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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

June 2013

Smartphones and Tablets Take on Industrial Apps OpenCL Speeds Network Performance Energy Harvesting Grows the Internet of Things

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38 3.5-Inch SBC with AMD Embedded G-Series SoC Combines CPU and Graphics Performance

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43 Core i7-Based Fanless Embedded Box PC in Environmentally Sealed Design



6Editorial Increased Integration Brings on Multiple Decision Dynamics 8

Industry Insider Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

Technology in Context


High Speed Connectivity

Handheld Terminals for Industrial Applications

Interconnect Fabric 16 New Trends Help Unlock Potential of High-Performance Embedded Computing

Marc Couture, Mercury Systems

APIs across Fabric Interconnects Speeds 20 Standardizing Development and Performance in

Multifabric Systems 10 & Technology Fabrics: Making the Newest Embedded Technology Used by 38Products 26 Serial Connection Industry Leaders Small Form Factor Forum Bring Back the Stack

Girish Shirasat, Concurrent Technologies

Peter Thompson, GE Intelligent Platforms

EDITOR’S REPORT Wireless Networking


Wireless Network Devices Set to Accelerate Connectivity in the Internet of Things

Place for Industrial Mobile Handhelds in the Internet of 32The Things Brant Ku, ADLINK Technology

TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYED Speeding Performance with OpenCL OpenCL for Network Acceleration 36Using Art Lee, Viosoft

Industry watch Energy Harvesting

Energy Harvesting Wireless 46How Paves the Way to the Internet of Things Jim O’Callaghan, EnOcean Inc.

Tom Williams

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

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To Contact RTC magazine: HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, Editorial Office Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief 1669 Nelson Road, No. 2, Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Phone: (831) 335-1509

Published by The RTC Group Copyright 2013, 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. © 2013 Raytheon Company. All rights reserved. “Customer Success Is Our Mission” is a registered trademark of Raytheon Company.


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2/28/13 9:50 AM







Increased Integration Brings on Multiple Decision Dynamics


t is a given that integration of functionality continues to advance, marching to the beat of Moore’s Law. We have multicore processors with integrated graphics engines and I/O hubs; we have enormous FPGA devices, and now chips that combine multicore processors, peripherals and programmable logic on the same chip. We have full custom ASICs and variously defined systems-on-chip. We have witnessed what was once a heap of distinct devices on a single board shrink into a single piece of silicon. On and on it goes. Yet with all this capability made possible by basic advances in silicon process technology comes a whole heap of decisions, trade-offs and interdisciplinary issues that must be resolved. There are questions of cost vs. value, power, time-to-market, programmability and configurability. There are questions of hardware vs. software implementation vs. programmable logic implementations. There are decisions about acquiring and integrating IP and/or developing functions from scratch. This list goes on and on as well. In one sense, it is simply the range of choices between off-the-shelf CPU and peripherals vs. a full custom ASIC. However, the dynamics and dimensions of this range have exploded. One example brings together a mitigation of the off-the-shelf vs. custom silicon dilemma by combining a multicore CPU with programmable logic. Several companies now offer variations of this approach, which does have great potential. At the same time, to be truly effective, it needs to bring together two disciplines that have not previously worked closely together: the programmer who works mainly in C and the FPGA developer who works with RTL or Verilog or tools that work in those worlds at a higher level. These devices, which we here have referred to as application services platforms (ASPs) because they can contain almost all the functionality required by an application, come off the fab undifferentiated and can thus be mass produced. They are differentiated by the two disciplines. Another approach is to bring software developers into the silicon development process by providing an environment that will allow them to begin software development using pre-silicon virtual technology derived from the hardware design tool flow and embedded into the familiar software development environment. Hardware design can then be refined as software is developed using the virtual models. Of course, what is being developed in such



Tom Williams Editor-in-Chief

a scenario is going to be pretty custom hardware, so the economic requirements for high-volume ASIC development will still apply. The advantage would be a tightly integrated and presumably very efficient (and application-specific) mating of hardware and software. At the same time, it lets both the hardware and software developers work on the common project on their own terms, which should certainly work in favor of time-to-market. Another possible way to bridge the gap between domains of expertise would be the use of high-level modeling tools such as National Instruments’ LabView and Mathworks’ MatLab and Simulink tools. Such tools allow experts in domains other than computer technology to express their ideas about how they want a given device to behave and to express them in the metaphor of their particular discipline such as seismology, medicine or some other technical profession. Developments are now also underway to adapt these tools so that they can be used to reliably verify the code they generate all the way down to the object level, and such abilities would be useful in both off-the-shelf hardware environments as well as the full custom world. All this begs the question of what role such things as standard small form factor modules may play in this real world of highly integrated and custom devices. The answer is probably not a lot. Most custom ASICs will also have a custom pin-out and contain most of what other silicon they need on-chip. There may be a need for external custom RAM or EPROM but probably not much else save for the actual connectors to the external world. At this point, the board that such a device fits on is a relatively trivial matter and one probably dictated more by the type of device it will fit into than the characteristics of the semiconductor. For the next generation of highly integrated devices, the concentration will be on the tools that make the design both easier and above all, most reliably correct the first time. Nothing affects time-to-market and cost so severely as getting a design back from the fab that has errors that then need to be corrected and a new design submitted. And the higher the level of integration, i.e., the more raw transistors, the more potential there is for error and the greater the need for utter accuracy . . . and all this where getting the software, with its interdependencies on hardware, right is equally important. Sleep well.


INSIDER JUNE 2013 ZigBee Becoming Backbone of the New Smart, Connected Home ZigBee semiconductor suppliers are currently shipping millions of ZigBee chips every week, making ZigBee the most credible open worldwide standard for the smart home supported by cable and satellite operators and other companies playing in the smart home space. ZigBee supplier GreenPeak Technologies has even gone so far as to announce the “Year of ZigBee.” “ZigBee has been recognized as the connected and smart home technology of choice, due to its worldwide standardization and acceptance via the cable TV and service provider industries,” says Greg Potter of Multimedia Research Group. “Once the cable companies have taken the first step of providing ZigBee networks in the majority of new set-top boxes, it helps create a thriving industry of ZigBee add-on devices for the home—making it easy for installers, system integrators and home do-it-yourselfers to install a wide range of ZigBee devices onto the cable companies’ ZigBee backbone within the home. Revenues from services derived from ZigBee backbones within the home are set to skyrocket from $80 million in 2012 to over $1.7 billion in 2017. According to IMS Research, one of the key trends driving the use of ZigBee in the smart home is the adoption of the technology by managed service providers in the U.S. and Europe, offering home monitoring and energy management systems via cloud-based home management platforms. The growing traction of ZigBee RF4CE in home entertainment devices is set to continue. IHS projects that shipments of ZigBee RF4CE ICs will grow with a CAGR of 29.1% in the period 2012 to 2018 as ZigBee RF4CE is increasingly incorporated in a range of devices such as settop boxes, television sets and the accompanying remote controls as an IR replacement technology, enabling more sophisticated interaction with home entertainment devices. “There are approximately 600 million homes connected to the Internet—each of these is a potential customer for a ZigBee home network, with over a hundred possible devices in each home talking to the network: from thermostats, lights and switches, security sensors, door locks, appliances, remote controls, etc.” says Cees Links, GreenPeak Founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies.

Avago to Acquire Optical Chip and Component Supplier CyOptics

Avago Technologies, a supplier of analog interface components for communications, industrial and consumer applications, has announced the execution of a definitive agreement to acquire CyOptics, a supplier of Indium Phosphide (InP) optical chip and component technologies for the data communications and telecommunications markets. Avago believes the acquisition of CyOptics will strengthen Avago’s fiber optics product portfolio for emerging 40G and 100G enterprise and data center applications. CyOptics’ singlemode InP laser, receiver and photonics integration capability will help extend Avago’s technology leadership position in these applications. Avago’s optical



transceiver products primarily leverage VCSEL-based technology today. In addition, the acquisition of CyOptics will facilitate Avago’s establishment of a complementary optical components business, not only to serve growing segments of the access, metro and long-haul markets, but also for enterprise and data center segments. CyOptics designs, fabricates and packages a broad portfolio of optical component products across enterprise, data center, access, metro and long-haul market segments. CyOptics’ optical components are integrated into optical transceivers, transponders and line cards. Leveraging its Bell Labs and Lucent heritage, CyOptics has built a broad product portfolio and a customer base that includes the leading module and system OEMs. CyOptics revenue has more than tripled over the past three years.

Data Acquisition Applications and Library for HMI Available for Download

Adlink Technology has announced the availability of ADLogger—its ready-to-run data capture application—and DAQBench, which provides ActiveX controls used for creating professional instrumentation applications using ActiveX development environments, for complimentary download. With hundreds of data acquisition modules on the market, Adlink has developed a variety of data acquisition and development tools for reducing development time and providing complete data logging solutions. AD-Logger and DAQBench are compatible with Adlink’s full range of data acquisition modules and digitizers and are fully downloadable from Adlink’s website. In addition to data collection and monitoring, important tasks such as graphing collected signal data,

zoom observation, file saving and dynamic transfer to third-party software including Microsoft Excel, National Instruments LabVIEW and MathWorks MATLAB for post analysis are also enabled. A system with compatible Adlink DAQ devices and ADLogger installed allows immediate data collection and monitoring once sampling conditions are configured via the DAQPilot interactive wizard, all with no need for programming. Adlink also provides DAQBench, an ActiveX Controls Pack for measurement and HMI applications. DAQBench is compatible with software development tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio, Borland C++ Builder and others. DAQBench’s various ActiveX controls include user interface, data analysis, data integration, data acquisition and SCADA controls, enabling easy development of powerful and flexible measurement of SCADA/HMI application tools. AD-Logger and DAQBench are compatible with 32-bit Windows XP/7/8. Effective immediately, ADLogger and DAQBench are available for download on the Adlink website

GrammaTech Selected for More Than $8M in Research Contracts

GrammaTech, a company specializing in software-assurance tools and cybersecurity solutions, has announced that it has been selected for award of more than eight and a quarter million dollars in research contracts. GrammaTech performs sponsored research for many branches of the U.S. Government. Over its twenty-five year history, government customers have included the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Science Foundation (NSF). In the

past four months, the company submitted eight proposals, six of which have been selected for funding. The remaining two are still pending. GrammaTech’s research department undertakes the full life cycle of new ideas—from government-sponsored research, through advanced, technology-ready prototypes, into widely adopted COTS products. The department focuses on automatic program analysis, including both static and dynamic analysis on source code and binary machine code. The results of this research are tools used by software developers around the world to find critical bugs and security vulnerabilities in their code. For example, NASA used GrammaTech’s CodeSonar to harden their Mars Rover software, and Sypris Electronics uses CodeSonar to bullet-proof the cryptographic products they develop.

Express Logic and Clarinox Partner on Full Bluetooth Support for ThreadX Platforms

Express Logic has announced the availability of ClarinoxBlue, a full-featured Bluetooth communications stack from Clarinox Technologies, which supports Express Logic’s widely deployed ThreadX RTOS. Clarinox’s partnership with Express Logic provides an environment for engineers developing products with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS/3G and other embedded short range wireless communications capabilities, including RFID, Zigbee and NFC. Clarinox’s short range wireless communication solutions are robust and highly visible, which empowers the developer by providing many very useful development tools. These solutions are the culmination of Clarinox’s continuous development of high-quality middleware since 2001. The ClarinoxBlue Bluetooth stack, for example, eliminates the intrinsic complexity of Bluetooth implementations and increases the developer’s

visibility into the system—features that have made Clarinox a desired connectivity solution provider. Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS offers a robust library of application-callable operating system services that simplify and optimize the performance of embedded systems. Designed for such microcontroller-based applications, ThreadX features a memory footprint as small as 2 Kbytes, which enables it to reside in even the most limited on-chip MCU memory. ThreadX provides preemptive, real-time, priority-based scheduling for optimum responsiveness and high performance, and includes advanced technology such as Preemption-Threshold Scheduling.

Systemcom and JVD Form Working Relationship

Kontron Becomes M2M Partner of Deutsche Telekom

Kontron has announced its cooperation with Deutsche Telekom. The M2M partnership with one of the world’s leading network operators and service providers extends Kontron’s marketing and distribution channels, and underlines its strategic investment to provide embedded computer-based solutions for the huge multiplicity of industrial grade M2M applications. “Fleet management and video surveillance, as well as distributed outdoor digital signage systems and NFC advertising boards, are only a few of the numerous vertical markets toward which our industrial grade M2M solutions are targeted. Be-

JVD, inventor of the iASIC and a company in Analog and Mixed-Signal ASIC Design and Manufacturing, has announced that it has agreed to cooperate on several strategic levels with Systemcom, of Zagreb, Croatia. Under the terms of the agreement, JVD will have access to Systemcom’s technical design resources, giving JVD a greater range of design skills from which to service its growing demand for Analog ASICs. JVD’s approach to ASIC design, called iASICs, breaks with most conventional analog IC design methodology by embodying a full custom approach rather than using library-cell-based solutions. iASICs create the smallest chips and thus guarantees customers the lowest total cost solution. Access to the Systemcom’s design resources not only gives JVD a physical presence in Europe, but also expands the company’s portfolio of design skills and capabilities, especially in the area of nanotechnology biosensors, a focus market for Systemcom.

ing a cooperation partner of the Deutsche Telekom will help us to get accelerated access to OEMs from these various vertical markets,� said Claus Giebert, Kontron‘s Product Manager for M2M solutions in Europe. “A close partnership with the network operators is also important for improving our own M2M services: The Internet of Things—or telemetry, in other words—needs a high-availability infrastructure and an appropriate quality of services. Think about distributed energy management systems, for example. Only in partnership with worldwide leading network operators and service providers for telecommunication such as Deutsche Telekom, we can ensure this for our customers.�

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2/28/13 9:52 AM


FORUM Colin McCracken

Bring Back the Stack


he recent Design West trade show in Silicon Valley was filled with all of the usual software and chip announcements, but a faint murmur was detectable from a surprising cross section of the show: Stackable single board computers. While most of the board-level exhibitors still carry this type of product, it takes a discriminating eye to spot these in some booths when surrounded by a sea of other board types and system-level products as well. What does this say about the state of the union of SBCs that allow I/O cards to be plugged in, parallel to the SBC rather than the right-angle / vertical desktop PC slot type? The predecessor ESC shows featured plenty of expandable SBCs. At first glance, it appears that manufacturers have shifted their R&D investments to faster-growing architectures such as computer-on-modules (COMs) or carrier boards that COMs plug into. In some cases, manufacturers have simply moved along the integration food chain to focus on system-level products, sourcing the SBCs and I/O they need from other branch offices and/or companies. This viewpoint is supported by examining the stackable SBC companies that have been gobbled up during the last 10 years. Many of the SBC R&D teams located in Europe and the U.S. have been re-purposed or shut down completely. Some of the large board suppliers already have 5 to 10 years of experience helping their system OEM customers migrate away from tall I/O stacks to COMs and custom carriers. This activity pre-dates PCI Express appearing on any COM or stackable SBC. A number of the medical device manufacturers moved from PC/104 or PC/104-Plus to the ETX form factor, which also supports PCI and ISA buses, so such a transition was transparent to peripherals and device drivers. In fact, the very first small form factor (SFF) off-the-shelf production-deployable carrier was from the ETX era, long before standard SFF production carriers for COM Express and Qseven arrived on the scene. Is this trend a one-way ticket? Hard to say. But some of the PC/104 manufacturers at the show generated buzz by either exhibiting or walking around evangelizing myriad new approaches to bus expansion for SFF SBCs. While each expansion connector has different attributes, a common thread is the willingness



to trade-off I/O stack height and flexibility (such as stack direction and legacy buses) in favor of lower costs. The belt-tightening results in instant relevance for other CPU architectures (ARM, etc.), not just for the latest generation Core i7 processor and custom heat pipe. In fact, size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) of the entire system would be reduced for most I/O types, due to reducing the board surface area consumed by bus connectors on every single board in the stack. With these fresh new approaches, the word “mezzanine” comes to mind for I/O, just like the mSATA and PCI Express Mini Card Wi-Fi modules. Imagine an SBC with multiple I/O sites side-by-side, each having a very low cost connector. This can be extended to standard carriers for COMs, in fact some PC/104 companies have now gone this direction already. After all, the very successful COMs are just processor mezzanines (remember PrPMC?). SFFs are finally taking a page out of the decades-old backplane architecture playbook, it appears. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual down at Stackables City Hall. Some might say this architecture type has given up so much ground that it would be hard to regain market share. An extinct medical market segment white paper comes to mind. But there’s nothing wrong with being ultra-focused on one thing. Most of the new COM and SBC form factors over the years have been launched without a trade group. COMs are for custom carriers (no ecosystem of I/O cards), although interoperability has been greatly improved by the work of competitors cooperating within a trade group. SBC form factors with slot card expansion or no bus expansion don’t need trade groups (consider Mini-ITX, ATX). But historically where off-board interfaces to other boards are involved, trade groups have been essential for safeguarding these coveted interfaces. If not defined clearly and protected, interoperability goes out the window. It will be interesting to watch the various SBC expansion inventions quietly discussed and debated at Design West. Will any of these become mainstream someday? Maybe blaze a trail without the overhead of a trade group? Or will some go “straight to DVD” or “straight to Netflix” like a bad summer movie?


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editor’s report Wireless Networking

Wireless Network Devices Set to Accelerate Connectivity in the Internet of Things The introduction of increasing numbers of products and development support along with power savings, software and scales of integration are making the incorporation of wireless technology easier and more cost-effective.

Figure 1 The Microchip MRF24WG0MA is a 54 Mbit/s Wi-Fi module with a PCB antenna.

by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief


mong recent introductions of highly integrated wireless connectivity, Microchip Technology has come out with a major expansion of its embeddedwireless portfolio that includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Zigbee in compact, integrated module forms. These are accompanied by development tools that have the potential to greatly expand the use of wireless connectivity in embedded devices that will span industrial through consumer users. Although Wi-Fi generally addresses wireless Internet access, the target designs for most of these devices are characterized by the intermittent sending of relatively small amounts of data mostly between devices or a human operator. And the user mostly interacts to set up a wireless network configuration of devices, then monitors their data, often after receiving an alert, or sends short, specific control commands to read status or change the state of some device like a light switch. The Wi-Fi modules are intended to free the system designer from worrying about RF



and antenna design, topics that digital developers are less familiar with in their daily work (Figure 1). They are also approved for use with their associated antennas. The Microchip model MRF24WG0MA is approved for use with its integrated PCB meander antenna, and the -MB model is approved for use with a list of antenna types that are associated with the module. This means the modules have received regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada and do not require regulatory testing if no changes are made to the module circuitry. The MRF24WG0MA/MB interfaces to Microchip PIC18, PIC24, dsPIC33 and pic32 microcontrollers via a four-wire SPI slave interface and runs on a single 2.8V to 3.6V operating voltage. They incorporate an IEEE 802.11 radio and handle all b/g data rates up to 54 Mbit/s. WEP64/128, WPA and WPA-EAP security are featured as well. Microchip also offers a PIC-based TCP/IP stack so that the PIC microcontroller can communicate with the module through a command API from within the

TCP/IP stack. Data communications take place via the SPI interface. To address the needs for wireless mesh networks including the Zigbee protocols, the Microchip suite includes the MRF24XA IEEE 802.15.4 and proprietary mode transceiver. The module supports both the Zigbee Alliance PRO and RF4CE protocol stacks as well as Microchip’s proprietary MiWi wireless mesh protocol. MiWi includes profiles for point-to-point as well as for 8- or 64-hop mesh networking. The transceiver operates at 256 Kbit/s in IEEE 802.15.4 standard mode, but can operate at 256 Kbit/s to 2 Mbit/s in its proprietary mode. Some designers want an easy way to migrate their 802.15.4 designs to either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, in order to make them accessible from smartphones and tablets, or to add Internet connectivity. This includes applications such as wireless sensor networks, remote monitoring/control and measurement, and M2M cable replacements for home, commercial and industrial networks. Increasingly, home networks can consist of Zigbee or Wi-Fi devices, and a homeowner may not be aware of the differ-

editor’s report

ences when he or she picks up a light controller or motion sensor from a hardware store. At the same time, however, a growing number of homes have a local Wi-Fi network for multiple computers, which also serves as a gateway to the Internet.

Wi-Fi and Zigbee

Thus there is a need to be able to mix and match Wi-Fi and Zigbee devices as well as to make even an all-Zigbee network accessible to the Internet via a WiFi gateway. In the case of Microchip, its RN XV series of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth socket modules provide agency-certified, drop-in connectivity for any XBee socket for designers who want to migrate an existing design from 802.15.4. To simplify designs, the stacks are integrated on the module, configured via simple ASCII commands, and can easily connect to any MCU via a serial interface. In the case of Texas Instruments, the company offers its SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3000 solution that covers 802.11 b/g, incorporates an IPv4 TCP/IP stack and operates up to 11 Mbit/s. TI also supplies the Zigbee CC2530, which is an SoC containing a network processor as well as the CC2530ZNP, which is a coprocessor containing the Zigbee stack and communicates with the system’s main processor via an SPI interface. In addition, there is the CC2520, which is an 802.15.4 transceiver that can be run using, for example, an ARM Cortex M3 processor. This option is available to designers who need a larger quantity of flash memory or RAM. In the case of both TI and Microchip, Zigbee devices would have to communicate with a Wi-Fi gateway to gain access to the Internet. Addressing this, Gainspan has developed a single chip solution that brings together Wi-Fi and 802.15.4. The GS2000 is an integrated System on Chip (SoC) containing multi-standard RF as well as both 802.11b/g/n and 802.15.4 PHY/MAC functionality, dual ARM Cortex-M3 processors, networking stack and services, and large memory size to support various application profiles—all on a single silicon die. The new Wi-Fi and ZigBee IP chip is mainly targeted to accelerate

Figure 2 The Gainspan GS2000 brings together 802.11 b/g/n and Zigbee in a single integrated system on chip.

Figure 3 The Microchip RN42XVP is a through-hole plug-in Bluetooth module supporting Bluetooth V2.1 Class 2.

the development and market adoption of home networked devices (Figure 2). By incorporating the two wireless IP-based Home Area Network (HAN) standards while supporting IPv4 and/or IPv6 devices, the GS2000 extends Inter-

net connectivity wherever there is a Wi-Fi access point or hotspot, and leverages the key benefits of each technology—the high data rates and widespread availability of Wi-Fi along with the small channelization and meshing capability of ZigBee IP. RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013


editor’s report In residential applications, for example, the solution will bridge the gap between smart meters using ZigBee and the new connected white appliances, which all integrate Wi-Fi. The addition of 802.11 n support additionally enables the use of high definition video and audio. Lest anyone doubt the market potential of home networking, predictions are that annual shipments of “smart home” nodes will grow from under 20 million units in 2012, to over 90 million in 2017. Both ZigBee and Wi-Fi can be expected to show significant growth in this market, and the two technologies can be used together within a range of key smart home devices. The use of such dual-mode devices can serve to shield the nontechnical user from being concerned with which protocols or standards to choose, moving the decision to “plug and use.”


The other wireless technology that is now almost ubiquitous is of course Bluetooth. Texas Instruments WLAN technology is now integrated in a module designed by LS Research that combines 2.4


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GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/n with Bluetooth. The TiWi-R2 device also incorporates TI’s Enhanced Low Power (ELP) technology to address the needs of handheld and mobile devices. The TiWi-R2 has SDIO and UART interfaces for WLAN and Bluetooth and has a connector for an external antenna. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use the same antenna port. For its part, Microchip also offers distinct Bluetooth modules, which, like its Wi-Fi socket modules, can be used as plug-in replacements to migrate from 802.15.4 or, of course, be used in original designs (Figure3). The Bluetooth version 2.1 Class 1 (RN41) and Class 2 (RN42) modules are also backward compatible with Bluetooth 2.0, 1.2 and 1.1. The two classes represent ranges of 100 meters for the RN41 and 20 meters for the RN42. Both modules are certified. All the devices described here also are supported by development kits and tools to ease the task of either developing a wireless-enabled device from scratch or integrating/migrating wireless technology in an existing design. The levels of integration, low power, power management

and development support show the potential for the increasing connectivity of even the smallest embedded devices with monitoring and data aggregation gateways to servers, IT systems and even with the Cloud. This is one of the ways that small quantities of data become the Big Data about which we are currently hearing so much. Gainspan San Jose, CA. (408) 627-6500. []. LS Research Cedarburg, WI. (262) 375-4400. []. Microchip Chandler, AZ. (480) 792-7200. []. Texas Instruments Dallas, TX. (972) 995-2011. [].

5/29/13 9:28 AM



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High Speed Connectivity

New Interconnect Fabric Trends Help Unlock Potential of HighPerformance Embedded Computing Some of the current usage trends of fabric in some of the more sophisticated HPEC systems indicate the need to consider the pros and cons of fabric-oriented technical attributes along with the associated driving commercial technologies. by Marc Couture, Mercury Systems


here is no shortage of compute engine types available to high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) systems. However, just as one wouldn’t use a single element from the periodic table to build an entire racing car, the same holds true for processing elements. Multi-core Intel devices, PowerPCs, graphical processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and other processors, ranging from the simplistic to the exotic, are selected for their individual attributes and strengths in order to construct embedded systems that optimize every last ounce of performance per unit size, weight and power. The exact mix and ratios are not only application dependent, but may also be influenced by other less technical considerations such as available engineering talent and device availability over the projected lifetime of the program. The next critical stage of HPEC system construction lies in the sensor FIND the products mentioned in this article and more at



Payload slots


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Expan Plane

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l Plane



Figure 1 OpenVPX Multiplane Backplane.

ingest, compute interconnect and data egress (i.e., I/O plus fabric). As with the case of leveraging the respective strengths of heterogeneous processing elements, the same analogy is applicable to I/O and fabric interconnect. By playing to the individual strengths of fabrics whose protocols have been optimized for different end purposes, ef-

fective data flow, critical for real-time HPEC processes, is realized. A standards-based form factor is required to support a heterogeneous fabric scheme from a physical infrastructure standpoint. This equates to the need for lots of signaling interconnect—both single-ended and especially differential pair. Speed is paramount and must be

technology in context

Figure 2 SRIO OpenVPX Switch Module.

measured in GHz, upward of and beyond 10 GHz. Maintaining the signal integrity of all this high-density signaling in HPEC systems running at such phenomenal rates requires resiliency against brutal vibration profiles. This becomes especially acute at the temperature extremes of arctic cold and desert heat experienced by many platforms in tough environmental situations. The VPX form factor (size 6U), as defined by VITA 46, fits the bill with its use of connectors such as TE Connectivity’s RT 2-R supplying up to 192 differential pairs of signaling per module for starters. There are two fundamental types of modules, payload and switch. Payload modules are often compute-centric or geared toward supporting I/O such as streaming sensor data or perhaps highcapacity storage. Switch modules on the other hand are usually comprised of high port-count switching components and act as central fabric hubs for the entire VPX system. These modules are in turn placed into a chassis with a VPX backplane that ranges from just a few slots up toward twenty slots. Larger systems typically contain two switch cards, whereas smaller systems may just have a single switch or none at all, in which case the payload boards are “meshed” together.

are a plethora of OpenVPX (VITA 65 standard) module, slot and backplane profiles. Of particular relevance to constructing HPEC systems is the fact that the OpenVPX Multi-Plane (e.g., SL T6-PAY-4F1Q 2U2T-10.2. 6/ MOD6-PAY-4F1Q2U2T-12.2.1-13) profiles lend themselves to supporting multiple fabric interconnect levels between OpenVPX modules. Each standard payload module slot has four main fabric planes as referenced in Figure 1. Similar to the human anatomy, these four planes coexist, serve different functions and operate in parallel for optimal efficiency. The lowest level plane is the management plane. Physically implemented with I2C along the backplane and Ethernet out of the chassis, this “embedded nervous system” utilizes IPMI and SMNP protocols to keep an eye on critical physical “vitals” such as temperature, power and health. One level up from that is the control plane; Gigabit Ethernet usually resides here. As the name implies, the control plane is typically centric to a managed switch in an OpenVPX switch slot or chassis manager, interconnecting multiple payload modules for the purpose of passing command, control and application-related status messages among them.

The Right Fabric for the Right Topology

Driving the Data Plane

Next comes the mapping of heterogeneous fabrics onto an appropriate backplane topology, and for that there



The OpenVPX data plane is one level up from the control plane. This is where high-rate sensor and signal processing data flows. Just like the control

plane, the data plane fabric topology is often designed with one or more switch modules interconnecting many payload modules. There are numerous choices in terms of fabric protocol in the data plane. Serial RapidIO (SRIO), InfiniBand and 10G/40G Ethernet are all popular options. They are often chosen based on an affinity for particular attributes associated with the given fabric. All three protocols share superior benchmarks in the form of data throughput, latency and determinism— critical for real-time sensor-oriented HPEC systems. Originally developed by Mercury Systems and Motorola, SRIO is one of the more popular data plane fabrics for embedded modules performing digital signal processing. Specifically designed for clustering networks of peer-to-peer embedded processors with minimal latency and software overhead, SRIO’s protocol layers are terminated in hardware keeping it efficient and compact. SRIO is currently in the process of moving from a 3.125 Gbaud rate to the SRIO Gen 2 rates of 5.0 and 6.25 Gbaud. SRIO endpoints on payload modules are typically implemented with bridging endpoints from Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT). Likewise, switch modules leverage RapidIO switch components as shown in Figure 2. The example OpenVPX Switch in Figure 2 not only acts as a system hub for the SRIO data plane but also for the Gigabit Ethernet control plane, and even

technology in context

the management plane. There are many processing elements that “speak” native SRIO such as Freescale PowerPCs and Texas Instruments DSPs; however, there are more that do not. With Intel devices, the packets flowing over the PCI Express (PCIe) lanes must be converted to SRIO before being networked into an SRIO cluster of processors, hence the IDT bridge ASIC. A viable alternative to an ASIC-based approach is to use FPGAs from Altera or Xilinx with the appropriate IP load and enough SERDES lanes to service all interconnecting ports. The latter approach offers a significant advantage: protocols can be changed provided that there is enough room within the FPGA in terms of resource utilization and that the SERDES can keep up with the required Gbaud rate. In this case, IP is instantiated in the FPGA that marries up Intel PCI lanes to a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switched data plane instead of SRIO. In any case, the roadmap for SRIO has been somewhat quiet of late. However, Gen 3 SRIO rates of 10 Gbaud per lane are in the plan and it’s a good bet that we will see enabling technology in the not too distant future. Bridges and switches from Mellanox Technologies are slated to have a profound influence on the OpenVPX data plane, providing InfiniBand at different rates including four lanes of five Gbaud per lane (double data rate) and 10 Gbaud per lane (quad data rate). As opposed to SRIO originating out of the embedded COTS world, InfiniBand has roots in the High Performance Computing (HPC) and data center worlds. IBM’s BladeCenter servers use InfiniBand to connect large Intel server-class multicore devices with software to middleware infrastructures such as Message Passing Interface (MPI) and OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED), which have strong intrinsic ties back into the very fabric itself. Now with the injection of the Mellanox fabric technology into OpenVPX payload and switch modules, similar architectures with high core count, high memory capacity, InfiniBand, and MPI/OFED, can now be deployed in highly mobile, tough operating environments. The same de-

vices from Mellanox can also be used in a 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet mode, and the analogy holds for the OpenVPX payload and switch modules in that these same modules can now run in Ethernet mode. Ethernet’s greatest strength has been and continues to be its ubiquity as a standard, and of course, its highly scalable nature. However, heavy software involvement in regards to protocol stack termination in addition to related latency penalties has precluded it from certain signal processing applications. The solution for embedded processing systems running real-time applications appears to be Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), which is expected to become increasingly popular.

The Expansion Plane: Lanes and Speed

This brings us to the fourth plane within the OpenVPX Multi-Plane topology, the expansion plane. PCIe is typically implemented on the expansion plane. This is a super highway of as many PCIe lanes as possible that run between adjacent payload modules. For instance, an Intel-based payload module may interface to a GPU payload module in an adjacent slot via eight lanes or even 16 lanes of PCIe. The idea with the expansion plane in this capacity is very high bandwidth via many bonded, fast links. Unlike SRIO, InfiniBand and Ethernet, PCIe is not geared for peer-topeer multi-computing clusters. However, PCIe is well suited to the OpenVPX Expansion plane where a single processor payload acts as the PCI “root complex” and other “peripheral” modules are memory mapped into it. Given that PCIe is native to so many devices, no protocol adapting is required. Whereas the data plane is often used to scale to many channels of homogenous processing elements over a switched fabric, which is dynamically changing its configuration from moment to moment, the PCIebased expansion plane is often used to create a heterogeneous slice of processing elements (e.g., FPGA to Intel to GPU) over two or three adjacent OpenVPX slots. The next big advance regard-

ing the expansion plane is an increase in speed from Gen 2.0 PCIe at five Gbaud to eight Gbaud with PCIe 3.0. Only time will tell if there will ever be a single fabric winner along the OpenVPX data plane. PCIe might even become a contender on the data plane as some of the newer PCIe switches from PLX Technology are incorporating new non-transparent bridging (NTB) capabilities. This allows peer-to-peer networks to be formed using just PCIe, which once again is a native endpoint in just about all of the main processing devices in the embedded market. Regardless of the fabric, influencing factors in choosing a fabric may include the salient advantages; however, legacy momentum often has an even greater pull. Some customers invest in the development of a custom sensor payload board that injects data right onto the fabric, in which case simply changing fabrics would require a new board design. An existing code base with strong intrinsic ties to the fabric can create real staying power for the incumbent fabric. Finally, in some platforms, such as the defense industry, there are strong incentives to use certain fabrics that are perceived as more standard than others. Regardless of the specific fabric choice, engineers in the embedded computing space are largely subject to other more vast markets that will dictate whether or not enabling technologies will continue along a thriving roadmap or will hit a dead end. One thing is certain: core counts and performance per device will only continue to increase, and until a single device can consume all applications, interconnect fabric will always be a necessity. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA. (978) 256-1300. []. Mellanox Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 970-3400. []. PLX Technology Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 774-9060. [].



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High Speed Connectivity

Standardizing APIs across Fabric Interconnects Speeds Development and Performance in Multifabric Systems Commercial off-the-Shelf (COTS) board interconnect technology is currently in a state of transition, where the once dominant parallel bus form factors like CPCI and VME are giving way to new high-speed serial interconnectbased form factors like AMC, VPX and VXS. by Girish Shirasat, Concurrent Technologies


he parallel buses have served the market very well for a few decades with a number of tuning and other enhancements applied to them to improve their speeds and capabilities. In many cases they remain the best choice, for example, in systems with large I/O requirements. However, to take the performance leap from Mbytes/s in the case of the parallel buses to Gbytes/s, while avoiding the issues of cross talk, electromagnetic interference and timing skew that come into play when transmitting Gigahertz signals on parallel buses, a serial interconnect is essential. This has given rise to new openarchitecture form factors like AMC, VPX and VXS, which provide support for serialbased switched fabrics using 1/10/40 Gigabit Ethernet, PCI Express (PCIe), Serial RapidIO (SRIO) and InfiniBand protocols . With the latest multicore processor technology from companies like Intel, it is possible to construct a high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) system based on these switched fabrics that is capable of delivering a performance of a few teraflops with a few hundred Gbytes/s of data fabric bandwidth. Until recently, this



TR 90x/x1x IP:

TR 80x/x9x IP:

PCI Express

TR 501/x6x IP:

TR A40/30x IP:

Figure 1 Each VPX board in the system has its own IP address and can be reached using the TCP/IP protocol.

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technology in context

Socket Based Application

Socket Library

Embedded Application Direct IPC Library

DCOM Library

Socket Layer

TCP/IP Stack

Fabric Interconnect Communication Modules VPX/AMC/VXS on Ethernet/PCIExpress/Serial RapidIO Application/Libraries Hardware

OS System Modules Concurrent Technologies’ Modules

Figure 2 The FIN-S software architecture.

level of performance was possible only by using a “big iron” supercomputer. Each of the supported switched fabrics has its advantages and disadvantages, and currently there are systems deployed in the industry using all of these fabrics, with Ethernet/ SRIO being the preferred flavor in the telecom market and PCIe/ Infiniband/ SRIO generally preferred in the defense market. Most of the applications that demand HPEC systems are distributed in nature and use multiple single-board computers that process data obtained from a few I/O cards. Adhering to standard software principles other than application performance, any software architect would consider portability as a key requirement, along with reducing development time in learning new interfaces. These principles accelerate the time-to-market and reduce the total cost of ownership. Because all the interconnects mentioned above have their own transport layer protocol to communicate between processing nodes, achieving these goals has become a challenging task. Concurrent Technologies’ Fabric Interconnect Networking Software (FIN-S)



addresses these design goals by providing standardized uniform APIs across the various supported interconnects. Among the various interconnects, Ethernet has the most ubiquitous and standardized TCP/IP socket APIs, which have the advantage of being very well understood by the developer community. Ethernet also brings with it a very healthy ecosystem with myriad applications already developed for it. The FIN-S software provides these standard TCP/IP socket APIs over the supported interconnects such as PCIe and SRIO, so that any existing Ethernet application can run on these interconnects with no change. This high level of portability is achieved in combination with high bandwidth, low CPU utilization and low latency across the interconnects.

Why Use a TCP/IP Socket API?

With the explosion of the Internet, TCP/IP is one of the most common of the protocol stacks that is used to communicate between multiple systems across a wide area network. The standard POSIX socket API (final evolution of BSD sockets) provides

the user level interface to applications that want to communicate using TCP/IP. Over the years, a solid ecosystem has evolved around this protocol, which includes a large number of applications developed using the socket APIs. This also leads to a quite detailed and widespread understanding of the API, its usage, design patterns and development community. Ethernet is one of the most widely used physical media with TCP/ IP, but the protocol is not limited by any particular physical medium. Hence, it is a logical choice to add support for the use of TCP/ IP even on other fabric interconnects. FIN-S adds this support and achieves this by emulating an Ethernet device over supported fabrics so that from a user’s perspective, the interconnect can be seen as an Ethernet network running over TCP/IP even though the physical media is PCIe or SRIO. To give an example of ease of use, consider a 3U VPX system with PCIe interconnect, based on Concurrent Technologies’ family of 3U VPX processor boards, as shown in Figure 1. To allow each board in the system to communicate with the others, FIN-S provides a virtual network interface that can be treated like any other Ethernet network interface irrespective of the interconnect being used. Typically “ping” commands are used to test the reachability in any TCP/IP-based network. Hence in the system shown in Figure 1, for all the four boards to be able to ping each other, all the user would need to do is assign a unique IP address to each board. The same would be true in the case of a SRIO-based system. The FIN-S software package consists of a set of kernel drivers and API libraries (Figure 2). One set of kernel drivers provides the virtual network driver functionality that sits below the standard TCP/IP stack and emulates a network device. In addition to the ability to use the standard sockets for data communication via the emulated network device, FIN-S also provides the Direct Inter-Processor Communication (Direct IPC) API, which provides a peer-to-peer, low-latency, high-performance interface that can be used in any low-level embedded application. The last of the APIs provided by FIN-S is the Device Communication (DCOM) API, which provides low-level user space interfaces to communicate with any third-party board. For example in the case of a SRIO system, it provides the functionality of reading/writing configuration

technology in context

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Figure 5 Latency—10 GbE vs FIN-S PCIe vs FIN-S SRIO.

space, outbound/inbound window management, doorbell transmission/reception and DMA functionality. The multiple sets of APIs provide the end users with the flexibility to construct their HPEC applications.


FIN-S provides standardized APIs across interconnects as well as providing very high performance. Typically throughput, CPU utilization and latency are the three most important factors that are measured when it comes to comparing interconnect performance. Below is a comparison of Ethernet, PCI Express and Serial RapidIO interconnects using the above mentioned performance factors with FIN-S running on PCI Express and Serial RapidIO interconnects. Data Bandwidth Figure 3 plots the data bandwidth obtained using the standard Linux “iperf” network benchmarking utility, for various packet sizes, using: • a 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapter having a x8 Gen2 PCIe link to the CPU, • FIN-S running on PCIe Gen2 x4 links, and



• FIN-S running on SRIO Gen2 (5 Gbps) x4 links. Performance metrics are also provided for RIONET, which is an Open Source implementation of Ethernet over SRIO on Linux. As can be seen from Figure 3 when using FIN-S a sustained throughput of more than 1.6 Gbytes/s over PCIe and 1.8 Gbytes/s over SRIO can be achieved using the standard TCP/IP stack. CPU Utilization As can be seen from Figure 4, only 5 percent of the CPU is used by FIN-S to deliver a performance of 1.6 Gbytes/s for PCI Express and 1.8 Gbytes/s for Serial RapidIO. This leaves 95 percent of the CPU available to user applications to process data. Latency Figure 5 shows that the FIN-S SRIO implementation provides sub-10 microsecond latency using the standard TCP/ IP stack. The following products were used to carry out the above benchmarks.

10 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter: XM 520/032 - Dual Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet XMC Adapter 3U VPX PCIe SBC: TR 905/x11 3rd generation Intel Core i7 Quad Core Processor Single Board Computer AMC SRIO SBC: AM 935/311 - 3rd generation Intel Core i7 Quad Core Processor AdvancedMC Module By abstracting the fabric interconnect details, an interactive software solution such as FIN-S provides a uniform, coherent and standardized interface for the user to develop highly portable and performance-oriented distributed applications on a HPEC system. With the ability to write applications using standard IP socket APIs and to use off-the-shelf network applications on interconnects like PCI Express and Serial RapidIO, the total cost of ownership can be reduced drastically, along with reducing the total time-to-market. Concurrent Technologies Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].

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High Speed Connectivity

Serial Fabrics: Making the Connection VPX does not dictate the choice of serial fabrics, but embraces many of them and leaves the choice up to the board vendor or system architect. There are many choices available, each with strengths and weaknesses, and the most appropriate will often be determined by the demands of the application. by Peter Thompson, GE Intelligent Platforms


ne of the primary reasons to adopt OpenVPX as a form factor for embedded systems is the access it brings to high-speed serial fabrics. The PC world had moved from parallel connections to serial with the advent of PCI Express, and dragged the chipsets along with them. The rugged, embedded world looked on, wondering how it would balance interconnect bandwidth with the new levels of compute power becoming available with multicore processors and GPUs. Along came OpenVPX with connectors and backplanes rated to 6 GHz and beyond to allow use of these new interconnects, and all was well.

Today’s Choices

VITA 46.1 – VMEbus: Initially it was thought that there would be many systems that would require backward compatibility with legacy VME boards, so accommodation was made for mapping the VMEbus signals to VPX. While some FIND the products mentioned in this article and more at



Figure 1 The GE IPN251 supports multiple serial fabrics.

SBCs retain this capability, its use has not been widespread and newer SBCs tend to forgo such connectivity. VITA 46.6 – Gigabit Ethernet Control Plane: Gigabit Ethernet has established itself as the most widely adopted control plane interface, allowing the separation of control data from data plane traffic. For some systems this may be enough bandwidth for the system. This is particularly true of conventional compute platforms.

In the world of high-performance embedded computing, the heavy lifting of data around a VPX system is most often accomplished with meshed or switched connections. While sharing many physical layer attributes, each fabric has its own characteristics at the transport layer that can make one choice more suitable for specific applications. VITA 46.4 – PCI Express: PCIe is ubiquitous, being native to most processor chipsets. The original implementa-

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technology in context

tion allowed 2.5 GTransfers/s in each direction per link. Link widths of up to x32 provide up to 80 GT/s, although the widest usually seen in VPX is x16. Gen 2 PCIe doubled the throughput and is widely supported by chipsets and backplanes. Current generation devices often support Gen 3, which ups the rate to 8 Gbaud. This, coupled with a change in the coding mechanism used to ensure good clock recovery from 8b10b

There are normally restrictions on the number and size of the windows that are supported by a switch device, limiting the scalability of PCIe-based systems. A layer of software is generally needed to provide true peer-to-peer transfers between nodes. This is often proprietary, although some vendors layer a virtual network driver over PCIe enabling TCP and UDP sockets to be used. For these reasons PCIe tends to be seen most as the data plane fabric in

Typical OpenVPX

SRIO Gen 2

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PCIe Gen3


DDR InfiniBand







Rate (Gbaud)












Packet payload max bytes




9000 (jumbo)


Packet overhead bytes






Effective Bandwidth GB/s


1.99, 3.98, 7.96

3.93, 7.85,15.69



TABLE 1 Performance characteristics of the most popular serial fabrics.

(20% overhead) to 128b130b (1.5% overhead), boosts performance by a factor close to two. Some of the drawbacks of PCIe as a connection relate to its heritage as a replacement for the older parallel PCI bus, where it is assumed that a single root complex is connected to multiple end points. While this is adequate for connecting peripheral devices to a processor, it is not tenable for peer-to-peer connection between multiple processors in a system. In order to accommodate this, modern PCIe switch devices enable windowing between domains via non-transparent bridging. This allows two devices that are masters of their own PCIe domains to coexist by designating one as the root complex behind a transparent port, and the other as a subordinate behind a nontransparent port. This allows systems to be built around meshed or centrally switched topologies.



3U systems, with 6U mostly employing it on the Expansion Plane. VITA 46.3 – Serial RapidIO: SRIO overcomes the scalability issues of PCIe. It is mostly employed in systems where it is implemented natively on the processor—such as Power Architecture and some digital signal processing devices. It is also seen on other architectures, such as Intel-based systems, where it is manifested as a bridge device from PCIe to SRIO. It has seen a similar path forward as PCIe, with two the same 2.5 and 5 Gbaud rates. Low level drivers tend to be proprietary with no standard interface, although a TCP implementation is sometimes layered over them. VITA 46.7 – Ethernet 1000BaseKX/10GBase-KX4 Ethernet: 10GbE has seen wide adoption in systems—primarily 6U to date—but it is starting to crop up on 3U. It is typically implemented as 10GBASE-KX4 four-lane “Fat Pipe,” although 10GBASE-T is making inroads

with the advent of lower power PHYs on a 28nm process. Its attraction is the lower signaling rate that comes courtesy of a DSQ128 encoding scheme that reduces the required transmission characteristics to 500 MHz, allowing the use of standard cabling to external devices, and for conduction across legacy connectors seen in system retrofits. One major benefit is the availability of familiar programming interfaces. Even with the offload capabilities built into some NICs, the burden of running these stacks is substantial and can easily chew up most of the cycles of a processor core. To alleviate this, some NICs implement Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) protocols to allow for very low latency, high bandwidth transfers that require very little processor involvement. VITA 46.8 – InfiniBand: InfiniBand offers many of the same benefits as RDMA-capable Ethernet, but typically at higher performance (DDR at 20 Gbits/s, QDR at 40 Gbits/s, FDR at 56 Gbits/s). VITA 46.5 – HyperTransport: this has become dormant. An example of a product that combines fabrics is the IPN251 from GE Intelligent Platforms (Figure 1). This 6U OpenVPX board combines the latest generations of Intel i7 quad core processor and NVIDIA Kepler GPU on one platform. PCIe Gen3 provides onboard data paths between CPU and GPU, with 16 lanes of Gen 2 being routed to the Expansion Plane and 8 lanes to an XMC mezzanine site. The Data Plane is software configurable as either 10GbaseKX4 or DDR InfiniBand (or a mixture of the two). This allows multiple interconnects to be employed concurrently, playing to the strengths of each. PCIe provides the connection from CPU to peripheral devices (GPU, mezzanine, off-board resources, etc.), while 10GbE or InfiniBand are used as the primary Data Plane, supporting RDMA transfers, including GPUDirect that allows data to flow directly from sensor to GPU memory with minimal latency. 1GbE serves as the control plane.

Choosing a Fabric for an Application

While on the surface the different interconnects may appear similar

technology in context

(Table 1), there are cases where the demands of an application dictate which is the best choice. Sometimes it may be the need for the highest point to point bandwidth. Other use cases may be most sensitive to transfer latency where the system performs a transfer function on an input signal and must present the manipulated output with the shortest possible time lag from receipt. Other choices may hinge on maximizing system bisectional bandwidth, which is primarily dependent on topology, but can be affected by the switch hierarchy of a particular implementation. As an example, a communication system might fit a pipelined architecture well, where data flows from one end of the system to the other in one direction, with each stage providing processing of the data as it flows through. In this case point to point characteristics are important, but bisectional bandwidth is not. By contrast, a synthetic aperture radar has much need of all to all communication of data, so bisectional bandwidth is of great interest. An electronic warfare system is normally required to produce an output response with minimal time-lag from receipt of the incoming signal, so end to end latency is critical. When it comes to minimizing latency and CPU loading, fabrics that support RDMA protocols are preferred— which applies to all of the listed ones (RoCE or iWARP for 10GbE). The CPU has minimal involvement in the transfer after setup. In most cases the hardware enables kernel bypass, which serves to reduce overhead. One characteristic of a switched fabric is that all connections are point to point, either direct or via a switch. This can affect system data flow depending on how the data is to be distributed. Often a single data source must distribute to a number of consumers. This can lead to multiple repeat transfers. One feature that some interconnects support that can alleviate this is multicast. SRIO, 10GbE and InfiniBand all support this. The software APIs for the different fabrics can be very different at the native level. The last few years have seen

the rise in popularity of the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) stack. This is designed to leverage RDMA and kernel bypass mechanisms, so is most often seen in conjunction with Ethernet and InfiniBand, although there are implementations for SRIO. This decouples the application from the underlying transport, allowing for portability. This can be further enhanced by layering open standard 3rd Gen Intel i7

order to build multiprocessor systems that scale application performance.

The Future

It is anticipated that PCIe Gen 4 will be formalized in the 2014/15 timeframe with silicon availability following that. It has been determined that 16 Gbit/s transfers over copper are feasible. If and how that can be implemented on backplanes remains to be seen. Approximate metrics

Cpu clock speed


Vector compute speed


L1 cache Bandwidth

320 GB/sec

L2 cache Bandwidth

173 GB/sec

L3 cache Bandwidth

103 GB/sec

Memory Bandwidth

21.3 GB/sec

Dual DDR InfiniBand

3.92 GB/sec

TABLE 2 Performance characteristics of the third generation Intel i7 processor.

middleware such as Message Passing Interface (MPI) over OFED. Another factor to be considered is the choice of operating system. Not all operating systems support all fabrics. Additionally, the choice of OS can affect the performance of the fabric. For instance, Linux is becoming a popular choice due to the wide availability of drivers and open standard middleware. However, standard Linux kernels may not behave as predictably as desired when it comes to deviations in transfer latency. It may require judicious selection of the distribution and tuning of the kernel to achieve the desired results. Most fabric controllers have many parameters that can be adjusted to tune specific performance as desired, such as adjusting interrupt coalescing timers to strike a balance between higher packet latency under light loading against flooding the host processor with interrupt requests under high loads. Why do we care so much about interconnect bandwidth? One reasoning is that as processor speeds increase, (Table 2) or more cores are included per processing node, the interconnect scheme needs to follow suit in

The SRIO roadmap shows a path to RAPIDIO 10xN at 10 Gbaud and RAPIDIO 25xN at 25 Gbaud. 10xN allows for up to 16 lanes using the same physical layer as IEEE 10GBase-KR. 10GbE is now mainstream, with 40GbE parts becoming available. 40GbE has both backplane (40GBASE-KR4) and cable (40GBASE-CR4) standards. 100GbE is on the horizon, but currently only has cable definitions for copper connects (100GBASE-CR10), with no backplane definition. InfiniBand has already made the move from Quad Data Rate (QDR) at 10Gbaud to Fourteen Data Rate (FDR) at 14 Gbaud. Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) at 26 Gbaud is on the horizon, with enhancements beyond that being shown on the InfiniBand Trade Association roadmap. Intel has introduced QDR-80, which channel-bonds two QDR x4 ports . Converged networking technology, such as that provided by Virtual Protocol Interconnect, is starting to allow multiple protocols to be handled by the same network. Ethernet can coexist with InfiniBand and Fiber Channel. Products such RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013


technology in context

as the IPN251 and IBX400 from GE will leverage this convergence. The progress of fabrics is pretty much assured from a technology roadmap perspective. The question is, at what point will copper connections no longer be viable? It is already apparent that changes will soon be needed in order to support higher switching rates—new connectors, different backplane materials and fabrication methods, etc. VPX already allows for optical fiber connections to the backplane, although today these are used to pass optical connections through the backplane to fiber optic cable assemblies. One logical step would be to embed optical wave-


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guides in the backplane. This technology exists, but is some way from being manufacturable at reasonable cost. However, every time we think we have hit the limits, something comes along that pushes the problem horizon outward. We have already seen how 10GBASE-T reduces the signaling rate considerably in comparison with 10GBASE-KX4 by using new polynomial encoding techniques. There is much speculation about the reasons for Intel’s acquisitions of the InfiniBand assets of QLogic, the Ethernet silicon provider Fulcrum and the Aries interconnect from Cray. Similarly, AMD acquired their Freedom Fabric technol-

ogy with the acquisition of SeaMicro. One conclusion that might be drawn is that the high-speed fabric connections will be drawn closer to the processor, becoming an on-die resource. This would certainly reduce latency and would probably reduce the power required due to the close coupling. It is not a big stretch to see the time where the processor is the network, fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things. General Electric Intelligent Platforms Huntsville, AL. (780) 401-7700. [].

5/29/13 9:36 AM


connected Handheld Terminals for Industrial Applications

The Place for Industrial Mobile Handhelds in the Internet of Things Handheld industrial grade terminals, similar in form and function to commercial tablets, are increasingly becoming the user interface of choice for a growing number of industrial applications where mobility and real-time data integrity are vital. by Brant Ku, ADLINK Technology


loud computing has recently become a major emerging development trend in the information transmission industry. So-called cloud computing refers to services that put huge amounts of computing power at the disposal of users. Many leading countries, including Japan and the United States among others, are currently implementing major cloud computing projects. Building on the cloud computing concept, the “Internet of Things” employs radio frequency identification signal transmission equipment and the Internet to perform intelligent identification and management of many different goods (Figure 1). By integrating devices—including information transmission and receiving equipment such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, infrared sensors, global positioning systems and laser scanners—with the Internet, the Internet of Things can ensure the transparent management of goods by facilitating their automatic identification, as well as information interconnection and sharing during production, logistics and consumption processes.



Figure 1 The concepts of cloud computing and the Internet of Things are key areas of development for the information transmission industry and represent nextgeneration communications and information transmission models.

technology connected

The Internet of Things must be established on the basis of ubiquitous Internet technology, and one of the most important relevant technologies is the use of RFID electronic labels. RFID is a non-contact automatic identification system employing radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transmit data. Short-range RFID can be applied to factory automation and product sales, while long-range RFID can be used in fee collection systems and vehicle identification applications.

Consumer-Type vs. IndustrialGrade Handheld Terminals

Handheld terminals can be generally classified as industrial-grade handheld terminals and consumer-type handheld terminals. Industrial-grade handheld terminals include a wide range of devices, including industrial PDAs, handheld barcode terminals and handheld RFID terminals. Industrial handheld terminals must also have heavy duty features enabling them to stand up to harsh working environments. Such terminals must be sturdy, durable and suitable for use in more inhospitable environments than where ordinary consumer-type handheld terminals are typically used. In addition, industrial handheld terminals should be suitable for secondary development or optimization in order to meet specific needs. In such areas as functionality, stability and overall durability, industrial-grade handheld terminals are better able to manage demanding business applications than their consumer-type counterparts. Commonly used industrial-grade handheld terminals include barcode scanners and RFID readers, some with simultaneous support for QR code scanning as well. Additional requirements for industrial handheld devices are a sunlight-readable display; no signal interruption; and fast transmission speed, along with dustproofing, waterproofing and drop testing. Ordinary consumer-type products are not designed to meet these same standards. In addition,

Figure 2 Sturdy, multifunctional industrial-grade handheld terminals can meet the needs of all kinds of applications and working environments.

as far as data transmission is concerned, industrial-grade handheld terminals have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmission ranges of up to 300 and 100 meters, which compare favorably with the corresponding consumer-type handheld terminal ranges of only 100 and 10 meters respectively. As the communication devices between servers and things, industrial mobile devices are gaining importance in the market. With industrial-grade handheld terminals becoming more prevalent in enterprise systems, additional challenges have surfaced; for example, maintaining security on and management of enterprises using the Android operating system. To secure access to applications designed for industrial-grade handheld terminals from consumer-type apps, Mobile Device Man-

agement (MDM), which relies on cloud computing principles, enables companies to wirelessly control and protect data and applications for handheld devices. Generally speaking, MDM includes the functions of software distribution, policy management, inventory management, security management and service management. With MDM, enterprises can automatically process remote settings and content delivery to the handheld terminals, simplifying maintenance and management, and updating or adding applications at any time. Also, MDM enforces corporate security policies automatically by delivering security rules to the terminals for data safety and eliminating confidential information via remote control for data protection when the device is lost. In addiRTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013


technology connected

tion, using MDM, enterprises can actively manage the regular collection of data from the terminals for enhanced data protection and more efficient management. As industrial-grade handheld terminals are becoming ubiquitous, the advancements in remote monitoring functionality are growing as well. Enterprises that use MDM to control and protect their data and real-time communication on handheld terminals and other networked devices experience reduced cost and risk within their network and overall business.

Major Features of IndustrialGrade Handheld Terminals

Industrial-grade handheld terminals are gradually being adopted in a wide variety of industrial applications, including retailers’ stock inventories, express service in the delivery industry, corporate interdepartmental asset management, and airport personnel identification and certification. Compared with ordinary consumer-type cell phones and smartphones, industrial-grade handheld terminals must meet strict industrial testing standards, and can function in much harsher operating environments than consumer-type cell phones. For instance, industrial-grade handheld terminals can be clearly read in direct sunlight, and can provide loud speakers and voice solutions that meet the needs of noisy environments such as airports and construction worksites. They

can be used in a wider variety of work environments when compared to consumertype products, and satisfy the needs of different industries. As a rule, industrial-grade handheld terminals are easy to carry, possess wireless transmission functions, can engage in data communication with other equipment, have built-in operating systems and possess data storage and computing capabilities. They offer convenient user interfaces and are suitable for secondary development to meet specific needs. Apart from this, handheld terminals can operate on different platforms, including Android and Windows CE. Focusing on traditional handheld terminal applications and users who are already familiar with relevant terminal applications, the Windows CE operating platform can continue to be used without requiring any major system or software modifications. The Windows Mobile operating system is a platform that was developed exclusively for handheld terminals and is an upgraded version of the conventional Windows CE driver and applications platform. Windows Mobile terminals can provide companies with an outstanding applications platform, and also offer powerful development tools and ultra-long battery charge time. The Android operating system was developed exclusively for next-generation Internet of Things applications. Its open-

platform characteristics allow users to perform continuous optimization in accordance with specific-use environments, and it is well-suited for secondary terminal development to satisfy various customization needs. Responding to the requirements of different external environments, including sturdy product design, drop-proof, waterproof and dustproof features, is a major advantage of industrial-grade handheld terminals. Industrial devices should meet IP65 dustproofing and waterproofing standards and be able to pass a 1.5 meter drop test. Compared to ordinary consumer-type handheld terminals, industrial-grade devices are built to perform much better in harsh working environments (Figure 2).

An Application Case

Industrial-grade handheld terminals can be used in a very wide range of applications. The following case involves warehouse management in the retail industry. Taking advantage of the concepts of cloud computing and the Internet of Things, all goods are linked in a network via the Internet, allowing information on any one product to be easily accessed. This case explains how industrial-grade handheld terminals can be used in product sales management and inventory work (Figure 3). In a traditional warehouse, the manual inventory of goods requires large

TRACE 32 ÂŽ Always one step ahead 34

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5/23/13 11:01 AM

technology connected

Figure 3 Industrial-grade handheld terminals can boost overall working efficiency in the logistics industry.

amounts of manpower. Apart from high costs and the difficulty of preserving data, this approach does not lend itself to realtime data transmission and queries. As a result, industrial-grade handheld terminals represent a highly attractive solution for enhancing overall efficiency, simplifying processes and ensuring the linkage of information concerning all goods. As an example, an industrial-grade handheld can be readily applied to inventory and stock management. Employing builtin Wi-Fi and 3G wireless transmission methods, these handhelds can link frontend sales data with the stock situation, and can use wireless transmission functions to perform cloud database updating in real time. By replacing tedious procedures involving large amounts of time and manpower with the highly efficient Internet of Things, industrial mobile handheld termi-

nals can not only enhance overall work efficiency, but also ensure data accuracy, boosting performance and reducing operating risk for companies. Companies around the world are currently seeking ways to link individual goods to their Internet of Things, forming networks in order to enhance their corporate cost-effectiveness and productivity. The use of handheld terminals and RFID systems can greatly simplify working processes. The features and robust performance of industrial-grade handheld terminals offer a complete solution providing companies with barrier-free transmission and monitoring methods.

Visit our team @ RTECC Denver, CO - 6/18 RTECC Minneapolis, MN - 9/10 RTECC Chicago, IL - 9/12

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

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5/30/13 9:50 AM

technology deployed Speeding Performance with OpenCL

Using OpenCL for Network Acceleration Investigating the practicality of using OpenCL to accelerate AES and DES Encryption and Decryption by leveraging the GPU engines of the APU, reveals a realm of possibilities for exploiting parallelism on hybrid processors. by Art Lee, Viosoft


icroprocessor designs are trending in favor of a higher number of cores per socket versus increased clock speed. Increasingly, more cores are being integrated on the same die to fully take advantage of high-speed interconnects for interprocessor communications. Companies like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are innovating highperformance computing by integrating graphics with x86 CPUs to create what AMD refers to as Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). The advent of the APU creates opportunities for designers to develop solutions not possible a few years ago. These solutions utilize multiple languages and execute across hardware execution domain to enable a wide variety of new applications. One such application is the use of GPU resources as a massively parallel “off-load” engine for computationally intense algorithms in security and networking.

Software Acceleration on the GPU

The foundation of this potential revolves around the use of the OpenCL programming language as an enabler of this acceleration. OpenCL was originally intended and designed to execute complex graphics algorithms on a discreet GPU device, typically over a serial PCI Express interface, and in concert with related code running on the host CPU. As such, there



is an associated cost of moving data over PCI Express to and from the CPU for execution within the OpenCL domain. The APU has effectively minimized this cost to a fixed overhead, enabling algorithms to be more efficiently executed, and with a much lower power budget. Over the past few years, AMD has enjoyed many design wins with this APU strategy, enabling customers to deliver products with better CPU and graphics performance and a lower overall power requirement. Another potential use for the APU architecture is in networking acceleration. What if, instead of intensive graphic or H.264 types of algorithms, we capture networking algorithms in OpenCL and use the GPU to execute this code? Prior to going too far on this topic, it is important to understand a few of the physical characteristics of the APU hardware. At a high level, there are up to four x86 CPU cores and literally hundreds of GPU cores in one APU device. As for performance, while the CPU clock currently ranges from 1.0 to 2.4 GHz, the GPU is clocked at only onefourth of the CPU. This becomes important when considering which compute engine to use to execute which algorithm. The other key requirement of note is that there is an overhead involved in transferring code execution from the host x86 CPU to the GPU. This overhead mainly consists of the extra cycles required to

move the instructions and data to the memory supporting the GPU. The performance value of the GPU lies in the massively parallel execution capability of the architecture. OpenCL is designed to exploit this capability by dividing the work load into smaller and more manageable units and using the large number of cores to distribute the workload. The resulting data is then returned and assembled to the CPU for use in the originating program. The fundamental applicability of this type of code acceleration engine depends on the ability of the code to be parallelized. There are actually several theoretical laws that outline the ability to accelerate the execution of code based on the parallel nature of the code. One such example is Amdahl’s Law, which is represented in Figure 1. This theoretical model is primarily targeted to CPU cores and ideally assumes no overhead for interprocessor communications (IPCs) and/or the servicing of interprocessor interrupts (IPIs). The importance of Amdahl’s Law has unique value when considering the massively parallel nature of the GPU architecture. These cores execute discrete segments of code captured in their own kernel and do not respond to interrupts or communicate with each other as the CPU cores do. This allows for extremely isolated and uninhibited code execution. The smallest number of cores in the current AMD APU architecture is 80, so by applying Amdahl’s Law it is theoretically apparent that the possible speedup can range from 2 to 16 times through parallelization alone. However, by leveraging the OpenCL programming language along with the GPU architecture, we can actually realize a much higher performance result than would be indicated.

AES and DES Encryption and Decryption on both CPU and GPU

In order to illustrate this performance acceleration, we created an escalating network traffic load on a CPU-only implementation of these algorithms. In doing so, the Linux-based platform created an increasing number of concurrent threads

Technology deployed

Parallel Portion 50% 75% 90% 95%



14.00 12.00 10.00 8.00 4.00 2.00 1.00







Number of Processors

Figure 1













Amdahl’s Law—not unsurprisingly—shows that performance increases both as a function of the percentage of parallelism and the number of parallel units available. DES_Decrypt


(Number of threads)


64 12 8 25 6 51 2 10 24 20 48 40 96 81 92 16 38 4 32 76 8 65 53 6 13 10 72 26 21 44

64 12 8 25 6 51 2 10 24 20 48 40 96 81 92 16 38 4 32 76 8 65 53 6 13 10 72 26 21 44

Log2 of time

1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10

Log2 of time

1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10 cpu

(Number of threads)




DES_Decrypt 1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10

Log2 of time

1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10 (Number of threads)


64 12 8 25 6 51 2 10 24 20 48 40 96 81 92 16 38 4 32 76 8 65 53 6 13 10 72 26 21 44

The beauty of the APU-based architecture is that it allows the designer to decide when and if to use the GPU resources and how. The fact that this powerful resource is available is sparking many creative implementations of this architecture and paving the road for future innovations that will be enabled by AMD’s next generation of Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) enabled devices. -This new HSA architecture will remove much of the overhead involved in transferring work from the CPU to the GPU—or to other acceleration resources on the device. Viosoft is investigating other areas in the networking space to leverage this architecture and combine it with its Tera-


64 12 8 25 6 51 2 10 24 20 48 40 96 81 92 16 38 4 32 76 8 65 53 6 13 10 72 26 21 44

Further Innovations to Come

Amdahl’s Law 20.00

Log2 of time

of execution to manage the network load. We captured the time required to support this load in relation to the number of concurrent threads. This “load” consists of a combination of the number and size of the network packets being processed through these algorithms. Next, we repeated this process with a GPU-only implementation of these algorithms. Again, we captured the time required to execute in relationship to the number of concurrent threads (network load). Figure 2 shows a graphical representation of the results of this experiment. While the results for each of the algorithms differed slightly on both the CPU (blue lines) and GPU (red lines), the overall trend for each was very consistent. It is clear that when the network traffic load was relatively light—meaning that there were not many concurrent threads required to support the algorithm—the CPUs were more than adequate and in fact more efficient than using OpenCL and the GPU cores. However, as the workload and number of concurrent threads increased, the OpenCL and GPU proved to be a significantly better solution. It is important to note that the Y axis for each of these graphs is a log2 representation. This means that the slight differences in the graphs are actually an exponential comparison of the results, and of the acceleration provided.


(Number of threads)



Figure 2 AES / DES encryption and decryption results show the advantage gained using GPU (red lines) as the increasing traffic is distributed among parallel units.

nium Acceleration Framework. The Teranium Framework enables PCIe-based networking resources to efficiently deliver packets to/from the user space of the CPUs. Customers currently investigating the use of AMD’s Opteron family of products are enjoying full 10G line rate send and receive support without the need for a hardware-based network processor. Even packet forwarding is done at over 50+% of the 10G line rate.

Future versions of the Teranium Framework could potentially include leveraging the other resources like the GPUs to deliver even higher throughput to network solutions based on AMD’s APU and HSA architectures. Viosoft San Jose, CA. (508) 881-4254. [].



products &

TECHNOLOGY 3.5-Inch SBC with AMD Embedded G-Series SoC Combines CPU and Graphics Performance

XMC Module Includes Mini PCI Express and mSATA Support

A 3.5-inch Single Board Computer (SBC) features the new AMD Embedded G-Series SoC system on chip with integrated chipset and discrete-class AMD Radeon Graphics Processing Unit. The MB-60830 from Win Enterprises features the Embedded G-Series SoC along with up to 4 Gbyte DDR3, 4 x COM and HDMI/VGA & LVDS plus six x USB 2.0. It has two Mini-PCIe sockets, a 1 Gbit LAN interface, HD audio, two SATA interfaces, three RS-232 serial ports and can be powered by a single DC 8V to 32V input. From a usage standpoint, the new 28nm processor is a single-chip solution that can be used on boards like MB-60830 to accelerate 3D graphics, as well as to support more generalized embedded computing applications. Applications can span digital signage, gaming, medical imaging, kiosks/POS, thin client and factory automation. In addition to its integrated chipset and AMD Radeon 8000 Series graphics, the AMD Embedded G-Series SoC’s integrated components include L2 cache and a DDR3 memory controller. The platform also includes enterprise-class error-correction code (ECC) memory support and an industrial temperature range of -40° to +85°C. It is available with dual or quad-core CPUs based on AMD’s next-generation architecture (codenamed “Jaguar”). The AMD Embedded G-Series SoC platforms achieve superior performance per watt through more aggressive clock and power gating. Thermal Design Power (TDP) for the new family of SoCs ranges from 9 to 25 watts.

A new XMC module can be quickly configured to support a platform’s specific I/O or storage needs. The XPort5005 from Extreme Engineering Solutions allows system integrators to reduce the total cost, complexity and time-to-market for supporting the varying I/O and storage requirements of different platforms by enabling rapid support for CAN bus, GPS, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, Solid State Drives (SSD), AES256 encryption, GPIO, WLAN (Wi-Fi), WiMax, Cellular (4G/LTE and 3G), RS-232, Bluetooth and more. The XMC leverages the widely supported Mini PCI Express I/O and mSATA storage module markets and offers a flexible solution for meeting current and future platform requirements. The small size of Mini PCI Express and mSATA modules allows the XPort5005 to support up to two full height (F2/H1) and one half-height (H1) module within a single XMC. The XPor5005 supports operational temperatures from -40° to +85°C for conductioncooled applications and -40° to +70°C for forced air-cooled applications. The rugged XPort5005 design also provides for robust mounting of its Mini PCI Express modules, supporting the XPort5005’s use within platforms with the most demanding of environmental requirements, including vehicle transportation, rail transportation, military and aerospace applications. The XPort5005’s compact XMC form factor enables access to Mini PCI Express and mSATA modules for the plethora of other form factors that host XMC sites, such as 3U VPX and 3U CompactPCI modules. Additionally, up to two XPort5005s can be added to 6U VPX, 6U VME and 6U CompactPCI modules. The XPort5005 can also be supported within Small Form Factor (SFF) and Embedded Box Computer systems that include XMC sites, such as X-ES’s XPand6000 Series.

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

Type 6 COM Express Compact Module Boasts New AMD x86 QuadCore SOC A new COM Express module is based on the AMD Embedded G-Series SoC system-onchip family. This single-chip solution is based on AMD technology and integrates the next-generation computing power of the “Jaguar”-based processor and AMD Radeon graphics cores in a compact package. Users benefit from advanced multimedia performance, an excellent performance-per-watt ratio and flexible task allocation on the CPU and GPU. Thanks to these features, the new conga-TCG module is a suitable solution for cost-sensitive visualization and control applications. Congatec currently offers four processors from the AMD Embedded G-Series SOC platform, ranging from the 1.0 GHz dual-core AMD GX-210HA (1 Mbyte shared L2 cache) with only a 9 watt TDP to the 2.0 GHz quad-core AMD GX-420CA (2 Mbyte shared L2 cache) with a 25 watt TDP. The integrated AMD Radeon graphics feature the Universal Video Decoder 4.2 for seamless processing of BluRay with HDCP (1080p), MPEG-2, HD and DivX (MPEG-4) videos. The conga-TCG also supports DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.0 for fast 2D and 3D imaging and OpenCL 1.1. Interface options include VGA, Single/Dual channel 18/24-bit LVDS, DisplayPort 1.2 and DVI / HDMI 1.4a and enable the direct control of two independent displays. DisplayPort 1.2 also enables multi-streaming, making it possible to control up to two displays per graphics port in daisy chain mode. Four PCI Express x1 lanes Gen 2, two USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, two SATA 3 Gbit/s ports and a Gigabit Ethernet interface allow flexible system expansion at high data bandwidth. The congatec board controller, ACPI 3.0 power management and high-definition audio complete the package. congatec, San Diego, CA. (858) 457-2600. [].



Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [].


Real-Time PC Development System for Software Radio Applications

Development Kit for New Cypress PSoC 4 Architecture

A new PC development system is pre-configured to speed application development for the expansive family of Pentek Cobalt Virtex-6 and Onyx Virtex-7 FPGA PCI Express software radio and data acquisition I/O boards. The Model 8266 from Pentek is delivered with the selected Pentek hardware configured for either Windows 7 Professional or Linux operating systems along with ReadyFlow BSP drivers and software examples, fully installed and tested. Upon delivery, the system allows development engineers to immediately run example applications out-of-the-box. The Model 8266 is offered as a standard pre-integrated platform to saving customers time and cost in selecting, assembling and configuring components for a highperformance, real-time development system. It resolves the typical hardware, operating system and software compatibility obstacles inherent in new PC development platforms. All hardware is installed in appropriate slots, fully configured with proper cabling, power and cooling strategies, and optimized BIOS and operating system settings. The customer simply needs to remove the system from the package and start developing. As an added benefit, the tested and proven configuration of the Model 8266 streamlines Pentek customer support. Pentek collaborates with customers to select from the extensive family of 786xx Cobalt and 787xx Onyx PCI Express modules and then evaluates system requirements to define the Model 8266 configuration most appropriate for the final application. Pentek ReadyFlow drivers and board support libraries are preinstalled and tested as well. ReadyFlow includes example applications with full source code, a command line interface for custom control over hardware, and Pentek’s Signal Analyzer, a full-featured analysis tool that continuously displays live signals in both time and frequency domains. The Model 8266 starts at $4,495 for the base platform. Price includes the PC workstation, ReadyFlow board support libraries, cables, integration, testing and set up. A fixed fee is charged for integration, regardless of the number of boards installed in the system.

Customers can now pre-order the new PSoC 4 Pioneer Development Kit for the Cypress programmable system-on-chip from element14. The new kit costs only $25 and lets designers discover the capabilities of the new PSoC 4 programmable system-on-chip architecture, which combines Cypress’ best-in-class PSoC analog and digital fabric with ARM’s power-efficient Cortex-M0 core. The PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit is highly expandable. It includes connectors for Arduino-compatible shields and Digilent PMOD daughter cards, enabling customers to pick from a variety of third-party expansion boards. In addition, an onboard PSoC 5LP device serves as the programmer and debugger, eliminating the need for external programmers. PSoC 4 marries PSoC’s programmable analog and digital fabric with the ARM Cortex-M0 processor. The PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit is the appropriate development platform for this architecture because it provides tremendous functionality at a low price. The PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit is flexible, cost-effective and expandable with open-source architectures. The new PSoC 4 device class will challenge proprietary 8-bit and 16-bit microcontrollers (MCUs), along with other 32-bit devices. Cypress’s platform solution PSoC 4, PSoC Creator and PSoC Components simplifies and accelerates the design process, reduces bills of material and provides extraordinary system value. A single PSoC device can integrate as many as 100 peripheral functions and “future-proofs” designs, enabling designers to transform resources on-the-fly. The PSoC 4 architecture offers best-in-class power leakage of 150 nA while retaining SRAM memory, programmable logic and the ability to wake up from an interrupt. In addition to capacitive sensing, PSoC 4 targets field-oriented control (FOC) motor control, temperature sensing, security access, portable medical and many other applications. Kits can be ordered from Premier Farnell,

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

Cypress Semiconductor, San Jose, CA. (408) 943 2600. [].

FIND the products featured in this section and more at RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013



Compact USB 3.0 Camera Series with Extensive Software Support A new series of compact USB 3.0 cameras with CCD and CMOS sensors ships in robust, industrial casing (29 x 29 x 47 mm) with a C/CS lens mount, trigger and digital I/O inputs. The color, monochrome and Bayer models from The Imaging Source are available with resolutions from VGA to 5 Mpixels. They are suited to machine vision applications in automation, traffic surveillance, quality assurance, medicine, logistics, microscopy and security. The cameras are provided with comprehensive software support. Both programmers and endusers immediately feel at home. Getting started with the cameras takes only a matter of minutes, and integrating them into existing applications takes only a few lines of code. Drivers for LabView, Halcon, DirectX, Twain and WDM are included. All camera parameters and settings can be set via the shipped software. Furthermore, a number of automatic modes are available, which guarantee optimal image quality in varying light conditions. The cameras ship with drivers for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, the SDK IC Imaging Control 3.2 (.NET and C++ class library) and IC Capture. The latter is a powerful end-user application, which allows all camera parameters to be set, live video to be displayed, singular images and image sequences to be captured. The Imaging Source, Charlotte, NC. (704) 370-0110. [].

ATCA Processor Blade to Maximize Packet Forwarding Performance and Video Streaming

SMARC Starterkit Offers Fast Entry into the World of Embedded ARM Processors

A new AdvancedTCA blade family delivers performance, highthroughput connectivity, rich I/O and reliability at a cost-effective price, and it is suitable for high-end applications such as network monitoring or media streaming. The aTCA-9300 family from Adlink Technology features dual 4-core Intel Xeon Processor E3-1275V2/1225V2 running at up to 3.5/3.2 GHz respectively, combined with the Intel C216 Chipset, four channel DDR3 memory up to 32 Gbyte and 300W power supply subsystem. Although it doesn’t have the highest specification in Adlink’s aTCA blade lineup, the aTCA-9300 is an extremely cost-efficient solution for network monitoring, A/Abis signal monitoring, AXIe and WI-FI AC applications, which require multiple Gigabit data plane throughput and workstation/ desktop CPU performance. The aTCA-9300’s connectivity includes dual 10GbE Fabric Interfaces, dual GbE Base Interfaces, six front panel GbE egress ports, front panel dual COM and USB 2.0 ports, and front panel VGA connector. An onboard SATA connector supporting CFast up to 32 Gbyte is provided, as well as an optional RTM supporting an 8-channel mini-SAS port, dual 10GbE SFP+ ports, dual USB ports and dual hot-swappable SATA bays to provide additional network throughput and storage capabilities. To address the needs of high-volume data processing and transmission, the Adlink aTCA-9300 supports the Intel Data Plane Development Kit (Intel DPDK), which maximizes packet processing performance and consolidates three communication workloads—application, control and packet processing—on a single Intel architecture platform to deliver better performance, reduce costs and accelerate time-to-market. The Adlink aTCA-9300 also supports the Intel Media Software Development Kit (Intel Media SDK), which makes it easy for developers to optimize professional media applications, including video encode and decode; media conversion, streaming, and playback; and video conferencing. The Adlink aTCA-9300 is suited for use as a media server for applications such as IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), network security and wireless networks.

A new ready-to-use SMARC Starterkit enables developers to gain fast entry into the world of embedded ARM processors, which is now highly scalable thanks to SMARC Computer-on-Modules. The SMARC kit from Kontron comes in a sturdy transport case, has all the cables already connected, and is equipped with all the necessary components, including a display and power supply. All Kontron SMARC Computer-on-Modules can be selected individually and—as an option—the SMARC Starterkit can be delivered with pre-installed module, operating system, board support package and cooling solution. This allows developers to immediately launch into evaluation of their desired ARM platform. Kontron currently offers a selection of SMARC module families based on ARM Cortex A9 and A8 processors from Freescale, Texas Instruments and Nvidia. All the SMARC designs fulfill the market demand for a compact Computer-on-Module with a standardized feature set and low power consumption of only a few watts. Application areas range from mobile devices to onboard equipment and solar or conventional powered stationary devices. The cabled SMARC Starterkit comes in a sturdy aluminum case. It includes a 7-inch WVGA touch screen display (800x480), a 5-volt wide-range power unit, and the SMARC evaluation carrierboard, which offers all the relevant interfaces defined by the SMARC Computer-onModule standard. The range of interfaces features an LVDS and an HDMI interface, as well as CSI and parallel camera ports. Networking features include Gigabit Ethernet, CAN Bus, serial interfaces and a SIM card socket. Extension options are also available for Mini PCIe, PCIe, mSATA and eMMC (microSD Card). A USB hub and an acceleration sensor are also integrated on the board. The SMARC Evaluation Carrier supports flexible power options including Li-Ion battery power with recharging circuitry as well as traditional bench top power supply. All documentation is provided on a USB drive for this application-ready and cabled Kontron SMARC Starterkit.

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



Kontron, Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].


Multicore ARM SBCs Boast High Performance Graphics with Industrial I/O Mix A line of single board computers (SBCs) is based on the Freescale i.MX 6 family of Cortex-A9 multicore processors. Available with a single core, dual core, or quad core processor, the low-power 800 MHz SBC35C398 SBCs from WinSystems provide high performance and a rich array of onboard I/O for embedded designs. Application areas include security, transportation and medical where graphics and industrial control are required. The SBC35-C398 product family features the scalable Freescale i.MX 6 processors in the de facto industry standard 3.5” SBC format, 102 x 146 mm. The i.MX 6 processors use dedicated hardware accelerators to obtain high-performance multimedia at low power consumption, while leaving the CPU core relatively free for performing other tasks. The video engines can drive three simultaneous display interfaces while maintaining communications and control functions. Power can be provided by wide range 10-50V DC input or Power over Ethernet (PoE) to provide flexibility and reduce wiring requirements. Industrial I/O options include Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE-1588 support, multiple USB 2.0 channels, multiple serial channels and dual CAN interfaces. Each of the 24 onboard GPIO lines is tolerant of voltages up to 30V DC and configurable for software-enabled interrupts. The SBC35-C398 series also introduces the IO60 expansion connector to allow for additional functionality. The IO60 specification supports I2C, SPI, TTL-UART and PWM signals allowing stackable expansion through off-the-shelf 72 x 50 mm modules or application-specific designs. When coupled with the Mini-PCIe socket, the SBC35-C398 is one of the most expandable ARM designs currently on the market. Linux, Android, Windows Compact 7 and other operating systems can be booted from the CFast, SD/SDIO, or MicroSD sockets providing flexible storage options. WinSystems has a Linux sample image available at the time of release with Android and Windows Compact 7 due for release by the end of Q2. Quantity one pricing for the Quad-core version is $495, $395 for the dual-core and $295 for the single-core versions. WinSystems, Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].

Compact Industrial Firewall for Industrial, Military and Critical Infrastructure Equipment A new firewall appliance provides a critical layer of security for the devices that comprise “The Internet of Things” including SCADA networks, military equipment, critical infrastructure controllers and medical devices. The Floodgate Defender from Icon Labs is placed between the Internet and the device. It is easily configured with communication policies customized for the device it is protecting. Floodgate Defender enforces the policies, blocking attacks before a connection can be established with the target device. Floodgate Defender provides stateful packet inspection (SPI) and rules-based filtering. A secure web interface is provided for configuring communication policies. Many legacy devices that make up the Internet of Things were originally designed for use on closed networks and therefore contain little or no security. Even though they perform critical functions managing our power grid, factories, communication networks and hospitals, they are easy targets for cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorism. MSRP pricing starts at $995. Discounts are available for volume orders. Icon Laboratories, (515) 226-3443. [].

Module Offers Integrated Peripherals and Acceleration for Video Performance A ready-to-use CPU module is based on Texas Instruments Cortex-A8 high-performance application processor from its DM814x (DaVinci) and AM387x (Sitara) families. Maya from Dave SRL can operate in -40° to + 85°C industrial temperature range and has a 204-pin SO-DIMM form factor. It offers a highly integrated peripheral set and is extremely well suited for deployment in security systems, industrial electronics, home automation, medical and other embedded applications. Maya is a Lite Line CPU module based on Texas Instruments DM814x/AM387x Cortex-A8 @ 1 GHz with a NEON Media Technology SIMD coprocessor. A PowerVR SGX 530 3D graphics accelerator offers a programmable high-definition video image coprocessing (HDVICP v2) engine with up to 750 MHz C674x Floating-Point VLIW DSP (DM8148 version only). The module is supplied with up to 512 Mbyte DDR2 SDRAM and two USBon the go (OTG) ports with PHY and 2x SD/MMC. In addition there is fast Ethernet LAN and a high-end dual-CAN controller, four UARTs, 2x I2C, 2 x SPI, 1 x I2S. The display subsystem offers an RGB interface, a 24-bit HD Display Port and TV out. Dave SRL, Porcia, Italy. +39.0434.921215. []. RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013



Streamlined Requirements Lifecycle Management Eases Development Designed to maximize analysis and team efficiency, a streamlined version of the requirements definition and management solution, Visure Requirements 4.5 from Visure Solutions, delivers a simplified interface and process architecture for requirements capture, analysis and management, giving project teams faster, more powerful requirements engineering tools for product development. Visure Requirements 4.5 forms the process backbone, managing all requirements-related information in a way that mirrors how the information flows and interacts in product development. Any requirements-related information—whether requirements of different levels, test cases, use cases, etc.—can be configured, related and analyzed based on process needs, with all information stored in one location. The tool maximizes requirements management productivity by ensuring that the most used, most needed functionality is readily and easily available in a simplified interface that improves clarity and reduces the chance of human error. To extend this efficiency further, the new version also simplifies complex project structures through templates that development teams can use to set attribute values, block assignments and simplify tags. Companies seeking compliance, whether for automotive (ISO 26262, Automotive SPICE), medical (IEC 62304), avionics (DO-178B/C, DO-278A), rail (EN 50128) or industrial safety (IEC 61508), energy (IEC 60880), defense (DO-254), can use the templates to define requirements standards and reuse the template across teams and product lines. In this way, Visure Requirements helps standardize and enforce defined processes, formalizing a common requirements specification structure across an organization and its supply chain even when teams are geographically separated. Process-agnostic, Visure Requirements facilitates any development process from waterfall to agile. It integrates process, quality enforcement and collaboration in a single platform while simultaneously tailoring views to each role, ensuring that project managers, quality assurance analysts, designers and developers are able to immediately access the information most relevant to their responsibilities. Thanks to the focus on the interrelationships of requirements, system components, code and tests, and complete traceability can be obtained across the entire requirements lifecycle. Visure Solutions, San Francisco, CA. (415) 745-3304. [].

AMD G-Series Powered Gaming Board Offers Security Options An AMD G-Series processor-powered gaming board is a single board computer (SBC) that offers excellent 3D graphics, independent dual display and a x4 PCIe slot. It provides gaming equipment manufacturers with a very attractive price performance option in an entry-level product. Features include high-performance onboard 3D graphics with support for DirectX 11 and Open GL 4, and full bit stream decoding of H.264/MPEG4 AVC, VC-1, DivX, Xvid, MPEG2 and Blu-ray 3D. The board also supports independent dual display via VGA + DVI-D. Connectors include a golden fingers 72-pin connector (the de facto standard for video poker/slot games) and SATA connectors in the form of a CF card slot or support for optional onboard SSD storage. Other interfaces include four COMs with RS-232, RS485 and selectable cctalk pin headers. Security and software integrity are supported by means of optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 and Crypto-memory. The board comes as a near Mini-ITX form factor with 4x PCIe expansion slot. WIN Enterprises, Andover, MA. (978) 688-2000. [].



PC/104-Plus Two-Channel Gigabit Ethernet Card Supports POE A new PC/104-Plus module integrates two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports with power sourcing equipment (PSE) circuits. It is suitable to source two remote tethered 802.3af/at-compliant POE devices supporting up to 25W each from an external DC source. Application areas include security, transportation and industrial control where centralized power can simplify integration and reduce wiring costs. Implemented as a PC/104-Plus add-in I/O module, the PPM-GIGE-2-POE from WinSystems can manage power to remotely located POE devices or board stacks. Both POE interfaces can use separate external DC supplies or share a single external power source. The POE controller for each channel goes through a detection, discovery and classification process each time a network cable is attached or removed. The controller additionally provides input undervoltage lockout, input overvoltage lockout, over temperature detection, output voltage slew-rate limit during startup and LED status indication on each port. This protection operates automatically without the need of software. The PPM-GIGE-2-POE is based on two Realtek RTL8110s Gigabit Ethernet controllers. These controllers combine triple-speed, IEEE 802.3-compliant Media Access Controller with an Ethernet transceiver, 32-bit PCI bus controller and embedded memory. The Ethernet controllers are compliant with the IEEE 802.3at specification for 10/100Mbps Ethernet and the IEEE 802.3ab specification for 1000Mbps Ethernet. This module uses RJ45 connectors to plug into 10/100/1000Mbps networks using standard Category 5 (CAT5) unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cables. The PPM-GIGE-2-POE supports Windows, Linux and other x86 real-time operating systems. This module operates over the industrial temperature range of -40° to +85°C without a fan. It measures 3.6 x 3.8 inches (90 mm x 96 mm). WinSystems offers additional single and dual channel modules with or without the POE supply. Quantity one pricing for the dual channel PPM-GIGE-2-POE is $249 and for the single channel PPM-GIGE-1-POE, $199. WinSystems, Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].


Core i7-Based Fanless Embedded Box PC in Environmentally Sealed Design

Handheld Direction Finding System for “Master” Interference Mapping

A small and rugged fanless embedded box PC utilizes the Intel Core i7 processor. The XPand6103 from Extreme Engineering Solutions is a reliable and maintenance-free high-performance computing platform well suited for environmentally challenging and space-constrained situations. It was specifically designed for rugged yet process-

A handheld direction finding system enhances interference mapping and simplifies locating interference sources in wireless networks. Designed for use with Anritsu’s BTS Master, Cell Master and Spectrum Master handheld analyzers, the MA2700A InterferenceHunter from Anritsu can be used by field engineers and technicians during deployment, installation and maintenance of wireless networks. It is specifically suited for use in spectrum clearing and interference mitigation. The MA2700A InterferenceHunter incorporates a GPS receiver and antenna, electronic compass and user-selectable preamplifier. No additional power source is necessary, as the MS2700A InterferenceHunter is powered through its USB connector. An effective tool that is compatible with Anritsu’s new easyMap Tools, the MA2700A allows users to draw a vector line to an interfering signal on a map stored in the handheld analyzer with one click. Users can pan and zoom on maps created using easyMap for more detailed analysis. A flexible design allows the MA2700A InterferenceHunter to work with the BTS Master MT8221B/MT8222B, Cell Master MT8212B, and Spectrum Master MS2720T and MS2712E/MS2713E. All the analyzers must be equipped with the Interference Analysis option. The Spectrum Master MS2720T features a touchscreen, full-band tracking generators to 20 GHz, and best-inclass performance for dynamic range, DANL, phase noise and sweep speed, providing unprecedented levels of spectrum monitoring, hidden signal detection, RF/microwave measurements, and testing of microwave backhauls and cellular signals. Designed to handle the most punishing field conditions, the MS2712E/ MS2713E allow users to monitor, locate, identify and analyze a range of cellular, 2G/3G/4G, land mobile radio, Wi-Fi and broadcast signals. With a rich array of configuration options, the multifunctional MS2712E/MS2713E eliminate the need to learn and carry multiple instruments when locating and identifying signals over wide frequency ranges. Pricing is $2,600.

ing-intensive Industrial PC (IPC), vehicle and rail transportation applications, and provides an attractive solution for demanding autonomous vehicle computing requirements. The XPand6103 maximizes processing performance, thermal performance and modularity while minimizing cost and size by integrating support for the latest industry standard components. This includes support for X-ES’s line of Rugged COM Express modules, such as the XPedite7450, which integrate the most recent Intel Core i7 and Freescale QorIQ processors in a small, thermally efficient and robust circuit board design. The internal 64 Gbyte Slim SATA SSD memory module combines the convenience of high-capacity off-the-shelf storage with the reliability and performance of SLC NAND Flash memory. The XPand6103 is equipped with a number of I/O interfaces through its rugged and environmentally sealed M12 connectors. The standard configuration includes DisplayPort++ video, two Gigabit Ethernet, USB, four CAN Bus and RS-232/RS-422 ports. The system can also be configured to provide up to two 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBASET interfaces. With three internal PCI Express Mini slots and support for two external antennae, the XPand6103 offers a flexible array of additional I/O configurations, including WLAN, cellular and GPS. The XPand6103 can be used in most transportation applications without the need for additional power conditioning, saving overall system cost and complexity. This is achieved by supporting a wide nominal input voltage range and complying to the power specifications of SAE J1455, EN50155, ISO-7637-2, MIL-STD-1275 and MIL-STD-704. Through the implementation of an environmentally sealed and completely rugged design, the XPand6103 can operate within the most demanding environmental conditions. This includes IEC61373, EN50155 and MIL-STD-810 shock and vibration requirements as well as the water immersion requirements of IP67. The XPand6103 also supports operating temperatures from -40° to +70°C ambient.

Anritsu, Morgan Hill, CA. (408) 778-2000. [].

Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [].

FIND the products featured in this section and more at RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013



18-Slot PXI Express Chassis Features PCIe Gen2 Signaling Technology A new PXI Express (PXIe) chassis is targeted for applications requiring enhanced bandwidth and higher density and capacity. The PXES-2780 from Adlink Technology is an 18-slot PXI Express chassis with 10 hybrid peripheral slots. It provides a configurable PCI Express (PCIe) switch fabric that enables configuration with two-link x8 and four-link x4 PXI Express deployments, allowing full utilization of the PCIe Gen2 bandwidth. Featuring fast data throughput, flexible configuration, innovative structure and intelligent management functions, the PXES-2780 is ideal for a wide variety of testing and measurement applications, such as wireless and RF testing. The Adlink PXES-2780 18-slot PXI Express chassis provides one system slot, one system timing slot, 10 hybrid peripheral slots and six PXI Express peripheral slots for up to 8 Gbyte/s system bandwidth and 4 Gbyte/s slot bandwidth for dedicated peripheral slots. Support for 2-links x8 deployment by a configurable PCIe switch fabric eases higher bandwidth system upgrades. The 10 hybrid slots preserve backward compatibility to accept PXIe/PXI/ cPCIe/cPCI modules, providing maximum flexibility in PXI and PXI Express module slot replacement and reducing the cost of system upgrades. The PXES-2780 offers built-in intelligent chassis management, enabling communication with embedded controllers via SMBus, or remote management from a remote system via a standard RS-232 port. With Adlink’s software-configurable PXES-2780 Intelligent Management Interface (IMI), users can easily monitor and manage test equipment, whether bench-top system or connected external test instruments, and settings for the PCIe switch fabric, fan speed, chassis status monitoring and reporting, and remote chassis power on/off. The IMI also enables notifications when user-configured limits are met. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].

PC/104 Module with Third Generation Core Processor, Maxes Performance at Low Power A new PC/104 module from Adlink Technology is able to support Intel Core i7 performance with low power consumption, making it an attractive choice for mission-critical applications in space-constrained environments such as transportation, aviation and defense/homeland security. The CoreModule 920 integrates a dual-core 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor running at up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost, up to 4 Gbytes of solder-down DDR3 ECC memory, 8 Gbytes of industrial grade SSD and a fast data-transfer SATA 6 Gbit/s interface. The CoreModule 920 supports rich graphics performance with versatile video outputs, including HDMI, VGA and LVDS. The advanced capabilities of the CoreModule 920 are intended to usher in many new applications for embedded systems, and an economically priced Intel Celeron CPU option is also available. Compliant with the PCI/104-Express Type 1 standard, the CoreModule 920 provides both PCIe and PCI connectivity and allows for SATA 6 Gbit/s data transfer. Space and cost savings are provided by the PC/104 family’s inherent self-stacking bus, which allows modules to stack together like building blocks without backplanes or card cages. This stacking feature also delivers high reliability, using four-corner mounting holes that can resist shock and vibration. The Extreme Rugged CoreModule 920 offers specially designed PCB, which is 50% thicker than ordinary PCBs, and an extended operating temperature range of -40° to +85°C. The module also implements a heat spreader design, which allows for more flexible thermal solutions to enable a higher component density not common to its PC/104 family predecessors. Its customized BIOS allows users to “underclock” the CPU and reduce total power consumption and heat generation. The CoreModule 920’s mechanical, power-saving and thermal design maximize the outstanding features of the PCI/104-Express form factor, setting a new benchmark for embedded solutions in the PC/104 family at comparatively low power consumption and cost. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].



Graphics Display Designer Supports PIC MCU-Based GUI Creation An enhanced visual design tool provides a quick and easy way of creating graphical user interface (GUI) screens for applications using Microchip’s 16-or 32-bit PIC MCUs. With Graphics Display Designer X (GDD X) from Microchip, developers have the freedom to work in the environment of their choice, including Windows, Linux or Mac OS operating systems.

Graphical user interfaces are found in a wide range of products today; from coffeemakers to automotive dashboards. While the requirement is becoming commonplace, there is a lack of cost-effective tools available to the developer. Placing dialog boxes, guidance text, buttons, sliders, dials and other elements of your GUI while determining colors and calculating x/y coordinates can be very time consuming. GDD X enables the development of GUIs in a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) environment, and saves valuable design time by automatically generating the C code needed for the user interface. With GDD X, a highly effective GUI can be created to improve the customer experience for applications in the automotive, (e.g., numeric, gauge or infotainment displays), industrial (e.g., operator touch-screen interfaces), home-appliance (e.g., coffeemakers, refrigerators, cook tops, microwave ovens); consumerelectronics (e.g., home automation, alarms and learning toys) and medical markets (e.g., bedside monitoring or medical lab analysis equipment). GDD X enables development using Microchip’s Graphics Library, and can be used as a stand-alone tool or as a plug-in to Microchip’s free MPLAB X Integrated Development Environment (IDE). It allows the creation of a project with configurable display resolution, and imports all the required driver/board support files into MPLAB X. Generated code can be compiled and tested on hardware. Key improvements to the original GDD include: thumbnail view of screens and snap-togrid feature, cut/copy/paste, auto object align and event handling, as well as palette support for 1-, 4and 8-bits-per-pixel (bpp) color modes. The GDD X is available today via a free download from Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ. (480) 792-7200. [].


SMT 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Module Supports Client and Access-Point Modes

30A Brushless DC Motor Controller Targets Robotics and Industrial Automation

A new module to support b/g/n Wi-Fi over an industrial temperature range of -30°C to +85°C offers 3G routing, Wi-Fi client and accesspoint capabilities. The Nano WiReach MAX-SMT from Connect One measures 2.0 x 3.7 centimeters (0.8” x 1.45”), allowing for a quick and simple upgrade from Wi-Fi b/g to b/g/n without hardware or software changes. To maximize connectivity and versatility, Nano WiReach MAXSMT offers multiple hardware interfaces, extensive firmware and a full suite of secure Internet protocols for up to eight Wi-Fi users in router or access-point modes. Designers gain immediate, full-featured connectivity without any Wi-Fi driver development or porting, minimizing project development challenges and time-to-market.

An intelligent controller capable of directly driving a hall-sensor equipped brushless DC motor up to 30 amps at up to 60V is targeted at designers of industrial automation systems, mobile robots, mechatronics, or any other medium power motor control application. The SBL1360 controller from Roboteq accepts commands from either analog pedal/joystick, standard R/C radio, USB, CAN or RS-232 interface. Using the serial port, the controller can be used to design fully

The Nano WiReach MAX-SMT module can also serve as an independent Wi-Fi access point where Wi-Fi infrastructure does not exist. With the module acting as a Wi-Fi access point, customers can connect to and manage their deployed, in-field device via standard Wi-Fi devices, such as iPhones, iPads and other mobile phones and devices. To ensure complete security, Nano WiReach MAX-SMT offers a highly advanced level of Internet security. The module includes the latest Wi-Fi encryption algorithms (WPA/WPA2, in both PSK and enterprise modes), Internet SSL communication and encryption algorithms. In addition, it acts as an inherent firewall, protecting the embedded application from attacks originating from the Internet. To maximize design-in flexibility, Nano WiReach MAX-SMT offers firmware support for several modes of operation. These include embedded router or embedded access point, LAN to Wi-Fi or Serial to LAN to Wi-Fi bridge, or full Internet controller mode where a simple microcontroller can use the module’s protocol and application capabilities to perform complex Internet operations, such as e-mail, FTP, SSL, embedded Web server and others. Internet controller mode can be used with any hardware interface. There is also a mode for PPP emulation in which existing designs, such as cellular modem that currently uses PPP to interface to the cellular modem can connect transparently over Wi-Fi with no changes to application or drivers. Pricing is less than $29 in high volume. The II-EVB-365N evaluation board, priced at $160, provides an easy environment for developing applications and testing Nano WiReach MAX-SMT.

or semi-autonomous robots by connecting it to single board computers, wireless modems or Wi-Fi adapters. Using CAN bus, up to 127 controllers can be networked on a single twisted pair network. The SBL1360 incorporates a Basic language interpreter capable of executing over 50,000 Basic instructions per second. This feature can be used to write powerful scripts for adding custom functions, or for developing automated systems without the need for an external PLC or microcomputer. The SBL1360 uses the motor’s hall sensors to measure speed and traveled distance with high accuracy. The controller can operate the motors in open loop or in closed loop speed or position mode with a 1 kHz update rate. The SBL1360 features intelligent current sensing that will automatically limit the power output to 30A in all load conditions. The controller also includes protection against overheat, stall and short circuits. The controller includes up to four analog, six digital and five pulse inputs. Two 1.5A digital outputs are provided for activating brakes or other accessories. The controller’s operation can be optimized using nearly 80 configurable parameters, such as programmable acceleration or deceleration, amps limits, operating voltage range, use of I/O and more. A free PC utility is available for configuring, tuning and exercising the motor. The controller can be reprogrammed in the field with the latest features by downloading new operating firmware from Roboteq’s web site. The SBL1360 is built into a very compact 70 mm x 70 mm, boardlevel open frame design. The board comes equipped with an aluminum bottom plate that ensures sufficient heat dissipation for operation without a fan in most applications. Additional cooling can be achieved by mounting the board and its bottom plate directly against a metallic chassis. Single quantity pricing is $225. Roboteq, Scottsdale, AZ. (480) 664-6660. [].

Connect One, San Jose, CA. (408) 572-5675. []. RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013



WATCH Energy Harvesting

How Energy Harvesting Wireless Paves the Way to the Internet of Things Energy harvesting wireless technology is set to play an increasingly important role in realizing the Internet of Things more reliably, more conveniently, more economically and utilizing existing communication technologies. by Jim O’Callaghan, President, EnOcean Inc.


e are currently seeing communication between equipment within an intelligent network that can automatically manage tasks in smart buildings, logistics and monitoring. With the Internet of Things (IoT), it is conceivable that each and every end node—really every sensor and device—will be connected to other devices and to the Internet. This includes devices that monitor the environment and report information as well as intelligent equipment that makes decisions locally and can interact with control solutions that communicate remotely, often over the Internet. With the help of open software platforms and secure data connections, every device could be controlled via mobile devices or the cloud. The realization of the IoT requires highly flexible technologies and portable devices that can be applied wherever needed. There are already well-established protocols to share information over the Internet—TCP/IP—but this is FIND the products mentioned in this article and more at




Energy Converter

Energy Management


RF Transceiver

Microcontroller RF Transceiver Sensor



Status, measured value Control signal Actuator/ building services

Figure 1 Distributed wireless sensor modules getting their power from energy harvesting can send short data communications to system modules based on sensor data. These system modules can then control actuators to perform needed services.

primarily a computer-to-computer-based protocol with sophisticated provisions. The requirements and capabilities for the remote nodes are often different and cannot support complex TCP/IP communication. But there are straightforward ways to bridge energy-efficient wireless devices to TCP/IP, typically performed by gateways to building automation systems (BAS) or IP.

Deploying the millions of distributed devices introduces the challenges of: how should they be powered and how will they communicate? One of the ways to the success of the IoT is energy harvesting wireless technology. Wireless sensors and relay receivers enable simple deployment of intelligent nodes. However, wireless devices require power—historically this meant


pulling a lot of wires or installing and replacing batteries. Devices powered by energy harvesters are maintenancefree and independent of batteries or other external energy sources, paving the way to a simpler installation of millions of devices connected to each other and the Internet.

The Specifics of Energy Harvesting Wireless

Energy harvesting wireless technology stems from a simple observation— where sensor data resides, sufficient ambient energy exists to power sensors and radio communications. Harvestable energy sources include: motion, indoor light and temperature differentials. These ever-present sources provide sufficient energy to transmit and receive radio signals between wireless switches, sensors, actuators and controllers, sustaining vital communications within an energy management system. Instead of batteries, miniaturized energy converters generate power for the wirelessly communicating devices. The devices are low energy, but not low power. They have been optimized to operate from small solar cells for example, with only indoor light and while storing enough energy to last over a weekend in darkness. For optimal RF effectiveness, the radio protocol uses 315 MHz and 902 MHz frequency bands in the U.S. The 902 MHz band in particular offers the ideal characteristics for M2M applications and the future requirements of the IoT. Due to its efficient use of energy, the 902 MHz band achieves double the range of common 2.4 GHz devices for the same energy budget, which is 90 feet in buildings, for example. Simple and short wire antennas enable the integration of energy harvesting wireless technology into very small product enclosures. The result is an effective, robust wireless platform for applications in the build-

Smart Sensor

Smart Actuator Window Sensor

Light Actuator

EIB/KNX LON BACnet TCP/IP Modbus ...

Actuators (receivers) Bidirectional components

Room Controller Gateway

Batteryless switches and sensors (transmitters) HVAC Actuator



HVAC Sensor

Figure 2 A building automation system consists of numerous sensors, controllers and actuators, which communicate data and control signals using different protocols. Much of the sensor data can come from battery-less wireless sensor devices making both the extent and maintenance of the network easier and more flexible.

ing automation sector, for smart home solutions, health care products as well as consumer appliances or machine-tomachine communication. Standardized application profiles inform networked devices of the nature of the data, ensuring the interoperability of devices from different vendors (Figure 1). These features make energy harvesting wireless technology the ideal communication standard to easily and reliably interconnect thousands of individual devices in a system, as well as network them with other wireless protocols.

The Way to the IoT

Today, energy harvesting wireless technology is very well established providing communication solutions in the building automation sector, bridging the control of light, HVAC and other fields of building technology to smart home, smart metering and energy management systems. This is the starting point to actuate further applications that lead to the IoT in the long term. Four steps show what this could look like: monitor-

ing and control, performing tasks, the use of embedded processing and bridging to the Cloud. Wireless and batteryless technology significantly eases energy monitoring and control in buildings with only little intervention into the existing systems. The wireless devices are highly flexible to install so that individual components, wall switches, sensors and relay receivers can be easily networked to form an intelligent system without complex cabling. In addition, dispensing with batteries eliminates the burdensome need to maintain the devices’ energy supply in a regular time period, which can be up to each year. An example for such a flexible automation system is HVAC control. Here, a thermostat, VAV (Variable Air Volume) or fan coil controller receives information related to occupancy, temperature, humidity, window position or CO 2 from the respective batteryless sensors and controls the opening and closing of valve actuators for radiators, or dampers for VAV systems. RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013



At the same time, the controller sends status information to a central building automation system, and receives control messages from the BAS. This enables the building to be monitored from a central location, which can be remote from the building itself, and to implement building-wide settings, such as holiday shutdown, for example. Enormous progress is also being made on the product side, leveraging

Performing Tasks

Alarm systems are a second field that batteryless wireless technology is opening up, due to its specific features. Here, the reliability requirements are a lot more stringent than those required for lighting controls. A system failure not only means a malfunction but it can cause much more serious consequences for other systems that depend upon the equipment being monitored.

Figure 3 Linking wireless sensor networks over gateways to the Internet makes their data available to the Cloud for remote analysis while also giving managers and controllers in remote locations access to control as well as monitor them.

advancements in energy harvesting. Revolutionary self-powered radiator valves, from Kieback&Peter for instance, generate energy from the difference in temperature between the hot water and the surrounding air. This energy powers both the communication with a controller or BAS, and to turn the valve itself. Without cables or batteries, these wireless devices are especially easy to install, and they require no maintenance. In further optimized systems, central equipment such as boilers or air handling units are integrated into the wireless communication system enabling scalable HVAC generation, visible and controllable over the Internet on a PC, tablet or smartphone.



It’s a fact that more malfunctions are caused by battery failures than by the electronics, especially in large systems. Energy harvesting overcomes this issue. There are already various batteryless wireless water detectors, for example from Afriso, using miniaturized solar cells or motion energy converters to power wireless signals that report water leaks in areas such as washing machines, under the bathtub (also in complete darkness), in the kitchen or in the bathroom. The EnOcean wireless signal immediately sends the leakage information to a gateway controller or directly to a valve, causing the main water pipeline or the affected supply line to be shut off. A notifica-

tion is sent to the user’s smartphone or smartpad at the same time to inform them about the incident. In addition, the water valve can be opened and closed, independent of leakage notifications, by GSM connection via smartphone or smartpad. A major requirement of today’s and the future’s energy supply is the smart grid. It’s intended to network centralized and decentralized energy suppliers, including private homes producing electricity by photovoltaic installations, to an intelligent system that provides energy only when needed, updating in real time. This requires continuous data flow and processing from all involved parties, which means from millions of information points. One key to this are smart metering systems. To work reliably and costefficiently, interoperability between the meters is supplied by different manufacturers—this is why smart metering calls for standardized technologies. Consequently, the members of the EnOcean Alliance have defined a specific device communication protocol, the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) profile, for batteryless wireless devices. Smart meter systems based on this open protocol are already available from a number of manufacturers, for example meters from Eltako. The Eltako components read and transmit the current electricity, water and gas consumption, including accumulated meter figures, by means of energy harvesting wireless technology located at a variety of points inside a building. In addition, the BSC software monitors and displays the current meter readings, for example, and compares them against default values. This makes all relevant data available for the systems that process it for intelligent energy management on demand. Via similar gateways, the standards-based energy harvesting technology can also communicate with Ethernet, Wi-Fi, GSM/UMTS/CDMA and other networks for integration in cloud services. Here, all data collected by batteryless wireless sensors is encrypted and transmitted to a cloud ser-


vice over the Internet. The gateways connected to a control and visualization software by TCP/IP can be used to control all relay receivers and sensors bidirectionally. Magnum Energy Solutions (MES) and BSC Software, for instance, have developed a cloud solution that offers energy management as a service. Therefore facility managers, building owners and businesses can monitor important inventory, equipment, assets and energy-related information from anywhere at any time, via the cloud. Critical building-related data is automatically pushed to the cloud, freeing owners and managers from the often-challenging coordination and expense of hosting onsite servers. One of the major advantages of such a cloud-based solution is that the management system arrives completely pre-commissioned from the manufacturer, and ongoing device commissioning is expertly done on behalf of the client and pushed out from the cloud. The users are granted unlimited access to their remote, dedicated virtual server with their own IP address, accessible from a desktop or smartphone—the perfect precondition for a deeply connected world of an IoT. As energy harvesting wireless technology advances, possibilities are emerging for using energy-autonomous, maintenance-free wireless modules for early warning systems or in domestic environments, adding extra functionality for more comfort and convenience, security and safety to existing systems. In agriculture, sensors could be placed over large areas to provide early warnings of forest fires, or to ensure that crops are receiving an optimal supply of water and nutrients. Batteryless technology is also suitable for monitoring built fabric such as large bridges. In all these scenarios, wired systems would be too elaborate in their technology and by no means cost-effective.

AFRISO GĂźglingen, Germany. +49 7135 102-0. [].

Magnum Energy Solutions Hudson, OH. (330) 656-9365. [].

Kieback&Peter Berlin, Germany. +49 30 600878-0. [].

Eltako Fellbach, Germany. +49 711 94350005. [].

EnOcean Oberhaching, Germany. +49 89 67 34 689 – 0. [].

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4/23/13 3:52 PM RTC MAGAZINE JUNE 2013

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June 2013

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