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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

September 2012

FITTING CUSTOM I/O TO SOLID CPUs Devices Swarm into the Cloud ZigBee Forms Foundation for Home Networks Sorting out the Options in Solid State Storage

An RTC Group Publication

The Ampro by ADLINK™ Express-IBR is a COM Express Type 6 module that supports the quad-core and dual-core 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors and Mobile Intel® QM77 Express chipset.

Express-IBR Up to 16GB ECC 1600MHz DDR3 memory in two SODIMM sockets Three Digital Display Interfaces (DDI) for DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI/SDVO Seven PCIe x1 (Gen 2), one PCIe x16 (Gen 3) for graphics (or general purpose x8/4/1) Two SATA 6 Gb/s, two SATA 3 Gb/s, Gigabit Ethernet, eight USB 2.0, four SuperSpeed USB COM Express® COM.0 R2.1 Type 6 Pinout Extended Temperature: -40°C to +85°C 50% Thicker PCB for high vibration environments

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49 HDMI Video and Audio Capture for Analog/Digital Uncompressed Video and Digital Audio

51 “Intelligent” Starter Kit for COM Express Type 6 Modules


52 PCI/104-Express Board Series for CAN and LIN



Technology in Context


Customizing I/O

Advances in MicroTCA

FPGA Designs Take 6Editorial 18 FPGAs Drive Digital I/O Solutions 40New The Double-Edged Blade of Security Advantage of the Latest COTS Platforms Leveraging Computer-on-Modules Industry Insider 22 for Long-Term Design Scalability 8Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace Rodger Hosking, Pentek

Jack London, Kontron

Form Factor Forum TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED 12Small Escaping COM-Moditization Devices in the Cloud & Technology Device Data to the 48Products Newest Embedded Technology Used by Enterprise 28 Delivering Industry Leaders Protecting the Internet of Tiny EDITOR’S REPORT Things: Embedded Firewall Can 34 Analyzing Networks for Performance and Secure an 8-Bit MCU Robert Andres, Eurotech


David West, Icon Labs and Thomas Ormiston, Zilog

Analysis Helps Understand and Protect 14NetFlow Distributed Networks

Tony Romero, Performance Technology and Edward Young, CommAgility

TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYED ZigBee in Control and Monitoring

Internet of Things Starts at the Smart Home 44The Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies

Industry watch Options for Solid State Storage

Does an Embedded Systems 56How Designer Select the Right Storage Solution? Gary Drossel, Virtium

Tom Williams

Digital Subscriptions Available at RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


SEPTEMBER 2012 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon,




Editorial EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tom Williams, CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Colin McCracken and Paul Rosenfeld MANAGING EDITOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Sandra Sillion, COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn





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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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Published by The RTC Group Copyright 2012, The RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of The RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders.



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9/7/12 9:54 AM

Microsoft to Introduce Intelligent System Strategy With Windows Embedded 8 YOU ARE INVITED: 34 CITIES ONE POWERFUL TECHNOLOGY AMERICAS

Mountain View, CA - Nov. 1 Redmond, WA - Nov. 6 Irvine, CA - Nov. 8 Denver, CO - Nov. 13 Chicago, IL - Nov. 27 Columbus, OH - Nov. 29 Philadelphia, PA - Dec. 4 Manhattan, NY - Dec. 6 Dallas, TX - Dec. 11 Boston, MA - Dec. 13 Atlanta, GA - Jan. 29 Melbourne, FL - Jan. 31 Montreal, QC - Feb. 5 Toronto, ON - Feb. 7


Tokyo, Japan - Nov. 16 Osaka, Japan - Nov. 20 Taipei, Taiwan - Dec. 4 Seoul, Korea - Dec. 6 Mumbai, India - Dec. 11 Bangalore, India - Dec. 13 Beijing, China - Dec. 13 Shenzhen, China - Dec. 18 Shanghai, China - Dec. 20


Paris, France - Nov. 6 Milan, Italy - Nov. 20 Lyon, France - Nov. 22 Nuremberg, Germany - Nov. 27 Madrid, Spain - Nov. 29 Tel Aviv, Israel - Dec. 18 Cambridge, United Kingdom - Jan. 17 Stockholm, Sweden - Feb. 5 Moscow, Russia - Feb. 7 Cologne, Germany - Mar. 5 Munich, Germany - Mar. 26 *Dates and locations are subject to change

Windows Embedded Summit What Is It? A half-day technical brieďƒžng highlighting the Microsoft intelligent system strategy and how engineers and technology leaders can leverage existing WES7 and upcoming WES8 technology to increase embedded OEM business more effectively. Who Is Invited? Business leaders and technology decisionmakers will be invited to join Microsoft and key partners at over 30 global locations. Questions Answered: What game-changing technology does Windows Embedded 8 bring to embedded design? How to best select an embedded software platform for next generation intelligent systems? How to get started today and prepare your business for the future?


Tom Williams Editor-in-Chief

The Double-Edged Blade of Security


all me Cassandra, the Greek princess who could foretell the future but was cursed so that no one would believe her. It just appears that so many claims about digital security sound so reassuring, but then doubts creep in once again. Will it come to pass that the technology we have utterly come to rely upon will forever have the potential for its own misuse and undoing? There appears to be a cautionary tale in the arrival of the smart meters that are an essential element of the much touted but yet to be realized Smart Grid. We’ve got smart meters installed here. Big deal. The power company still has to send guys around in trucks to read them. The difference is that they now use a handheld device that they point at the meters and download the data. I know, I know. This is a transition phase and I’ve got to have a little patience until the whole network infrastructure for the Smart Grid can be put in place and we can take advantage of demand response, automatic meter reading, time of day pricing and all that other great stuff. It’s coming and it takes time because it is complex and huge. I can’t exactly appreciate even how many millions of smart meters will need to be put in place all over the country and even around the world. And that is just one aspect of what will ultimately constitute the Smart Grid. The trouble is that each of these devices constitutes an access point, many of which will be in obscure places and mostly unattended. Now along comes a very well-intentioned security consulting firm called SecureState that releases an open source smart meter hacking tool called Termineter. Termineter is an open-source application that is intended to “allow users to assess the security of their smart meters” by way of the optical interface. The idea is ostensibly that meter manufacturers can detect and correct internal flaws in order to make their products more secure. Am I missing something or is there a problem here? I think there is and it is not with just this product, which may be a very useful thing. It isn’t even that a framework like this might “fall into the wrong hands,” which it certainly could since it can be downloaded via Google Code. If one company can produce a Termineter, any number of other enterprising programmers and hackers can certainly create similar code that will



get them in through the infrared interface and potentially break into all three access levels in a meter: low-level, mid-level administrative and privileged super user. From there it may be possible, once all these meters are interconnected on the networked Smart Grid, to go anywhere and access anything all the way up to the reactor control room. And don’t tell me that’s too far-fetched. I’m not buying that. Now I don’t assume that such deep penetration would be easy. It certainly would not be. But neither will it be impossible. And of course, there are already a goodly number of existing routes into such sensitive and dangerous places. Then there is also the other side to all this. Despite its present and potential dangers, we desperately need the build-out of the Smart Grid. Our present grid is already vulnerable, old and inefficient. And if we just look at the recent blackout in India that left over 600 million people without power, we know what continuing to neglect our own grid can lead to. And that most probably occurred without any malicious activity. Adding Smart Grid digital intelligence to the system can do a great deal to avoid such calamitous blackouts, but it can also open the door to other forms of trouble and attack. And what are we actually to make of such a tool? If it works and lets you into the meter and potentially beyond, you know the meter has a security problem that can potentially be identified and addressed. But if you can’t get through, does that mean that your meter is secure or only that the tool does not adequately test the meter? And now we find that exactly the same tools and technologies developed to help assure security can also be used to compromise it. It really is a double-edged blade. The best we can do is to keep trying and bring in that other character from Greek mythology, Sisyphus. We’ve got to keep pushing that rock up the mountain knowing that from time to time it will roll back down. Quite often it is enough to make breaking in sufficiently difficult or expensive to discourage all but the most determined or sophisticated hackers, and there is real value in that. But the idea that something can be utterly secure is an illusion. We’ve got to make sure that things are secure enough and not cut ourselves in the process.







INSIDER SEPTEMBER 2012 Data Centers to Drive Global Optical Network Market to $20 Billion by 2017 Ovum is projecting an upbeat long-term forecast for sales of optical networking (ON) equipment, driven by brand new data center demands. The global analysts expect the ON market to reach $20 billion by 2017 with a 5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The latest Ovum forecasts show the highest growth region will be Latin America, driven by network modernization efforts to enhance regional connectivity in support of mobile and broadband access network build-outs. North America is expected to exhibit solid growth as tier-1 network operators embrace new 100G technology to meet growing data center needs. Growth in Asia-Pacific is expected to continue but will cool a bit after five years of torrid growth, while the EMEA market is expected to expand despite the current macro-economic malaise, due to deployment activity in Russia, the U.K., Eastern Europe and Africa. In North America, the “perfect deployment storm” has arrived, according to Ovum: a ridge of high-bandwidth pressure is approaching, networks based on the last generation of technology and 10G have filled up, and the next generation of network technology—100G—is ready.

Global Optical Networks Forecast 2012-17 $30

Optimistic Most likely Pessimistic

$25 Revenue ($USD billions)

Source: Ovum

$20 $15 $10 $5 $0 2006



RunCore to Build Stateof-the-Art SSD Facility in Changsha to Meet Growing Demand

The Hunan-based solid state drives (SSDs) developer and manufacturer RunCore recently began construction of a brand new state-of-the-art SSD production facility in Changsha’s Jinzhou New District in Hunan province. The investment is estimated at RMB 200 million. The new production facility will comprise of more than 360,000 square meters. Ac-








cording to schedule, the first construction phase will be completed by the end of 2012 and then offer room for the first four new solid state drive production lines. In this first phase RunCore will gain production capacity increase of 400,000 units a year, worth RMB 320 million. Within three years the entire facility is to be finished and RunCore will offer the most advanced production capabilities in the industry. By then total annual production will be valued at an astonishing RMB 1 billion.





Cloud Computing Has a Silver Lining for the Global Memory IC Market

Despite suffering from significant oversupply problems, the global memory IC market will be driven on by data centers and the advent of cloud computing, predicts a new report by international business analysts GBI Research. According to the company’s latest report, “Memory Integrated Circuits (IC) Market to 2016,” the increased adoption of cloud computing services among various enterprises and customers is leading to the design and devel-

opment of memory ICs suitable for shared servers and storage devices. In-memory cloud computing offers large amounts of memory storage through a new storage tier, and is currently in high demand, with applications such as Apple’s iCloud leading the way. Continuing developments will increase the market of memory ICs, which will in turn help cloud computing infrastructure and data centers to deal with issues related to storage and reliability. The main challenge of such cloud computing infrastructure services is to maintain high system performance at low infrastructure costs, even when data size grows continuously. Advances in flash memory, specifically NAND flash, are of key importance as higher density types enable more applications per server. DRAM is also a key memory component in large-scale computer structures. Samsung’s green DDR3 DRAM is currently impressing tech-heads around the world with its high density, low power and fast speed, making it attractive for the demands of cloud computing. Its energy efficiency has also earned it a place in the recently unveiled SuperMUC in the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre, Garching, Germany. In 2011 the global sales revenue of memory ICs was just over $62 billion, and GBI Research forecasts this to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% during 2012-2016 to reach $85 billion. The memory IC market was damaged by the global economic crisis, but the growing demand for memory-dependent devices will drive the industry in the foreseeable future.

® Computing/HMI



COM Express: The Advantage of Custom. The Convenience of COTS. COM Express modules and Sealevel custom carrier boards provide the advantages of custom solutions with the conveniences of COTS. Sealevel can include common I/O features such as serial, analog and digital I/O, all of which are designed to the exact electrical and mechanical requirements for your specific application. Sealevel COM Express designs offer: > Scalability for easy upgrade > Application specific I/O > Flexible mechanical configuration > Vibration resistance > Extended operating temperature > Long-term availability > Superior life cycle management To see the design capabilities, reliability improvements and design control advantages that a Sealevel COM Express carrier board design will bring to your next product, visit our Design Center to watch a short video at at

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Learn more about COM Express custom solutions at or scan this QR code with your smart phone. © 1986-2011, Sealevel Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


Installed Base of Fleet Management Systems to Reach 5.7 Million in Europe by 2016

According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in Europe was 2.5 million in Q4-2011. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.9 percent, this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2016. The fleet management industry is yet again affected by the financial crisis in Europe, but it is still clear that 2012 will be a positive year generating growth of 10 - 20 percent. A group of international aftermarket solution providers have emerged as the leaders on the European fleet management market. Masternaut is ranked as the largest player overall in terms of installed base with close to 260,000 units deployed today. TomTom Business Solutions was the fastest growing vendor also in 2011 and has now surpassed 200,000 subscribers. Digicore and Trimble have also joined the exclusive group of fleet management providers in Europe having more than 100,000 active devices in the field. Transics is number one in the heavy trucks segment with an estimated 75,000 active units installed.

Wind River’s VxWorks Powers Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity

The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT, August 5, 2012, is powered by embedded software technology from Wind River. Curiosity, the most complex robotic interplanetary probe ever designed, is running on Wind River’s real-time operating system (RTOS), VxWorks. Curiosity will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, and assess


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6/4/12 2:04 PM

Mars’ habitability for future human exploration. VxWorks plays a central role in this historic operation by providing the core operating system for the spacecraft control system—from the second the rocket left Earth on November 26, 2011, until completion of the mission. Curiosity relied on VxWorks for the complex landing sequence called EDL (entry, descent and landing), which is being described as “seven minutes of terror” due to the absolute precision required for the spacecraft to survive the landing. While on Mars, Curiosity will depend on VxWorks to perform mission-critical tasks, such as ground operations control, data collection and Mars-toEarth communication relay. Wind River has an extensive heritage of achievements in space working with NASA JPL, dating back to 1994, when VxWorks launched into space on the Clementine Moon probe. This was followed by the Mars Pathfinder Mission, which made VxWorks the first commercial operating system to go to Mars. Wind River technology also operates within the Mars Exploration Rovers and Stardust spacecraft, among others.

ARM and Cavium Extend Relationship with ARMv8 Architecture License

ARM and Cavium announced that Cavium is an architecture licensee for the ARMv8 architecture. The ARMv8 architecture is the first ARM architecture that includes 64-bit execution, enabling processors based on the architecture to be able to combine 64-bit execution with 32-bit execution. One of the key focuses in developing this version of the ARM instruction set was to bring the energy-efficient heritage of ARM processor technology to 64-bit computing. “We are delighted to extend this relationship as we broaden the range of ARM processorbased applications. Cavium is a leading multicore processor vendor and has delivered highly


differentiated SoCs including a range of ARM processor-based products for many years,” said Warren East, CEO of ARM. “With this architecture license, Cavium will bring innovation through highly optimized 64-bit custom cores and SoC implementations to deliver disruptive solutions for the cloud and datacenter market.” ARM licenses processor IP under a flexible licensing model, enabling highly integrated solutions for a variety of applications ranging from battery-based mobile devices through to data center platforms, and every application in between.

Arrow Electronics and Microchip Technology Announce Distribution Agreement

Arrow Electronics has announced that Microchip Technology’s broad range of embedded

semiconductors and solutions is now available through Arrow’s components portfolio, under a global distribution agreement between the companies. Microchip’s offerings will also be available through Nu Horizons Electronics, an Arrow company. This agreement includes Microchip’s complete line of 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit PIC microcontrollers, analog and interface semiconductors, wireless solutions and memory devices, along with related development tools. Arrow is also a principal distributor for SMSC products, which was recently acquired by Microchip. “Microchip is a recognized brand with solid customer loyalty and is a strong addition to our global linecard,” said Jeff Eastman, senior vice president of global supplier marketing and asset management. “Microchip’s resources aid in almost every aspect of a customer’s design, from concept to production.”


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Event Calendar 10/02/12 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference

11/08/12 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference

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10/29-11/1/12 MILCOM ‘12

12/04/12 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference

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12/06/12 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Phoenix, AZ

If your company produces any type of industry event, you can get your event listed by contacting This is a FREE industry-wide listing.





FORUM Colin McCracken

Escaping COM-Moditization


s consumers we enjoy the wide selection and fair prices of mass-market electronics. Competition among manufacturers spurs innovation and integration, and features rise while prices fall over time. Far into the lifecycle of product categories, OEMs find themselves unable to cling onto desired price points and margins once each market saturates and supply outstrips demand. Desktop and laptop computers passed through these stages, and smartphones and tablets are on the road to becoming commoditized. Consumers are the big winners, while suppliers do get to enjoy some profits, especially the early adopters and operational wizards. In the industrial computer space, ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards crossed the chasm long ago, as Geoffrey Moore might say. Suppliers who aren’t building these form factors in Asia must find a special niche, which can take the form of additional I/O circuits or expansion connectors. Run fast or perish. The other Moore’s Law, in a manner of speaking. Large form factors such as VPX, ATCA and PICMG 1.3 play in modest-size theaters that don’t draw massive supplier crowds. These are protected intrinsically due to focus and scope. Small form factors such as EBX (5.25”), EPIC and ECX (3.5”) have achieved some measure of commoditization, and NanoITX might get there eventually due to the popularity of ultralow-power silicon from Intel, AMD and VIA for modest-performance embedded apps. Which brings us next to Computer-on-Modules (COMs). Certainly well deserving of its own product category, multisourced form factors have passed a dozen years and amassed a half billion dollars of revenue collectively, or more depending on who’s doing the estimate. As processor building blocks with defined interfaces to custom carrier boards, COMs certainly have the potential to become commodities. Limited true interoperability and limitations of OEM’s resources to truly qualify multiple sources has deferred the kinds of all-out price wars that fill our Sunday newspapers. But as the COM market cautiously approaches the fastest moving part of the stream, some late-entry module manufacturers are starting to suffer the sting of price-driven deals. While the early adopters have crossed the chasm, the relative newcomers are faced with either jumping the shark Hollywood-style, or



flat-out folding from the frenzy forever. Their legacy businesses are rich with healthy margins based upon firm foundations of hundreds of small-volume SBC customers. Their cost structures restrict COM profit margins to only half or one-third of their SBC cash cows. Their managers and investors have higher expectations. OEM customers benefit from COM price wars, which will keep progressing as long as many COM suppliers remain in the market. So what’s a module manufacturer to do to escape commoditization? Circuitry is certainly fixed by the small size and defined interfaces of the various COM standards. In technology, innovation always represents a way out. Good old fashioned embedded features that are nearly extinct on MiniITX and ECX / 3.5” SBCs can add quite a bit of value with that extra “oomph” needed for highly customized designs. The commodity SBCs are often just hooked up to a power supply, a disk drive and a display with very little additional hardware. Just like Happy Meals in an embedded box. But COMs have moved beyond the limited SBC-replacement engagements into very viable alternatives for full-custom designs, and the typical carrier boards are anything but trivial. These designs go into specialized devices and instruments that may have a real-time function implemented in an FPGA or DSP, for example. These designs are done by expert engineers in their respective market segments who are eking out every last efficiency and performance. These are the folks who thrive off multi-stage hardware watchdog timers, dedicated I2C controllers that don’t compete with on-module SMBus traffic, thermal monitoring, OEM BIOS code and board controller firmware to carefully tune power sequencing for extreme booting reliability. Things that digital signage and kiosk integrators could care less about. In competitive environments, there are opportunities for innovation. Firmware features add value to modules, allowing differentiation that substantiates price premiums. As an OEM customer, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to clearly communicate your requirements to suppliers and let them compete for your business. Module vendors who are backed into a corner just might be able to escape COM-moditization after all, as time will tell.




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The Embedded Products Source ZZZZGOV\VWHPVFRP



editor’s report

tion port IDs, start and stop times, and the number of packets and bytes. Some of the newer versions also report things like user IDs. NetFlow takes place in the background so that users are unaware of it.

Analyzing Networks for Performance and Security

NetFlow Analysis Helps Understand and Protect Distributed Networks

Getting a Handle on Network Performance

The ability to collect and analyze metadata on network traffic is helping administrators achieve better security as well as understand how their networks are performing so that they can maximize efficiency. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


hat’s going on with your network? No, what’s really going on? Are some remote employees downloading excessive amounts of data? Are there suspicious attempts at access that might indicate a pending attack? Are the firewalls and intrusion detection mechanisms you installed really working the way you think they should be? Are your cloud-connected devices communicating the way they should be? Are you making the best and most costeffective use of your present equipment and bandwidth? How would you know? An existing but not yet fully appreciated technology called NetFlow, originally developed by Cisco, can be used to collect data about network traffic and subject it to analysis for network administrators and security personnel to better monitor and understand network traffic. Primarily this applies to enterprise networks that may be both distributed and have virtual private networks (VPNs) and are connected to the larger Internet and the world in general. NetFlow consists of metadata about network traffic that is generated by routers and switches that support it and on which it has been enabled. The routers export the NetFlow data in small messages using UDP,



and it can then be collected and stored by means of a NetFlow collector and then subjected to analysis using various tools (Figure 1). Most of the newer routers and switches support NetFlow. NetFlow records contain, among other information, source and destination IP addresses, source and destinaLAN

One example of the kinds of collection and analysis tools is the Scrutinizer product from Plixer. The central element to the system is the Scrutinizer flow collector and analysis product. It has the ability to archive infinite years of data saved at selectable intervals. This allows analysis over time using the features of Scrutinizer as well as its add-on analytical tools. While it collects the NetFlow data, it does not gather the content of the traffic. Thus if a customer checks in at an airport kiosk, the flow data will record connection with the reservations database, the credit card system and such other points as may be needed for a given transaction. These and similar transactions with other customers can then be used for understanding the nature of the traffic. Dozens of NetFlow collectors can be distributed and used to analyze enterprise wide traffic from a central location across thousands of interfaces if need be. Michael Patterson, Plixer CEO and co-founder, compares the data collected to a phone bill. “It’s a complete record of everything you’ve done with the network.” As such, he says, “It is a mechanism to help users understand LAN terminal


terminal dedicated line NetFlow exporter


NetFlow collector



Figure 1 A NetFlow exporter can be a device such as a router or switch that generates NetFlow messages containing data about the network traffic. This data is collected and stored by the NefFlow collector and can then be analyzed by tools and applications of the analyzer. Often collector and analyzer are the same system.

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SMCI-20120221- 1

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editor’s report how their network is functioning, how it is being used, and where in the network they need to make adjustments.” Once collected, the flow logs can be used to create reports, audit trails and analyses that can detect denial of service (DoS) attacks, intrusions, overuse of resources and the like. The use of Scrutinizer is situational to the given enterprise and applies to the wider public network only to the extent that the enterprise network interacts with it. This can apply to a relatively small network with two


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or three servers, to a distributed network and even to a system using a virtual private network (VPN), which may be using a firewall as a termination point. According to Patterson, the value of the tools increases as the size and complexity of the network grow. An additional ability of the Scrutinizer flow analyzer is to identify which hosts, users and applications are consuming bandwidth. With this information administrators can make decisions to plan on adding equipment, or conversely how to reconfigure the

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network to make more efficient use of existing equipment and bandwidth and thus avoid costly upgrades. They can also identify users who may be consuming too many resources and reiterate company policies. The service provider module can also set permissions per interface per login and can set parameters to monitor and invoice for over usage. And then there are straight security concerns.

Analyzing for Enhanced Security

A number of flow analytic algorithms are supplied to help detect malicious traffic patterns such as network scans and unwanted protocols. In addition, the user can set up their own algorithms to look for security problems. It is possible to set threshold levels for access to or from specific IP addresses that will trigger an alert if exceeded. Different combinations of parameters can be selected and algorithmically combined to identify specific conditions of interest (Figure 2). In addition, Scrutinizer offers an IP host reputation feature that could be compared to a list of “wanted posters.” Plixer and some of its partners establish lists of known “bad guys” in the form of a database of known IP addresses that is updated hourly. The system then compares IP addresses accessed to or from the network and is able to issue alerts. So now it is not only possible to know who is talking to whom over the network but also if any of those are known bad actors. The embedded industry is, of course, also interested in the “Internet of Things” as well as cloud computing, as it can serve to carry data traffic from widely distributed small devices delivering large amounts of data to the enterprise. While cloud computing very often involves encrypted data, it is nonetheless important to at least be able to identify cloud service performance when trying to eliminate causes of observed slowdown on the home network. Then, of course, the cloud service needs to be contacted and alerted—with data to back it up. Bringing up the cloud reinforces the awareness of how distributed so many networked environments have become. Increasingly, smartphones and tablets are being used not only as the preferred access method by remote employees, but also as the user interface of choice for monitoring and controlling industrial and even medical devices via apps and touch displays. This “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend will continue to grow, and administrators must be able to see

editor’s report how many BYOD devices and of what type are on the network and which employees have authenticated them to the network— especially when so many of these devices do not have adequate antivirus software. It is also needed to maintain proper behavior with the company’s limited resources as well as to keep out opportunistic intruders. For situations where a given network or perhaps an older router or switch does not support NetFlow, it is possible to bring in a point solution for addressing specific, if somewhat limited analysis needs. This is an x86-based hardware device called the nBox. The nBox can be thought of as a “flow probe” that can be attached to implement NetFlow where it may be lacking or to go after specific problems. The raw packets of the applications under investigation must pass through its ports, in which case it generates NetFlow messages for that traffic. These can then be collected and analyzed by Scrutinizer. In addition, nBox is capable of deep packet inspection to identify signatures or an application that may be disguising itself as another utility. Security measures like encryption, authentication, passwords, firewalls and intru-

Figure 2 Some of the network traffic data collected by the Scrutinizer Flow Analyzer that can then be used by analysis algorithms to generate reports, alerts and audit trails to help understand what is happening on the network.

sion detection are all vital parts of the security effort for networks and systems. However, they tend to be relatively static. The addition of active, dynamic analysis can not only aid in the securing of vital sites, applications and their data, but also add an active element that regularly engages human operators. Such tools that actively collect and analyze data like NetFlow can be a great

asset in guarding the network in their own right; they can also be used to assess how well all the other parts of the network security strategy are doing their jobs. Plixer Stanford, ME. (207) 324-8805. [].

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Quad 10/100/1000 Ethernet

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For more information Tel: 401-349-3999 Email: Web: Untitled-2 1

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Technology in

context Customizing I/O

FPGAs Drive Digital I/O Solutions FPGAs are particularly well suited to handle not only the digital I/O requirements for a range of popular interfaces, but also to support complex protocols and extended signal processing functions for embedded systems. by Rodger Hosking, Pentek


igital I/O is unquestionably one of Digital I/O products, like most exthe most common requirements pansion cards, connect to the system for real-time embedded systems, using PCIe (PCI Express). This applies representing a vast assortment of inter- to PC-based systems with motherboards faces and protocols. These devices con- with multiple PCIe card slots, as well ploration nect process control sensors, audio and as the newer card cage standards such your goal ultrasonic transducers, imaging devices as VPX and CompactPCI Serial where k directly and cameras, wideband data acquisi- PCIe links join the boards across the age, the source. tion and generation systems for com- backplane. The same applies to single ology, munications and radar, and detectors board computers (SBCs) through mezd products for high-energy physics applications. In zanine or daughter card connections addition, these embedded systems must like XMC. Using this system view, it is clear that connect to other systems for networkthe digital I/O card must provide the speing, control, recording and high-speed cialized interface to the peripheral, and it data transfer. must communicate through a PCIe engine Traditionally, these interfaces reto the rest of the system. The card uses quired dedicated ASICs to handle the nies providing solutions now PCIe for all the required control and staelectrical connections and the protocol ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest tus functions for the peripheral, as well as processing. Today, both of these aspects ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you streaming data to and from the peripheral. are nicely handled by the latest generation you require for whatever type of technology, Software drivers for the card must be dewith and productsofyouFPGAs are searching for. configurable I/O, logic and processing elements. veloped in compliance with the CPU operating system.

System Requirements

Digital I/O generally defines a device that interfaces with a very specific peripheral and then connects that peripheral to standard buses or links within the application system. Figure 1 shows a generic system architecture for contemporary processors and chip sets.

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FPGAs: The I/O Superstars

FPGAs fill the bill for digital I/O functions better than any other component. For example, the Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA supports many different types of single-ended CMOS outputs with push-pull drivers equipped with highimpedance tri-state enables. In addition, both the output current and slew rate can be specified to meet special I/O requirements. Voltage compliance


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levels for input and output range from 1.2V to 2.5V. Supported differential standards include LVDS, HT, RSDS, BLVDS, differential SSTL and differential HSTL, and are capable of handling bit rates up to 800 MHz. Since many of these standards are used for bidirectional traffic, Xilinx provides digitally controlled series output impedance and Theveninequivalent input termination for maximum signal integrity in both directions. Not only does this reduce the number of external components, but it also saves power because the active input termination can be turned off when the device is in output mode. In most cases the direct electrical lines or optical links to the connected peripheral will be buffered, translated or converted with special devices matched to the peripheral. This provides full compliance to safety, shock, over-voltage and static discharge, while protecting the FPGA from damage. The flexibility of the FPGA I/O pins allows compatibility with virtually every type of interface chip. Because many digital interfaces use serial streams, another benefit of FPGAs are the extremely fast serial interface engines combining receiver and transmitter functions and parallel/serial converters handling word widths of 16, 20, 32, or 40 bits with bit rates as high as 6.6

technology in context

GHz in the Virtex-6 GTX transceivers. These engines include PLL clock generation and clock/data encoding and decoding support for 8B10B and 64B66B traffic, and also feature dynamic feedback equalizers to compensate for signal channel characteristics.

Specialized Peripheral

PCIe Digital I/O



CPU & Bridge Set

PCIe Cards

SATA Disk Storage



Figure 1 Generic embedded system showing digital I/O connectivity.

Serial FPDP

As one example of a popular digital I/O standard, Serial Front Panel Data Port (sFPDP) is defined in the VITA 17.1 specification as the serial implementation of the older parallel FPDP standard used to connect digital devices across a 32-bit parallel flat ribbon cable. Because of its relative simplicity, sFPDP offers a fast, efficient, bi-directional point-to-point interconnect solution. Applications such as industrial sensors, medical imaging and wideband data acquisition can take advantage of this high-throughput, minimum-latency protocol. Data is encoded in groups of four 8B10B (10-bit) fields to support 32-bit data transfers, channel balance, clock recovery and control codes. The control codes are a subset of Fibre Channel ordered sets and include IDLE, start of frame (SOF), end of frame (EOF), sync



Integrated PCIe Interfaces

Because the system side of the digital I/O card is almost always PCIe, FPGAs simplify designs with their integrated PCIe interface engines for endpoints. In the Virtex-6 devices from Xilinx, the speed of the PCIe engines is compliant with PCIe Gen 2 delivering a transfer rate of 4 Gbyte/s for a x8 PCIe interface to take advantage of the wealth of PCIe Gen 2 motherboards and embedded SBCs now available. While not every application needs such extreme speeds, many peripherals, such as high-resolution imaging devices and wideband A/D and D/A converters, are driving toward increasingly higher data rates.

User Interface






Optical LC Connector

Optical LC Connector

Optical LC Connector

Optical LC Connector

Single/multi mode fiber transceiver

Single/multi mode fiber transceiver

Single/multi mode fiber transceiver

Single/multi mode fiber transceiver





Virtex-6 FPGA LX240T, LX365T, SX315T, SX475T GTX x8 PCIe Gen3 P15 PCIe Gen 2







Figure 2 Pentek Model 71611 Quad sFPDP Transceiver XMC Module.

with data valid (SWDV), GO and STOP. A data frame can contain from 0 to 512 32-bit words. Bit rates (baud rate) for sFPDP may be 1.0625, 2.125, or 2.5 GHz, resulting

in data payload rates of 105, 210 and 247 Mbyte/s, respectively. The sFPDP specification does not restrict the cable type and offers many different candidates for both copper and optical media. RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


technology in context

Model 71611 Virtex-6 FPGA (one channel) Rx In GTX

Packet Deconstruct

Optional CRC Check

64 x 32 Copy Mode FIFO Tx Out GTX

Optional Metadata Generator

2k x 32 Rx FIFO

Rx DMA Engine 32k x 32 FIFO Clock Generator

Rate Balance IDLE Insert/Delete

Control & Status

Disparity Calculate Optional CRC Gen

Packet Construct

2k x 32 Tx FIFO

PCIe Gen 2 Interface



Tx DMA Engine 32k x 32 FIFO

Figure 3 Simplified data flow and FPGA structures for sFPDP (one of four identical channels shown).

The sFPDP links can be unidirectional or full duplex, where the reverse channel serves as a data channel, or handles flow control signaling to prevent overflow at the receiver, or both. The Copy mode allows one device to receive data and forward it to another device as in a daisy chain. Cycle redundancy check (CRC) is supported, but optional. Even though sFPDP is a relatively lightweight protocol, it still requires control code detection and generation, frame detection and generation, flow control management, CRC processing, packet validation and acknowledgement, and error detection and recovery. These functions are ideally suited for the hallmark resources of FPGAs— logic elements, arithmetic blocks and state machines. In addition, the integrated serial transceivers simplify the 8B10B coding as well as the clock and data generation and recovery. The ability to reconfigure these FPGA resources to match the specific requirements of the peripheral protocol and functions allows designers to accommodate additional features such as custom signal processing for both inbound and outbound data streams.

Serial FPDP XMC Module

One example of an FPGA-based sFPDP product is the Pentek 71611 Quad sFPDP XMC module. Based on the



Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA, it offers four independent full-duplex sFPDP ports using optical cable with standard LC connectors. The XMC form factor with its PCIe system interface is the most popular mezzanine card format because it can be used in virtually all types of embedded systems including PCI, PCIe, VME, VPX and CompactPCI. Figure 2 illustrates the simplicity of the hardware implementation, made possible because virtually all circuitry is inside the FPGA. Four optical transceivers and the PCIe interface lines are attached directly to the GTX gigabit serial ports of the Virtex-6 device. All 8B10B encoding and decoding for sFPDP are handled in these hardware structures. Optional external SDRAM memory arranged as four banks of 512 Mbyte each are not required in the standard product, but are optionally available for custom FPGA algorithms installed by developers. Taking a closer look inside the FPGA, Figure 3 shows the data flow and major processing sections for one of the four identical sFPDP channels. The PCIe interface engine on the right supports configuration and status of the module from the host computer to set the mode of operation and track transfer operations. It also handles streaming data transfers for all sFPDP traffic.

Four receive (Rx) DMA controller engines move receive data from the module into system memory tables at locations specified in a user-defined linked list. This allows automated data delivery to one or more buffers with interrupt signaling to the host when each buffer is complete. Four transmit (Tx) DMA engines pull data from system memory into the module for transmission using the same scheme. This method helps match all sFPDP data transfer operations to the software application they serve. Because sFPDP supports a variable number of payload data words, the 71611 features a metadata generator that counts the number of words from the start of a transmission until the SWDV control character is detected. Any data in the DMA buffer is then immediately flushed to memory, and the counter value and the destination memory buffer address are optionally appended to the payload data. This allows payloads of any length spanning any number of frames to be received in full, identified in size and delivered to memory as complete entities. The 71611 operates on any of the three bit rate clock frequencies defined in the sFPDP standard: 1.0625, 2.125, or 2.5 GHz. The rate is selectable in software through the PCIe interface, with a power on default rate specified when ordering.

technology in context


One major advantage of sFPDP is the relatively small size and light weight of the copper or optical cables compared to bulkier parallel cables. In addition, optical cables offer complete immunity to EMI interference and radiation, so they are ideal for noisy electrical environments with heavy industrial machinery and for airborne installations with sensitive radio equipment. Remote sensors can take advantage of single-mode fiber optical links to deliver sFPDP traffic across distances as great as 10 km. This can connect transducers in buildings or equipment sheds across large industrial installations such as refineries or mills with fast, dedicated low-latency links. On board large commercial or military ships, sFPDP links can deliver sensor data to the bridge from multiple antenna masts including radar and communication systems, navigation systems and all other critical functions on the ship requiring high-speed links. Optical cables are highly resistant to water, salt and corrosion, making them perfect for marine installations. Because FPGAs also include DSP blocks, they are well suited for high-performance signal processing functions on receive and transmit data streams. For example, real-time image processing algorithms might be performed on streaming data from a camera, such as edge detection, noise reduction, motion detection or feature recognition. Signals from A/D converters located near an antenna and fed down the mast through a sFPDP optical link could be processed with software radio functions including digital down conversion and filtering. The optional 2 Gbyte of DDR3 SDRAM is useful for implementing large memory buffers or delay blocks to support the needs of some applications. Pentek offers its GateFlow FPGA Design Kit so customers can extend the factory-installed functions of the 71611 to add these new features, functions and algorithms. It contains complete VHDL source code and the entire Xilinx project for the product. FPGAs are especially useful for digital I/O products because they con-

tain nearly every resource to handle a wide range of interfaces through flexible I/O options. The configurable logic, state machines and DSP blocks handle complex protocol and signal processing tasks. The built-in gigabit serial interfaces handle the clock/data channel coding and equalization. Finally, the integrated PCIe interfaces simplify connection to the host processor and other system elements.

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


9/11/12 10:02 AM RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012

Technology in

context Customizing I/O

Leveraging Computer-on-Modules for Long-Term Design Scalability The advantage of COM-based design is that it frees the OEM to concentrate on the value-added part of the design, the often specialized I/O. At the same time, thanks to compatible connectors, it allows upgrades and expansion of product families by simply changing out the processor module. by Jack London, Kontron


omputer-on-Modules (COMs) are in the actual design of the carrier board proven workhorses—essential build- customized I/O. Furthermore, many ing blocks that embedded designers times OEMs are dealing with competrely on for scalable, space-constrained de- ing objectives—such as dynamic market signs or customization. COMs appeal to needs and the corresponding technology designers because they allow them to focus demands of a given application—that on their core competency of building the sometimes work against balancing total application itself, since the application-spe- project cost and profitability goals. cific hardware customization is designed into the module’s carrier board rather than Choose Value, Performance or the module. For product enhancements Both throughout a long-term embedded design Computer-on-Modules benefit deplan, a standards-based COM module can signs both economically and competinies providing solutionsand noweasily replaced with one that be quickly tively by means of customization that ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research latest meets the appropriate performance and spansthemultiple generations of a particular ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you power requirements. This in turn leaves its application. With COMs integrating the you require for whatever type of technology, customized carrier board intact, complex CPU architecture and circuitry and productsassociated you are searching for. which eliminates additional development onto a single small form factor module— time and costs related to redesigns and some as small as 84 mm x 55 mm—deproduct evolution. signers can concentrate their talents and Even as the COM-based approach expertise on the development of the appliabsolutely eases customization and de- cation itself. sign migration from one generation to This results in one of the biggest adthe next, the design of the carrier board vantages related to COM-based design. is not as simple as it appears. An inter- Using one carrier board, designers have nal base of knowledge of I/O circuitry is the opportunity to launch multiple prodessential, as well as extensive expertise ucts based on the same design meeting the specific needs and regulations of different geographies. By incorporating modules Get Connected that offer a range of performance features, with companies mentioned in this article. a product line ranging from value to high

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

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performance could be launched in tandem. Higher end products would simply leverage COMs with higher performance and more advanced features such as security, thermal performance, or graphics processing whereas lower-end designs would deliver necessary performance while limiting which advanced features were activated on the board. Scalability also exists within each design, as the COM is upgradable from generation to generation of a single product.

Teaming COMs and Carriers

A standards-based COM works in conjunction with the customized carrier board, connecting all the peripherals and I/O in a consistent manner. This module can readily be switched out for any number of performance enhancements. The result is a nearly complete computer mounted on a carrier board, a design concept benefitting a vast range of embedded applications. Since all the application-specific hardware customization is designed into the module’s carrier board rather than the module, the COM can be quickly and easily replaced for one that meets new performance and power requirements. This scalability can extend a system platform’s longevity by offering the opportunity for

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technology in context

Pin-out Type 2 Gigabit Ethernet SATA SATA AC97/HD Audio USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 PCI Express PCI Express PCI Express GPIO/SDIO LVDS A 3V for RTC SPI

LPC SMB I2C SATA SATA AC97/HD Audio USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 PCI Express PCI Express PCI Express GPIO/SDIO LVDS B VGA 5V Standby












LPC SMB I2C SATA SATA AC97/HD Audio USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 PCI Express PCI Express PCI Express GPIO/SDIO LVDS B VGA 5V Standby

Gigabit Ethernet SATA SATA AC97/HD Audio USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 USB 1.1/2.0 PCI Express PCI Express PCI Express GPIO/SDIO LVDS A 3V for RTC SPI Serial COM Serial COM Power




USB 3.0 only USB 3.0 only PCI Express PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG Digital Display Interface (DDI) Digital Display Interface (DDI)

USB 3.0 only USB 3.0 only PCI Express PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG PEG Digital Display Interface (DDI)







Figure 1 Com Express pin-out Type 2 and Type 6 are used for the form factor basic and compact COM. Differences from pin-out Type 2 and pin-out Type 6 are highlighted in the pin-out Type 6 map.

system refreshes over time. At other times it may make sense to offer an additional system platform with different functionality using a similar carrier board. This largely applies when reduction of device size is a primary driver, for instance in medical embedded design. Perhaps a diagnostic device previously built into a stationary device needs to be even smaller on a cart with medical staff moving from patient to patient. COMs support evolution to smaller and smaller layouts—but also afford upgradability within a single product generation. Compute-intensive imaging that once required a larger single computer-on-module can now be run effectively by a high-performance COM. With planning, even smaller footprints can be attained using modules based on the same chipset, CPU family and pin-out. By using the smaller module and developing a new, smaller carrier board, the OEM can offer similar performance in a reduced system size to meet the new requirements.

Planning for Upgradability

So is increasing performance as simple as replacing one COM with another on the same carrier board? It can be, but designers really must consider several key areas when upgrading a COM-based design. Pin-out, module size and module



family are crucial considerations, as well as software compatibility, evolving thermal characteristics, and overall power and performance. Cores can be upgraded within a product family (e.g., COM Express module to COM Express module). They can also be upgraded within the COM specification. Migrating from legacy technology such as ETX to the more current I/Os and interfaces inherent in COM Express does not involve a core CPU module modification, but an actual swap of the COM technology employed. These designs do require a new carrier board, although similarities to the ETX layout permit designers to incorporate existing compatible software technology. Pin-out types must be taken into account, and there are currently five pin-outs defined under the COM Express specification. To retain the same carrier board with an upgraded COM module, designers must maintain the same pin-out type with any new module. For instance, an ETX carrier board is not compatible with COM Express modules due to its alternate pin-out definition. Module size may also be a key consideration, primarily with a first generation design. If the initial design allows only enough space for a carrier compatible to the COM Express Mini, then the application is scalable to new modules in the same size. For exam-

ple, one can migrate from COMe-mSP to COMe-mTT10 or COMe-mCT10, which are all the same size and have compatible pin-out types. However, it will not be possible to take advantage of any higher performance modules in the compact or basic sizes, which use different pin-out types. A comparison between the Type 2 and Type 6 pin-outs is shown in Figure 1. In order to effectively plan for scalability across the full range of the COM Express specification, designers must carefully address performance challenges of first generation designs. This includes anticipating requirements for shrinking device size, enhancing thermal characteristics and improving processing performance. Overall, important design elements such as pin-out types, module size, software and interface compatibility, along with determining which designs require a new carrier board or updated processor, become crucial factors. To add new functionality to a COM-based design, controls may be required for native support of certain features such as new display integration, higher graphics performance capabilities and improved security. Native support for VGA or SATA/ PATA may require that control be implemented on either the module or the carrier board if the processor does not offer that feature. Depending on the features of the

technology in context

processor or chipset, PCIe may even be required to obtain Ethernet or other features, in due course reducing the number of available PCIe slots the carrier board may utilize with add-ons such as PCIe graphics cards.

Making It All Work

Leveraging both starter kits and evaluation boards is imperative to successful COMs-based design. Commonly packaged in a single case, these allow a head start on validating software, testing performance and features, and lining up connectors and jacks to assure the fastest time-to-market. For example, the Kontron COM Express Reference Carrier Type 6 is specifically designed for the development of innovative small form factor (SFF) applications and supports all future-oriented interfaces required in small and portable applications (Figure 2). OEMs can leverage such a reference carrier board in the Mini-ITX form factor, which accelerates application development. It can also be used off-theshelf paired with the broad ecosystem of Mini-ITX accessories to reduce time-tomarket and development cost. SIM card support and smart battery support enable flexibility for OEMs developing embedded products and systems. The broad range of graphic interfaces found in such reference carrier boards includes LVDS, DDI (DisplayPort/HDMI/ DVI) and VGA (via DVI-I), and allows developers to connect any embedded display type without the need for additional components. High-speed serial interfaces including USB 3.0 allow connection of the most modern peripheral components to facilitate building small and portable systems with commercially available standard components. BIOS adjustments to the computeron-module are possible as well to enable or disable key features such as pre-validated Intel vPro technologies and other adjustments, such as timers or desktop splash screen additions, to customize functionality to meet specific needs of the OEM platform. The adjustments can be done by the OEM developer, or by development partners like Kontron. If volumes are high, a custom SKU of the computeron-module may be more practical for OEM needs.

Figure 2 The COM Express Reference Carrier Type 6 carries out all the interfaces that state-of-the-art COM Express Computer-on-Modules with pin-out Type 6 with the third generation of Intel Core processors make available, such as the Kontron COMe-bSC6, the COMe-cOH6 and the Kontron COMe-bIP#.

Cooling solutions and battery support vary based on the module and the chassis design. There are multiple options of active and passive heat dissipation methods for the computer-on-modules so the best option may be selected to meet the platform needs. Each is fully validated to function with the computer-on-module. For example, an active heat sink may be used on basic modules, since it can dissipate up to 20 watts TDP of the CPU for the new COMe-bIP2/6, using the Intel Core i7 processor. A passive heat spreader or an active cooler with a fan may be used on a lower wattage compact module such as the new COMe-cCT6 with the Intel Atom N2800. Once the module is connected to the carrier board and other elements such as drives are added to the system design, the thermal situation needs to be analyzed and supported via the chassis design. This can be simulated so decisions can be made early in the system design process. Processors that draw lower currents, such the Intel Atom family, are well suited for fanless chassis operation as long as other accessories in the system and other factors such as altitude and ambient temperature do not raise the system operating temperature significantly. For higher wattage planned system configurations to achieve fanless operation, special chassis conduction cooling, by either chassis heat pipe, cold plate or liquid cooling may be required.

With the lower processing wattages of the newer Atom processors, it is now possible to use batteries for system power. Newer Type 10 carrier boards for Mini COM Express computer-on-modules may support RTC battery operation, allowing OEMs to test this capability during evaluation.

Maximizing Product Platform Lifecycles

The COM Express standard has been critical to the evolution of smaller and smaller modules, while at the same time offering the assurance of consistent physical layout, pin assignment and carrier board mounting holes. Further, advanced processing technologies continue to drive the design landscape—offering breakthrough improvements in performance delivered and power saved. For instance, there are already a range of value- and performance-based modules using third generation Intel Core processors (Figure 3). Applications with tight thermal restrictions in medical, digital signage, infotainment, point of sale and unmanned aerospace and defense applications also benefit from the up to 40 percent increased performance per watt ratio of this new benchmark processor series. For example, a medical or transportation entertainment design needing high-end imaging that used the OMe-bAI6 module could upgrade to the COMe-bIP6 RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


technology in context

module, improving both processing and thermal performance while using the same Type 6 carrier board that enabled earlier product generations. Modules that integrate Intel Core i7 and 22nm processing advancements deliver greater design flexibility. By using an efficient two-chip solution for better signal integrity and minimized board space, higher performance is enabled for smaller, power-hungry portable designs.

With 22nm architectures, performanceper-watt is superb. Such a solution experiences no performance hits and results in enhanced I/O capabilities. The benefits of the third generation Intel Core i7 architecture, such as new display integration, higher graphics performance capabilities and improved security features, will continue to drive the course of COMs development. As a result, designers are attaining greater performance in their designs

Figure 3 Kontron’s latest modules are available in COM Express pinout Type 6 as well as pin-out Type 2. Based on the Intel QM77 express chipset, they support seven new third generation Intel Core processors with a performance bandwidth ranging up to the 2.3 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor 3615QE. The modules support up to 16 Gbytes of DDR3 RAM system memory. Compliant with the latest COM Express specification, they offer up to seven PCI Express Gen 3.0 lanes in the pin-out Type 6 configurations and also implement the parallel PCI bus in pin-out Type 2 variants.

without abandoning the safe and proven development path of COMs as an established and future-proof industry standard. With some forward planning in addressing future generations of the device or application, designers can not only avoid surprises but also maximize their product platforms for long-term performance and market leadership. Increasing performance, reducing device size and adding features such as improved graphics and security can be achieved with existing carrier board designs and a wellplanned approach that leverages processor advancements and upgradable COMs. Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].


Untitled-15 1


9/4/12 4:19 PM


connected Devices in the Cloud

Delivering Device Data to the Enterprise To accommodate the vast number of devices connecting the world over and let them also connect with the enterprise, a machine-friendly version of the Enterprise Service Bus with appropriate protocols is an attractive solution. by Robert Andres, Eurotech


hether you believe AT&T’s prediction of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 or IBM’s prediction of 1 trillion devices by 2015, the machine-tomachine (M2M) communications market is spreading like wildfire. Along with the proliferation of these connected devices, there is an increasing need for the embedded world to converge with the enterprise technology world to integrate data and bring value into the enterprise. The growth forecast for this market will depend strongly on the integration and availability of connected devices and the data they provide to the enterprise. Today’s M2M solutions face some of the same issues enterprise IT organizations have already inherently integrated. In M2M there is a vast array of dissimilar applications, protocols and devices focused primarily on individual vertical market requirements and specific processes. A key to success for the enterprise IT market was the adoption of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) concept. An ESB is middleware that resembles a universal message-oriented communication backbone for enterprise applications. The primary use of an ESB is to integrate enterprise applications across heterogeneous and complex software environments. ESB solutions are designed to do two things: hide complexity by han-



dling complex details in the background, and simplify access by allow developers to access and interact with other software components in a common way. Now embedded developers can apply the same concepts in M2M that solved implementation barriers in the enterprise IT world and implement an optimal “Enterprise Service Bus for Machines,” by applying the ESB model to the device environment. Without a unifying platform in an M2M solution, you get multiple different integration methods that lead to inconsistency and higher cost of management and change. Instead, by developing an integration platform, you solve this problem by effectively linking device networks and applications and separating the data producers (devices) and data consumers (applications). Keep in mind that M2M is incredibly complex because the data producers may be constrained in an embedded environment with little processing power, limited tooling and low network bandwidth. To implement the ESB for Machines, an enabling mechanism using technologies like efficient network protocols and cloud solutions plays a vital role.

Sending Data to the Enterprise

The first step in implementing an ESB for Machines is enabling the ar-

ray of distributed devices and sensors to deliver their value or data. The critical success factor for the traditional ESB is the messaging construct operating asynchronously through publish and subscribe mechanisms, supporting new ways of managing the interactions between producers and consumers. In essence, the data is packed in messages that can be self-describing and discoverable and therefore interoperable within the enterprise. This mechanism was accomplished in the enterprise with broker technologies using substantial networking bandwidth and computational power. Learning from the enterprise while also understanding that M2M solutions are rarely deployed in a robust network environment, means that the M2M messaging protocol must be lightweight and efficient but still modeled in a publish and subscribe format. The Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol is an open source protocol designed specifically for the M2M environment and is an excellent solution. MQTT is an interconnect protocol that delivers data to the ESB and is very efficient and lightweight. MQTT separates (decouples) producers and consumers of data and uses a publish/subscribe architecture (Figure 1). Decou-

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3U OpenVPX™ SBCs with 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors

The MFCC-8556 is a conduction-cooled advanced high-performance multifunction computing core combining a Freescale QorIQ™ P1/P2 processor, a Xilinx Spartan-6 LXT FPGA with modern interconnect high-speed links (PCIe, GbE) in a PMC/XMC formfactor.

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Second Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Quad/ Dual 2.1/2.2 GHz (3.0/2.9 GHz Turbo) Intel® QM67 PCH; Up to 8GB DDR31333 DRAM 2x SATA; 2x 1Gigabit LAN; 8xUSB 2.0 Dual Independent Displays with Onboard VGA, LVDS, HDMI / DVI, DisplayPort Portfolio of SBCs Include: LX8, Atom Z510/ Z530, D525, N2600 Cedarview, and GS45 All SBCs available -25°C to +70°C Standard (-40°C to +85°C Option) Ruggedization Options Include Underfill, Bonding, and Conformal Coatings

Phone: (408) 383-9006 Fax: (408) 383-9007

USB 2.0 hot swappable interface Compatible with USB1.1 and USB2.0 host controllers Up to 300Mbps receive and 150Mbps transmit rate using 40MHz bandwidth Up to 150Mbps receive and 75Mbps transmit rate using 20MHz bandwidth 1 x 2 MIMO technology for exceptional reception and throughput 2 U.FL TX/RX antenna ports Wi-Fi security using WEP, WPA, WPA2 Compact size: 1.0” x 1.0” x 0.25” (Modules) E-mail: Web:

technology connected

Location #1

Enterprise Service Bus for M2M Device Data

Location #2

Location #3 Enterprise Applications Many-to-Many data relationship between the business applications and the devices

Figure 1 Decoupling producers and consumers of M2M device data.

pling publishers and subscribers makes the system scalable to large numbers of publishers and subscribers, and also allows for the delivery of real-time data without dependencies or limitations. With MQTT, producers publish the data and consumers subscribe to the data. The data is sent automatically in an asynchronous manner when it is published, instead of having to be requested. MQTT sends and receives data in the form of messages to and from applications and devices over TCP/IP network connections. The protocol is optimized for low bandwidth communication networks with brief messaging headers that conserve bandwidth. MQTT uses many of the advantages of TCP that some software developers ignore. For example, once you establish the TCP socket, you can send a few bytes alone without any overhead and using far less bandwidth than other protocols. MQTT also uses the TCP level to acknowledge the receipt of information, rather than requiring an acknowledgement at a higher level. Just as in traditional ESB messaging, MQTT enables devices to send and receive alerts and data when significant events occur, allowing for flexible infor-



mation flow from “many to many” instead of just “one to one.” Independent publishers and subscribers allow developers to collect data from multiple devices and then provide the information to many subscribers or applications. The MQTT transport protocol is completely agnostic to the data payload that it carries. The protocol mechanics are designed to assign data payloads with topics but do not impose any particular data representation or format on the contents of the payload. The protocol allows you to link any kind of sensor with any kind of enterprise application, so you do not have to worry about how the data gets from point A to point B. Since you can send any type of data, MQTT is valuable for many types of data and devices. A critical component for adoption is the ease of implementing the MQTT client software for porting into thousands of devices and sensors. Since MQTT is open source and has continued growing support, there is free client software available in many languages such as C, C++, Perl, Java, Python and many more. Almost any device that supports an IP interface should have little problem finding a client solution to fit its purpose.

Integration Platforms to Solve Complexity Problems

In order to effectively use data in the enterprise, the data must be captured then delivered to myriad disparate systems. As shown in Figure 2, the landscape can be chaotic with the typical monolithic solution. There is always going to be a growing enterprise demand to have the data both available and timely, and without proper planning and correct architecture these types of M2M deployments will vastly limit their effectiveness. The ESB for Machines must provide this decoupling, “one to many” approach to simplify and future proof M2M applications as the traditional ESB model has done for IT systems. Cloud services and an integration platform using MQTT can give developers the ability to connect any type of device to any type of application. The integration platform bridges the M2M world with the IT world, offering a suite of cloud services that enable development, execution and governance to connect any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations. The integration platform includes (cloud) services for protocol bridging, messag-

technology connected

Figure 2 The monolithic nature of today’s M2M solutions.

OceanServer Digital Compass Products: • Low Cost Family of Electronic Compasses • Solid State Package • High Accuracy Offered in Serial, USB or TTL

Figure 3 Integration platforms make delivering device data to the enterprise simpler.

ing transports, transformation, routing, service virtualization, adapters, registry/ repository, development tools and others. On the M2M side, the integration platform includes the broker technology to publish and subscribe data from the vast network of M2M devices. Because managing the devices is just as important as managing the data, the integration platform also provides tools for device management including software and firmware configuration and update. Using MQTT to provide updates to the OS and firmware as well as plug-ins for new processes further enhances the capabilities and enablement. For the enterprise side, the integration platform first and foremost has a robust set of connectors with the ability to quickly add more as new services and technologies emerge. The

platform provides the tooling and web services to integrate the data as needed to the business enterprise. 50 million or 1 trillion M2M devices delivering services and data into the fabric of the business enterprise demand robust tools and powerful integration platforms. Decoupling the data producers from the data consumers using MQTT and state-ofthe-art cloud technologies includes the basic ingredients necessary to build the kind of integration platforms that significantly reduce the complexity, cost and risk when developing and deploying M2M solutions to deliver device data to the enterprise. Eurotech Columbia, MD. (301) 490-4007. [].

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1/12/10 10:03:31 AM

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connected Devices in the Cloud

Protecting the Internet of Tiny Things: Embedded Firewall Can Secure an 8-Bit MCU Very small—and often critical—devices are now connected to the web and controlled by 8-bit MCUs. Implementing security for these devices can be a challenge given their often limited resources. by David West, Icon Labs and Thomas Ormiston, Zilog


-bit MCUs are increasingly used to build small Internet connected devices. Devices such as home automation sensing and control units, utility meters, traffic lights and remote sensors make up a portion of the Internet of Things that we can refer to as “The Internet of Tiny Things.” While these devices are characterized by minimal processing resources, they include a TCP/IP stack and utilize the Internet for reporting, configuration and control functions. As their numbers skyrocket, so have the number of cyber-attacks targeting these devices. Despite the growing threat from hackers, few devices include robust, multi-layered security to protect against attacks. This is particularly true in the most resource-constrained devices. An 8-bit MCU is often selected to meet bill of materials cost requirements, resulting in devices that are resource constrained but often still require sophisticated functionality. Adding communication that requires deterministic timing can be challenging on an 8-bit MCU. Security protocols and encryption are complex and resource intensive, and adding them to an 8-bit MCU may not be practical or even possible. Engineers are forced to forgo security protocols or select a larger, faster and more expensive processor



User group name

IP addresses

Services allowed

Administrators –

Firmware & configuration updates

Control nodes –

Control functions

Data readers –

Read transmission information

table 1 A general example of a set of communication rules.

for their design. A faster processor and the additional engineering time to implement security protocols often cannot be justified in cost-sensitive designs characterizing this segment of the market. Due to these constraints, many devices built using an 8-bit MCU do not support any security beyond password authentication. In addition to being resource intensive, security protocols only protect the encrypted channel, leaving the device vulnerable to insider attacks, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and attacks on non-encrypted protocols. Password authentication is easy to implement, but short of any other protection, does not provide an adequate defense against attacks. The embedded marketplace needs a re-

source-friendly security solution specifically designed to provide sensible defensive capabilities against a variety of Internet-based attacks. Embedded firewalls provide a solution. The firewall is integrated directly into the communication stack at the link layer of the supported protocol and configured with a set of rules specifying what communication is allowed. For TCP/IP, those rules block packets by IP address, port, protocol and other criteria. The integrated firewall (embedded firewall) provides a basic but critical level of security by controlling what packets or messages are processed. Because each packet or message is filtered before passing from the protocol stack to the application, many attacks are blocked before

Why Should Researching SBCs Be More Difficult Than Car Shopping? INTELLIGENTSYSTEMSSOURCE.COM IS A COMPARISON TOOL FOR DESIGN ENGINEERS LOOKING FOR CUSTOM AND OFF-THE- SHELF SBCS AND SYSTEM MODULES. Today’s systems combine an array of very complex elements from multiple manufactures. To assist in these complex architectures, ISS has built a simple tool that will source products from an array of companies for a side by side comparison and provide purchase support.


technology connected


F lo

ker s

d Hack in g D ron

Do S



l na o i e ss


ke rs

rH ac

s DoS Attack

Packet Floods

Trusted Sender?


Trusted Sender

D ing ck

Pr ofe ssi on

d ate Autom

al Hack ers

Dropped Packets u ate Am


cks ta


H ac

Tru sted Sen d

tom ate


s od


et ck Pa




rs cke a H

Embedded Firewall

Processed Packets

Figure 1 By enforcing firewall policies, packets from non-trusted senders are dropped, blocking cyber-attacks.

User group name

IP addresses


Administrators –

Firmware & configuration updates

Print users

Any IP address

Print jobs

table 2 Communication rules that might be used for a network print server.

a connection is even established. The result is an effective layer of protection with minimal impact on system resources.

How a Firewall Protects against Attacks

An embedded firewall enforces a set of rules or policies that govern who the device can talk to, what protocols and ports can be used, and who can initiate communication with the device. Embedded devices typically have very well-defined communication requirements, only supporting a small number of protocols and ports and in many cases only communicating with a limited number



of devices/IP addresses. Some embedded devices need the ability to communicate with any IP address, but even then communication is usually limited to one or two protocols and ports that are open to the world. These well-defined communication requirements allow the creation of restrictive firewall policies. The firewall enforces policies by filtering packets as they are received, comparing each packet to the policies, and blocking anything not matching the communication policies (Figure 1). By only allowing packets meeting communication polices, most cyber-attacks are blocked. A hacker attempting to login to the

device is blocked because their IP address is unauthorized. DoS attacks and many other cyber-attacks will also be blocked because they use ports or protocols blocked by the firewall, or because they originate from an IP address not allowed by the policies. When combined with password authentication, this creates an effective, resourcefriendly defense against cyber-attacks.

MCU Operating System and Protocol Requirements

To provide an effective platform for building a secure, connected device, the MCU must provide an underlying operating system and communication protocols. The system must be customizable for specific applications and yet maintain deterministic timing of protocol implementations. The operating system manages resources, including the peripherals of the MCU. To provide allocation, sharing and control within the constraints of the limited resources, the operating system must be designed and optimized for the 8-bit MCU. Of course, the operating system needs to be reliable and fault tolerant. There are typically many sub-programs (threads) that need to run at the same time, such as receiving, processing and responding to multiple requests and handling the peripheral interactions. To handle these requirements and provide flexibility, the operating system will offload the work to different threads and only implement generic event-driven, sharing and priority level algorithms. To optimize MCU processing, the operating systems will implement a scheduling algorithm for allocating processing time between multiple threads. For threads to communicate, the operating system provides messaging, mutually exclusive control and semaphore handling. Internet protocols are industry standards for communications between many different vendors and systems. These are typically implemented through separate threads. The threads handle all the receiving, processing and responses are per the protocol specifications. There are different protocols for different applications, such as FTP, TCP/IP, SNMP, etc. Each protocol has its own specification and typically a device will support multiple protocols. Protocols require substantial resources so they must be optimized for an 8-bit MCU. Developing and testing the operating system and protocols can be extremely difficult and

technology connected time consuming. Solutions developed for Linux or even 16- and 32-bit RTOSs often won’t scale to an 8-bit MCU. An 8-bit MCU with an integrated OS and protocols speeds development time and allows engineers to focus on the unique capabilities of their device.

Implementing a Firewall on an 8-Bit MCU

There are numerous factors to consider when implementing a firewall on an 8-bit MCU. The firewall, like the communication protocols, needs to be designed specifically for the trade-offs of a small MCU. The time required to create a “home-grown” solution is extensive and costly. The first consideration is how the firewall rules will be maintained and updated. The firewall rules typically need to be modified either at the factory or in the field for a particular customer application. Factory settings can be achieved using a configuration file written to Flash memory. If the configuration needs to be modified in the field, the MCU must provide a remote configuration interface such as a command line, web or SNMP interface. It is critical that the configuration interface be secure. If a hacker can compromise the firewall configuration they can reconfigure the firewall to allow an attack or even disable it. Given the resource constraints of the system, care must be exercised in the implementation of the rules engine and rules database to ensure an optimal trade-off between memory usage and performance. The rules must be stored in a format that does not waste memory while allowing efficient processing by the rules engine. A simple lookup table indexed by port or protocol provides optimal performance. However, because of the large number of possible ports and protocols, this approach could strain or overrun the memory resources of an 8-bit MCU based system. Possible solutions include using sparse table data structures such as a hash table or balanced binary tree, or limiting the number of rules supported by the firewall. The firewall filters packets as they are received, blocking unwanted packets, unfriendly login attempts and DoS attacks before authentication is allowed to begin. One or more methods are implemented by the filtering engine to enforce firewall policies and block Internet-based attacks. Common filtering methods are: • Dynamic Filtering – The dynamic filtering engine performs Stateful Packet In-

spection (SPI) by maintaining information regarding the state of each connection and using that information when making filtering decisions. SPI provides protection against packets received with invalid TCP state information, a common web-based attack. SPI can also be used to create a “lockdown mode” where all connections must originate from the embedded device. • Static filtering – The static filtering engine compares each packet to a set of static rules determining if the packet is blocked

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or allowed. All decisions are made based on the information in the packet. Rulesbased filtering enforces policies by blocking unused protocols, closing unused ports, and enforcing IP address whitelists and blacklists. For some devices, rulesbased filtering is all that’s required. Other devices require more advanced filtering. • Threshold-based filtering – The threshold filtering engine maintains statistics on received packets and monitors threshold crossings to detect packet flood DoS at-


5/2/12 2:03:25 PM RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012

technology connected tacks. Threshold-based filtering is complex and may require more system processing time and memory than some 8-bit MCUs can handle, but it provides a powerful tool for detecting packet flood DoS attacks. Firewalls provide the framework to implement security on tiny Internet devices. The firewall depends on properly defined policies allowing required communication and blocking all other communication. Defining the embedded de-

vice’s communication requirements is the first step that includes: • With what other systems will the device communicate? • What communication services are provided for these systems? • Can the other devices be grouped into sets of users that require the same services? Once the communication requirements are specified, they are coded as a set of rules. The rules specify the IP addresses,

Filtering Engine Received Packet From Network Block? Yes

Log Event Drop Packet

Dynamic Filtering Engine No Block?





FEATURES ‹ Intel Atom N455 @ 1.66 GHz ‹ 1 GB @ 667 MHz DDR3 ‹ Electrical per VITA-46 3U VPX ‹ Electrical per VITA-65 OpenVPX ‹ BP Connectors per VITA-57 FMC ‹ 4 Slot + Storage ‹ Conduction Cooled with Fins ‹ Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.88� x 4.12� x 4.38� ‹ 4.5 lbs (average) ‹ Conduction Cooled ‹ Operating Temberature 40° C to + 71° C ‹ +28 VDC (18 to 36 VDC) ‹ MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461F TARGET APPLICATIONS ‹ Mission Computing ‹ Payload Control ‹ Real Time Control ‹ Data Recording ‹ Small Storage and Communications Systems ‹ Mobile Robotics

Log Event Drop Packet


FEATURES ‹ Intel Atom N455 @ 1.66 GHz ‹ 1 GB @ 667 MHz DDR3 ‹ VITA-74 Derivative ‹ I/O Through Front Panel Connector ‹ Dimensions (H x W x D) 89 mm X 21 mm X 90 mm ‹ Conduction Cooled ‹ Operating Temperature -40° C to + 71° C ‹ MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461F TARGET APPLICATIONS ‹ Real Time Control ‹ Data Recorders ‹ Small Storage and Communications Systems ‹ Mobile Robotics




Â&#x2039;;:)*P?<=7?:PUNSL)VHYK*VTW\[LY^P[O0U[LS*VYL;4P*7< Â&#x2039;;06*?<=7??4*74**HYYPLY4VK\SL Â&#x2039;;:*?<=7?7VY[:(;(:(:9(0+4VK\SL^P[O74*?4* Â&#x2039;;:4?<=7?:(;(:(:4HZZ:[VYHNL+YP]L4VK\SL Â&#x2039;;.(?<=7?.YHWOPJZ7YVJLZZVY^P[O(4+, .7<

Š 2012 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.


Block? Yes

Log Event Drop Packet

Threshold Filtering Engine No

Normal Packet Processing

Flexible and robust filtering provides embedded devices with a critical layer of security.


Untitled-8 1


Figure 2


Static Filtering Engine

3/6/12 10:20:22 AM

ports and protocols used by the device to communicate with other network nodes. For some devices the communication requirements are very well defined and restricted. Other devices require broader communication capabilities, resulting in broader, but not necessarily less secure, firewall rules. Consider an embedded sensing and control device logging information and performing a control function. Such a device might be found on a factory floor, or as part of the electrical grid. The device provides communication protocols supporting three different user groups. A web interface allows administrative users to view collected information and make configuration updates to the device. A machine-to-machine interface over UDP/IP enables other devices to collect

technology connected data from the device and control output and switching levels. For this device, the communication rules would look like Table 1. Other types of devices will have very different communication requirements and different policies. A network print server would typically accept print jobs from any user while accepting firmware and configuration updates from only a small number of administrative users. The policies for a print server may look like Table 2. The communication policies defined for the device need to be encoded as firewall rules. The syntax of the firewall rules is dependent upon the specific firewall in use. The rules define each user group in terms of the IP address for the group and define the protocols and ports allowable for each group. For the example smart grid control and reporting device, the rule set would look like this: RULE 1: Administrative users supporting HTTP over TCP IP = { –}, protocol/port = {6, 80} RULE 2: Control users supporting a private port over UDP IP = { –}, protocol/port = {17, 1170} RULE 3: Data readers, supporting a private port over UDP IP = { –}, protocol/port = {17, 1171}

The rule set for the network print server would look like this: RULE 1: Administrative users supporting HTTP and a private port for firmware upgrades over TCP IP = { –}, protocol/port = {6, 80; 6, 1030} RULE 2: Printer users. Allows any user to send print jobs over TCP to the print server IP = {ANY}, protocol/port = {6, 35; 6,170; 6,515}

All packets received by the device are passed to the firewall for filtering and compared to the firewall rules. Packets not matching the firewall rules are dropped. As a result, attempts to hack into the device are blocked before a connection is even established. Zilog and Icon Labs have teamed up to provide a solution to the problems and constraints of implementing security for

devices built using 8-bit MCUs. Zilog provides the MCU, an integrated, preemptive multitasking operating system and set of TCP/IP protocols. Icon Labs’ Floodgate firewall is integrated on the MCU and provides rules-based filtering, SPI and threshold-based filtering all in one system. The solution is optimized for the 8-bit MCU and provides remote configuration of firewall policies using a CLI or web interface. The firewall controls the packets the embedded system processes and blocks

invalid login attempts, denial of service attacks, packet floods, port scans and other common Internet-based threats. Icon Labs Des Moines, IA. (515) 226-3443. []. Zilog Milpitas, CA. (408) 457-9000. [].

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Untitled-12 1



technology in

systems Advances in MicroTCA

New FPGA Designs Take Advantage of the Latest COTS Platforms As ever more powerful FPGAs are used in system designs, finding the right environment to accommodate their functionality with optimal space, system power and cost can be a challenge. The new MicroTCA.4 standard can offer a sweet spot. by Tony Romero, Performance Technology and Edward Young, CommAgility






s FPGAs increase performance in denser packages, they can fit into smaller PCBs and platforms. The latest COTS platforms are meeting these trendsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with room for the future. The latest breed of FPGAs from companies like Xilinx and Altera offer very high processing performance, and designers can take advantage of their efficiency and customization for applications such as sensor data acquisition and processing, image processing, or communications. Military/Aerospace/Government designers who are developing with FPGAbased applications have many choices to consider, and one important aspect is the platform. Features to consider include low-profile, high-density, high-power and high-speed I/O, rear I/O flexibility and cost-effective pricing. The latest AdvancedMC (AMC) modules and MicroTCA platforms dovetail nicely with these requirements, and now is the best time to take advantage of these COTS platforms. Advanced physics organizations worldwide are adopting AMCs and MicroTCA for the next generation of systems for particle acceleration and detection experiments; this includes modules for sensor I/O, ADC/DAC, FPGA processing for stream encoding/decoding and triggers, precision timing and interlocks.


High Performance


Figure 1

Mission Computing Cost

Military/aerospace market segments served by COTS suppliers.

These organizations were very instrumental in defining the MicroTCA.4 specification to meet high-speed data rates, highperformance processing, flexible and high-performance rear I/O options, and comprehensive platform management in a cost-effective platform. FPGAs enable rapid product development and can be reprogrammed or reconfigured, allowing them to be updated quickly. These devices can run complex algorithms to offload processors, or to run dedicated functions. Because of their parallel architecture, they can run very efficient hardware algorithms, with speed increase of 10x to 100x over other processors. The latest generation of IEEE1394 cameras can produce image data at well

over 1 Gbyte/s. High bandwidth and fast synchronization are key requirements to support these higher levels of sensor data, larger digital images, large databases and data/video/voice communications. For these types of applications, MicroTCA systems with very high-speed switching, such as PCI Express Gen 2 and Gen 3, 10GbE or 40GbE, can use a mix of AMC modules. Examples include those with FPGA and/or DSP functionality, graphical processing units (GPUs) with OpenGL for graphic-intensive computing applications, general purpose processors and storage with solid state drives. In the past, many mil/aero designers have relied on VME. Thus, it is very natural for designers to consider VPX as the natural successor, especially since VPX was designed specifically for mil/ aero applications. However, as current defense initiatives (such as the Global Information Grid) focus on a connected battlefield, the needs for mil/aero are converging with telecommunications requirements (Figure 1). ATCA and MicroTCA, which have been widely adopted for telecommunication-based applications, are making their way into defense and government applications. VPX is fine when highly rugged features are needed, but there is a hefty price to pay for its ar-

tech in systems

chitecture. Thus, now is the best time for mil/aero designers who are developing FPGA-based designs to consider xTCA platforms. Let’s review why Micro-TCA may be better suited than ATCA. The latest generations of FPGAs, such as the Xilinx Virtex-7, offer 2 million logic cells, which is up from 760,000 cells on the Virtex-6. They reduce bill of materials costs by up to 50 percent and reduce power consumption by as much as 70 percent. Xilinx rates the Virtex-7 as having DSP performance of 5,335 GMACs compared to 2,419 GMACs for the Virtex-6. As the performance increases in smaller and smaller packages, the PCBs they reside in can also be smaller. The ATCA blade form factor has a very large footprint with a 322 mm x 280 mm dimension, and can either be too big for deployment or too costly—especially when you consider including spares at each deployed location. Conversely, the first generations of MicroTCA platforms were sometimes too small, had limited power and no rear transition mod-

AdvancedTCA Front Board 140 in2 (322 x 280mm)

Key Factors

MicroTCA *



Platform Sizes

1U to 8U

2U to 14U

Many ATR form factors

Board Size

147 mm x 180.6 mm 8U: 355.6 cm x 280 cm Area: 266 cm² for front AMC Area: 996 cm² 266 cm² for rear µRTM 845 cm² **

6U: 233 x 160 mm Area: 373 cm²

Max. Power Budget

120W for front AMC 40W for rear µRTM

350W on new systems

115W for 5V (12V and 48V options also available)

Power Density

0.45W/cm² for front AMC 0.15 W/cm² for µRTM


0.31W/cm² ***

Fabrics Supported

PCI-E, SRIO, 1GbE, 10GbE, and 40GbE in the future

PCI-E, SRIO, 1GbE, 10GbE, 40GbE, and 100GbE in the future

PCI-E, 1GbE, SRIO, and 10GbE in the future

Fabric Bandwidth

1 and 10Gbit/s, moving to 40Gbit/s

1, 10G, 40 Gbit/s, moving to 1Gbit/s, moving to 10Gbit/s 100Gbit/s

Costs ****

Base line: 1x



* This chart uses Performance Technology’s Monterey 8000 platform with extended power and 40GbE-Ready features ** Usable space after subtracting space needed for power supply *** The actual power budget in VPX is likely to be limited by the system’s cooling capability—higher power budgets will require conduction cooling. ***** For similar types of feature/functions on boards

table 1 Comparing MicroTCA, ATCA and VPX.

ules (RTMs), which created barriers for FPGA-based designs. However, the new MicroTCA.4 platforms support doublewide AMCs at 148.8 mm x 181.5 mm and

up to 160W per slot of power, 10GbE or 40GbE of bandwidth and RTMs for each payload slot. These new breeds of MicroTCA platforms can be considered a

RTM 35 in2 (322 x 70mm)

AdvancedMC Front Board 42 in2 (148.8 x 181.5mm)


Enhanced MicroTCA.4 Rear Transition Module 42 in2 (148.8 x 181.5mm)

Enhanced MicroTCA.4

Figure 2 The surface area of MicroTCA.4 payload boards compared to ATCA.



Tech In Systems

64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Xilinx Virtex-7 FxG1926 VX1140T

Xilinx Virtex-7 FxG1926 VX1140T

SelectMAP Configuration

Ethernet Switch

Xilinx Virtex-7 FxG1926 VX1140T 64-bit DDR3 FLASH SDRAM

Module Management Controller


QSFP+ 8x SerDea @ 12.5Gb/s 80 Diff Pairs/ Clocks

4x SerDes @ 12.5Gb/s

PLL and Jitter Cleaner

Timing Function

AMC Port 1 AMC Connector


Xilinx Virtex-7 FxG1926 VX1140T 64-bit DDR3 FLASH SDRAM

64-bit DDR3 SDRAM Xilinx Virtex-7 FFG900 K325T



Mesh Connection 8x SerDes @ 13.1Gb/s


8x SerDea @ 12.5Gb/s

FMC Connector


AMC Port 0 AMC Clocks AMC Port 20-17 AMC Port 8-11

Xilinx Virtex-7 FFG900 K325T 64-bit DDR3 FLASH SDRAM

8x SerDea @ 12.5Gb/s 80 Diff Pairs/ Clocks

FMC Connector

64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

RTM Connector


AMC Port 4-7


Figure 3 FPGA options on AMC modules.

standards-based “hybrid” between ATCA and MicroTCA that is sized appropriately for many FPGA-based applications today and for the future. And these AMCs can handle up to four Virtex-7 FPGA devices. Secondly, the new RTM option for AMCs has been defined to be similar in size to the mating AMC board, so there is plenty of room for additional functionality— either more FPGA processing, DSPs, or other I/O to the rear. See Table 1 and Figure 2 for comparisons.

Upping the Power Density and More

As ATCA systems update their powerper-board to 350W, the power density for both the front board and RTM is about 2W per square inch. Note, however, that some of the real estate on the ATCA board is dedicated to power conversion. An AMC and RTM mated pair with 160 watts of power in a Monterey 8000 system equates to a power density of 1.9W per square inch. The AMC and MicroTCA.4 features that make it a great fit for FPGA designs include: Low Profile Form Factor: An 8U platform provides 12 double-wide AMC payload slots with a complete and redundant infrastructure; power supplies, cooling, high-speed fabric switches, and platform management. Commercial Off-the-Shelf FPGA AMCs: A wide range of single width



FPGA and DSP AMCs are already available in the market, such as the CommAgility AMC-V6 and AMC-2C6678. With the advent of MicroTCA.4 systems, vendors can now update these to provide larger, more powerful AMCs more suited to demanding applications. High-Speed Fabrics: MicroTCA platforms support up to 8 lanes of PCI Express Gen3 or up to 10GbE today, and the Monterey 8000 backplane is 40GbE-ready to future-proof next generation designs. Rear Transition Module Flexibility: The MicroTCA.4 specification adds MicroTCA Rear Transition Modules (µRTM) for all AMC payload, and MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) provides fabric switches and platform management. These µRTMs are the same dimension (148.8 mm x 181.5 mm) as an AMC so they provide plenty of room for adding highly functional components. The Monterey 8000 delivers up to 40W of power to these µRTMs. The significance is that µRTMs can be designed with a high level of functionality, such as a programmable GPU, ADC/DAC, DSP, or any high-speed I/O. The µRTMs are directly mated with their host AMC card to maximize I/O data rates. Multiple Storage Options: Depending on your application’s storage needs, there are several options to consider. For

local databases, the AMC’s interconnect can connect up to two storage AMC modules via the backplane. The AMC can also connect to a µRTM that can hold up to two SATA drives. Finally, an external NAS can be used with up to 10GbE links directly from each AMC module or from the MCH uplinks. High Power Density: Extended power options in some MicroTCA platforms can deliver up to 160W of power per each AMC/RTM mated pair. The cooling in the platform is set up to support 120W to the AMC and 40W to the RTM. This extended power architecture does not break any standard; AMCs designed to take advantage of the extended power connector can obtain the additional 80W of power, and any off-the-shelf AMC can still operate in any slot. Offering power and cooling at these levels is not only crucial for high-density FPGA designs today, but future-proofs for the next generation of higher power FPGAs.


The advent of MicroTCA.4 allows a new approach to be taken to the architecture of FPGA AMCs. The RTM allows separation of processing and I/O functionality, increasing flexibility, while the increased area and power handling on the front board allow a significant

tech in systems













CPU: Compute Processors and Storage PCI-E Root Complex FP: FPGA AMCs (e.g. Virtex 6 & 7) Timing/Clock Module RTM: I/O and ADC Base Fabric A (1GbE) Base Fabric B (1GbE) Fat Pipes Fabric A (10GbE, 40GbE, or PCI-E) Fat Pipes Fabric B (10GbE, 40GbE, or PCI-E)












RTM Figure 4

increase in the amount of FPGA logic that can be included in a product. Figure 3 outlines an example of an architecture for a high-end FPGA-based AMC card. The AMC front board focuses on maximizing the FPGA processing logic available using four of the latest Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGAs, each with dedicated DDR3 SDRAM and Flash storage. Fully meshed high-speed SERDES connections between the four FPGAs give maximum flexibility for data sharing and partition. Two of the FPGAs also handle external I/O: one to the AMC backplane, allowing multiple RapidIO or 10 Gbit Ethernet channels, or x8 PCI Express; and one with 8 SERDES links to the RTM. These, combined with the mesh architecture between the FPGAs, allow the system designer to implement a wide range of different data partitioning and/or data flow architectures. The main AMC front board also includes an Ethernet switch to distribute Gigabit Ethernet links to all FPGAs and to the front panel for control and maintenance purposes, as well as the distribution of timing and synchronization from the RTM to all FPGAs. Turning to the RTM, the example

architecture uses the FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) standard to allow a wide range of COTS analog and digital I/O modules to be fitted. A Kintex-7 FPGA connected to each FMC site provides the high and low speed digital connections to the FMC and allows local management and control of the I/O, allowing the main FPGAs on the AMC to focus on the data processing. In addition, the RTM has a flexible PLL to manage timing and synchronization between the I/O and the AMC front board.

COTS MicroTCA.4 Platform Details

A typical MicroTCA.4 platform is 8U in height and designed for five-nines availability with redundant power supplies, fan trays and MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) modules that combine the IPMI-based platform management and multiple options for fabric switching. Some platforms include an extended power option that supports up to 160W of power to each payload slot. The redundant power subsystem supports either a 100 VAC to 240 VAC or -40.5 VDC to -60 VDC input with IPMIintelligent and hot-swappable power supplies. The cooling architecture is

redundant with front-to-back push/pull IPMI-intelligent and hot-swappable fan trays. It is designed to meet NEBS and ETSI carrier-grade standards for central office deployments, as well as environments where 0° to 40°C operating temperatures are critical. Figure 4 shows an example configuration for a sensor/data acquisition and processing system. Choosing the right platform to support an FPGA design is a critical design decision. And in today’s environment where time-to-market and development costs are a big factor, it is now more imperative than ever to consider COTSbased solutions. You may find yourself having that “Goldilocks” moment, where you find that ATCA is too large, older MicroTCA systems are too small and VPX is too expensive. The new breed of MicroTCA.4 platforms and standard AMC modules are “just right.” Performance Technology Rochester, NY. (585) 256-0200. []. CommAgility Leichestershire, UK. +44 (0) 1509 228866. []. RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


technology deployed ZigBee in Control and Monitoring

The Internet of Things Starts at the Smart Home The smart and energy-efficient home, monitored and controlled by one central application on your smartphone, will finally become a reality and introduce a connected ecosystem for everyday living. by Cees Links, GreenPeak Technologies


ore applications for smartphones vices can be reached with any mobile web are becoming available every device or smartphone from anywhere in ploration day, making the smartphone a the world (Figure 1). your goal centerpiece of communication for the k directly future smart, connected home. Some of Wi-Fi or ZigBee? age, the source. these applications intend to “check and For the home environment, the imology, control things at home,” like temperature mediate question is: what networking d products control as in changing the setting of the will be best used in the home? One may thermostat, security—making sure that think that Wi-Fi and ZigBee are competdoors are locked—or energy management ing with each other. The reality however like lighting controls. However, in spite is that both technologies have their own of the longstanding promise of the home place. of the future, many of the electric devices Wi-Fi, based on IEEE 802.11, has at home still live on isolated islands, dis- been developed with a focus on a highnies providing solutionsfrom now the Internet and unable to connected speed data rate (100 Mbit/s and beyond) ion into products, technologies andother. companies. Whether your goal is to research the latestto distribute content through connect to each optimized ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you But, this is rapidly changing! More the home from browsing the Internet to you require for whatever type of technology, homefor.devices are equipped with downloading movies. Wi-Fi-connected and productsand you more are searching networking capabilities like Wi-Fi and devices are typically connected to the ZigBee, allowing them to connect to the power mains and therefore energy conInternet via a set-top box and/or a home sumption has only been a secondary conrouter. The recent arrival of IPv6, which sideration. is replacing IPv4, has solved the bottleThe focus of ZigBee (based on IEEE neck that existed because there were not 802.15.4) has been very complementary to enough web “addresses” available, mark- Wi-Fi. Developed for sensor and control ing the transition from “The Internet of networks, the data rate (250 Kbit/s) has People” to “The Internet of Things.” Once been secondary to battery life, and thereconnected to the Internet, all these de- fore the battery life of ZigBee devices can easily be measured in years, or even exceeding the lifetime of the device it is Get Connected used in. In contrast, the battery life of even with companies mentioned in this article. “energy-efficient” Wi-Fi implementations

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Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

is usually expressed in weeks or months. This makes ZigBee an attractive candidate to complement Wi-Fi in the home as the management network of choice.

The Changing Role of the Set-Top Box or Home Router

The roles of the set-top box and the home router are going to change. Currently these two devices—or a single device integrating both—are focused on content distribution. There are a variety of technology players here, but in particular the cable operators are recognizing the opportunity to offer new services to the consumer for security, energy management and lighting control. As a first step, operators are already equipping their set-top boxes with ZigBee Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics (RF4CE), obsoleting the good old infrared-based remote control and allowing two-way communication with the set-top box. Comcast is a good example of an operator that is already on track with their roll-out. The next step is to further expand the set-top box with ZigBee Pro and to connect other devices to the set-top box. The set-top box or home router transforms into a home control box equipped with both ZigBee and Wi-Fi, and responsible for both distribution of content as well as the management of information through the home and relaying this to the Internet cloud. Here the clear advantages of ZigBee stand out since it was developed as a networking standard covering a complete home and with a range that is very comparable to Wi-Fi. In addition ZigBee has mesh networking capabilities. In case there are regions in the home that cannot be directly reached from the home control box, a message from a ZigBee node that is out of reach can be relayed via an intermediate ZigBee node.

The Role of ZigBee

ZigBee is the standard owned by the ZigBee Alliance, an open, non-profit association that has more than 400 members. These include many of the chip mak-

Technology deployed

Figure 1 The smart, connected home routes all the homeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entertainment, monitoring and management systems through the settop box to the cloud, and then to a mobile device like a smartphone, as well as to a local remote control. The set-top box becomes the home control box.

ers, networking software developers and a significant number of product companies implementing the standard in useful endproducts for consumers and businesses. Wi-Fi is a relatively monolithic application: Internet content distribution for computers, smartphones and TVs, with usually a lot of available computing power. In contrast, ZigBee is the best solution for a wide range of very diverse applications, supporting many different types of devices with usually little to no computer power around. This includes washing machines and refrigerators to electricity meters, and from remote controls to simple garage door openers or light switches with no computer power at all. Some of these

devices are connected to the mains power, some are on battery and others may not require any batteries at all. Therefore it should come as no surprise that these different applications are using different forms of ZigBee, like ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Smart Energy, ZigBee Light Link or ZigBee Remote Control. However, these implementations of ZigBee all use the same underlying radio technology based on IEE 802.15.4. To accommodate the different requirements at the networking layers, there are a few different ZigBee Network Layer implementations, of which at this moment ZigBee Pro and ZigBee RF4CE are the

most important and ZigBee IP (based on IPv6) can be expected soon. These different networking technologies can easily be bridged and connected, thanks to the common underlying radio technology (Figure 2).

ZigBee RF4CE Network Layer Features

ZigBee RF4CE provides a multi-vendor interoperable solution for consumer electronics featuring a simple, robust and low-cost communication network for two-way wireless connectivity. ZigBee RF4CE is a full member of the ZigBee family and is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 specification. It is specifically designed RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


technology deployed

ZigBee Standard Overview RF4CE Application Profile

ZRC 1.x







ZSE 2.0



Network MAC PHY

ZigBee PRO

ZigBee RF4CE

ZigBee IP IEEE802.15.4 (or Wi-Fi, or HomePlug)

IEEE 802.15.4 - MAC IEEE 802.15.4 - sub-GHz (specified per region) Legend ZRC ZID ZGP ZigBee IP MAC PHY RF4CE

ZigBee Remote Control ZigBee Input Devices ZigBee Green Power (optional) Internet Protocol Media Access Control Physical Layer RF for Consumer Electronics

IEEE 802.15.4 - 2.4 GHz (worldwide) ZSE ZHA ZBA ZTS ZRS ZHC ZLL

IEEE 802.15.4 2.4GHz (or Wi-Fi, or HomePlug)

ZigBee Smart Energy ZigBee Home Automation ZigBee Building Automation ZigBee Telecom Services ZigBee Retail Services ZigBee Health Care ZigBee Light Link

Figure 2 ZigBee today offers three main network layers – RF4CE, Pro and IPv6.

for consumer electronics devices and was developed for simple, two-way deviceto-device control applications that do not require full-featured mesh networking capabilities. RF4CE has already found its way into TVs, set-top boxes and remote controls. ZigBee RF4CE can be characterized by ease of installation, a very high level of reliability over a longer range and a very long battery life. It has special features included to avoid Wi-Fi interference rejection (channel agility among others). ZigBee RF4CE offers low memory size requirements thereby enabling low-cost implementations. A practical benefit is that the two-way communications capability of RF4CE can support new applications. One highly desirable application is to have a “Find Me” button on a TV or set-top box that, once pressed, would cause the remote device to make a sound so the viewer can easily locate it—probably under the couch, where your children left it.



More sophisticated applications that offer interactive viewer participation could also be built into the remote control, using the two-way communication capabilities: tele-voting and gaming, personal messages and reminders, real-time sports results, stock information and residential sensor network monitoring. It also enables operators to create new opportunities for advertising revenues via server initiated commercial push messages on the consumers’ remote control. The interoperability offered by the ZigBee industry standard allows a remote control to work with more systems in a house and can be used as the basis for home automation. Although the main applications of RF4CE are consumer electronics based, there are no technical restrictions to also control other devices like lights, heating/air-conditioning, and some of these implementations are already in the market today. Leveraging the open ZigBee RF4CE standard, the remote

will eventually become the dashboard for the home.

ZigBee Pro Network Layer Features

The ZigBee Pro network layer supports Home Automation, Smart Energy and Light Link application profiles. It is IEEE 802.15.4 compliant, has excellent range and can cover a complete home with multiple floors. It handles dead-spots or Wi-Fi interference via mesh networking: the capability where one node can find its way to the home control box via other nodes and is even capable of doing this dynamically. If one route is blocked it will automatically and instantaneously find another route, if that exists, without any user interaction required. The ZigBee Pro Feature Set is currently probably the most popular choice for most ZigBee developed applications. It maximizes all the capabilities of the standard ZigBee feature set and also fa-

Technology deployed

cilitates ease-of-use and advanced support for larger networks comprised of thousands of devices. This also makes it suitable for industrial applications and building automation. The wide range of application profiles that ZigBee Pro supports in the home space make it a very complete standard. These also include the so-called Green Power applications. Take, for example, battery-free light switches where the energy for the data communications is generated by energy harvesting techniques from flipping the switch itself. These switches offer a new generation of selfpowered, battery-free and therefore green and maintenance-free ZigBee products. Green Power is an option of the ZigBee Pro standard. As there is no need to run and install power cables, this also makes it easy for the consumer to position and move light switches, without needing the services of an electrician.

Future Directions

The ZigBee standard is rapidly expanding. Already defined are bridge and router devices that allow for concatenating networks for use in larger building environments. To this end the Building Automation profile has been developed that runs on top of ZigBee Pro, and provides wireless connectivity between equipment controllers, lighting controllers, sensors and other devices within commercial buildings. This allows professional building owners to control a large number of devices in applications that benefit from wireless monitoring, control and automation of energy-efficient building systems. Smart home technology will allow all sorts of devices and appliances to communicate with each other and perform a variety of tasks. More traditional home appliances like refrigerators, ovens and washers are following the path to smartness, and the smartphone or tablet device is on its way to becoming a portal for connecting, monitoring and controlling other household appliances, both remotely and via the cloud. A fine example of this emerging trend is the smart refrigerator that helps people manage their diets by connecting their food storage status to their smartphone. A smart refrigerator is just one of many

high-tech appliances that will make life in an intelligent house easier. The various features of smart home appliances can make homes greener, more efficient and even ensure that you never run out of milk and eggs. Again, interoperability of the communication technology for the smart applications under one technology platform will be paramount for the future success in smart home technology. In the foreseeable future, continued

integration will take place between ZigBee RF4CE and ZigBee Pro via gateway capabilities that can be easily and cost-effectively implemented in the Home Control Box. GreenPeak Technologies Utrecht, The Netherlands. +31 30 262 1157. [].



A New Level of SSD Security


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products &

TECHNOLOGY New Family of Small, Rugged Embedded Computers An extremely small, rugged, embedded computer in the new Embedded Processing Unit (EPU) format combines processor, memory, video and system I/O into an extremely compact form factor. The Falcon from VersaLogic was engineered and tested to meet the military and medical industries’ evolving requirements for smaller, lighter embedded systems. Roughly the size of a credit card and less than one inch thick, the Falcon combines the new Intel Atom E6x0T low power processor, with system interfaces, in a form factor designed to withstand extreme temperature, impact and vibration. The Falcon features an Intel Atom E6x0T processor, which is optimized for performance / power consumption balance. It provides compatibility with a broad range of x86 application development tools for reduced cost and development time. Integrated high-performance graphics provide hardware-accelerated MPEG-4/H.264 and MPEG-2 video encoding and decoding. It includes a standard LVDS video output for flat panel displays. Onboard I/O includes Gigabit Ethernet with network boot capability, four USB 2.0 ports, four serial ports and Intel High-Definition Audio (HDA). A SATA 3 Gbit/s interface supports highcapacity rotating or solidstate drives. Dual microSD sockets and a Mini PCIe socket with mSATA capability provide flexible solid-state drive (SSD) options. Systems can be enhanced by leveraging the Mini PCIe socket with plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, Firewire and other mini cards. The Falcon supports an optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip for applications that require enhanced hardware-level security functions. The Falcon’s wide input voltage range (8 to 17 volts) simplifies system power supply requirements and is fully compatible with automotive type (nominal 12V) power systems. Designed and tested for industrial temperature (-40° to +85°C) operation, the rugged Falcon meets MIL-STD-202G specifications to withstand high impact and vibration. Soldered-on RAM, fanless thermal solutions and latching connectors (Ethernet, SATA and main I/O) provide additional ruggedization for use in harsh environments. Falcon is available as an IPC-A-610 Class 2 assembly. Class 3 assembly is optional for situations where extreme reliability is required. Falcon is ITAR and RoHS compliant and includes VersaLogic’s 5+ year production life guarantee. Customization options include TPM chip, conformal coating, IPC Class 3 assembly, cabling, revision locks, custom labeling, BIOS modifications, software, customized testing, screening and more. Pricing starts at $853 for 1 Gbyte RAM models in OEM quantities. VersaLogic, Eugene, OR. (541) 485-8575. [].


FEATURED PRODUCT PCI Express Gen3 Portfolio Adds 96-, 80-, 64Lane Switches A new trio of ultra-high lane count PCI Express (PCIe) Gen3 switches addresses cutting-edge markets like storage systems, highend graphics and communications platforms. The ExpressLane PCIe Gen3 switches from PLX Technology include the PEX8796 (96 lanes, 24 ports), PEX8780 (80 lanes, 20 ports) and PEX8764 (64 lanes, 16 ports), which expand the PLX portfolio to 14 PCIe Gen3 devices. Designers choosing the PEX8796 switch—touting bandwidth of 8 Gigatransfers per second, per lane, in full duplex mode—are rewarded with throughput of 1,536 gigabits per second (192 gigabytes/s), delivering performance that challenges all other interconnect technologies. HOST 1
























Endpoints are owned by one Host; endpoints are not shared amongst hostst


I/O Upstream Port

An enhanced PLX multi-host architecture allows users to configure each device in legacy single-host mode or multi-host mode, which enables designers to build PCIe-based systems supporting high-availability, failover, redundant and clustered systems. In multi-host mode, a virtual switch is created for each host port and its associated downstream ports inside the device. The traffic between the ports of such a virtual switch is completely isolated from the traffic in other virtual switches. The devices also employ a multiclock domain, which allows the user to terminate spread spectrum clock (SSC)-enabled domains (supported on all ports), thus removing the need to pass a common clock across a backplane. The PLX performancePAK architecture supports packet cutthrough with a maximum latency of 150ns (in a x16-to-x16 configuration). This low latency, combined with large packet memory, support for a packet payload size of up to 2048 bytes, flexible common buffer/ credit pool, and a non-blocking internal switch architecture, enables a full-line rate on all ports in performance-hungry applications. PLX’s vision PAK software provides diagnostic support, including per-port performance monitoring, capturing SerDes eye width and height, a PCIe packet generator tool, and support for error injection and loopback tests. The complementary software toolkit reduces cost by getting designs to market faster and reduces test equipment overhead. Low latency PCIe Gen3 performance is opening new market opportunities to help manage the massive flow of data driven mostly by today’s Internet applications. Designers are creating sophisticated solid state disk (SSD) PCIe-based architectures dedicated to store and retrieve movies, music, photos and files. PEX8796, PEX8780 and PEX8764 samples are expected in Q4 2012 with full production planned for Q1 2013. Volume pricing ranges from $150 to $250. PLX Technology, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 774-9060. [].



HDMI Video and Audio Capture for Analog/Digital Uncompressed Video and Digital Audio An HD HDMI video and audio capture card enables one-card acquisition of full analog/digital video and digital audio input. Featuring uncompressed full HD up to 1080p at 60 fps,10-bit high-resolution ADC, and high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) support, the HDV62A from Adlink delivers serious benefits and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) for applications requiring simultaneous capture from both video and audio signals, such as multimedia device testing and medical imaging. The HDV62A not only delivers uncompressed high-definition video data from DVI or HDMI, but also provides an analog video decoder comprehensively supporting RGB, NTSC/PAL, S-video and YPbPr, with an integrated audio decoder for HDMI and S/PDIF capture. In addition, the HDV62A is compatible with HDCP, securing critical user data during transmission. For multimedia devices such as set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and gaming consoles that demand consistent quality in manufacturing, the HDV62A provides a single card capture solution, allowing acquisition from raw images and audio sources for analysis and measurement, significantly reducing costs of product line inspection. For medical imaging systems, the HDV62A provides video acquisition from a wide variety of video sources, including S-Video, CVBS, YPbPr, RGB and DVI, all of which are widely used in picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), delivering a superior cost/performance solution. The HDV62A is also equipped with ADLINK’s ViewCreator Pro utility, enabling system testing and debugging with no software programming required, and the HDV62A SDK is compatible with Microsoft DirectShow for reduced time-to-market. Driver support is provided for Windows 7/Vista/XP, and third-party software support accommodates LabView. Get Connected with technology and ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA, (408) 360-0200. []. companies providing solutions now

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PC Access to CAN Systems via Bluetooth for Control and Configuration

High-Speed Storage System Network into products,for technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly Monitoring Applications

An intelligent CAN/Bluetooth module that supports both bridge and gateway modes also comes with a new PC interface mode. Support of the Windows driver package (VC—Virtual CAN Interface) enables easy, wireless access for PC-based applications to CAN networks. The CANblue II from IXXAT supports customer-specific applications as well as the IXXAT analysis and configuration tools. Furthermore, the VCI driver package can be used with all other PC interfaces offered by IXXAT. Depending on the application requirements, this allows switching between the various interfaces without adaptation of the user’s application software. Besides the new PC interface mode, the device also comes with the established generic mode, which enables easy access to CAN networks for “non-Windows” systems such as embedded systems and handheld service devices. For this, the Bluetooth communication is performed using simple ASCII commands and CAN-optimized binary messages. In bridge mode, several CANblue II devices can be linked with each other for a wireless connection of different networks. This is particularly useful in systems with mobile components or rotating parts that need to be linked by using fault-prone slip ring connections. The message exchange is performed transparently, which enables the use of CANopen, DeviceNet and other customer-specific protocols. Due to its compact design, the CANblue II can be easily integrated into existing systems. The device features an integrated antenna (optional external) and mounting holes. Its wide supply voltage range from 9 to 30 VDC, the galvanic decoupling and the extended temperature range from -40° to +70°C allows its use in a variety of applications. CANblue II is designed according to the Bluetooth specification V2.1 EDR with a maximum transmission distance of 300 meters (expandable with external antenna). Depending on the spatial conditions, the device is able to handle up to 100% CAN-bus load at a CAN baudrate of 1 Mbit/s.

A new platform high-throughput goalfor of Get Connected is data to put recording you in touch applications with the right resource. provides very high Whichever sustainedlevel write-to-disk such as of service yourates requirefor for solutions whatever type of technology, Connected will help you connect with the companies network forensics, Get application performance optimization and deepand products are searching for. packet analysis. Theyou Nucleus RM Capture 16X3 from NextComputing offers a platform today’s cutting-edge network monitoring solutions, combined with NextComputing’s solution-oriented engineering services and customization options. This latest product offers 16 frontaccess removable 3.5” hard drives. These drives Get Connected with technology and companies prov are available Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro in either datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine SATA or in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir SAS up to 3 Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and produc Tbyte each for up to 48 Tbyte total capacity. Additionally, the system has two more rear-access removable 2.5” hard drives, available as SATA, SAS, or SSD up to 1 Tbyte each. These independent drives allow operating systems and applications to be installed on a separate volume from the high-speed storage array, improving reliability and enabling maximum storage utilizing all sixteen front-access drives. The Nucleus RM Capture 16X3 offers very fast stream-to-disk performance by leveraging Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors and the high-speed PCI Express 3.0 bus with direct access to processing and memory using Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect (QPI). This allows Get Connected with companies and the systemproducts to support very fast data interfaces such as multiple 10G featured in this section. Ethernet ports or next-generation 40G capture devices without the formance bottlenecks found in previous generation architectures.

IXXAT, Bedford, NH. (603) 471-0800. [].

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NextComputing, Nashua, NH. (603) 886-3874. [].

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Single-Chip Solution Brings Pen and Multi-Touch to the Small Screen Both pen and multi-touch on a single chip with a single sensor, provide device manufacturers with a compact, low-power solution and pave the way for N-trig to enter the handheld market. The newest DuoSense series of chips from N-trig is optimized for a variety of screen sizes, ranging from 5” handhelds to 11” tablets, and offers an Analog-IC that allows for support of up to 15.6” portable PCs. The DuoSense single-chip solution supports both pen and multi-touch input for mobile computing, allowing for easier integration and flexibility in thinner and slimmer computing designs. It also offers the ability to support a chip-onflex configuration, in which the chip is directly mounted and electronically connected to a flexible circuit, eliminating the need for a controller. The chipset family includes: • DS-P4048 - Optimized for handheld solutions with screen sizes of 5”-6”. • DS-P4080 - Optimized for mini-tablets with screen sizes of 6”-8”. • DS-P4096 - Optimized for tablets with screen sizes of 9”-11”. • DS-A4016 - An analog-IC that can be used in conjunction with the DS-P4096 to support Ultrabooks and mobile computing devices with screen sizes of up to 15.6”. •D  S-D4000 – A Digital-IC together with multiple DS-A4016, is optimized for meeting the increasing demand for narrow designs in the Ultrabook and mobile computing device markets. The DuoSense solution will be integrated into a number of Android and Windows/ Windows 8-based tablets scheduled for release later this year. N-trig, Austin, TX. (512) 351-8111. [].

Development Platform for 3U cPCI Conduction-Cooled Modules A 3U CompactPCI development platform for conduction-cooled modules supports up to eight 3U CompactPCI modules and two optional power supply modules. With support for Rear Transition Modules (RTMs), the XPand1201 from Extreme Engineering Solutions provides maximum I/O flexibility and the ability to rapidly prototype deployable systems. The XPand1201 supports up to 482W of total simultaneous power delivery and a thermal dissipation of up to 60W per slot. Weighing 20 lbs. (including backplane and power supply) and measuring 16.5 in. (H) x 5.5 in. (W) x 11.5 in. (L), the XPand1201 provides 100% hardware compatibility from development to deployment. The XPand1201 can be populated with a variety of conduction-cooled 3U CompactPCI modules from X-ES. Software support on the SBCs from XES includes Linux, VxWorks, INTEGRITY, Windows (Intel boards only) and other RTOS offering per customer request. The Cisco 5940 Router runs Cisco IOS software. The XPand1201 is available for purchase in several rapid-development, standard configurations. Custom configurations of modules, RTMs and backplanes are also available utilizing X-ES and third-party components. Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [].



COM Express Development Platform Expedites Small Form Factor Deployment A COM Express Development Platform enables early development and rapid prototyping for COM Express and small form factor ATR-based systems. The CX-DP from Extreme Engineering Solutions includes all of the functionality of the company’s XPand6000 Series with support for a COM Express module, a PMC or XMC and an SSD, all housed in a desktop setup with standard commercial I/O connectors. With the CX-DP, the transition from development to the target XPand6000 Series system or custom COM Express carrier card is made easy. The CX-DP provides a single COM Express site with AB and CD connectors. For

Freescale QorIQ-based development, the CXDP supports Type 5FS and Type 10 COM Express modules; and for Intel Core i7 processor-based development, the CX-DP supports Type 6 and Type 10 COM Express modules. It provides a single PMC/XMC site, along with a single PIM/XIM site for PMC/XMC I/O, one RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet connector, two USB 2.0 connectors, two DB-9 serial connectors, one mini DisplayPort connector, one eSATA connector, one PCIe Edge card slot, three internal SATA connectors, two internal USB 2.0 connectors and a single COM Express I/O Module (CIM) site for access to I/O not available at the fixed connectors. Removing the ATX case cover provides access to internal fixed I/O and PIM I/O. An integrated fan located below the PMC/XMC site provides ample airflow for the most power-hungry modules. The CX-DP requires only +12V from the ATX power supply. It generates +5V, +3.3V and -12V supplies, avoiding voltage drops and power distribution problems commonly associated with using high-power cards and ATX supplies. Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [].


PXI DMM Features 6.5 Digit Measurement Capability with 3 MS/s Digitizer A 6.5 digit PXI digital multimeter (DMM) for high-performance measurement applications offers all of the capabilities associated with standard bench top DMMs including DCV, ACV, 2- and 4-wire resistance measurements and current measurements. Additionally, the GX2065 from Geotest features a 3 MS/s, 16-bit, isolated input digitizer, which allows users to acquire and analyze waveforms. The GX2065 is supplied with a software package that includes a virtual instrument panel and Windows 32/64-bit driver libraries for ATEasy, LabView, LabView/Real-Time, C/C++, Microsoft Visual Basic, Linux 32/64, Delphi and Pascal. Compatible drivers for the Signametrics SMX2040 & SMX2060 DMMs are also supplied, allowing customers to easily upgrade existing applications to the GX2065. The GX2065 is priced at $1,895. Geotest, Irvine, CA. (949) 263-2222. [].

Next-Generation Design Suite Accelerates Time to Implementation from C and RTL

“Intelligent” Starter Kit for COM Express Type 6 Modules

Xilinx has made available its next-generation design environment. The Vivado Design Suite 2012.2 is now available at no additional cost to all ISE Design Suite customers who are currently in warranty. This release is the first in a two-phase rollout, with the first phase focused on accelerating time to implementation from C and RTL, and the second focused on accelerating time to integration of system-level functions. Vivado Design Suite 2012.2 delivers a highly Integrated Design Environment (IDE) with a completely new generation of system-to-IC tools that include High-Level Synthesis, RTL Synthesis with SystemVerilog support, analytical place and route, and an advanced SDC-based timing engine so developers can increase their productivity with a 4x acceleration in design implementation. The Vivado DeISE Design Suite Vivado Design Suite sign Suite 2012.2 place P&R runtime 13 hrs 5 hrs and route technology Memory usage 16 GB 9 GB accelerates implementation cycles by using Reduced analytical techniques Wire length & Congestion to optimize for multiple and concurrent design metrics, such as congestion, total wire length and timing. For complex designs, this results in performance improvements of 15 percent corresponding to a 1 speed grade advantage over the ISE Design Suite. With the general release of the Vivado Design Suite, Xilinx is releasing Vivado High-Level Synthesis (HLS) for All Programmable 7 series FPGA and Zynq-7000 EPP SoC devices. Designers can quickly explore implementation architectures for complex algorithms by synthesizing their C, C++ or System C code to RTL. Vivado HLS also integrates with the System Generator tool by creating fast simulation models for enabling the rapid development of applications such as video, imaging, RADAR and baseband radios. Not only does Vivado HLS accelerate algorithm implementation, it also reduces verification time by up to 10,000x while improving system performance by enabling RTL micro-architecture exploration. To further accelerate designer productivity, Xilinx continues its ongoing collaboration with its growing base of key Xilinx Alliance Program members by ensuring IP cores are validated and design tools are available to augment the ISE Design Suite and Vivado Design Suite tools. This collaboration is also key for the second phase of the Vivado Design Suite rollout that includes the Vivado IP Integrator, an interactive design and verification environment, and the Vivado IP Packager, which enables Xilinx, third-party IP providers and end customers to package a core, module or completed design with all constraints, test benches and documentation.

A new starter kit for COM Express Type 6 modules represents a complete, ready-to-run environment for the new range of Computer-onModule (COM) cards integrating the latest interface standard. The kit from MSC Embedded contains a COM Express Type 6 baseboard, a Get Connected technology and heat sink with fan and two 4 Gbyte DDR3 memorywith modules. Users of companies providing solutions the kit are free to choose any suitable COM Express Type 6now computer Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration module from MSC’s growing portfolio. into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal MSC has created the COM Express Type 6 starter kit around a Type 6 is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly baseboard, providingwith an an environment for computer modules implementing Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the the new standard. The baseboard in the kit features COM goal of Get Connected is to put the you in touchExpress with the Type right resource. 6 module socket and Whichever a large number peripheral connectors supporting the level ofof service you require for whatever type of technology, Get Connected help you connect most important computer interfaces. will These include a with the companies and products searching PCI Express x 4 slot,you anare LPC bus onfor.10-pin header, 4x SATA connectors, 4x USB 3.0 interfaces (compliant with USB 2.0), VGA and DVI connectors, 3x DisplayPort and 3x HDMI connectors as well as a 40-pin eDP Get Connected with technology and companies prov (Embedded DisplayPort)Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine connector. The Ethernet conin touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir nector supports 10/100/1000 Getare Connected will help you connect with the companies and produc Mbit/s signals, and there 6x audio jacks and SPDIF connectors. In addition, a feature connector carries SMBus, I2C bus, a power and reset button, beeper, HD LED and other system signals, and a 4-pin fan connector that can drive and control the fan on the heat sink provided with the starter kit. The board is powered from a 20+4 pin ATX connector to be connected with a standard PC-type power supply. This carrier board may also be used as a Type 6 to Type 2 adapter card. It features two COM Express Type 2 module connectors soldered to the reverse side, which allow the board to be plugged into the module socket on the popular MSC CX-MB-EVA2 COM Express Type 2 baseboard. This approach creates a “virtual prototype” of a laboratory evaluation baseboard for COM Express modules. Owners of this board Get Connected companies and may use the baseboard of thewith new COM Express Type 6 starter kit to products featured in this section. operate Type 6 modules in their Type 2 evaluation baseboard. In this configuration, the new interfaces are available on the peripheral connectors of the “adapter” card. Single unit pricing is $495.

Xilinx, San Jose, CA. (408) 559-7778. [].

Ad Index


MSC Embedded, San Bruno, CA. (650) 616-6048. []. Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.




Analog Servo Control System for PCI or PCIe An FPGA-based 6-axis analog control system is targeted for computer numerical control (CNC), industrial automation retrofits, and OEM systems. The 7I77set from Mesa Electronics supports 6 axis of analog outputs and encoder inputs that are sufficient for up to 5 axis machines plus spindle control. Encoder inputs are individually programmable for TTL or differential mode. The PCI or PCIe host interface provides robust real-time access to the motion hardware. In addition to the motion related I/O, 32 digital inputs and 16 digital outputs are provided. These digital I/O points are isolated from the system ground and can use 5V to 32V I/O voltage. Inputs have a threshold of ½ the I/O voltage for high noise immunity. Outputs can supply 300 mA each and are short circuit protected. I/O can be expanded to more than 400 I/O points with real-time access or up to 12 motion axis. The 7I77 card set is fully supported by LinuxCNC. All FPGA firmware is open source and easily modified to support new functions or different mixes of functions. Quantity hundred pricing for the 7I77 set with PCI host adapter is $173 and $187 for the set with PCIe host adapter.

PCI/104-Express Board Series for CAN and LIN Two new PCI/104-Express boards are designed specifically for use in compact industrial computers and mobile systems. The new PCI/104-Express variants from IXXAT are based on a highly modular architectural concept. In addition to a passive version for cost-sensitive applications, an active version with a powerful 32-bit microcontroller is offered. The active version is specially designed for use in applications with high demands for data preprocessing. Depending on the version, the PCI/104Express boards are available with up to four CAN interfaces as well as with an optional switchable high/low speed CAN interface and

Mesa Electronics, Richmond, CS. (510) 223-9272. [].

Third Generation Core-Based Type VI COM Express Compact Module American Portwell has expanded its COM Express product portfolio to include a highperformance module design on a COM Express Compact (95 mm x 95 mm) form factor featuring mobile Intel Express QM77 PCH with 22nm third generation quad-core/dual-core Intel Core i7/i5/i3 (formerly Ivy Bridge) processors, ECC DDR3 SDRAM, LVDS/Display Port, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, PCI-E Gen 3, SATA 3.0 and support for AMT 8.0. The new PCOM-B219VG Type VI COM Express module from American Portwell offers an enhanced feature set, which includes Intel HD Graphics 4000 high-performance integrated graphics solution for three independent displays. It is targeted for applications such as POS, lottery, network, military, medical, gaming, high resolution digital signage, surveillance security monitoring and kiosks. Other features include: CPU support for Gen 3 PCI-E x16; QM77 PCH that supports faster I/O interfaces on seven PCI-E lanes (four x1 can be configured to one x4 lane); power sharing technology between the CPU and graphics engine to maximize performance; support for four SATA ports (including two 6 Gbit/s ports and two 3 Gbit/s ports); display port (DP), HDMI and DVI supported with an increase of up 50 percent in 3D performance and 18X HD to HD transcode performance; and support for four USB 3.0 ports. The new PCOMB219VG is an attractive choice for current COM Express Type VI customers using Atom or lower performance processors who suffer from space limitations and wish to upgrade their system performance. American Portwell, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-3399. [].



Local Interconnect Network (LIN) interface. All interfaces are galvanic isolated by default. In accordance with the requirements for industrial and mobile applications, the boards have an extended temperature range from -40° to +85°C. To connect the boards with the application running on the PC, a Windows driver package is included in the scope of delivery Virtual CAN Interface (VCI). The Windows driver supports all interfaces on the board and allows the use of both customer specific programs as well as the analysis and configuration tools from IXXAT. Furthermore, the VCI driver supports all CAN interface boards offered by IXXAT, enabling the user to switch between the different board variants without adaptation of its application. In addition, drivers for the real-time Windows extension RTX, InTime and Linux are available. The integration of the boards into networks using higher layer protocols can be performed by using the CANopen Master API, the SAE J1939 API or further protocol software packages offered by IXXAT. IXXAT, Bedford, NH. (603) 471-0800. [].


Harsh Environment Closed Loop Servo Inclinometers/Accelerometers Two families of rugged, gravity referenced closed-loop servo inclinometers/accelerometers are designed to provide high-reliability tilt or acceleration measurements within harsh environments, and particularly those characterized by high shock and vibration inputs. The Sensorex SX41200 and SX41400 series from Meggitt Sensing Systems are available in 12 individual models per series. The sensor systems feature angular measurement ranges from ±3° to ±90°, and choices of single axis (SX41200) and twin axis (SX41400) versions. Their highly rugged design incorporates a galvanometric pendulum sensing element with hydromechanical damping, combined with an optical position sensor, with 4-20 mA or ±5 VDC (±5%) output, proportional to sine of the angle of tilt. Inertial sensing elements are contained within rugged, watertight IP65 sealed aluminum housings for added durability. They are powered by a single, unregulated voltage supply and feature a bidirectional output. Additional options, available upon customer request, include a ±0.02% non-linearity error specification (excluding ±90° range), special bandwidth, zero offset (unipolar output) and special range and output signals. In addition, all Sensorex SX41200 and SX41400 series models conform to both European EMC and railway testing standards. The series are suitable for high-precision angular or acceleration measurements within structural alignment, offshore platform safety, railway leveling and monitoring, radar antenna positioning, and ship roll and pitch applications, as well as offshore barge ballast transfer systems, borehole mapping, geophysical measurements, level control and calibration systems, marine environment tilt measurements, crane overturning moment alarms, and large machinery installation and electronic leveling.

Ad Index

Meggitt Sensing Systems, Fribourg, Switzerland. +41 26 407 11 11. [].

12.1-Inch Open-Frame Panel PC Offers Full Touch Control A 12.1-inch open frame, color flat panel PC uses a 1.66 GHz single board computer (SBC) based on the Intel Atom processor. The PPC312 panel PC from WinSystems is a compact, ready-to-mount flat panel display subsystem that also includes a resistive touchscreen integrated into a chassis less than three inches deep. The open frame (i.e., without a front bezel) chassis permits flexible mounting of the system for OEMs and integrators with tight system integration and minimal space requirements. The PPC3-12 is shipped with a wired Ethernet connection plus expansion option for 802.11 wireless Ethernet and/or CDMA/GSM cellular modems. The unit will operate from -30° to +70°C without the need of a fan. The combination of embedded PC functionality, industrialgrade construction, small size and wide operating temperature range makes the unit attractive for medical, transportation, instrumentation, kiosks, industrial automation, security and control applications. WinSystems offers a single core 1.66 GHz N455 and dual core 1.8 GHz D525 version of the SBC to serve as the computing and display engine for the Panel PC. Both SBCs support a full set of I/O interfaces including two Gigabit Ethernet ports, VGA and dual channel LVDS flat panel video, miniPCI connector to support wireless networking modules, eight USB 2.0 ports, four serial COM ports, 48 digital I/O lines, audio, LPT and PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse. The board also has PC/104 and PC/104-Plus connectors for support of additional off-theshelf or user-designed specialty I/O modules. The system requires +12V and +5V DC and is RoHS compliant. The price configured with a 1.66 GHz single core N455-based single board computer and 2 Gbyte of system DRAM is $1,149. WinSystems, Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].

Get Connected with technology and companies providing solutions now

Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal PrPMC/XMC Module Supports Freescale QorIQ is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly Processors with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connectedmodule is to put you in touchthe with the right resource. A conduction-cooled PrPMC/XMC supports Freescale Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, QorIQ P3, P4 and P5 processor families. The XPedite5401 from ExGet Connected will help you connect with the companies and products treme Engineering you Solutions joinsfor.the existing XPedite550x line of are searching

PrPMC/XMC modules, which support the Freescale QorIQ P1 and P2 processor families. The complete line of QorIQ PrPMC/XMC modules provides processor mezzanine solutions that span a broad spectrum of embedded applications and satisfy a wide range of power, performance and feature reGet Connected with technology and companies prov quirements. Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into pro The XPedatasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engine dite5401 supports in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you requir multiple FreescaleGet Connected will help you connect with the companies and produc QorIQ processors. The lowest power solution utilizes the P3041 with four PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz. Other processor options include the P4080 with eight PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz, the P5010 with one 64-bit PowerPC e5500 core at up to 2 GHz, and the P5020 with two 64-bit PowerPC e5500 cores at up to 2 GHz. The module also provides two channels of DDR3-1333 ECC SDRAM, up to 8 Gbyte (4 Gbyte each), up to 16 Gbyte of user flash and 256 Mbyte of boot flash (with redundancy), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a x4 PCI Express interface to P15 and two SATA 3.0 Gbit/s ports to P16. Linux, Wind River VxWorks and Green Hills Integrity BSPs are available. Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section. WI. (608) 833-1155. Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton [].


Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.




Low Power, Low Thermal DDR3L Memory Line Sports Lower Profile A new reduced height Very Low Profile (VLP) form factor DDR3L memory module offers a lower 17.17 mm alternative to the JEDEC standard VLP that has a height of 18.75 mm. By reducing the height, the DDR3L Blade VLP memory modules from Virtium offer a cost-effective solution that solves the space-constrained limitations found in many telecom and networking applications where it is difficult to accommodate the memory required for both an industry-standard DIMM or Mini DIMM socket plus a standard VLP at the 18.75 mm height. These DDR3L Blade VLP memory modules not only solve system space constraints allowing more air flow in the system, but also utilize low power DRAM to reduce the thermal dissipation up to 10°C on the DRAM surface, thus enabling a considerable increase in system performance. This is a particular design advantage as JEDEC specifies that systems running memory beyond 85°C must double the memory self-refresh rate. Virtium’s low power DDR3L memory modules are designed to reduce the total power in systems that use multiple memory modules and those that must run above 85°C, which is a typical design challenge in a wide range of AdvancedTCA-based telecom and Ethernet blade switch networking applications. Virtium DDR3L Blade VLP memory modules are available now in 4 Gbyte and 8 Gbyte densities in a wide range of ECC SODIMM, RDIMM, UDIMM and Mini DIMM configurations.

PC/104-Size Gigabit Ethernet Module with SUMIT PCI Express A SUMIT-ISM-compatible Gigabit Ethernet module is designed for high-speed networking connectivity in small form factor, industrial embedded applications. The PXMGIGE from WinSystems is a 90 x 96 mm module that connects to 10/100/1000 Mbit/s networks using standard Category 5 (CAT5) unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cables. It offers a stackable PCI Express expansion on a PC/104 module with the addition of the industry-standard high-speed SUMIT connector. It plugs directly into WinSystems’ PXM-C388-S, a 1.66 GHz Atom N455-based SBC as well as other SUMIT-ISM-compatible products available elsewhere.

Virtium, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. (949) 888-2444. [].

ARM9 System on Module for Full Range of HMI An ARM9 System on Module supports both Linux and WinCE and supports up to 1280 x 860 LCD with touch screen. The M-9G45A from Artila Electronics is a credit card size system on module powered by 400 MHz AT91SAM9G45 ARM Thumb Processor with memory management unit. It is equipped with 128 Mbyte DDR2 RAM, 128 Mbyte NAND Flash, and 2 Mbyte DATAFlash. The touch screen feature makes users free to choose LCD size from 3.5” to 12” for their user interface design. M-9G45A also comes with four UART ports, one 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet, one USB 2.0 high-speed port, GPIO, SPI, I2C and I2S bus for design of RS-232/485 communication, wired and wireless connectivity, audio I/O and digital I/O control. M-9G45A is designed with ease of use in mind. Its 2.0 mm pin header, a widely used electronic component, and 128 distinct function pins reduce user’s time in hardware design and software porting. In addition to the tool chain that comes with the Artila CD, many handy utility software and device drivers are also included. M-9G45A is pre-installed with Linux 2.6.38 OS, busybox utility collection, web server and various hardware device drivers. The GTK+ tool kit and qt4 embedded are also included for user to develop a graphical user interface. In addition to Linux OS, M-9G45A can also run WinCE 6.0, which makes it friendly to the Microsoft user. The remote display control utility included in the WinCE 6.0 allows user to control the device at a remote site computer. Artila Electronics, New Taipei City, Taiwan. +886. [].

The PXM-GIGE is based upon the Intel 82573 controller whose architecture is optimized to deliver both high performance and PCIe bus efficiency with the lowest power and smallest size. The 82573 efficiently handles packets with minimum latency by combining a parallel and pipelined logic architecture optimized for Gigabit Ethernet and independent transmit and receive queues. IEEE 802.3ab Auto-Negotiation, IEEE 802.3x-compliant flow control, adaptive equalization, echo cancellation and crosstalk cancellation are supported as well. The PXM-GIGE module is wired to the x1 PCIe lane of the SUMIT-A connector and automatically selects the first available link. The PC/104 connector is supported for legacy stacks. It requires only +5 volts at 0.67A and will operate from -40° to +85°C. The PXMGIGE supports Linux, Windows and other x86-compatible real-time operating systems. Free drivers are available from the WinSystems’ website. Quantity one pricing is $199. WinSystems, Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].








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



Options for Solid State Storage

How Does an Embedded Systems Designer Select the Right Storage Solution? With plentiful SSD standards and form factors to choose from—some driven by high-volume system designs—how do we go about homing in on the right choice to meet the often very different needs of embedded devices? by Gary Drossel, Virtium


ne of the truest lines in the high move by embedded systems to serial stortechnology and embedded sys- age interfaces with higher speeds and retems industries is, “Standards are duced pin-counts has put this once prized great—everybody ought to have one.” This thoroughbred out to pasture. The reality line rings especially true for solid state today is that there is no “one size fits all” drives (SSDs). The continued evolution SSD technology or form factor poised to of NAND flash component density has take the place of CompactFlash, which made explosive SSD capacities a reality will have an impact on future embedded from a growing list of small form factors. systems designs. So, due to the long product lifecycle That is because SSDs are not constrained requirements for embedded systems, how to traditional 3.5”, 2.5” or 1.8” hard drive nies providing solutions now does a design engineer select an SSD that form factors and have, therefore, been deion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest will be available for many years, that supveloped in a plethora of shapes and sizes. ation Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you ports cost-effective and widely adopted While it is important to have a vision you require for whatever type of technology, sockets and connectors, and is compatible future, for. it is also wise to rememand productsfor youthe are searching with storage interfaces that are univerber the past. CompactFlash has been the sally deployed? true workhorse for embedded systems over the past ten years. It was a solid state storage solution that truly did it all. Interface Options It connected to standard Intel or AMD Storage decisions only come after chipsets in TrueIDE or PATA SSD mode. the main chipset/FPGA/microcontroller It connected to Freescale or Cavium pro- and software architecture decisions have cessors, Altera or Xilinx FPGAs or cus- been made. Designers typically gravitate tom ASICs via PCMCIA memory or I/O to the storage interfaces that are available modes. And, it was “ejectable.”Now, the “for free,”—that leverage their experience in writing previous generations of code. While non-Intel or AMD-based designs Get Connected may include Serial Advanced Technology with companies mentioned in this article. Attachment (SATA), regardless of chipset

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Get Connected with companies mentioned in this article.

chosen, one or more lanes of PCI Express (PCIe), USB and SD/SPI/eMMC are almost always available. Intel- and AMDbased designs support SATA 3G (SATA II) as a minimum and most support SATA 6G (SATA III). The decision of which interface to choose usually comes down to software architectures and familiarity. OEMs who have applications based on previous generations of code for ATA/ ATAPI devices most often find the transition to SATA to be optimal. If the SATA interface is not available, the most common choices are PCIe, USB and SD. PCIe requires the designer to select a driver. Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is the standard driver most widely used, as it is the host side of SATA devices. Non-volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is gaining traction as an SSD-specific standard. However, since most embedded systems are not able to take advantage of the tens of thousands of IOPS that an NVMe/ PCIe solution can offer, many embedded designers would likely decide to make trade-offs—either to use “easy, familiar” SD for removable cards or embedded USB (eUSB) for fixed devices.


Comparing SSD Form Factors

The viability of NAND flash-based technology in computing applications has been enabled by quantum leaps in SSD controller technology that manages NAND as storage media. This viability has given system designers mechanical degrees of freedom that simply were not available when disk drives were the only solution. Where before it was a discussion of 3.5”, 2.5” or 1.8” HDD form factors, now there is an abundance of options available for almost any interface. Choose SD cards and there is a decision between standard, mini and micro form factors. Choose USB and you have 10-pin high and low profile, 9-pin or USB keys. Choose PCIe and there is everything from miniCard to full height, full length cards with multi-lane support. Even SATA SSDs have more than seven “industry-standard” form factors including 2.5”, 1.8”, MO-297 or Slim SATA, MO-300 or Mini-SATA (mSATA), CFast, SATA Disk on Module (SATA DOM) and even soldered-down BGA configurations. This doesn’t count form factors customized for ultra-small notebook computers. In many instances, the selection of an appropriate SSD solution is not obvious from the broad selection of options embedded developers have today. A good approach is to use a process of elimination. So, where to start? The easiest scenario is to determine the need for ejectability. CompactFlash supported it and if it is still needed, there are really two options. The first choice with the most leverage from consumer electronics is Secure Digital (SD) cards. They are smaller than CompactFlash and their sockets are plentiful and inexpensive. If booting is required, the motherboard must support it, and not all of them do. SD cards are plentiful if all you need is commercial grade, multi-level cell (MLC)-based cards. It may be more difficult to find a reliable supply of “industrial SD” cards. For OEMs that want to stay in the

Figure 1 CFast is the most straightforward alternative for embedded systems that had previously used CompactFlash. Similar to CompactFlash, CFast SSDs can be either fixed or removable devices, but compared to switching to SD cards, most ATA-based software can be directly leveraged into new SATA 3 Gbit/s CFast designs.

SATA world, the best choice is CFast (Figure 1). CFast is the CompactFlash Association’s (CFA’s) solution that supports the SATA 3G (SATA II) interface. In April, the CFA announced its intention to create CFast 2.0 that will support a SATA 6G—SATA III—interface. From a motherboard real estate perspective, CFast is almost a drop-in replacement for CompactFlash. The connector and sockets are different, however, and since CFast has never really caught on in the consumer electronics world, there is little leverage of mass-produced sockets and connectors like there is for other form factors. That said, there will be little difficulty in find-

ing industrial CFast cards, as they are for the most part designed for embedded systems. Another potential choice for ejectability is 1.8” SATA. While 1.8” is thought to be a dying—or dead—form factor for hard drives, many companies are turning to ejectable 1.8” SATA SSDs as an alternative to 2.5” form factors for serviceability issues. At a 5 mm thickness, the 1.8” form factor is also suitable for 1U server and blade applications. If the requirement is for fixed storage and size is not an issue, then the choice of a 2.5” SATA SSD is a no-brainer. Any applications that require a 3.5” form facRTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012



also for Wi-Fi and other PCIe-based modules. OEM designers will not go wrong choosing mSATA or its half-size cousin for small, modular designs. For USB-based fixed devices, the market has spoken and embedded USB, or eUSB has won. That said, while the USB command set and protocol is standardized by the USB-Implementers Forum, it is important to note that eUSB has no specific industry standard associated with the form factor, so be careful on mechanical dimensions. Although there are multiple eUSB iterations, the most common connector scheme by far is a 10-pin eUSB (two rows of five pins each) in a 2.54 mm standard profile or 2 mm low profile. The 10-pin eUSB provides the best opportunity for multi-sourcing but some vendors also offer a 9-pin option.

Market Drivers

Figure 2 Virtium’s Slim SATA (MO-297) SSDs are an attractive solution for embedded applications that implement a standard SATA 3 Gbit/s socket but require a form factor with a volume (54 mm x 39 mm x 5 mm) that is roughly 15% that of a 2.5” SSD.

tor would be best off incorporating a 2.5” SATA SSD with an adapter. The rest can incorporate an SSD with the same form factor as the roughly 400 million 2.5” HDDs shipped each year. Depending on the capacity and endurance required, SSD can be a cost reduction or a ruggedized enhancement to hard drives. For applications that require sizes smaller than 1.8”, the decisions get a bit more complex. Soldered-down BGA solutions are typically the smallest, densest solutions. Most are targeted for handheld or tablet devices that are only expected to have a three-year product life under a light workload. They can most likely be eliminated as a choice for designs that will be in production for five or more years, where issues such as requalification costs, upgrades and service need to be addressed without replacing the entire motherboard. A more long-term storage approach calls for socketed solutions such as Slim SATA (MO-297), mSATA (MO-300) or



customized solutions that include SATA DOM, SATA DIMM and SATA GUM (a non-industry-standard term for the gumstick-looking SSD used by at least one computer manufacturer). These solutions are upgradeable and serviceable and offer multi-vendor support. Slim SATA (Figure 2) is a good choice for higher capacity systems that need form factors smaller than 1.8” SSD. It integrates a standard SATA connector in a module that measures 54 mm x 39 mm x 4 mm. The 8,424 mm3 volume is roughly 15% that of a 9.5 mm, 2.5” SATA SSD. In addition, mSATA is winning the standards war in ultrabooks that have committed to an SSD; but as capacity needs change, suppliers begin to develop ultrabook-specific form factors. There are several companies discussing a new form factor, cleverly called the next generation form factor or NGFF, that is based on the same PCIe miniCard socket and clamp that is deployed not only for mSATA, but

Wherever possible, embedded system engineers want to incorporate highvolume components into their design for cost and multi-sourcing reasons. When discussing which embedded SSD form factors will “win,” it is necessary to understand what is driving their adoption. Ultrabooks, notebooks and tablets are the biggest drivers of small form factor SATA solutions.Small form factors in this instance are defined as 2.5” or smaller. Hard drive manufacturers generally sell 9.5 mm and thicker 2.5” drives into notebooks, and they have recently made inroads into the enterprise as well. Some have made the shrink to 7 mm for ultrabooks, a smaller, lighter, thinner and low power version of laptops. They are being pushed by ultrabook manufacturers to reach a 5 mm thickness, but HDDs in this lower profile will most likely not be available for a few years. Ultrabook vendors that are 100% committed to SSD find mSATA (MO300), solder-down BGA or customer-specific form factors as better SSD options. Solder-down BGA solutions are the most space-efficient, and are probably fine for consumer electronics devices with a projected three-year life. However, the socket-based SSD solutions are a better choice for embedded systems that need to be deployed for five to ten years or more. SD cards are obviously driven by the


consumer electronics market. They are the memory expansion card of choice, but they are taking a real hit from Embedded MultiMedia Card (eMMC) and other solder-down solutions in the high volume smart phone space. Industrial SD cards are finding use in VMware load applications and as memory cards in industrial programmable logic controllers. CFast, Slim SATA, 1.8â&#x20AC;? and eUSB SSD solutions are largely being driven by the embedded and server markets. While CFast has gained little traction in consumer electronics, it has become a viable solution for industrial automation customers as the most straightforward SATA alternative to CompactFlash. Slim SATA is used for primary storage as a space-optimized replacement for 2.5â&#x20AC;? hard drives. 1.8â&#x20AC;? SATA SSDs are replacing 1.8â&#x20AC;? hard drives and are being used as high-density, easier-serviced SSD alternatives to 2.5â&#x20AC;? in hot-swap carriers in 1U and blade applications. eUSB SSDs have won the battle for primary storage in networking line cards and other Cavium, Freescale, FPGA or custom ASIC applications. eUSB is also used in servers for VMware loads and as a system diagnostic and event logging tool.

maintains hard drives as an option is the 2.5â&#x20AC;? form factor. CFast is a good ejectable solution that offers the most efficient path from CompactFlash, and 1.8â&#x20AC;? SATA SSDs make sense for larger systems with higher capacity requirements. For newer embedded applications where small size is a concern, designers can turn to Slim SATA (MO-297) or mSATA (MO-300). For systems that require a USB interface, the most widely deployed is a 10-pin em-

Virtium Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. (949) 888-2444. [].


Embedded Systems Need Embedded SSDs

With the plethora of SSD shapes and sizes, the selection of an appropriate SSD solution is not obvious from the broad selection of options embedded developers have today. There is no one size fits all approach, unfortunately, when it comes to embedded SSDs. The decision is largely system dependent based upon other design choices such as the main chipset, FPGA, microcontroller and software architecture, plus which storage interface will be used. While the argument wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t presented here, the discussion about how to select the â&#x20AC;&#x153;rightâ&#x20AC;? SSD solution for embedded systems must also include single-level cell (SLC) versus MLC-based NAND flash. The process geometry evolution of NAND makes it necessary to analyze the reliability factors associated with the move from SLC NAND flash-based SSDs to next-generation SSDs based on MLC NAND. For SATA-based systems, if the system can handle it, the best solution that

bedded USB. While the task seems daunting, there are obviously excellent embedded SSD form factors to do the jobâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;form factors that specifically meet embedded system workload, usage model and longevity requirements.

XMC . +!





Technology For: Communication Industrial Instrumentation Medical Military Scientific Transportation



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4/9/12 10:05:38 AM RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012


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RTC magazine  

September 2012

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