and two x4 lane fabrics offering either 2 x4 lane PCI Express ports, or a single x4 lane PCI Express port and a single x4 lane SRIO port. In addition, there are two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, RS-232 and RS-422 serial channels, a USB 2.0 Host port and Discreet Digital I/O. There will be a VPX-REDI (VITA 48) version available with further information available from the factory. For security purposes, the board also provides the SecureErase Utility to easily erase all non-volatile memory elements when required. The optional VPX3-215 companion 3U carrier card provides a high-performance XMC/ PMC site supporting x8 lane PCI Express port (VITA42.4) with differential pair I/O routing. Two x4 lane PCI Express Switch ports on P1 provide access to the PMC/XMC site. These can be aggregated to function as single x8 lane port for higher bandwidth access to XMC Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (613) 254-5112. [www.cwcembedded.com].

SSD Line Outpaces Hard Drive Write Speeds

Three series of solid-state drives (SSDs) from Super Talent Technology already boasting read speeds of up to 120 Mbytes/s have been upgraded with significantly improved write speeds. Fast write speeds are important in applications such as video editing and encoding, image processing, compressing and extracting files, installing applications and copying files to the drive. These newly revised SSDs now outpace the fastest hard drives in the world. MasterDrive series SSDs now support much faster read and write speeds and faster seek and access times than the speediest hard drives. Other SSD advantages over hard drives are: superior resistance to shock and vibration, less power usage in both active and standby modes, less heat, and they are completely silent. The 60 Gbyte and 120 Gbyte models support slightly faster write speeds than 15 Gbyte and 30 Gbyte models. Pricing is approximate as of announcement date and may change without notice. Usable capacity is less than specified after formatting. Super Talent Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 934-2560. [www.supertalent.com].

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Master Drive Series

Description

DX

Max Read/Write Speed Old

New (low cap)

New (high cap)

2.5-inch SATA-II w/ SLC Flash

120/70 MB/sec

120/80 MB/sec

120/100 MB/sec

KX

1.8”Micro SATA w/ MLC Flash

120/40 MB/sec

120/60 MB/sec

120/80 MB/sec

MX

2.5” SATA-II w/ MLC Flash

120/40 MB/sec

120/60 MB/sec

120/80 MB/sec

September 2008

ExpressCard is the computer hardware standard replacing PC cards, both developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. Now an ExpressCard adapter for the PC/104 Express bus supports both form factors: ExpressCard/34 (34 mm wide) and ExpressCard/54 (54 mm wide, Lshaped). The MSMEC104EX from DigitalLogic can be used for TV tuner, GSM, GPS, SCSI and SATA cards. Thanks to the standard pass-through connectors, the board can be used either above or below other PC/104 modules. It is connected to the PCI Express bus via one lane.

Software support exists for Windows XP and Windows Vista. Hot plug support depends on the used BIOS/operating system. The ExpressCard adapter 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 power supply and supports advanced APCI power management capabilities. The module operates within the standard temperature range of -25° to +70°C. Quantity 100 pricing for the MSMEC104EX starts at 160.00 Euros per unit. Digital-Logic, Luterbach, Switzerland. +41 (0)32/ 681 58 40. [www.digitallogic.ch].


Programmable Signal Conditioning System Takes on High-End Data Acquisition

Developed to satisfy the growing customer requirement for powerful, modular signal conditioning solutions that are programmable and network-centric, the DSC2300 series from GE Fanuc is housed in a compact 3U, 16-slot rack-mountable chassis. With a smart Ethernet-based controller to allow for integration within any data acquisition environment, the programmable DSC-2300 Series is designed for a broad range of testing applications including jet and rocket engine testing, vibration testing, acoustic chamber monitoring, wind tunnel testing and other challenging applications requiring high performance. The DSC-2300 Series achieves performance benefits through its ability to process the input from a wide range of sensors, supporting up to 32 sensor channels (2 channels per slot). Its high channel density keeps its cost per channel low, while its 3U form factor makes it compact and capable of being deployed in space-constrained environments. Ease of use is facilitated by many built-in features such as network programmability, auto zero and balance, calibration, a plug-in mezzanine filter board for each channel and easy customization using the supplied programmer’s interface. The DSC-2300 Series currently supports four plug-in signal conditioning modules that are fully configurable and programmable for gain, filter, cut-off frequencies and calibration. The DSC-2320 module is designed for static strain applications, and provides a two-channel voltage excitation bridge amplifier. The DSC-2325 module is used for dynamic strain applications, and features a two-channel current excitation bridge amplifier. The DSC-2330/31 module supports charge/ICP and voltage inputs. Features common to all models include two programmable levels of over-range detection; reference bus input (oscillator, DAC, short, open or external input); channel output monitor; and two buffered analog outputs for every model. Windows-based software includes an API, demo applications and GUI for easy test implementation. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms can also provide complete, turnkey solutions. GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Charlotteville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.gefanuc.com].

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Products & TECHNOLOGY Gen2 PCI Express Switches Include Integrated DMA Controller

Three new PCIe switch devices feature an architecture that provides an integrated direct memory access (DMA) engine. Each switch provides four DMA channels to support the high data rates required in storage systems, servers, networking, control plane and embedded markets. By offloading the DMA function typically required of the processor, the DMA-capable switches from PLX Technology increase system performance and create a wide range of new options for next-generation PCIe designs. The ExpressLane PEX 8619 (16 lanes, 16 ports), PEX 8615 (12 lanes, 12 ports) and PEX 8609 (8 lanes, 8 ports) PCIe Gen 2-compliant switches offer flexible and configurable ports ranging from x1 to x4 on all three devices, with up to x8 on the PEX 8619. The four DMA channels can support high-speed data transfers between I/O devices connected to any of the available ports, while maintaining independence from the unique transparent switch functionality with up to 3 Gbit/ss throughput per DMA channel. Additional features include a low latency maximum of 140ns and power requirements down to 1.2W typical (8609), with quality of service (QoS) by means of two virtual channels (VCs) per port, spread spectrum clock (SSC) isolation via dual clock domains, and end-to-end guaranteed data integrity. The DMA engine in these devices implements a descriptor ring approach, while each of the four DMA channels can saturate a x8 link at Gen 2 speeds (up to 4 Gbytes/s) in one direction. Each descriptor provides support for large transfer sizes (up to 128 Mbytes) giving the user the ability to perform very large data transfers in any direction (memory to device, device to device, memory to memory). Descriptors can exist in host memory or, alternatively, inside the DMA switch. Up to 256 descriptors are supported internally in PLX DMA switches, which also support 32-bit and 64-bit transfers as well as programmable QoS. The PEX 8619, PEX 8615 and PEX 8609 volume prices are $28.55, $22.25 and $14.25, respectively. PLX Technology, Sunnyvale, CA. (415) 222-9996. [www.plxtech.com].

LabView 8.6 Delivers New FPGA and Multicore IP, Support for NI FPGA-Based Hardware

The latest version of the LabView graphical system design software platform for control, test and embedded system development from National Instruments combines the graphical programming environment of LabView software with commercial off-the shelf (COTS) multicore and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware. LabView 8.6 introduces new intellectual property (IP) tools that lower the barrier to developing FPGA-based embedded systems as well as optimized analysis functions that provide faster execution on multicore systems. Engineers also can improve the time-to-market of embedded applications by deploying their LabView 8.6 applications to COTS reconfigurable I/O (RIO) hardware, including NI CompactRIO and the new NI Single-Board RIO platform.

With the new features and NI FPGA-based hardware, engineers can reduce development time and cost by using hundreds of graphical FPGA IP blocks for signal processing, control and communications. LabView 8.6 offers new fixed-point IP including a fast Fourier transform (FFT) IP core that helps engineers offload spectral analysis functions for increased performance in applications such as machine condition monitoring and RF test. To improve FPGA development efficiency, LabView 8.6 also provides a new Component-Level IP (CLIP) Node to easily import existing VHDL IP into the FPGA Module. With new system-level simulation, engineers can evaluate the behavior of the complete system including the FPGA, microprocessor and host interface code. In addition, engineers can simulate the interaction of an embedded device with its surrounding environment by using static data input profiles or dynamic system models. Using LabView 8.6 and new NI RIO embedded hardware, engineers and scientists can rapidly prototype their advanced control algorithms and embedded applications on flexible hardware and deploy their systems to board-level embedded hardware such as the new NI SingleBoard RIO devices to get to market quickly. Traditionally, embedded developers were required to piece together or even build a variety of device drivers for I/O and communications to create an embedded device with a real-time processor and an FPGA. Because LabView includes all of the middleware tools, engineers can program the real-time processor, FPGA and reconfigurable I/O of NI RIO hardware with a single graphical tool to ease development and shorten time-to-market. The LabView platform also can be extended to the ARM 7, ARM 9 and Cortex-M3 microcontrollers using the NI LabView Embedded Module for ARM Microcontrollers and to select ADI Blackfin processors using the NI LabView Embedded Module for ADI Blackfin Processors. LabView 8.6 is priced starting at $1,199. National Instruments, Austin, TX. (800) 258-7022. [www.ni.com].

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Expert Attention Quad-to-10Gig Intelligent NICs Bring 10 Gigabit Ethernet into the Mainstream

An upgradeable quad-to-10 Gigabit LAN on motherboard (LOM) architecture for volume blade and rack server platforms, equips the NX3031 Intelligent NIC silicon from NetXen to be the catalyst for the volume server industry’s migration to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). Running Windows and operating in stateless NIC mode, NetXen’s NX3031-based Intelligent NICs deliver an improvement in network I/O performance. According to a new Tolly Group Up to Spec Certified test, NetXen achieves 22 Gbit/s of bidirectional throughput and greater than 14 Gbit/s receive throughput for 1500-byte packets. These test results represent a near doubling of previous industry benchmarks. This best-in-class performance milestone is achieved through a new form of stateless offload enabled by the programmability of the Intelligent NIC.

The new MPEG4000WA MPEG4 Codec for Evidential Recording • • • • • • • •

MPEG4, MPEG2 and MJPEG encoding 128-bit HMAC Watermark authentication Four concurrent PAL/NTSC inputs Real-Time Text Annotation and Motion Detect MPEG4 Playback from Storage Rugged PC/104plus form factor -40˚C to +80˚C operation (option) Linux, Win-NT/2000/XP-E and QNX support

www.ampltd.com sales@ampltd.com +44 1353 659500

The NX3031 Intelligent NIC family of chips and boards has been designed to address both current and future go-to-market needs of volume server OEMs. For the cost of a 25-cent connector and a small riser card that incorporates the customer’s choice of physical layer interface, servers are instantly readied for the transition from Gigabit to 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The solution enables server OEMs to commit 10 Gigabit Ethernet to the motherboard without worrying about a specific connectivity variant, such as SPF+, CX4 or the emerging 10GBASE-T. This “above-board” connectivity option future-proofs their servers while removing risk for both the OEM and the end user. NetXen is now shipping its third-generation NX3031 Intelligent NIC solution, which is the foundation for its new series of intelligent network adapters. These include: • NX3-20GxR: Dual-port 10GbE low-profile PCI Express 2.0 cards with pluggable SFP+ optical interconnect modules • NX3-20GCU: Dual-port 10GbE low-profile PCI Express 2.0 card with direct attach twinax copper wiring for cost-effective in-rack connectivity • NX3-4GBT: Low-profile PCI Express 2.0 card with four Gigabit Ethernet ports for maximum flexibility in mixed 1G/10G environments

Advanced Micro Peripherals the embedded video experts

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NetXen, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 327-1347. [www.netxen.com].

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11/8/07 9:42:51 AM

COT C CO OT O OTS TS TS

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Single-Board Reconfigurable I/O Platform for Embedded System Deployment

Offering engineers and scientists a low-cost, integrated hardware option for deploying embedded control and data acquisition applications, eight new single-board Reconfigurable I/O (RIO)-96xx devices from National Instruments combine an embedded real-time processor, reconfigurable fieldprogrammable gate array (FPGA) and analog and digital I/O on a single printed circuit board. Engineers and scientists can use the NI LabView graphical system design platform to customize NI SingleBoard RIO hardware as well as develop all aspects of their embedded systems for increased productivity and shorter time-to-market. NI Single-Board RIO devices expand the NI FPGA-based deployment platform offering, which includes PXI, PC and the NI CompactRIO embedded control and data acquisition system that share the NI RIO architecture. The NI RIO architecture is composed of a real-time processor, FPGA and I/O modules. Using this standard architecture and LabVIEW, engineers and scientists can rapidly design and prototype advanced control and embedded devices on hardware such as CompactRIO, and deploy their systems to the lower-cost CompactRIO integrated systems or the new NI Single-Board RIO devices to reduce deployment costs. Because engineers and scientists can program all NI RIO technology platforms with LabVIEW, no recoding is needed when transitioning from prototype to deployment, which increases system reliability and shortens development time. NI Single-Board RIO devices feature an industrial 266 MHz or 400 MHz Freescale MPC5200 processor built on Power Architecture technology, the Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS) and Xilinx Spartan- 3 FPGA. The onboard analog and digital I/O connects directly to the FPGA to provide low-level customization of timing and I/O signal processing. Engineers and scientists also can expand the I/O capabilities using the devices’ three expansion slots for connecting any NI C-Series I/O module or custom modules that they develop. There are more than 40 C Series modules for I/O and communication such as acceleration, temperature, power quality, controller-area network (CAN) and motion. Additionally, the devices offer an operating temperature of -20° to 55°C for use in thermally rugged applications as well as an integrated 19 to 30 VDC power supply input and real-time clock with battery backup for increased reliability. All the NI SingleBoard RIO products are Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) compliant, demonstrating the NI commitment to eliminating certain hazardous substances from products to benefit the environment. National Instruments, Austin, TX. (800) 258-7022. [www.ni.com].

'PSPVSFOUJSFMJOFPGTUPSBHFQSPEVDUTXXXQIFOYJOUDPNt*OGP An ISO 9001: 2000 Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business

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NEWS, VIEWS &

Comment SEPTEMBER 2008

Embedded Computer Market Shows Resilience; Retrenching May Be the Wrong Move

T

he embedded computer market has demonstrated amazing resilience given the (at best) soft economy, (at worst) recession, rising commodity prices and inflationary threats. According to many pundits, the economy is expected to stay on an unstable footing for the foreseeable future. And we don’t know exactly how long that’s expected to be. In case you’ve had your head in the sand, we’re in the midst of a presidential election year, the outcome of which may well have some impact on the direction. Despite the macro economy being somewhat unstable, the embedded computer community seems to have remained on a stable footing according to the dozen-or-so companies that I’ve spoken to over the past month. But there seems to be a note of caution expressed by many. Whether in the commercial or military space, uncertainty seems to breed inactivity. And, this recent paralysis is more than just the usual seasonal dip. There’s a lull in new product introductions, capital spending and promotion by embedded computer makers. I hear the same litany from just about everyone— “yes, business is OK, but I think we’ll just wait and see…” The embedded computer business tends to be a lagging indicator—which would tend to defy conventional logic. But perhaps this is good as we get a preview from other segments of the economy (granted the financial industry has to be considered a washout) of pending changes. What we now see is favorable; other areas are on the increase—orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a barometer of business equipment spending, rose by 2.6% in July, following a 1.3% increase in June. Overall durable goods posted an increase of 1.3% in July. And, other indicators are on the rise. Last month we mentioned that Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor and Samsung plan to move from 300 mm to 450 mm wafers, which Intel claims can reduce chip costs by as much as 40%. Other chip makers are going to be forced to move into the larger wafers in the immediate future to stay competitive. This will undoubtedly result in major capital expenditures in the semiconductor equipment sector, which is fed by embedded computer makers.

Chip Sales Increase, Lead by Asia

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) put together its numbers for July and overall chip sales gained 8%. The AsianPacific region rose 13% followed by Europe up 5.1% and America and Japan increasing only 2.8% each. Memory prices continued to fall keeping revenue gains low. The SIA said that personal computers account for 40% of the volume while cellular phones have a 20% share. Both continue to enjoy double-digit growth.

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September 2008

Of the companies reporting earnings, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chip maker by revenue, increased second-quarter net profit by 13%. The company claims net profit for the quarter was $28.77 billion New Taiwan dollars ($940 million U.S.). And, of the publically traded companies in the embedded computer market, Kontron reported strong growth in both sales and earnings. Quarterly sales reached €126.7 million and the company reported growth was as high as 25% on a currencyadjusted basis. This brings first half sales up 12% (23% when adjusted to reflect exchange-rate movements). Operating earnings were up 22.2% from the previous year while the EBIT margin climbed to 10.1%. Keep up the good work, Kontron. At the bottom line, the future for the embedded computer business appears rosy. The industry is at an inflection point where business is about to pick up. Now is not the time to retrench and “wait for things to change.” Now’s the time to be on the vanguard of the upswing in business and to get a step ahead of the competition with newer and better products, more and better promotion, and to show your company’s leadership. As we move into the fall and winter selling season—often the most active of the year—companies that are ready with the right products, recognized by their potential customers, and are prepared for the latest onslaught in business, will emerge the winners. Those that are “waiting to see” may well be left in the dark.

The Trend Goes On: Smaller, Faster and Power Stingy

Another strong indicator of the rebounding business in embedded computers is the growing number of applications surrounding the new generation of power-stingy processors. At the recent Intel Developers Forum, small was much the talk of the event focusing on Intel’s Atom family of processors. There are now more than 30 embedded computer processor modules available (many with different configurations available) in various standard and custom form factors. And there are more on the way. And as the number of products proliferate, so do the applications. Small computers are being embedded in any variety of products from portable Web-enabled medical devices to distributed processing systems for industrial control. Further, Via reports that its Pico-IXT board based on its C7 and Eden processors is at the heart of many new robotic systems from toys to military robotics. Of course, smaller, faster and more efficient embedded computer boards are a mixed blessing. They bring embedded computers


into a variety of new applications—and even enable some new applications—but in non-militarized configurations, often carry relatively low Average Selling Prices (ASPs). Combined with the increased competition of more vendors getting into the field, look for a greater emphasis on volume applications and marketing and promotion.

Connectors: Leading or Lagging Indicator

Longbow Research completed its survey of connector distributors and found July sales increased in the low-to-mid single digits, ~3%. It reports sales in Europe weak, North America flat, and most of the growth in Asia. Longbow says distributors remain optimistic and forecast the same growth for the next few months (Europe is expecting a slight decline in August). Lead times remain unchanged in the 8 to 10 week range. While the numbers themselves are not astounding, what is the implication for future growth of the industry? If one ventures to remember in the dot com bubble of the 2000/2001 era, connector manufacturers were stretched out and lead times were pushed out a couple of light years. When the bubble burst, there was a glut that pushed some connector makers to the brink of survival. The seemingly ordered growth now is by and large encouraging. As we get more information on types of connectors sold, we’ll keep you informed. And yet another consideration is that traditional parallel-bus systems are on the decline, and smaller SBCs and serial connected systems with smaller and less expensive connectors are taking over the industry. Any positive growth in connectors is a good sign.

Intel Looks to Boost Performance; Touts Embedded Market

At the recent Intel Developer’s Forum, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett unveiled what the company calls its “turbo” technology, which manages power in multicore processors. The technology is planned for the company’s next-generation processor, named Nehalem, which also includes an integrated memory controller— a technology that was pioneered by AMD. Along with the new turbo technology, Intel will change its brand somewhat to Core i7. An early four-processor model for desktop computers is expected before year end. An advanced version (Nehalem-EX) will include eight processors and is expected in the second half of 2009. Look for early acceptance of these processors in embedded platforms starting early 2009. In other Intel news, the company is providing first details of a new chip family for high-end graphics to compete with AMD and Nvidia. Code-named Larrabee, initial models of the chip will include from 12 to 48 processors. Intel’s chips are expected to take the field in late 2009 or early 2010. The number of processors in Intel’s Larrabee line sounds paltry compared with the 240 processors in Nvidia’s processor and 800 in AMD’s processor. AMD got into the graphics game with its purchase of ATI Technologies. And while we’re on Intel, the company has developed technology to remotely power-up personal computers over an Internet connection. Dubbed Remote Wake, the technology works only on forthcoming computers that use a recently introduced chip form Intel. Obviously, the technology has many potential applications for the embedded community from remote monitoring to security.

In a recent CNBC interview, Intel CFO Stacy Smith gratuitously mentioned the embedded market as a focus of Intel’s program. While Intel in the past has made passing mention of the embedded market, this is the first time I’ve witnessed a top Intel executive mention the embedded market in a national interview. Perhaps we do get some respect, Rodney.

In the News

Ford Motors Picks Team for Next-Generation Electronic Features Ford wants to step up efforts to give customers more hands-free features to add to their strategy with its SYNC system that integrates wireless phone service with music and GPS. The new 40-member team will address a variety of vehicle-connectivity issues. AMD Sells Digital TV Business AMD is selling its digital TV business to Broadcom. AMD’s new CEO, Dirk Meyer (See NV&C Aug. 2008), hopes the move will make the company “leaner and more focused.” With the group will go 530 AMD employees. U.S. Cell Phone Sales Down 13% According to research firm NPD Group, only 28 million cell phones were sold in the U.S. in the second quarter. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the ASPs were up resulting in only a 2% drop in revenue from a year ago. Way to go, iPhone. Cadence Drops Bid to Buy Mentor Mentor Graphics turned down a bid of $1.49 Billion from competitor Cadence—A 30% premium over the share price at the time of the announcement. Playing hard to get may not always work out. Look at Yahoo. Mentor shares dropped 26% after it told Cadence it wasn’t interested. AMAT Profit Plunges Applied materials reported a 65% drop in third-quarter profit. While the company only expects a revenue increase of 2% to 10% in the current quarter over last quarter, expectations beyond may be encouraging. Apparently the new 450 mm wafer equipment boon hasn’t begun. China Cell Phone Growth Now that the Olympics are over, manufacturers are taking a closer look at China. The cell phone industry is certainly among them. Right now, roughly half the population of China (some 600 million) has cell phones. That number is expected to grow by the millions, says Nokia chief Kallasvuo. India is no slouch either with some 250 million cell phones in service—some 24% of the population. Sony Boosts Battery Output Sony is spending $371 million to up its production of lithium-ion batteries. This is part of a drive to almost double the monthly output within two years. Let’s hope they can stay cool.

Warren Andrews Associate Publisher September 2008

65


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www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

Concurrent Technologies Plc..................................................................................21..................................................................................................... www.gocct.com congatec...............................................................................................................24................................................................................................www.congatec.com Data Device Corporation........................................................................................19................................................................................................. www.ddc-web.com

Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. ELMA Electronic Systems.......................................................................................35...................................................................................................... www.elma.com www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section. Eurotech...............................................................................................................25.................................................................................................... www.eurotech.it www.rtcmagazine.com/getconnected

Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc........................................................................45...................................................................................................www.xes-inc.com GE Fanuc Embedded Systems.................................................................................2.................................................................................. www.gefanucembedded.com Harting, Inc. EPT....................................................................................................59.............................................................................www.harting.com, www.ept.com Hybricon Corporation.............................................................................................42.................................................................................................www.hybricon.com Innovative Integration............................................................................................12........................................................................................www.innovative-dsp.com Interface Concept..................................................................................................20....................................................................................www.interfaceconcept.com Kontron America....................................................................................................68..................................................................................................www.kontron.com Magma.................................................................................................................37.................................................................................................. www.magma.com MEN Micro, Inc......................................................................................................30.............................................................................................. www.menmicro.com Micro/sys, Inc.......................................................................................................17........................................................................................ www.embeddedsys.com National Instruments..............................................................................................9............................................................................................................www.ni.com One Stop Systems.................................................................................................63.................................................................................... www.onestopsystems.com Orion Technologies,Inc...........................................................................................62............................................................................................www.otisolutions.com Pentair Electronic Packaging..................................................................................14.............................................................................................. www.pentair-ep.com Performance Technologies.....................................................................................13.......................................................................................................... www.pt.com Phoenix International.......................................................................................... 62,67.............................................................................................. www.phenxint.com Sensoray Company................................................................................................44................................................................................................www.sensoray.com TenAsys Corporation..............................................................................................29..................................................................................................www.tenasys.com Themis Computer..................................................................................................47................................................................................................... www.themis.com VadaTech..............................................................................................................15................................................................................................www.vadatech.com VersaLogic Corporation..........................................................................................33.............................................................................................. www.versalogic.com White Electronic Designs.......................................................................................31......................................................................................................www.wedc.com

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

66

September 2008


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At Kontron, we hear you loud and clear. We draw from an expanding portfolio of GbE and 10GbE ATCA platform elements, AMC processor, storage and I/O modules, plus extensive integration services of thirdparty hardware along with carrier-grade OS and HA middleware. Talk today with a Kontron system architect to help you from start to finish, and experience firsthand why seeing your application go to market quickly is important to us. Now that’s flexible.

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