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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

August 2010

Rugged and Reliable: Embedded Power Moves Into


Tools and Techniques Smooth the Path to FPGA Development Factory Automation: Make it Modular and Flexible Extending the Reach of Wireless Networking An RTC Group Publication

PC/104 Analog I/O Modules No Calibration Required Plus -40°C to +85°C Operation WinSystems’ PCM-MIO and PCM-ADIO provide high-density analog and digital solutions for rugged industrial applications. Both offer easy set-up and no adjustments over multiple input voltage ranges, saving both time and money. Features include: 16-bit analog-to-digital converter • 0-5V, 0-10V, ±5V, and ±10V input ranges • Each channel programmable for SE or DI and voltage range • Input overvoltage protection 12-bit digital-to-analog converter • 0-5V, 0-10V, ±5V, and ±10V output ranges • Output channels can be updated or cleared individually or simultaneously Supports industry standard isolated analog signal conditioning modules Up to 48 lines of bi-directional digital I/O Special OEM configurations available for 16-bit D/A and other analog and digital I/O combinations Software programmable interrupt control Free software drivers in C, Windows®, and Linux Onboard low noise DC/DC converter PC/104 compatible modules Small modular size: 90mm x 96mm +5V only supply voltage -40°C to +85°C temperature operation 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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Rugged and Reliable: Embedded Power Moves Into Tougher Places

44 Industrial PC with Modular I/O Serves Cost-Sensitive Applications

46 Dial-Up Modem Supports Ademco and SIA Contact ID Protocols for Security Systems


48 New Front I/O Systems for Rugged Enterprise Server Family



5Editorial System on Chip (or Two) Coming to a Design Near You?

Technology in Context


FPGA Development

Rugged and Reliable

and FPGA Development the World’s Toughest 14 Goldilocks 28Designing – a Methodology That’s Just Right Computing Systems Jeff Millrod, BittWare

Ray Tabladillo and Ben McMillan, Parvus

Three Keys to Unleashing the Full Lessons in Performance, Insider 18 32 Horsepower of the FPGA Ruggedness and Reliability for 6Industry Latest Developments in the Embedded Commercial Embedded Markets Marketplace Ivo Bolsens, Xilinx

8 & Technology Newest Embedded Technology Used 44Products by Industry Leaders Small Form Factor Forum SFF Still Riding Mobile Coattails



In-Home Wireless: The Next Frontier for Industrial Engineers Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies

EDITOR’S REPORT Connected Medical Revolution

Medical Devices Fueling a Quiet Revolution in Health Care 10Digital

Nancy Pantone and Keith Taylor, Kontron

TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYED Factory Automation Systems

Computerized Machine Management 36Industrial-Strength Ian Gilvarry, Intel

Concerns about Wireless PACs and I/O in Industrial 40Overcoming Automation Jean Femia, Opto22

Tom Williams

Digital Subscriptions Avaliable at RTC MAGAZINE AUGUST 2010


Debug with Confidence WaveAce™ Oscilloscopes 40 MHz – 300 MHz

AUGUST 2010 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon,

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

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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, Editorial Office 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 2010, 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.


Tom Williams Editor-in-Chief


System on Chip (or Two) Coming to a Design Near You?

re developments in silicon going to play havoc with this explosion of small form factor modules that has been recently sprouting like mushrooms in a moist cellar? With this issue, RTC is including a poster designed to help sort out this variety, but that is sure to get your esteemed editor a flurry of phone calls and emails demanding to know why such and such was not included and why this or that was. I won’t repeat the rationale here because it is in the text of the poster and we stand behind it. However, the burgeoning variety of small modules—be they standards, the work of ad hoc consortia or completely proprietary designs—is indicative of an ongoing struggle to optimize the balance between the more widely applicable CPU/memory section of a design and the more specialized, application-specific portion, which is the I/O. The reasons are fairly clear. Microprocessors and semiconductors are made by very large companies and designed to be as widely applicable as possible within their target markets. I/O on the other hand tries to be as focused as possible on the precise needs of the application. This has led to what might be described as the “partition problem.” Among the more recent answers to the partition problem are computer-on-module (COM) form factors such as COM Express, Qseven, CoreExpress and others. Stackable CPU boards, such as PC/104, EPIC and EBX, have long addressed this problem. The trouble is that this solution inevitably leads to at least a two-board system . . . at least. In the past, the only way to get to a single-board, or ideally a no-board solution, was to go with a full-custom ASIC, FPGA or SoC. The vast majority of embedded designs does not have anywhere near the volume to justify the up-front expense. A number of semiconductor manufacturers will do a custom CPU design for a high-volume customer and then, having designed it and recovered their own costs, add that mix of core and peripherals to their catalogs. Then it is up to the designer to page through these tomes hoping to find the closest match to his or her needs. Happy hunting! Now, however, developments in silicon may be taking us in a different direction. These developments may appear different on the surface, but they are all attempts to address the partition problem in silicon rather than on separate modules. What we have tried to describe as application services platforms (ASPs) have made their first appearances in the form of the SmartFusion devices from Actel and the Extensible Processing Platform from Xilinx. These were

preceded by the Programmable System on Chip (PSoC) from Cypress Semiconductor. The three have in common the inclusion of a microprocessor (all ARM designs) with its normal complement of peripherals along with a section to implement programmable I/O. In the case of Actel and Xilinx, these are actual sections of FPGA. With the PSoC, the customizable I/O is a section of programmable digital and analog blocks that can be defined using a graphical tool. Into this mix now comes the concept being debuted under the name “Tunnel Creek” from Intel. Tunnel Creek differs from the previous examples in that it is a two-chip solution, but one that would easily fit onto a single small module. In Tunnel Creek, the CPU, graphics processor and memory controller are all on the same chip. The only interface to the outside is a x4 PCI Express port. That port can connect to what Intel calls an I/O hub that can support a selected set of I/O options. It can also interface with an FPGA, a proprietary ASIC or other PCIe device that may support selected I/O such as USB, GbE or GPIO, for example. Intel has indicated its plans for an initial I/O hub (and has met some criticism for its initial choice of interfaces) but suggests it may implement more and encouraged third parties to do so as well. What these developments have in common is that they are addressing the partition problem by trying to put it on a single module with user options for exactly the I/O that meets the application’s needs and no extraneous connectors to take up space. If this phenomenon takes off—and for that it is too early to tell—what will be the implications for board design? Will specific form factors become irrelevant? Imagine a very low-cost design on a single module with only the connectors that are required for the application. While form factor designs will probably crop up to accommodate the ASP approach, designing a custom circuit board will without a doubt become much less expensive and can be justified by lower volumes than before. A one- or two-chip solution on a single module could potentially replace what is today at least a two-board solution for a great many designs. Much of this depends on the relative costs of these new approaches in silicon and on market acceptance. Will third parties flock to the Intel flag? Will the cost and ease of configuration generate acceptance of the Actel/Xilinx/Cypress solutions? These questions will, of course, determine the outcome, but there appears to be genuine interest in the industry for another cut at the partition problem and a real potential for gains. RTC MAGAZINE AUGUST 2010



INSIDER Kontron Acquires AP Labs Group Through its U.S. subsidiary, Kontron has acquired 100 percent of U.S. company AP Labs Group. The group, which has two operating companies, is a system integrator in the areas of defense and aerospace. Since its inception in 1984, the company has established itself on the market for the development and series production of highly complex and robust computer systems, as well as specialized applications. Kontron anticipates that both new subsidiaries will make an annual revenue of 30 million USD. Kontron intends to integrate AP Labs with its North American headquarters, which is also based in San Diego. Kontron has access to cost-efficient, local production capacities as the result of the company AP Parpro, which also forms part of the group and is located in Mexico, close to Kontron’s NA headquarters. For Kontron, whose revenue share in the security application area had already grown to 16 percent in the last business year, the strategic acquisition brings advantages in many respects. “We are strengthening ourselves both regionally in the USA, and also in the area of high-margin complete solutions,” commented Kontron CEO Ulrich Gehrmann. “AP Labs’ complementary system product line also perfectly supplements our French subsidiary’s broad product range in the security segment, which reports consistent growth, and has historically been independent of business cycles.” In 2008, Kontron acquired the former French company Thales Computers SA from Thales Group, strengthening Kontron both in the defense/aerospace area, and regionally in Europe. The U.S. Defense Department’s official accreditation of AP Labs also now facilitates even better access for Kontron into the high-margin U.S. market.

EnOcean and Texas Instruments Agree to Expand Energy Harvesting Cooperation

EnOcean and Texas Instruments have announced the expansion of their cooperation to provide innovative wireless solutions for building automation. Through this agreement, the companies will jointly create solutions enabling self-powered wireless sensor networks. To further optimize its product portfolio, EnOcean will integrate TI components in its energy-efficient wireless modules. EnOcean’s batteryless wireless technology harvests energy from its surroundings—motion, light or differences in temperature—and enables new ecologically minded selfpowered wireless applications. Texas Instruments and EnOcean have collaborated since 2005, and TI components have been implemented in a variety of EnOcean modules. TI has also been a member of the EnOcean Alliance since 2008, working with other members of the Alliance on energy-efficient solu-



tions for energy-efficient buildings. Energy harvesting wireless technology reduces the installation cost of lighting, heating/air conditioning control and monitoring by up to 70 percent. This technology enables long-term energy conservation and sustainability for our customers. Cooperation between EnOcean and TI is being characterized as a step toward gaining a firm foothold in a fast growing market.

Myriad Group and MIPS Technologies Accelerate Android App Performance

MIPS Technologies and Myriad Group have announced availability of a high-performance full method-based Dalvik Turbo virtual machine (VM) optimized for the MIPS architecture. Myriad’s Dalvik Turbo VM replaces the standard Android Dalvik engine, accelerating performance up to 5x on real-world Android applications running on MIPS-based devices.

With Dalvik Turbo VM, MIPS licensees can create SoCs with faster, more complex applications and richer game graphics optimized for Android smartphones and other high-performance consumer devices without requiring significant increases in device memory. The VM also provides substantial battery life improvements when running resource-intensive tasks, all while retaining full compatibility with existing software. Myriad’s Dalvik Turbo VM is operational on all current versions of Android up to and including versions 2.1 (Éclair), and soon to be available for 2.2 (Froyo). As a founder of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Myriad has contributed significantly to the Android platform and today continues to heavily invest in technological advances specifically targeted at Android. These include standalone applications such as a WAP browser, MMS messaging, SyncML client, DRM module and IMPS client. The company is also responsible for the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) framework within OHA, which is used for testing the compatibility of Android systems. An evaluation version of the optimized VM will be available free of charge through the Android on MIPS community at

Extended Grid Partnership to Help Reduce Energy Consumption

Digi International has announced a partnership with GroundedPower, under which GroundedPower’s Interactive Customer Engagement System (iCES) has been fully integrated with the Digi X-Grid to connect consumers’ home energy devices. The Digi X-Grid is an “Extended Grid” that enables real-time, IP-based monitoring and control of home energy devices beyond the electric meter. The GroundedPower iCES system delivers energy customers a compelling interactive application for better understanding their use and

cost of energy and tools to motivate and empower dramatic and sustained energy savings. The Digi and GroundedPower partnership engaged in a year-long pilot project for the Cape Light Compact in Massachusetts. The GroundedPower system enables real-time viewing of energy use and demand, savings metrics in kWh, dollars and CO2 emissions, and provides opportunities for customers to sign up for energy saving activities. As a result, program participants reduced their daily energy use by 9.3 percent or 2.9 kWh per day.

IAR Systems Incorporates Power Debugging as Standard in IAR Embedded Workbench

IAR Systems has announced that it has incorporated its newly developed power debug and analysis tools within IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM. Bucking the software industry’s trend of charging for new software features, IAR Systems has opted to include its technology as standard. The new tools provide the capability to correlate current sampling alongside program execution, allowing analysis of the software’s influence on power consumption and providing developers with the means to optimize source code to minimize power consumption. The power measurements can be visualized in various ways in IAR Embedded Workbench. In its simplest form a power log window displays the measured current and the time and location of the program counter when it was sampled. This gives the developer detailed insight into an application’s power consumption. An overview is provided as a graph of the power consumption presented in the timeline window in IAR Embedded Workbench, where the call stack, interrupt activity and variable values can be displayed simultaneously. This allows power consumption to be mapped against key events in the program’s execution, and the de-

AUGUST 2010 veloper can easily see what events trigger higher power consumption. Power profiling is done on the function level, letting the developer know how much power is consumed during the execution of each function, and what the average current is during its execution. The power profiling utility provides insight to where efforts should be focused to optimize for lower power consumption. Power debugging is available now for development on ARM Cortex cores.

Report Details Energy Harvesting Opportunities

Energy harvesting has emerged onto the power electronics scene and has offered increased revenue to companies that got in on

the ground floor. Darnell Group’s third-edition report of “Energy Harvesting Technologies and Energy Storage: Worldwide Forecasts,” provides a detailed road map for the growth of this emerging market for the next five years. Energy harvesting is an opportunistic technology that is being implemented in niche segments that have “environmental” challenges. If taken cumulatively over each year of the forecast period, worldwide sales of energy harvesting nodes will result in 630.5 million units being sold between 2010 and 2015. The growth of energy harvesting technologies parallels the growth of wireless sensor network (WSN) and wireless control systems in general. Such systems have had a slow but steady evolution, and there

are currently hundreds of vendors in the WSN market. The market is set to take off. Surprisingly, “pure” energy harvesting implementations (those that use no battery) are still rare, especially considering that these solutions were originally touted for installations where batteries were “problematic.” In fact, primary batteries are still used occasionally as back-up power in certain energy harvesting applications, which are discussed in the report. The big winner in the energy harvesting and energy storage race is rechargeable batteries, including thin-film batteries. RFID, along with HVAC and lighting for building automation are expected to account for 94% of the rechargeable battery potion of the energy storage market for energy harvesting.

The analysis also revealed that some major shifts are occurring in terms of technology. Currently, photovoltaic solutions dominate the energy harvesting market, although these are not the ones that dominate the news reports. Most of the hype around energy harvesting involves kinetic and thermal energy harvesting solutions. But building automation—one of the largest applications—accounts for nearly 66% of the photovoltaics portion of this market in 2010. Mechanical vibration/piezoelectric technologies will eventually catch up, although thermoelectric technology is still too expensive to realistically challenge photovoltaic and mechanical solutions for the next five years or longer.

RTEC10 is an index made up of 10 public companies which have revenue that is derived primarily from sales in the embedded sector. The companies are made up of both software and hardware companies being traded on public exchanges. All numbers are reflected in U.S. Dollars. Learn more at Closing Price 52 Week Low 52 Week High Market Cap

RTEC10 Index



Adlink Technology



















Interphase Corporation










Mercury Computer Systems





Performance Technologies





PLX Technology





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Company Market Performance

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Colin McCracken & Paul Rosenfeld

SFF Still Riding Mobile Coattails


ntel’s recently announced single chip processor known under the code name Tunnel Creek, represents a huge leap forward with respect to serving the needs of the small form factor embedded x86 market. By repartitioning the processor / core logic elements into a single chip “processor” with built-in memory and video controllers, and dumping all I/O into a PCIe-linked companion chip, Intel has enabled smaller and more applicationfocused system designs than ever before. Does this mean that Intel finally understands the requirements of this market and is starting to design parts to meet these requirements? In order to fully answer this question, it’s important to remember where we came from. In the late 80s and early 90s, embedded x86 designers struggled to squeeze off-the-shelf 8086, 286 and 386 processors and core logic into SFF boards such as EBX and PC/104. When Intel partnered with an embedded board company to craft an “embedded” version of the 386 (remember the 386sxi?), we all hoped that Intel was returning to its embedded roots from the pre-PC days. Alas, it was not to be. Throughout the next decade, Intel offered embedded customers standard parts designed for desktops and laptops. The one concession to embedded customers (and it was a big one) was the creation of an ‘embedded roadmap’, specifying which of the standard parts would have an extended five- or seven-year life cycle. Intel’s reluctance to deal with size or low power issues was seized upon by Cyrix / National Semiconductor / AMD with their Geode parts and by VIA Technologies with their Eden family to gain significant market share in the SFF embedded space. In this decade, the emergence of the laptop as the dominant computing platform, and the proliferation of other mobile devices, have shined the spotlight on requirements such as small design footprint and low power consumption that dovetail nicely with embedded requirements. Hence, Intel’s desire to grow market share in the mobile space has resulted in components that match more closely with the needs of the SFF market. However, other SFF requirements (such as I/O expansion strategies) remained in conflict. But more and more, the mobile market requirements and SFF embedded requirements began to merge.



As a result of this convergence, Intel’s penetration of the embedded space with the Core Duo and Core 2 Duo product lines initiated a resurgence of Intel processor / chipset products in embedded applications. But it was the Atom processor introduced in 2008 and built for the netbook market that captured the imagination of embedded designers. This was in spite of the fact that Atom and its accompanying chipsets made virtually no concessions to the special needs of embedded applications. Atom’s success in the embedded market was the result of the further convergence of requirements for mobile (netbook) and embedded applications, not the result of any active support from Intel. Now we have Tunnel Creek. It represents another order of magnitude improvement over the original Atom parts in terms of meeting requirements of the SFF embedded market. Tunnel Creek repartitions the traditional processor / northbridge / southbridge architecture by lumping the memory controller and video controller into the processor chip itself, and uses a standard PCI Express interface to connect to an application-specific companion chip. No proprietary FSB here! This reopens the companion chip market to third parties in a new and powerful way. Plus, a Tunnel Creek design uses some 50% less board space than earlier Atom “Menlow” solutions. But before we welcome Intel back to the SFF embedded market, we need to look at what companion chips (IOH) Intel will offer with Tunnel Creek. And we need to ask whether any of these companion chips will really help off-the-shelf SFF board manufacturers provide an evolutionary path for the hundreds of thousands of existing applications From the potential samples displayed, the answer appears to be “not much.” The general purpose I/O expansion problem remains—as sticky as ever. And yes, there is a solution if you throw enough chips and dollars at it. So what could Intel do to really step up to the embedded plate? A great first step would be to begin to participate actively in some of the industry standards organizations that deal with issues facing SFF embedded boards. A second would be a set of reference designs in common SFF SBC (not COM + carrier) form factors to speed the adoption process by SFF SBC board makers. And a third would be to bring a Tunnel Creek companion chip to market that includes both leading-edge and legacy I/O.


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editor’s report Connected Medical Revolution

Digital Medical Devices Fueling a Quiet Revolution in Health Care Digital electronic medical instruments are proliferating widely and rapidly throughout the medical community. Take a look at the supplemental publication coming out with this issue of RTC that will cover this phenomenon— Medical Electronic Device Solutions. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief




of certain elements of medical expertise into the devices. When such devices make their measurements they produce data, which can partially be acted upon by the

LCD User Interface

PIC Microcontroller nanowatt Signal Conditioning

ith all the attention that health care has gotten in the media in recent months, there appears to be a development that has largely escaped widespread notice. That is the migration of medical expertise into intelligent devices that are targeted not to replace trained physicians but to help spread their knowledge and services to a wider number of patients at specific levels of care. It probably comes as no surprise that medical devices and equipment are going digital, from thermometers to stethoscopes to glucosometers to sophisticated MRI and medical imaging equipment; all have incorporated appropriate levels of digital capabilities. Take something as simple as a stethoscope. One model advertises up to 24 db amplification with noise filtering and three frequency modes: cardiac, diaphragm (for lung sounds) and an extended range of 15 to 1000 Hz. But the digitization and enhancement of the basic device functions is only part of the story. When we get beyond simple functionality such as that of a thermometer or a stethoscope, we start to see the embedding

device itself such as flashing an LED if a blood sugar reading is out of range and/or connecting to the wider medical network for further analysis by qualified medical personnel. This opens up vast possibilities. Those possibilities involve the expansion of quality medical care to many more patients per doctor than is currently possible. Steve Kennelly, Senior Manager of Microchip’s Medical Products Group, notes that, especially in handheld and portable medical devices, 8- and 16-bit microcontrollers play some very significant roles in making patient information available to the medical practitioner as well as to higher level devices and software that can perform additional analysis and make significant data available to the physician as a formatted presentation for more efficient analysis. For example, an electrocardiograph (ECG) once consisted of a cluster of probes that were attached to the patient and then to channels on the ECG machine where they drove a set of pens that swept back and forth across the paper strip. The tests were administered by a medical technician and the results analyzed by the physician. The results (meaning the paper strip) were then stored in the patient’s record folder along with the doctor’s notes.

USB Connector

USB Driver LCD Driver


Int. Osc




Audio Alert

Power Management


Figure 1

Power Source

An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures the electrical activity of the heart. The resulting waveform can be directly displayed, recorded or analyzed in real time. Courtesy Microchip Technology.

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editor’s report

Implementing a digital ECG machine lets it make exactly the same measurements yet opens up a wealth of further possibilities (Figure 1). For one thing, there are now over 150 models of digital ECG machines available. Some have integrated LCD displays, some continue to produce paper strip charts, others have both and many have USB connections to transmit the ECG data to a PC. In fact, there are even a few that consist only of a hub containing the digital ECG functionality and

the patient probes along with a USB connector to the PC. The PC then processes the data, produces the display, which can be stored digitally in the patient’s medical records and can sometimes even do some preliminary analysis to alert the physician. In fact, from some vendors there are even Windows-based ECG analysis programs available that can compare sets of waveforms. Once on the PC, the data is, of course, also available for emailing to colleagues or specialists for consultation.

User Interface

Motor Drive Circuitry

Mechanical Bultons


PIC Microcontroller nanowatt

Drive Circuitry

USB Driver Heater/ Humidifier

Temperature Sensor

USB Connector

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LCD Driver


Signal Conditioning

Pressure Sensor




Int. Osc



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EEPROM Power Source

Figure 2 A CPAP device provides therapy for obstructive sleep apnia. A small air compressor constantly adjusts to the user’s breathing pattern to maintain a constant pressure. Courtesy Microchip Technology.


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Now the purpose of going into this level of detail about digital ECG machines is not simply to focus on them but to point out that similar developments are taking place across the wide spectrum of medical devices. These include large machines such as MRI and CT scanners down to blood pressure meters that can be used in the home. Yes, there are even limited heart data meters that a person can hold against the chest, place in a docking station attached to the home PC and transmit to the medical professional, where anomalies can be flagged instantly. What is beginning to emerge, as we go from relatively simple devices like glucose meters, up to more sophisticated ones like a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) device for treating sleep apnea, is more of the actual medical expertise being embedded into the device (Figure 2). The CPAP device is also used at home by the patient, but requires much more monitoring, control and intelligence to operate safely by adjusting to the patient’s breathing rate and adjusting temperature and humidity. And it also generates data that can be transmitted to a PC or a network. A little higher up the hierarchy are devices that are somewhat beyond the patient’s ability to administer (the ECG is one) but do not require a physician’s attendance. These can be administered by a nurse practitioner, who can also use other devices that basically signal a “red light/green light” for conditions that are normal or that require a doctor’s attention. Designers of monitoring

11/11/09 3:45:15 PM

editor’s report

devices in a hospital room where the patient may not be constantly attended must pay very close attention to conditions that trigger alarms and the type of alarms they initiate to summon a nurse or doctor. These levels of intelligence and the increasing ability of the patient to administer certain levels of care and to assign others to trained technicians will have a number of positive effects both medical and economic. For one thing, the physician can devote more of his or her time to seeing patients who require their level of expertise and can leave more routine monitoring and diagnostic duties to others, including the patient. It will also enable faster responses to ominous changes in condition when the data can be sent daily from the home rather than relying on periodic office visits to monitor conditions. This can result in better quality of life for elderly people who will be able to live at home longer. There is, however, still much to be done and one of the obstacles is interoperability. For example, the ECG analysis software mentioned above appears to work with the data format generated by the machines made

by that company. While this sort of thing is to be expected in a field that is growing this rapidly, it is a problem that must be solved to make the promise of telemedicine real. Fortunately there is a major industry coalition of over 200 member companies called the Continua Alliance. On its Web site, Continua says, “Continua is dedicated to establishing a system of interoperable personal health solutions with the knowledge that extending those solutions into the home fosters independence, empowers individuals and provides opportunity for truly personalized health and wellness management.” Continua selects pre-existing standards and specifications to form the basis of their certification program. Certified products receive a logo certifying interoperability with other certified products. The goal is to create a rich ecosystem that will, to quote Continua’s vision statement: • Empower individuals and patients to better manage their health by providing them with information regarding their fitness and health through personal medical devices and services.

• Allow loved ones and professional care givers to more accurately monitor and coach chronic disease patients and elderly individuals living independently. • Enable medical and fitness device manufacturers to rapidly develop interoperable devices and services using industry developed connectivity standards. • Enable health care providers to offer better quality care through personalized health solutions assembled from a rich marketplace of interoperable health care devices and services. Within this world of emerging intelligent medical devices, the embedded computer industry is playing a vital role. It will be the goal of Medical Electronic Device Solutions to present the latest technical information to assist medical OEMs and their vendors to identify opportunities and provide solutions. Continua Alliance Beaverton, OR. (503) 619-0867. [].

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8/13/10 10:08:31 AM RTC MAGAZINE AUGUST 2010

Technology in

context FPGA Development

Goldilocks and FPGA Development – a Methodology That’s Just Right Developers of FPGA solutions don’t have to start from scratch nor reinvent wheels. By using a framework they can free up resources to focus on value-added development rather than recreating infrastructure. by Jeff Millrod, BittWare


hile tools and support for the development of FPGA IP blocks have made tremendous advances in recent years, it still remains burdensome to integrate these blocks into a large, complex FPGA project complete with I/O, processing and control elements. In part this is because COTS FPGA boards, including their infrastructure and their integration into system solutions, are still a relatively immature technology. New development and integration methodologies are needed to facilitate the use of FPGAs as major components of a complex system solution. General purpose processors (GPPs) have been available on COTS boards for more than 30 years. Needless to say, there is a wealth of experience and proven methodologies to integrate these resources into systems. Every COTS SBC comes with a comprehensive board support package that facilitates standard implementation and integration. Digital signal processors have also been widely available on COTS boards for nearly as long, and have also become well understood system components with well understood infrastructures and methodologies for software development and system integration. A mere decade ago it was considered risky to implement



multiprocessing systems, and many users struggled to figure out how to develop solutions with them, and now it’s risky to not use multiprocessing. In contrast to GPPs and DSP boards, standard boards that use FPGAs to provide high-performance computing resources to system designers have only been around for a few years. It’s no wonder that it is still considered by many to be difficult and risky to exploit this new type of system component. Mature and proven methodologies from previous technologies can not be leveraged, nor can they evolve to support these devices. One can’t simply write application code for the FPGA and run it. A whole new approach to development must be used, and it’s not really hardware development, nor is it software. It is FPGA development. It is new and different, and it requires a new methodology. Complicating this problem is the fact that FPGAs have gotten so large, that essentially what needs to be developed is a System-on-Chip (SoC). To be effective, any new methodology must overcome the two biggest obstacles to implementing system solutions on an FPGA: first, the blank slate problem, and secondly, the SoC integration problem.

The Blank Slate Problem

FPGAs have no inherent functionality; they are essentially a blank slate. When implementing an FPGA design in their systems, developers face the challenge of taking the FPGA from a blank slate to a fully functional implementation. Every low-level function must be instantiated, and then all these low-level functions need to be integrated together. Rather than focusing on implementing value-added application functions, much or even most of the design effort must be spent on infrastructure and integration efforts. For example, an FPGA provides no peripheral infrastructure, which means developers must build physical interfaces for such basic capabilities as memory interfacing and I/O. Furthermore, the FPGA lacks any on-chip busing, requiring developers to build all data moving and control paths. Even when using a pre-existing algorithm, the developer still needs to build low-level utility components. Fortunately, developing IP blocks for FPGAs is easier than ever. In addition, most (if not all) FPGA manufacturers and board vendors provide IP blocks and functions to address much of the low-level needs of an application. There are also a

technology in context

FPGA FrameWork Standard I/O Interface(s) Control Interface & Register Banks

great many resources now available to assist in the development of the high-level processing blocks that are the real valueadded. Despite these advances, however, there generally remains a gap for the “inbetween” functions such as resource arbitration, switching, DMA engines, data buffering, interrupt handlers and synchronization. Even if all the required IP blocks were readily available to the user, there would still be… There is no standard methodology for integrating IP blocks into a complete FPGA design. Typically, the designer must manually assemble the blocks, taking care to handle a myriad of details such as bus widths, data format, flow control, buffering, clocking, resets, interrupts and timing constraints. Ironically, as the development of FPGA IP blocks has become easier, the integration of those blocks into an SoC solution has become harder. Even with existing IP blocks, dozens of permutations of any given function are needed to support integration. For example, a simple mux can have N ports in and M ports out, each of varying bit widths and speeds, flow control, etc. Often, the exact permutation of a given function is not available, requiring the integrator to open up each IP block and tweak it so that it will work. These tweaks are not only labor intensive, they are also error-prone. The fully integrated design should then be verified and validated using modeling and simulation, which requires customized data generators, diagnostics, bus functional models and simulation control. The complexity of this integration dampens FPGA productivity and severely hampers the architect’s ability to experiment, tweak and reuse components. Something as seemingly trivial as trying an alternative processing component or changing bit widths requires a tedious reintegration with re-validation. Therefore, it is ultimately the integration of IP blocks,

User Developed IP Blocks

Dataflow Interconnect Fabric Control Fabric Inter-Processor Comms (IPC)

The SoC Integration Problem

Application User Interface

Application User Processing

Standard Processing

Multi-Port Memory Arbiter(s)

COTS Framework Components


FPGA(s) -and/or-



GPP(s)/DSP(s) Figure 1 FPGA Framework provides System-on-Chip infrastructure.

rather than the development of them, that hinders the deployment and optimization of FPGA-based system solutions.

The Goldilocks Problem

Like the chairs available to the fabled little girl, the traditional FPGA development methodologies available to most developers have either been too small or too big. IP libraries can ease the blank slate problems, but they are simply too small to address the integration problem—no matter how big they are. At the other extreme, there are several offerings of complete, closed development environments with IP libraries that automate integration, but the practices dictated by these environments place restrictions on the developer that can be inflexible and restrictive. Given the costs, complexities and learning curves of these environments, they often feel too big. As FPGA COTS board technology has started to mature, and existing system implementation methodologies have been found lacking, a new approach has emerged. This methodology has been

called a framework. Rather than using a plethora of incompatible IP blocks, a framework provides a unified library of reconfigurable IP blocks (also called components) that conform to an open standard common interface that allows them to be easily bolted together. In addition to fully validated and simulatable physical interfaces, I/O and communications, the framework also provides reconfigurable fabric components, control resources, resource management functions, and project level support for timing constraints and simulation that facilitate integration—without requiring automated integration. Thus the framework is big enough to overcome the blank slate and the SoC integration problem, while remaining open and flexible. Developers can configure the components to work the way they want, and can use as much or as little of the integration resources as they desire, without being forced to work in a closed environment. And user IP blocks can easily be converted to framework components. RTC MAGAZINE AUGUST 2010


technology in context

As shown in Figure 1, the framework provides a full system-on-chip (SoC) infrastructure with peripherals, data fabrics and control planes in place. The framework also facilitates a software-like methodology to FPGA development by providing all the other necessary pieces to

quickly create and modify simulation and synthesis projects. Thus, designers can focus their design efforts on unique valueadded development rather than block modification and integration—resulting in lower development costs and a faster time-to-market. Open Standard Memory-Mapped I/O

Open Standard Streaming I/O

Reconfigurable Interface

Control Register Bank



Figure 2 Reconfigurable framework component using open standard interfaces.

Framework Component Concept

Traditional libraries provide IP blocks that instantiate a given function. A framework library goes one step further and provides components that integrate the function with reconfigurable interfaces and control registers, as shown in Figure 2. Using common interfaces for both data and control, the framework provides a standard API for communication between a functional component and its sources, sinks, masters and slaves. By using reconfigurable interfaces, the component minimizes the IP permutation problem. Having a standard register bank simplifies creation of the SoC control plane, and also enables the creation of associated software libraries and drivers. The component concept is essential to the framework since it abstracts functionality and device interfaces, promotes component and full platform reuse, and simplifies design verification. Besides overcoming the two major obstacles to implementing system solutions in FPGA, a framework provides additional benefits such as ease of modification, portability, and project level support for both

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Learn More > Š 2010 Logic Supply, Inc. All products and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies.


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technology in context

the FPGA tools and system-level software. Since integration is much less challenging, a framework makes it far easier to experiment with FPGA design modifications and optimizations, similar to software development methodologies. The framework methodology also makes it relatively easy to change the physical interfaces to the SoC peripherals, so that moving an FPGA design to a different board or device is straightforward and can be quickly accomplished. In addition, external portability is also simplified via the framework’s system-level software that facilitates integration and portability of the FPGA SoC at the box level.

A Real-World Framework

One example of a successful framework implementation is BittWare’s ATLANTiS FrameWork, or AFW. Leveraging Altera’s Avalon open standard to implement common interfaces for data and control, AFW supports Altera’s Stratix family of FPGAs, with physical interfaces that support BittWare’s COTS FPGA boards. AFW provides a wide range of components including: streaming data inter-

connect, control & memory management, physical interfaces, SerDes protocols, simulation & test and utility libraries & resources. These components are reconfigurable and supported by BittWare’s software libraries (BWIO). By using an open standard component structure, AFW also allows straightforward integration of custom or third-party components. It’s important to understand that AFW is a framework, not a tool or environment; it is an infrastructure that the FPGA developer can use as little of, or as much of, as desired. The development environment for AFW is Altera’s standard Quartus tools with additional support provided for timing constraints and SOPC builder. Other development environments could also be used, and simulation is supported using standard tools from vendors such as Aldec or Modelsim. By providing complete FPGA projects and examples, AFW enables users of BittWare’s FPGA boards to have complete SoC implementations out of the box. Simply having all of the physical interfaces in an existing project, with an interconnecting data fabric and control plane, saves

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users weeks, if not months, of time—and that’s before even starting the development of the real value-added IP. This new framework methodology for FPGA development has emerged as a “just right” sized alternative to previous methodologies that are often too small or too big. It helps overcome the obstacles to the development of FPGA system solutions, and reduces development costs by providing an infrastructure that moves FPGA development to a higher level of abstraction. A framework enables a software-like approach to FPGA development by treating the FPGA like an SoC with peripheral and fabric infrastructure in place. By integrating validated HDL components, productivity enhancement resources and software libraries, a framework moves customers quickly and confidently from design to deployment. Now, if we can only figure out the too hard, too soft problem. BittWare Concord, NH. (603) 226-0404. [].

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Technology in

context FPGA Development

Three Keys to Unleashing the Full Horsepower of the FPGA Despite their parallelism, power and flexibility, FPGAs still present a challenge to the system developer to bring out their true potential. Developers can take advantage of three increasingly available methods to more fully utilize this powerful technology. by Ivo Bolsens, Xilinx


oday’s FPGAs have high compu- Tight Hardware Integration tational efficiency, high bandwidth Obviously, tight integration between concurrent memory access, rich on- the devices in a given system is always chip interconnectivity and are uniquely important. But today as FPGAs are playhardware as well software programmable. ing a more important role in a growing As a result, design groups are increasingly number of applications, processor and placing them at the heart of a number of FPGA vendors have paid special attention complex processing systems, even some to creating interconnect standards that of the world’s most complex computing play to the parallel processing strengths systems that require advanced signal pro- of FPGAs. For example, over the last nies providing solutions now processing and high-percessing, packet year, Xilinx has worked closely with ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest formance computing. microprocessor giant Intel to tighten the ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you To unleash the full horsepower of FP- integration between its x86-based CPUs you require for whatever type of technology, FPGA vendors are making three key and Xilinx’s FPGAs. Specifically, Xilinx and productsGAs, you are searching for. moves: ensuring their FPGAs have tighter and Intel have added support for Intel’s integration with processing and memory FSB (Front Side bus), QPI (QuickPath Inin systems; developing easier to use pro- terconnect) and HyperTransport. gramming tool flows; and providing marThese recent developments allow sysket-specific platforms, not just FPGAs, to tem designers to plug FPGA hardware dicustomers to help them more efficiently rectly into a standard processor socket on get products to market. The first key is a motherboard. What’s the advantage of tighter integration between the FPGA and doing this? Rather than having the FPGA the off-chip processor and memory in ad- function simply as a companion acceleravanced system design. tor, through these newer more tightly coupled interfaces, the FPGA can now run as a peer to the other processor(s) in a hetGet Connected erogeneous multiprocessor configuration. with companies mentioned in this article. This peer to peer connection of FPGA(s)

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and processor(s) provides very low-latency and high-bandwidth coherent access to the same system memory for the processors as well as the FPGAs. What’s more, this tight coupling of general purpose processors and FPGAs increases the overall system performance, allowing designers to implement dedicated functions in the FPGA fabric, leading to major performance/watt gains. For example, Nallatech is shipping modules with Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs for 4-socket motherboards. The Nallatech modules offer 8 Gbyte/s peak and 5 Gbyte/s sustained host communication bandwidth, with <110ns access to up to 256 Gbytes of system memory. One module can directly support 4x 10GbE channels (Figure 1). In the domain of high-end computing, Convey Computer has leveraged this capability to provide a hybrid core compute platform with a highly parallel FPGA coprocessor that augments the capabilities of a commodity processor with processing elements optimized for performance-critical operations. The FPGA contains what Convey calls “personalities,” which are essentially computing

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cores specifically tailored to accelerate key application kernels. The Convey system treats each FPGA coprocessor as just another processor on the system bus. Each grouping of general purpose processor and FPGA coprocessor is cache-coherent and operates in the same address space and on the same data, making software development as easy as that of a standard x86 environment. In order to extend the reach of FPGAs in the domain of embedded processing, FPGA vendors are continuing to further integrate general purpose processors and programmable logic in the same chip. FPGA vendors’ earliest attempts at these devices emphasized the programmable logic portions of the chip over the embedded processor. These FPGA first architectures required users to be very well versed in hardware design, specifically in FPGAs, to begin even thinking about programming the device. What’s more, in most cases you had to actually program the FPGA fabric to get the on-chip processor to activate. Today, however, vendors are learning from the lessons of the past and are creating “processor-first” logic device architectures, such as Xilinx’s recently announced Extensible Processing Platform. This class of device is capable of booting an OS from reset yet also providing designers with large on-chip FPGA resources that they can leverage to create new, unique system functionality. Designers can offload functions from the processors to the FPGA fabric to drastically improve overall system performance (Figure 2). In greater detail, these new processor-first logic device architectures include circuitry that tightens the link between on-chip acceleration engines and peripherals to optimize multicore coherency. In these architectures, the acceleration functions in the FPGA fabric have access to the CPU cache hierarchy, and this increases the system performance and reduces the overall power consump-

tion related to data transfer and storage. In addition, these architectures also support standard uncached peripherals and accelerators and are compatible with IP bus standards to facilitate the integration of IP blocks into the chips. In addition to

efficient integration between processing, programmable logic and memory both on-chip or off-chip, easier programming of the devices in the context of the entire system is also a key to unleashing the FPGA’s full horsepower.

Figure 1 Nallatech ACP Board.

Extensible Processing Platform Processing System Hardwired SoC High-Performance Low Power, Low Cost Boots OS at Rest

Common Peripherals

Memory Interfaces Additional Peripherals


ARM Dual-Cortex-A9MPCore Complex

Custom High-Bandwidth Interfaces Programmable Logic for Extensions Rapid Differentation High-Performance, Scalable Programmed by Processor



High-Performance Reconfigurable, Application Optimized Accelerators

Figure 2 The Extensible Processing Platform, an architecture for an upcoming processor-first, processor-centric device from Xilinx—pairs an ARM processor with programmable logic.



technology in context

The Programming Flow

To date, the FPGA programming flow has largely targeted hardware designers and as such is based on hardware description languages (HDLs) such as Verilog and VHDL. In contrast, embedded software programmers use high-level imperative languages, such as C. These languages are very different. Programming in HDLs requires software developers to step outside their traditional programming abstractions

to deal with detailed memory management and register transfer level details. HDL-style memory management requires developers to actively manage an FPGA’s distributed memory banks at the application level, scheduling the movement of data in and out of physical memory locations and adding logic to avoid memory access conflicts. C, of course, assumes one large memory space that is accessed through named


Signal Processing HW IP & FrameWorks Development Tools Systems & Services

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FPGA Platforms Implemented in Altera Stratix family FPGAs ®



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data structures and for which the hardware handles both data accesses and conflict resolution. Consequently, even with the promise of huge performance gains and lower power, the effort required to program embedded processing applications in HDLs at the register transfer level of abstraction is an important hindrance to adopting FPGA technology. However, after two decades of R&D and many failed attempts, recent advances in high-level synthesis technology have demonstrated that FPGAs can achieve performance similar to compilation from handwritten RTL code with respect to resource utilization and clock frequency. Even more surprisingly, benchmarking reports have shown that writing optimal C code for efficient synthesis to an FPGA requires effort similar to that of writing optimal C code for an efficient implementation on a processor target. The availability of an FPGA platform that provides support for tight connection and hardware memory coherence between CPU cores and programmable logic cores (QPI, HT and AXI), and the recent advances of C-to-Gates technology, form the foundation for a software-centric programming flow for future FPGA platforms. Thanks to the advent of C-to-Gates compilers and programmable logic connected to a coherent processor bus, system designers can split their applications into smaller independent processes. These processes can ultimately reside on an embedded processor core or a programmable logic engine. All the processes are compiled and linked with an API library for easy CPU-to-FPGA communication. In addition to tight integration with processors and memory, and more advanced methodologies to program FPGAs in the context of the system, FPGA vendors have also begun to offer their customers marketspecific platforms, market-specific development boards, IP and reference designs, to help customers get designs to market faster.

8/10/10 11:17:42 AM

At their most basic level, FPGA platforms are SoC templates or reference designs composed of market-specific functions. In many cases, FPGA vendors have taken the liberty of pre-implementing and verifying the functionality and performance of these platform designs running in their FPGAs. Because the FPGA vendors have

technology in context

already verified them, the vendors typically guarantee these functions will have a certain performance (e.g., supports 1080p 240 Hz video rate, etc.). FPGA vendors created these platforms to cater to domain level experts who perhaps donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to go into the details of building an FPGA implementation from scratch. However, these FPGA platforms are equally useful to domain experts who are well versed in FPGA designs but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to spend their precious time creating from scratch functions and blocks that are typical to their targeted applications. By using these platforms, they can focus on the parts of their design that will add value and differentiation to their designs. Designers can use these platforms to derive the performance and programmability benefits of the FPGA without having to worry about the low-level details. If designers choose to use these platforms as a starting point for their designs, they can significantly reduce their overall design time and concentrate the majority of their programming efforts on the value-added portions of their designs, be it on the CPU or in the programmable logic. If they are inclined to do so, developers can include every function in their designs from scratch, but most designers will certainly see the benefits of not reinventing the wheel, and choose to concentrate on the value-added portions of their designs. Just as one is using plug-ins as extensions to software packages, a system designer can populate a given platformâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s template with their own specialized contributions. As we have seen, FPGA vendors are developing a new class of system-centric programming solutions to help customers leverage the many strengths of FPGAs. The creation of processor-first devices is an important step to provide tight integration between CPU cores and programmable logic cores, and will enable unprecedented system performance/watt. These devices can support a software-centric programming approach that leverages recent achievements in the domain of parallel programming, high-level synthesis and SoC architectures. There is no doubt that there is still plenty of opportunity for research and development to further augment the design flow as described above. For example, assisting the system expert during the debugging and exploration process at the right level of abstraction is an impor-

tant challenge. However, processor-first devices, such as the Xilinx Extensible Processing Platform, will be a solid foundation to unleash the full power of the FPGA architecture without exposing the designer to all the implementation details. Xilinx San Jose, CA. (408) 559-7778. [].

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Convey Computer Richardson, TX. (214) 666-6024. []. Nallatech Camarillo, CA. (805) 383-8997. [].


8/13/10 10:14:36 AM RTC MAGAZINE AUGUST 2010

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The Xilinx® Virtex®-6 FPGA family is optimized for higher bandwidth and lower power applications. Virtex-6 LXT FPGAs for highperformance logic, DSP and serial connectivity with up to 36 low-power 6.6Gbps GTX transceivers and 864 DSP slices at 600 MHz Virtex-6 SXT FPGAs for ultra high-performance DSP and serial connectivity with up to 36 low-power 6.6Gbps GTX transceivers and 2016 DSP slices at 600 MHz Virtex-6 HXT FPGAs for the industry’s highest bandwidth with line rates in excess of 11Gbps and over 1Tbps serial connectivity with 720 SelectIO™ pins and up to 72 multi-rate transceivers E-mail: Web:


connected Wireless Networks

In-Home Wireless: The Next Frontier for Industrial Engineers The familiar old remote will be undergoing a transformation—from infrared to wireless—that will enable it to be the dashboard for the networked home, enabling access to services and control functions far beyond TVs and DVDs to include lighting, heating, air conditioning and communication with health care providers to name a few. by Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies


nside almost every home you will find some flavor of wireless used for connecting devices. This includes Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) and related technologies for cordless phones, CDMA and GSM for cell phones and smartphones, as well as Wi-Fi for high-speed data networking and voice applications. There is another network in most homes—Infrared (IR)— usually utilized to connect people’s entertainment centers to their portable remote controls. Used in about 98% of remote controls, IR has been around for decades. IR is cheap, works and is relatively reliable. However, IR is now being phased out by radio frequency (RF)based technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics (RF4CE), some of which originated in the industrial space. By using RF wireless, it is no longer necessary to aim and shoot a remote control device at the equipment it is controlling. Unlike IR, wireless radio transmits through walls and furniture. This enables homeowners to hide their “ugly” set top boxes and controllers behind closed doors. IR is also not very compatible with new displays and TV technologies. Plasma DTV contains a high-frequency inverter that can interfere with IR signals. In addition, the back lighting technology used on many LCD TV sets can saturate the digital TV’s IR receiver and makes it hard to use. By offering interactivity, additional capabilities can be offered. This includes interactive TV shopping as well as access to temperature and energy use monitoring throughout the home. In addition, by using an interactive screen, the homeowner can moni-



Figure 1 ZigBee RF4CE Set Top Box (STB) functions as a hub or base station for the home’s wireless network—enabling monitoring and control of the home’s systems and appliances.

tor health status, lock and unlock doors and windows, and by using a security camera at the front door, see who is ringing their doorbell. Is it a delivery person, is it their mother-in-law, or is it an unwanted solicitor? A small captured image can be wirelessly sent from a small camera over the door to the display on the remote. One very interesting use of RF interactivity is the “find me” feature. If the remote gets lost or hidden underneath pillows, one simply presses the “find me” button on the TV or set top box,

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and the remote can start playing a tune or loudly chirp, making it easy to locate. Many early adopters have already replaced their home IR remotes with RF-based systems. Now the major manufacturers and service providers are joining that technology evolution to create a remote control that functions as a “home dashboard” that can wirelessly monitor and control all the home’s functions. This is a multi-billion dollar market that embedded and wireless developers need to pay attention to. This is where it gets exciting for OEM and embedded developers. This central dashboard concept requires an entire class of connected and smart appliances that can talk to the set top box and can be controlled and monitored by either the local wireless remote control or by a remote operator via an Internet connection or even over a mobile phone. In addition to large AC-powered appliances, this mobile dashboard concept also provides for the development of a wide range of smaller battery-powered and energy-scavenging devices located throughout the home. Requiring very little power, these sensor devices can be used to monitor temperatures, humidity levels, water leakage, open and closed doors and windows, etc. These can also include health and motion monitors. One of the original reasons that GreenPeak developed their ultra-low-power wireless communication controller chip was for home health monitoring and position monitoring applications. As our society ages, more and more seniors are living alone in their homes, deliberately living independently while at the same time causing their children and friends to worry about their health. Think how useful it would be to have home motion sensors that can report in if the senior citizen falls or is unable to move for some reason. Even more interesting would be small, unobtrusive health monitors that could sense various bodily functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc., and then transmit an alert if there is a problem. These wireless adopters could be sewn into clothes, worn as a pendent, or, if small enough, possibly inserted under the skin. Because there is no need for battery replacement or maintenance, these medical monitoring devices could be made very small and unobtrusive.

Low Power, Low Data Rates – The new LAN for the Home

Unlike Local Area Networks such as Wi-Fi and DECT, and the cellular wireless networks that are targeted at big bandwidth, power-hungry applications such as video, music, gaming and voice, ZigBee RF4CE is a Local Area Network (LAN) that is aimed at low-power, battery-operated applications such as home automation, environmental controls, security and health monitoring.

The ZigBee RF4CE network is similar in range (150 to 250 feet) and topology to DECT and Wi-Fi. A typical system would consist of one base station with various fixed and mobile applications throughout the home that would wirelessly talk to it (Figure 1). The set top box serves as a base station between the Internet and the various home services and connected devices. In addition to wireless battery-powered devices, this base station could also connect to the home’s various appliances, which would operate on AC mains power or via batteries, depending on size and power requirements. For example, wireless temperature and climate sensors could connect to the base station or set top box, which would then in turn connect to the home’s air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems. In addition, the home’s power consumption could be monitored, and all that inforFigure 2 mation could be fed to a wireless remote that would serve as A ZigBee RF4CE remote the home’s central mobile dash- control using GreenPeak’s board (Figure 2). The same in- GP500 Communication formation could be made avail- Controller Chip can run for up able over the Internet so that the to ten years without the battery homeowner, away on vacation being changed or recharged. or at work, could monitor and It is possible to design remote controls, at the same Bill of control the home’s internal enviMaterials (BOM) as an IR ronment and optimize its power remote control, that can run for consumption. ten years or more on a single, ZigBee RF4CE is the open hard wired coin cell battery. communication standard for radio-based remote controls that was originally developed in cooperation by the RF4CE Alliance founded by Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony. In March 2009, RF4CE joined forces with the ZigBee Alliance to launch the RF4CE standard under the ZigBee umbrella. Supported worldwide, ZigBee RF4CE is a wireless LAN (Local Area Network) standard (IEEE 802.15.4) that can cover the RTC RTCMAGAZINE MAGAZINE AUGUST MONTH 2010


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ZigBee RF4CE


Bluetooth LE

Network architecture

Multiple Star + mesh

Point-to-point + Pico net

Point-to-point + Pico net

# Devices supported in network

Virtually unlimited


Virtually unlimited

Frequency band

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz

Mac/PHY specification

IEEE 802.15.4

IEEE 802.15.1

IEEE 802.15.1

Latency (??)

<5 ms

100 ms


Battery life

+15 years



Data rate

250 Kbit/sec

1-3 Mbit/sec


RF Range

+50 m indoor

10 m

10 m


128 bit AES

128 bit AES

128 bit AES

Table 1 Features overview and comparison between three potential home LAN technologies.

house and that can do many more things than just changing TV channels. ZigBee RF4CE has been developed and standardized by the large consumer electronics companies and is now also broadly adopted by the cable operators. ZigBee RF4CE (standardized under IEEE 802.15.4) was a spin-off of Wi-Fi (standardized under IEEE 802.11), specifically from low power, low data rate applications.

Bluetooth vs. RF4CE

In addition to RF4CE, there are some who are looking at Bluetooth as another possible replacement for IR. Bluetooth has been around for over ten years and is ideally suited for point-topoint links, which means that the devices can be used in pairs, such as a headset with a phone or a mouse with a PC. In theory, Bluetooth can link up to seven devices, but the result is not very efficient since only two of those seven devices can communicate to each other at the same time. Unlike LAN technologies such as RF4CE and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is a Peripheral Area Network (PAN). If you have a Bluetooth phone headset, and travel 15 feet (5 meters) away from the phone, the quality of the connection starts to crackle up. With a Bluetooth wireless keyboard or a wireless mouse, as soon as you move more than 15 feet (5 meters) from your computer, you start noticing lost characters or jerky motions. Consumers who want to operate their large screen TV or prefer to hide the set top box out of sight (behind the screen or in the cupboard), will be disappointed in a PAN technology like Bluetooth that quickly loses its reliable connection over a distance. There was a time that Bluetooth was recommended for wireless Internet (as a LAN technology). Unfortunately, Bluetooth did not have the reliable range and therefore logically never made it as a LAN. A more logical choice would be to use Wi-Fi for remote controls, because Wi-Fi is also a LAN technology that allows the set top box to be put in the closet, and still be reachable with a remote control. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is built for high-speed data



communications and therefore is too power-hungry and too expensive compared to ZigBee RF4CE. ZigBee RF4CE is designed for low power and consumes a fraction of the power of traditional Wi-Fi. By using ZigBee RF4CE, a remote control can operate on a single coin cell battery for over 15 years, longer than the expected life span of the TV set it is controlling. This is a big advantage compared to the powerhungry Bluetooth, which requires a docking station to keep the internal batteries charged or weekly battery replacements. ZigBee RF4CE is also much more power efficient than IR. 802.15.4 RF consumes 25% of the power used by IR solutions. The Bluetooth industry is working on a Bluetooth LE (low energy) specification, which is designed for lower power consumption. Bluetooth LE is a low energy, non-voice version of Bluetooth and more in line with the needs for low power sensor applications, and could become a candidate for RF remote controls. However, it is still a PAN with limited range and limited networking capabilities. As Bluetooth is found in many home devices, Bluetooth remotes could be easily linked to Bluetooth headsets, phones, PC, etc. Unfortunately, traditional Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE do not interoperate so there is no real advantage of setting up yet another standard in wireless communication. A comparison of features between Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE and Zigbee RF4CE is shown in Table 1.

ZigBee RF4CE Is Robust and Secure

Exhaustive testing has demonstrated that IEEE 802.15.4-based technologies like ZigBee RF4CE maintain good performance and robustness even in busy wireless environments packed with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, portable phones, interference from microwave ovens, baby monitors, wireless doorbells, etc. To further improve robustness and maintain a reliable connection, ZigBee RF4CE uses frequency or channel agility to find the cleanest link to a particular device. Within a congested frequency band carrying numerous busy wireless communication channels, frequency agility can automatically identify the chan-

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home, excellent range of performance and robust connection that withstands the worst interference environments, low power consumption for great battery life, security, support for multiple applications and, maybe most importantly, a competitive price that beats IR. In the coming years, working adjacent to the Wi-Fi network, every home will be equipped with a ZigBee RF4CE, specifically for all low power, low data rate applications. This includes security devices, thermostats, light switches, etc. The ZigBee RF4CE remote control therefore will become a sort of dashboard for the home, making our houses as easily controllable as if sitting behind the steering wheel in the car.

ZigBee RF4CE Frequency Agility 802.11b/g Channel 1


2.400 GHz





802.11b/g Channel 6






802.11b/g Channel 11







2.485 GHz Channel Agility 802.11b/g Channel (North America)

802.15.4 Channel

802.11b/g Spectrum Occupancy (Typical)

ZigBee RF4CE Channel

GreenPeak Technologies Utrecht, Netherlands. +31 30 262 1157. [].

Figure 3 ZigBee RF4CE uses channel or channel agility to find the cleanest link to a particular device. Frequency agility can automatically identify the channel or channels having the lowest level of signal activity within that frequency band.

nel or channels having the lowest level of signal activity within that frequency band. It then selects at least one of the identified channels for communicating. As this is a continuous automatic process, as the channels change in capacity and availability, the agility feature can also change the ZigBee RF4CE channel to ensure using the cleanest channel at all times (Figure 3). Security is another important built-in feature of ZigBee RF4CE. It would not be pleasant for neighbors to accidently change each other’s TV channels or be able to intercept their home security settings. ZigBee RF4CE establishes security during the pairing process when two devices initially start communicating. During this process, the devices use AES-128 data encryption (Security mode: ENC-MIC-32) to ensure data confidentiality by encrypting the payload. Each node uses automatically generated 128-bit link keys that are then stored in the pairing table. To provide additional security, RF4CE can also utilize data authentication via Message Integrity Code and replay protection via frame counter.

Embedded smxWiFi ™

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It All Comes Down to Cost

Finally, the decisive argument that is making every CE manufacturer seriously consider switching to ZigBee RF4CE for its next-generation remote controls is the cost argument. The total BOM for a ZigBee RF4CE remote control can be as low as $2 each—roughly equivalent to current IR costs and much less costly than the components for a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi remote. ZigBee RF4CE communication controllers make it cost-effective to replace IR in traditional remote controls and other residential and home automation applications. So why integrate ZigBee RF4CE in remote controls? It’s simple. ZigBee RF4CE is more powerful and full featured than IR. ZigBee RF4CE has greater range and is smarter than Bluetooth. It requires less power than Wi-Fi or DECT. It is the only solution that provides networking capabilities to cover the whole

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systems Rugged and Reliable

Designing the Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Toughest Computing Systems As customers continue to push the limits of computing system requirements, rugged computer systems will continue to evolve to endure the toughest conditions as long as good engineering practices are implemented and maintained in the process. by Ray Tabladillo and Ben McMillan, Parvus


echnological developments that reduce complexity while enhancing usability are always a welcome addition to rugged applications, since fewer parts means improved reliability. The need for these developments is especially evidenced by the increasing demand for rugged computing systems where reliable high-performance computing is required. Rugged electronics systems must deliver uncompromising performance in demanding environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures, shock, vibration and humidity amidst altitude, fungus, salt fog, explosive decompression, immersion and sand/dust exposure, if the application so requires it. In addition, demands continue for these systems to possess enhanced system integrity to satisfy electromagnetic interference/compatibility (EMI/EMC) requirements while operating over a wide range of power conditions. Rugged computing products are also benefiting from the latest developments in processors and electronics, demanding lean engineering practices that have garnered proven results.

Processor Choice Key for Rugged Computing Design

One of the greatest hurdles for rugged computing designers is including greater



Figure 1 White underfill shown on CPU board components with board-to-board interfaces from Single Board Computer I/O rather than traditional ribbon cabling.

embedded processing power while maintaining low power consumption. The Pentium M and Celeron M processors have been popular choices for rugged systems, as they are designed from the ground up to deliver high performance with low power consumption. Availability of Intelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recent Atom processor family injects additional possibilities for rugged stand-alone boxes. This low-power processor family has a thermal design power (TDP) starting as low as 0.65 watts, scaling up 13 watts with processor speeds running as high

as 1.8 GHz speeds. Having exceptional performance-per-watt, the Atom is a good choice for a wide array of low-power, sizeconstrained applications. Recent additions to the Atom family, including multicore processors, promise to continue to improve the performance and efficiency of embedded applications. While many applications can still be managed by energy-efficient single-core processors, new technology developments are demanding higher processing power with low power consumption. Multicore

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processing technology consequently sees a significant boost in deployment within stand-alone rugged boxes. For demanding applications, mobile Core 2 Duo or Core i7 processors, as examples, provide attractive solutions. While presenting a challenge to manage the 10-55 watts of thermal design power (TDP) of these processors, they offer a level of performance that pushes the boundaries of traditional rugged computing required by new applications.

Solid-State Drives Provide Proven Results

Connected to the processor selection, the ongoing development in solid-state drives is another catalyst helping advance rugged computing design. Based on flash technology, solid-state drives are rugged and supply proven performance in extreme conditions. For this reason, singlelevel cell (SLC) solid-state drives have become the leading data storage technology for almost all mission-critical military applications. With no moving parts, these devices are not hindered by seek time, latency, nor other electromechanical delays found in traditional hard drives. The drawbacks commonly associated with solid-state drives are being reduced, as random access speeds rival—and now beat—other media. Retention and re-writing cycles have dramatically increased, and many drives offer erase-all functions that comply with military declassification standards for security-sensitive applications. Solid-state drives are able to withstand extreme shock and vibration environments and, due to improved wearleveling algorithms, boast very high mean times between failure (MTBF)—a major boon to rugged computing systems. Combing solid-state drives with processors ranging from the Intel Atom to the Core 2 Duo, the Eurotech Group, including Parvus Corporation, has developed testproven solutions that meet and supersede the requirements for use in extreme military environments, among other industrial

Figure 2 EMI Filter/power conditioner board inside DuraCOR 810 vehicle server with conformal coating and potted components for shock/vibe/humidity resistance.

and commercial application solutions. Use of the following design techniques has resulted in small packages with significant processing and expansion capabilities for extremely demanding environments.

Ruggedizing Internal Components at the PCB Level

Ruggedization begins internal to the system at the electronics level where components sustain the rigors of motion and shock, both physical and thermal. These types of ruggedization techniques must be implemented to ensure the processor can withstand extreme conditions. One such technique is underfilling—the process of injecting a specialized adhesive underneath BGAs to keep the chips from moving during vibration and shock (Figure 1). Its application provides a strong mechanical bond between the BGA component and the corresponding connection to the circuit board, protecting the solder joints from mechanical stress. Care must be taken, however, to select an underfill with an appropriate coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). Otherwise the components will be subjected to undue stress during thermal cycling. Underfill adhesives can also aid the transfer of heat from the BGA component to the board while also mitigating tin whiskers on lead-free boards. Testing has

proven that the underfilling technique provides remarkable improvements in longterm vibration resilience. Another critical method to produce robust electronics involves potting (Figure 2). Potting can be performed by completely encapsulating an electronic device or by staking it down, to provide protection against shock and vibration. It can further ensure security of sensitive designs, as well as create a barrier against moisture, fungus, dust and corrosion. Enhancing circuit reliability by eliminating leakage from high-voltage circuits, protecting against voltage arcs and short circuits, and by preventing the formation of tin whiskers, potting becomes essential to rugged design. Potting materials come in a multitude of varieties affected by requirements including thermal, outgassing, electrical and thermal isolation or conduction capabilities, and manufacturing application requirements to name a few. Consequently, selection of the correct potting materials is a key engineering decision to ensure its function depending on the location it is applied and the environment for which the end product is destined. As a final step, conformal coating material is applied to electronic circuitry to protect it from moisture, dust, chemicals and temperature extremes. This process RTC RTCMAGAZINE MAGAZINE AUGUST MONTH 2010


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improves and extends the working life of the board and helps ensure safety and reliability. These coatings “conform” to the contours of the board and its components, creating a thin protective layer that is both lightweight and flexible. For circuit boards that are not conformal coated, extreme environmental conditions could cause corrosion, mold growth and current leakage, resulting in board failure. Taking extra precautions to ensure that the board circuitry can endure harsh conditions is paramount in designing and building rugged computing systems that will last through the life of the product.

Rugged Design Relies on Thermal Management

Thermal management remains a major component of any rugged electronic design as heat issues are often the largest contributors to failures. Consequently, advances in thermal management will continue to rank as one of the most important trends in rugged computing design since processors continue to change along with the demand for higher processing capabilities at faster speeds. Historically, there have been more embedded systems based on low-end, pre-

Pentium processors than newer multicore processors. As a result, corresponding OEM or off-the-shelf enclosures have not been designed with new thermal requirements in mind. Therefore, with the integration of faster—and hotter—processors, chassis must become more sophisticated and must be considered to more suitably accommodate thermal issues. Simple chassis may have once comprised flat thin exteriors, while newer processor requirements for cooling demand considerations for increasing surface area using fin technology and increasing mass to improve the capability of the chassis itself to act as a heat sink and thermal conduit. Gaining a better understanding of what combination of thermal products and techniques help transfer heat while maintaining cost, weight and system integrity, will prove to be one of the most important elements in rugged computing design. This influences chassis and internal package design to accommodate hardware and system design features to manage the heat while still maintaining the physical integrity and size and weight constraints of the unit. Consequently, the ability to analyze requirements quickly and identify potential solutions remains a key skill for the design engineer. Some of the cooling techniques that have helped rugged computing systems maintain reliability without significant weight gain include embedded heat pipes, heat sinks, new thermal interface materials and heat spreaders (Figure 3). The inclusion of heat spreaders incorporated on top of devices to help transport heat from its source has drastically reduced thermal issues in embedded designs. These heat spreaders use a variety of materials and physical forms and are

Figure 3 Aluminum heatspreader plates encapsulate boards in the DuraMAR 3230 Tactical Switch Router to optimize conduction cooling to chassis.



now designed to accommodate a number of thermal options, such as top-mounted heat sinks, fan heat sinks and heat pipes to effectively cool microprocessors. Innovative heat pipe/heat spreader combinations are proving especially effective in the thermal management of rugged computing systems to the point where mounting orientations may become negligible for excellent performance. Although not a new cooling technique, the use of embedded heat pipes in conduction frames can dissipate large amounts of heat with very little temperature difference, eliminating the need for any input power for active cooling or the inclusion of moving parts. These passive cooling methods are more reliable than fan cooled designs and are currently more affordable than spray or liquid cooled chassis priced at the high end of the market. In the end, considerations for galvanic corrosion, cost and time-to-market are among the many constraints that may affect the choices for thermal management.

Keep EMI/EMC Management Core to System Design

Additionally, systems must meet certain EMI/EMC requirements. For military systems, this often includes compliance to MIL-STD-461 for radiated and conducted emissions and radiated and conducted susceptibility. Systems may also need to comply with power characteristics defined in MIL-STD-1275 or MIL-STD-704. To meet these requirements, proper considerations must be taken at the earliest stages of system design; EMI/EMC compliance is rarely achieved when viewed as an afterthought. Important considerations include defining test requirements, selecting an adequate power supply, protecting I/O lines with ESD diodes, designing sealed enclosures with good EMI gaskets, and creating proper test cables (Figure 4). Moreover, proper grounding techniques and good bonding between chassis surfaces are critical in creating an enclosure that acts as a faraday cage. Since external power leads are typically unshielded in test and application, they can be the single largest point of noise and susceptibility. A well-designed filter, located at the point where power enters the system, is critical to an electrically quiet system. This

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prevents internal noise from exiting the system and protects sensitive electronics from external noise that otherwise might enter the system.

Eliminating Cables Reduces Failures

Cableless technology has also improved reliability and ruggedness by eliminating points of possible failure. Although power cables are usually still necessary, eliminating cumbersome data cables simplifies the system by decreasing components and increasing reliability. Use of I/O breakout boards, rigid flex connectors and board-to-board connectors, provides a cableless internal interconnect scheme that is conducive to a rugged design and signal integrity, while still supporting modular customization. When cables are necessary, options for embedding them in an elastomeric material are available to provide both strain relief to prevent the cables from disconnecting or being severed in vibration or shock while easing manufacturability and handling for maintenance to improve reliability. Teflon-coated cables, for example, are also quite robust and can be selected and tied down with physically mounted zip ties and lacing applied to further prevent any possible mechanical failures during shock and vibration.

Modeling & Simulation Software Save Time, Money

Test results provide important data necessary to design the most robust systems possible for customers who can accept nothing less. In order to verify whether ruggedized systems will perform sufficiently in extreme environments, highly accelerated life tests (HALT) and highly accelerated stress screens (HASS) are typically applied. In the military and defense applications, these tests are typically defined by MIL-STD-810 and sometimes require MIL-S-901D shock test for naval applications. Not all customers require these regulated tests for their applications and they can be defined as required to suit the productâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intended environment. Parvus, for example, has developed its own vibration profiles based on its own experience for standard products to meet extreme conditions for most applications.

Figure 4 DuraMAR 1000 mobile access router subjected to MIL-STD-461E radiated emissions testing in semi-anechoic chamber.

Significant time can be spent performing engineering calculations or writing programs to review designs. These have their place in the preliminary design phase, but often analyses can be completed quickly using simulation software that will correlate to testing. For example, in relation to thermal constraints previously mentioned, thermal modeling software is available for making precise decisions in conduction, natural convection cooling and even thermal flow simulations. By identifying and analyzing potential cooling issues, thermal modeling software can provide important thermal management capabilities by ensuring new thermal devices will meet specific standards. Furthermore, simulation programs such as Simulation Premium, a version of COSMOS that has been integrated into SolidWorks, allow engineers to subject their designs to real-world stresses including shock, vibration and even nonlinear stress analyses, helping significantly shorten the design cycle by reducing or eliminating need for redesign on the front end in order to get products to market faster. By running a variety of analyses, engineers can quickly determine where potential points of failure could exist when subjected to shock, thermal and vibration tests prior to physical testing. With many companies wanting to streamline the design process and attempting

to choose systems that are easy to manage for the long haul, defense contractors among many other companies are increasingly moving toward using COTS products. Engineers need to maintain a clear understanding of how to evaluate any required component within the system and design with many of the considerations previously reviewed. Of equal importance with the change to using COTS components, is the increased trend toward managing regulating directives such as the restriction of hazardous substances (ROHS). Having a goal to limit harmful materials, these types of regulations can significantly affect the design process. Learning how to take a design made for industrial and possibly commercial applications and transform it for more rugged applications, the engineer must have a broad understanding of what is suitable for rugged applications and combine this knowledge with available analysis tools in his repertoire. Furthermore, the designer must consider what is allowable for the system and know what and how to replace any components not well suited to shock, vibration and thermal limits among the gamut of environmental concerns. Parvus Salt Lake City, UT. (801) 483-1533. [].



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systems Rugged and Reliable

Lessons in Performance, Ruggedness and Reliability for Commercial Embedded Markets Rugged, hot-swappable features required by telecommunications systems are compatible solutions for military and mission-critical commercial applications. by Nancy Pantone and Keith Taylor, Kontron


mbedded systems are all about performance and reliability; they are expected to handle their assigned tasks efficiently and without fail. Secure network infrastructure applications in particular, such as those found in telecommunication central offices, are often expected to perform non-stop even in remote locations. Central office systems require the utmost in performance and overall reliability since failure is just not an option. Rugged, hot-swappable design features characterize these applications, and must meet not only their mission-critical requirements but also their high-bandwidth performance and grueling environmental demands. In fact, strict telecommunications standards and requirements have advanced the design of systems to the point that they directly benefit technically adjacent markets as well. Key design considerations that affect telecommunicationsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; high availability include designing in Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) standards for certification, and compliance with European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards.



They also include Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) features, evaluating and managing shock and vibration issues, and planning for overall system manageability. Further, advanced condition monitoring and in- and out-of-band system management functions are part of this evaluation, ensuring proper notification and identification of potentially degrading or failed components with the least amount of system disruption and the most cost-effective service schedule. Military, and in turn, rugged commercial embedded markets such as transportation, energy and manufacturing, stand to benefit greatly from the proven design theories behind extremely reliable, standardsbased performance. Telecommunications system designers routinely work with rugged, NEBScertified solutions for high-performance, high-bandwidth applications in extreme environments. In compliance with NEBS-3/ETSI requirements, telecommunications systems are designed and tested to withstand extreme heat, humidity, altitude and zone 4 earthquake shock (7.0 Richter scale and higher) and multiple

other extreme environmental conditions. These rigid requirements also include advanced server management and telco alarm management, which are important features that provide visual, audible and/ or remote network event indications of faults. As an example, communications rackmount servers used in the central office are specifically designed for spaceconstrained, thermally and mechanically rugged environments that also require very high availability. These systems are characterized by extended temperature components, robust mechanical design including redundant, hot-swappable features, and world class vibration suppression technologies that set them apart from conventional enterprise and industrial servers.

Balancing Reliability Features with Environmental Demands

Military designers are making the most of proven telecommunications design tenets, developing systems that must perform under many of the same highbandwidth, increased security and so-

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phisticated data processing pressures in punishing physical and environmental conditions. Rugged military applications integrate many of the same RAS features found in the “always on” telecom infrastructure. Non-stop performance is ensured through the use of redundant systems that in turn enable hot-swappability. The components that are most likely to fail are power supplies, drives and fans. As a result, these are considered critical RAS features and the most important priorities in terms of designing in redundancy. Redundant power supplies—probably the most basic yet critical component in the hot swap arsenal—are required for NEBS certification, and are commonly found in telecom applications to ensure continued non-stop system operation. It is important to note that redundant power supplies also permit the use of redundant external power sources. Central offices all have two separate power feeds—and as a result, they are protected not only against power failure but also from the failure of external devices that might cause the loss of an entire power rail. Hard disk drives are a close second— not quite as critical as a power supply but also more generally prone to failure. The effect of a drive failure can be mitigated through a redundant storage configuration. Hardware or software RAID is often implemented in order to manage data redundancy across the drives, enabling valuable data to be retained on the remaining drives until such time that a service event can be scheduled and the failed drive conveniently replaced without system interruption. Redundant, hot-swappable fans are also included as part of NEBS certification—illustrating the importance of thermal management in keeping rugged systems operational. Overheating and improper airflow can degrade system performance so dramatically that it can achieve the same level of service interruption as a full system failure. Remote monitoring systems provide a Web-based means of observing critical

Figure 1 Secure network communications for military applications are being deployed incrementally in the WIN-T program, bringing greater levels of networking capabilities to field units and ground commands.

components, tracking system malfunctions in real time and notifying network administrators of impending issues. This is essentially a form of preventive maintenance—avoiding downtime by constantly

monitoring the system’s vital operating parameters, such as processor temperature, fan speeds, power supplies and hard drive status. Service events are recorded so they can be effectively managed and RTC RTCMAGAZINE MAGAZINE AUGUST MONTH 2010


Tech In Systems

also archived for future review. Extreme, space-constrained environments such as military aircraft, ships and field datacenters are exposed to wide temperature variations, high altitude and exposure to shock and vibration. Rugged chassis design in these instances involves minimal use of plastic, or use of higher grade burn-resistant plastic with UL 94-VO certification. Thicker sheet metal is added for improved rigidity and is coated with Zinc Chromate to avoid rust on shear edges. Even the server cables are viewed as an opportunity to design in additional rugged reliability, incorporating high-quality locking mechanisms, shrouds and thicker 30-micro-inch gold contacts. Some systems further improve reliability and serviceability by reducing or eliminating cables, through integration of multiple functions on one board or direct physical docking of boards. Uncontrolled vibration in high-performance environments can render a system non-operational—and can at the same time be extremely difficult to diagnose. As hard disk drives become more and more sensitive to vibration, their magnetic heads have greater difficulties staying on track. As a failing drive continually tries to correct itself, performance decreases proportionally. Isolating both vibrationgenerating devices and vibration-sensitive devices is proving to be a highly viable approach. As systems become more powerful, innovations in vibration suppression will continue as manufacturers persist in their ongoing evaluation of both fan and disk drive products.

Modern Military Design

With an unmatched diversity of application requirements, the modern military relies heavily on secure communications and networked systems, sharing vital information in real time and linking command centers to individual soldiers mobilized over land, sea and air. Driven by technology initiatives such as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and Brigade Combat Team Modernization, designers are building in rugged, hot-swap-



Figure 2 The Kontron CG2100 Carrier Grade Server combines performance, ruggedness, reliability and long life in a NEBS-3 and ETSI-compliant 2U chassis. It provides dual socket support for the Intel Xeon Processor 5600 series, coupling high performance with power efficiency to provide improved performance-per-watt over previous-generation rackmount servers.

pable system features integral to ensuring real-time situational awareness across military command centers and the rank and file (Figure 1). For example, secure network communications for military applications are being deployed incrementally in the WIN-T program, bringing greater levels of networking capabilities to field units and ground commands. “Networking-atthe-halt” is the first phase of the WIN-T program, and provides roll-on/roll-off mobility and Internet-based connectivity to the warfighter, satellite and line-ofsight connectivity, and Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) services down to the Battalion level. Phase two is “networking-on-the-move,” enabling a mobile infrastructure on the battlefield and extending a broadband communication network down to the Company level. Earlier military systems generally relied on system redundancy using purpose-built proprietary solutions, which increased overall system cost and hampered their transportability. Maximum system uptime is still a critical requirement for integrated battlefield management, and system designers can now take advantage of the high-availability features this COTS technology offers. Many command centers have the need to process huge amounts of high-bandwidth data and

communicate in real time with troops at every level. Utilizing standards-based COTS technologies, these command centers can now function in a very similar fashion to the telecommunications central office. Size weight and power (SWaP) will always be a top military design issue, however, these secure network applications also require computing bandwidth and high availability that just cannot be sacrificed as a design trade-off.

Reliable Design Options

While battlefield applications have unique requirements, they share many with telecom. These include carrier grade servers, NEBS-3/ETSI-compliant standard building blocks that meet stringent environmental requirements. IP Network and industrial servers are additional options—optimized for high I/O throughput and compute performance, and wellsuited for data network applications with large I/O requirements (Figure 2). Carrier grade servers are differentiated by NEBS certification, validated to handle power management, electrical shielding, disaster preparedness, environmental safety and specific applicationdefined hardware interfaces. IP Network and industrial servers (Figure 3) are not NEBS rated, however, they implement much of the ruggedness and reliability of carrier grade systems. For example,

tech in systems

extreme industrial systems handle an operating temperature range of 0° to 50°C and an operating humidity range of 1095%, which offer all-around IP 20 protection (configurable to IP 52 at the front), and high shock and vibration protection. By implementing an Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) over LAN, network users have an OS-independent, cross-platform interface for monitoring the server system’s temperature, voltage and fan status, including out-of-band management even when the main processors are not powered on. Many traffic-intensive applications demand the unique capabilities of specialized network processors coupled with general purpose CPUs. However, the majority of conventional enterprise class servers cannot provide the extra power or cooling required to support these network acceleration cards, which typically draw two to three times the maximum power allowed by standard PC slots. Carrier grade servers, IP network and industrial servers solve this challenge with dedicated power rails and auxiliary power connectors that deliver additional power directly to the adapter’s auxiliary power ports. Improved cooling capacity is designed into the I/O’s thermal zone to specifically accommodate these high-power I/O cards. Further, I/O can be supported in the front of selected IP network servers, providing simplicity in connecting network ports from the same side of the rack.

Designing Reliability for the Long Term

Designers of military market applications are recognizing the requirement similarities and proven successes of telecom designs. The incorporation of RAS features, including rugged, hot-swappable components, and the consideration of physical design characteristics, such as altitude, limited space and extreme thermal requirements, are proven principles, enabling new applications and meeting the needs of modern battlefield initiatives. However, highavailability, mission-critical applications require a much deeper look at current and future environmental conditions, as well as careful longevity planning.

Not only do military designers face environmental impact from sources like heavy equipment, vehicles, generators, engines or other types of industrial machinery operating within or very near network installations, they must manage their successful design for long-term exposure to these elements. Beyond ruggedness, designs must have an extended lifecycle with product availability and manufacturer support

Combat Team modernization demonstrate this influence and the proven success of rugged, reliable telecommunications design. This high bar for guaranteed non-stop performance is also likely to illustrate the optimal solution for other rigorous commercial applications such as transportation management, smart grid energy systems, chemical plants or other severe manufacturing settings.

Figure 3 The Kontron KISS 4U KTC5520’s rugged design, manufacturing, high MTBF classification and manageability all contribute to lower total cost of ownership. Standard applications for the rugged and extremely silent embedded server include industrial imaging and military applications, as well as high-end data processing, storage and simulation applications.

as an ongoing requirement. Conventional enterprise-class servers have an expected lifespan of 18 months before EOL (end-oflife) from the supplier; however, telecommunication service providers require equipment to be in production for three to five years or even longer. This assurance is very attractive to military and other embedded markets, increasing stability and reducing maintenance and qualification costs with fewer product releases and validation cycles. Further, manufacturer service and support must be continued for another two to three years after production has ended, allowing end-users more time to scale operations and remain with the same products longer. Military designers are among the first to utilize telecom methodologies in rugged environments and mission-critical situations where nothing less than infallible performance will do. The networking achievements of WIN-T and Brigade

System reliability is a dynamic equation that changes under varying operational circumstances, and designers must treat high-availability computing as “more than the sum of its parts.” This forces designers to fully understand and evaluate potential environmental issues early in the design process—ideally leveraging the design lessons of the telcommunications central office. Designers can anticipate these proven concepts to provide significant competitive value in the evolving range of unique and demanding physical computing environments. Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].



technology deployed Factory Automation Systems

Industrial-Strength Computerized Machine Management

trolled by systems based on Intel Core vPro processors (Figure 1). Intel vPro technology on Intel Core processors is familiar to corporate IT as it comes on all of Intel’s top processors for business PCs. However, it might come as a surprise to these IT managers just how prevalent Intel vPro is on computer systems controlling industrial machines and how the advantages gained on the factory floor might benefit them as well. With industrial plants dependent on control computers Intel vPro comprises a package of business PC hardware and software technolofor manufacturing processes as well as for traditional IT, gies that provides IT workers with high levdowntime of one system can bring a line to a halt with els of computing performance, but equally enormous costs. Remote access, diagnostics and repair important are more remote capabilities that lead to easier, more cost-effective managecan result in significant savings and the elimination of ment and maintenance of computer fleets. many site visits. It is a familiar technology to a broad number of IT professionals because it goes a by Ian Gilvarry, Intel step further than other remote management technologies with its out-of-band capabilities, which enable it to remotely access a computer even if it is powered off, or the OS ometime soon the computer system in an industrial ma- and hard disk are inoperable, to manage, diagnose, repair, invenchine responsible for capping a popular cola, or welding tory and patch their PCs without stepping outside their offices. To make its findings more relevant to IT professionals, the frame on an automobile, or controlling the operation of Wipro used the data compiled from interviews with 23 firms a city’s power generation, will go haywire, bringing the works to in Germany and Japan to create the “average” industrial firm. a halt. An IT technician will be dispatched to analyze the probThat typical organization contains 134 HMIs, MCs, CNCs and lem and after going back to the shop for parts, he’ll have the industrial PCs, which are refreshed on a five-year schedule with machine running again, albeit a couple of hours or more later. a variety of models from different manufacturers. They are deSite visits are the bane of CIOs everywhere. They’re costly in ployed across 30 facilities and about 80 percent are connected to IT man-hours and corporate productivity. For those IT organizathe corporate network. They are regularly inventoried, patched tions charged with the care and feeding of computer-controlled and audited. Depending on the system type, the groups of sysindustrial machines, there is something to be learned from your tems experience 2 to fifteen security incidents a year. External corporate IT counterparts about advancements in remote management of those systems. And for you IT pros in the corporate equipment or service providers care for forty-three percent of the realm, whose dominion is the white-collared world of notebook equipment (Table 1). The Wipro study backs up what we all know: the cost of PCs in neat cubicles, pay attention—there’s something to be servicing computerized industrial machines and resolving problearned from blue-collar IT. lems faster to reduce downtime are our two biggest concerns, To help guide IT practitioners at industrial and manufacfar outpacing still important issues, such as flexibility, extended turing organizations, research firm Wipro Product Strategy and lifecycle, asset visibility and scalability. Architecture took a look at the costs associated with industrial PC and embedded systems management. Wipro’s “Reducing Industrial PC and Embedded System Support Costs with Intel “It cost how much!?!” vPro Technology” involved interviews with companies in auIntel vPro remote management provides a number of costtomotive and automotive parts, communications, electronics cutters. Many more application and hardware failures can be hanmanufacturing, food production, high-tech manufacturing, in- dled remotely because of vPro’s out-of-band capabilities. Even if dustrial machine manufacturing, power generation and utilities, a part requiring a visit is needed, remote diagnosis can determine semiconductor fabrication and water disposal and environment. that in advance, enabling the technician to take the part with him, In particular, it analyzed the impact of remote management of saving a second trip. Security incidents that brought an industrial industrial PCs, computer numerical controllers (CNCs), motion machine to its knees could also be repaired remotely through controllers (MCs) and human machine interfaces (HMIs) con- the out-of-band connection. Finally, the efficiency gained from




Technology deployed

Model Company




Industrial PCs









Refresh rate (years)





Number of models deployed per year





Total number of machines or systems Percentage of systems connected to the network today

Number of active hours on per day


Number of major applications deployed per year





Number of inventories per year





Number of patches deployed per year





Number of audits deployed per year





Number of security incidents per year





Number of plants and facilities


Average hourly burden rate of Level 1 IT support (US$)


Average hourly burden rate of Level 2 IT support (US$)


Average hourly burden rate of Level 3 IT support (US$)


TABLE 1 Characteristics of the Model Company derived by averaging the survey responses.

reducing the overall complexity of systems makes a significant impact on the bottom line. Virtually all of the companies interviewed have plans to reduce power consumption. Though motivation varies—green PR,

government regulation, internal cost cutting—the solutions were the same. We noted earlier that the Wipro model company let its systems run 19 hours daily. However, while drawing power, they are only in production 14 of those hours. According to Wipro, over their five-year life spans, each of those systems will cost the company $18,913 while hanging around a figurative water cooler. One likely reason for leaving them on is to allow remote maintenance, if necessary. For those companies that use them, Intel vPro’s out-of-band capabilities enable them to remotely shut those systems off, either automatically or manually, at quitting time, and if remote maintenance is needed, turn them on only long enough to complete it. According to Wipro’s research, by replacing its computer-controlled machines on its current refresh schedule with Intel vProbased systems, the Model Company will return net present value (NPV, the accounting method for determining the profitability of a project) of $485,000 or $1,414 per system to the corporate coffers. HMIs and industrial PCs see the biggest reward—$1,956 and $1,831 per system, respectively, beFigure 1 cause the average company deploys a wider Many industrial processes involve expensive equipment producing expensive variety of models from multiple vendors in products. The shutdown of a process line like this can incur astronomical costs these areas (Figure 2). if not repaired immediately. RTC RTCMAGAZINE MAGAZINE AUGUST MONTH 2010


technology deployed

practices to reduce costs and speed up repairs, such as using a single vendor and refreshing with one model annually over its five-year Industrial PCs $1,831 cycle. However, that doesn’t get a human any CNCs $803 closer to some of the plant’s HMIs. By increasing their remote reach into the machines DMCs $608 with Intel vPro, IT no longer needs physical access, speeding up repairs. In addition, HMIs $1,956 the plant saved an NPV of $451,000 ($1,408 per system) after implementation costs were Figure 2 deducted. Most of the savings no longer required IT technicians to manually handle apAll systems show a positive NPV, but industrial PCs and HMIs show the plication failures, security patches and audits. greatest savings from reduced management costs. While not included in the computation, going remote also eliminated system downtime. Total Cost Hours of The figure from the study that will chill (assuming Total Downtime Total Number any CIO is the average cost of $15,650 per hour 10% of Device Downtime Per System of Systems downtime (hours/year) in lost production when a computer fails and Per Year closes line) the machine is out of service. The cost of downtime varies widely, depending on product value, HMI 34 92 3,120 $4,882,231 point in the production process and availability MC 43 78 3,332 $5,214,133 of a back-up machine. Wipro therefore made CNC 50 56 2,796 $4,375,258 conservative calculations, assuming that only 10 percent of problems will actually bring a Industrial PC 53 114 6,036 $9,446,810 production line to a halt. Still, that lost opportuTotal $23,918,432 nity cost equates to $24 million (Table 2). vPro, vPro Impact $14,351,059 of course, can’t completely prevent downtime, but previous studies demonstrate it is capable of TABLE 2 keeping systems online 60 percent of the time. Even a minor reduction in downtime can save money. So, with Intel vPro-based systems, the Model Company would prevent $14.3 million in lost revenue. In many companies, security concerns have traditionally demanded an “air gap” in the network between parts of plants, and “What do you mean it needs a 165-volt power the corporate and external worlds. While still common today, outlet?” Wipro anticipates this architecture will continue to erode as seOne final consideration that was apparently overlooked by curity and access technologies evolve, bringing the cost savings 70 percent of the firms interviewed for the study, is the benefits of remote management to these areas. Pressure from the corner associated with standards-based management tools. Only 30 peroffices for real-time production and efficiency data, and from cent were taking advantage of standards-based solutions. Others plant managers to simplify their operations is driving this trans- were either using equipment vendors’ solutions or internally deformation. The System Defense features of vPro can play a role veloped tools. Looking at the variety of vendors many companies in this migration by helping block incoming viruses and other are using, the former and likely the latter lead to unnecessary threats, and by isolating infected systems to stop further spread. management complexity and costs. In addition, because vPro is hardware-based, factory workers Another advantage of building around vPro processors is the can’t inadvertently or intentionally meddle with the system. availability of continuously advancing offerings from the broad ecosystem of standards-based software and hardware providers. “Fix it fast!” Their products are largely optimized for vPro platforms. There Unlike their corporate counterparts, factory IT professionals also tends to be lower development and programming costs in the often manage systems in secretive, inaccessible and dangerous construction of industrial computing environments. environments. Hey, it’s a factory out there! Obviously, the more comprehensive the remote management, the quicker and less Intel costly a problem can be attended to in a clean room, power gener- Santa Clara, CA. ation plant or smelter. One of the participants in the Wipro study, []. a power generation plant, provides a good example of where Intel Wipro AMT can provide the needed virtual access. Bangalore, India. The power plant has 400 HMIs, many situated in very diffi- +91 (80) 28440011. cult to reach spots. The firm already employs a number of good IT []. NPV Per System of Investing in Intel vPro Enabled Systems



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technology deployed Factory Automation Systems

Overcoming Concerns about Wireless PACs and I/O in Industrial Automation Wireless industrial control networks have many attractions as long as they can assure reliable connections and security. When not, then a wired solution is required. But keeping options open with dual-capability hardware can offer network designers flexibility and peace of mind. by Jean Femia, Opto22


or several reasons, the automation industry has increasingly begun to examine and evaluate wireless interfaces and communication for projects both large and small. Among other considerations is the fact that running a wired network incurs significant labor and material costs, while wireless networks cost far less. Wireless also provides connectivity for remote areas or areas not currently served by wired networks. Indeed, wireless controllers and I/O can manage devices and processes even in inaccessible areas, or areas where network wiring is difficult or impossible to install. And wireless is even used to provide proofof-concept for new installations. For all these reasons, automation engineers are now seriously considering wireless solutions (specifically WLAN, also known as wireless Ethernet or Wi-Fi) for all or part of their applications. But despite all the pluses that come with wireless, several concerns still remain. Among them are security, network performance and reliability, availability and cost of I/O components, as well as the necessity of choosing between wired and wireless solutions up front.


Historically, wireless network security has been notoriously easy to hack or otherwise compromise. Just stand outside an apartment building with a laptop and see how many wireless networks you can access with no password at all. But while personal



wireless networks often remain insecure, security standards for business, industrial and government use have been developed over the last several years and adopted by most organizations. The earlier WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security algorithm, which was found to have serious flaws, has been superseded by much stronger and more secure transmission algorithms. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), including the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), replaced the older WEP algorithm in 2003. The more recent WPA2, introduced in 2004, uses the even more secure Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 802.11i algorithm. WPA2â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s AES algorithm is compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) FIPS 140-2, required by some government agencies and corporations. These standards can protect a robust communication system and should be used for industrial wireless implementations today.

Network Performance and Reliability

The reliability of a wireless network varies based on a number of factors, including network size, network traffic, physical environment, the number of network users, and interference from other devices. For a small all-wireless network, devices may perform well in the ad hoc mode (peer to peer), where each device can detect and communicate with any other similarly configured device within range. This mode requires a smaller expenditure on network hardware and can be especially useful for a temporary wireless network. For a larger network, the infrastructure mode, which routes communication through one or more wireless access points, is usually more suitable. Since wireless communication is based on radio signals that travel through air, physical environment plays a clear role in how well the network performs. Any obstacleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;wood, metal, concreteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;can impede the signal as it travels. The solution is to strategically place access points, wireless routers and wireless repeaters across the area where the wireless transmission is taking place (Figures 1 and 2). Network reliability also depends on the number of network users and the nature of their use. Simple data transfer usually requires little bandwidth, but heavier use, larger files and multimedia can slow network traffic considerably. Networks using the 802.11a or g standard are faster (speeds up to 54 Mbit/s) than those using 802.11b (11 Mbit/s). Additionally, radio frequency (RF) interference and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problems reduce network reliabil-

Technology deployed

ity when other devices—such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices and microwave ovens—interfere with wireless signal reception. Reducing interference from other devices may involve changing channel frequency within a range or moving into a less crowded frequency. Wireless networks compatible with 802.11b and g standards, for example, use 2.4 GHz, a frequency shared by many devices. Moving to an 802.11a-compatible system, operating in the 5 GHz spectrum, will offer less interference (although the range that signals can travel may be shorter). Wireless standards also differ in the number of non-overlapping channels they allow. 802.11b and g allow only three, so frequencies must be reused when more than three access points are required in the same system. More channels are available with 802.11a.

Availability and Cost of I/O Components

While worries about wireless security and performance are generally shared by users of all wireless networks, concerns about availability and cost of I/O components are unique to the automation industry. Currently, most automation manufacturers’ wireless product lines tend to differ substantially from their standard lines. Often, only a subset of the standard product line may be adaptable for wireless use, and then, only through the addition of special module carriers or other accessories. Unfortunately, solutions like this can cause problems for the user. As part of a separate wireless line or as a subset of the regular product line, wireless I/O may not include features that the project requires, or even features that simply make design and implementation easier, such as easy wiring to field devices. If an application requires specific signal inputs or channel-to-channel isolation, for example, the wireless I/O product line may be lacking. Additionally, limited availability may lead to costly workarounds or even elimination of wireless as a possibility altogether. To establish their wireless networks, automation engineers sometimes find they

Figure 1 In the first scenario, this plant’s control network is built using mostly wireless connections.

Figure 2 As changes are made, such as the building of new tanks or the installation of a big EMF-producing machine, the affected links can be changed to wired communication without disrupting operations, installing new software or even changing the hardware—just running some cable.



technology deployed Conduction Cooled VME Solid State Disk Phoenix Internationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s VC1-250-SSD Conduction Cooled Serial ATA (SATA) based Solid State Disk VME blade delivers high capacity, high performance data storage for military, and y, aerospace p industrial applications requiring rugged, extreme emee envi eenvironmental i ron ronmen me tal and secure mass data storage.

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Figure 3 These three control network elementsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a rack-mounted control and automation processor, a stand-alone programmable automation controller and an I/O and communications processorâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all are capable of being used wired or wirelessly with no change to software or configuration.

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must buy special wireless components, such as module carriers, I/O modules, racks and terminations. In nearly all cases, custom11:43:57 AM ers who install these wireless networks for automation projects are forced to carry a separate inventory of spares in addition to those required for their wired systems or risk interruption of their process should a part fail. These special components and additional spares increase the cost of the wireless system. A better solution would be to choose a manufacturer whose wireless line already includes a large selection of reliable I/O that requires few or no extra components. Ideally, this would be a manufacturer whose I/O line can be implemented regardless of network type â&#x20AC;&#x153;wired or wirelessâ&#x20AC;? (Figure 3).

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Untitled-3 1


3/15/10 11:18:23 AM

The availability and cost considerations discussed raise another issue. If the wireless version of a vendorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s product line differs from the standard line (as is often the case), one is forced to choose from the outset of the project whether to use wired or wireless communications. In other words, one must specify components and commit to a networking interface up front. In these early stages, a forced investment in a wired or wireless network can effectively lock you in to further network design and operating specifications. In cases such as these, if the chosen method should prove disappointing, a change would add significant time and costs for redesign and purchase, installation, and configuration of new components. Moreover, these additional costs often include more than simply I/O and hardware components. Software costs for licensing, training and programming the wireless components can also be incurred. Ideally, wireless I/O, PACs and control systems should oper-

Technology deployed

ate more like the typical laptop computer that has both wired and wireless capability. It should be able to adapt to a wired or wireless network, while still using the same software and delivering the same functionality. And, long after your purchase, you should be able to choose the network type or switch from wired to wireless (and back again) as circumstances dictate.

Checklist for Designing a Wireless Project

Broad support for the different wireless standards—not just 802.11b—gives engineers the options they need to improve the reliability of the wireless network. Support for a broader range of standards—such as IEEE-802.11a, b and g—provides flexibility, and the opportunity to use wireless access points, routers and repeaters from nearly any vendor to build a wireless network. Depending on system needs, a 5 GHz band can be used to avoid interference from other devices, or a faster standard with higher throughput could be used. For system security, WEP is no longer sufficient, and even WPA is less than ideal. WPA2 encryption algorithms with 802.11i AES provide the robust protection industrial wireless applications normally require. However, since some applications may use an older standard (or may not require highly secure transmissions), support for all three standards—WEP, WPA and WPA2— should be included for backward compatibility. From the engineer’s viewpoint, a separate product line for wireless—or a subset of the normal wired product line—is difficult to work with. But being able to use the same I/O components

in both wired and wireless networks would save time and money during design, implementation and use. In the design phase, for instance, the engineer could specify I/O with confidence, knowing that they could use any I/O in the product line and that it will work over any network. During implementation, the same methods and costs for install¬ing I/O and wiring to field devices would apply to both networks and there would be no need to retrain technicians. Additionally, just one set of spares would be required. For real flexibility, wireless controllers and I/O should perform like a laptop, supporting wired and wireless at the same time. If an engineer designs a project using wireless technology and later discovers wired would be better, they could still use the same hardware. Furthermore, a standard wired interface combined with wireless creates new options for segmenting networks. For example, critical I/O and controller traffic could utilize the wired network interface, while less critical maintenance, troubleshooting, or local HMI tasks could be done wirelessly. As with a laptop computer, the functionality of the controller, I/O and software would remain the same, regardless of which network is being used. Only the physical medium would be different. All I/O features and supported protocols would remain unchanged. Opto22 Temecula, CA. (951) 695-3000. [].

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1GHz Dual Superscalar ARMv5TE Cores w/512KB L2 Cache 512MByte 64-Bit Wide DDR2-667 Memory with 8-Bit ECC 64MByte NOR with Secure ID, and 512MByte SLC NAND Two PCIe x4 Port (or one x4 and four x1's) Two 10/100/1000 ports via 88E1121R RGMII to Copper PHY Two SATA Gen 2 (1.5Gbit or 3.0Gbit/sec) Channels Two 480Mbit USB 2.0 Host Ports <6W Typical, 10W Maximum, Both Cores Enabled 70mm x 75mm x 5.2mm (on 4.3mm Low Profile MXM Socket) Linux 2.6.x BSP

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Cogent Computer Systems, Inc. 17 Industrial Drive, Smithfield RI 02917 tel: 401-349-3999, fax: 401-349-3998, web: 8/13/10 10:18:04 AM

products &

TECHNOLOGY Industrial PC with Modular I/O Serves Cost-Sensitive Applications

A new I/O server industrial PC is targeted at reducing costs as an alternative to PC/104 or CompactPCI embedded computers. Field I/O signals in the IOS-7200 Industrial PC from Acromag are interfaced through an internal carrier card with related plug-in I/O modules. Working together, the rugged, fanless box computer and conductioncooled I/O modules provide a truly integrated system for many measurement and control projects. A low-cost Geode CPU processes the I/O signal data and manages numerous interface connections for peripherals and networking. Inserting a mix of up to four mezzanine IOS modules on the slide-out carrier card enables A/D, D/A, discrete monitoring/control, counter/timer, serial communication and FPGA computing functions. High-density connectors on the front panel provide clean cable access for 192 channels of field I/O. Advanced heat management allows -40° to 75°C operation without open vents or fans. The interchangeable I/O modules offer flexible I/O configuration to easily accommodate continually evolving scientific research, simulation, data acquisition and test & measurement projects. The IOS-7200 is equipped with an embedded AMD Geode LX800 500 MHz CPU with 512 Mbyte of DDR400 DRAM that runs on Windows Embedded Standard or Linux. Standard interfaces include VGA graphics, two Ethernet ports, two serial ports, four USB ports, a CompactFlash slot and audio input/output jacks. An internal 2.5” PATA hard disk or solid-state drive is accommodated as a user-installed option. More than 20 IOS modules are available to provide a wide variety of analog, digital and serial I/O processing capabilities. A reconfigurable FPGA module allows users to execute custom logic routines and algorithms on TTL, differential or LVDS I/O signals. Up to four IOS modules can be combined in any mix on the carrier card for flexible, high-density I/O to meet custom requirements. A Windows development package provides API development software and Win32 DLL drivers, plus examples for C, Visual Basic, .Net and LabView environments. The Linux software includes a library of I/O function routines to speed code development. Both packages include demonstration programs with C source code to test and exercise the I/O module operation. An I/O Server with four IOS modules operates reliably across wide temperature ranges between -40° to 75°C (-40° to 167°F) with 0-90% relative humidity, non-condensing. Acceptable storage temperatures range from -40° to 85°C (-40° to 185°F). Power usage depends on the I/O modules used, but is typically about 30 watts. A Model IOS-7200 I/O Server PC starts at $1,695. Acromag, Wixom, MI. (248) 295-0310. [].

Image Processing Module Supports High Frame Rate Interfaces

A new image processing and acquisition module supports applications that require both high data transfer rates and high computational throughput. The PCI-104-3000 from Advanced Optical Systems provides the computing power for today’s most challenging video acquisition and signal processing applications. It incorporates industry standard high frame rate sensor interfaces including FireWire (1394a), Camera Link (Base) and Gigabit Ethernet; with a reconfigurable processing engine based on Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology.

The PCI¬-104-3000 also provides a highbandwidth auxiliary bus for transferring large blocks of processed data to another board (such as the AOS PCI-104-4000) for further processing or for user-defined input/output. If your application requires multiple sensor input options, real-time digital signal processing capacity and high-bandwidth parallel computing all in a small package, the PCI-104-3000 is the right solution. Advanced Optical Systems, Huntsville, AL. (256) 971-0030. [].

Type 39 Enclosure Family for Desktop and Portable Cases

A new customizable sheet metal enclosure platform is an excellent enclosure platform for which to base custom designs. The Type 39 from Elma Electronic comes in desktop, portable and rackmount design options. The flexible design allows a wide range of options for prototyping. This family of chassis features advanced EMC options and ease-of-manufacturing, in a highly attractive, cost-effective package. The construction of the Type 39 was designed with EMC compliance as a primary consideration and can meet the strict requirements of CE and FCC. The standard front is powder-coated dark gray but can be modified to a wide range of color options. The enclosure family also has a wide range of handle styles and options. Various types of enclosure feet are available, including rubber, plastic, tilt and standard versions. Pricing for the Type 39 enclosure is under $100.. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].




Microcontrollers Integrate USB and Large RAM for Throughput and Data Buffering

A four-member microcontroller integrates USB for Embedded Host/Peripheral/On-the-Go and 96 Kbytes of RAM. This large RAM enables the buffering of sizeable amounts of data and improved overall throughput, for applications such as Ethernet connectivity, remote sensing, data logging and audio streaming. The PIC24FJ256GB210 microcontroller family from Microchip Technology can also be used to store generated images or data for dynamic content, such as real-time, remote sensor data graphs. The requirements for embedded designs are rapidly expanding, including the widespread and growing adoption of connectivity and the ability to buffer large amounts of data. At the same time, the pressure to reduce cost and size is constant. Microchip integrates a USB peripheral and large amounts of RAM into a single microcontroller as small as 64 pins, along with Peripheral Pin Select, to provide designers the flexibility to remap digital I/O pins. Additional peripherals include 24 channels of mTouch capacitive touch sensing, along with a free touch software library, and the 16-bit Enhanced Parallel Master/Slave Port, which enables wider peripheral selection and improved bandwidth when connecting to off-chip resources. This new microcontroller family easily integrates into Microchip’s long-standing, modular development-board system. A new $25 Plug-in Module is available today, which readily connects to the proven Explorer 16 Modular Development Board and its companion USB PICtail Plus daughter card. All four members of the PIC24FJ256GB210 16-bit microcontroller family are available today starting at $4.10 each in 10,000-unit quantities.

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Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ. (888) 624-7435. [].

PCIe 1080p Frame Grabber Delivers Uncompressed Images and Video Streaming

A PCI Express frame grabber offers uncompressed image acquisition and video streaming in full 1080p HD. The HDV62 from Adlink Technology provides 1920x1080p resolution, progressive scan and noise reduction for greater image quality, as well as a wide aspect ratio that is more comfortable to the human eye. Equipped with an FPGA and 512 Mbyte memory buffer, the HDV62 offers the ability to stream uncompressed images to the host PC, in addition to color space conversion in real time via onboard hardware in order to offload repetitive tasks from the host CPU. Based on the PCI Express x4 form factor, the HDV62 is specifically designed for medical imaging, scientific imaging and high-end video surveillance system integrators by providing uncompressed video streaming up to 1920x1080p at 60 fps and lossless pixel information for both spatial and frequency domain analysis. Real-time color space conversion, supporting RGB, YUV and monochrome pixel output formats, is also performed on the HDV62 in real time to facilitate applications that require different color formats for different image analysis. As this color space conversion is performed via the HDV62’s hardware, different color formats can be obtained without consuming host system resources. The HDV62 also provides various video input support from both digital and component analog video inputs for HD (high definition) or SD (standard definition) video via a 170 MHz DVI input or through RBG and YPbPr analog component inputs. Image acquisition and deployment of the HDV62 are greatly simplified through Microsoft DirectShow, a user-friendly Windows-based application development software package that allows system developers to shorten time-to-market. The HDV62 is currently available for a list price of $999. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA (408) 495-5557. [].

Get Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now

Simultaneous USB DAQ GetModule Connectedwith is a newThroughput resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal to 800 KHz

is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products you are searching for.

Get Connected with technology companies prov A high-speed, high-performance simultaneous USB dataand acquisition module is a completely isolated high-speed module providing Get Connected is a newUSB resource for further exploration into pro datasheet from a company, speak directlyorwith Application Engine simultaneous analog inputs at up to 800 KHz per channel 4.8anMHz touch with resource. Whichever levelTranslaof service you requir total. Each analog input inchannel inthe theright DT9836S from Data Get Connected help you connect thebetween companies and produc tion has its own separate A/D converterwill eliminating phasewith shift each channel—a problem with multiplexed architectures where all inputs share one common A/D converter. As a result, the DT9836 series can correlate measurements instantly. An effective Number of Bits (ENOB) rating for all error sources of 14.4 bits and a Spurious Free Dynamic Range (SFDR) of 95 dB are integral features of the DT9836S. Key features also include 800 KHz sampling per input channel and six true 16-bit analog inputs for measuring multiple channels simultaneously. The module offers complete synchronous operation of all subsystems at 36 MHz. There are 32 (16 in, 16 out) digital I/O lines for time stamping, pattern recognition & synchronizing external events. Two 32-bit counter timers are provided for testing applications as are three quadrature decoders for X/Y positionGet Connected withisolation companiesprotects and ing and rotation. 500V galvanic the PC and maintains products featured in this section. signal integrity and the module includes comprehensive software CD for making measurements quickly and easily.


Data Translation, Marlboro, MA. (508) 481-3700. []. Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.




Industrial Server Brings Dual Xeon to Extended Environmental Conditions

With up to 12 processing cores designed with new 32 nm technology, a new industrial server offers high performance density that makes it a fit for virtualization functionality, allowing formerly separate apps to be moved onto a single, cost-effective system. The Industrial Silent Server KISS 4U KTC5520 from Kontron is a highly robust and long-term available open standard platform, offering up to dual Intel Xeon 5600 Series processors. A feature of the Industrial Silent Server is its ability to operate in harsh environmental conditions. It features an operating temperature range of 0° to 50°C, an operating humidity range of 10-95%, all-around IP 20 protection (optionally upgradeable to IP 52 at the front), and high shock and vibration protection, which makes the server perfect for applications where more ruggedized systems are necessary. The server board can be fully managed remotely, which contributes to high system availability and convenient service. The integrated management processor (IMP) offers VGA/2D, BMC and KVM/VM over IP (iKVM) to support real-time access with full control by keyboard, video monitor and mouse (KVM) and virtual media (VM) by a single local computer from anywhere. IPMI 2.0 compliant using IPMI over LAN, the server board provides the OS-independent and cross-platform interface for monitoring the server system’s temperature, voltage and fan status, among other items, and permits out-of-band management even when the main processors are not powered-on. Additionally, three hot-swappable chassis fans are mounted on the front of the unit. The Industrial Silent Server is available with up to two Intel Xeon (5500 or 5600) series processors and up to 48 Gbyte DDR3 ECC registered SDRAM per processor. The server paves the way for a wide range of extensions, thanks to 1x PCI Express x16 (PEG) (configurable as 1x PCI Express x8), 3 PCIe 2.0 x8, 1 PCIe x4 (using x8 slot) and 1 x PCI. Additionally, there are 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, 6 x USB 2.0 (2 on the front) and 1 x COM (RS232). The Kontron Industrial Silent Server supports Red Hat Linux and Windows Server 2008 and is available direct from the warehouse as a standard configurable system or can be customized further as needed and delivered as a fully tested and independently certified solution. Kontron, Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].

I/O-Rich SHB Features Twin Intel Nehalem/Westmere Processors

A PICMG 1.3-style system host board (SHB) supports twin multicore Intel Nehalem and Westmere processors. MB-80100 from WIN Enterprises features the Intel LGA 1366 processor socket that enables CPU scalability across the Nehalem and Westmere multicore processor families. The MB-80100 features the Intel 5520 Chipset, FireWire, an LSI 1068E RAID chip and PCI-X. Unlike other PICMG 1.3 boards, the MB80100 provides up to 20 lanes of full 64-bit PCI Express support providing unsurpassed I/O in applications that include military, scientific, medical, seismic, meteorology and others. Intel Nehalem and Westmere processors exploit advances of Intel in 32 and 45 nm hafniumbased hi-k metal gate transistors and related manufacturing technologies. The integrated memory controller of these processors enables energy-efficient parallel processing performance. MB-80100 supports dual- and quad-core Nehalem, and quad- and six-core Westmere processors. The 32 nm Westmere processor family is expected to grow to 8- and 12-core versions. These processors will be supported by MB-80100 as they become available. The MB-80100 supports up to 20 Lanes of PCI Express Gen 2.0 as well as a MXM-II interface and a custom MXM-II pass-through card to bridge x16 lanes. It also features 6 Non-ECC or ECC Registered DDR3 240 pin slots for Triple Channel Memory to each processor. A semi-custom pin-out supports the full range of PCI Express on WIN Enterprises custom backplanes: 33/66/100/133 MHz at both 32-bit and 64-bit rates. The board runs Windows 7 32/64 bit, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista 32/64-bit and Windows XP 32/64-bit. WIN Enterprises, North Andover, MA. (978) 688-2000. [].



Dial-Up Modem Supports Ademco and SIA Contact ID Protocols for Security Systems

An Embedded Modem Module designed for Home and Business Security Alarm Systems supports Ademco’s DTMF and SIA's FSK alarm protocol. The V92HM4-RC from Radicom Research provides across the board compatibility of data communications between equipment designed to meet the “Contact ID” protocol regardless of manufacturers. Utilizing standard DTMF tones, via proper AT Commands, an alarm system with the HM4 modem inside can transmit an emergency signal to a monitoring station, the station generates a Kiss-off tone telling the communicator the tone has been received. After the Kiss-off, the modem then restores the telephone line for standard voice communications. The Contact ID is suitable for use in the home and business security devices that are required to report emergency and routine coded signals to a central location. This small form factor module is built for reliability, simple implementation and ease of integration for designers of security data communications networks. Measuring 1.0” x 1.0” x 0.25”, the modem has a built-in data pump, modem controller and onboard International DAA. The modem features -40° to +85°C operating temperature. Its cost-saving line-in-use feature eliminates the need for maintaining a dedicated phone line in many applications. It is controller based with no external memory required The V92HM4-RC can be used for Medical Devices, Industrial Monitoring Systems, POS Terminals, Gaming Devices, Vending machines, Remote Monitoring and Data Collection Systems, Back-up communication systems or any small footprint device that needs to communicate data reliably with low power consumption. Pricing begins at $39.00 Radicom Research, San Jose, CA. (408) 383-9006. [].


Full Implementation of an OFDM Physical Layer on an FPGA, Reduces Time-to-Market

An FPGA IP core has been designed as a complete implementation of an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) physical layer, based on 802.11a/ g/n. The core, code named FC300 from Sundance DSP, targets the SMT351T FPGA module with an XC5VSX95T Virtex-5 FPGA from Xilinx, but because the design does not require any resources other than those commonly found in FPGAs it can easily be retargeted to any device family, from Spartan to Virtex-7 to Altera Cyclone or Stratix. Retargeting to different RF hardware is also possible as the VHDL of FC300 assumes only an I/O baseband DAC/ADC interface. FC300 may be used as a reference design to jump start the development of any custom RF application based on 802.11 or other proprietary OFDM data-transmission standard. When used with the SMT911 RF module, data may be transmitted at up to 54 Mbit/s on any standard 20 MHz-wide channel in the 2.4 GHz ISM or 5 GHz U-NII bands. The core contains both transmit and receive chains and interfaces directly to other DSP or FPGA modules provided by the hardware platform. All 802.11a/g features are supported including data scrambling, forward error-correction via convolutional encoding at rates from ½ to ¾, sub-channel coding of BPSK, QPSK, 16 QAM or 6 4QAM, both short- and long-training sequences, pilot insertion, and the IFFT/FFT required to convert to/from timedomain RF I/Q signals. The receiver logic includes estimators for center-frequency offset and fractional-sample symbol timing as well as independent per-sub-channel gain & phase compensation. The SMT911 supports 1x1 SISO and 2x2 MIMO on a single module. Get Connected with technology and FC300 may be used with a variety of RF/DSP/FPGA hardware modules available from Sundance DSP; different configurations companies providing solutions may now easily be created using the 3L Diamond development environment. FC300 is targeted at the enterprise networking, transmission and switching, Get telecom Connected is a new resource for further exploration storage and high-end military and defense communication systems. into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal

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Sundance DSP, Reno, NV (775) 827-3103. [].

1.8V Serial Flash Supports Latest Generations of Low Power Devices

is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of Module service you require for whatever of technology, 2D/3D Signal Processing Powered by type FPGA Connected will help you connect with the companies and products A new signalGet proyou are searching for.

(888) 624-7435.

cessing board oped to support the processing needs of NASA and the United States Army in applicaGet Connected with technology and companies prov tions that Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro required datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine both high in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir data transGet Connected will help you connect with the companies and produc fer rates and high putational throughput is now available for commercial applications. The AOS PCI-104-4000 from Advanced Optical Systems is a high-bandwidth computing platform with the resources required for execution of today’s most complex data processing algorithms. Incorporating four bands of SRAM memory, this card supports highly parallelized algorithms such as those required for 2D and 3D image processing, radar processing and neural network engines. A large reconfigurable FPGA on board the PCI-104-4000 provides the user with the computational power for applications where a traditional CPU will not get theConnected job done. The PCI-104-4000 also provides a highGet with companies and bandwidth products auxiliary bus for transferring large blocks of data to other featured in this section. boards (such as the AOS PCI-104-3000) in the user’s system for input/ output or further processing.


Advanced Optical Systems, Huntsville, AL. (256) 971-0030.

A low-voltage (1.8V), 8 Mbit flash-memory device features extremely low standby power consumption of just 5 microamperes, active read current of 2 mA (typ., at 33 MHz). The SST25WF080 serial flashmemory device is the newest member of the Microchip Technology 25 series Serial Flash (SPI) memory family based on Microchip’s proprietary SuperFlash technology. Featuring a 75 MHz clock frequency and operating temperature range of -40° to +85°C, the device supports the latest generations of lowpower electronic devices, such as tablet computers, hard-disk drives, Bluetooth headsets, Wi-Fi and wirelesscontrol devices, as well as camera modules. Microchip’s full 1.8V serial flash memory product portfolio now offers densities ranging from 512 Kbit to 8 Mbit. With its low power consumption and high-speed clock, the device is targeted at enabling longer battery life and extremely responsive systems in today’s consumer electronic devices. The SST25WF080 device is available in an 8-pin SOIC package for $0.95 each, in 10,000-unit quantities; and also in an 8-bump die Z-Scale package. Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ.


[]. Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.




Royalty-Free GUI Toolkit for Resource-Constrained Devices

A GUI suite of development tools optimized for embedded devices is targeted as a complete GUI software development solution for resource-constrained devices. Prism from Blue Water Embedded delivers the eye-catching graphical capabilities and timeto-market edge needed for medical, industrial, office automation and consumer markets where user interfaces play an essential role in device design. Prism is comprised of the Prism Runtime Framework, a full-featured GUI toolkit; Prism Micro, a GUI toolkit for monochrome to 8-bit color-depth targets; and Prism Insight, a desktop GUI design and resource editing tool. The complete framework and toolset automates the design and deployment of advanced graphical interfaces for embedded systems, incorporating a high-performance graphical drawing library and a GUI widget set. With these tools, developers can design embedded user interfaces with rich animations, screens transitions, alpha blending, anti-aliasing and canvas transformations. Prism Micro, a variation of Prism Runtime Framework, is tailored to meet the special requirements of cost-constrained, lower color depth targets. Requiring exceptionally low overhead, Prism Micro is very small and easily ported to virtually any hardware configuration capable of supporting graphical output. The development platform Prism Insight enables a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG environment. Incorporating TrueType font technology, the Insight Resource Editor defines buttons, menus and other widgets so developers can customize screen layout as required. With the Animation Designer, developers can specify screen flows and select from a wide range of built-in or customized screen transition effects and animations. Prism Insight offers a large range of data output formats such as ANSI C/C++ source code, XML screen description files and binary resource files, enabling developers to tailor output to the requirements and capabilities of target systems. Pricing starts at $2,000 with full source code and is royalty-free. Blue Water Embedded, Fort Gratiot, MI. (810) 987-3002. [].

New Front I/O Systems for Rugged Enterprise Server Family

Two new high-performance servers for missioncritical applications in harsh environments are offered as 2RU and 3RU systems in a 17-inch (431.8mm) depth chassis with all I/O accessible from the front of the machines. Power supplies, disk drives, Gigabit Ethernet controllers and a graphics port are also front panel accessible. Front panel only access and a shallow depth design, make the RES-22XR3/FIO and RES-32XR3/FIO from Themis Computer suitable solutions for use in space-constrained environments. Themis’ new servers support the Linux and Windows operating systems to run a wide variety of user applications. Themis’ new systems are offered with four-core (5500 series) or six-core (5600 series) Intel Xeon processors, with up to 144 Gbyte memory, extensive disk storage—up to eight lockable and removable drives, hotswappable fans and hard disk drives—plus single or redundant power supply options for increased reliability in challenging environments. Featuring a compact, light aluminum chassis and Themis’ advanced thermal and mechanical design techniques, these new servers will provide users industry-leading RAS (Reliability, Availability and Service). Easily expandable through the addition of commercially available off-the-shelf networking cards, graphics, I/O, peripherals and other value-added options, the RES-22XR3/FIO and RES-32XR3/FIO servers are ready for current and future system requirements. In addition, the front panel access and I/O includes two lockable and removable 2.5” SATA or SAS drives (RES-22XR3/FIO) or up to three lockable and removable 2.5” SATA or SAS drives (RES-32XR3/FIO) as well as one CD-RW/DVD-RW drive. There are two Gigabit Ethernet ports (RJ45), one or two RS-232 Serial port (DB9), up to six USB 2.0 ports plus PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse ports. Power connector and switch and status LEDs are included as well as, in some configurations, a VGA port. All of Themis’ XR3 series servers are now offered with 5500 series or 5600 series Intel Xeon processors. Designed for optimal performance, data and storage, Themis’ new servers may be used as rackmountable servers in offices, labs, or harsh environments, as network infrastructure servers, front-end enterprise and minimal downtime server systems. The RES-22XR3/FIO and RES-32XR3/FIO servers are now available. Information on configuration and pricing is available on request. Themis Computer, Fremont, CA. (510) 252-0870. [].



Long Term Availability Ruggedness


Utilize most current technology

High Performance per Watt


Focused on the essentials Maximum Performance at Minimum Consumption Utilizing highest integration levels, latest technologies, and the most powerful processors, for more than 25 years LIPPERT‘s embedded PCs provide the maximum possible performance while maintaining minimum power dissipation. Integrated LEMT functions provide condition monitoring. LiPPERT - efficient and rugged components for market segments as diverse as automotive, automation, medical, military, and aerospace.



CPU, Clock


Intel Atom™ processor Z5xx, 1.1 ... 1.6 GHz

2 GB soldered

2 x PCI Express, SDVO, USB

Cool LiteRunnerECO


Intel® Atom™ processor Z5xx, 1.1 ... 1.6 GHz

2 GB soldered


Cool LiteRunnerLX800


Geode™ LX800 500MHz

256 MB soldered

Mini-PCI, CF slot, 2 x LAN

Cool SpaceRunnerLX800


Geode™ LX800 500 MHz

256 MB soldered


Cool RoadRunner945GSE


Intel® Atom™ processor N270, 1.6 GHz

2 GB soldered


Cool RoadRunnerLX800


Geode™ LX800 500 MHz

1 GB

CF slot


Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor, 1.2 ... 2.26 GHz

1 GB




Geode™ LX800 500 MHz

1 GB

LAN, USB, uDiskOnChip



Intel® Core™ i7 processor, 1.06 ... 2.53 GHz

4 GB

LAN, SATA, USB, Display Port



Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor, 2.53 GHz

4 GB

LAN, SATA, USB, AMT, Adaptive-IO™



Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor, 1.06 ... 2.2 GHz




Cool XpressRunnerGS45

Cool XpressRunner-GS45


Trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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

RAM (max) Miscellaneous



Mini-ITX Board Takes 64-Bit Computing to the Factory Floor

A new Mini-ITX board is targeted for a range of embedded device designs including advanced industrial and factory management applications. The EPIA-M840 from Via Technologies packs the latest 64-bit VIA Nano E-Series processor, dual Gigabit LAN, eight COM ports and support for two dual channel 24-bit LVDS displays, creating the ideal backbone for a range of embedded applications including intelligent industrial automation applications that integrate remote network access, network management and other advanced application management scenarios. Available in both 1.6 GHz and a fanless 1.2 GHz SKUs, the VIA EPIA-M840 Mini-ITX board brings native 64-bit software support, the industry’s most efficient speculative floating point algorithm and full software virtualization support in an industry-leading low-power architecture. The VIA VX800 media system processor adds DirectX9 integrated graphics, HD audio, dual Gigabit networking and supports up to 3 Gbyte of DDR2 system memory. The VIA VX800 also offers advanced video acceleration for MPEG-2, WMV9 and VC-1 video formats, plus a VMR-capable HD video processor. Rear panel I/O includes dual Gigabit LAN ports, PS/2 support, a VGA port, two RS-232 5V/12V selectable COM ports, four USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks. On board pin headers provide 2 x dual channel 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), an additional six COM ports, a further two USB ports, LPT support, Digital I/O, SIR and LPC headers, a PCIe x4 slot and a Compact Flash socket.

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

Two-slot OpenVPX Development Platform Supports 3U and 6U Cards

A new two-slot VPX/OpenVPX test and development platform accommodates both 3U and 6U boards via a shelf divider. The new E-Frame Series Test Platform from Elma Electronic can connect multiple backplanes to efficiently simulate various fabric topologies, eliminating the need for costly custom backplanes and allowing high-speed signals to be passed from one slot to the next. The new E-Frame Series enables developers to power up one or more VPX blades under test and interconnect the J1 fabric connections to emulate the user’s application. Signals from an external device can also be introduced through the J1 fabric connector or accessed on the J1 fabric connector using the provided SMA and SATA cable headers. The use of a standard VPX RTM (rear transition module) plugged into the back provides access to the J0, J2, J3, J4, J5 and J6 connectors, while simultaneously accessing high-speed signals in the J1 connector, routed out the side of the backplane. Each slot’s J1 “A” channel is broken out into 16 SMA connectors and the “B”, “C” and “D” channels into four SATA2 cable headers (12 total per slot). Designed for ease of use, the test platform features a 1.6” card pitch that enables easy cable access to components on either side of the board under test. A built-in LED voltage monitor provides bus voltage compliance, and VNAs (vector network analyzers) and other probes can be used on the surface of the VPX card under test for enhanced testing capabilities. The new E-Frame Series measures 9U x 42 HP (8.4”) x 11.73” and weighs only 18 lbs. Located on the rear of the chassis, power input voltage is 97 VAC to 264 VAC auto-ranging and power input frequency is 47 Hz to 63 Hz. Total power consumption is 580W. The test platform operates from 0° to +50°C at altitudes of up to 6,000 feet. It withstands shock of up to 10 Gs at 11 ms and vibration to 1G at 10 Hz to 330 Hz in non-condensing humidity from 5 to 95%. Pricing is $6,200 in single unit quantities. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].



Get Connected with technology and

COM Express Modules companies Sport Latest Atom CPUs providing solutions now

GetExpress Connected is a new for further Two Compact format COM modules areresource powered by theexploration products, technologies and coupled companies.with Whether latest Intel Atom D410/D510into processors at 1.66 GHz up your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly to 4 Gbyte DDR2 memory. The COMXwith an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the 430 and COMX-440 COM goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Express modules Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, from EmerGet Connected will help you connect with the companies and products son Network you are searching for. Power have a wide range of built-in devices to connect to standard PC interfaces including LCD (LVDS) and Get Connected with technology and companies prov CRT displays, both Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro SATA and legacy PATA datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine disks, PCI Express andin touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir PCI peripherals, USB Get de- Connected will help you connect with the companies and produc vices and Ethernet networks. They support a range of solid-state disks via the SATA interface or CompactFlash via the IDE interface on the carrier. Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 7 and Fedora 12 Linux operating systems are supported as standard. The COMX-430 and COMX-440 are based on the common Type 2 COM Express pin out and are Compact format (95 mm x 95 mm). This makes them suitable for both existing applications requiring a new processing module from a trusted vendor as well as new applications that need to incorporate off-the-shelf PC controller functionality onto custom I/O baseboards. The modules are designed for use in a variety of applications that require low power consumption, scalable performance and easy-to-use embedded PC functionality. Typical applications inGet Connected withclinical companies and systems, panel PCs, and clude industrial control, kiosks, display in this section. diagnostic products and testfeatured equipment.


Emerson Network Power, Carlsbad, CA. (407) 241-2751. [].

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Development Board Eases Design with 16-bit MCUs and DSCs

A new small development board provides a complete, low-cost solution for designing with Microchip’s 16-bit PIC24H microcontrollers and dsPIC33F Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs), in a compact 20 x 76 mm footprint. The Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H offers an integrated USB programmer/debugger, which shortens learning curves. For maximum flexibility, the Microstick can be used stand-alone or plugged into a prototyping board. Many engineers, educators, students and hobbyists need a low-cost solution for working with and debugging code on 16-bit microcontrollers and DSCs. In addition to its other benefits, the Microstick is populated with a socketed microcontroller that can be easily swapped out. The Microstick works with the PIC24HJ64GP502, which is Microchip’s highest performance 16-bit MCU, and the dsPIC33FJ64MC802 DSC, which seamlessly blends DSP and MCU resources into a single architecture. Software support includes the same free MPLAB Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and software libraries that work with all of Microchip’s 8/16/32-bit PIC microcontrollers and DSCs. Additionally, the dsPIC33F DSCs are supported by the free demo version of Microchip’s Device Blocksets for the MATLAB language and Simulink environment, which work seamlessly within the MPLAB IDE. The Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H (part # DM330013) is available today for $24.99 each. Educators are eligible for a 25% discount. Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ. (888) 624-7435. [].

Rugged SBC Offers Robust Display Functions for Mobile Applications

A rugged, maintenance-free SBC is targeted for use in mobile and intelligent display environments including trains, public transportation, airplanes and other specialty vehicles as found in construction and agricultural applications. The compact SC21 from Men Micro measures only 220 mm x 150 mm x 35 mm to easily fit into display devices with TFT LCD panels as small as 10.4". The conductioncooled SBC features backlight control and is prepared for a touch screen interface. Controlled by the Intel Atom XL Z520PT, the SC21 features a core processor speed of 1.33 GHz and a system bus frequency of 533 MHz for exceptional computing power in space-constrained environments. Standard interfaces include two Fast Ethernet ports, via RJ45 connectors, with switch functionality to connect multiple displays and two USB host ports as well as four binary inputs, via the 10-pin power supply. When combined with an external antenna, the MiniPCI Express slot with a SIM card slot provides wireless functions, such as Wi-Fi, WIMAX, GSM/GPRS or UMTS. The standard LVDS 25-pin connector enables direct connection of a 1366 x 768 LVDS display. With the optional secondary LVDS port, displays of up to 1920 x 1200 can be used. Aside from the LVDS signals and backlight brightness control, a customizable PCB connector houses all I/O signals including a USB-driven 5-pin connector for the touch screen interface. An optional MEN Micro SA-Adapter enables a serial interface as well. Operating temperature of the board is -40° to +70°C for normal operation, and at +85°C for up to 10 minutes. All electronic components are soldered to withstand shock and vibration to EN 50155 specifications. Minimum board availability is five years. Single unit price is $845. MEN Micro, Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. [].

Extended Temperature, High-Density Serial Communications cPCI Module

An extended temperature and high-density 3U CompactPCI Serial Communications Controller is suitable for applications in transportation, communications, process control and COTS. The new TCP467 from Tews Technologies provides four channels of high-performance RS232/ RS422/RS485 selectable serial connectivity. The serial channels can be individually programmed to operate as RS232, RS422 or RS485 full/half duplex interfaces. In addition, programmable termination is provided for the RS422/RS485 interfaces. After power-up, all serial I/O lines are in a high impedance state for critical applications. Physical connection is achieved through front panel I/O with four RJ45 Modular Jack connectors. Each RS232 channel supports RxD, TxD, RTS, CTS and GND. RS422 and RS485 full duplex support a four-wire interface (RX+, RX-, TX+, TX-) plus ground (GND). RS485 half duplex supports a two-wire interface (DX+, DX-) plus ground (GND). All channels generate interrupts on CompactPCI interrupt INTA. For fast interrupt source detection the UART provides a special Global Interrupt Source Register. Each serial channel of the cPCI module has separate 64 byte receive and transmit FIFOs to significantly reduce the processing overhead required to provide data transactions to the transceivers. The FIFO trigger levels are programmable, and the baud rate is individually selectable up to 921.6 Kbit/ss for RS232 channels and 5.5296 Mbit/s for RS422/RS485 channels. The UART offers readable FIFO levels. The TCP467 operates in extended temperature range (-40° to +85°C) standard. Extensive software support for major operating systems such as Windows, Linux, VxWorks, Integrity and QNX is available. TEWS Technologies, Reno, NV. (775) 850-5830. [].



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3U CompactPCI & FPGA Showcase................................................................................. 22,23..................................................................................................................................... ADLINK Technology America, Inc....................................................................................... 56...............................................................................................

End of Article Arbor Solutions................................................................................................................. 17.................................................................................................... Products ATX Automation Technology Expo...................................................................................... 53............................................................................................................

Get............................................................................................................................. Connected with companies and Get Connected AVAGO. 39........................................................................................ products featured in this section. with companies mentioned in this article. Avalue Technology............................................................................................................. BittWare...........................................................................................................................

Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. Cogent.............................................................................................................................. 43..........................................................................................................

Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section. EDT.................................................................................................................................. 17................................................................................................................... ELMA Electronic Inc.......................................................................................................... Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc.................................................................................... 11............................................................................................................. General Micro Systems, Inc................................................................................................ 9........................................................................................................... Lecroy................................................................................................................................ 4................................................................................................................ Lippert Embedded Computers............................................................................................ 49.......................................................................................................... Logic Supply, Inc............................................................................................................... Micro Digital, Inc............................................................................................................... 27............................................................................................................ One Stop Systems............................................................................................................. Phoenix International......................................................................................................... 42........................................................................................................... Red Rapids, Inc................................................................................................................. Viking Modular Solutions Sanmina-SCI Corporation............................................................ WinSystems....................................................................................................................... Xilinx, Inc..........................................................................................................................

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RTC magazine  

August 2010 Issue

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