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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

April 2009

ENGINEERING: Fertile Ground for Embedded

Small but Mighty Form Factors Gain Ground Plug and Play COM Spec Eases I/O Woes LPC—The Bus that Wouldn’t (and Shouldn’t) Die An RTC Group Publication

A 1GHz Fanless Industrial SBC of EPIC Proportions The EPX-855 is a rugged single board computer that provides an open powerful platform for industrial applications. It has a wealth of onboard I/O plus expansion options. Also it supports Linux, Windows® XP embedded, and other x86 real-time operating systems. • Intel® 1GHz CPU (fanless) or optional 1.8GHz Pentium® M • Intel® Extreme Graphics 2 technology supports CRT and LVDS flat panels simultaneously with dual independent display and resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 • 802.11a/b/g wireless support • Custom splash screen on start up • Two Ethernet ports; one Gigabit and one 10/100Mbps • CompactFlash (CF) card supported • Four serial COM ports, four USB 2.0 ports, 24 bi-directional TTL digital I/O lines, and two UDMA IDE ports • Bi-directional LPT port, keyboard controller, FDC, and AC97 audio • PC/104 and PC/104-Plus Bus expansion • EPIC sized 4.5" x 6.5" and RoHS compliant • +5V only operation • -40°C to +70°C operational temperature range • Responsive and knowledgeable technical support • Long-term product availability • Quick Start Kits offered for easy software development Contact us for additional information or OEM pricing. Our helpful and knowledgeable factory application engineers look forward to working with you.

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Fertile Ground for Embedded

Cover Art: “Energy Plant” courtesy of Aleksandar Rodic´

40 LED Assemblies Offer Custom Brightness Options

42 1U Networking Appliance Supports Core 2 Duo, Q35 Chipset and 10 x GbE


46 USB Module Aids Connectivity for RS-232-Based Apps

APRIL 2009


Technology in Context

Industry Insight

Green Engineering

The LPC Bus

Engineering Offers Huge LPC Bus—Legacy Lives On 6Editorial 12 Green Confused or Liberated? Take Your Pick Opportunities for Embedded 30 Systems Industry Insider 8Latest Developments in the Embedded SYSTEM INTEGRATION Measure It - Fix It: Go Green by Marketplace 16 Improving Inefficient Products and Small Form Factor Developments Processes Form Factor Forum Small but Mighty: Small Form 10Small The Embedded Smart Car: USB Factors Gaining Ground 34 Machine-to-Machine Products & Technology Monitor 20 Communications Embedded Technology Used by 38Newest Environmental Impact Industry Leaders Robert Burckle, Winsystems and Jeff Munch, ADLINK

Tom Williams

Irene Bearly, National Instruments

Christine Van De Graaf and David Pursley, Kontron


Alex Brisbourne, KORE Telematics

News, Views & Comment A View from the Height

Solutions Engineering Powering Up COM I/O Boards

Scores a Victory with Plug and Play COM Spec 24 Interoperability Arnold Estep, ADLINK

Digital Subscriptions Avaliable at

April 2009


APRIL 2009 Publisher

Embedded Super Power #102:

PRESIDENT John Reardon, johnr@r EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Warren Andrews, warrena@r

Super Small Board size: 1.85” x 1.75”

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

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


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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, 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

Made in the USA Single Board Computers • Microcontrollers • I/O Boards PC/104 • EPIC • StackableUSBTM and more Contact us at 818-244-4600 or online.


Untitled-1 1

April 2009

3/20/09 10:44:41 AM

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.

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APRIL 2009

Confused or Liberated? Take Your Pick by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


alking the floor of the recent Embedded World show in Nuremberg, Germany, one was immediately struck by the vast number of small form factor computer modules on display. The advent of the Intel Atom and the VIA Nano families of processors has unleashed a firestorm of innovation and imitation among competing manufacturers. There were scads of established standards such as COM Express modules, newer emerging standards such as Pico-ITX and Qseven along with a large number of proprietary form factors featuring their own connectors and signal definitions. Once again, this is evidence of profusion before the culling— the eruption of enthusiastic bidding for recognition and acceptance by the market before that market dons its black hood and selects those who will survive and those who will be returned to the humus of the Earth. The enthusiasm is understandable because these new computationally powerful yet extremely lowpower processors indicate that highly intelligent control can be embedded in ever smaller, ever more mobile applications, vastly multiplying the number of modules that can be sold, which results in cold cash in the till. One of the challenges has been to optimize cost by finding the sweet spot for implementing the I/O, especially for applications with highly specialized I/O requirements. That was actually the rationale for the development of COM modules as opposed to single board computers (SBCs)—to separate the processor, which can be frequently upgraded, from the uniquely designed I/O subsystem, which is specific to the application and much less likely to be modified over time. Now the decision to go with a COM or an SBC depends very much on I/O requirements along with cost and volume considerations. That, however, appears about to change. We are beginning to see the emergence of small form factor modules that can play the role of either COM or SBC, or which can be designed to be either on the same size board. Consider the recently developed Pico-ITX form factor. On a 100 x 70 mm board you find the Atom or VIA processor and memory along with a connection for external power and I/O that includes USB ports, graphics and Ethernet interfaces among others. There are also pin headers for


April 2009

storage, etc. It is to date the smallest x86 SBC form factor. But now we are seeing the appearance of the Pico-ITXe, which leaves off a number of I/O connectors but preserves the interfaces with pin headers and now incorporates the new SUMIT connectors, which give it the ability to plug into a stackable system with a specialized I/O card. Yet it still retains the properties of an SBC and can also act as a COM. A similar yet even more legacy-free approach is being taken in the new Industry Standard Module (ISM) specification coming out of the Small Form Factor SIG. This standard specifies basically the size of the board and the location of the mounting screw holes. It can be designed as a COM using the SUMIT connectors. In fact the first incarnation is called SUMIT-ISM. But a board built to the ISM spec is free to use only the SUMIT connectors, in which case it is a pure COM module. Or it can also include pin headers on board for other I/O, such as IDE, Ethernet, GPIO, etc., in which case by including an external power connector it becomes a hybrid SBC/COM. One could also imagine the same form factor supporting a pure SBC design. In the latter case, though, it would be easier to go with a PC/104 approach because the ISM’s 90 x 96 mm size is the same as PC/104. What we no longer find in any of these implementations is a bus—no IDE or PCI. If you want to add modules, the serial interfaces in the SUMIT technology are available. If this seems a bit confusing, it is also very liberating for manufacturer and OEM alike. The same small form factor can fit into a vast array of small, general-purpose applications or into very small systems with special I/O needs. There appears to be a movement for manufacturers to seek partnerships with specialized design houses that can address the customer’s specific I/O needs while the vendor concentrates on the COM or SBC design most suited to those needs. Here’s the best part—we’re not done, not by a long shot. Intel is expected to roll out its 32nm process technology sometime later in the year, a matter that is shrouded in secrecy. Will that lead to another round of smaller, even lower-power form factors? Time will tell and it will be an exciting time to be sure.

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IndustryInsider APRIL 2009

Embedded COTS Vendors Issue Joint Statement on Open Standards Model and VSO Several leading COTS embedded board, subsystem and backplane and enclosure vendors, including Curtiss-Wright Controls, Elma Electronic, Carlo Gavazzi and X-ES Inc. have issued a joint statement of support for the proven open standard approach to the development of bus and board system architectures. The companies wish to reiterate and reinforce the importance of maintaining the integrity and openness of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO), an arm of the trade association of which each of the companies is a member. The companies jointly issued the following statement: “The cooperative work of the members of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO) resulted in the creation and evolution of VME, for over 25 years the de facto board architecture of choice for the aerospace and defense market, and, more recently, VPX (VITA 46/48), a higher performance, more flexible enhancement to VME. The spirit of ‘coopetition’ and openness that brought VSO’s members, including competing vendors and users, together for the common good of the industry reflects and embodies the standards body’s basic principles that ensure fairness, inclusion and consensus for all participants. These principles have fostered and guided the success of VITA since its inception in 1984, then under the stewardship of VITA’s founding director Lyman C. Hevle, and the VSO, one of the electronics industry’s most respected standards body, since its formation in 1993. “We recognize the importance of defining an open specification for system-level VPX interoperability, but we also believe that this work is best done within the existing, proven model of the VSO Working Group system. The open forum provided by VITA is the right and best place for the industry to cooperatively develop the critical new VPX initiatives destined for use by important customers such as the U.S. military. “We recommend the formation of a VSO Working Group on VPX interoperability for VITA 46 (VPX) to help resolve issues and speed the development of a common VPX backplane architecture while ensuring that no single company or selective group of companies is able to exert undo influence on the specification and unfairly benefit from the cooperative work of all the member companies who have contributed resources and efforts over many years to the standard’s development.” The VSO’s fundamental principle, as stated on VITA’s Web site is: “Within the VSO no one individual holds the power to decide what technology may become a standard—that power belongs solely to the membership.” The joint statement above is made in the spirit of this principle.

BittWare Adopts VITA 57 FPGA Mezzanine Card Standard

BittWare has announced it has adopted the VITA 57 FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) standard on their new “S4” family of boardlevel signal processing solutions. FMC provides an industry standard for expanding processing or I/O via mezzanine cards that connect to FPGA(s) on the carrier card. Electrically, the FMC connector supports high-speed serial (SerDes) ports, LVDS, clocks and single ended signaling, providing a wide range of options and flexibility to the user.


April 2009

Similarly, the mechanical format of the FMC supports a variety of standard carrier board formats including AdvancedMC (AMC), VME, VXS and VPX, and can be air-cooled or conduction-cooled. The addition of an FMC site on BittWare’s S4 family of FPGA boards, based on Altera Corporation’s 40nm Stratix IV FPGAs, allows customers to support an extremely broad range of applications simply by adding specific I/O or processing via various FMCs. Coupled with BittWare’s ATLANTiS FrameWork (AFW) for FPGAs, the FMCs also fa-

cilitate design reuse of FPGA implementations that will decrease time-to-market, while also lowering costs across multiple programs. In addition to supporting VITA 57 on their S4 family of signal processing hardware, BittWare will also be releasing their own family of FMCs for I/O and processing expansion. At the heart of the S4 family of signal processing hardware is an Altera Stratix IV GX FPGA, which provides unparalleled performance and flexibility. Each onboard FPGA supports 530K equivalent logic elements, 20.3 Mbits of RAM and 1,024

embedded multipliers. Onboard connections to the FPGA also provide up to 27 full-duplex, multi-gigabit transceivers—24 of which support data rate speeds of 8.5 Gbits/s. The FPGA supports a number of protocols, including PCI Express Gen1 and Gen2 and Serial RapidIO.

CP-TA Releases New Standard Interoperability Guidelines for ATCA

The Communications Platforms Trade Association (CPTA), an association of communications platform and building block providers, has announced the release of its new interoperability documents, the Interoperability Compliance Document (ICD) 3.0 and the Test Procedure Manual (TPM) 3.0. The documents outline industry-standard interoperability criteria and testing procedures for AdvancedTCA (ATCA) building blocks. The new versions are mapped directly to the PICMG 3.0 Revision 3.0 ATCA Base Specification, which was completed last year. CP-TA completed a proofof-concept demonstration using the TPM and ICD documents and corresponding test tools to integrate building blocks for an IPTV system in one-quarter the time it took to integrate non-tested building blocks for the same system configuration. Among the many enhancements, the documents have been simplified to structure test procedures on a one-to-one basis directly with the structure of the PICMG 3.0 Revision 3.0 specification. Additionally, requirements that are not found in the governing specification have been removed, and several requirements that were previously ambiguous have been clarified. The included mandatory test cases will help system integrators identify what they must

Industry Insider do in order to pass an integration project for interoperability. Each test procedure is described in detail and mapped with the requirement numbers in the PICMG specification.

Machine Vision to Increase Productivity and Lower Costs of Solar Cells

Dalsa Corporation, which specializes in machine vision technology, has announced its entrance into the solar cell inspection market. The company’s experience in area scan, line scan and embedded processing for inspection in the flat-panel display industry are now being applied to solar cell inspection, resulting in high-quality, yet cost-effective inspection capabilities for the solar cell industry. Machine vision is used for three general purposes by solar cell manufacturers: product inspection, identification and tracking, and lastly, product assembly. Dalsa’s cameras and hardware are used in the initial part of the quality inspection process to verify patterns and edges, inspect coatings and to check for micro-cracks. The precision of the image capture and processing technology contributes to the immediate and accurate detection of defects in this critical stage of the manufacturing process. Solar cell manufacturers are under pressure to drive down costs in order to achieve “grid parity,” the point at which the cost of solar energy is roughly equivalent to the cost of conventional power distributed on electric grids. Analysts forecast that this may occur in 2011 as module prices continue to drop. Dalsa’s new capabilities in line scan, area scan and embedded processing include time delay integration (TDI) technology that is accurate in identifying defects and efficient in delivering fast im-

age capture (110 KHz), resulting in improved yields and reduced costs. In addition, CMOS sensor technology enables 62 frames per second with 4 megapixel resolution, for greater system throughput along with a higher resolution with a camera that allows image capture of a solar cell down to 40um with one shot by utilizing its 22 megapixels, with low dark current, low noise and higher dynamic range than any competitive product.

RTS and RadiSys Partner on Integration of Real-Time Hypervisor for Multicore

RadiSys and Real-Time Systems have entered into an OEM agreement under which they will jointly develop and integrate solutions for RadiSys embedded system products using Real-Time Systems’ Hypervisor, which will be used to improve performance supporting Microware OS-9 as well as other RTOSs and Linux and Windows XP. The RTS Hypervisor leverages Intel’s Virtualization Technology (VT) by partitioning processor resources—core, memory and I/O devices into what amount to individual, independent computers on a single multicore device. The RTC Hypervisor concentrates on reducing system overhead to maintain real-time performance of the RTOS running on one core while Windows XP or Linux run on another core in parallel. The Hypervisor also facilitates data communication between the two OSs without compromising the real-time performance of the RTOS. It is also possible to execute multiple copies of the same or different operating systems, such as multiple copies of an RTOS along with a single copy of a general-purpose operating system, depending on the number of cores available.

RTI and Tresys Partner to Enable Highly Secure Data Distribution

Real-Time Innovations (RTI) and Tresys Technology have announced a partnership to offer integrated technologies and services for incorporating security into high-performance distributed applications. The partnership implements a reference security policy to demonstrate using Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) to protect distributed applications that use RTI Data Distribution Service for integration or inter-process communication. Due to the unique and highly customized nature of distributed architectures, the companies have combined their expertise to offer a joint Security Architecture Assessment for tailoring the profile to specific system requirements. The joint Security Architecture Assessment extends both companies’ prior, independent offerings. Tresys provides strategic guidance to assist system architects, developers and integrators in choosing and applying the latest security technologies. Similarly, RTI offers an architecture study that provides a RTI expert that works with the development team to identify its application requirements and use cases, then helps design a suitable architecture to best meet the objectives and performance requirements of the distributed system. The new combined service addresses the design of distributed real-time systems with security technology designed from the start.

by VDC Research Group. Growth of the merchant AMC board market is projected to be relatively flat through 2010, before significant growth is expected in 2011 and 2012. In the report, VDC identifies that so far AMC board shipments have been driven primarily by the consumption of AMC boards as mezzanines in ATCA systems. The development of the MicroTCA market—the original proposed driver of AMC—is projected to be delayed by the current global recession. However, it is expected that the MicroTCA market will grow at a healthy clip following the downturn, with significant revenue shipments of MicroTCA systems being achieved in the 2011-2012 timeframe. At that time it is projected that a significant portion of the AMC board consumption will be as blades in MicroTCA systems. The study also revealed that although significant volume growth was not expected in 2009, evaluation activity—including OEMs analyzing AMC displacement of existing merchant and custom solutions in a number of applications—was picking up. Indeed, 2009 evaluation and pilot performance may be a material indicator of 2010 and 2011 shipment revenue.

AMC Boards Driven by ATCA Today, MicroTCA in 2011

Merchant AMC boards revenues are expected to nearly double during the next three years according to a recent research report released on the xTCA market April 2009



The Embedded Smart Car: USB


ne of my favorite possessions is my 1997 Firebird TransAm. It is red and very fast with a big V8, a six speed, racing tires and heavy-duty suspension. When the T-top is open, you can accelerate into third and hear the gas guzzling into the cylinders while simultaneously feeling the wind pulling back your face and hair. But now it sits in my garage because it is impractical to drive with its 10-miles-per-gallon appetite. Although I can’t bear to part with it, I ponder its future in a world of “smart cars.” I am struck by the parallel between this TransAm and today’s design of industrial control systems. It has been the tendency when designing industrial control systems to include all the bells and whistles from LCDs to desk-top software to unlimited power running 24/7. Going forward, it is difficult to justify this powergreedy, dedicated single-board PC for tasks such as controlling a few lines of digital I/O, measuring some A/D or doing some data logging. Once the total cost of initial hardware plus operating expenses for a year is calculated, it becomes clear that this is not viable either financially or environmentally. More importantly, technology has progressed to the point where there are so many more choices for elegant and efficient ways to implement control systems, that the “muscle-car” approach to embedded systems is becoming less relevant. Enter the ubiquitous USB. USB is a serial communication channel stacked with market advantages including multiple channels per CPU chip set, comparable or faster speeds than the old blue collar PC/104 ISA bus, availability in Host or Device mode, and support on x86 platforms, ARMs and microcontrollers. By itself this doesn’t necessarily save energy or ease system designs, but what it does do is act as an enabler to reach such a goal, rather like the smaller cars inching their way into the market at a time when gas shortages are forcing fuel prices up and long lines are making small cars attractive. At the same time USB is making deep inroads into systems everywhere, another phenomenon is taking place: cheap processor intelligence is being built into virtually every controller chip released today. This runs the gamut from sensors to communication chips to A/D and D/A chips to power chips to microcontrollers. Compare this to just a few years back when nothing had built-in


April 2009

intelligence and “bit banging” was the term of the day. A 12” x 12” controller board has been shrunk into a single chip solution with USB, I2C, or SPI output! These chips are ready to roll. Remember how smaller engines made compact cars more viable? And perhaps more important than all of these hardware advancements is the growing number of software options available to system designers today. Not surprisingly, USB support is included in an overwhelming number of them. So, gone are the days when DOS was the only inexpensive OS for an embedded system, thereby mandating an x86 platform. Today, there are ample software platforms supporting USB for ARMs and microcontrollers as well as traditional PC-based systems. The accompanying development tool chains are readily available, often free to download and certainly easier to use. This trend results in more and more simple device-side I/O controllers outputting USB, I2C, or SPI, while the Host is operating under another OS altogether. Distributed control, which was once the more complicated option, is becoming easier than shoehorning control onto single board computers that need complicated, custom drivers for each operating system to make applications run. So, if we pause a moment, step back from our current project and look at the big picture, it takes only a couple of moments to realize we are on the brink of some radical changes in the implementation of traditionally blue collar control system or PC/104type embedded system. The impetus to change or upgrade legacy systems will be driven not from a need for additional performance, but rather from a need to reduce operating costs and conserve energy, which is possible when we maximize the newer, more efficient technology that is at our fingertips. These are exciting times. Are we ready to head down this road? You bet we are. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

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Technology I n C onte x t

Green Engineering

Green Engineering Offers Huge Opportunities for Embedded Systems Technology has brought the energy consumption of computer systems down dramatically. Now it is time to apply computer intelligence to reducing the world’s energy consumption and its effects on the environment.

by T om Williams, Editor-in-Chief


n incredibly vast amount of the power that is produced worldwide is simply wasted, dissipated as heat, gone. At the same time the emissions from the fuels that created that wasted energy are dissipated into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, which worsen global warming. Energy waste happens at the macro level at power plants and over longdistance transmission lines as well as at the micro level in millions of individual appliances and devices. The vast majority of systems and devices that consume energy today also contain embedded processors for control, monitoring and network communications. This presents a huge opportunity for the engineers and programmers who understand these devices to make them more energy efficient by applying the same engineering disciplines used to develop them in the first place. The real challenge and the real opportunities lie in using this computing power to improve energy savings outside the information and communications industries in areas including industrial manufacturing, transportation systems, building automation for retrofit and design, power and energy management and more. Industrial


April 2009

Figure 1

The largest amount of power used in factories is for running electric motors. Many machines consist of multiple motors of different power capacities, all of which can benefit from intelligent control.

activity alone is responsible for some 23 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—and that is beyond the contribution of the power plants that gener-

ate the electricity used by industry, which uses nearly half the electrical power generated globally. There is much to do and now we have the means to do it.

Technology In Context

Green is not just a term for use by environmental activists. It is also the color of money. It directly affects the bottom line. What CEO would object to running his company’s operations and even expanding them while using and paying for less electricity? Who would oppose making better use of engineering and human resources and improving not only the automated systems, but also the overall production process by automating operations around a common computing architecture that reached from the corporate servers to the sensors and actuators on the factory floor? And if that had the added benefit of reducing emissions in the face of government restrictions that are surely on their way, the payoff would be even greater. But for real, raw energy savings in the manufacturing environment, we need to address the use of electric motors. While industrial activity uses nearly half the power generated globally, industrial motor systems consume about 65% of the electricity used in factories, making them directly responsible for 7% of global emissions and representing a huge portion of the expenses for the manufacturing process.

Managing Motors

Most motor systems simply turn on and off and run at the speed and torque they were designed for. However, applications have varying needs and while a minority may be fine with a dumb motor, most could take advantage of intelligent control to match the speed and torque of the motor to the load at any given time. There are also issues with inrush current when a motor starts up because it draws a lot of current to get going. For applications that require motors to frequently start and stop, this can amount to a huge waste of power. Dumb motors that simply churn out a constant power output are often matched to the needs of their applications by mechanical means such as gears and belts resulting in further huge wastes of power. One approach has been the variable speed drive (VSD), a motor controller that holds a motor’s velocity signal to a selected range based on a function of voltage, temperature and load changes. Two types are available: an open loop control that simply sets the speed and relies on the motor’s in-

limit the current inrush on start-up, which is often a significant spike in current, letting the motor ramp up more slowly to the desired speed and torque, and directly affecting the bottom line on the power bill. In fact some estimates find that properly sized motors (many are larger than needed because designers overcompensate) with proper intelligent control, along with improved gears, drives, bearings, lubricants, etc., could use 60% less energy.

Transportation: Can Do with Electric Cars

Figure 2

Solar panels are becoming less expensive and more efficient. They will connect to the Smart Grid from many decentralized locations and both put power onto the grid as well as pull it off.

ternal regulation, and a more intelligent closed loop control that measures the motor’s speed and adjusts it to the set value. Most VSDs are external boxes that attach to the motor and operate in the range of 75 to 750 watts. But with advances in smaller, low-power CPUs, the path is being opened for integration into even smaller motors (as well as larger ones) and the incorporation of additional intelligence for even more efficient operation. This represents a growing opportunity for implementing control using embedded intelligence, which offers even more possibilities in that an intelligent motor controller can dynamically monitor the motor’s load as the load changes and calculate the amount of power needed at any given time, and adjust the power accordingly. This fine-grained control not only greatly reduces the overall amount of electricity used; it also can increase the life span of a motor by reducing maintenance requirements and—not insignificantly—reducing the carbon footprint of the motor. That same embedded computing power can also be applied to cases where a motor does not need to start up at full voltage and torque. Intelligent controls can

The next generation of green vehicles will also heavily rely on embedded intelligence—not only for their internal operations, but also in terms of the infrastructure that will support them. The coming wave of pluggable hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles will interact with the Smart Grid and with intelligent networks of charging stations and battery exchange facilities, all of which will be automated. When a pluggable vehicle, be it PHEV or full electric, connects to a charging station, that station must identify the vehicle by means of an RFID chip for billing purposes and transmit the data to a central location. Intelligence on board the vehicle must not only control the interaction between gasoline and electric motor and/or control the electric motor; it must also monitor available energy and be able to locate a charging station or a battery exchange station via a GPS system and alert the driver. Work is now underway in Denmark and Israel—supported by government funds and tax incentives—to install a nationwide infrastructure for the use of allelectric vehicles. The system consists of intelligent charging stations and battery exchange stations. For vehicles with replaceable batteries, the exchange stations are a network of bays that the driver can pull into, have his car identified, and where a robot arm will replace the car’s battery with a fully charged one in less time than it takes to fill a tank with liquid fuel. Such a system will have its own complement of embedded intelligence, but will also have to interact with the overall electrical power grid. More recently, projects driven by the Israeli-based Better Place company have been started in cooperation with governApril 2009


Technology In Context

Figure 3 Wind generators are a source of decentralized renewable energy and are also embedded systems in their own right. Sensors and controls are needed to monitor voltage, current and rotation velocity while also reducing dynamic stress on blades, axel, rotors and gearbox.

ments in Australia, local governments in the San Francisco Bay area and the Province of Ontario in Canada.

Green Buildings: Big Savings and Better Living

Commercial and residential buildings are major conduits for venting energy into space in the process of providing shelter, warmth and comfort. In 2020, the world will emit some 11.7 billion tons of CO2 amounting to about $340 billion because of inefficient buildings. The losses are


April 2009

due to leaks in window and door seals, faulty insulation and poor window design to name a few causes. But they also result from inefficient energy usage in terms of heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting and water heating. In the U.S. the Green Building Council has established a building rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs (LEED) to rate new building construction and existing building retrofit for energy usage and environmental quality. The LEED system specifies certification criteria for site sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and for indoor environmental quality. While a number of these can be addressed in the building’s design and construction, an important part of the criteria concerns the building’s energy systems. As in so many other green applications, optimization of energy usage in buildings requires accurate distributed sensing and control in the form of a building management system (BMS). Another part of the criteria actually evaluates the controllability of the systems used to monitor and control lighting and thermal comfort With a BMS, for example, it is possible to set up multiple policies for lighting control based on the types and usage of different rooms. Sensors can detect if the rooms are occupied and when not, shut off the lighting. A combination of temperature and CO2 sensors makes it possible to adjust the heating or cooling and optimize the airflow for maximum comfort with minimal expenditure of energy. For optimizing ventilation, software in the BMS must be able to work with controllers for the efficient speed control of pumps and fans. Once again, we see how the importance of intelligent motor control plays a central role in the reduction of electricity consumption in so many diverse applications. A BMS must be able to deal with switching large loads in big facilities as well as having the ability to interface with legacy sensors and devices in the case of a building retrofit. Networking capabilities must span the IP network, wireless networks and the ability to interface with field buses, as we saw in the scenario of the factory.

Power Management—the Roots of Green

While a great deal of savings can be realized in terms of how energy is used and consumed, even greater potentials lie in how it is produced and distributed. Production and consumption cannot really be separated. They are interconnected and optimizing them both is required to reduce emissions and the waste of electricity in the realization of the Smart Grid. The goal is to make the grid more reliable, more “visible,” more efficient and more interactive to accommodate the new sources of renewable energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal, that will be coming online in the near future. Department of Energy estimates show that a mere 5% increase in overall efficiency of the country’s power distribution systems would be the equivalent of eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions of 53 million cars. Among the attributes of the Smart Grid are that it will be more interactive in terms of two-way communication and that it will be more visible, allowing operators to easily view problems and outages and oversee usage to respond more quickly to changes in demand. One of the attributes of the Smart Grid will be the development of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) whereby meters will measure and record usage data at a minimum in hourly intervals. This data will be available to both the utility and to customers at least once a day. Another feature that is starting to appear already is automated meter reading (AMR) where meters are networked, often using the wireless ZigBee protocol to send usage data to the utility for billing, eliminating the need for meter readers to visit customer sites each month. The existence of the AMI will make it possible for customers to manage their usage by taking advantage of the timeof-use pricing, i.e., lower prices for offpeak usage, to set smart appliances such as dishwashers, washers and driers to operate when they receive the signals over the power line from the utility that the rates are at the pre-programmed level. Smart appliances, of course, will be equipped with microprocessor-based

Technology In Context

modules to allow them to communicate with and manage their usage of the Smart Grid. The open, two-way architecture that enables the AMI will also empower grid operators to use visualization technology for real-time load monitoring and response to shifting demands. One prototype management system, under development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, integrates real-time sensor data, weather information and grid modeling with geographical data so that an operator can view the grid layered on top of Google Earth from the national level on down to the street level to pinpoint problems and gain insight into operations. As the grid becomes more intelligent and as more sources of renewable energy become available, it also becomes more decentralized. One of the major areas of power loss is transmission over long distances from power plants to substations and on to consumers. The increased use of solar arrays, wind generators and other renewable resources require that they be easily integrated into the intelligent grid. As solar panels spread among the rooftops of both residential and commercial buildings, they will be taking power off the grid when needed and pushing power back onto the grid (“running the meter backwards�) when they are producing more than is being used at that location. This requires the use of intelligent grid tie inverters. A grid tie inverter works like a normal inverter in that it chops up the DC voltage into a square wave and then smoothes it into a sine wave to produce AC voltage. The grid tie inverter does this, but also has the intelligence to match its frequency to the phase of the grid. It also adjusts its voltage to be slightly higher than that of the grid so that it can make its current flow onto the grid when needed. Grid tie inverters use an embedded computer to sense the grid’s AC waveform and match it as well as to set their output voltage to work with the grid. Wind generators, like solar arrays, will also increasingly connect to the Smart Grid from decentralized locations and from locations that may not be fore-

seen from a long-term planning perspective. They therefore also need this match of intelligence to the grid to be able to connect cleanly. They will require the familiar intelligent control of output voltage and current and matching their AC to the phase of the grid. The new generation of green energy will save consumers and industry enormous amounts of money and at the same

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time contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases that are the major source of accelerating climate change. Indispensible to this effort is the integration of embedded monitoring and control for what can be a huge environmental and economic opportunity.

April2/17/09 2009


4:47:07 PM

Technology I n C onte x t

ploration your goal k directly age, the source. ology, d products

Green Engineering

Measure It - Fix It: Go Green by Improving Inefficient Products and Processes Producing clean energy and using energy cleanly are big parts of improving the environment. Both can be achieved by using sound engineering methods and tools for benefits that are green both in terms of money and of the planet.

by Irene Bearly National Instruments


ver the past several years, the cause of all things “green� has gained incredible momentum. From celebrity endorsements to political campaigns to company slogans, reducing environmental impact and energy consumption has become a rallying point that has captured the attention of individuals, businesses and governments. To address these concerns and adhere to government regulations, entire industries nies providing now are rushing to create difandsolutions organizations ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest ferentiated technologies and optimize their ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you existing processes, all while maintaining you require for whatever type of technology, andfor.sustainability. and productsprofitability you are searching Engineers and scientists worldwide are leading the charge to address this issue, for they have the unique opportunity to make a bigger impact on the environment than any government policy. Green engineering proFigure 1 DELTA uses microphones with a secondary wind shield to conduct vides the tools, techniques and technoloacoustic testing of wind turbines. gies needed to tackle these challenges. Engineers who want to design devices that reduce power usage and emissions, cre- investigate the state of the global ecosystem While all things environmental are ate viable renewable energy technologies, and need green engineering. Green engineering the focus today, green engineering funis the use of measurement and control tech- damentally possesses the same building niques to design, develop and improve prod- blocks as other types of engineering inGet Connected ucts, technologies and processes that result in novation. First, designers must correctly with companies mentioned in this article. environmental and economic benefits. evaluate the problem by measuring its

End of Article


April 2009 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

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Technology In Context

considers monitoring power quality, retrofitting and automating existing manufacturing plants, and designing new high-performance machines. These businesses can all benefit and better compete in the global economy by implementing more efficient, optimized systems and technologies. The following case studies demonstrate green engineering in the application areas of renewable wind energy generation and energy consumption optimization in commercial and industrial air-conditioning systems.

Renewable Power Generation

Figure 2

CEMS Engineering has optimized energy usage in large commercial and industrial centralized air-conditioning systems by measuring surrounding conditions and implementing advanced control algorithms.

real-world behavior. Armed with the data, designers can achieve the desired solution by improving system components or creating the next generation of products. In other words, measure it and fix it. Common measurements used in green engineering include power quality and consumption; vehicle and factory emissions, such as mercury and nitrogen oxides; and environmental parameters, including carbon, temperature and water quality.

Opportunities and Key Technologies

For those considering joining the green dream, two pointed questions appear at the top of their minds: is today’s technology viable enough to make an impact, and is this really a sustainable business opportunity? The good news is that many engineers have traveled down this path before. In addition, significant innovations in measurement, automation and design tools have made the technology components for green engineering not only easier to use, but also cheaper to acquire than before. Key technologies that enable green engineering include: • High-speed and high-resolution measurements


April 2009

• Domain-specific analysis libraries • FPGAs for advanced control • Graphical programming to measure and implement control Some of these new technologies have resulted from the growth in the semiconductor business, which has led both to advances in the capabilities of analog-to-digital converters as well as decreased costs from the mass adoption of consumer electronics. Furthermore, new enhancements to existing design and engineering tools, such as graphical programming, have made them more accessible to domain experts rather than solely technology experts. By shifting the necessary technology directly into the hands of those who are closest to the problems, solutions can be implemented more quickly and more effectively than in the past. Green engineering solutions span almost every market, ranging from the rapid advancement of environmentally friendly products, to the study of climate changes, to the development of sustainable renewable energy such as wind power and biofuels. Industrial applications, traditionally viewed as environmentally unfriendly, are also ideal for green engineering when one

Renewable power generation covers a wide range of technologies, including wind, solar (photovoltaic and thermal), biomass, geothermal, hydro, wave and even highenergy physics. Research and development in these areas are exploding around the world, driven by energy prices, government legislation and incentives for commercialization. More than 50 countries from a wide variety of political, geographical and economic backgrounds have set aggressive targets for the amount of energy generated from renewable sources (Table 1). The latest global status reports state that clean energy technology supplies approximately 5 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. With government mandates of up to 60 percent and deadlines as early as 2010, engineers and scientists are rising to meet this daunting challenge at a worldwide scope, with an increasingly focused drive these recent years. Wind energy is one of the fastest emerging areas, growing at a rate of 30 percent each year with an installation of more than 100 gigawatts. However, this industry has several key challenges to conquer before gaining acceptance as a mainstream energy supplier. For example, wind turbine manufacturers must scale up difficult processes to meet the increasing demand, such as automating manufacturing and test systems for components such as blades, generators and gearboxes. Plus, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations of the wind turbine’s mechanical and electrical properties are used to predict its behavior during variable wind conditions, and advanced control systems running the pitch/yaw drives help maintain a constant rotating speed while reducing damage

Technology In Context

on the turbine components during high winds. Then, during the actual execution of the wind turbine, all types of sensors, signal processing and data analysis are also needed to perform machine condition monitoring, power quality monitoring and structural health monitoring. One factor out of the many involved in designing and implementing these large wind turbines involves minimizing their acoustic emissions to comply with the government noise standards. Engineers must optimize the wind farm layout while factoring in meteorological conditions and terrain to minimize the noise impact on the surrounding community. DELTA, located in Hørsholm, Denmark, has developed a custom measurement system for wind turbine noise testing to help engineers design wind farms by supplying data for predictions (Figure 1). This system uses a National Instruments (NI) PXI system with dynamic signal acquisition modules to acquire acoustic data from a microphone at the required frequencies. The tests call for measurements of sound power level, one-third octave band levels, and tonality at wind speeds from 6 to 10 m/s. DELTA also developed their noiseLAB software using NI LabVIEW graphical programming, which allows for monitoring of the measurement data in real time and then provides a preliminary analysis immediately after the acquisition. All data is stored with high resolution, thus facilitating supplementary analyses.

Machine and Process Optimization

In the industrial and automation world, most applications are solved with traditional tools such as simple low-cost PLCs. However, systems are growing in complexity as engineers look for additional ways to optimize control and reduce wasted resources. These applications relentlessly push the capabilities of traditional systems, requiring higher loop rates, advanced control algorithms, more analog capabilities and better integration with the enterprise network. Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs) were introduced to meet these measurement and control needs, combining the powerful functionality of a PC with the ruggedness and reliability of a PLC.

Renewable Energy Goal (as a Percent of Total Energy)

Target Year

United Kingdom















European Union




Table 1

Renewable energy goals set by various governments around the world.

In their “Programmable Logic Controllers Worldwide Outlook” study, Automation Research Corporation (ARC) identified five main PAC features, characterizing the functionality of the controller by defining the software capabilities. Because PACs are designed for more advanced applications, the software platform should have multi-domain functionality capable of combining motion, process, control and communication functions in the same logic environment. These functions should be seamlessly integrated into a single package, instead of existing as disparate software tools that work poorly with each other. Furthermore, since all industrial applications require significant customization, the open and modular architecture of PAC hardware and software allows engineers to pick and choose the appropriate components for their design. To help simplify the system design, the use of high-level graphical development tools allows for easy translation between the engineer’s concept of the process into code that actually controls the machines. To address the needs of custom industrial applications, National Instruments offers a family of PAC deployment platforms combined with the LabVIEW graphical programming environment. Chiller Energy Management System (CEMS) Engineering decided to use NI PACs in a green engineering application that involves improving and optimizing current systems used at work and in daily life. This Malaysian-based company specializes in energy management of largescale, climate-controlled commercial and industrial facilities. Centralized air-conditioning systems for large areas traditionally consist

of multiple chillers that control air temperature by removing heat from a coolant liquid through vapor-compression or an absorption-refrigeration cycle. However, their default settings are typically not optimized for specific environments, such as the high heat and humidity of Southeast Asia. CEMS Engineering used NI tools, including programmable automation controllers (PAC) and LabVIEW, to acquire real-time input data directly from sensors on the chillers that was then processed to send new operating instructions to the chillers. These operating instructions are determined through a series of variance calculations of the realtime input data, proportional integral derivative (PID) control loops, principles of thermodynamics, heat transfer and advanced mathematical optimization, and other proprietary equations, resulting in reduced electricity bills and energy consumption up to 30 percent. Implementation of the CEMS Engineering system was completed within six months of commencement and is now installed and running at customer sites. As the environmental and energy challenges of the world become more acute, innovative engineers and scientists must step up to measure and fix the world around them. Green applications will be the engineering and technology focus for the next five to ten years, and thus advances in green engineering will continue to empower researchers and developers to both solve complex environmental issues and improve their products and processes. National Instruments Austin, TX. (512) 794-0100. [].

April 2009


Technology I n C onte x t

Green Engineering

Machine-to-Machine Communications Monitor Environmental Impact Increasingly, automated, multi-node networks of sensors and actuators are being used to monitor environmental conditions and supply data that can be used to optimize the use of energy, water and other resources to improve the environment. by A  lex Brisbourne KORE Telematics


ireless-enabled data services have never been more important to business success. For more than 20 years, businesses have used wireless data to improve services and enhance the value of customer offerings. Fast forward to today. Carriers are now connecting the next generation of “wireless-enabled” devices beyond cell phones or laptops. Simultaneously, hardware manufacturers are embedding wireless capability into a wide variety of devices for numerous business and consumer applications. Robust commercial—primarily digital cellular—data networks are in place and are being used to connect increasing numbers of networked devices. Most major carriers have opened their networks to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, which is the idea that machines or objects can be readable, recognizable, locatable and controllable via wireless networks. Also talked about as “embedded wireless” or the “Internet of Things,” the M2M market is helping businesses improve efficiencies, automate processes, deliver ROI and reduce overall operating costs. The market has been growing rapidly in recent years as a number of vertical industries recognize the need for efficiency and improvements. No longer primarily focused on telemetry, M2M now enables innovative services such as automated “smart homes,” real-time asset and people loca-


April 2009

Trash Bill Savings by Client Category Hospitals




Supermarkets 0%


% Savings

Supermarkets 31.33%

40% Schools 59.01%


Retailers 26.93%

Industrial 72.85%

80% Hospital 40.56%

Past savings are no guarantee of future savings

Figure 1

American Trash Management (ATM) provides cost-saving trash management products and services to private and public sector customers. ATM’s mission is simple: reduce the environmental impact, costs and problems of trash. The chart summarizes results, with different types of clients, all across the nation.

tion, overt and covert tracking and security, broad scale power and utility grid control, long-haul and regional fleet management, modern vehicle telematics and more. In recent years, the use of M2M technology in environmental monitoring has begun to significantly expand as wireless technology is applied to increasingly more monitoring applications. Many already take advantage of M2M technology for:

• measurement of air quality • irrigation, temperature and chemical monitoring for produce growers • water management in rivers, lakes and coral reefs • monitoring of gas and pollutant levels in landfills • monitoring in wastewater treatment • flood management and environmental impact


Built Tough for Broader Embedded Applications




Intel ® Atom™ processor (Z510P, Z510PT, Z520PT or Z530P) with industrial temperature range Intel ® Embedded Compact Extended Form Factor Intel ®ECX Form Factor


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Portwell ruggedizes its new PEB-2738 ECX board with the new Intel® Atom™ processors Z510P, Z510PT, Z520PT and Z530P. The power optimized micro-architecture consumes very low power and operates at a wider temperature range. As a result, it creates an even more robust system with fanless configuration. Portwell’s PEB-2738 ECX solutions can be employed in far more embedded applications than those of other suppliers. Applications for the new PEB-2738 include military-grade computers, in-vehicle infotainment systems, outdoor computing systems, industrial automation and control applications and many more.





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Technology In Context

In fact, M2M uses wireless networking to communicate in real time with sensors embedded just about everywhere, and is enabling organizations worldwide to save energy, water and natural resources, create efficiencies and boost revenues. Solutions providers in a variety of industries such as resource management, utilities, the public sector and agriculture can develop and implement profitable M2M green applications.

Some Real-World Examples

Trash Management: Instead of hauling trash, companies can better manage their trash by determining the best way to handle the waste and scrap coming out of their businesses. With devices installed on or near a trash compactor control panel, companies can record and analyze compactor activity, energy use, safety door switches and pickup and return. From there, the collected data can be wirelessly relayed from any location. This helps reduce costs and environmental impact of trash. For example, American Trash Management implemented a wireless M2M solution that relies on remote sensors to monitor containers, send notifications, and receive and process usage information. This data is then uploaded to a centralized business management system for highly effective and scalable waste management. With increased scheduling efficiencies and optimized truck rolls for fuel

1 22Untitled-2 April 2009

and maintenance savings, this has yielded both cost savings and increased customer satisfaction. Water Management: Advanced wireless water management devices can monitor irrigation schedules and water usage like never before, to provide just the right amount of water to keep landscapes healthy. Such a system can calculate and control irrigation on a “just-in-time� basis, using real-time data from weather forecasts and just-passed weather events, water evaporation, plant transpiration and sub-soil leakage. Many organizations,

Figure 2

A wireless water management system uses the cellular network to transmit data about irrigation operations to a data center where it is analyzed to optimize operations and to make the data available to customers.

including the State of California, better regulate their water usage levels and irrigation schedules using M2M. One example of a wireless water management system uses a communication and interrupt device that attaches to an existing irrigation system and records and adjusts the irrigation watering times. The manager device also records runtimes, cycles, start times and other irrigation operating data, which it transmits back to the data center over a cellular telephone network where it is accessible to the customer over the Internet (Figure 2). Smart Grid Monitoring: A large electric utility in Arizona is at the forefront of a growing national trend toward smart metering. Their Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployment consists of M2M data communications to and from electric meters at customer premises. In practice, the AMI simultaneously provides a higher level of service and reduces many hard and soft operational costs required for service. Consumers can monitor electrical usage in real time, while the utility can identify and correct service interruptions more quickly, and improve efficiencies in the meter reading process, billing and customer-service operations as a whole. The meter data is backhauled across the machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless network within a secure IP VPN. As a result, the utility eliminates approximately 7,200 truck rolls per month for every 100,000 meters deployed, yield-

4/7/09 9:31:53 AM

Technology In Context

ing a substantial direct savings, customer satisfaction improvement and carbon footprint reduction. But these examples barely scratch the surface of the potential for innovative networked applications. Within a few years, hundreds of millions of wireless devices will be attached to digital cellular networks, quietly performing the things we want them to do in our quest to be more cost-efficient, safer and more responsive to our customers. And it doesn’t stop there—regulatory initiatives will drive adoption of wireless-based data gathering and remote control applications in the environmental, energy and safety arenas. For all of these reasons, the M2M market grew strong over the course of 2007-8, and is ideally positioned to continue this growth over the next five years.

Looking Ahead

Which applications will evolve? How will they impact our lives? And how will organizations embrace these capabilities as essential to both future productivity and competitive success? M2M services are similar in some ways to cellular or Internet services. However, instead of phones and PDAs making calls, sending emails or texts, or surfing the “net,” M2M sensors, or intelligent “black box” devices, are equipped with cellular radio-based modules that collect information from remote locations and transmit it to a central location. This is similar to how remote PCs and laptops connect to the servers in a company’s IT department. M2M communications are conducted via broadband/wireless connections in order to access and process the gathered data. The essential difference with M2M is that on their own, with no human intervention, compactly packaged remote devices “sense” changes in location, movement, temperature and the like, then issue an alert and transmit important data about specific events. The ability to monitor and control electrical power systems, water, oil and gas networks provides the utility industry with a more cost-effective way to measure utilization (in real time or scheduled), the ability to manage supply and demand more effectively, and to an-

ticipate, identify and fix problems more completely and rapidly. The cost savings associated with measuring utilization and providing maintenance functions are tangible, and not simply when meters and other network elements are in remote or hard-to-reach locations. For instance, as “First Time Fix” is improved, utilities can eliminate the former process of iterations of “Fix and Wait.” In other words, fix what you can see, and wait to hear if it still isn’t working or if there is more to fix elsewhere. Harbor Research has described the effects of M2M networking as “Pervasive Intelligence”—allowing businesses to make immediate decisions based on accurate, real-time data from near and far-flung portions of their infrastructures. However, the market is broadening to also include the use of wireless networks to connect specialized devices in a variety of new businesses, from retail outlets and fast-food restaurants to major production and business facilities. M2M is increasingly used for remote monitoring of environmental conditions (at land-

fills for example), for industrial monitoring of chemical containers, pipeline status and capacity management, alerting operators to dangerous conditions as well as reducing maintenance costs and increasing the reliability of systems and services delivery. The emergence of M2M is continuously changing the face of industry by allowing for improved business applications and automation. Wireless sensing and tracking technology is real and is driving innovation across numerous sectors. Integrating these M2M capabilities and solutions enables automated processes to streamline operational costs, improve customer service and create new service offerings like never before. These are all factors that can enhance an organization’s ability to remain highly competitive and realize additional revenues in today’s challenging economy. KORE Telematics Reston, VA. (866) 7210) 4028. [].


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9:26:43 AM

solutions engineering

ploration your goal k directly age, the source. ology, d products

Powering Up Com I/O Boards

Interoperability Scores a Victory with Plug and Play COM Spec Working Groups collaborate to release new COM specifications for COM/carrier board compatibility.

by A  rnold Estep ADLINK


omputer-on-module (COM) manufacturers are delighted that their pluggable module alternatives to conventional single board computers (SBCs) are getting attention beyond the high-volume gaming and kiosk-type applications for which they were initially well suited. Governed by industry standards, the well-defined, feature-rich, high-density connector interfaces of COMs have atFigure 1 Adlink’s 95 x 95 mm nies providing solutions now tracted widespread interest from former ion into products, and companies. Whetherindustrial, your goal is to research the latestExpress-ATC product SBCtechnologies strongholds including ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is tofeatures put you the latest Atom medical, avionic, and even military appliprocessor. you require for whatever type of technology, Plug-and-play CPU cores would and productscations. you are searching for. reduce supply risks and extend system lifecycles. Before victory can be declared, shelf processing core, provides efficient however, the interoperability of COMs customization for projects that lack the must be greatly improved. Only then can time or resources for a custom single board system OEMs realize the promises of computer. It fits most system integration multi-sourcing and future upgradeability. projects with production volumes from 500 to 10,000 units per year. The COM Systemic Challenges approach has many advantages over full The COM architecture, which com- custom designs, including reducing scope bines a custom carrier with an off-the- and engineering complexity and speeding time-to-market. The average time to design a carrier board is usually less than Get Connected half the time of a full custom OEM board. with companies mentioned in this article. An example COM is shown in Figure 1.

End of Article


April 2009 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

The concept of a small CPU core on a standardized module sounds simple. The carrier board provides power, and the COM contains the processor and chipset that already provide built-in buses and I/O back to the carrier. Conversely, SBCs bring I/O to pin headers and expansion buses to standardized interfaces like PC/104. So consolidating all of these signals into high-density surface-mount board-toboard connectors seems like just a logical extension of the other architecture. Unfortunately, the resemblance ends right there. For starters, buses and I/O are well-defined, but carrier design considerations must include logic levels (5V, 3.3V, 2.5V, etc.), terminations and pull-ups. The major problem is that instead of the case where SBCs have power supplies on board that meet the voltage and current requirements of the CPU and chipset residing on the same board, a COM requires each application-specific carrier board to satisfy its CPU and chipset power requirements on a different board. Worse still, “blackbox” modules are designed with varying bulk capacitance, power sequencing, and Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) power management support.

SOLUTIONS Engineering AB Connector 1 Gigabit Ethernet port LPC interface 4 Serial ATA channels High Definition Audio 8 USB 2.0 ports 6 PCI Express Lanes x1 Dual 24-bit LVDS channels Analog VGA TV-out ports (SDTV/HDTV) 8 GPIO pins +12V primary power input +5V standby and 3V RTC

Figure 2

CD Connector Parallel ATA, IDE port

Alternate definition assigns this to 2 additional Gigabit Ethernet ports

32-bit PCI v2.3 bus

Alternate definition assigns this to 10 additional PCI Express x1 lanes

PCI Express x16 for Graphics CD AB

These pins can also be assigned to two SDVO extensions (multiplexed)

SMB and I2C bus +12V primary power input

The 440-pin COM Express interface includes PCIe x16, PCI and IDE.

1 26Untitled-1 April 2009

4/20/09 11:07:04 AM

In order for a COM Express module to function properly, the entire interface must be terminated with proper signals, timing, sequencing and circuits (Figure 2). Suddenly, designing a carrier board resembles a 9-inning ball game. If the engineer can’t get the carrier to operate with the first vendor’s module, another round is necessary, quickly becoming a twilight double-header. Whether designing inhouse or farming out to a design services company, OEMs counting on multi-sourcing are wise to confirm interoperability early in the design phase. Releasing a system to production with only one module validated can lead to unpleasant surprises later when the purchasing manager needs an emergency second source due to supplier delivery or quality issues. Too often, the next vendor’s module won’t boot, and there are many possible reasons why. The designer is locked in the clubhouse without any visibility, and the BIOS and OS offer few clues about where the replacement “black box” module hangs. The interoperability problems are well documented in the COM vendor community. Often, the vendors create straightforward implementations to the module standards only to have customers encounter interoperability issues. The situation transcends any one vendor, so it has been bounced back to Spring Training for the originating trade groups to sort out. Responding to calls for help, two groups are tackling the obstacle to growth head-on: PICMG and SFF-SIG (Small Form Factor Special Interest Group). PICMG’s approach must work within the confines of the existing COM Express specification, to minimize disruption to the growing market for legacy-free COM Express modules. SFF-SIG approaches the challenge with a ground-up new architecture that is both legacy-friendly and forward-looking to USB 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0. The PICMG organization has completed a year-long task of generating a large document called the Carrier Design Guide (CDG). The CDG contains reference circuits and detailed explanations to help OEMs and design services companies implement typical peripherals on the application-specific carrier board designs. PC architecture buses such as

SOLUTIONS Engineering COMIT Features • Three x1 (pronounced “by one”) PCI Express links • One x4 (“by four”) PCI Express link (optionally divided into 4 more x1 links) • Six high-speed USB 2.0 channels • VGA, digital video, and dual 18/24 bit LVDS video interfaces • Two SATA channels • One 10/100 or Gigabit Ethernet • One 8-bit SDIO • HD Audio • LPC (Low Pin Count) Bus • SPI/uWire and SMBus/I²C Buses • Power and ground • System clock and control signaling • Optional legacy PATA connector

Figure 3

COMIT’s scorecard of features.

PCI Express, PCI, LPC and SMBus can be extended to support other peripherals for diverse industrial applications. CDG complements the COM.0 specification for COM Express modules without substantially affecting COM.0. Many of the COM Express vendors are redesigning their reference carrier boards to comply with CDG, which will greatly help interoperability. CDG can even improve the consistency of new module designs in the future. Part of that consistency involves managing power. The industry-standard ACPI specification defines power-saving levels when the system is not operating, but implementation across COM Express modules has been inconsistent in the past. CDG addresses this point by defining the state of the many power rails that may be present in the system, including the standby nets that are powered when the main rails are at zero volts. In addition, suspend status signals and wake-up events are defined more thoroughly. CDG describes how to provide power to peripherals so that they continue to operate as desired during the suspect and soft off states. After all, these peripherals and part of the Southbridge must stay awake while the rest of the system is off. A system that won’t wake up again is not particularly useful. A philosophical debate among COM suppliers is how to implement serial ports and other “legacy” peripherals within an architecture that is promoted heavily as “legacy-free.” CDG cautions carrier designers about the limited support for the






+3.3 VSB T2







Signal Sequence



VBAT rise to +3.3VSB rise time

≥ 0 ms


+3.3VSB rise to VCC rise time

≥ 0 ms


VCC rise to PWRGOOD rise time

≥ 0 ms


PWRGOOD fall to VCC fall time

≥ 0 ms


VCC fall to +3.3VSB fall time

≥ 0 ms


+3.3VSB fall to VBAT fall time

≥ 0 ms

Figure 4

The COMIT specification locks in power sequencing for interoperability.

Low Pin Count (LPC) bus for such peripherals, and PICMG takes a neutral stance with regard to vendor offerings “under the table” as initialization of carrier LPC devices is heavily intertwined with the BIOS on each vendor’s product. Instead, CDG suggests the use of the driver-loading plug-and-play model of USB, PCI and PCI Express devices for serial ports and other legacy ports. CDG contains all of the tricks of the trade that designers can deploy for a winning carrier board, including coupling capacitors, bypass capacitor types, bulk capacitance on power and standby rails, pull-up resistor values, series and parallel terminations, ferrite beads, reset circuits, and even more. Future challenges will include trying to layer USB 3.0, PCIe 2.0 and DisplayPort signals on top of the five existing pinout types.

SFF-SIG Steps up to the Plate

Next to bat, the Small Form Factor SIG wants to see the rugged markets served well with an all-in-one ground-up new COM architecture. Offering a fresh roster of new modular embedded computing specifications, SFF-SIG aims to tightly control COM implementations to reduce or eliminate the need for carrier design guides beyond the module vendors’ own reference schematics. Interoperability-by-

specification is a noble goal that time will have to test. SFF-SIG’s new standard is called COMIT. The acronym stands for Computer On Module Interconnect Technology and is pronounced “com-it.” COMIT is a modular, high-speed connector system composed of the most common highspeed and legacy interfaces available from modern low-power chipsets (Figure 3). The purpose is to provide a compact, interoperable processor core connection architecture for future embedded systems designs. A legacy PATA/IDE interface connector is optional, and purposely left without other features so that it can “go away” by itself without compromising other features once SATA drives and SATA and/or SD SSDs fully replace their IDE counterparts in the embedded market over time. COMIT addresses the emerging need for a COM standard that utilizes multisourced, state-of-the-art 10 GHz connector technology and focuses on new and future bus technology. Ensuring interoperability between COM modules is also an overriding concern. Longevity has long been the promise of COM products, and the ground-up new signaling optimized for ultra-low-power processors such as Intel’s Atom family and VIA’s Nano processors is an important future-proofing step April 2009


SOLUTIONS Engineering

Figure 5

The COMIT interface features a 240-pin pin array connector, and IDE alone on the second optional connector.

forward for COMIT. Power and signaling levels are two major areas of focus for interoperability. To address power, ample power and ground pins are utilized for the supplies on COMIT. Thirty-seven grounds and 21 power pins are included for power, highspeed signal returns, impedance matching and control of EMI emissions and suscep-

1 28Untitled-7 April 2009

tibility. The additional power and ground pins are an absolute necessity as interface speeds increase. Power control adheres to industry standard ACPI “ATX-style� signaling conventions. This eases module power control and ensures that all voltages necessary, except the standard 3.3V, 5V and 12V supplies, are generated on the processor module. This further mini-

mizes issues with power supply sizing and stability that occur when passing these processor-specific power rails across a connector. Suspend and battery voltages are also provided to the connector. Another area that can cause crosscompatibility problems is the logic high level. A particular processor may specify that a signal is capable of only 2.5V, but an older carrier board may have this signal terminated or driven to 3.3V, causing reliability problems or failures. To mitigate these issues all control signaling across the 240-pin COMIT connector must be 3.3V tolerant. There is no wiggle room in signal definitions. Also, all input termination is included on the processor module, whether the feature is included or not. If a COMIT processor does not include a certain function, the module is required to include termination where necessary to ensure there are no floating inputs to the baseboard for all COMIT interfaces.

Tightly Controlled Sequencing

The COMIT Specification defines power sequencing requirements to ensure

4/7/09 9:44:07 AM

SOLUTIONS Engineering

module reliability and cross-compatibility. As shown in Figure 4, the real-time clock battery voltage must be up first, then +3.3VSB (standby) must come up or be already up, then the main 5-volt supply can come up, followed by the assertion of PWRGOOD (power good). Powering down proceeds in the reverse order. Compliance with this requirement prevents the lockups and erratic behavior of some COMs on the market today that are plugged into other vendors’ reference designs. The SEARAY connector from Samtec provides high speed, high pin density and ruggedness. It is a 240-pin high-density (0.050” pitch) connector pair. Samtec and Molex are already cross-licensed to produce the SEARAY connector series, providing longevity for mil/aero, medical and industrial applications. The chosen connector system is capable of a differential signaling rate of 9 GHz bandwidth (at -3dB insertion loss) to support current and future high-speed signaling (Figure 5). COMIT supports several common interfaces for low to moderate speed expansion requirements. Industry standard

serial interfaces include SMBus, I2C, SPI, Microwire and a UART. SMBus alert is included for power management alert functionality or general SMBus interrupt usage. Two chip selects are included for SPI/uWire, which can be expanded within the target device to any number needed. SPI and SMBus are defined as 3.3V signaling. Five-volt tolerant devices may be used as long as they do not drive the SPI signals on the bus beyond the 3.3V nominal specification. The UART signals are defined as 3.3V only. Level translators must be on the baseboard where needed. To handle cases where the particular COM doesn’t happen to support a feature defined at the interface, the COMIT Specification dictates that all features on the connector not used by the processor are terminated inactive where necessary on the processor module. This ensures that there are no floating inputs to the baseboard and no issues with unused features for the carrier designer to deal with. For the opposite scenario where a module’s feature is not terminated on the baseboard, the COMIT Specification dictates

that processor modules handle all input termination themselves. This ensures that there are no floating inputs to the processor module and no issues with unused features, which could lead to reliability and determinism problems. While CDG and COMIT are thorough in providing COM designs for interchangeability, it is absolutely essential to use each module vendor’s documentation in order for carrier boards to be designed properly. This includes analyzing multiple vendors’ products up front. It will take some time for the consistencies presented by CDG and COMIT to result in truly interchangeable COMs and carrier reference designs. To learn more, visit and The aforementioned trade groups and their members have served the industry well in the publication of these landmark specifications and in steering COM vendors toward interoperability. ADLINK San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].

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Untitled-3 1

AM April3/20/09 2009 10:51:05 29


The LPC Bus

LPC Bus—Legacy Lives On With all the advances in processor and I/O technology, what has become of the venerable I/O devices that are still so useful for a wide range of applications? The preservation of the LPC bus offers a low-cost and straightforward way to continue using these legacy devices.

by R  obert Burckle, WinSystems and Jeff Munch, ADLINK


egacy buses and I/O appear to be on the chopping block. Large pin ploration count parallel communications your goal buses are being replaced by faster serial k directly architectures. Examples include Serial age, the source. ATA (SATA) replacing IDE/Parallel ATA ology, (PATA) and PCI Express replacing pard products allel PCI. After the ISA bus was phased out of the modern x86 chipsets, the major Figure 1 VIA’s EPIA-P710 Pico-ITXe semiconductor companies realized that SBC features SUMIT-AB users were critically concerned about how expansion. to attach relatively low-speed serial and parallel devices. Typically these devices designers is how to move their legacy I/O would be a super-I/O device or a boot forward, and with what board/bus archinies providing solutions now tecture. ROM. ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest The LPC bus was defined by Intel in Electronics system manufacturers reation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you 1998. Its purpose is to take over for the quest the continued availability of simple, you require for whatever type of technology, 8/16-bit ISA bus where legacy is needed I/O that and productslow-cost you are searching for. would give them COM while greatly reducing pins (balls) and ports, relay interfaces, and modest bandboard space for traces. First and foremost, width A/D and D/A converters. Hanging the goal was to reduce the cost of attachmultiple bus bridges, translators and FPGAs off of the PCI bus or a PCI Express ing firmware (the BIOS), and secondly to x1 lane to get to low-speed I/O is cum- provide a continued path to legacy periphbersome, adding unnecessary risk, cost, erals and expansion slots. LPC is a 4-bit power consumption, design/debug time, wide bus with far fewer lines than ISA, but software development and board space with a faster multiplexed 33 MHz address usage. The best path forward is the Low and data speed to compensate. It even supPin Count (LPC) bus. The challenge to ports serialized interrupts and DMA. In most cases, few software modifications are needed to migrate to LPC from ISA Get Connected since the peripheral side is simple and low with companies mentioned in this article. speed. Furthermore, the LPC bus is able

End of Article


April 2009 Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

to support wake-up and other power-state transitions, which the ISA bus cannot support. LPC requires a minimum of seven signals. LAD [3:0] comprise the four data lines, and the other three are control signals. LFRAME# indicates the start of a new cycle or termination of a broken cycle, LRESET# provides the same type of function as the PCI reset signal, and LCLK is a 33 MHz clock. Optionally there are sideband signals that convey power management and interrupts. For example, LDRQ# is defined to support DMA operation while SERIRQ allows peripherals to generate an interrupt if the host does not have ISA-based IRQ lines as interrupt inputs. Optional signals may or may not be on particular hosts or peripherals. The latest generation of microprocessor chips from Intel (the Atom family) and from VIA (Nano) show continued retention of legacy software support and LPC bus for low-speed peripherals. Even though PCI Express and USB2.0 catch a lot of attention, LPC remains the unsung hero for boot ROM and legacy I/O devices. For designers who need an LPC solution, off-the-shelf ICs exist in the market. Alternatively, PLDs or FPGAs can be designed. SMSC ( is one ex-


ample of a commercial chip manufacturer with off-the-shelf solutions for non-PC and embedded computing platforms using LPC, USB and other solutions. SMSC provides straight UART ICs (4-port, 6-port, etc.) as well as chips with the full complement of legacy I/O (UARTs, parallel port/ LPT, PS/2 keyboard & mouse). Other vendors include Winbond and Fintek. Lattice Semiconductor is an example of a programmable IC manufacturer whose devices can be targeted for custom designs. Lattice offers an LPC Bus Controller Reference Design that implements an LPC host and an LPC peripheral that support the seven required LPC control signals. The design is implemented in Verilog, and Lattice design tools are used for synthesis, place and route, and simulation. The design can be targeted to multiple Lattice device families, and its small size makes it portable across different FPGA/ CPLD architectures. Verilog source code is included.

Figure 2

WinSystems’ PCO-UIO48-G digital I/O card rounds out the I/O of Pico-ITXe.

Figure 3

Adlink’s CoreModule 730 features Atom Z510/Z530 processors with SUMIT-AB expansion in the 90 x 96 mm ISM form factor.

Stackable Architectures

Although LPC was intended as an onboard inter-chip bus, new and recent embedded form factors bring LPC “offroad.” The form factors fall into the usual two classifications: Stackable and Computer-on-Module (COM). In the stackable architecture, the Small Form Factor SIG (SFF-SIG, www. introduced a standardized way to bring LPC vertically off the host SBC to a mezzanine expansion I/O card. The interface, called SUMIT, includes a mix of high-speed and other low-speed buses and signals. The first SBC form factor available with SUMIT is called PicoITXe (Figure 1). The SUMIT-AB connector pair is located along the front edge. Rather than creating a custom single board computer, an off-the-shelf PicoITXe SBC can be expanded with a PicoI/O card to add whatever I/O is needed by a particular application. This approach reduces time, resources and risk compared to full custom designs. Figure 2 shows a complete, off-the-shelf industrial I/O solution based upon tiny building blocks. WinSystems chose the Lattice approach for their first Pico-I/O-compatible product. The PCO-UIO48-G is a 48-line, digital input/output module that will op-

erate from -40° to +85°C. The major feature of this card is its ability to monitor the first 24 lines for both rising and falling digital edge transitions, latch them, and then interrupt the host processor notifying that a change-of-input status has occurred. This is an efficient way of signaling a Pico-ITXe single board computer (SBC) of real-time events without the burden of polling the digital I/O points. WinSystems uses a Lattice FPGA device programmed to support the various input/output and interrupt configurations. It supports 48 digital I/O lines addressed through six contiguous registers. A 6-bit write mask register allows the user to disable writes on a byte basis to configure the group as a “read only” port. Each I/O line is individually programmable for input, output, or output with read back operation. The input lines are connected so that the current status

of its output port can be read from the corresponding input port (read back). If the port is used as input only, then the corresponding output port bit must be cleared. Each output channel is latched and has an open collector driver with a pull-up resistor. The I/O structure of the FPGA works with 3.3V but is +5V tolerant for maximum system flexibility. Requiring all new I/O to be attached to either PCI Express or USB is unwise. It is like trying to get a simple drink of water from a firehose. LPC provides a proven, easy way to attach simple devices with reasonably deterministic real-time response, without requiring costly hardware and software overhead plus development time and money. The very first SUMIT-based SBC on the market in the 90 x 96 mm ISM (Industry Standard Module) form factor is shown in Figure 3. ISM is the term for the pure board outline compatible with PC/104 enclosures, but without presupposing any buses like the PC/104 (ISA) bus. Adlink’s CoreModule 730 uses the Atom processor at 1.1 or 1.6 GHz for the lowest power implementation possible with all Intel ICs—only 5 watts. Best of all, this solution does not require a custom carrier board, and is more economical than pre-integrated two-board PC/104 solutions. For modest I/O requirements including basic control applications, this approach is tiny, rugged and easy to cool even in sealed enclosures. Stackable I/O cards like Adlink’s MiniModule SIO plug into the SUMIT interface and connect the LPC bus to an SMSC legacy super I/O device on the I/O module. Stackable LPC bus is also available on larger size SBC form factors. To download the SUMIT specification, visit PICMG’s COM.0 specification primarily uses LPC for port 80 debug support. Connecting the LPC bus to legacy super I/O’s might require the COM Express modules to have BIOS initialization support for the custom carrier board’s device a priori. That said, a number of the COM vendors offer carrier reference designs with an LPC header or with an onboard super I/O device that is initialized by the module’s BIOS. April 2009



Reference design carriers often take the form of large ATX-style motherboards, since the size doesn’t really matter for a reference design. There are prototyping advantages to fitting into an ATX tower chassis. System OEMs wishing to add LPC devices to their carriers can follow the examples of the reference carrier boards.

Figure 4

Adlink’s Express-MV features Core2 Duo with the new GS45 chipset and LPC super I/O support for Winbond.

Figure 5

Ampro by Adlink COM 840 supports Core2 Duo two LPC devices: SMSC and Winbond.

“COMmon” Ground

Most COMs from major suppliers contain a BIOS that can initialize an LPC super I/O device. Typically the COM vendor must choose in advance what device to support. The Express-MV product shown in Figure 4 initializes the Winbond 83627 IC, so carriers designed for Express-MV that want to use legacy I/O need to select the Winbond device. For SMSC or other super I/O device, a custom BIOS would be needed. Figure 5 shows an Extreme Rugged -40° to +85°C module that is a rare COM with a larger BIOS firmware in order to support two super I/O devices (SMSC, Winbond, or both) on the carrier board. The BIOS support gives more flexibility to carrier designers to choose between two of the most popular devices without needing a custom BIOS. Finally, Figure 6 shows an unusual carrier board reference design that is 5.75 x 8” (EBX size), much smaller than ATX size, and is much more than just a reference design. The COM-EBX baseboard contains a secondary LPC BIOS socket as an alternative to the module’s BIOS, as well as an SMSC super I/O device for legacy I/O support. COM-EBX is even deployable in volumes as a rare -40° to +85°C Extreme Rugged carrier for COM 840. Whether a stackable, COM, or even custom SBC architecture is chosen, the LPC bus gives legacy additional longevity. Clearly, legacy I/O didn’t become obsolete when it disappeared from most new chipsets. LPC offers a simpler, softwaretransparent, less expensive and lower power way to attach legacy peripherals to embedded systems than using high-speed differential pair topologies like USB, Ethernet and PCI Express. Legacy I/O continues to live on in embedded systems. WinSystems Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].

Figure 6


Untitled-7 1

April 2009

11/10/08 10:01:37 AM

Ampro by Adlink Extreme Rugged COM-EBX carrier.

ADLINK San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].

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Small Form Factor Developments

Small but Mighty: Small Form Factors Gaining Ground Embedded applications such as industrial automation and medical are seeing rise in small but powerful designs. Christine Van De Graaf and David Pursley, Kontron


pplication-specific technology and expertise are critical to any embedded design. Advantages such as 45nm technology are pervasive and long-term, impacting embedded architectures across the board—whether designing for airline inflight entertainment, transportation or telecommunications. Better graphics, greater security features and much more result from greater performance per watt and less physical space required for the design. Understanding small form factor options and their accompanying performance benefits is one of the most valuable weapons in a designer’s arsenal, especially in tandem with indepth industry-specifics that make all the difference. The days of setting standards single-handedly are over—and non-proprietary form factors are set to play a significant role in the development of these embedded computer systems for vertical applications that are characterized by long-term availability and robustness. Industry standard form factors and compliant products have become something that suppliers simply have to offer. Significantly more decisive is service and support, from the choice of form factor to after-sales service and technical support, as well as the right solutions for customers’ applications, taking into consideration the particular industry and necessary certification. This is true for all markets. For example, the medical sector is calling for its own standards for medical equipment including traceability and certified manufacturers. Other sectors such as transportation, automation, energy and the military each have other, individual regulatory standards. Based on all these factors, the generic portfolio of embedded computer manufacturers is increasingly concentrating on these vertical markets and offering dedicated design and certification services. Ultimately, being well-versed in existing, new and evolving small form factors—along with the performance benefits and limitations they each bring to the table—and tapping the deep expertise of a manufacturing partner relationship, are the ways


April 2009

Figure 1

A 3U CompactPCI board, the CP308 from Kontron, offers 45nm performance and is suitable for image and video processing as well as robotic and other real-time applications.

for designers to best understand the alternatives available to them in meeting the performance standards of any particular embedded application (Table 1).

A Growing List of Applications

For example, development of embedded technologies for industrial automation is being driven by several key trends. Probably most important is the impact of space and energy savings achieved through Intel Atom 45nm architectures, enabling a vast new generation of cost-effective, energy-saving, high-performance industrial control solutions. Smaller controllers and platforms are in turn accelerating the trend of industrial Ethernet for connecting smaller PLCs that traditionally used field bus protocols. Using Ethernet as a central communication system improves overall performance and interoperability by enabling devices from different manufacturers to communicate on the same network.


The industrial automation market is also shifting toward vendors that can provide not only boards, but also design, engineering and manufacturing services, as well as a partner network allowing for off-the-shelf and customized, all-in-one solutions. And finally, the introduction of safety-related systems in accordance with the IEC61508 norm—a required standard by the end of 2009—will have a heavy impact. OEMs will need to add safety products to their portfolio, and the market for safety PLCs will grow rapidly. Medical design is following a very similar path, with the sector experiencing steady growth based significantly on the trend toward ultra-portable medical devices. These tiny devices are improving data collection, speeding up diagnostic capabilities and genuinely enhancing medical care. With new technologies such as 45nm and valueadded power management, applications that previously faced barriers due to size, performance issues or power consumption limitations can now be developed using a standard COM implementation—an excellent small form factor example of today’s performance and function.

Figure 2

PC/104—Sufficiently Simple

In embedded applications where very low cost, small footprint and moderate performance are among the main criteria, PC/104 and PC/104-compatible modules tend to be the norm. With little or no customization, these off-the-shelf solutions prove more than sufficient for a wide range of implementations. With a CPU board and optional peripheral boards stacked together, PC/104 negates the need for a motherboard, backplane or card cage. Fitted with stack-through connectors, these pin- and socket-bus connectors provide a reliable signal path even in harsh environments. Bus specifications for PC/104 are identical to those of ISA with the exception that PC/104 reduces the drive requirement for most signals to 4 mA of sink current, reducing overall power requirements and allowing ASIC devices to directly drive most bus signals without the need for separate driver components. PC/104’s stability as a form factor and wide availability from nearly 75 vendors, make it an attractive option where simplicity is key and optimum performance is not required.

Form Factor

Size (mm x mm)

Potential Applications

3U CompactPCI


Avionics (such as UAV), Graphics-based Ground Applications



Next-generation mobile network applications



Avionics, Rugged Computing Platforms (such as UMPCs)

COM Express


Unmanned vehicles, training simulators, portable tactical communication devices



Unmanned vehicles, Avionics

3U CompactPCI—Rugged and Upgradeable

Legacy issues inherent to many embedded designs can be addressed with 3U implementations of the established CompactPCI architecture (Figure 1). New features meet more harsh computing environment requirements. Many designers turn to 3U CompactPCI, which has much higher bandwidth, Gigabit Ethernet capabilities and more powerful rear I/O over alternative form factors. Unlike PC/104 and MicroTCA, 3U CompactPCI has rear I/O, and can be air- or conduction-cooled. It’s also inherently stiffer than its own 6U counterpart, meaning it meets more rugged standards and is less vulnerable to shock and vibration. 3U CompactPCI is very widely supported and there is a broad range of rugged chassis available for this form factor. And, if an older embedded system is already using CompactPCI, upgrades to the latest processors make an ideal replacement rather than migrating to a new form factor. Compute-intensive applications such as industrial control or airline in-flight entertainment are using 3U CompactPCI very effectively to meet performance requirements in rugged or harsh environments.

These overlaid images provide a clear comparison of related COM Express solutions, which now include compact and ultra-small form factor COM Express-compatible modules such as the microETXexpress-SP and nanoETXexpress-SP.

Table 1

A comparison of several embedded form factors and their potential applications.

Computer-on-Modules – Functionality in a Host of Sizes

For more complex applications, embedded designers should consider computer-on-modules or COMs. COMs encapsulate an entire computer host-complex on a small form factor module which is then mounted onto carrier boards containing application-specific I/O and power circuitry. These off-the-shelf compact modules readily contain all generic PC functions, from graphics, Ethernet, sound, COM and USB ports, to other system buses. The custom designed carrier board complements the COM with additional functionality required for the specific application, for example, medical imaging or capturing patient data such as blood pressure or heart rate. COMs have been standardized through the Embedded Technology eXtended (more commonly referred to as ETX) standard, enApril 2009



Figure 3

The small footprint of MicroTCA is seen here with Kontron’s OM6040 and the AM4100 Advanced Mezzanine (MicroTCA) Card.

abling full PC functionality, minimum engineering and adoption cost, reliable connectors, slim design, and straightforward upgradability and scalability. ETX modules are highly integrated and compact (95 mm x 114 mm, 12 mm thick) COMs. The standardized form factor and connector layout that carry a specific set of signals—found in all ETX modules—gives designers the ability to create a single-system baseboard that will accept current and future ETX modules. The ability to build a system on a single baseboard using the COM as one plugin component simplifies packaging, eliminating cabling, and significantly reducing system-level cost—key issues in embedded design. ETX has further evolved, with improvements to scalability and performance. The newer ETX 3.0 specification offers the same benefits of the original ETX standard, but also adds in 2x Serial ATA with no change in ETX pins, making new modules 100 percent pin-to-pin compatible with previous versions to ensure long-term support. Evolution continues with COM Express and its specifications that satisfy the higher performance market segments of embedded computing and illustrate the trend toward size reduction and mobility (Figure 2). COMs are ideal for designs needing a great deal of application-specific customization and can accommodate a two-board solution (module plus custom carrier board). Well-suited to a high run of product and the need for some scalability from generation to generation, COMs are perfect for devices or applications that not only require scalability from generation to generation, but also within a single generation. Customizations designed into COMs’ accompanying carrier board can last generations with various CPU cores, for example, swapping out one for the next.

MicroTCA – Powerful Communication

When communication and bandwidth requirements go beyond the limits of these established technologies, MicroTCA can ante up with very high communication bandwidth, high availability and overall increased computing power in a small form factor. At the larger end of the small form factor realm, MicroTCA can be ideal for highbandwidth data communications applications such as image processing. Designers who understand its benefits will have another powerful solution to tap for the right design and end-use application.


April 2009

Up to 12 compute blades on a single backplane—all of which could potentially use a multicore processor—are directly responsible for MicroTCA’s high bandwidth for both communications and computing (Figure 3). A 3U or 4U system, for example, could have as many as 24 cores designed into MicroTCA’s very small footprint. MicroTCA designs can tap as many as 21 high-speed serial connections on the backplane, resulting in bandwidth of 2.5 gigabits per second for each connection. Depending on how the system is implemented, a broad range of communications bandwidth capacities is possible, ranging from 40 Gbits/s to > 1 Tbit/s. Advances in multicore processing platforms have proven to offer higher compute performance, reduced chip count and lower bill of materials costs with drastically reduced power consumption. As technology shrinks and more real-estate becomes available on the die, chipmakers will continue to push for greater performance, using a combination of improvements in circuitry and more advanced manufacturing technologies. Intel is looking to its next-generation 32nm multicore processors to outpace demands well into the future. In addition to the multicore trend, the level of integration is another important factor affecting embedded computing technology. This currently has the largest impact on the smallest form factors. Now that integration into the chipsets has taken place, the chipsets are being integrated into System-on-Chips (SoCs) as wafers continue to undergo increased integration and are currently available in 45nm and shortly in 32nm. Manufacturers are now in a position to develop, for instance, credit-card-sized computer-on-modules (COMs) that contain the latest processors in an even more energy-saving design. Some of today’s most challenging and broad ranging design requirements are found in embedded applications. New technologies can be difficult to adopt and develop quickly, and as a result embedded markets frequently demand reliance on existing or legacy technology for speed and execution of a given design. On the other hand, new applications can be so demanding and communication-centric, they require more performance than earlier architectures have been able to deliver within a small footprint. Wherever the application demands fall in terms of performance, designers must also consider issues of size, cost, scalability and upgradeability, all critical to the overall performance of embedded applications and their imprint on the embedded landscape. Today, “manufacturers as engineering resources” are even more integral to the design process. Understanding not only the technical requirements involved in design, but also trends, industry influences, customer requirements and regulatory demands as design elements, make the manufacturer-designer relationship critical to time-to-market and the overall success of the design. Kontron Poway, CA. (858) 677-0898. []



NEMA 16-Channel Optically Isolated Input / Relay Output Modules Require No PC

A pair of intelligent 16-channel wireless digital I/O units communicate directly with each other. Each unit contains 8 Form C (SPDT) electromechanical relays and 8 optically isolated digital inputs. When an isolated input is toggled on one of the units it will cause the corresponding relay to switch on the other unit. No software or PC connection is required as this solution is completely self-contained and operates autonomously. The Model WWP-IIRO-8 units from Acces I/O Products are packaged in small, rugged, NEMA4 enclosures; suited for remote installations in harsh atmospheric, industrial, or marine applications. This product offers a low-cost alternative to costly signal wire installations in applications such as agricultural and irrigation systems, building management and control, security and factory automation. The units can operate at distances up to 7 miles line-of-sight via a 900 MHz wireless connection (up to 20 miles with optional high-gain antenna). The 8 isolated inputs can be driven by either DC sources of 3-31V (or higher by special order) or AC sources at frequencies of 40 Hz to 10 kHz and are not polarity sensitive. The WWP-IIRO-8 is useful for monitoring controllers and equipment status without needing an available auxiliary contact. Just connect the contactor coil, or other monitoring point, across the input and that’s it. Whenever the coil is energized the input is on. For dry-contact monitoring applications, simply wire the power supply voltage into the switch circuit. A microcontroller gives the WWP-IIRO-8 the capability and versatility expected from a modern, stand-alone, distributed control system and allows custom firmware useful for a variety of OEM products. No software is required. The WWP-IIRO-8 was designed to work without the need of any additional software. No PC connection is required! Simply connect the supplied power supply, wire via the removable screw terminal board provided, and operate. TheWWP-IIRO-8 Wireless 16-Channel Input / Relay Output Pair is priced at $795.

Development Kit for NFX Managed-Memory Token

The line of NFX Managed-Memory Tokens from Datakey Electronics now has a development kit that supports the latest release of the NFX family of Tokens and includes an improved sample application (with source code), which illustrates how to use each of the commands included in the DLL. Also new is a command line utility that allows for simplified testing and configuration of the NFX Tokens’ unique OEM and security features. Designed for OEMs requiring long-term availability, the NFX Tokens have an internal file management system that allows embedded developers to access the memory using highlevel commands that are guaranteed to be stable over time. Capacities range from 128 Mbytes to 1Gbyte. The NFX Tokens feature solid overmolded construction and IP-rated Receptacle options, which allow them to operate reliably in the harshest environments. Typical applications include: data logging, firmware updates, parameter uploads/cloning, data transport, etc.

ACCES I/O Products, San Diego, CA. (858) 550-9559. [].

System for Rugged Applications Adds Military Connectors

A rugged COTS military computer from ADlink leverages the proven design of the company’s RuffSystem 800 by adding to that system’s rugged enclosure MIL-STD-D38999 connectors instead of PC-style connectors to maximize the reliability of connections between the computer system and peripherals for the most extreme environmental conditions. MilSystem 800 consists of the Ampro LittleBoard 800 single board computer (SBC) in a MIL-STD-810 tested RuffSystem enclosure. The system supports up to a 1.4 GHz Pentium M CPU and provides conductive cooling, requiring no fans or holes for ventilation. MilSystem 800 is dust-proof and splash-proof. MilSystem 800 comes in a 8” x 10” x 3” conductive-cooled enclosure that has been tested to MIL-STD-810 for shock and vibration, and tested over a wide temperature range of -40° to +75°C. The short height allows installation under seats and in other locations where cube-shaped and rack-mount systems cannot fit. Built-in I/O includes Gigabit Ethernet, 10/100 Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, four serial ports, video, audio and PS/2 keyboard-mouse all on two MIL-STD-D38999 style 55-pin connectors. A third connector is available for an additional 55 I/O signals. MilSystem 800 supports up to 1 Gbyte of DDR memory and can be configured with any combination of up to 32 Gbytes of rugged solid-state drive, up to 16 Gbytes of rugged-grade CompactFlash memory card, or an extreme environment hard drive. MilSystem is offered with Embedded Linux, Microsoft Windows XP Embedded, and Microsoft Windows CE operating systems. Adlink subjects Extreme Rugged SBCs to voltage and temperature margin testing and HALT testing in order to fine-tune the design for harsh system environments, including shock, vibration, humidity and -40° to +75°C operation. Extreme Rugged SBCs target applications where failures would have dire consequences ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].


April 2009

The development kit provides documentation on how to develop applications for both embedded and PC platforms. Because the NFX has both SPI and USB interfaces, it can interface with an embedded microprocessor through its SPI bus and/or with a PC or embedded computer through its USB bus. This provides an effective form of data transport in applications or environments where networking is impractical or impossible. The NFX Development Kit includes: 2 NFX Tokens, 2 mating Receptacles (1 panel mount and 1 PCB mount), software CD, user manuals, and an NFX Memory Interface box with USB cable. The software CD includes all documentation, a sample software application with source code and drivers, and a command line utility for easy testing and configuration. Datakey Electronics, Savage, MN. (952) 746-4066. [].

Hot Swap PMC Carrier for AMC

A double-width, full-size PMC carrier for AMC supports one single-width PMC module. The TAMC260 from Tews Technologies is a solution to upgrade well-known legacy PMC I/O solutions to the high-performance AMC form factor. PMC modules provide modular cost-effective I/O solutions for applications in process control, medical systems, aerospace/defense COTS, telecommunications and traffic control. 32-bit PCI accesses are supported on the PCI bus at both 33 MHz and 66 MHz. The PLX8112 PCIe-toPCI bridge provides the real connection between the primary PCIe link and the secondary PMC slot. The bridge controls all PCI accesses and sets the frequency for the PMC access. The TAMC260 supports front panel I/O, and additionally a 68 pin SCSI-V type connector provides access to the PMC P14 back I/O lines. In compliance with specification AMC.0, the TAMC260 provides an IPMI-compliant Module Management Controller (MMC) with temperature monitoring and hot-swap support. In order to support long-term programs, the new TEWS’ modules have a 5-year warranty. Software support for major operating systems including Windows, Linux, VxWorks and QNX is available. TEWS Technologies, Halstenbek, Germany. +49 (0) 4101 4058-0. [].

Atom-Based Mini-ITX Board Features 12 VDC Power

A Mini-ITX motherboard utilizes the 45nm 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor with Intel 945GSE Express chipset and ICH7M I/O controller hub. Exhibiting a total system thermal design power (TDP) of less than 15 watts, the NP101-D16C from Itox Applied Computing provides higher performance-per-watt than previous mobile platforms. A single energy-saving 12 VDC power input further reduces overall system configuration and operating costs. In addition, this motherboard utilizes one 240-pin DDR2 DIMM socket supporting up to 2 Gbytes of economical DDR2 400 or 533 MHz memory. Other significant NP101-D16C features include an 18-bit LVDS display interface, VGA graphics interface, and an SDVO connector for optional DVI or 24-bit LVDS display interfaces. This mini-ITX motherboard also provides 2 SATA ports, 8 USB 2.0 ports, 2 Serial COM ports, 2 PCI Express Gigabit LAN controllers, 1 PCI Express x1 slot and 1 PCI slot. The Itox NP101-D16C Mini-ITX product is suitable for costsensitive applied computing and x86 embedded systems applications including medical electronics, industrial control, security & surveillance, telecommunications, ATM/POS, digital signage, gaming and kiosk systems. It also has guaranteed availability for seven years to continually save customers the time and expense associated with additional product testing and verification processes. A standard ATX power input model, NP100-N16C is also available with the same features as the NP101-D16C. In addition, the NP100N16C Mini-ITX board includes an onboard DVI graphics port and CompactFlash socket. ITOX Applied Computing, East Brunswick, NJ. (732) 390-2815. [].

Boundary Scan Platform Extends to Universal Fixtures

A series of universal board fixtures for the Boundary Scan hardware platform is called Scanflex Board Grabber and is comprised of three models in different sizes that are compliant with IEEE Std. 1149.x. Especially with complex boards, the professional mechanical handling of the design verification in the stage of development is often difficult. The Scanflex Board Grabber from Goepel Electronic not only solves this problem but offers the possibility of easily and reliably generating signal probing. The Scanflex Board Grabber was specifically designed for the support of laboratory verification and programming of prototypes; it is also applicable at repair stations. It brings along a width adaptable fixture, which can hold PCBs of different sizes. While the L-version can hold boards of 300x300 mm, the XL-version allows dimensions of 495x340 mm and the XXL-version dimensions of 555x440 mm. Due to the integrated pivoting mechanism it is easily possible to reach the top side and bottom side of the board. All Board Grabber have pre-assembled interfaces for Scanflex TAP transceivers. Over these interfaces, the IEEE1149.x TAP signals are provided as well as additional analog and digital channels. Up to eight independent parallel TAP are supported. The connection of all signals to the board can be handled over clips, probes or precast connection cables. Moreover, with the Scanflex Board Grabber up to 50 needle probes at each side can be applied. They enable extremely reliable and convenient contact of signals via the smallest contact area or directly at the pin on the top side or bottom side of the board. The needle probes can be used to connect to oscilloscopes, logic analyzers or other test instruments in addition to Boundary Scan applications. Goepel Electronic, Jena, Germany. +49 3641-6896-739. []. April 2009


Products & TECHNOLOGY 1U Box Offers Seamless PCI Express Expansion Solutions

A simple, cost-effective solution for seamlessly expanding the available PCI Express slots of desktops, workstations, servers and laptops is aimed at server manufacturers, system integrators and audio/ visual or storage solutions providers. The ExpressBox2 (EB2) from Magma can also provide up to 2 PCI Express slots for plugging in graphics or other I/O cards to attach to laptops via an ExpressCard interface. This allows for significant cost savings to organizations, since it eliminates the need to invest in new computer hardware in order to be able to accommodate the growing need for I/O expandability. Magma’s EB2 is housed in a 1U form factor and allows the extension of a system’s backplane and/or I/O fabric via cable to an external chassis that can take 2 PCI Express I/O cards. This chassis allows for space and power to accommodate up to 4 hard drives. Further, the chassis can be daisy-chained to allow for the extension of 2 PCI Express slots per chassis. It also supports the ability to connect to laptops through ExpressCard interface Key features include a communication bandwidth supported between host and EB2 chassis that is up to 20 Gbits/s in each direction, in simultaneous transmit and receive mode and the ability to daisy-chain as many slots as the host configuration will allow. The EB2 supports automatic power-up control of the chassis by the host as well as hot-swappable PCI Express slots. The EB2 consists of a PCI Express host card, cable and chassis, and is automatically configured by the system BIOS, making all of the slots transparent to the host computer including automatic powering up of the chassis from the host. Magma, San Diego, CA. (858) 530-2511. [].

LED Assemblies Offer Custom Brightness Options

A set of LED assemblies and arrays from Elma Electronic can be customized to include different levels of indicating brightness for each LED within the same unit to meet a specific indicating goal. For example, a dual LED assembly may have one continuously lit dimly to indicate normal conditions. When triggered, the second LED within that assembly would not only illuminate a different color, but also a different brightness to indicate the severity and urgency of this problem. The injection molding system used by Elma allows quick and cost-effective modification of their LED and light pipe products. Therefore, a wide range of sizes, colors, brightness and options is available, even in small quantities. Standard color options include blue, red and green. Customized colors are also available such as orange, amber and white. Most LED designs are available in surface-mount or through-hole styles. Elma’s LEDs are priced from under $0.99 in volume. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400.[].

Core 2 Duo Rugged System Delivers Highest per Watt, per Cubic Inch Performance

A new rugged, ultra-small, Core 2 Duobased system is being presented as delivering the highest processing power per cubic inch, per watt in the world. The S705 “Raider” from General Micro Systems is based on the P70x module, which is a Core 2 Duo processor providing up to 2.16 GHz of power and 4 Mbytes of L2 Cache, and up to 2 Gbytes of 667 MHz DDR-2SDRAM. The S705 is available in a variety of configurations to be completely upgradeable and compatible along the Intel migration path. Due to its power and expandability, Raider provides performance levels equal to full-size ATR systems. An almost limitless range of application possibilities comes from Raider’s capacity to support five different expansion buses, a vast array of I/O, and numerous video and audio options. Adding to the system’s versatility is its super-small envelope (single drive is 4.6 x 4.6 x 1.6 inches, weighing only 2 lbs.) and dramatically low power requirements (as low as 15 watts total). Raider has the ability to support up to six wireless radios on four to six antennae feeds. This built-in functionality enables simultaneous monitoring and tracking of phone, wireless, CDMA, TDMA, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth or others. Other key features are Dual Gigabit Ethernet with a TCP/IP offloading engine, high-performance video, Dual Com ports with 232/422, four USB ports, full audio for VOIP applications, full BIT and EBIT testing, and thermal management for safe thermal operation. Additionally, Raider’s facility for rugged environments (-40° to +85°C, MIL-STD 810F), along with its ability to operate from a single voltage source (+16 to +28 VDC), makes the S705 suitable for demanding applications such as the UAV contract for which it was originally designed. Two optional 256 Gbyte solid-state disks can be fixed or removable, offering the ability to store ½ Terabyte of acquired data for security purposes in sensitive operations. Single quantity pricing starts at $8,300. General Micro Systems Rancho Cucamonga, CA. (800) 307-4863. [].


April 2009

Atom-Based COM Express Module Boosts Graphics Performance

Continuing its rollout of embedded computer modules based on the Intel Atom processor family, congatec has introduced the conga-BA945, a COM Express module with type 2 pinout that conforms to the specified COM Express basic size of 95x125 mm². The Intel Atom processor N270 has a clock speed of 1.60 GHz, as well as 512 Kbyte cache and a 533 MHz front side bus speed. Despite the high processing power, the processor gets by with a maximum power dissipation of 2.5W. Thanks to the power management provided by the congatec embedded BIOS, the actual values reached during practical use remain well below this maximum level. The congatec conga-BA945 supports Intel Hyper Threading Technology, which means with the appropriate software it has the capability of running two operating systems in parallel and completely independent of one another. In contrast to the recently announced conga-CA945, which is an even lower priced and more compact COM Express compatible module featuring an Intel Atom processor, the conga-BA945 makes use of the more powerful Intel 945GME chip set versus the Intel 945GSE used on the conga-CA945. The 945GME chip set facilitates the parallel use of two memory modules, which allows the memory to be expanded to a maximum of 4 Gbytes and makes dual channel memory access possible. In terms of graphics performance alone, the performance increase thereby achieved is more than 50%. The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics controller integrated in the chip set can access up to 224 Mbytes of video memory with a 10.6 Gbyte/s bandwidth. Output for the two independent graphics channels can be via 2x24 bit LVDS, SDVO, TV-Out or analog VGA. The conga-BA945 uses the EPI graphics standard and the VESA DisplayID definition for automatic recognition and configuration of flat panel displays. In order to allow rapid system expansion, five PCI Express lanes, a PCI Express graphics slot (PEG 1x16), eight USB 2.0 ports, two serial ATA ports and the signals for two ExpressCards are provided. The range of functions is rounded off by a fan controller, the LPC bus for slow extensions and an HDA interface that can provide powerful digital audio. The maximum power dissipation of the conga-BA945 during practical operation is considerably less than 10W and it is therefore ideally suited for all mobile and fanless applications with high demands on graphics performance. The conga-BA945 is available now with evaluation unit pricing of $362 each. congatec, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. (760) 635-2600. [].

PCI Express Digital I/O Interface with Optically Isolated Inputs

A PCI Express digital I/O interface adapter provides 16 optically isolated inputs and 16 Reed relay outputs. The DIO-32. PCIe from Sealevel Systems can be utilized for PC-based control and automation of equipment including sensors, switches, A/V studio automation, security control systems and industrial automation systems. Sealevel PCI Express serial boards are designed for computers with X1 PCI Express slots. Software for standard PCI boards will also work with PCI Express boards, simplifying your transition to this next-generation PCI bus. The isolated inputs protect the PC and other sensitive equipment from the voltage spikes and ground loop currents that are common to industrial environments. The board is available in two versions with inputs rated for 3-13V or 10-30V. Socketed dip resistors allow user configurable input ranges from +2V to +30V. The outputs provide high-quality, longlife, dry contact switch closures suitable for low-current applications. The highly reliable 10VA Reed relays are normally open and close when energized. Sealevel SeaI/O Classic software drivers and utilities are provided for installation and operation using Windows 2000, XP and Vista operating systems. Software support for Linux is also available. The DIO-32. PCIe is available immediately from stock priced at $479. Sealevel Systems, Liberty, SC. (864) 843-4343. [].

GPS Cards for Mobile Computers Fight off Noise and Jamming

Two GPS PCI Express Mini cards enable next-generation laptop, netbook, mobile Internet device and Ultra Mobile PC OEMs to provide GPS and location-based services such as personal navigation, services/ people finder and geo-tagging. The PCI-5S and PCM 5S PCI Express Mini Cards from u-blox are based on the industry-leading u-blox 5 positioning engine delivering the world’s fastest Time-to-First-Fix (<1 sec). Requiring only an external antenna, the card comes in two sizes—PCI Express Mini Card (PCI-5S) and PCI Express Half Mini Card (PCM-5S)—to accommodate OEMs’ diverse needs. The cards implement u-blox’ unmatched SuperSense technology, which can track extremely weak GPS signals to -160 dBm as well as the Kick Start feature for a fast Time-to-first-Fix at weak signals. This allows seamless navigation in dense urban environments, even when using low-cost antennas. Thanks to u-blox proprietary anti-jamming algorithms, the products are highly immune to noise generated by the PC bus, mobile phones and local electronic devices. The drivers support Windows XP and Windows Vista. A driver for the upcoming Windows 7 is in preparation. U-blox, Reston, VA. (703) 483-3180. []. April 2009


Products & TECHNOLOGY 1U Networking Appliance Supports Core 2 Duo, Q35 Chipset and 10 x GbE

Designed around the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Intel Q35 chipset, the PL-10570, a new 1U rack-mount network appliance from WIN Enterprises, delivers outstanding performance for mainstream applications and is costeffective enough for entry-level networking solutions. The Q35 chipset features on-chip PCI Express x4 and x1 lanes. The highly efficient 45nm Intel Core 2 Quad / Duo processor supports a maximum 1333 MHz front-side bus speed and 800 MHz dual-channel DDRII memory. Designed for a broad range of networking applications, the unit can support UTM network management, load balancing, WAN acceleration and VoIP gateway uses The device features a maximum of 10 x GbE. There are 6 PCIe x1 GbE copper 82573L LANs on the board, and the option of one of two expansion modules. One module has 4 GbE copper LANs using two 82571EB PCIe chips. The other module has 2 GbE copper LANs and 2 SFP GbE LANs using two 82571EB PCIe chips. Linux, Windows Embedded XP and FreeBSD are supported. PL-10570 is available as a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) platform or it can serve as the basis for a custom OEM design. Unit pricing begins at $1,033 in OEM quantities. Win Enterprises, North Andover, MA. (978) 688-2000. [].

Atom-Based Qseven Module Mates with Carrier Card

A Qseven family of embedded system solutions is based on Intel’s Atom processor. The Qseven module was initiated by congatec AG and SECO, and enhanced by Portwell in response to market demand for an even smaller form factor to take advantage of the Intel Atom processor’s already compact design. At a mere 70 mm x 70 mm—30 percent smaller than COM Express—and with a power consumption under 12W (+5V input), the Qseven is an appropriate module form factor to implement the Intel Atom processor Z5xx series and Intel System Controller Hub (SCH) US15W in terms of space, power consumption and thermal and expansion interfaces. American Portwell Technology’s new Qseven family is a solution to enhance applications in the medical device, industrial control, gaming machine, portable device and COTS military markets. The interconnection between the Qseven module board and the carrier board is the MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module) edge connector. Introduced by NVIDIA and leading notebook manufacturers, MXM provides faster time-to-market for the latest notebook graphics. Common signals between the two boards include PCI Express x1, LVDS, SATA, SDVO, HAD, Gigabit Ethernet, Low Pin Count bus, Secure Digital I/O, SMBus and I2C bus. The Qseven module board is installed on top of the carrier board for improved mechanical stability. This means a small keep-out zone that leaves more space on the carrier board for additional devices. It also means that the carrier board itself can be smaller. Either way, it makes the Qseven an even more economical solution. Portwell’s Qseven family consists of the PQ7-M100G (Intel Atom Z5xx CPU module board) and PQ7-C200 (Mini-ITX carrier board). The PQ7-M100G features Intel’s Atom Z510 or Z530 processor and SCH US15W integrated GMA 500 Graphic, and supports LVDS/SDVO and LVDS/VGA dual independent display. The PQ7-C200, based on Mini-ITX form factor, serves as a development kit carrier board to the PQ7-M100G and includes all the necessary connectors, such as VGA and PCI-E x1. American Portwell Technology, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3399. [].


April 2009

16-Channel VPX SerDes Test Module for VPX Systems

A new 16-channel version of SerDes Test Modules for VPX systems allows testing and pre-emphasis of the SerDes signals to ensure signal performance of the system. The 16-channel SerDes modules from Elma Electronic are designed to plug into VPX backplanes and directly test the channel compliance. They can be used to test VPX switch and node cards and/or the backplane channels without requiring external equipment or special test fixtures. The modules provide a quick and efficient look at the “vital signs” of the signals in the VPX system. The Bustronic SerDes test modules also allow preemphasis tuning of VPX cards. The modules allow the user to measure the initial performance of the VPX boards and fine-tune them for optimum performance. Plugging directly into the backplane/ chassis, the modules allow quick and easy characterization of the signals and eliminate the need for SMA connectors, cables and capital-intensive measurement hardware. With a USB connection to a laptop or desktop computer, it is easy to create Eye Diagrams, measure Bit Error Rates (BER) and jitter, and more. Plus, the module kit includes software with a simple GUI interface. Within minutes, the user can plug the cards into the test chassis, connect the USB cable to a laptop, download the GUI software and begin measurements. Pricing for the 16-channel SerDes test modules starts under $30,000 depending on configuration. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 490-7388. [].

XMC I/O Card Combines User Programmable FPGA with Configurable I/O

A new high-performance I/O mezzanine card combines a user-programmable FPGA and configurable I/O on a single compact, rugged card to deliver an enhanced level of I/O flexibility and processing performance. The XMV-FPGA05D from CurtissWright Controls Embedded Computing is a PMC/ XMC card, available in both air- and conduction-cooled versions, that takes full advantage of its onboard Virtex-5 FPGA to control the I/O interface. It can deliver up to 138 signals, such as ADC, DAC, Camera Link, RS485, LVDS, from its front panel, and up to 64 signals from the backplane via the host card. The XMC-FPGA05D combines the latest generation reconfigurable FPGA processing with fast data paths to simplify and speed the integration of high-speed I/O into embedded subsystems for a wide variety of applications, including imaging, direct sensor interfacing and system control for radar, telecommunication (SDR), tracking systems and SigINT platforms. The XMC-FPGA05D accommodates high-density application-specific I/O schemes supported by front-panel I/O personality modules. Personality modules are available from Curtiss-Wright for ADC, DAC, LVDS, RS485, Camera Link and other popular I/O types. Non-front-panel I/O is supported through the PMC P14 and XMC 16 I/O. The XMC-FPGA05D routes two x8 Virtex-5 FPGA RocketIO HSS ports to the XMC P15 and P16 connectors enabling the card to be used with a variety of protocols and connectivity types. The card supports a x8/x4 PCI Express (PCIe) channel through its primary XMC P15 connector using the Virtex-5 FPGA’s built-in PCIe end-point block. Alternatively, the XMC P15 and P16 connectors can be used to provide user-defined protocol support over the data links, such as Aurora for higher-bandwidth, lower-latency operation. A PCI/PCI-X interface to the PMC connectors supports up to 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X operation. An onboard switch is used to determine whether the board powers up using the PCI-X or PCI Express interface. Software support for the XMC-FPGA05D includes software drivers for VxWorks, Linux and Windows operating environments. In addition, Curtiss-Wright’s FusionXF development kit provides software, HDL and utilities complete with reference designs, to ease development with the XMC-FPGA05D. FusionXF includes a C programming language API, driver framework and sophisticated DMA support. Pricing for the XMC-FPGA05D starts at $7,250. Availability is Q2 2009. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (613) 254-5112. [].

2480-2960 MHz VCO Targets Wireless Apps

Designed for use in applications such as digital radio equipment, fixed wireless access, satellite communications systems and base stations, Crystek’s CVCO55CC-2480-2960 Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) operates from 2480 MHz to 2960 MHz with a control voltage range of 0.5V~18V. This VCO features a typical phase noise of -106 dBc/Hz @ 10 KHz offset and has excellent linearity. Output power is typically +7 dBm. The model CVCO55CC-2480-2960 is packaged in the industry-standard 0.5-in. x 0.5-in. SMD package. Input voltage is 8V, with a max current consumption of 35 mA. Pulling and Pushing are minimized to 1.5 MHz and 0.5 MHz/V, respectively. Second harmonic suppression is -15 dBc typical. Pricing starts at $18.46 each in volume. Crystek, Ft. Myers, FL (239) 561-3311. [].

Packet Processors Reduce Network Load on Servers

A pair of intelligent, high-performance packet processors is designed to allow customers to respond to the rapidly increasing network traffic loads that are a result of growth in the use of search engines, cloud computing, mobile devices, Web 2.0 and online gaming. The new WANic 56511 and WANic 56512 processors from GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms offload processing from the host system, allowing for more cost-effective, higher performance expansion of capacity. Target customers include system design engineers, system architects and product managers building networked communications systems based on the PCI Express architecture who need secure IP communications and 10 Gbit Ethernet packet processing for commercial, telecommunications and defense applications. The WANic 56511 and 56512 are the first PCI Express packet processors to feature the Octeon Plus CN5650 12-core 750 MHz processor from Cavium Networks and 10Gbit Ethernet interfaces, enabling them to deliver high performance at minimum cost. The WANic 56511 has one 10 Gbit Ethernet interface, an eight-lane PCI Express host interface and a 12-core, 750 MHz Octeon Plus processor. The WANic 56512 has two 10 Gbit Ethernet interfaces, four lanes of PCI Express to the host and a 12-core, 750 MHz processor. Other key features of the WANic 56511 and 56512 include up to 4 Gbytes of DDR2 SDRAM packet memory and up to 4 Gbytes of flash disk, providing the fast storage necessary for optimum throughput. A fully featured software development package provides comprehensive Power On Self Test (POST) firmware embedded in the hardware, while a Linux Support Package (LSP) and sample application code allow customers to shorten development times and thus minimize time to revenue. Both products are designed for enterprise and NEBS-compliant telecom class applications. GE Fanuc, Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. []. April 2009


Products & TECHNOLOGY 1U Rackmount Networking Platform Features 8 x GbE

A 1U rackmount networking and network security platform is based on the Intel EP80579 integrated processor, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that integrates CPU, North Bridge, South Bridge and optional Intel QuickAssist accelerator technology on a single chip. Compared with three-chip solutions, the EP80579 offers more performance per watt and application-specific performance in less space than traditional designs. The platform offers a choice of processor performance of either 600 MHz or 1.2 GHz, a highbandwidth DDRII DIMM slot with memory up to 2 Gbytes, and a full set of VPN functions such as encryption, hashing and public/private key generation. Storage features include one 3.5” SATA HDD and CompactFlash. The platform offers five GbE Copper and a maximum of eight GbE Ethernet ports via PCI-E by 1 or by 4 that are accessible on the front-panel. To prevent network problems when the platform shuts down, PL-8000 supports one segment of LAN bypass function through WDT and GPIO pin definitions. The front panel also features an USB 2.0 port, a RJ-45 console port and LED indicators to monitor power and storage activities for system management, maintenance and diagnostics. The PL-8000 supports two PCI-E by4 slots. The unit is RoHS, FCC and CE compliant. The PL-8000 is available as a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) platform or can serve as the basis for a custom networking or communications design. Pricing for the unit with onboard processor begins at $435 in OEM quantities.

Qseven Starter Kit for Mobile, Embedded Applications

Supporting development for the recently available Qseven form factor is a complete rapid prototyping package for battery-powered, embedded systems called the Qseven Mobility Starter Kit from congatec. In order to minimize the development effort required for such systems, congatec has bundled all the necessary components in a comprehensive starter kit. In addition to a compact Qseven carrier board and a 5.7” LVDS touch display with an LED backlight, the starter kit includes a battery manager module with a smart battery. A cable set is also supplied, which makes it possible to build a compact, mobile demo system in a matter of minutes.

WIN Enterprises, North Andover, MA. (978) 688-2000. [].

Reflective Memory PMC Increases Data Security, Extends Capacity

A new reflective memory PMC provides real-time redundant memory storage across multiple computers in a networked system. In addition to high transmission speeds and exceptional flexibility, the 32-bit/33 MHz P512 from Men Micro offers increased data security as well as expanded memory capacity, since memory elements can be read from and written to different processors simultaneously and shared among PCs providing a redundant memory architecture. The P512 is widely used in a variety of mission-critical and data-intensive applications including data acquisition, test and measurement, industrial automation and control as well as in the medical and aerospace industries. Each P512 module offers 32 Mbyte soldered, FPGA-controlled DDR2 SDRAM and an LVDS channel with a connection speed of 230 MHz and 86 Mbytes/s. The PMC supports multi-mode transmission up to six feet, so it can be integrated into a mesh connecting all modules of the network to each other. For this, each system CPU needs a PMC module for the connection to the other computers (e.g., for two SBCs—one PMC module per SBC, three SBCs—two PMC modules per SBC, etc.). The P512 operates from -40° to +85°C (-40° to +185°F) with qualified components as is suitable for any PMC-compliant host carrier board in any type of bus system (e.g., CPCI, VME or on any stand-alone SBC). Appropriate PMC carrier cards in 3U, 6U and other formats are available from MEN Micro and other manufacturers. Pricing starts at $2,123. MEN Micro, Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. [].

With dimensions of just 95 x 140 mm and a range of interfaces, the Qseven carrier board is easy to integrate. It includes 6 USB interfaces, an Ethernet port as well as LVDS and DVI display interfaces. The power supply is 19 VDC (as used by most notebook computers), which provides the option of using low-cost power. The carrier board also has other standard interfaces, such as a Mini PCI Express slot for WLAN expansions and a high-definition audio interface. Mass storage is provided by a solid-state disk integrated with the Qseven CPU module and the SATA and SD card interfaces on the carrier board. Due to the 5V power supply of the Qseven module, it is possible to implement the battery system using small, dual-cell smart batteries. The entire charging circuit is a separate, additional module, meaning that it can be integrated flexibly in housing designs. Communication with the battery system is implemented as standard if the user’s operating system is ACPI-capable. As an option, the Qseven Mobility Starter Kit’s battery system can be integrated directly with a customer-specific carrier board. For this, congatec can supply an integration kit that includes all connection schemes, the source files for the microcontroller program and complete development documentation. Pricing starts at $1,000. congatec, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. (760) 635-2600. [].


April 2009

PCI Express Frame Grabber Utilizes Full Potential of Camera Link-Compatible Cameras

A powerful image processing solution for Camera Linkcompatible cameras comes in the form of a PCI Express frame grabber from American Eltec. The PC_EYE/CL supports base, medium and full configurations. The PCI Express interface with four lanes (x4) delivers data rates of up to 1 Gbyte/s for maximum speed cameras with full interfaces. The frame grabber delivers speeds of up to 680 Mbytes/s. The PC_EYE/CL frame grabber has inputs for digital video data compliant with Camera Link standard Version 1.2. Since each of the two onboard Mini-Delta-Ribbon 26-pin connectors supports four ports, a total of eight ports (A-H) can be used. This makes it possible to either connect two independent Base cameras, using ports A-C each, or one Medium (A-F), or one Full (A-H) camera. Each 8-bit-wide Camera Link port uses a high-speed 7:1 multiplexing scheme with a serial transmission rate of 2.36 Gbits/s for optimal utilization of cable capacity. This DMA controller consists of two independent controllers, capable of transferring two video data streams into two independent memory regions. Image data is transmitted by DMA directly into the main memory or into the graphics card. A DRAM-based FIFO consisting of 1 Gbyte DDR2 RAM is available for applications with higher bandwidth requirements. Consequently, loss of image data can now be eliminated even if the PCI Express Bus is unavailable for periods that exceed one second. The video data interface, FIFO control, DMA and PCI Express x4 are all implemented in a flexible and powerful Arria GX FPGA by Altera. Firmware updates are controlled via the software. The system also supports PoCL (Power over Camera Link). Trigger and optically insulated I/O signals are routed through a 26-pole internal flat cord plug connector, while a sub-volume of these signals is transferred by a 9-pole micro D plug. DLL format drivers for Windows XP/Vista and Linux are at the userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disposal as part of the Frame Grabber Basic Tools. They are available as 32- and 64-bit versions. A set-up program supports the test and the configuration of the board under Windows. A reduced version of the Frame Grabber Basic Tools portfolio is available for real-time operating systems such as VxWorks or OS-9000 upon request. In this case, the parameters are simply integrated into the configuration files. This solution does not include display routines. Pricing for the PC_EYE/CL frame grabber is $1,260 in single piece quantities. American ELTEC, Las Vegas, NV. (702) 878-4085. [].

CANopen Stack Supports SocketCAN Drivers for Linux

The popular CANopenRT protocol software from IXXAT now supports the most recent implementation of the SocketCAN drivers for Linux using the Sysfs virtual file system. SocketCAN is a set of open source drivers and a network stack that extends the Berkeley sockets API in Linux by introducing a new protocol family: PF_CAN. Main components of SocketCAN are the network device drivers for different CAN controllers and the implementation of the CAN protocol family. The SocketCAN framework has become part of a vanilla kernel starting with 2.6.25. IXXATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CANopenRT software has supported multiple user application threads interacting with one CANopen core stack module since its initial release. The abstraction of the CAN controller as a Socket interface now offers the possibility to run other CAN-based protocols, such as SAE J1939, on the same CAN interface in parallel to CANopen also on Linux platforms, similar to the versatility that is already available on Microsoft Windows systems with CANopenRT for the IXXAT VCI V3 driver. CANopenRT has been tested with SocketCAN drivers for NXP SJA1000 and Freescale MSCAN for Linux distributions based on the kernel version 2.6. IXXAT, Bedford, NH. (603) 471.0800. [].

PMC Card Offers Time-Triggered Networking

TTP is a communication protocol for design of fault-tolerant distributed hard real-time systems with clean definition of key system interfaces. TTTech has developed a PMC Card with TTP communication controller and a PowerPC host processor. TTPPMC Card enables time-triggered and deterministic networking for complex distributed systems. It has been designed for the use of all kinds of standard modules with PMC interface. System configuration with TTP-based PMC cards allows customers to benefit from faster time-to-market and reduced lifecycle costs.

Distributed embedded computing with TTPPMC Card enables development of distributed applications independent of the underlying communication architecture, physical layer, topology or embedded host hardware. TTPPMC Card makes application design as easy as possible. It contains an Austriamicrosystems AS8202NF communication controller and a standard Freescale MPC5567 host processor on board. A TTP network facilitates the development of reusable platforms and supports full separation of application design from system interfacing details. TTTech North America, Tucson, AZ. (619) 994-8626. []. April 2009


Products & TECHNOLOGY USB Module Aids Connectivity for RS-232-Based Apps

A USB to single-channel RS-232 level serial UART from Future Technology Devices incorporates FTDI’s FT232RQ IC, which handles all the USB signaling and USB to UART protocols. The modules provide a fast, simple way to connect devices with an RS232 level serial UART interface (9 way standard D-type connector) to USB (type B socket). Supporting communications with any RS-232 device, the module’s RS-232 port provides full hardware handshaking capability and a data rate of up to 1 Mbit/s. It also has three LEDs that indicate power and give a visual indication of traffic through the module. The FT232RQ is an industry standard USB to asynchronous serial interface IC. Device drivers for all current Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems are available for free. The USB-COM232-PLUS1 module has a wide range of operating temperature from -40° to + 85°C making it suitable for applications in harsh environments. Likely applications include industrial machinery such as CNC machines and lathes, retail equipment such as point of sale scanners, printers and other data collection devices. Other target sectors include medical monitoring devices, sports equipment and many other home automation and person electronic devices. A fully enclosed adapter version of this module, offering different mounting options, is available from FTDI’s group company Easy Sync.

ECX Board Operates at under 10W

SWaP—or Size, Weight and Power—issues have moved to the top of the priority lists for many system designers targeting rugged mobile applications. American Portwell Technology offers Portwell PEB-2738, which utilizes the Intel ECX form factor and supports the latest options of the Intel Atom processor Z5xx series and the Intel System Controller Hub US15W, including industrial temperature range and a larger footprint version with 1.0 mm ball pitch. The PEB-2738 is specifically designed to operate at a very low power consumption of less than 10W at full loading. It supports dual independent display by LVDS and SDVO daughter card (DVI/VGA/LVDS, project-based).

Future Technology Devices International Glasgow, Scotland. +44 (0) 141 429 2777. [].

Real-Time Messaging Middleware Meets Secure Linux

The Linux operating system has a firm foothold in the embedded arena. Software developers like the fact that they can start developing with Linux without the overhead of a commercial OS to consider. Real-Time Innovations (RTI) has announced that RTI Data Distribution Service, its real-time messaging middleware, has been integrated with Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux). This combination provides real-time and high-performance distributed applications with the ability to securely distribute data by combining RTI’s high-performance network communications with the extremely flexible Mandatory Access Control (MAC) facilities of SELinux. RTI Data Distribution Service allows distributed applications to securely exchange messages and data by authenticating peers and encrypting information that is sent over the network. The MAC capabilities of SELinux add several additional levels of protection against misconfiguration, software errors and application vulnerabilities: System-wide security policies control which applications are allowed to communicate with each other. Even applications with the appropriate credentials and keys can communicate only if explicitly provisioned to do so. Files containing keys, configuration information and logs are protected from unauthorized access. RTI Data Distribution Service and a reference SELinux security policy are available today from RTI. Real-Time Innovations, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 990-7400. [].


April 2009

Based on the Intel Atom processor Z5xx series platform, the PEB-2738 takes advantage of the low-power processor, groundbreaking power management techniques and wide temperature range so it can be a truly industrial temperature and fanless configuration. In addition, the PEB-2738 supports one SO-DIMM memory slot for DDR2 SDRAM up to 2 Gbytes, and comes with one IDE, one CompactFlash socket, one SDVO connector, one TPM, PCI-E x1 golden finger, two RS232/422/485, audio CH5.1, six USB2.0 and one SDIO connector. American Portwell Technology Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3399. [].

DSCC Approved 32 Mbyte & 64 Mbyte Hermetic Flash Multi-Chip Modules

Two new DSCC approved 32 Mbyte and 64 Mbyte hermetic flash multi-chip modules (MCM) are available in a 66PGA or 68CQFP low-profile ceramic package. They feature a reliable nonvolatile high-speed memory access of <70 ns, very low operating (120 mA max) and standby power (150uA), -55° to 125°C temperature operation and boot block sector architecture. Ideal applications for the MCMs announced by Austin Semiconductor are core program boot code storage, navigation / GPS / radar, missile control & guidance, automotive & industrial applications, as well as weapons control & guidance.

Fully Integrated MIL-STD-1553 Terminal

A fully integrated 1553 terminal consolidates all the necessary MIL-STD¬1553 components within a single, small, costeffective PBGA package. The BU64843T Total-ACETM from Data Device Corporation comprises a complete interface between a host computer and a MIL-STD-1553 bus that simplifies design, procurement and qualification processes. The Total-ACETM integrates dual transceivers, dual transformers, protocol engine and 4K words of internal RAM, and is fully software and hardware compatible with DDC’s Enhanced Mini-ACE series of devices. The BU-64843T is powered entirely by +3.3 volts, and offers an extended -40° to +100°C industrial temperature range. Additionally, the Total-ACETM is DO- 254 certifiable, and is available in RoHS-compliant versions. Data Device Corporation, Bohemia, N.Y. (631) 567-5600. [].

Major features of the modules include: • DSCC SMD 5962-09205 Approved (1M x 32) • DSCC SMD 5962-08245 Approved (2M x 32) • 32 Mbyte device: total density, organized as 1M x 32 • 64 Mbyte device, total density, organized as 2M x 32 • Bottom Boot Block (Sector) Architecture • Operation with single 3.3V Supply • Available in multiple Access time variations • Individual byte control via individual byte selects (CSx\) • Low Power CMOS • 100,000 Erase/Program Cycles • Minimum 100,000 Program/Erase Cycles per sector guaranteed • Sector Architecture: One 16 Kbyte, two 8 Kbyte, one 32 Kbyte and thirty-one 64 Kbyte sectors (byte mode) • Any combination of sectors can be concurrently erased • MCM supports full array (multi-chip) Erase • Embedded Erase and Program Algorithms • Erase Suspend/Resume: Supports reading data from or programming data to a sector not being Erased • TTL Compatible Inputs and Outputs Austin Semiconductor, Austin, TX. (512) 339-1188. [].

Low-Power Replacement for High-Powered VME SBC

A drop-in replacement for the end-of-life SBS VR7 VME board from Xembedded is now available, but with much more processor power. The XVME689-VR7 is a powerful, very low-power single-slot 6U single board computer with the same VMEbus P1 and P2 pin outs as the company’s VR7. The XVME-689-VR7 VMEbus processor integrates an Intel Celeron M processor running at 1.0 GHz with up to 512 Kbytes of level 2 cache and a PCI-to-VMEbus interface. 512 Mbyte or 1 Gbyte ECC or Non-ECC DDR, 266/333 MHz SDRAM are available on the XVME689-VR7. The XVME-689-VR7 has VGA Graphics out front panel or rear video support (Pixel resolution up to 1600 x 1200 at 85 Hz).The EIDE Ultra-100 DMA controller supports up to three EIDE devices, one PMC 32/64-bit 33/66 MHz site (IEEE P1386/P1386.1) with front panel I/O bezel and user I/O on optional P0 rear connector. Additional options available on the XVME-689-VR7 are EIDE onboard 1.8” hard drive, CompactFlash carrier, two Serial ATA150 (SATA150) external devices and a floppy disk interface. SCSI can be added with the use of a SCSI PMC board. This XVME-689-VR7 processor module allows users to take advantage of the low-power, multiprocessing capability of the VMEbus while using standard off-the-shelf PC software, operating systems and VMEbus I/O modules. Xembedded, Ann Arbor, MI. (734) 975-0577. [].

April 2009


Products & TECHNOLOGY Extended Temperature Module Based on Atom Z5xx Series

Utilizing the new industrial temperature versions of the ultra-low-power Intel Atom processor Z5xx series and the System Controller Hub US15WPT, a new COM Express module is geared around low power consumption and the industrial temperature range. All components used for the high-density design conga-CAx from congatec are specified for an ambient temperature range of -40° to +85°C. Typical power requirements for this module are less than 5 watts. When combined with ACPI 3.0 battery management, ultra-mobile industrial applications are now possible. The conga-CAx is available in two different CPU variants. One version is powered by the Intel Atom processor Z510PT with 1.1 GHz and 400 MHz front side and memory bus. The other version features the1.33 GHz Intel Atom processor Z520PT. Both variants are equipped with 512k L2 cache and can access up to 1 Gbyte of rugged onboard soldered DDR2 RAM. The Intel System Controller Hub US15WPT has an integrated Intel Graphics Memory Accelerator 500 graphics engine. This 3D-capable onboard graphics utilizes up to 256 Mbyte frame buffer and supports DirectX 9.0E and OpenGL 2.0. It also enhances video playback applications through the use of MPEG2 and MPEG4 hardware decoding. Graphic output provides either a 1x24 Bit LVDS channel or a single SDVO port. The conga-CAx also offers a rich connectivity feature-set. This includes up to 2 PCI Express x1 lanes, PCI Bus, EIDE interface, Gigabit Ethernet, High Definition Audio and 8 USB ports. The onboard IDE flash drive provides up to 2 Gbytes of mass storage and is also specified for the full industrial temperature range. The congatec In-Vehicle Infotainment starter kit is a typical application for the congaCAx given that automotive applications always require extended temperature components. Due to its small size, low power consumption and 2 Gbyte onboard IDE flash disc, the conga-CAx is also suitable for industrial applications such as PLC devices. The single unit price of the basic variant based on the Atom Z510PT with 1.1 GHz is $450. congatec, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. (760) 635-2600. [].

1.6 GHz Atom N270 Processor Powers a Cool VME SBC

Atom-Based Mini-ITX Motherboards Boast Power Savings, Rich I/O

The perception of Intel CPUs as more power hungry than their competitors is in full retreat now that the Atom family of microprocessors has entered the game. Riding that wave, Advantech announced production of its first Intel Atom industrial grade Mini-ITX motherboard. The AIMB-210, with an Intel Atom N270 CPU, features a super lowpower design, but without sacrificing performance. Rich connectivity with up to eight USB 2.0 and six COM ports is integrated in a standard 170 x 170 mm form factor. The AIMB-210 incorporates an Intel Atom 45nm processor, and is designed to enable spaceefficient solutions with a power-saving feature. Equipped with the Intel 945GSE chipset, total power consumption comes in at around a mere 14W. The AIMB-210 has a 533 MHz Front Side Bus and up to 2 Gbytes of DDR2 533 SDRAM. The AIMB-210 supports dual display with multiple display types, such as CRT + LVDS, TVOut + LVDS, or LVDS1 + LVDS2 (optional) with TV-out via S-Video/Composite Video connections. Video output is complemented by HD audio for a complete audio/visual solution. Advantech, Irvine, CA. (949) 789-7178. [].

With a power consumption of under 20W, a new ultra-low-power VME single board computer is based on the Intel Atom processor. The VP A45/01x from Concurrent Technologies uses the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor N270 and the Intel 945GSE Express chipset both from the Intel embedded roadmap, ensuring long-term availability. With 2 Gbyte DDR2-533 SDRAM, this ultra-low-power board also supports a variety of peripheral I/O ports, flash drive, CompactFlash site and PMC/XMC modules. Commercial and extended temperature versions are now available, and ruggedized, conduction-cooled or air-cooled (to VITA 47) versions will be available shortly. The 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor N270 (soldered), based on Intel’s 45nm process technology, provides 512 Kbytes L2 cache and supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel Virtualization Technology. The GS45E Graphics Memory Controller Hub and ICH7-M IO Controller Hub are used to complement the processor to deliver a good performance-per-watt. With a wide range of flexible I/O, the VP A45/01x supports a PMC/XMC site with front I/O and P2 rear I/O (VITA35 P4V2-64ac) plus a second 33 MHz PMC site with front I/O and rear I/O via the optional P0. The first PMC site supports up to 100 MHz PCI-X operation as well as a x1 PCI Express XMC interface. A range of onboard I/O is available to the user: two Ethernet interfaces, a USB 2.0 port and an RS-232 interface via the front panel, whilst the rear panel I/O includes digital 3D graphics (2048 x 1536), keyboard, mouse, four GPIO signals, two USB 2.0 ports, an RS232/RS422/RS485 port and two SATA150 interfaces. The optional P0 also supports two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Other features provided are a PC real-time clock, watchdog timer and long duration timer and LAN boot firmware. Optional rear transition modules are also available. For embedded applications, the board supports an option for an onboard 2.5-inch SATA150 mass storage drive and as standard, a removable Flash Drive Module and onboard CompactFlash socket, both via an EIDE interface. The VME64 Interface supports A32/A24/A16/D64/D32/D16/ D8(EO)/MBLT64 and includes support for fast hardware byte-swapping. For ease of integration the VP A45/01x supports many of today’s leading operating systems, including Linux, Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, QNX and VxWorks. Concurrent Technologies, Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].


April 2009

Integrated Radar Input and Scan Converter

A new radar input and scan converter VME board set provides an open standards-based high-performance solution for capturing, converting and mixing radar video. Designed for demanding military radar applications, Cougar from Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing speeds and simplifies the integration of advanced radar image processing and distribution functionality into deployed embedded systems. The flexible, two-slot VME modular Cougar system provides the functionality required to integrate and implement a wide range of radar input/scan conversion configurations. Its four PMC/XMC expansion slots are used to host the user-selected mix of mezzanine modules appropriate for their particular application. Available mezzanine modules supported by Cougar include Curtiss-Wright’s Osiris B radar video input card, XMC-710 video capture & graphics display card, Eagle-2 radar scan conversion module and an optional PMC-659 mixer card.

Key features of the Cougar include its two-slot 6U VME form factor, an Intel Core 2 Duo-based Host Single Board Computer and Windows or Linux software support with RVL+ API for ease of application development and configuration. Applications can be executed locally on the Cougar or remotely via a network for which an API is provided. In addition, a range of ruggedization levels include air-cooled and conduction-cooled. And it is possible to send digitized radar video over an Ethernet network The Cougar consists of several component modules including the Osiris B radar video input processor, the Eagle-2 radar video scan converter, an XMC-710 high-performance video card and an optional video mixer card. Additionally, integrated mass storage can be integrated on board or via a rear-transition module. Osiris B radar video input supports two independent radar channels inputs at rates up to 16k samples per return. The supported inputs include radar video, triggers and azimuth turning data for RADDS, ACP/ARP and other specialized formats. The Orion has sampling rates up to 50 MHz on each of two analog inputs, which can be mixed with up to 8 digital radar inputs. After digitizing and processing, the Orion outputs two streams of radar video directly to the host processor at rates up to 25 Mbytes/s per channel. Additional features include dual trigger input, gain control as a function of range, range and azimuth correlation, digital filtering, a built-in test generator, dual azimuth input and interference suppression. Software support for Cougar includes drivers for Windows and Linux operating environments. Pricing starts at $19,000. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (613) 254-5112. [].

VPX Load Board Helps Verify Power Spec Conformance

A new 3U VPX load board helps confirm that a chassis meets the VITA 46/48 power specifications for VPX and aids in locating hot spots within the enclosure. The load board from Elma Electronic functions to test a system’s cooling capabilities by first applying the load to the power supply for verification and creating the necessary heat to confirm chassis cooling. By locating hot spots in the chassis, a system designer can verify where to optimally redirect the airflow to prevent overheating. The 3U VPX load card features a microcontroller-based stepped load control to 100W maximum. The rotary switch selects the voltage setting, while pushing the ON switch will cycle between different power levels shown on the LED display. The set load power levels are saved in EEPROM. Other features include a power reset button (to minimum level) and a SYSRESET signal on the two test point outputs. Go-No-Go indicators are present for 3.3V, 5V, 12V, +12V_Aux, -12V_Aux and 3.3V_ Aux. There is also an IEEE injector/ejector handle to provide a secure and convenient latching mechanism. Bustronic is also planning a 6U VPX Load board as well as a conduction-cooled version in the coming months. Pricing is under $1,000 depending on volume and type. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510)490-7388. [].

3U VPX Atom Card Offers High Security

This has become the “Year of the Atom” for small form factor embedded board designs. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing has introduced a new low-power, high-performance, small (3U) form factor VPX3-1100 Atomic board designed for rugged deployed aerospace and defense applications that require highly secure computing. The VPX3-1100 Atomic provides a 1.1 GHz Intel Atom processor and up to 512 Mbyte DDR2 SDRAM, 1 Gbyte NAND flash, a BIOS Firmware Hub (FWH) and a Trusted Platform Module for trusted boot. The VPX3-1100 Atomic backplane input/output includes two high-performance PCI (x1) fabrics, 2x GbE interfaces, 2x RS-232 Serial interfaces, 8x GPIO, 2x USB 2.0, VGA, Audio (Mic, L/R) and XMC I/O. Additional features include a Basecard user-programmable FPGA and Secure Computing Mezzanine card for advanced security and perimeter defense applications. Featuring Curtiss-Wright’s patent-pending 2-Level Maintenance Secure Computing perimeter defense technology, the VPX3-1100 Atomic enables systems integrators to build secure rugged defense electronic systems for multiple applications that need to protect sensitive information, encryption keys, Intellectual Property (IP), or reverse engineering at the blade level. Volume pricing for the VPX3-1100 Atomic starts at $2,800. Availability is June 2009. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Leesburg, VA. (703) 779-7800. []. April 2009


atca BoarDS SHoWcaSe Featuring the latest in ATCA Boards technology Asis, 6-slot, 40Gbps, AC/ DC ATCA Chassis


6-slot, 6U, PICMG 3.0 compliant shelf 6-slot, 3x Replicated Mesh backplane optimized for performance at 40Gbps Two front removable fan trays that provide redundant cooling for 300 watts per slot. RTM cooling designed to dissipate 30 watts per slot Two, redundant hot-swappable shelf managers based on Pigeon Point’s ShMM 500 Dual redundant, intelligent, -48V input power entry modules or up to three hot pluggable, IPMI compliant, 1500W AC power supplies Designed to meet NEBS requirements

phone: (858) 880-3967 e-mail: Web:

S4-AMC High-density Altera® Stratix® IV GX FPGA implementing BittWare’s ATLANTiS™ FrameWork for control of I/O, routing, and processing BittWare’s FINe™ Host/Control Bridge provides control plane processing and interface via GigE, 10/100 Ethernet, and RS-232 Over 2 GBytes of memory VITA 57 FMC site for processing and I/O expansion Mid-size or full-size, single wide, fullyconnected AMC

BittWare, Inc. phone: (603) 226-0404 Fax: (603) 226-6667

Promentum® SYS-6016

Promentum® ATCA-4500

10 Gigabit (16 Slot) AdvancedTCA Application Ready Platform

ATCA-4500 10-Gigabit Compute Processing Module Based on Intel® Xeon® 5500 Processor

Application ready platform to address next generation requirements for RNC/BSC, Media Gateways, IMS and IPTV infrastructure. Capacity and throughput requirements easily met with advanced technologies such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Dual-core processing, media processing, and NPUbased wire-speed 10 Gbps line cards 16-slot capacity provides the maximum number of billable application slots in an ATCA carriergrade platform

RadiSys phone: (503) 615-1100 Fax: (503) 615-1121

High performance, single slot AdvancedTCA computer module based on the single socket L5518 Intel® Xeon® processor Ideal for control plane and server functions for LTE wireless infrastructure, Deep Packet Inspection, IPTV, IP multimedia subsystems and defense application

RadiSys e-mail: Web:

Tsi578™ RapidIO® Switch 80 Gbps of pure non blocking bandwidth Lowest power dissipation (120-200 mW per port) 110 ns latency with cut-through capability (a 45% improvement over the competitive offering) Up to eight 4x mode ports or sixteen 1x mode ports High-performance hardware multicast

Tundra Semiconductor phone: (613) 592-0714 Fax: (613) 592-1320

e-mail: Web:

e-mail: Web:

phone: (503) 615-1100 Fax: (503) 615-1121

e-mail: Web:


Ruggedized Conduction-Cooled CompactPCI SBC with Dual PMC/XMC Sites

For harsh operating environments, a new single-slot CompactPCI dualcore processor, dual PMC/ XMC, single board computer uses the 1.5 GHz Core 2 Duo mobile dual core processor from the Intel embedded roadmap. The ruggedized PP 452/031-RC from Concurrent Technologies is suitable for low power intensive processing applications where the dual processor cores can access 4 Gbytes of soldered DDR2-400 ECC SDRAM at up to 6.4 Gbyte/s. For I/O flexibility there are 2 PMC/XMC sites supporting rear I/O, plus dual SATA150, dual Gigabit Ethernet, USB and RS-232 interfaces as well as onboard or removable flash disk storage including CompactFlash. The board also supports PICMG 2.16 (Ethernet fabric), PICMG 2.9 (IPMI) and PICMG 2.1 (hot swap). All boards can operate as a system controller board, a peripheral board or as a satellite board. A range of commercial extended temperature versions is available. Applications for this conduction-cooled board are expected within the defense, industrial control and transportation markets. The PP 452/031-RC conduction-cooled board, including conformal coating, operates at altitudes of -1000 to +50,000 feet (-305 to + 15,240 meters) over -40° to +85°C (no airflow) and ruggedized (VITA 47) to operate at a shock of 40g (11ms, half-sine), sine vibration 5g (5 Hz-2 KHz) and random vibration, 0.1g2/Hz (10Hz-1KHz) with 6dB/octave from 1 KHz to 2 KHz. The board supports the 1.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo L7400 processor (soldered) with 4 Mbytes L2 cache shared between the cores, a 667 MHz front side bus and supports 64-bit operating systems. The Intel E7520 server class chipset and 6300ESB ICH are used to complement the processor to achieve a high-performance, yet low-power, core architecture. Each PMC site supports up to 66 MHz PCI-X operation as well as either x4 or x8 PCI Express XMC interfaces. This high-functionality board offers an array of functionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;plus rear I/O consisting of 2 SATA150, 1 RS232, 3 USB 2.0 and dual Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. To cater to embedded applications, there is an onboard 4 Gbyte flash disk with an option for an additional removable 4 Gbyte flash disk. For a wider range of applications there is an onboard EIDE option for dual CompactFlash modules. As well as the industry standard PC interfaces, other features available include a watchdog timer, long duration timer and LAN boot firmware. Graphics can be provided by using Concurrent Technologiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; conduction cooled graphics PMC (IO PMC/722-RC) or graphics XMC (XM 403/233-RC). Ruggedized air-cooled versions and a range of commercial extended temperature versions are also available. For ease of integration the PP 452/031-RC supports many of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading operating systems, including Linux, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Solaris, QNX and VxWorks.


Phoenix International designs and builds rugged COTS Data Storage Systems that plug and play in any application -- from Multi-Terabyte Fibre Channel RAID and Storage Area Network configurations to plug-in Solid State Disk Drive VME/cPCI Storage Modules.

4FFVTBUXXXQIFOYJOUDPNPSDPOUBDUVTBUtJOGP!QIFOYJOUDPN An AS 9100 / ISO 9001: 2000 CertiďŹ ed Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business

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

embeddedcommad_14v.indd 1

April 2009


11/13/06 5:55:59 PM


Comment april 2009

Warren Andrews Associate Publisher

A View from the Height


hroughout the pages of this magazine our editors bring you the latest technology and products to help make your embedded computer decisions easier and more effective. We provide the technological details, product features and benefits and applicability to specialized requirements to help you evaluate where you’re going. And, over the past year or so, we’ve seen dramatic changes driven by fundamental developments in the technology, shifts in the requirements of the marketplace and new and exciting trade-offs in power, size and performance. In this small corner of the book, I try and provide some of the backdrop and rationale of what makes the rest of the business work. For one view we look from the 10,000-foot level and examine the changes in the application areas. Certainly the economy, political environment and sociological events bring new dimensions to our industry. We try and identify burgeoning opportunities in everything from food safety and health care to advanced productivity tools in industrial control and automation. For example, last issue we discussed some technology ramifications of the Stimulus Bill recently passed by Congress. In health care, funds (more than $19 billion) for health-information technology, essentially E-records, are likely to be a boon to a variety of embedded computer makers. Following that rabbit down the hole a bit, it seems that at least some of that largesse will find its way into the hands of big companies such as General Electric, IBM and even Intel. However, several smaller players are now gearing up as they see multiple opportunities for data acquisition, management, portable/mobile devices and bedside/office monitoring and storage equipment. And, we can expect much of this equipment to carry relatively high ASPs as it will likely have to have the blessing of the FDA. There’s a lot to be done. According to a survey by the recently named Coordinator for Health Information Technology— a new position from the Obama administration—only 1.5% of hospitals have adopted what the survey defines as a comprehensive hospital-wide system. But even more significantly, only 9% of U.S. hospitals have electronic health records at all. Cost was


April 2009

the most commonly mentioned barrier to the adoption of such systems, opening the door for the economic stimulus package money.

Basic Technology Developments

Still at the 10,000-foot level, we look at basic technology developments such as semiconductor process developments, advances in packaging, and materials that impact new products at the most fundamental levels. While we don’t tunnel down into the basic physics of these advances, we look at how some sea changes will affect applications areas. For example, Intel’s latest 32nm process (which the company is currently holding tightly under wraps), will undoubtedly bring a new generation of lowpower, compact embedded computers to the scene. While much of the current development is under strict nondisclosure by Intel, indications are that new lower-power versions of its recently released Atom will reduce power and heat generation by at least another order of magnitude. The result will unleash 32-bit processing power to the embedded community at new levels of price, performance and power efficiency. And finally, we try to bring relevance to the market by looking at indicators that may impact the business in general. We look at supply lines and business health of materials and components— from semiconductors and connectors to PCB deliveries—critical to fabrication of many systems. These provide a snapshot of where the industry has been and in some cases, where it’s going. In that regard, we looked at a study from Longbow Research that examined the EMS market in North America and Europe and saw that both January and February posted declines in the low to mid single digits in contrast to the historical data from the past three years that posted sequential increases of a similar or greater magnitude. Not surprisingly the study looked at sales by end market where defense and medical (excluding large devices) remained stable while other segments of the market were flat to soft. It reports the telecom market weakened somewhat while industrial and automotive markets were very soft. An interesting statistic is that the consolidated

(rigid and flexible PCBs) three month average book-to-bill fell to 0.89 in January—with shipments off 17% year over year.

Stimulus Dollars for Broadband Development

Stimulus money is still some distance from reaching firms providing broadband service, but already companies are facing off on how the services should be expanded. While it seems that there is agreement that stimulus money should be used for extending broadband to “unserved areas,” there is disagreement with the definition of unserved and how it differs from underserved. That difference could be critical in deciding who gets stimulus money and who doesn’t. Midsize phone companies and others argue that some stimulus money should be spent on new Internet lines in areas that already have service. On the other hand, established broadband providers are worried that the government will give money to smaller competitors looking to build new and potentially faster service in markets that already have some broadband—thereby giving them a leg up on those traditional suppliers. Decisions on rules for granting the money are to be made soon and these decisions could impact technologies such as the emerging Wi-Fi. Exactly how the money is allocated will also likely affect a variety of embedded computer suppliers that sell into different broadband markets.

Headlines Impacting the Industry

Cisco Targets Data Centers: Cisco plans to begin making computers aimed at data centers looking for a turf war with rivals IBM and HP—and possibly Dell. It is reported that businesses will spend about $100 billion on data centers in 2009 according to analysts firm IDC. Cisco hopes to aim at some 25% of that with its Intel-processor-based blade servers. More as it’s available. Sun Microsystems’ Final Chapter? According to sources, Sun has been shopping itself over the past several months and may have found a suitor in IBM. Intel President, Paul Otellini, in a talk to employees recently indicated that Sun “was shopped around the Valley and around the world in the last few months.” Was there an implication there that Intel might have been considered a possible suitor? IBM Cuts U.S. Jobs, Expands in India: If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably seen that Big Blue’s latest employment initiative flies in the face of the new administration’s goal of keeping jobs in the U.S. The company is dropping almost 5,000 jobs in the U.S.—transferring many of those jobs to India. IBM has continued its current trend increasing the number of employees working abroad from 65% in 2006 to 71% now. IBM employs some 400,000 workers. Many of the jobs lost will be from the global business services unit. And while that doesn’t immediately affect the embedded computer industry, it sure indicates that nothing is sacred. Add to that the administration’s recent move to restrict employment of foreign professionals in the U.S., and it leaves the message that outsourcing may be the most practical solution. Chip Makers in the News: Intel continues to reap its share of

headlines this month as the latest version of the company’s Xeon family of server chips, code named Nehalem, will be brought out just before this goes to press. This entry is expected to be at the heart of the new breed of Cisco servers entering the market. But most of the other big server makers are also expected to make announcements when the chip is formally introduced. In other Intel news, the company will be entering into a “strategic” collaboration with, of all companies, TSMC—a System-on-Chip maker and a very different kind of semi company from Intel. The collaboration allows TSMC to make chips that combine the circuitry of the Atom processor with other circuits. Intel hopes to get a leg up in the cell phone market and other embedded computer applications this way in order for it to diversify from the computer industry. This may also be Intel’s foray into a wide range of products Intel calls MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices). Back several months ago, and again at an investor meeting late last month, Intel CEO Otellini said the company plans to more aggressively pursue a lot of SoC business. TSMC makes a variety of highly integrated chips for such companies as TI, Qualcomm and Broadcom. And Intel’s largest adversary, AMD, has formally named the spinoff of its manufacturing capability calling itself Globalfoundries. The new company, backed by investors from Abu Dhabi, is based in Silicon Valley and continues to manufacture at other facilities here and abroad. AMD has retained about 34% of the new company, which is starting off with 3,000 former AMD employees. Reduced demand from a glut of manufacturing capacity due to the worldwide recession may have it off to a rocky start. In other AMD news, former 3Com Chief Executive Bruce Claflin has been named AMD chairman. IGP Market to Disappear by 2012: JPR (Jon Peddie Research), a consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, completed a study that indicates the end of the market for the popular integrated graphics processor chipset, IGP. The study says that in 2008, 67% of graphics chips shipped were IGPs. In 2011, the company says it will drop to 20% and by 2013 down to less than one percent. The study goes on to say that market shares will shift as suppliers of IGPs such as AMD, Intel, Nvidia, SiS and VIA find the opportunities for chipsets diminishing and will seek to develop new products that take advantage of their specific strengths. Evidence of that already is appearing as Nvidia strengthens its highend offerings with development tools, and on the mobile side has introduced the Tegra platform, which relies on an ARM processor and Nvidia graphics. Also, AMD is going head-to-head with Intel with its Fusion and embedded graphics CPU—yet still not giving up its plans for strategic markets such as netbooks. All in all, it’s been a busy month. And I’d be remiss not to pass on—if you somehow missed it—that Bill Gates has regained his crown as the richest man in the world.

April 2009


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ACCES I/O American Portwell Technology, Inc..........................................................................21.................................................................................................


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Micro/sys, Inc........................................................................................................4......................................................................................... Microsoft Windows National One Stop Systems.................................................................................................37.................................................................................... Pentair Electronic Packaging..................................................................................23.............................................................................................. Performance Technologies.....................................................................................17.......................................................................................................... Phoenix International.............................................................................................51................................................................................................ Red Rapids, Inc.....................................................................................................22....................................................................................................... Sensoray VersaLogic Corporation..........................................................................................11..............................................................................................

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April 2009

All the cards... All cards...

…for all the solutions Setting a new standard for performance per watt, Extreme Engineering Solutions presents the XPedite7201. A PMC/XMC module configurable as either air- or conduction-cooled, the XPedite7201 is optimized for rugged embedded and fanless applications where size and power constraints are limited. With the ultra-low-power Intel® Atom™ processor and Intel System Controller Hub US15W, the XPedite7201 offers: • • • • • •

Intel® Atom™ processor at up to 1.6 GHz Up to 1 GB of DDR2-533 SDRAM x1 PCIe XMC or 32-bit 66-MHz PCI PMC interface Dual DVI-D video Gigabit Ethernet, two RS-232/422/485 serial, and 4 USB 2.0 ports Linux, VxWorks, INTEGRITY, Windows, and Neutrino support

For customers looking for a single vendor to provide complete system solutions, X-ES offers cutting-edge performance and flexibility in design plus an unparalleled level of customer support and service. Contact X-ES today for information about XPedite7201 and our complete line of embedded products. Call: (608) 833-1155 • Email: • Web:


All trademarks are property of their respective owners. ©2009 Extreme Engineering Solutions




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RTC Magazine April 2009  

Green Engineering: Fertile Ground for Embedded

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