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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

July 2011




Java and Android Add Power to Embedded Small Modules in Powerful Medical Systems SCADA Systems Add Integrated Security An RTC Group Publication

SMALL FORM FACTORS: Finding the Right Fit

50 3U OpenVPX PCI Express and Ethernet Hybrid Switch Offers up to Ten Times More Bandwidth

53 Mini-ITX Platform Provides Multiple Displays for Signage and Gaming


55 Compact and Rugged Fanless Embedded Computer with 100G Shock Resistance



Technology in Context


Sorting out Small Form Factors

Embedded Java and Android

Right COM for the Right App: Mobile 6Editorial 16 The 32Android—Google’s The Changing Face of Embedded Sorting out Small Form Factors Platform and its Capabilities for Embedded Industry Insider Performance Drives Ever 8Latest Developments in the Embedded 22 Graphics More Capable Small Form Factor Real-Time Java Virtual Machine Marketplace 36 Designs Undergoes Overhaul Small Form Factor Forum 12Where Have All the RTOSs Gone? TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYED & Technology Newest Embedded Technology Used 50Products Supervisory Control Systems Small Modules in Medical Devices by Industry Leaders SCADA Security for Critical Challenges and Opportunities Infrastructure for the Medical Device Industry: 42 28 Meeting the New IEC 62304 EDITOR’S REPORT Dan Demers, congatec US

Christine Van De Graaf, Kontron

Frank Dickman

The Growth of Wireless Connectivity


Wi-Fi to Become Even More Versatile and Ubiquitous Tom Williams

Bill Weinberg, and Olliance Group

Kelvin Nilsen, Atego Systems


Martin Bakal, IBM Rational

46Modules Mobilize Medical Care

Colin McCracken, American Portwell Technology

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

10/16/09 11:43:57 AM

The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

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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 1669 Nelson Road, No. 2, Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Phone: (831) 335-1509

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Tom Williams Editor-in-Chief

The Changing Face of Embedded


t doesn’t seem so long ago that when at some non-technical social event I was asked the question, “So what do you do?” my answer would inevitably be followed by, “Uh, what is embedded computing?” The answer to that last question has gotten more involved lately. Time was, you could get the idea across with some simple examples—factory automation, medical instruments, communication systems—and at least elicit an, “Oh yeah, right.” Today that is getting more complicated because what we once considered embedded systems are becoming more pervasive and are increasingly touching people’s daily lives in ways that are more direct than they once were. If the gas pump has an embedded processor behind it, that may escape notice because the pump still does what we are used to it doing—pumping gas and displaying the amounts. Never mind that you can also pay at the pump with your ATM card. We do that everywhere. The POS system is likewise a thing that has crept into all our lives without much fanfare. The fact that it is equipped with a bar code scanner networked to a database and also to the card processing system often is unremarkable. But when things that were formerly inanimate objects begin to interact with us, we do notice. The rapid spread of digital signage that is increasingly able to interact with the person viewing it gets people’s attention as something new in the world. The emergence of bar or restaurant tables whose surfaces are an interactive graphical touch screen display that can bring up a menu and is also able to sense if your drink is low, is something that brings the existence of embedded intelligence to our general consciousness in ways that are definitely noticed. And we need hardly mention the staggering number and functionality of smartphones, special-and general-purpose tablets, and e-readers, all of which are subsumed in a seemingly seamless web of connectivity. Now many of these devices bleed over into what is called “consumer electronics,” which is outside the prevue of RTC. Discussions of the design of smartphones and TVs definitely belong somewhere else, but the lines have blurred just a bit because these things are increasingly knit together in an ever growing web of wired and wireless connectivity that spans the factory floor, the electric utility, the private home and a plethora of mobile devices, including autonomous and semiautonomous machine-to-machine systems of all sorts.



Driving these trends is the sheer computational power that is available on low-cost, low-power silicon. Integrated on this new silicon is not only compute power, but also high-end graphics and connectivity. As our friends Colin and Paul point out in this issue’s SFF Forum, the compute power makes it possible to use operating systems like Windows, Linux and Android in systems with all but the tightest timing requirements. And even there, the option exists to use an RTOS for real-time on one core of a multicore processor and one of the others on another core. Add to that the 3D graphics capability on chips such as the new Fusion GSeries from AMD, and we have high-end GUIs for even the most embedded applications. It is now literally possible to monitor and control industrial processes using a smartphone. The other major element of the changing face of embedded is the surge in connectivity. The combination of the Internet with its attendant “Cloud,” the Smart Grid with its integral network, WiFi, mesh networks like ZigBee and the 4G/LTE cellular build-out will soon usher in the era of ubiquitous connectivity. This infrastructure will connect devices in industry, transportation, medical and other commercial fields with people and devices in individual homes. Many of these will, of course, be consumer devices. But the growing digital infrastructure and the attached computing power along with what will be increasingly intuitive graphical user interfaces will tend to meld them into an interactive whole. The person in their kitchen using a GUI to set the dishwasher (a consumer device) to monitor the utility network (a major industrial system) to turn on when the rates are favorable is part of a larger interaction. The utility monitors overall usage to see if it must invoke demand response agreements with large industrial and commercial users to limit their usage to agreed levels. This will in turn affect when the rates change and when the dishwasher ultimately turns on. Today we track UPS and FedEx shipments at home—an activity that is only made possible by a vast array of M2M systems with GPS and RFID capability interacting over high-speed networks. Such systems were, of course, developed to aid the shippers, but the addition of customer access is a definite bonus in terms of customer satisfaction. We can expect the spread of high-end GUIs and universal connectivity to result in many more such examples great and small.


INSIDER JULY 2011 IPSO Alliance Welcomes New Members, Interoperability Testing, Standards Helping Drive “Internet of Things” The IPSO Alliance has announced four new members. They include GreenWave Reality, a global innovator in energy management and demand response systems, providing an affordable, easy-to-use, standards-based home energy management solution that includes intelligent lighting. GreenWave has joined IPSO as a Promoter member. The additional members are Corporative Intelligence Laboratory S.L. of Spain (Cilab), the company behind Green Asset Management (GAM), which is a platform based on distributed computing, focusing in the optimization of the way we use resources at an urban/community scale; ElectroTest Sweden, a company that works for IPv6/6LoWPAN interoperable and standard products for energy conversation in buildings; and Sensus, a leading utility infrastructure company offering smart meters, communication systems, software and services for the electric, gas and water industries. They have all joined as Contributor members. Over the course of six months, IPSO will be conducting a series of interoperability tests at the IP layer, running both within a single PHY/MAC as well as demonstrating interoperability across multiple PHY/MAC layers. The IPSO Alliance welcomes the publication of a new routing standard—RPL, an IP routing protocol designed for IPv6 smart object networks, has been approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as an official international standard. The IETF has also completed the draft of the 6LoWPAN-HC, a header compression format for highly efficient IPv6 packet delivery over IEEE 802.15.4 low-power wireless personal area networks (WPAN). This is key to connecting smart objects such as meters, sensors or control devices, and smart appliances over the Internet. The IPSO organizations that participated in the early testing of 6LoWPAN-HC include Atmel, Cisco, NXP, Sensinode, SICS, Sigma Designs and Watteco SAS.

Freescale Semiconductor and QNX Expand Relationship for QorIQ and PowerQUICC Processors

QNX Software Systems Limited and Freescale Semiconductor have agreed to collaborate on the development of solutions for Freescale’s QorlQ and PowerQUICC processor families. The companies intend to share IP, invest jointly in product and technology roadmaps, and work together on go-to-market activities. Joint development will initially focus on the use of QNX operating system software, middleware, development tools and engineering services to create solutions for the medical, industrial automation and general embedded markets. The collaboration is expected to produce pre-integrated and optimized solutions that deliver new levels of QNX software performance, ease-of-



use and energy efficiency for Freescale’s QorlQ and PowerQUICC processors.

The EnOcean Alliance Grows to 200 Member Companies

The EnOcean Alliance, a consortium aimed at promoting and establishing innovative automation solutions for sustainable buildings, has announced that it has signed up its 200th member company, NanoSense. NanoSense develops products using EnOcean and KNX technologies that regulate and optimize air quality inside buildings. Created in April 2008 by Distech Controls, EnOcean, Masco, MK Electric, Omnio and Thermokon, the EnOcean Alliance now counts 200 member companies from 20 different countries. Collectively, Alliance members support 750 interoperable products deployed in over 200,000 buildings worldwide that use energy harvesting

wireless technology designed for building automation systems. Other Alliance members include General Electric, Siemens, Masco, Leviton, Honeywell and Texas Instruments. The EnOcean Alliance has created an ecosystem around energy harvesting wireless technology to create an industry standard, continue product interoperability and promote the technology among members. EnOcean-based energy harvesting solutions are battery-less and wireless, and therefore operate independent of an external energy source. The sensors “harvest and store” tiny amounts of energy from motion, light or temperature differences. The harvested power is sufficient to transmit a wireless signal and intelligently control lighting, heating and air conditioning systems. In many cases they deliver recurring savings of 20-30 percent in new building installations and up to 80 percent savings in

retrofit scenarios. Maintenance, cabling requirements and installation time are also considerably reduced.

Altera Joins Imec’s Advanced CMOS Scaling Program for 3-D Process Technology Development

Imec has announced it has entered into a three-year research collaboration with Altera to develop advanced CMOS scaling technologies. Altera joins a growing number of fabless semiconductor companies that are part of Imec’s Insite program, which provides member companies insight into near-term and future IC technology options. The initial collaboration between Imec and Altera will focus on the development of 3-D process technologies targeting Altera’s product families. The Imec Insite program makes information from Imec’s advanced process technology research programs available for the product design community in IDMs, fabless, fablite and system design companies in formats that can be used for early assessment of the impact and potential of those technologies for product roadmaps. Imec’s solution allows for early feedback toward technology specification, early decisions on required architectural design changes, and faster learning cycles for technology adoption with reduced risks. The program allows Imec to derive specifications for next-generation technologies from future system requirements.

Microsemi Completes Acquisition of AML Communications, Inc.

Microsemi Corporation has announced its acquisition of AML Communications. “We are pleased to move forward with AML’s contribution to

the Microsemi family,” stated James J. Peterson, Microsemi President and Chief Executive Officer. “RF components are increasingly important in today’s defense programs and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems and this acquisition brings scale and complementary technology to Microsemi’s fast-growing RF component and subsystems product offering. As we execute on the integration of AML, we expect to deliver ever more advanced RF so-

lutions to our customers, increase our sellable available market, and drive shareholder returns.” The financial contribution from AML for Microsemi’s fiscal third quarter is uncertain at this time but will be immaterial to results. As a reminder, in its fiscal second quarter earnings conference call, the company forecast sequential revenue growth on the order of 3%-5%, excluding the effect of any pending acquisition.

MIPS and Actions Semiconductor to Bring Android Honeycomb to 1.3 GHz Chipset for Tablets

MIPS Technologies and Actions Semiconductor have announced that they are collaborating to bring Android 3.0, also known as “Honeycomb,” to a new 1.3 GHz MIPS-based chipset from Actions. Honeycomb is the newest version of the Android operating system designed specifi-

cally for tablets and other large format products. After recently announcing that it is porting Honeycomb to the MIPS architecture, MIPS is now porting Honeycomb to MIPS-based tablets, with support from Actions. The new high-performance system-on-chip (SoC) from Actions leverages a superscalar MIPS32 74Kf core (with floating point unit) running at 1.3 GHz. In addition to Android, the new chip incorporates an OpenGL ES 2.0

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3D graphics processing unit, USB 2.0 OTG, HDMI 1.3, support for multi-format high-definition 1080p video encoding and decoding, and other advanced functionality. Actions and MIPS will also work together to enable the platform with Adobe Flash Player 10.2 optimized for the MIPS architecture.

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Matrox Graphics and Trenton Systems have announced a new technology partnership to deliver video wall solutions for the AV market, beginning with the Trenton TVC4401 4U rackmount system. The new Matroxcertified system can combine up to six, single-slot Matrox Mura MPX display controller boards— for up to 24 high-definition inputs and outputs—while leveraging the board’s 64 Gbit/s duplex data transfer to ensure display of HD input captures, at full resolution and frame rate. Matrox Mura MPX hardware can be controlled using network commands or a fully integrated video wall software suite. Designed to enable AV integrators deploying video wall solutions across a wide range of project sizes, Trenton systems with Matrox Mura MPX boards meet collaborative display wall requirements for small-scale corporate boardroom and digital signage configurations to large-scale control rooms. Trenton TVC4401 key features include a computer platform suitable for control rooms, operation centers and other missioncritical environments, as well as digital signage and presentation systems that require stable, reliable video wall technology. The system motherboard supports up to six Mura MPX display controller boards—for up to 24 high-definition inputs and outputs—from a single, lightweight and rugged system. A scalable video controller solution maximizes display wall application flexibility, and multi-functional Mura MPX

boards facilitate video switching, signal conversion, scaling and deinterlacing from a single board.

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Colin McCracken & Paul Rosenfeld

Where Have All the RTOSs Gone?


one to graveyards, every one? Or so it seems in the 32-bit embedded space these days. A real-time operating system, unlike a typical desktop operating system, is designed from the ground up around a real-time scheduler. OSs can be categorized by size, features, determinism and number of threads. Why should we meditate about RTOSs long-time passing? Because software requirements ultimately steer processor decisions and determine memory footprint.

Gone to Mentor? A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, VRTX was the ultimate versatile real-time executive from Hunter & Ready (aka Ready Systems), which merged with Microtec Research and ultimately got swallowed by Mentor Graphics. From the 16-bit 68K/ x86 architecture wars to early MIPS-based set-top boxes to early Motorola ARM7-SoC-based cell phones to the Hubble space telescope, VRTX covered the entire span from microcontroller version to full-featured RTOS. With such an impressive slate of embedded apps, where did this beloved RTOS go? Mentor, fundamentally a respected EDA/simulation and software development tools company, never managed to take VRTX to the next level. After burial, Mentor got a second chance with the acquisition of Accelerated Technology (the “other” ATI) and their Nucleus OS just as the dot-com bubble was bursting. Nucleus clings to life these days in embedded networking stacks, dealt the same Linux blow as the other RTOSs. Gone to Intel? Wind River’s VxWorks, dating three decades back to those same early days, got a major leg up during the PowerPC networking telecom/datacom boom of the late ’90s until the bubble burst. In its own PAC-MAN style, Wind River gobbled up major competitor Integrated Systems with pSOS and TakeFive Software, and finally got swallowed by a bigger gobbler. Along the way, Wind River adopted its own Linux framework, since you have to join ’em if you can’t lick ’em. Gone to planes, trains and automobiles? QNX, once a mainstay in medical devices due to kernel-level modularity, early adoption of POSIX APIs and its GUI, swept into Harmon’s car infotainment strategy, then spun out again. A number of telematics and navigation systems continue to use it. New owner Research In Motion (RIM) has big plans—the ultimate “smart car” wireless and infotainment platform. Meanwhile, Green Hills



Software differentiated itself as a premier development tools vendor, then developing Integrity as a focused offering to a high-value segment—Avionics DO-178 certification. LynxOS migrated from HP printers to DO-178 as well, with a side dish of Linux. Gone to data centers, board vendors, and pseudo- and non-real-time? At its peak, RadiSys acquired Microware and its OS-9 operating system. High-availability real-time continues to survive as a niche. OS-9 seems to have a better position in its sandbox than the mother ship in this new world order of commodity express. The data center market appears to have swallowed the remains of VenturCom’s RTX extensions for WinNT and WinXP on the strength of Citrix Systems. Cloud computing, 64-bit virtualization to share the cost of expensive processors, hypervisors and software-as-a-service seem to be the order of the day, not realtime computing. “Real what?” you say? Gigahertz computing reduces latencies and cache miss penalties. So with billions of transistors at our disposal, why not throw the glut of performance at a desktop-class OS and simply tolerate the occasional missed deadline from the long tail of the non-deterministic bell curve? Engineering students and recent grads in Silicon Valley are enamored by the latest venture capital bubbles—free Android apps and social networking. Alas, the science of real-time design has succumbed to realities of engineering budgets, time-tomarket pressures, and a new generation of Visual C++ developers with affordable low-end and mid-range x86 processors that can actually meet and exceed 5- to 7-year lifecycle requirements. Gone to the open-source community? From real-time Linux flavors to Symbian to dozens of other open-source GPL purpose-built OSs, there is no questioning the impact of the open-source community over the years. Even Microsoft had to reduce WinCE royalties and open-source some modules. At the end of the day, it appears that the new generation of developers likes cheap, rich, open-source application platforms like Android and Linux more than hard real time. Or perhaps the real cause of death was the expensive royalties that came along for the ride? If the question “do you need real time?” is answered with “what’s the cost?” it’s clear that hard real time is not a hard requirement. Just don’t take the cover off the medical robot that is going to operate on you. When will they ever learn?

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editor’s report The Growth of Wireless Connectivity

Wi-Fi to Become Even More Versatile and Ubiquitous With increasing user demand and a rich set of certification programs, Wi-Fi is poised to become a nearly universal medium for wireless digital connectivity. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


t may already seem like it is everywhere— in just about every home with more than one computer, in airports, coffee shops and offices—but the most popular form of wireless digital connectivity is aiming to become even more widespread and more available in vast numbers of devices, both industrial and consumer. Wi-Fi, now supported since 1999 by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a growing consortium of over 400 companies, has long had a product certification program that ensures that certified devices work together and has since 2000 certified some 10,000 different devices. Annual shipments are predicted to reach one billion units this year and to top two billion by 2015. These have primarily been PC and networking devices along with handsets and consumer electronics. Now, the Wi-Fi Alliance is launching new programs and specifications to extend the reach of the wireless network technology even further and will inevitably encompass a wide range of connected embedded devices. It has long been a truism that technologies that become popular and widespread and achieve performance at low cost in the PC arena inevitably migrate into the embedded world. It is no different with Wi-Fi. The first of these initiatives is the WiFi Certified Hotspot program. Hotspots are Wi-Fi access points managed by hotspot providers in such places as hotels, airports, coffee shops that can be offered for free in connection with some other service or for a



connection fee according to the policy of the provider. Today there are over 750,000 such hotspots but these are predicted to number in the millions in just a couple of years. There are a number of reasons such as the just plain popularity of Wi-Fi, but there is also a genuine need to offload the cellular networks. Over the next two years, data traffic on mobile networks it expected to grow to four times the volume of voice traffic, approaching five million terabytes in a year. According to Wi-Fi Alliance Technical Director, Greg Ennis, “Wi-Fi will always be faster than 3G or 4G, but when people are mobile and can’t use Wi-Fi, they use the cellular network.” The build-out of Wi-Fi is expected to make it more available to the mobile data user and, of course, we can also expect voice-over-WiFi as well, using VoIP technology.

The Wi-Fi certification program is intended to make it much easier for users to get connected at service provider Wi-Fi hotspots by providing automatic provisioning, authentication and network selection. There will also be provisions for easier and more automatic roaming agreements among service providers. The certification program will cover the various types of devices as well as the hotspots themselves. Thus a subscriber to one service provider could automatically connect through the hotspot provided by another and the billing information would be automatically transferred. Key elements of the Certified Hotspot program would include automated network discovery and selection. Thus a device contacting a hotspot would automatically select an available network based on subscriber information, operator policies or network optimization. Automated access would be granted based on credentials, SIM cards or other subscriber information, which would also be used under the terms of roaming agreements. In the rarer cases where a new account needed to be established, this would also be made as smooth as possible using a common methodology across vendors. Finally, all overthe-air transmissions will be encrypted using WPA2 technology (Figure 1).

Wi-Fi Direct—Up Close and Personal

Greg Ennis remarks, “People tend to think of Wi-Fi as wireless Internet, but that’s only one use of Wi-Fi.” The next step appears to be to move into the peer-to-peer personal area networking realm that has until now been the province of Bluetooth. There was also a now abandoned attempt to set up

Mobile device states


Provide key network information before association to choose the best network


Create new account (if needed)


Provide credentials and subscription policy on the device (if needed)

Figure 1 The process of connecting via a Wi-Fi Certified Hotspot.


Leverage WPA2 Enterprise for authentication and provide notification of session expiration, renewal

editor’s report Provisioning


a wireless USB technology. Bluetooth does not have sufficient range and compatibility to cover all the applications that its proponents Provide credentials and subscription had once envisioned for it. Now Wi-Fi Direct policy on the device will be able to directly connect devices with(if needed) out a Wi-Fi network or hotspot available. Wi-Fi Direct will have three modes: a one-to-one configuration, a one-to-many configuration and a concurrent Wi-Fi AP and peer-to-peer configuration (Figure 2). The one-to-one arrangement is expected to be a very common mode. Devices will be able to connect directly to one another to share content or applications. This will allow such things as printing directly from a camera, sharing video games, displaying pictures from a phone on a TV, etc. The possible applications in the embedded world are many as well, such as configuring devices or gathering data from devices with a handheld unit or even a smartphone. The potential for the configuration of machine-to-machine autonomous and semi-autonomous systems is also looking very attractive. The one-to-many configuration allows users to quickly connect peripherals such as a camera, speakers or printers to a PC or to quickly set up an ad hoc network of computers to do things like share images or a presentation with a group without the need for a projector or a screen. It will be possible to connect some, but not all, legacy devices in such a scheme. Wi-Fi Direct Connect-certified devices will be able to connect to multiple other devices. The third configuration allows some devices, such as PCs, to link directly to a group of Wi-Fi Direct Connect-certified devices and also share a network connection with the group via a hotspot. In this scenario, two different security domains exist—one for the group and one for the WLAN. Wi-Fi Direct Connect has management features built in so that an IT manager or a hotspot provider can disable this kind of cross-connection. This would be used by a hotspot provider, for example, who does not want multiple devices sharing a connection on a hotspot that wants to charge for each connected device. In addition, not all Wi-Fi Direct devices will be able to support this simultaneous WLAN connection. The setup of a Wi-Fi Direct connection or connections is not automatic; it requires active agreement, so it supports the secu-

rity of letting a user directly identify who is being given access. One device must specifically request access and the other device must specifically grant permission. The Wi-Fi Protected Setup specifies the process that consists of a user pushing a button (or pressing or clicking a virtual button on a screen), which causes a window to pop up on the other device. Once the request is acknowledged, a secure connection is established using WPA2 security protocols. Over-the-air transmissions are encrypted with government-grade Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) technology. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Ennis, “The one-to-one configuration may be the predominate one. It supersedes Wireless USB and much of what Bluetooth wishes it could do. Doing peerto-peer applications at Wi-Fi speed can support video and at Wi-Fi ranges.”

Other Horizons

And it doesn’t look like Wi-Fi is stopping here. There are at least two other initiatives on the horizon. One is to move Wi-Fi into the 60 GHz range, which will allow it to deliver multi-gigabit data rates (up to 7 Gbit/s), albeit at a shorter range than traditional Wi-Fi. This effort corresponds to work being done in IEEE 802.11ab and now apparently in cooperation with the WiGig Alliance. In addition, there is a move to define Wi-Fi operation in the 5 GHz band, which could deliver a gigabit data rate. This corresponds to work being done on IEEE 802.11ac, which aims at providing a multi-station throughput of at least 1 Gbit/s and a single link throughput of at least 500 Mbit/s. Wi-Fi is also moving into the healthcare arena, and the Alliance is working closely with the medical Continua Alliance that seeks to establish standards for communicating medical devices. The concurrent emergence of the Smart Grid and the Smart Home has recently led to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) specifying Wi-Fi as a top rated technology along with ZigBee and HomePlug Green PHY. In addition, what the FCC has called “Super Wi-Fi” is looking to move into the television white spaces that have been opened up since the specification of digital transmission. These

One-to-one configuration

P2P Client: Printer P2P Group Owner: Phone

One-to-many configuration One-to-many configuration P2P Client: TV P2P Client: TV legacy Client: Printer

P2P Group Owner: Laptop P2P Group Owner: Laptop

legacy Client: P2P Client: Printer Camera P2P Client:

Concurrent Wi-Fi AP andCamera peer-to-peer connection P2P Client:

Concurrent Wi-Fi and TV peer-to-peer connection

Legacy Client: P2P Client: TV Printer P2P Client: Camera Legacy Client: Wi-Fi AP P2P Group Owner: Printer Laptop Figure 2 P2P Client: Camera The three configuration modes

Wi-Fi AP P2P Group Owner: Laptop

made possible by Wi-Fi Certified Direct Connect.

are attractive for outdoor networking and the use of Wi-Fi in extended areas such as neighborhoods or college campuses. Wi-Fi appears to have reached a critical mass in terms of user demand, which is propelling sales of Wi-Fi-enabled devices leading to wider use and the certified hotspot effort that will make it yet more widespread and easier to use. The emergence of the Smart Grid connected to what was already an increasingly networked home is fueling the demand for a networking technology that can pull together the Smart Grid, the networked home, office and factory and the overall Internet. Wi-Fi Alliance [].



Technology in


Sorting out Small Form Factors



technology in context

The Right COM for the Right App: Sorting out Small Form Factors Among small form factors, COMs have become the most advanced and popular choices. Still, there are important criteria for selecting the right module from even this small group. by Dan Demers, congatec US


mall form factors are not a new invention, but the need to reduce size, ploration weight and power has boosted their your goal demand and resulted in several design k directly considerations. PC/104 revolutionized age, the source. modular industrial computers with its ology, small size of 3.4” x 3.6” almost two ded products cades ago. However, since then the small form factor (SFF) module concept has multiplied into a barely manageable diversity of small factor boards and so called standards. Generally SFF boards can be classified into three major groups: nies providing• solutions now Computers (SBC) where Single Board ion into products, all technologies and companies. Whetherinto your goal is to research the latest functionality is designed a sination Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you gle board with no further extensions you require for whatever type of technology, Figure 1 • Sare tackable Computer Modules (de and products you searching for. facto the PC/104 family), which can COM evolution from ETX to Qseven. be configured from a bare SBC to large bus systems with arbitrary expansion options realized by standard- Basic SFF Choices ized modules SBCs provide the highest level of • Computer-on-Modules (COM) that vertical integration and lowest production concentrate the main computing func- costs especially with higher volumes. If it tions into a standardized module sit- is not possible to buy a baseboard off-theting on top of a standard or custom shelf, it is necessary to create a custom designed baseboard board with all the needed functions. The effort to develop this takes a significant amount of time and qualified engineers Get Connected due to the complexity of today’s super-fast with companies mentioned in this article. and super-miniaturized chips—some with

End of Article

.600 or .500 or even .400 mm pin pitches on the printed circuit board. Stackable computer modules, namely the PC/104 family, are beneficial because almost anything can be purchased off-theshelf. This makes hardware development easy and decreases development time by requiring as little as planning, purchasing and stacking. So what are the downsides here? PC/104 systems are great for specific application segments that need something simple and robust as long as RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011

Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.


technology in context

Figure 2 Size comparison and signal set of actual Qseven COM.




ISA compatibility


ETX compatibility



Legacy I/O required



PEG for ext Graphics

COM Express Type2


Shared COM Benefits X

TDP > 40W




TDP > 12W




TDP > 5W







12 V


TDP < 5W Supply Voltage




Batteries/PoE x86








High-Speed I/O


TABLE 1 Comparison of COM family features.

the demands for computing power, graphics performance and maximum thermal design power are not too high. However, the connectors and system overhead are relatively expensive, and most of the eco-



PC/104 world has fractured into too many subsets of variations and upgrades. Today there is PC/104, PC/104-Plus, PCI/104, PCI/104-Express, PCIe/104 and SUMITISM. This often leads to a quite challenging mix-and-match within the ecosystem. What used to be an unbeatable benefit can become a severe burden now in new projects. Many of the traditional products and components have reached end-of-life and are difficult to replace. Cooling may also be a little tricky as thermal design power is limited. The current CPU generation Atom and AMD Gseries are the first, and often only choice for midrange fanless applications today. For some applications like panels, the cubical outline may be a problem and the question remains: Will PCIe/104 or SUMIT-ISM finally make the race, and will the ecosystem follow? In terms of standards, COMs are a lot easier, but just four families prove to be actual standards and not simply logoclubs. They are ETX, with its well established facelift XTX, and COM Express as the current absolute market leader for midrange- to high-end COMs. In addition, there is the relatively new Qseven that is emerging as the first choice for low power, mobile and ultra-mobile COM applications.

system available is still based on the ISA bus. Since technology has been moving away from ISA and parallel buses over the last two decades, the once uniform

COMs are the easiest—and typically most efficient—way to outsource the “difficult part” of the latest computer technology with its ultra-fine pin grids and highly EMC-sensitive high-speed signals as high-end computer technology is usually not a core competency of most companies. COMs come highly pre-integrated and ensure short development cycles. The split between general part (COM) and application-specific part (baseboard) enables easy-to-manage scaling and upgrading options. Switching to the latest computing technology with less power consumption and higher performance can be as easy as simply swapping the module. COMs themselves are universal and not bound to a specific application—they add up across companies and applications to large numbers resulting in lower prices. Higher numbers and richer diversity of applications also result in fewer design flaws and higher product quality of the COM.

technology in context

All these advantages make COMs the most efficient way to keep pace with today’s trends toward higher complexity, smaller size, less weight and lower power consumption on the technical side, and cost reductions and shorter time-tomarket on the commercial side (Table 1). Figure 1 shows a visual evolution and size comparison of these modules. ETX, introduced in1998, was the first true standard for COMs. It comes with full legacy I/O and PS/2 support and has a size of 2.4” x 2.9” (95 x 114 mm²). ETX became an established standard in 2000, and due to its maximum possible TDP of 40 watts it has a wide installed base mainly in the industrial computing and automation market segment. Other industries with large installed bases of ETX COMs are medical, transportation and gaming. Together with PC/104, ETX is the most significant SFF standard with unlimited ISA support. Today ETX modules are mainly used in legacy projects with a need to support the more than twenty-year-old ISA bus. Typical applications with need for ISA support are industrial control and automation. Since the end-of-life of Intel’s 855 chipset, today’s ETX COMs are mainly featuring VIA, Geode or Atom Processors; some recent boards use AMD’s Gseries processors upgrading graphics performance to an actual level. XTX was introduced in 2005 and is a fully compatible facelift to ETX with native SATA support (4 Ports) and 4 PCIe lanes replacing the ISA bus on the fourth connector. This boosts I/O performance from 133 Mbytes/s to 2.5 G bits per PCIe lane enabling up-to-date high-speed interfaces on the baseboard. If ETX compatibility is required and no ISA bus is needed, XTX is first choice. It’s a loweffort upgrade path from ETX to today’s technology and high-performance processors beyond the 855 chipset as well as the gateway to dual core power. XTX can be used as a form factor compatible, smooth transition platform on the way from ISA and PCI technology to today’s high-speed serial buses (PCIe). The main market segments are the classical ETX segments of industrial computing and automation, medical, transportation and gaming. COM Express was introduced as




COM Express Type2












32 Bit PCI







4 lanes

6 lanes + PEG

4 lanes




yes, shared with SDVO







10/100 MBit

10/100 MBit

10/100/1000 MBit

10/100/1000 MBit


2 Kanäle

2 Kanäle

1 Kanal



2 connectors for wire link (ETX 3.0 only)

4 Ports

4 Ports

2 Ports



optional with proprietary feature connector

yes(shared with PEG I/F)

yes(shared with HDMI / Display Port)


1x24 Bit

1x24 Bit

2x 24 Bit

2x 24 Bit no

Legacy I/O




PS/2 (kb/mouse)





SMBus / I²C










Express Card/SDIO






no (analogue only)





4x 100 Pin Boardto-Board

4x 100 Pin Boardto-Board

1 or 2x 220 pin Board-to Board

230 pin MXM2 SMT Edge connector




95x95 (compact) 95x125 (basic) 110x155 (extended)



x86 only

x86 only

x86 only


40 W

40 W

188 W (extended)

12 W





max TDP Supply Voltage

TABLE 2 COM selection criteria.

a standard by the PICMG in 2005. The main goal was to introduce a universal, scalable and legacy-free COM standard. Sizes initially specified by PICMG were 2.4” x 3.2”(95 x 125mm², basic) and 2.6” x 3.9”(110 x 155 mm², extended). A large group of COM Express manufacturers has agreed on an additional and most popular size of 2.4” x 2.4” (95 x 95 mm², compact), which is roughly the size of a PC/104 board (90 x 96 mm²). Apart from a new connector design and these multiple size variants, there are some significant new features: 6 PCIe Lanes, a PEG Port with another 16 PCIe Lanes, SDVO Interface, on-COM Gbit LAN and a change of the supply voltage from 5 to 12 volts. The maximum allowed specified TDP was

also raised from 40 (ETX/XTX) to 188 watts (extended), enabling the most powerful high-end processors and graphics chip sets. Legacy-free, and pushed by the PICMG, COM Express is the most popular COM standard today and has the richest ecosystem and vendor support. There is a great choice of embedded x86 processors for COMs spanning from single-core low-power Atom to high-performance quad-core i7. Market segments are midrange/highend gaming, midrange/high-end medical, midrange/high-end digital signage, industrial computing, automation, telecommunications, transportation and high-end POI/POS/kiosks. Qseven is the most recent COM stanRTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011


technology in context

dard (Figure 2). It was created to support small-sized, low-power, mobile and ultramobile applications. It measures just 1.6” x 1.8” (70 x 70 mm²) and does not require an expensive board-to-board connector but rather an inexpensive, but reliable, 230 pin edge connector using an MXM card slot as known from mobile Graphic cards. The TDP is limited to 12W, but even more important, the specified supply voltage is 5 volts so that a mobile device can run ef-

ficiently on 2 lithium cells. Qseven supports no legacy beyond 32-bit PCI and LPC and just 4 PCIe lanes and no PEG. Onboard graphics support 2 LVDS ports and SDVO (shared with HDMI/Display Port). New are CAN, SPI and Card SDIO interfaces to ensure maximum flexibility for mobile applications. Qseven is not an x86-only platform; ARM is also specified and supported with the latest version as well. A very useful new feature is a

common software API for industrial applications like watchdog timer, I²C Bus, display brightness control, BIOS storage area and reading of system temperatures. This enables a safe and easy exchange of boards from different manufacturers without software adaptations. Preferred Market segments for Qseven are handheld and ultra-mobile devices, Panel PCs, entry-level gaming, entry-level/midrange medical, entry-level digital signage, industrial computing, lowpower industrial computing, automation, transportation, entry-level and mobile POI/POS/Kiosks, any kind of battery or PoE operated x86 computing device.

So How to Choose?

The way to find your favourite SFF COM is easy. First check your legacy and compatibility needs. If you need ISA, go ETX. If you need ETX compatibility and no ISA, go XTX. An overview of the selection criteria for the major COM modules is given in Table 2. If you start a new, legacy-free project it’s likely to choose COM express or Qseven for longevity and latest technology. If your TDP exceeds 12W, choose COM Express. If you need a PEG Port to use an external graphics card, choose COM Express. If you build a handheld, mobile or ultra-mobile device your choice is most likely Qseven. If you consider a non-x86 Platform, your choice is most likely Qseven. If you run on batteries or Power-over Ethernet (PoE), your choice is most likely Qseven. If (small) size matters, then your choice is most likely Qseven. Finally, always keep in mind that when you decide to use a COM, you still need a baseboard. The best COM is worth nothing without good support from your COM vendor or distributor. congatec US San Diego, CA. (858) 457-2600. [].


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2/16/11 9:49:01 AM


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Technology in


Sorting out Small Form Factors

Graphics Performance Drives Ever More Capable Small Form Factor Designs Evolving pin-outs and integrated on-chip graphics options are enabling richer visual applications that will extend the idea of what have been considered embedded systems. by Christine Van De Graaf, Kontron


t is well known that many embedded market applications have evolved to smaller, space-constrained designs that also require long-term availability and cost-effective embedded computing solutions. Small form factors have steadily filled this need by delivering increased computing power and improved performance across a range of platforms and markets. Yet as designers are working with some of the most versatile and energy-efficient processors ever developed, graphics performance is one important feature that has not kept up so readily. This limitation has forced embedded designers to constantly search for technologies that can deliver high-end graphics performance in a long-life, small form factor system. Today that challenge is being overcome, as new developments in integrated graphics are fueling greater design options in small form factor platforms. By integrating high-performance graphics, manufacturers are serving up a range of new performance options in small form factors such as COMs, Pico-ITX and PC/104. This represents a new learning curve for designersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;understanding the design features and options that deter-



mine the ideal platform for peak performance, reduced development cost and fastest time-to-market.

AMD Processors Fuel Improvements

The recently introduced AMD Embedded G-Series gives designers a new alternative to increase graphics performance. This industry first integrates high-performance graphics directly into the silicon, eliminating the need for an add-on graphics card. The AMD Embedded G-Series is the first to include a Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), joining x86 computing capabilities and the parallel computing power of a general-purpose graphics processing unit (GPGPU) within a single computing entity. This gives designers discrete-level graphics capabilities, dramatically improving standard graphics-intensive small form factor applications. The integrated AMD Radeon HD6310 supports DirectX 11 as well as OpenGL 4.0, for extremely realistic 2D or 3D graphics with high frame rates and resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. A dedicated graphics card is not required, allowing space savings and extremely high performance in a cost-effective system.

Figure 1 The Kontron microETXexpress-OH is based on the new energy-efficient and highly integrated AMD Embedded G-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). Integrating a powerful parallel processing and graphics unit, in addition to the processor, this strikingly small Computer-on-Module stands apart because of its extremely high graphics performance as compared to other modules offered in a compact footprint.

technology in context

Figure 2 With up to 4 Gbyte DDR3 RAM, the Kontron MICROSPACE MSM-eO offers enough resources to speed up memory-intensive applications. Along with LVDS and VGA, the module also has a digital display interface (DDI) for DisplayPort, HDMI or DVI signals, allowing the flexible connection of a wide variety of monitor types. A total of two independent full HD displays (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels) can be controlled.

Computer-on-Modules (COMs), for example—already an attractive embedded design solution in infotainment, transportation, medical devices and digital signage systems—can now incorporate integrated, high-performance graphics. This in turn allows designers to bypass less ideal design alternatives for achieving high-level graphics performance. The Kontron microETXexpress-OH Computer-on-Module (COM) features the AMD platform with support for DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.2, OpenCL and Microsoft DirectCompute. As a result, the graphics unit speeds parallel processing tasks for solutions designed to process parallel vector algorithms.

More on COMs

Mounted directly onto a carrier board, these highly integrated computers are well suited to applications requiring any or all of the following: a small footprint; high performance; low power consumption; design flexibility and scalability; or simple customization. A standard processor, bus, system memory and I/O components are incorporated into the COM platform—and should the application require greater computing power or better energy efficiency, the COM itself can be readily swapped for one support-



ing the necessary level of performance or power consumption. COMs are especially designed for systems that can take advantage of off-theshelf features while also implementing a good deal of customization in the carrier board over a long-term deployment. Customization can last multiple generations by simply swapping out one CPU module for another. This means that COMs work well not only for systems that require scalability from generation to generation, but also within a single generation. By integrating graphics performance onto the module, OEMs can readily swap in nextgeneration graphics when they upgrade to newer, higher performance modules, further extending the life of the carrier board within future product generations. With the AMD Embedded G-Series on the COM module, designers can achieve additional power savings through the integrated graphics technology, as the x86 CPU is “unloaded” when decoding video streams via the Universal Video Decoder 3.0 (Figure 1). This sets a new benchmark with system power usage. Further, the AMD Embedded G-Series APUs include five different performance versions, ranging from the AMD T44R with a 1.0 GHz single-core AMD 64 CPU and

9 watt TDP, to the AMD T56 N with a 1.6 GHz dual-core CPU and 18 watt TDP. The power consumption of the AMD GSeries is 9 and 18 watts, much lower than other graphics-based processor solutions. This level of features and performance within a single platform enables OEMs to fine-tune the performance and power consumption to the precise requirements of the application. The AMD Embedded G-Series also supports decoding of up to three HD videos in parallel, 1080p BluRay videos with HDCP, and HD MPEG-2 and DivX (MPEG-4) videos. Up to four displays are supported by a wide variety of interfaces, including DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI, as well as the embedded interfaces LVDS and VGA at a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Time-to-market is greatly accelerated for COMs-based designs incorporating this high level of flexibility and graphics performance. A resulting design is very thin and ideal for high volume, long-life applications. It is suitable for either stationary or mobile applications, and can be integrated into a number of designs such as mobile terrain mapping or in-vehicle GPS systems. COMs are also an excellent option for point-of-sale kiosks used in more rugged locations such as a train station or on board a vehicle. In the medical field, COMs are used in cart-mounted patient monitoring medical systems and lowerend portable ultrasound systems. These are all diverse areas that share a common thread—they are likely to evolve applications and exceed end-user expectations based on improved graphics performance.

Design Options

COMs with advanced integrated graphics capabilities offer a simplified yet very powerful performance option, best illustrated in contrast to alternative design choices. For instance, graphics control can be delegated to the carrier board, however OEMs would need to develop the customization and design it directly into the carrier board. This would limit the flexibility of the system, and upgrading or adding new graphics functionality would require custom attention. While add-on graphics cards are another choice, they add cost and are a

technology in context

DAQFlex New DAQ Programming Framework for Linux®, MAC®, and Windows® Figure 3 The Kontron 2.5-inch Pico-ITX embedded single board computer (SBC) KTA55/pITX is the smallest SBC platform based on the AMD Embedded G-Series with Fusion technology. With an extensive range of dedicated interfaces, extremely small footprint (100 x 72 mm) and low power requirements, this embedded SBC is the fastest and most cost-effective entry in the development of graphics-intensive small form factor applications.

less than ideal option for a robust system. Designed to sit at a right angle next to the COM, add-on graphics cards take up space and may become a potential failure point as vibration can affect signal integrity if the card were to shift in its slot. An MXM card offers an alternative that sits next to the board, but the fact that it is connected via sockets similar to those used for memory can result in a failure point within the system. Neither option offers the most robust or rugged connection. Beyond this, graphics cards are manufactured primarily for the fickle commercial market that expects frequent change via improved features and performance every few months rather than the seven years commonly required for embedded systems. Further, the Type 6 COM Express pin-out is another new consideration for designers, enabling a performance jump from devices incorporating an earlier pin-out option and enhancing fourth generation graphics architectures used in advanced video applications. Type 6 is essentially based on pin-out Type 2, the most widely adopted COM Express pinout type to date. Type 6 reallocates legacy PCI pins from Type 2 to support the digital display interface and additional PCI Express lanes. Improved patient care is just one of many areas primed to reap the benefits

of the Type 6 pin-out. Systems equipped with more powerful graphics display and processing features give medical professionals the ability to simultaneously use multiple displays that contain different forms of patient information. For example, general health information or records could be accessed and viewed on one display, while a second showed vitals such as blood pressure or respiration. This type of system would eliminate the need for a costly workstation while providing all the interactive, real-time data access required for proper treatment. The Type 6 pin-out also considers future design options; the pins formerly assigned to the IDE interface (pin-out Type 2) are now reserved for future technologies still in development. This gives designers more to work with including broader native display choices and higher serial bandwidth than previously available. The addition of native support for the newest display interfaces simplifies carrier board design, which reduces time-to-market and TCO for graphics-intensive applications. PCI Express support for Type 6 is extensive and underscores the trend to migrate from legacy parallel interfaces toward pure serial embedded system designs for higher bandwidth and reduced latency. System designers have a smooth transition to next-generation devices via faster drives and peripherals.

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technology in context

PC104 and Pico-ITX Offer Additional Platforms

While COMs are suitable in certain situations, there are additional viable options that should be considered to meet other application requirements. PC/104 is a standard, off-the-shelf form factor with all customization done through standard add-on cards that stack. A good fit for low volume and any range of life, PC/104 is easy to obtain, quite simple to work with, and available from many different sources. These boards are stackable—six high—suitable for applications that are not limited in height. PC/104 is optimal for industrial control and industrial automation (e.g., a user interface such as a control station). The correct combination of programming and peripheral boards can manage a range of operations in a single system, and provide even greater performance with integrated graphics features that offer increased design flexibility and options. For example, a sophisticated graphics environment could incorporate a module based on the accelerated processing units

of the AMD Embedded G-Series, and include a 64-bit CPU, programmable graphics unit and a DDR3 memory controller. Supporting the latest 3D graphics libraries such as OpenGL 3.2 and DirectX11, the MSM-eO is well suited as an upgrade for existing PC/104-Plus designs that demand greater graphics performance with low power consumption. Its integrated, unified video encoder takes the load off the processor when displaying high-resolution videos such as 1080i/p, enabling designers to manage extremely compact multimedia applications, such as mobile infotainment systems, vending machines and mobile battery-operated systems (Figure 2). Pico-ITX is an alternative standard platform; while it can use standard or custom add-on cards, custom add-ons cards are used more frequently. With most of the integration already on the board, addons are executed through pin headers compared to the stack-up connectors on PC/104. While there are also fewer vendors supplying this form factor, it is an excellent choice when higher volume and longer life are key considerations. Pico-

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ITX is well suited for small boxes—for example, point-of-sale or point-of-information systems such as kiosks or digital signs (Figure 3). In brief, PC/104 is a good choice when looking at low volume, short life and minimal customization. Pico-ITX is a good fit if not much customization is required, a very small footprint is desirable, the inclusion of cables is not an issue, and the design can go into a box. However, for a great deal of customization, long life and high volume in a very thin package, COMs are a more suitable solution. With all three platform options, however, add-on graphics cards are unnecessary because newly integrated graphics features are more than sufficient, even for demanding embedded applications. The growth of multimedia content requires support for enhanced graphics functionality that is not only rugged and reliable, but can also protect design investments for long-term deployment and provide a continuous upgrade path for OEMs. COMs are well suited to these design challenges and are making the most of new pin-out options, updated specifications, and a range of new features and functionality embedded in the latest silicon alternative such as AMD’s Embedded G-Series platform. Other small form factor platforms such as Pico-ITX and PC/104 integrate improved graphics technology as well—ensuring ready access to increased graphics performance across a range of platforms, and driving designers to expand their knowledge of embedded small form factor options to select when and why one platform is more appropriate than another. Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. []. Advanced Micro Devices Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 749-4000. [].

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connected Supervisory Control Systems

SCADA Security for Critical Infrastructure One major utility secures its automation networks with attached security devices that can utilize existing IP addresses and trap and report unauthorized attempts at access. by Frank Dickman, Consulting Engineer


he economy of every developed coun- hacking and the cyberwar capabilities as try in the world depends on the sup- discussed in numerous whitepapers. ploration As a result, utilities realized that ply of oil, gas and water, as fuels for your goal many industrial control networks would transportation, heat, electric current prok directly benefit from diverse firewalls behind the duction and survival. The average Ameriage, the source. front-office firewalls and encrypted vircan consumes 2 gallons of gasoline, 220 ology, tual private network (VPN) connectivity. cubic feet of natural gas for heating and d products Here is how one leading and progressive cooking, 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity utility is securing the industrial control (produced primarily from fossil fuels), and networks of their extensive network in150 gallons of water a day. The supply is an frastructure. The utility operates or manessential part of the critical infrastructure. Providing and protecting the security of ages and operates water facilities in 23 U.S states. They support over 300 remote that supply is a clear-cut mandate. Distributed Control Systems (DCS), field sites company-wide, with an extennies providing solutions Supervisorynow Control And Data Acqui- sive network of underground piping. For ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your Logic goal is to research over the 30 latest years, they have used a variety of sition (SCADA), Programmable ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you methods to connect to their remote sites, Controllers (PLCs) and other legacy conyou require for whatever type of technology, including modems, leased lines, dry pairs systems have and productstrol you are searching for. been used for decades and licensed radio. in power plants and grids, oil and gas reIn 2009, they were proactively planfineries, air traffic and railroad managening to increase the security of their ment, pipeline pumping stations, pharmaceutical plants, chemical plants, auto- SCADA control networks. The systems mated food and beverage lines, industrial engineering group, corporate IT departprocesses, automotive assembly lines and ment and an outside consulting firm were water treatment plants. After 9/11, utili- involved in the project and the security ties quickly recognized that these systems product evaluations. A leading IT netneeded even more security in the wake of work solution was initially considered, the increased reports of malicious viruses, as this path reflected the corporate office network standard. But there were other important considerations. Get Connected There are a wide range of security with companies mentioned in this article. technologies that can be used to protect

End of Article



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the corporate network, but these are less successful within a production network. Software-based solutions (personal firewalls, anti-virus software) cannot run on some proprietary operating systems, due to lack of compatibility, and often canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be integrated into systems that use older processor technology because these lack the necessary performance. According to the systems engineering project manager, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We needed an industrial solution, particularly for our remote sites. We needed a solution that was easy to configure, powered by 24 VDC, met our IT security standards, and could hold up to years of operation in a harsh environment. In the past, we had mixed results using office network-grade products that were expensive, required special skills to configure, and failed frequently.â&#x20AC;?

Finding a Solution

In early 2010, the utility was introduced to the family of mGuard industrial network security devices from Phoenix Contact, created and developed by their subsidiary, Innominate Security Technologies. The system was designed for harsh environments and includes small, industrial-rated modules that incorporate router, firewall, encrypted VPN tunnels, filtering of incoming and outgoing

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connectivity, authentication and other functions to provide layers of distributed “defense-in-depth,” economically and without disturbing production. Two simple applications are illustrated in Figures 1 and 2. In the first example, a plug and play module is used to provide encrypted virtual private network (VPN) tunnels to one or more devices. Communication with protected devices is limited to authorized, authenticated users. In Stealth mode, the module cloaks itself in the IP address of the protected device, then screens and discards unauthorized packets, including malware and hacker probes (Figure 1). In the second example, the same industrial module is being used as a secure router, segmenting a flat network into secure subnets to protect individual production lines, secure confidential department information, and provide a secondary and tertiary Internet firewall (defense-indepth). A distributed router application on a production floor eliminates the need for traditional telecom closets and expensively long cable runs (Figure 2). Devices are available in various industrial-rated designs—for DIN-rail mounting, for 19-inch rack mounting in cabinets, as PCI cards or as dongle-style patch cords for roaming technicians. The hardened, industrial version has been in production since 2005 and has proven effective in tens of thousands of demanding installations. Rated IP 20 for mounting in NEMA enclosures, they are easily installed and enabled by technicians, rather than IT network administrators. Customers in the automotive and other industries have already used these versions with excellent results in providing security for older production systems. Clients include a major natural gas and electricity provider, a defense and telecommunications provider, and numerous manufacturing facilities. After review of the technology, the utility’s IT Department was receptive to

Network Single Device Protection

Network Multiple Device Protection

mGuard Stealth mGuard Stealth

Figure 1 Example of industrial network security that provides drop-in installation for devices that are difficult to upgrade, regardless of operating system and require no client configuration. The strategy provides stealth mode and multistealth mode to protect one device or a subnetwork.

the concept as it would allow process personnel to deploy and maintain their own networks, freeing up IT administrators for other tasks. The company installed a dozen devices as a test bed. The ability for the mGuard module to do AES-256 encryption along with its industrial design was key. By default, the device is configured in its most secure configuration. Previously, it would require a day’s time of an experienced IT technician, whereas now a new VPN device can be rolled out in 10 minutes. This equipment is very easy for someone with minimal network knowledge to install. Installation can be as simple as mounting the device, providing 24 VDC power, plugging in the network cable and using a patch cord to connect to the server, human machine interface (HMI) PC, or production equipment cell to be protected.

Using the Internet capability of the production control console, with a password protected login, the security device can be set up and enabled in moments from a template on the device manufacturer’s website. In Stealth mode these devices are completely transparent, automatically assuming the MAC and IP address of the equipment to which they are connected, so that no additional addresses are required for the management of the network devices. This was a feature that appealed to initially skeptical IT personnel. No changes need to be made to the network configuration of the existing systems involved. Yet the devices operate invisibly and transparently, monitoring and filtering traffic to the protected systems by providing a stateful packet firewall, according to rules that can be configured via RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011


technology connected

IP Address

IP Address

mGuard Router 1:1 NAT

Production Cell 1

IP Address 10.10.N.0/24

mGuard Router 1:1 NAT

mGuard Router 1:1 NAT

Production Cell 2

Production Cell N

Corporat Network


Internet mGuard Router Masquerade NAT

mGuard Router

Figure 2 In NAT router applications the module solves duplicate IP applications without changing local machine IP addresses; it can connect identical subnets into single central protection networks at the end user’s site. It can also deploy at the plant floor rather than in a 19-inch commercial rack.

Figure 3 These mGuard security appliances protect industrial automation networks. They are cost-effective, network transparent, simple to install and easily managed. Available fiber connectivity can provide Gigabit bandwidth.



templates from a centrally located server, or by using the default configuration. And with bi-directional wire speed capability, the devices will not add any perceptible bottlenecks or latency to a 100 Mbit/s Ethernet network. If required, the security of networked equipment may be further enhanced. Configuration of specific user firewall rules can restrict the type and duration of access to authorized individuals, who may log in and authenticate themselves from their locations, PCs and IP addresses. Virtual Private Network functions provide for secure authentication of remote stations and the encryption of data traffic. Optional Common Internet Files System (CIFS) integrity monitoring functionality can protect file systems against unexpected modifications of executable code—by Stuxnet-derived malware for instance—by sending alerts to administrators. An overall view of an integrated solution is shown in Figure 4. The utility is implementing multiple measures into its SCADA network in order to actively monitor the system. They are currently using network segmentation, VLANS and centralized firewalls and are looking to introduce intrusion detection (IDS) and intrusion prevention (IPS) systems into the network. The mGuard is a tool that allows them to perform these functions. The company needed to protect remote terminal units (RTUs) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), remote card access and video systems. As industrial systems migrate toward an Internet Protocol (IP) network, more timely information and control is available. All new PLCs have IP capability. Power monitoring is another example. All new variable frequency drives (VFDs) for motors, switchgear, pumps, compressors and generators have power efficiency monitoring capabilities that need to be tied into the SCADA systems. Following field trials, the appliances were utilized to provide protection from vulnerabilities through firewall, VPN, routing and trap functions. Currently the security modules are deployed in multiple locations throughout the Northeast. The devices are used for both the SCADA networks and the security networks at remote unmanned locations. The mGuard devices have

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been interfaced with the existing Cisco infrastructure. The utility reports saving money on remote support from staff and outside contractors. Site visits are no longer required for minor code changes and troubleshooting. The network described here belongs to a water utility company managing and operating water facilities in 23 U.S. states. However, the application is also pertinent to any automated manufacturing environment, as well as extended or wide ranging distribution networks, such as those operated for natural gas, crude oil, power, petrochem refining, steam, water distribution and other critical infrastructure delivery systems. Each of these utility applications include a harsh environment, remote facilities, access control, video security, rotating equipment —whether pumps, compressors or turbines—and control equipment applications delimited by simple PLCs. All of these systems can include built-in IP capability and are vulnerable to virus propagation and deliberate hacking, by individuals, foreign governments and non-government failed states.

VPN gateway Remote user


Remote maintenance VPN tunnel service center Gateway Gateway Production cell e-mail server (Linux)

Extranet server (Sun Solaris) VPN tunnel

Production cell

Factory network

Quality assurance system

Central management station (ISCM) Back office network

SAP R/3 server Server farm

*VPN, firewall, anti-virus

Figure 4 Overview of an integrated network solution. Frank Dickman, Consulting Engineer Chicago, IL. (847) 318-7750. [].

Innominate Security Technologies Berlin, Germany. [].

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5/9/11 2:32:20 PM RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011

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Embedded Java and Android

Android—Google’s Mobile Platform and its Capabilities for Embedded The universe of embedded applications for Android is rapidly expanding, and the technical evolution of Android is meeting the needs of embedded developers. Still, there are remaining gaps in performance and other capabilities that are needed to address a wider swatch of embedded application types. by Bill Weinberg, and Olliance Group


oogle Android deployment has Version Name been rising steadily since the in1.0 N/A troduction of the mobile/embedded OS in 2008. While most adoption has cen1.1 N/A tered on building smartphones and more 1.5 Cupcake recently tablets with the Google applications OS, Android presents embedded de1.6 Donut velopers of all stripes with a feature-rich low-cost platform, replete with 200,000+ 2.0/2.1 Éclair ready-to-run applications. Of equal importance is the state of 2.2 Froyo nies providing solutions Android IP now (intellectual property). While ion into products, technologiesplatform and companies. your goalapis to research the latest the Android and Whether shrink-wrap ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected put you 2.3 is toGingerbread plications in the Android Market build on you require for whatever type of technology, (OSS), the realities and productsOpen you areSource searchingSoftware for. of working with Google in the mobile/ 3.0 Honeycomb wireless ecosystem increasingly involve closed technology and a closing ecosystem around it.

Expanding Application Space

Android got its start and to this day enjoys its greatest success in mobile handset designs. As of Q2 2011, 250+ models of Android-based phones have been de-

End of Article Get Connected

with companies mentioned in this article.




Sep 08

Full handset function support, including telephony, camera, browser, email, SMS/MMS, maps, video, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.

Feb 09

Maintenance release for T-Mobile G1

Apr 09

Built on 2.6.27 Linux kernel. Virtual keyboard, widgets, video recording, browser cut/paste, Bluetooth A2DP, AVRCP profiles

Sep 09

2.6.29 kernel. Updated CDMA/EVDO. Higher screen resolutions. GestureBuilder toolkit. Text-to-speech. Turn-by-turn navigation.

Oct 09

2.6.29 kernel. Exchange support. HTML5. Multitouch events. UI updates and live wallpaper.

May 10

2.6.32 kernel. Performance and footprint enhancements. JIT in Dalvik. Chrome Javascript engine. Internet tethering/WiFi hotspot. Adobe Flash and high-DPI screen support.

Dec 10

2.6.35 kernel. Updated UI, esp. for large screen, native VoIP. NFC support. Enhanced power management. Concurrent Dalvik garbage collection. New sensors. EXT4 FS. Native SDK.

Feb 11

Tablet-only release. 2.6.36 kernel. Virtual and “holographic” UI. Tabbed browsing. New multi-taslking UI. Dual-pane UI in email, contacts. Hardware acceleration and multi-core CPU support.

table 1

Android release history and key features.

ployed in mobile marketplaces from North America to Europe to Asia and beyond. While focused on smartphones, Android has benefited from work by a broader coalition of silicon suppliers, integrators, “commercialization” services providers and individual developers, such that to-


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day the platform is increasingly useful for building a range of device types. Almost from the first release of Android platform code, device manufacturers (OEMs) also experimented with using Android as an OS for tablets and netbooks. With the unparalleled success of the Apple

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product line, OEMs and users of course look to Android-based designs as potential iPad killers, or at least as a way to get some piece of this lucrative market away from Cupertino. Early attempts at building tablets and also netbooks based on Android have proven disappointing, both in terms of user experience and commercial impact. Google’s response to “untutored” use of Android on these types of devices has been: • Releasing the Linux-based Chrome OS, first as a free-standing platform, and more recently in partnership with device OEMs as a preloaded device OS • Forking the Android code base for tablet designs • Holding back release of source code to Android 3.0 to give OHA members and select OEMs more time to create better integrated tablet-type products The release of Android Honeycomb to (select) OEMs will hopefully result in shipment of Android-based tablets with capabilities beyond the current crop of devices like the Motorola XOOM and Samsung Galaxy—maybe even real competition for the Apple iPad. The first vision for “Android beyond mobile” focused on building devices for the digital connected home—set-top boxes (STB), digital television (DTV), digital and personal video recorders (DVR/PVR) and Internet TV. To support these types of applications, MIPS Technologies and Android Commercialization companies have optimized the Android Dalvik virtual machine for the MIPS architecture and provided device drivers, CODECs, etc. for MIPS-based hardware. More experimental equivalents also exist for other processors. Android is enjoying a number of design wins for In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). While Genivi and its member OEMs have selected native Linux-based plat-

Legend Upstream Projects (WebKit, SDK, kernel,...)

Eclair Release

Eclair Experimental

Google Contribution Community Contribution Branch Created Release Cut Public devel branch Public release (i.e. stable API) branch Google private branch


2.1 FroYo Experimental

Figure 1 Android releases and contributions.

forms (MeeGo and Ubuntu Mobile, Mentor, MontaVista and Wind River embedded Linux), several Asian device OEMs are building after-market GPS and other IVI systems using Android, especially for connected IVI systems with traffic reporting and other two-way communications beyond satellite-based positioning. Two years ago, FreeScale and Mentor Graphics announced support for Power Architecture in Android, specifically to target applications in networking and network appliances, storage, printing and imaging, multimedia and industrial control. While not really “blessed” by Google, ports like these mean that in theory at least, Android will find design-wins spanning the gamut of embedded and industrial computing. In its relatively short three-year history, Android has evolved dramatically, with a staccato release cycle spanning three major releases and a fork. Table 1

recounts the history of the platform, with a brief summary of features and special attention to the version of the Linux kernel underlying the Android stack. Another way to look at the Android release history is to track contributions from Google and community sources, and how parallel development branches relate to one another (Figure 1).

Android and Embedded

Android is extremely attractive to embedded developers because of its functional richness, with capabilities dwarfing practically all RTOS-type platforms, and a full application framework more complete than embedded Linux toolkits. Android strengths lie in the area of supporting user applications and selectively exposing underlying capabilities today associated with mobile/wireless functionality—it’s a smartphone OS, after all. Smartphones aggregate an impresRTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011


Tech In Systems

sive array of functions in a small package, but are not necessarily representative of the gamut of intelligent devices. Let’s examine a few requirements that typically characterize device applications in areas Footprint

beyond mobile, and how Android meets those needs as shown in Table 2.

Android IP – Open or Closed?

The original excitement over the An-

While designed for mobile device deployment, Android is not exactly small.. The footprint for a working ARM-based deployment started out at 64 MB RAM for Android 1.0 with more recent versions deploying in 256 MB RAM with several GB of flash storage. Not outrageous by today’s abundant provisioning standards. Opportunities to reduce this footprint include removing core applications, class libraries, UI components and other types of “shaving”. Overly aggressive downsizing of platform components, however, seriously impacts interoperability and application support, and failure to pass the Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

Real-time Responsiveness

In most of the smartphones that today host Android, latency-sensitive functions are handled by dedicated hardware – separate baseband radio processors, multimedia engines, graphics processors, etc. When real-time response is required from the applications processor (APU) running Android, that work is handled by underlying mechanisms in the Linux kernel and its native low-latency capabilities.


Early versions of Android and first-generation ports to non-ARM hardware boasted unimpressive performance from the Dalvik engine that powers most of the platform. Ongoing investments in performance by Google, OHA members and 3rd parties (e.g., Dalvik JIT in 2.2) have yielded impressive gains in performance, akin to gains in mainstream Java performance. Now, Dalvik-based programs approach native/ compiled C/C++ code for most benchmarks. Moreover, as of SDK 2.3, developers can choose to use a standard native API set instead of Dalvik execution.


Android benefits from several layers of security and security mechanisms. At the lowest level, it builds on capabilities supplied by the underlying Linux kernel and separation provided by the Linux process model. Overlaid on this foundation is a “sandbox” model for Dalvik applications and security attributes and mechanisms (e.g., encryption) of various components of Android frameworks. As with other OSes, as vulnerabilities surface, patches are made available to address actual and hypothetical threats.

CPU Support

Most Android deployment and board support today targets ARM silicon, with development-level support for x86. While Google only endorses ARM-based deployment, commercial and community support now covers other mainstream silicon, including Atom, MIPS, and Power Architecture.

Device Drivers

The Android HAL supports several types of standard I/O devices: touchscreens, sensors, etc. To accommodate devices and device-types beyond this core set, the shortest path is to use device support for the Linux kernel underlying Android.

table 2 Android and typical embedded device requirements.

2. 3.

Source code made available

Google holding back source to Android Honeycomb

Derived works may be created and distributed

AFA limits OHA members’ ability to derive/distribute. Differentiation in UI home screen, widgets


Integrity of the author's source code may be protected if modification by patches allowed

OK for actual FOSS components, but not all of Android platform

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

No discrimination against persons or groups

Google favors select OHA members

No discrimination against fields of endeavor

Google currently favors only handset/tablet OEMs

Distribution of license without further execution


License must not be specific to a product


License must not restrict other software

License(s) themselves do not restrict, but AFA may

License must be technology-neutral


table 3 Android vs. OSI Open Source definition.



droid platform and an attribute of its ongoing success is the ostensible open source nature of the platform and licensing of the project code. Superficially, Android does appear to be an open source project as indicated by the top-level use of Apache 2.0 license and the underlying open source components including the Linux kernel, BSD libraries, SQLite, Webkit, etc. In addition, the software development kit (SDK) is based on Eclipse and there is an enthusiastic worldwide developer community. However, a closer examination of the inner workings of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and the Android “project” reveals greater complexity as well as troubling signs of an increasingly closed and proprietary OS and ecosystem. Yes, there is an open source license in use, but the top-level Apache license does not cover all code in the platform. There are many other open source licenses involved—19 to be exact—and there is also proprietary code. In addition, not all versions of Android are generally available in source form, e.g., Honeycomb. The OHA itself is not an open, meritbased community because membership is by invitation only through Google and the OHA member companies. This means that the uptake of patches and other input from non-OHA submitters is limited or zero. In addition, OHA members are required to sign an anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA), and the contents of that document are under NDA. The Android Market and Applications are not exactly kosher open source either. The included “hygiene” apps are not all open source, and app developers are increasingly subject to Google oversight (e.g., the recent ejection of two ISVs with gaming emulator apps). In addition, OHA members are discouraged from building their own app stores. Anyone familiar with working in actual open source communities will immediately perceive how Android is more open in name than in practice. For readers less familiar with open source best practices, it is instructive to hold the Android project up to the standard Open Source definition created by the Open Source Initiative ( as laid out in Table 3.

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The Oracle Suit

Android, like many mobile platforms before it, provides a virtual machine execution engine (Dalvik), similar to Java. When Google launched Android, they stated that the re-implementation of Java was necessary for technical reasons— claiming “Java is broken.” At the time, Java IP owner Sun did not pursue the matter, and chose instead to promote authentic “Coffee Cup” licensed implementations and its own mobile platform JavaFX Mobile to compete with Google’s new mobile OS. Fast forward to 2011—Sun is now a division of Oracle, Google’s stalwart competitor and a fierce protector of its IP portfolio, including Java. In 2010, Oracle initiated legal action against Google for copyright violations and patent infringement, and in 2011 many of the particulars of the suit were disclosed to the public. Analysis of the claims seems to reveal that several counts regarding patents indeed have merit. Without a strong patent portfolio for counter claims and cross licensing, Google is exposed to damages, and Android deployers will likely have to foot the bill for run-time royalties—$5.00/copy or more, according to one analysis. This legal challenge won’t soon topple Android from its mobile leadership position, but it will likely make it more expensive for OEMs to build “mass market” smartphones from it. So much for free software and free beer in one cute green container! Certainly, Android is not ideal for all types of device designs. It presents a dazzling array of features and capabilities for mobile/wireless devices and an attractive OS option for other intelligent devices. In particular, Android is a viable alternative for designs that benefit from a graphical user interface, field-upgrade capability, a complement of ready-to-use applications, and both Java-style and native C/C++ runtimes. It is a less attractive choice for • Headless devices • Devices with extremely limited RAM and persistent storage • Closed-box designs • Legacy support for RTOS APIs and other specialized interfaces • Systems with pervasive hard real-time / low-latency response needs

• Designs built on “minority” CPU families or special-purpose silicon

Bill Weinberg (408) 568-2492. [].

I have encountered development teams building applications of these outlying types who nonetheless favor Android as option. Enthusiasm for the platform is so great (as it was for embedded Linux) that Android is often deployed not because of its attributes, but in spite of them.

Untitled-7 1


7/6/11 6:12:18 PM RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011

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Embedded Java and Android

Real-Time Java Virtual Machine Undergoes Overhaul Enhancements are embodied “under the hood” of the PERC Ultra virtual machine, providing benefits to end users without requiring changes to application source code, configuration management, or automatic build scripts. by Kelvin Nilsen, Atego Systems



Allocatable Memory (Mbytes)

End of Article



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CPU Utilization (Percent)

ince 1997, the PERC Ultra virtual machine has enabled developers of 80% 30% Java applications to deploy in contexts that require compliance with real60% time constraints. Unlike traditional Java virtual machines, this real-time virtual 20% 40% machine integrates real-time garbage collection, fixed priority scheduling, extend40% ed thread priority ranges, priority inheritance for Java’s built-in mutual exclusion 10% mechanisms, and priority ordered queues 20% in the implementation of Java’s wait and nies providing solutions now As an example of the notify services. ion into products, technologies companies.of Whether goal is to research the latest differentiated and behavior the your real-time ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to550 put you 600 650 700 virtual machine’s garbage collector, see you require for whatever type of technology, Real Time (seconds) 1. and productsFigure you are searching for. Figure 1 When this same workload is run on Trace of memory subsystem during execution of simulated air traffic control a traditional virtual machine, the appliapplication running in steady state. Blue represents the CPU time consumed cation code typically runs without interby the application threads and red represents the CPU time consumed by the leaved garbage collection until the allocagarbage collector, using the scale on the right-hand side of the chart. Yellow tion pool is depleted, at which time all of represents the amount of memory available to satisfy allocation requests at the application threads suspend until gareach moment in time, as indicated by the scale on the left. Garbage collection bage collection completes. With this relais running at a lower priority than the application threads, but consumes larger tively small heap, the stop-and-wait time percentages of the CPU because the CPU is otherwise idle. to complete garbage collection would be in the range of 2 to 3 seconds. With much larger heap sizes, the time spans during virtual machine on the market. Early which application code is suspended while PERC Ultra development priorities tended garbage collection replenishes the alloca- to further emphasize the strengths that Get Connected tion pool may exceed 30 seconds. uniquely qualified the technology for use with companies mentioned in this article. PERC Ultra was the first real-time in mission-critical real-time applications.

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PRM-121 AMC Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Card • AMC.3 Dual SATA channels (Lanes 2, 3) • AMC.1 Type 4, PCIe x4 (Lanes 4-7) • AMC.1 R1.0 and R2.0 compatible • Non-PCIe configuration (no FCLKA) available • AMC.2 Dual 1000Base-BX Ports configured as Type E2 (Lanes 0, 1) • Dual 10/100/1000Base-T Port on Front Panel • Serial Protocols • USB on Front Panel • RS-232 on Front Panel

R7R-400 Quad NetLogic XLR 732 Rack Mount 1U Server with Integrated Fulcrum FM4224 10GigE Switching • NetLogic XLR732 Processor Family • Eight 64 bit Processing Cores • Up to 1.2 GHz with 2MB L2 cache • Autonomous Security Acceleration Engine® (SAE) @ 10 Gbps • Quad XLR732 processors • Up to 8GB DDR2 memory w/ ECC on dual-channel x72 bus per XLR • DDR2 clock rate up to 800MT

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PERC Accelerato™ source files

Java Compiler

.class files AOT Compiler

ROMizer™ Static Linker

augmented .class files

AOT Compiler object file Loader JIT Compiler Native Linker


Interp .classes Comp. classes

PERC Virtual Machine Figure 2 The classic PERC Ultra tool chain. The PERC Accelerator translates Java byte code into machine code using an ahead-of-time (AOT) compiler. The ROMizer preloads and prelinks multiple Java class files into a binary image which can be preloaded into ROM or loaded at startup from a file. The Loader and JIT Compiler of the PERC Virtual machine are optional components which can be omitted to reduce footprint and improve security.

Java-specific optimizations on byte code

Translate byte code to LLVM assembler

Standard LLVM Optimizations


Java-specific optimizations on LLVM assembler

LLVM Code Generator



Figure 3


Integration of the LLVM technology within the PERC Ultra virtual machine.

This technology has been deployed in hundreds of thousands of devices, demonstrating in excess of 99.999% up time in application domains as diverse as industrial automation, telecommunications infrastructure, in-vehicle telematics and critical national defense systems. This real-time virtual machine now fills criti-



cal roles in manufacturing state-of-the-art semiconductors, connecting long-distance telephone calls, delivering DSL broadband services to homes and offices, and implementing ballistic missile defense for the U.S. Department of Defense. In more recent years, the market for real-time virtual machines has evolved and

expanded. New vendors have responded to the market opportunity and are now offering support for commercial real-time virtual machine products. More importantly, today’s users of real-time virtual machines are typically looking for much more than just the ability to meet realtime deadlines with Java code running on real-time operating systems. In particular, today’s real-time Java developers are likely to be working on very complex applications that have a combination of realtime and non-real-time components. Often, much of the software that comprises a modern real-time application consists of off-the-shelf software components supplied by third parties. In order to simplify the integration of third-party commercial software and open-source technologies, it has been increasingly important to maintain full compatibility with the most recent releases of the Java run-time environment. Oracle’s continuing support for the OpenJDK project has improved compatibility by supplying independent virtual machine developers with access to fully compatible open-source implementations of the standard Java libraries. While it may be appropriate to sacrifice performance in order to achieve predictable deterministic behavior for those parts of an application that have real-time constraints, the parts of an application that do not have real-time constraints often have very demanding throughput requirements and cannot tolerate any sacrifice of potential performance optimization. Enabling new configuration options and increasing access to common Java optimization techniques have been critical motivators for the technology upgrade. The real-time virtual machine’s tool chain is illustrated in Figure 2. The same basic flows between components of this tool chain have been in place for over ten years. In the classic implementation, both the JIT and AOT compilers are the same proprietary technology, implemented in Java. With release 6.0 of PERC Ultra, the default JIT and AOT compilers are now implemented with an open-source technology known as the low-level virtual machine (LLVM). The technology is characterized as a virtual machine because it takes as input a portable LLVM interme-

tech in systems

diate representation. LLVM includes a variety of optimization passes that improve the efficiency of programs by manipulating intermediate representations, and a code generation pass that translates the intermediate representation to one of many possible target machine languages. The LLVM technology emerged from a research project that began in 2000 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The graduate student who led the LLVM research, Chris Lattner, completed his Ph.D. in 2005 and was subsequently hired by Apple Computer where he oversees the development and maintenance of various LLVM-based development tools for Mac OS X and iOS. LLVM has been used in a large number of research efforts and in at least one other commercial offering, the implementation of Adobe’s Hydra language compiler. The LLVM translation technology has also been grafted onto the back of the GNU GCC compiler tool chain. In this context, it was shown to generate code that is approximately 20% faster than the code generated by the default GCC compiler, and to perform its translations 18-42% faster than the default GCC compiler. Other reasons that LLVM represents a better code generation technology than GCC are that it is designed to support both ahead-of-time and just-in-time compilation, efficient and accurate garbage collection, and more modern CPU architectures and code optimization strategies. Integrating LLVM within the PERC Ultra environment consists of several steps (Figure 3). First, the Java byte code is translated into the LLVM intermediate representation. The translation of byte code to LLVM assembly language represents all aspects of the code generation model. The current translation to LLVM assembler represents a translation that implements the exact same run-time model as the classic PERC Ultra virtual machine. Second, certain Java language-specific optimizations such as method in-lining, elimination of redundant array subscript checking, and memory allocation optimizations must be integrated to enhance the LLVM technology. We found it necessary to add language-specific optimizations to the LLVM framework because LLVM it-

self is a low-level generic virtual machine that does not have a good understanding of the rules that characterize legal transformations on Java programs. A third integration step, which has not yet been completed, involves enhancements to the real-time virtual machine itself. These enhancements, which are enabled by the more powerful code generation capabilities of LLVM, will allow a

future version of the real-time virtual machine to provide even better performance and determinism. Since these more aggressive optimizations require changes to the virtual machine’s binary interface, we chose to perform the LLVM integration in two phases. This allows us to manage the complexity and reduce risks. During the first phase, we focused our changes entirely on integrating the LLVM compiler

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©2011 Themis Computer. All rights reserved. Themis Computer, Themis and the Themis logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Themis Computer. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


7/6/11 5:53:13 PM RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011

Tech In Systems

technologies without making any changes to the run-time environment. This has allowed us to depend on the stable foundation provided by the existing real-time garbage collection implementation, the debugger and profiler implementations, the current code generation and interpreter models, and the existing integration of native (C-language) libraries. Since the LLVM code generation model exactly

matches the code generation model of the classic PERC Ultra virtual machine, there is full interoperability between code generated by the classic PERC Ultra JIT and AOT compilers and code produced by the new LLVM compiler. Among the additional refinements anticipated for a future implementation of the real-time virtual machine is a change to the stack memory model to reduce the

costs of entering and exiting methods. In addition, a change to the garbage collection barrier protocol will reduce the overhead of coordinating with garbage collection and improve reaction times to asynchronous events.Finally, a change to the thread preemption model will allow improved caching of memory-sensitive information between thread context switches. This third integration step consists of making changes to the LLVM assembly language that is translated from the Java byte code. Figure 3 illustrates the flow of information between the various LLVM components. LLVM integration within the PERC Ultra real-time virtual machine has resulted in significant performance gains. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve measured an overall improvement of 56.6% on CaffeineMark, 20% on jByteMark Integer index, and 62.9% improvement on jByteMark Floating Point index. In general, performance improvements result from the more efficient compiler optimizations that are built into the LLVM virtual machine. Remember that further performance benefits will be realized upon completion of the next phase of integration, which involves optimizations of the PERC Ultra run-time execution model and corresponding changes in the translation of Java byte code to LLVM assembler. Atego Systems San Diego, CA. (888) 912-8346. [].


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technology deployed Small Modules in Medical Devices

Challenges and Opportunities for the Medical Device Industry: Meeting the New IEC 62304 Standard

was king. Older systems used software, of course, but it wasn’t the focus, Software was primarily used for algorithmic work. Not to overly generalize, but the focus of management was on building hardware that worked correctly; software was just a necessary element of overall implementation. Now with complex UIs, easy-to-use at-home medical devices and systems, etc., software has taken on a much more vital role. Today, software is where the consumer value lies in systems engineering, and embedded software is creating opportunities for competitive differentiation. Thus, software developers are beginning to play a greater role in the design, architecture and functionality of medical devices. Tried and exploration true software development methods are r your goal also being woven into the overall product eak directly engineering process. These methods must page, the recognize that changes occur to requireresource. Medical device manufacturers are facing new hnology, ments over the course of the lifecycle, and nd products requirements from the FDA. The IEC 62304 standard be able to adopt the appropriate levels of demands documentable traceability between requirements flexibility in order to cope. Rapid changes in supply chains and and code through the entire development process. changes in requirements mid-stream during a given product delivery cycle are causby, Martin Bakal, IBM Rational ing some degree of chaos for engineering teams, including the software development panies providing solutions now teams. Now, the IEC 62304 standard reation into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest quires traceability in the software delivery cation Engineer, or jump to a company's technicalstandard page, the goal Get Connected to put you he recent IEC 62304 forofmedical device issoftware process (the ability to ensure that requirements map to each elece you require for whatever type of technology, is causing companies worldwide to step back and examine ment in the software process). But as software teams working in es and products you are searching for. their software development processes with considerable this bold new world seek to adopt agile techniques to better meet scrutiny. While software development and testing is still an inte- deadlines and expectations, they are struggling to embrace the gral part of overall system design and production, the IEC 62304 demand for traceability, which is simply not the “sweet spot” for standard focuses on software as a separate lifecycle process with agile development. So the question is, how do we introduce more specific needs for risk management and safety assessment. rigor to the development process, and meet the needs of this new With IEC 62304, the world has changed, literally—country industry standard? by country—for medical device manufacturers. This doesn’t mean, however, that complying with IEC 62304 must slow down The Hard Part Is Software your medical device software development. By applying best Coordinating people, processes and tools is never easy. So practices guidance and process automation, companies have a why does a greater role for the software component make the efnew opportunity to improve on their fundamental business goals, fort even harder? The primary difficulty has to do with the nature while getting through regulatory approvals faster. of software itself. While the best thing about software is that it is Get Connected soft (i.e., relatively easy to change), this is also its riskiest attriwith companies mentioned in this article. Changes in the Medical Device Field bute. Most software is constrained only by human imagination; The IEC 62304 standard points to the more powerful role the quality of software is judged not by precise mathematics and that software plays in the medical device industry. Once hardware physical tolerances, but by the degree to which it satisfies a user’s expectations, which can be highly subjective. Agile and iterative delivery methods, which enforce frequent Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. stakeholder review of the working software under development,


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Technology deployed

The Specification Details

The history of standards for systems manufacturers provides some context for the IEC 62304 standard. Figure 1 shows the relationship of prior product engineering standards that impact the design and implementation of medical device software. The emergence of IEC 62304 is big news, in part, because it requires systems teams to manage this larger environment of industry requirements around a clearer understanding of software as the “brains” of the system. Let’s consider what the software team manages as the software evolves not only to meet design specifications, but also this large complement of regulatory compliance mandates. For starters, the IEC 62304 standard demands additional rigor around traceability, reporting, architecture and requirements management. What follows isn’t a comprehensive list, but it covers several of the essential guidelines and how they affect software delivery teams. IEC 62304 states that requirements analysis must be part of the software development process. The requirements analysis discipline establishes the high-level requirements of the system being designed, and derives lower-level requirements from those until the process produces requirements with sufficient information to enable coding. These lower-level requirements detail the complete system, including potential faults and interfaces between systems. These can be developed iteratively in an agile process, but the IEC 62304 standard demands that they must be documented. Requirements also need to link to other phases of the process, including the software architecture, test cases and so forth.

Medical device management standards ISO 14971 ISO 13485

lays out a foundation to develop a medical device affects



help guide software projects toward more satisfactory outcomes. But, as noted earlier, software practitioners following the more “pure agile” methods—such as Scrum or XP—may find that the new emphasis on requirements in IEC 62304 demands a more formal, less “agile-feeling” lifecycle. Pure agile methods need to be scaled up with additional guidance from configuration and requirements management practices, at minimum. Modeling your architecture is another great way to scale up your process to meet the requirements expected of IEC 62304. The IBM Rational organization has recently provided some clear guidelines for scaling agile methods for larger, more disciplined software development activity. Called “Disciplined Agile Delivery,” the new guidelines provide teams of any size many of the benefits of traditional methodologies while retaining the results-oriented spirit of agile development. Of course, it will not always be the case that a development team working on the software components for a medical device will be a large team, but the traceability required by the IEC 62304 standard demands more than a purely agile approach, and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) offers a solution. DAD is itself a very big topic. Suffice it to say that the overall quality management concerns introduced by the new IEC 62304 standard are addressed by DAD.

Medical device process standard IEC 62304

Medical device product standards IEC 60601-1 IEC 61010-1 Gives specific direction for creation of a safe medical device


Implementation of medical device software

Gives detailed direction how to develop and maintain safe software system Other sources of information IEC/ISO 12207, IEC 61508-3, IEC/ISO 90003, ...


Gives additional guidelines, techniques, etc that may be used

Figure 1 Relationship of systems engineering standards to medical devices software, including electrical, mechanical, and other standards.

The general idea is that someone can look at a requirement and understand what should be implemented and what tests must be performed to prove the requirements are met. Requirements typically are written by systems engineers as simple text early in the design process as they capture ideas on paper. Another discipline required by an IEC 62304 guided process is architectural design. This turns the requirements into a coherent architecture so developers can understand how the requirement will be met and ensure there aren’t any overlaps or holes in the requirements as described. Graphical images often are used to help development teams visualize an architecture emerging from the requirements. The graphics should map to the actual code, which provides the means for traceability from requirements all the way to the code. A key part of the overall process is failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA). FMEA is a powerful tool for explaining the potential failures to a regulatory agency. It shows how the identified failure points map to the requirements and the tests that need to be run in order to prove that the failure can be handled correctly. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) is a graphical way to help analyze the system to see where a failure is likely to occur. Typically used during the early analysis phase of development, FTA diagrams show how failures interrelate. FTA diagrams combined with FMEA create a comprehensive strategy for identifying, understanding and tracking potential failures. Another important discipline is testing: The IEC 62304 standard discusses both integration and system testing. Integration testing ensures that different components actually work together and do not cause unanticipated behaviors. System testing treats the whole system like a black box and ensures that high-level reRTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011


technology deployed

Verification and validation

Concept of operations

Operation and maintenance

System verification and validation


ta tes ct

Integration, test and verification


Detailed design


n itio fin de


int e

ct oje Pr


a ti on

Requirements and architecture


Figure 2 The typical stages both software and hardware teams use for analysis, design, implementation, and testing.

quirements are met by the system itself. Each testing discipline is critical for meeting the requirements of IEC 62304. They also are quite useful for ensuring your device works as expected. While developing reports isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t specifically listed as an IEC 62304 requirement, in the end a report is what needs to be sent to the regulatory agencies. That report needs to include all the information listed above and explain how they trace between each other to make a comprehensive whole software system for the medical device.


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Getting to IEC 62304 Compliance

The needs described above are met through software development tools specifically geared for systems delivery, which is often divided into multiple categories: systems engineering, project management, software engineering and test management, for example. These categories ideally interconnect across the systems delivery lifecycle in performing distinct tasks and creating distinct lifecycle work products. Typically, hardware and software teams today use similar processes for development. The standard V diagram in Figure 2 shows the typical stages both teams use for analysis, design, implementation and testing. The challenge is that the teams operate separately, limiting their ability to synchronize key steps. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, alignment is hindered by the use of different languages and tools. To achieve rapid code development and the associated business benefits, the hardware and software processes need to be integrated into a unified process. This general, ideal process illustrated in Figure 2 provides a kind of map for software and systems development teams to address the needs of a standard such as IEC 62304. Some of this process may be part of your current methods; some portions may be clearly missing; and some may be unclear. The next step is to go about your own gap analysis to determine where you need to improve to meet the standard.

3/31/11 4:26:15 PM

Technology deployed

Performing a Gap Analysis

IEC 62304 compliance does not need to slow down your medical device software development. But we DO recommend that you perform a gap analysis to see how closely your own process maps to the specifications of IEC 62304. You may eventually hire a third party to help you come into compliance with the new standard, but you should do the gap analysis first, just to take an inventory of your process and its typical artifacts. You may find that your documented process isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the one you actually follow in practice. Get started by examining your process on paper. Is this process truly the one you are following? Be honest with yourself, and determine if your departures from the stated process occur across all products, or only some. Try to determine where your software tools are most helpfulâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;where the integrations are strong and consistent across the entire organization; and identify the areas for improvement. For example, do you have the traceability between the phases as required by the new spec? Some organizations conduct traceability only on paper. Requirements are linked to specific locations in the code, but requirements described early in a project can become out of synch with the actual code because, as discussed earlier, requirements evolve as development goes on. Hence, you need a requirements management method that maintains a link to the actual code that addresses each requirement, not simply a line number or some other meta reference.

Of course, it is up to your organization to decide what works best for you, and changes should be carefully considered both in light of the IEC 62304 specification as well as your product delivery culture and history of success. The best tool solutions will be those that allow incremental adoption of new capabilities, allowing you to avoid wholesale process changes and massive new infrastructure investments. A developer immersed in the details of code she has just written may have a very clear sense of how that code addresses a specific requirement. But even brilliant code that is not well documented wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t meet the specifications of IEC 62304, since a new level of traceability between requirements and code is now demanded. Yet, your brightest developers may detest the need to demonstrate this traceability, since it has little to do with the ingenuity they have brought to bear on their various coding assignments. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why it is vital for your tools themselves to show these connections. You not only alleviate the bother of manual reporting, but the best tools can also dramatically reduce the possibility of human error that invariably is part of a manual process. IBM Armonk, NY. (914) 499-1900. [].

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&2*(17 "ALWAYS COMPLETE" Untitled-8 1



11:15:23 AM RTC MAGAZINE4/28/11 JULY 2011

technology deployed Small Modules in Medical Devices

Modules Mobilize Medical Care

dently power high-performance processors such as Core i5 / i7 and a monitor, which can then function for a full day without being constantly plugged into a wall outlet like bulkier desktop computer-based carts. Data is stored locally, either on rotating SATA drives or flash-based SSDs, and can also be transmitted over encrypted IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. The same wireless connections can alert nurses’ Compact size, computing power options, reliability, stations in real time. A Gigabit Ethernet ease of use and function, and expansion are the key connector ensures fast transfer of elecconsiderations for every modular design, especially in the tronic patient records and other data while plugged in while “off duty.” medical computer device industry. Modular computing Other system requirements include boards have been defined and developed in order to internal USB or SPI buses to interface to mid-range A/D converters that talk to satisfy these design needs. probes with transducers for vital signs, as exploration well as generate ultrasonic waveforms usr your goal ing D/A converters. Practically every syseak directly tem needs an external USB port for a local page, the by Colin McCracken, American Portwell Technology printer, and even an external serial port for resource. hnology, a barcode scanner. The cart hosts full lapnd products top-class computer performance, including dual core processor with 2-4 Gbyte RAM Medical computing is becoming more mobile due to an inand desktop PC-compatible operating system. creasingly patient-centric view of health care. Whether in hospi- The display is usually placed on the top of the cart: either a 10”tals, clinics or at home, equipment must be small and light with 15” LCD with an 18-24-bit LVDS interface or a standard DVI-D network connectivity to provide complete and secure access digital monitor. Occasionally, newer systems can optionally drive to patients and their medical histories in real time. Optimized large fixed HDMI high-definition TVs and panels. In the next panies providing solutions now computer-on-module (COM) solutions, such as COM Express several years, the new DisplayPort monitors could emerge within ation into products, technologies Whether your goal is small to research the factor latest refand Qseven, canandbecompanies. used with time-saving form both hospitals and clinics. cation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected put you erence design carrier boards to deploy next-generationis tomobile The constant pressure to reduce size and weight means that ce you require for whatever type of technology, medical devices such as patient monitors, medical cart computsome OEMs are moving from motherboard-based box computers es and products you are searching for. ers and portable ultrasound devices. with vertical I/O cards to small form factor embedded computers Today’s new instruments can even test blood or separate with integrated I/O or small form factor expansion I/O modules blood cells into components on the spot. Previous generation de- and even to COM Express with a custom carrier board. Although vices based upon SBCs with cables or motherboards with riser some non-recurring engineering (NRE) is required up front, the cards can now migrate to cleaner COM solutions to reduce size, COM-carrier board architecture offers a number of benefits. For weight, power and cost. The module-based architecture is easy to example, system lifecycle is extended by upgrading the procesupgrade to the latest processors and chipsets in the future without sor module every 5-10 years. The carrier board is optimized for disturbing the application I/O. the exact I/O configuration and connectors and the entire unit can be flat with low-profile wireless modules and analog circuits directly on the carrier board, obviating the need for bulky riser Cart-Based Computing cards that require mechanical support on moving carts. Medical carts allow the efficient sharing of equipment beGet Connected cause they can be wheeled into a patient’s room or surgery bay Intel’s leading-edge second-generation Core i7 “Sandy with companies mentioned in this article. as needed, rather than having equipment permanently installed Bridge” COM Express processor modules are typical of in every single room. A purpose-built cart can even contain a nology that is easily optimized for medical computing. Two exlarge-capacity 12V or 24V rechargeable battery to indepen- amples are shown in Figure 1. Currently, the Type 2 pinout of the PICMG COM.0 R2.0 Specification is the most common in the market (both modules and existing carrier board designs), Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article. while the new Type 6 pinout is expected to be the long-term

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Technology deployed

Figure 1 Type 2 and Type 6 ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i7 COM Express modules.

cessor to Type 2 due to its updated display interfaces and USB 3.0 support. Off-the-shelf building blocks, such as Portwell’s PCOM-B217 product family (Figure 1), feature both types in order to support all system requirements, including lower-cost PGA processors with the Type 2 module and ECC memory support with the Type 6 module, along with design-in support for carrier boards that can accept both module types without a redesign for maximum flexibility in the future.

Hand-Carried Devices

Portable ultrasound devices and patient monitors look more like fixed-function devices than general-purpose application platforms. Since their batteries are much smaller than cart-based batteries due to size and weight limits, Gigahertz single-core Intel Atom processors are sufficient to drive these hand-carried devices. In fact, smaller LCDs can even be integrated into these devices, rather than stand-alone displays with external cables. Typically, smaller SSDs—including 2.5” form factor, mSATA, CompactFlash and SD/MMC cards—are used in these small systems since their large capacities, weight and reliability advantages render rotating disk drives obsolete for hand-carried devices. Even Mini-ITX is too large for these systems and certainly not customizable enough. And, while Nano-ITX and ECX / 3.5” SBCs can be used in some cases, they carry the excess baggage of assembly challenges and costs associated with connecting to externally mounted add-on circuit boards and cables. A custom carrier board, however, provides a far more elegant solution. It has the associated benefits of integrating the battery charger circuit and data acquisition interface, and selecting the ideal connectors and locations for high-volume applications. The Qseven form factor standard is an attractive low-power solution to these requirements. Devices like Portwell’s PQ7M105IT module (Figure 2) come with a choice of “Tunnel Creek” processor from Atom E620 at 600 MHz to Atom E680 at 1.6 GHz along with 512 Mbyte-2 Gbyte soldered RAM for superb shock and vibration resistance, and integrated heatspreader as a low profile thermal solution. In order to help reduce material cost and save board real estate (its overall package size is 46 percent smaller than its predecessor), the Qseven Atom E6xx series processor utilizes

Figure 2 This tiny Qseven Atom E620 ‘Tunnel Creek’ module draws less than 5W at 1GHz.

the open PCIe standard for its processor-to-chipset interface, which delivers much greater I/O flexibility and includes an onboard graphics controller, memory controller and audio integrated within the processor. What’s more, the Qseven module takes full advantage of hardware acceleration technologies to facilitate faster web page downloads, multimedia and multiwindowing capabilities, all valuable benefits for hand-carried medical computing devices.

Designing an Optimized Carrier

An optimized carrier board is an essential component for maximizing the full benefits of the modular solution. In this instance, it is responsible for providing +5 VDC power to the Qseven module and for routing the x86 standard chipset interfaces to peripheral circuits and connectors. As illustrated in Figure 3, an optimized carrier board provides a range of interfaces through which the Qseven can interface with the outside world of medical computing. A COM Express example would be similar, except that +12 VDC is the main module power source for higher performance computing. Although only a single PCIe lane is shown in the diagram, four lanes are actually available. This creates additional headroom in the event that the design of a particular medical device needs to use more data or requires a second Ethernet port to attach another high-speed device. Pre-configuring this extra headroom into the carrier at the design and manufacturing stage means that medical OEMs are able to respond to customer requested feature enhancements rapidly and still stay within R&D budgets. High-speed connection is also assured with the inclusion of RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2011


technology deployed

Qseven Carrier ~ 4x5’’



Qseven Module

SATA or SD HDA GigE LPC PCIe x1 USB Host USB Host USB Client CAN USB Host SPI I2C +5VSB +5V

Codec Transformer UARTs

LCD Microphone Speaker LAN RS-232

Mini-PCIe USB Host USB Client CAN Bus A/D

+3 3V

Charger Circuit


Probe (Transducer)

Rechargeable Battery Pack cell


AC Line Power

Figure 3 Block diagram of a standards-based mobile medical device.

up to 8 x USB 2.0 ports, which are readily available for mid-range analog-to-digital conversion. At the slower end of the spectrum, the SPI bus and 12C bus are the appropriate interfaces for lowcost, low-speed analog-to-digital conversion or other low-power I/O functions.

with all the necessary interfaces. For example, Portwell has created the PQ7-C100XL tiny form factor reference design carrier (Figure 4) complete with carrier schematics for system designers to tailor to exact requirements including intellectual property and product differentiation. The advantage of using carrier boards like the one illustrated in Figure 4 is simple: the medical device designer does not have to re-invent the wheel. The carrier board already includes builtin features such as Mini PCIe, SATA, USB, LVDS and various serial ports. The BIOS firmware and device drivers are already developed and tested. Pre-configuring all of these interfaces onto the carrier board at its own design stage is much more efficient than the full custom design approach because it frees up the medical device designer from even having to think about resourcing these components, let alone integrating them and figuring out how to make them work together. Instead of spending valuable time and resources getting to ground zero, medical device designers can concentrate on differentiating themselves from their competition by focusing on their value-added circuits that attach to these standard interfaces. Another benefit of the carrier board illustrated in Figure 4 is application orientation, rather than general-purpose ATX boards as large as 9.6 x 12 inches. While some of the smaller carrier boards on the market can shrink down to Mini-ITX, the 4.1˝ x 5.7˝ carrier board shown in Figure 4 is actually 45 percent smaller and optimized for handheld medical applications.

Mobilizing Designs with Modules

Figure 4 At only 4.1” x 5.7”, this tiny Qseven carrier features standard interfaces including a Mini PCIe Wi-Fi socket.

Gigabit Ethernet is the de facto standard for the highspeed, low-cost transmission and receipt of data across local area networks and is the perfect interface for interchanging and updating the patient information captured by both cart-based and handheld medical devices. The system block diagram is shown in Figure 3. In order to speed time-to-market for these medical devices, some COM manufacturers have preloaded their carrier boards



Since the introduction of the latest Atom E6xxx series and second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i5 / i7 processors, everything about embedded systems boards is becoming even smaller and more energy efficient, with benefits such as better performance, longer battery and product life, and reduced energy costs. Taking fullest advantage of this modular approach, COM Express and Qseven are well suited for customizing small medical systems as a balance between fully off-the-shelf modules and full custom design. COM Express even scales to high-performance Core i5 / i7 processors with built-in ECC memory for ultra-reliable data that corrects errors on the fly. This new modular product development methodology leverages proven modules to allow device manufacturers to save time and risk by focusing on core competencies—their applications. The resulting systems are much easier to upgrade and re-certify in the future. Small form factor modules and small optimized reference design carrier boards are critical enabling technologies for the rapid development of next-generation mobile ultrasound devices, patient monitors, blood analyzers, instruments and medical cart computers. American Portwell Technology Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3399. [].

products &

TECHNOLOGY 3U OpenVPX PCI Express and Ethernet Hybrid Switch Offers up to Ten Times More Bandwidth

A new 3U OpenVPX PCI Express and Ethernet hybrid switch delivers extremely high transfer rates in centralized VPX and OpenVPX platforms. With up to 4 x 6 Gen1/Gen2 PCIe backplane ports for the data plane, the VX3905 from Kontron provides ten times the I/O bandwidth found in systems deploying today and paves the way for a new generation of high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) applications. OEMs will benefit from flexible OpenVPX system designs, which enable application-specific configurations through centralized COTS backplanes. Owing to the open configurability of the Kontron VX3905, system developers can minimize development time and cost for specific system designs while enabling the reuse of these designs for other applications. The hybrid switch VX3905 is compliant with the OpenVPX VITA65 switch slot profile SLT3-SWH6F6U-14.4 for highest compatibility in multi-board designs. It provides up to 24 PCI Express Gen 1/Gen 2 ports for up to 32 lanes, which can be configured ( x8, x4, x2 and x1) depending on the required bandwidth. This offers OEMs a maximum data transfer rate of up to four gigabyte/s per port for serial interboard communication, an extended lifecycle of OpenVPX applications as well as enough headroom for future high-bandwidth designs. The switch can also be partitioned into multiple PCIe subsystems in order for the centralized backplane to host multiple root complexes each being able to control their own peripherals. Up to nine Gigabit Ethernet ports are available on the VX3905 for the control plane, enabling dedicated system management for high availability. An optional SATA disk carrier in accordance with the OpenVPX VITA65 SLT3-STO-2U-14.5.1 profile facilitates central data storage for OpenVPX systems without the need to use valuable payload slots, further simplifying the system design. For customers to capitalize on the Kontron VX3905’s high bandwidth, Kontron offers the VXFabric software solution for interboard communication. With VXFabric on K 3U and 6U VPX processor boards, OEMs can use common Linux and TCP or UDP sockets. It decouples the application software from the low-level hardware management to simplify and accelerate application development. An additional benefit includes longer application life cycles as the software ensures migration to future standards such as 10G and 40G Ethernet on the backplane. Kontron, Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].

Compact Flash Card Features Lock Switch for Write Protection

To assist users in protecting data in such storage devices, Apacer Technology offers a fifth-generation industrial compact flash (CF) card featuring a write-protection design for data storage safety. The lock switch on the bottom side of the memory card prevents data from being tampered with. By simply locking the lock switch on the bottom side of the card, the industrial CF card can be set to be read only, thus preventing any attempt to write. This way, the data not only can stay safe by avoiding accidental deletion, but also can prevent tampering of confidential information that may result in data leakage. These advantages make the card suitable for embedded devices in such fields as medical, military, gaming and automotive applications. The industrial CF5 card is compliant with the CFA 4.1 specifications. It uses the standard 50-pin connector and SLC chip featuring industrylevel stability for the card. It also boasts resistance to extended temperatures (-40° to 85°C), and is available in capacities from 128 Mbyte to 16 Gbyte. The data transfer mode is up to PIO-6, Multi-Word DMA-4 and Ultra DMA-5, with the sequential read/write speed reaching as fast as 40/30 Mbyte/s. This CFC5 memory card also supports 24-bit ECC function, wear-leveling function and Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART). Apacer Technology, Taipei, Taiwan. [].



XMC Ethernet Switch Module Delivers 12 Ports of Gigabit Ethernet with No Additional Slot

A managed XMC 12-port Gigabit Ethernet Switch for the embedded market can be mounted on virtually any VPX or VME module supporting the XMC mezzanine standard and enables designers of rugged embedded systems to integrate high-speed Ethernet switching functionality on a space, weight and power (SWaP) optimized mezzanine module that requires no additional chassis slot to deploy. The XMC-651 module from CurtissWright Controls Embedded Computing is also available in a PMC mezzanine configuration (PMC-651) that provides up to 8 ports of managed GbE switching.

The XMC-651 supports full line-rate non-blocked switching and the in-field management of a broad range of networking features including VLANs, multicast and Quality of Service. Designed for use in rugged military environments, the module is available in both air-cooled and conduction-cooled variants. The XMC-651 implements Ethernet switching functions via Broadcom 10th generation switching technology. Eight of the module’s ports support 10/100/1000Base-T with auto-negotiation. An additional four ports support SerDes (1000Base-BX) Gigabit Ethernet, offering flexibility in connecting in-chassis devices. The XMC-651 implements Layer-2 Ethernet switching with full wire-speed performance on all ports and features an 8K entry MAC address table, with automatic learning, advanced flow-control and head of line blocking prevention. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Charlotte, NC. (613) 254-5112. [].


Virtex-6 Signal Processing Board Family Moves to CompactPCI System Designs

Pentek has announced that its popular Cobalt board family is now available for use in CompactPCI (cPCI) systems. The migration to cPCI gives system designers full access to Pentek’s modular technology, which features high-performance signal acquisition and the processing power of Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGAs. Cobalt family capabilities now available for cPCI systems include: • 1 GHz A/D & 1 GHz D/A (Model xx630) • 2 Channel 500 MHz A/D, DUC & 2 Channel 800 MHz D/A (Model xx650) • 3 Channel 200 MHz A/D, DUC & 2 Channel 800 MHz D/A (Model xx620) • 3 Channel 200 MHz A/D, DDC, DUC & 2 Channel 800 MHz D/A (Model xx621) • 4 Channel 200 MHz 16-bit A/D (Model xx660) • 4 Channel 200 MHz A/D & Quad DDCs with Beamforming IP (Model xx661) • L-Band RF (925-2175 MHz) Tuner with 2 Channel 200 MHz A/D (Model xx690) All modules feature dedicated DMA channels and memory buffers for each I/O stream, and multi-channel, multi-board synchronization along with a customizable Virtex-6 FPGA for onboard signal processing. Boards are available as 3U cPCI carriers (73xxx) containing one Cobalt XMC module; 6U cPCI carriers (72xxx) with one XMC installed; and 6U cPCI carriers (74xxx) containing two identical Cobalt XMC modules. Custom configurations mixing XMC module types on a 6U carrier are also possible, yielding single-slot solutions for a wide range of signal acquisition and processing applications. A bridge chip handles mapping of the Cobalt module’s serial PCIe interface to the parallel PCI bus. Developers can utilize the Virtex-6 FPGAs for onGet Connected andor board signal processing that can help reduce data transfer rates across the backplane. Options are also available for providing LVDS to thewith cPCItechnology J2 (3U cPCI) companies providing solutions now J3 and J5 (6U cPCI) connectors for application-specific custom I/O. All software and FPGA development tools for the Cobalt family are immediately available Get Connected is a new resource further exploration to support cPCI designs. Pentek’s ReadyFlow Board Support Libraries include drivers for Linux, Windows and VxWorks operating systems, as well for as turnkey into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal application software that provides out-of-the-box modules. is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly Pentek’s GateFlow FPGA Design Kit allows users to incorporate custom algorithms connected towith thean pre-configured interface functions installed on the page, the Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical Virtex-6 FPGA. GateFlow enables customers to implement high-performance signal processing functions wideband communications, signal goal offor Get Connected is to put you in radar, touch with the intelright resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, ligence and beamforming. Pricing starts at $11,600.

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Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].

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Compact Triaxial Piezoresistive Shock Accelerometer

A piezoresistive triaxial shock accelerometer is designed to provide high-reliability measurements in three orthogonal directions within a footprint measuring less than 0.2 square inches (5.08 mm2). The model 73 from Meggitt Sensing Systems is intended for such critical applications as high-shock data recorders, missile fusing and weapon systems. Design of the model 73 incorporates use of three Endevco model 71 high-g piezoresistive shock accelerometers, housed on a specialty mounting block, with two available mounting options. These are either a surface mount technology (SMT) leadless chip carrier (LCC) package for reflow soldering with structural epoxy underfill; or a flex circuit option, allowing the unit to be adhesively mounted with electrical connections made via solder pads. Units are available in ranges of 2000g; 6000g; 20,000g and 60,000g with frequency response capabilities down to DC (steady state), making them suitable for the support of long duration transient measurements. In addition, Endevco model 73 accelerometers offer minimal zero shift after shock and are undamped for broad frequency content and the prevention of phase shift. Their compact size and unique construction allow for high resonance frequencies and exceptional bandwidth with accurate and repeatable responses to fast rise times and short duration shock motion. Recommended accessories for the Endevco model 73 include the new model 126 three-channel DC bridge amplifier, the model 136 three-channel signal conditioner, and the model 436 DC differential voltage amplifier. Meggitt Sensing Systems, Fribourg, Switzerland. +41 26 407 11 11. [].

High-Res Dynamic Signal Acquisition Module for Audio and Acoustic Testing

A dynamic signal acquisition module for USB features high-performance, 24-bit resolution and is specifically designed for audio Get Connected with technology and companies prov testing, acoustic measurementGet andConnected vibration is a new resource for further exploration into pro analysis applications. The DT9837C from datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir Data Translation is availableinas a board-level Gettest Connected willorhelp you connect with the companies and produc OEM version for embedded applications, installed in a metal mini-XLR or BNC connection box for easy sensor connections. All Data Translation devices include comprehensive driver and software support, enabling developers to get their applications up and running quickly. Combine the DT9837C with the ready-to-measure VIBpoint Framework to create a powerful FFT Analyzer instrument at a much lower cost. The 24-bit D/A stimulus of the DT9837C precisely matches the input A/D sampling rates for measuring transfer functions up to 96 kHz, a requisite for high-quality acoustic, audio and vibration test and measurement,” according to Fred Molinari, President and CEO. Key design features include four simultaneous 24-bit Delta-Sigma A/D channels for high-resolution measurements along with support for integrated electronic piezoelectric (IEPE) inputs, including use of a 2 mA current source and AC Get to Connected with companies and or DC coupling, interface with an accelerometer and microphone. The Input products featured in this section. range is ±10V with software selectable gains of 1 and 10 for an effective input range of ±10V and ±1V with throughput rates of up to 105.4 kHz per channel. The included drivers and software are compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7. The VIBpoint Framework support software is available in a free 14-day trial version.


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




Forced Air Conduction-Cooled Development Chassis for 3U OpenVPX Modules

A new 12-slot 3U OpenVPX forced air conduction-cooled chassis targets the development of military embedded systems. The RME9CC Chassis from Curtiss-Wright Controls is the newest member of Electronic Systems’ Hybricon family of advanced military COTS electronic packaging solutions. This rackmountstyle chassis provides cooling for up to 75W per slot. It’s designed for 3U 1” pitch payload cards and rear transition modules and supports 3U OpenVPX backplanes with high-speed switch fabric support for up to 6.25 Gbaud. This extreme cooling VITA 65 OpenVPX development chassis is designed for 75W per slot high-performance conduction-cooled 3U OpenVPX cards. The RME9CC measures 18.96” (Rack Flanges) wide, 15.69” (9U) high and 19.53” deep. The card cage is constructed of conduction-cooled extruded and machined aluminum. 2600W power supply configurations are available for OpenVPX 12V-centric and 5V-centric module sets, Curtiss-Wright Controls, Charlotte, N.C. (978) 952-2017. [].

Compact COM Express Solution for Rugged Mobile I/O Applications

A new mobile compact computer baseboard is compatible with COM Express compact size standard computer modules. The A-Brain from New Embedded Technology is designed specifically for such rugged mobile computer applications such as androids, robots, UAV and wearable computers where extended temperature, shock and vibration are a critical factor of the environment. It is also suitable for fixed outdoor settings requiring small size and in an environment that is not friendly to regular computers such as security monitoring, RFID control, green energy data acquisition, outdoor Kiosk and harsh external research data collection. The A-Brain features a baseboard 95 mm square and includes on the top I/O side two low-profile RJ45 Gigabit LAN connectors, Mini-PCIe I/O board socket with hard screw/nut mounting and standard Type II CF IDE Flash for diskless booting. Also available are two SATA ports with one standard and one locking connector. Included on multiple locking connectors are eight USB 2.0 ports, four RS-232 ports, VGA, eight digitally buffered GPIO, and RESET/POWER/External LEDs multi-use connection. The fourth serial port can become a RS-422/485 interface as a factory option. The A-Brain has the capability of utilizing any embedded COM Express CPU module that meets the PICMG standard for its processing while providing additional I/O expansion particular to the mobile and military market. The unit can be used with a passive cooling plate with compact size 95 mm by 95 mm SBC modules. Whether the application requires a high-end dual core processor, a low-power Intel Atom processor or an ARM processor, New Embedded Technology can provide a system solution to match a specific requirement. Power is provided to the A-Brain through a small locking 12-pin power connector with a cable adapter available, able to be connected to any ATX power supply. New Embedded Technology can also provide internal DC-DC mounted ATX power supplies, the size of a quarter coin, with models available to be powered by 12V regulated, 24-28V and 12V battery power sources and up to 120W of ATX output. The product life cycle is designed to last longer than most COM Express standard modules with a minimum 5-year life span. By combining the benefits of both the COM Express and Laptop MINI-PCIe standards, a more cost-effective time-to-market is achieved no matter what the quantity. Prices range from $249 to $569 depending on features and options. Volume pricing is also available. New Embedded Technology, Encinitas, CA. (760) 845-1699. [].



ATX Motherboard with Core2 Quad/Duo FSB 1333 MHz Support

A new industrial-grade ATX motherboard is designed with the Intel G41 and the ICH7R chipset for industrial applications that need dual displays for DVI plus VGA and rich strong I/O capability. The AIMB-767 from Advantech supports LGA 775 Intel Core2 Duo, Core2 Quad, Pentium Dual-Core and Celeron 400 sequence processors with FSB up to 1333 MHz and DDR3 800/1066 MHz SDRAM up to 4 Gbytes. AIMB-767 is capable of software SATA RAID 0, 1, 5 & 10 to ensure reliable storage and system protection for networkintensive applications. With rich I/O interface support, AIMB767’s four SATAII ports can support software RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5 to serve as an entry-level data security solution with reliability. The four onboard serial ports (COM ports), one PCIe x16, one PCIe x4 and five PCI expansion slots allow AIMB-767 to meet many different industrial control application requirements. AIMB-767 features excellent graphic processing capability through its embedded Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500 with shared memory up to 352 Mbyte. This latest industrial motherboard provides strong 2D/3D graphic processing power without the need for an add-on graphic card, which reduces extra cost, power consumption and thermal design effort caused by an add-on graphic card. Advantech, Irvine, CA. (949) 789-7178. [].


SystemPak Makes ATCA Ready for Tough Field Deployment

A high-performance, multiprocessing system platform is designed to address compute-intensive requirements in command and control data center applications. The ATCA7365 SystemPak from Elma Electronic combines the high-performance multiprocessing of an integrated ATCA platform with a ruggedized design capable of withstanding the high shock and vibration found in rugged mobile transport applications. It has been successfully tested to withstand a 36” drop shock test per MIL-STD-810G. Featuring three ATCA processor blades, each with two six-core Intel processors as standard, the ATCA7365 SystemPak offers high processing power that makes it an ideal solution for use in rugged “comms on the move” (COTM) applications such as data center virtualization and network-centric environments. Additional attributes of the fully integrated SystemPak include 10 Gigabit Ethernet switching for high-speed data links, 96 Gbytes of DDR memory per blade and 1.2 Tbytes of storage. It is delivered tested and verified with Linux, and the processors are VMware certified. The new ATCA7365 platform has been successfully tested to meet environmental requirements for operation in a command and control center. It is mounted in a lightweight transit case, can withstand a 36” drop test on two axes, and can endure random vibration up to 25 Gs per MIL-STD-810G. Operating temperature is 3° to 37°C in 5% to 95% non-condensing humidity. In addition to the three processor blades, the standard configuration includes an Elma Type 11A, 6U six-slot ATCA chassis, a fully replicated mesh backplane and a single system management card with a provision for dual management as well as redundant cooling and power supplies. Four 300 Gbyte SAS (serial-attached SCSI) drives and a 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric switch blade with RTM (real-time monitoring) are also part of the ready-to-run unit. Get Connected with technology and Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. []. companies providing solutions now

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Mini-ITX Platform Provides Multiple Displays for Signage and Gaming

A new low-power Mini-ITX motherboard couples the Via VX900 media system processor with a choice of 1.2 GHz and 1.6 GHz Via Nano Processors to provide a highperformance and highly scalable solution for advanced digital signage systems. In addition to providing native support for dual displays, the VB8004 from Via Technologies can also be easily upgraded to support four displays using an additional Via S3 5400E graphics module, providing developers with the widest variety of multidisplay configuratons, including HDMI, LVDS and DVI technologies. Powered by a choice of 1.6 GHz and 1.2 GHz Via Nano processors, the Via VB8004 leverages the advanced multimedia capabilities of the Via VX900 system media processor to deliver awesome DX10.1 graphics and support for rich 1080p video resolutions. In addition to supporting up to 4 Gbyte DDR3, the board features rich I/O capabilities including an HDMI port, one DVI port, a one channel 24-bit LVDS, one GigaLAN port, two USB 2.0 ports, one serial, one PS2 port and two SATA ports. The Via S3 5400E dedicated graphics module is a daughter card specially designed to provide advanced multimedia capabilities for next-generation embedded applications and is the best-in-class energy efficient DX10.1 GPU on the market today. With support of DX10.1, Shader Model 4.1, OpenGL 3.1 and OpenCL 1.0, the 5400E GPU provides a cost-effective solution for feature-rich graphics processing with high levels of video decoding and 3D rendering performance. Featuring the ChromotionHD 2.1 video engine, a programmable video architecture supports the latest HD standards including Blu-ray Disk, H.264, VC-1, WMV-9 and MPEG-2/4. The S3 5400E module offers HD playback at resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. Onboard I/O includes one HDMI port and one DVI port. VIA Technologies, Fremont, CA. (510) 683-3300. [].

Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration 15W I2C Power Manager Charges Li-Ion Cells at into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly 3.5A

an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the A high-power,withI2C goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. controlled, high-efficiency Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, PowerPath managerGet acts Connected will help you connect with the companies and products as a diode controlleryouand are searching for. lithium-ion battery charger for single-cell portable devices such as tablet PCs, ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), personal video players, smart phones, digital cameras, PDAs, portable Get Connected with technology and companies prov medical and industrial de- Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro vices and personal navigation devices. The LTC4155 from Linear Technoldatasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine ogy is designed to efficiently transfer up right to 15W fromWhichever a varietylevel of sources in touch with the resource. of service you requir Getdissipation Connected willeasing help youthermal connect with the companies while minimizing power and budgeting con- and produc straints. The LTC4155’s switching PowerPath topology seamlessly ages power distribution from two input sources such as a wall adapter and USB port to the device’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery while preferentially providing power to the system load when input power is limited. Because power is conserved, the LTC4155 allows the output load current to exceed the current drawn by the input supply, maximizing use of the available power for battery charging without exceeding the input supply power delivery specifications. For example, when powered from a 5V/2A wall adapter, the IC’s switching regulator efficiently transfers over 90% of the available 10W, enabling up to 2.4A charge current and resulting in faster charge times. A simple 2-wire I2C port provides broad adjustability for many sysConnected with companies and input current (including tem controlGet parameters including charge current, products featured in this section.and float voltage. The communicaUSB 2.0 and 3.0 compatible settings) tions bus also allows the LTC4155 to provide status information such as battery temperature, input supply status, charger status and fault status.


Linear Technology, Milpitas, CA. (408) 432-1900. [].

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GigE and IEEE 1394b Cameras with 28 Frames/s at 2 MP Resolution

Two new digital camera models deliver 28 frames per second (fps) at 2 megapixel resolution. The scA1600-28 series cameras from Basler Vision Technologies feature the Sony ICX274 CCD sensor in both monochrome and color. They are available with either a GigE or IEEE 1394b interface, as well as in a 90 degree housing version. The combination of a 2 megapixel sensor, a wide range of features, high image quality and 28 fps speed makes this camera extremely attractive for a variety of markets such as ITS (Intelligent Traffic Systems), medical imaging and several other industrial applications. These new cameras are a faster version of the popular scA1600-14 models, which deliver 14 fps. The scA1600-28 now doubles that frame rate to 28 fps while maintaining the same excellent image quality as the older version. Other important camera characteristics such as the noise level, DSNU (Dark Signal Non Uniformity) and PRNU (Photo Response Non Uniformity) are kept at the same low levels typical of Basler cameras. Basler Vision Technologies, Ahrensburg, Germany, +49 4102 463-258. [www.].

Data Acquisition with up to 128 Channels of USB Analog I/O and Flexible Signal Conditioning

A highly integrated multifunction data acquisition and control system offers an attractive solution for adding portable, easy-to-install high-speed analog and digital I/O capabilities to any PC or embedded system with a USB port. The DAQ-Pack from Acces I/O Products performs signal conditioning such as RC filtering, current inputs, RTD measurement, bridge completion, thermocouple break detection, voltage dividers, small signal inputs and sensor excitation voltage supply. Sustained sampling speeds up to 500 kHz are available for 32, 64, 96, or 128 single-ended or differential analog inputs. Groups of eight channels at a time can be independently software configured to accept different input ranges. A real-time internal calibration system allows the unit to compensate for offset/gain errors giving more accurate readings. Additional features include two 16-bit analog outputs, 16 high-current digital I/O lines, and a programmable 16-bit counter—all packaged in a small, rugged, gold-zinc plated industrial enclosure with a per channel cost as low as $13. The small, compact, multifunction I/O DAQ-Pack units provide the user with everything needed to start acquiring, measuring, analyzing and monitoring in a variety of applications. These data acquisition and control devices can be used in many current real-world applications such as precision measurement, analysis, monitoring and control in countless embedded applications. Available accessories include a wide variety of cables and screw terminal boards for quick and easy-to-use, out of the box, connectivity. Also, a DIN rail mounting provision, and a goldzinc mounting plate, is available for panel mounting. Advanced calibration models feature a real-time internal autocalibration system that allows the unit to compensate for offset/gain errors. To minimize noise, the board offers oversampling. The channel-by-channel programmable gain feature enables measurement of an assortment of large and small signals in one scan—all under software control at up to 500 kHz. The board’s data buffer and ability to trigger the A/D in real time assures synchronized sampling that is unaffected by other computer operations—an essential requirement for signal, vibration and transient analysis where high data rates must be sustained. Pricing starts at $872. ACCES I/O Products, San Diego, CA. (858) 550-9559. [].



M2M Developer Kit Speeds Entry into Rapidly Expanding Smart Services Market

A new machine-to-machine (M2M) Smart Services Developer Kit includes a deployable Intel Atom processorbased services-ready system. Developed in collaboration with Intel Corporation, the standards-based Computeron-Module (COMs)-based kit from Kontron is a development and deployment solution that provides simple “plug & play” capability enabling designers to develop and test their application’s connectivity and performance, then quickly deploy. The M2M Smart Services Developer Kit is designed to meet customer needs for accelerated M2M connected-computing launch schedules of smart services that utilize cloud-based computing to communicate and aggregate data on edge node and gateway devices. The kit uses the COM Express-compatible Kontron Computer-on-Module nanoETXexpressTT powered by the Intel Atom processor and includes an M2M System Carrier Board and an AV board to support headed configuration use. The kit is 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN (wireless local area network) and 802.15.4 WPAN (wireless personal area network) capable allowing rapid development of wireless connectivity solutions. 3G WWAN (wireless wide area network) is either pre-installed or easily enabled by dropping in a pre-certified PCI Express 3G/4G module for further broadband connectivity flexibility. Kontron’s COM-based modular architectural approach gives OEMs, smart services developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) multiple benefits including reduced development cost, risk and time-to-market in an optimal, proven production-ready COTS small factor platform that includes mounting hardware for ease of deployment. The M2M solution and kit packaging may be easily customized to include the network operator’s, OEM’s, or ISV’s brand. The M2M System is preloaded with a 90day free trial of Wind River Linux 4.1. The kit also includes a Wind River LiveUSB drive that provides the software stacks and drivers to support immediate wireless connectivity testing. The preflashed drive containing Wind River software is optimized for developing, running, debugging and prototyping embedded software directly onto the Kontron M2M System using Wind River development tools. Kontron, Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].


Compact and Rugged Fanless Embedded Computer with 100G Shock Resistance

A new fanless embedded computer with rich integrated I/O is equipped with the Intel Atom D510 1.66 GHz processor. The MXE-3000 from Adlink Technology delivers twice the performance of the previous N270 platform. Featuring maximum operating shock tolerance up to 100G, minimal footprint with a small profile, and innovative thermal design with zero cable management requirements, the MXE-3000 provides reliable performance in mission-critical and harsh environments for a variety of applications. Leveraging the advantages of enhanced RF function, dedicated I/O features, 9-32 VDC wide range power input, and LVDS & VGA dual display support, the MXE-3000 with ease of mounting capability—VESA or DIN rail, is a suitable match for diverse applications such as intelligent transportation, medication management, digital signage, factory automation and logistic applications, and especially in automated guided vehicle systems. With changes in market trend toward smaller fanless configurations, the MXE-3000’s compact 210 mm (W) x 170 mm (D) x 53 mm (H) size suits it ideally for applications requiring limited storage space and demanding zero-noise, dustproof performance. A unique cable-free structure and extended temperature functionality enable the MXE-3000 series to greatly benefit customers with high-performance computing, lowered total cost of ownership, and long-term durability. The MXE-3000 is priced at $672. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].

COM Express Modules Powered by Freescale QorIQ Processors

A family of COM Express embedded computing modules is powered by Freescale Semiconductor QorIQ processors. Three modules, the COMX-P3041, COMX-P4040 and COMX-P5020, have been announced by Emerson Network Power. These new boards can speed deployment for users of QorIQ processors with diverse I/O requirements by reducing design complexity while providing customizable modular options. Design engineers are isolated from the complexities of high-speed processor and memory system design, allowing them to focus on a carrier board tailored to the I/O needs of their application and improving their product to gain market share. Targeted applications for the new QorIQ COM Express modules include enterprise and service provider routers, switches, base station controllers (BSCs), radio network controllers (RNCs), long-term evolution (LTE) infrastructure and general-purpose embedded computing systems in the networking, telecom/datacom, wireless infrastructure, industrial, military and aerospace markets. The COMX-P3041 module features the Freescale QorIQ P3041 quad-core communications processor operating at 1.5 GHz, for a more power- and cost-efficient solution to modules built on the P4 platform while retaining many of the features and architectural compatibility. The COMX-P4040 module features the Freescale QorIQ P4040 quad-core communications processor operating at 1.5 GHz, making it ideal for communications applications requiring combined control, data and application layer processing. The COMX-P5020 module features Freescale’s first offerings with the 64-bit, e500mc core, the Freescale QorIQ P5020 dual-core processor operating at 2.0 GHz to target control plane and compute applications that require high single-threaded performance. All modules support one or two channels of 2 Gbyte DDR-1333 ECC SO-UDIMM and have 12 configurable SERDES lanes available for maximum flexibility. Highly flexible I/O includes 10G-XAUI, SRIO, GPIO, USB 2.0, PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet and real-time debug. Emerson Network Power, Carlsbad, CA. [www.EmersonNetwork].

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A PCI Express PMC/XMC carrier card serves Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration intoPMC products, and companies. Whether your goal developers wanting to configure andtechnologies XMC is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly mezzanine cards in high-performance withfactor an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the servers and small form PCs. The goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. SPR418A hybrid card from GE InWhichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, telligent Platforms affords PCI Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products Express compatibility and you are searching for. a combination of performance, flexibility, reliability, interoperability and cost-effectiveness. It would typically be used in the development of applications such as sonar, radar, communications Get Connected with technology and companies prov and signals intelligence (SIGINT). Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro The SPR418A can bedatasheet orderedfrom to ahost eitherspeak a PMC module supcompany, directly with an Application Engine in touchspeeds, with the or rightan resource. of service you requir porting up to PCI-X transfer XMC Whichever module level supporting Getspeeds: Connected will help withinterface the companies up to 8-lane PCI Express the Gen2 x8you PCIconnect Express to and produc the host allows for unimpeded data transfers at the full rate supported by the mezzanine card. An integrated fan supplies additional cooling to the mezzanine card for optimum reliability, while support for up to 25W of power is well in excess of that required by the PMC and XMC specifications—contributing to both performance and reliability. Flexibility is delivered by the SPR418A in the form of a number of connectivity options that allow additional I/O and usage modes. J4 connectivity is provided to an optional 80-pin KEL connector (similar to the connector used for FPDP VITA 17). J16 can be connected to two SFF connectors providing for up to four lanes of high-speed serial connectivity each via readily available cables. A standard PC power connector can be fitted for stand-alone operation for mezzanines that do not Get Connected with companies and require interaction with a host.


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VPX Cards Employ Spartan-6 FPGA for Higher Performance/ Price Requirements

A new series of 3U VPX FPGA boards provides powerful, but economical solutions for high-speed processing of algorithms in embedded computing applications. The VPX-SLX boards from Acromag employ a configurable, logic-optimized Spartan-6 FPGA with 150k logic cells to meet demand for higher performance in cost-sensitive applications. A high-throughput PCI Express interface, generous dual-ported memory for efficient data handling, and 64 I/O lines direct to the FPGA enable rapid data processing and great versatility. Ideal for defense, aerospace, or scientific research; typical applications involve signal intelligence, image processing and hardware simulation. All VPX-SLX models use the XC6SLX150 Spartan-6 FPGA chip with 147,433 logic cells and 180 DSP48A1 slices. There are 64 I/O or 32 LVDS lines connected to the FPGA via the rear P2 connector. A series of AXM extension modules are available to provide additional front-end 16-bit A/D, differential RS-485, CMOS, or LVDS I/O processing channels through a mezzanine connector on the front of the card. FPGA code loads from the PCIe bus or from onboard flash memory. A JTAG and Xilinx ChipScope Pro interface are also supported to simplify development tasks. For extended temperature range operation, models can be ordered with a frame for use in a conduction-cooled chassis. The standard model operates reliably over a 0 to 70°C range in an air-cooled or forced convection system. The conduction-cooled version supports a range of -40° to 85°C. And for system compatibility, Acromag’s 3U VPX cards support a number of VITA 65 slot profiles and conform to VPX VITA 46.0, 46.4 and 46.9 specifications. Acromag’s Engineering Design Kit provides utilities to help users develop custom programs, load VHDL into the FPGA, and establish DMA transfers between the FPGA and the CPU. The kit includes a compiled FPGA file and example VHDL code provided as selectable blocks with examples for the local bus interface, read/writes and change-of-state interrupts to the PCI bus. A JTAG interface allows users to perform onboard VHDL simulation. Further analysis is supported with a ChipScope Pro interface. For easy integration of the boards with embedded Windows applications, Acromag developed a DLL driver software package for compatibility with Microsoft Visual C++ and Visual Basic. Sample files with “C” source demonstration programs provide easy-to-use tools to test operation of the module. For real-time and open source applications, Acromag offers C libraries for VxWorks, Linux and other operating systems. The libraries provide generic routines (source code included) to handle reads, writes, interrupts and other functions. Pricing starts at $5,200 for an air-cooled version and slightly higher in a conduction-cooled format. Acromag, Wixom, MI. (248) 295-0310. [].

High-Speed Data Acquisition Module with Multi-Board Synchronization

A high-speed data acquisition module is capable of digitizing one 12bit channel at 3.6 GHz, or two channels at 1.8 GHz. The Model 71640 from Pentek has provisions for the synchronization of multiple boards for capture and analysis of even wider bandwidths. Leveraging the National Semiconductor ADC12D1800 12-bit A/D converter, the 71640 provides two transformer-coupled RF input ports that can operate in single- or dual-channel mode. The 71640 also includes an onboard Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA for customer-specific data processing. The module includes four banks of 256 Mbyte DDR3 SDRAM and built-in triggered data capture functions for acquiring precise data blocks. An optimized multi-channel DMA engine provides efficient data movement over the Gen2 x8 PCIe interface to host processors. An optional 8x, or dual 4x, gigabit serial I/O interface allows users to support application-specific protocols and create high-bandwidth paths between modules or to additional signal processing engines. Pentek offers cPCI, PCIe, VPX and ruggedized, extended-temperature versions of the 71640. Radar and broadband communications signal acquisition are prime applications for the 71640. To capture wideband signals with previous-generation A/D modules, developers needed to split those signals into smaller overlapping bands and use multiple A/Ds to digitize those bands. This created challenges whenever the target signal fell in the overlap band. The 71640’s wide bandwidth now allows system designers to eliminate the pitfalls of such overlap processing while also saving system costs of the band-splitting filters and multiple data acquisition boards. For even wider bandwidths or for multi-channel systems, the 71640 offers a synchronization bus that works with a companion timing module for sample-accurate synchronization of multiple Cobalt modules. Pentek’s ReadyFlow board support package for the 71640 allows quick configuration of the board’s features including a linked-list DMA engine and automatic appending of metadata and time stamps to support storage and post-capture analysis of acquired signals. In addition, Pentek’s GateFlow tool provides developers with libraries and design support for implementing their own real-time analysis using the onboard Virtex-6 FPGA. Pricing starts at $17,445.

Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].



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RTC Magazine  

July 2011 Issue

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