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The magazine of record for the embedded computing industry

JULY 2014

www.rtcmagazine.com

Rugged, Modular Systems Corral Fleet Management Not All Big Data Is the Same Important Data Electronic Modules Unlock Solar Panel Power An RTC Group Publication


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At Trenton Systems we don’t just assemble military computers using off-shore motherboards; we design and manufacture our own board-level products right here in the United States, then configure, integrate and test the computers to meet our military customer’s exact system requirements. Our capabilities include:

The Trenton Systems line of rugged rackmount computers pack a lot of performance and flexibility into lightweight aluminum chassis. Our military computers are built using open architecture standards featuring the latest in multi-core Intel ® processor technology. Other system features include:

The knowledge and expertise to solve your most difficult military computing problem including BIOS customization

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39 Mini-ITX Motherboard Based on AMD Embedded G-Series SoC

40 High Resolution PCIe Cards Offer Cost-Effective Data Acquisition

41 Versatile Platform Provides I/O Design Configurability

TABLEOF CONTENTS VOLUME 23, ISSUE 7

DEPARTMENTS

6 Editorial Through a Lens Brightly—Vision Systems Take on Industrial Tasks and Look to the Future

Insider 8 Industry Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace Form Factor Forum The Internet of Computers 10 Small & Technology 39 Products Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders

EDITOR’S REPORT Advanced Electronics for Solar Power Conversion

Power Opening up 12 Solar Advances for Control and Conversion Modules Tom Williams

TECHNOLOGY CORE

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Java Links the Field to the Cloud

Fleet Management Systems

28 Taking Data Networks on the Road 16 Management Sees Impact of Integrated Devices and the Internet 32 Fleet 20 Embedded Systems and The of Things Internet of Things – What’s Under

Use Java to Develop Complex M2M Systems That Deliver Data to the Enterprise

by Robert Andres, Eurotech

the Hood?

by Tom Angelucci, Oracle

TECHNOLOGY IN CONTEXT Flash Memory: Growing in Size and Speed

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by Barbara Schmitz, MEN Mikro Elektronik

Enhancing Storage Efficiencies from Greater Understanding of SSD Application Classes

by Kenneth Tsai, Adlink Technology

INDUSTRY WATCH Dealing with Data: Big and Important

35 The Lifecycle of Live Data by Wayne Warren, Raima

by Scott Phillips, Virtium

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RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2014

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JULY 2014 Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, johnr@rtcgroup.com

Editorial

Bridge the gap between ARM and x86 with Qseven Computer-on-Modules

One carrierboard can be equipped with Freescale® ARM, Intel® Atom™ or AMD® G-Series processor-based Qseven Computer-on-Modules. conga-QMX6

conga-QA3

conga-QG

ARM Quad Core

Intel® Atom™

AMD® G-Series SOC

www.congatec.us

congatec, Inc. 6262 Ferris Square | San Diego | CA 92121 USA | Phone 1-858-457-2600 | sales-us@congatec.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tom Williams, tomw@rtcgroup.com SENIOR EDITOR Clarence Peckham, clarencep@rtcgroup.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Colin McCracken and Paul Rosenfeld COPY EDITOR Rochelle Cohn

Art/Production ART DIRECTOR Jim Bell, jimb@rtcgroup.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Michael Farina, michaelf@rtcgroup.com

Advertising/Web Advertising WESTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Mike Duran, michaeld@rtcgroup.com (949) 226-2024 MIDWEST, CANADA, EMEA AND ASIA SALES MANAGER Mark Dunaway, markd@rtcgroup.com (949) 226-2023 EASTERN REGIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER Jasmine Formanek, jasminef@rtcgroup.com (949) 226-2004

Billing Cindy Muir, cmuir@rtcgroup.com (949) 226-2021

MSC Embedded Inc. Tel. +1 650 616 4068 info@mscembedded.com www.mscembedded.com

Qseven™ -

MSC Q7-IMX6 Compatible Modules from Single-Core to Quad-Core

ƒ Freescale i.MX6 Quad-, Dualor Single-Core ARM Cortex-A9 up to 1.2 GHz

HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, www.rtcgroup.com

ƒ up to 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM ƒ up to 64 GB Flash ƒ GbE, PCIe x1, SATA-II, USB ƒ Triple independent display support

The MSC Q7-IMX6 with ARM

ƒ HDMI/DVI + LVDS up to 1920x1200

Cortex™-A9 CPU is a compatible

ƒ Dual-channel LVDS also usable

module with economic single-core CPU, strong dual-core processor or a powerful quad-core CPU with

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as 2x LVDS up to 1280x720 1.1, OpenCL™ 1.1 EP

up to 1.2 GHz, and provides a very

ƒ UART, Audio, CAN, SPI, I2C

high-performance graphics.

ƒ Industrial temperature range

JULY 2014 RTC MAGAZINE

Editorial Office Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief 1669 Nelson Road, No. 2, Scotts Valley, CA 95066 Phone: (831) 335-1509, tomw@rtcgroup.com

ƒ OpenGL® ES 1.1/2.0, OpenVG™

V-7_2013-WOEI-6535

Untitled-3 1

To Contact RTC magazine:

8/14/13 2:16 PM

Published by The RTC Group Copyright 2014, 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.


EDITORIAL JULY 2014

Through a Lens Brightly— Vision Systems Take on Industrial Tasks and Look to the Future Robotic vision systems are sexy. We see videos of dual-camera mobile robots navigating over dirt paths through the woods. Advances are being made in automotive systems from collision detection to that “Holy Grail” sometimes referred to as that “giant hype,” of the driverless vehicle. Advances in machine vision systems go on at an impressive rate with object detection and recognition growing in power and sophistication. At the high end, this involves teaching a system using supercomputer scale neural networks for the learning process and then transferring that knowledge to a smaller scale embedded or mobile system. For example, this has recently lead to a vehicle vision system that can be housed in a small box in the trunk of a car—truly a major step toward that autonomous vehicle. What may be attracting less attention is the growing use of vision systems in a whole range of dedicated industrial applications where they are taking over seemingly routine tasks but saving large amounts of time, effort and money in the process. Such systems certainly qualify as robotic applications but are focused on more specialized tasks such as parts and/or wafer inspection or traffic management where they may be employed to count the cars waiting at a light to optimize the waiting times between light and heavily traveled streets. They are used in machining and in a growing number of operations in manufacturing where images are processed to guide machinery. This is frequently done by “teaching” the system with an image of the work piece. Consider, for example, a piece of metal that is to have holes drilled in it. Rather than set up a precision jig with sensors and positioners with an automatic feed to exactly position the work piece so that the pre-programmed drilling equipment can hit the exact spot, an image can be used to guide the equipment. Using the taught example with the exact locations defined, it can be compared to the image of the target piece and the drill moved exactly to the right spot on the target without the target being in the exact desired position. It just needs to be close and held firmly in place. This little example pays off big time when it is necessary to machine a different piece. There is no need to redesign a new positioning system with its clamps, sensors and reprogramming. It is only necessary to reprogram the vision system with a new sample pattern, image

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JULY 2014 RTC MAGAZINE

Tom Williams Editor-in-Chief

acquisition and processing code, and to reprogram the control loop. In other words, it can mostly be done in software. In many cases, it may be advantageous to have a human operator place and secure the work piece in place and then let the vision guided system do the work. In order to be considered machine vision, as opposed to an image capture, processing, analysis or display system, it is at least implied that it has to do something. In many industrial applications that can be referred to as vision directed motion or vision servoing. So a system must bring together three basic components: image capture to acquire the visual data upon which to base the system’s function, image processing to extract and/or apply the relevant data and information needed for the system’s goals, and a control loop to carry out the actual function. Of course, the “something” it is expected to do can be simple or complex and as such will determine the demands put on the first two elements. While many vision systems are built using special processors, DSPs, ASICs and the like, it is increasingly possible and practical to implement a powerful system on a multicore-based PC with, or sometimes without, certain other hardware such as a frame grabber card. Newer camera interfaces such as GigE Vision and USB3 Vision can input image data directly without the need for a frame grabber. In addition, there are options available for Smart cameras that can preprocess image data to assist the PC-based system if need be. Of course, such cameras are costly and it is becoming easier and more economical to let the system software handle the image capture and processing. And, as we all know, cameras are becoming ever smaller and less expensive even as their resolution and capabilities increase. That can lead to an ever brighter future for machine vision in what may become everyday applications. The cost reductions and capabilities now realized in industrial PC-based systems will only improve, while smaller form factors will bring vision-based apps into more mobile and embedded devices. They could be stand-alone apps with limited or focused capabilities or, if developed in conjunction with large learning systems, could become very advanced but handheld object and facial recognition systems with wide possibilities for as-yet unforeseen applications.


Why Should Researching SBCs Be More Difficult Than Car Shopping? Today’s systems combine an array of very complex elements from multiple manufactures. To assist in these complex architectures, ISS has built a simple tool that will source products from an array of companies for a side by side comparison and provide purchase support. INTELLIGENTSYSTEMSSOURCE.COM is a purchasing tool for Design Engineers looking for custom and off-the-shelf SBCs and system modules.

INTELLIGENTSYSTEMSSOURCE.COM


INDUSTRY

INSIDER JULY 2014 LynuxWorks Changes Company Name to Lynx Software Technologies LynuxWorks, Inc., a world leader in real-time embedded solutions, has announced its new name: Lynx Software Technologies. Over its 25-year history, the company’s products have been used in successive generations of embedded devices, always providing fail-safe reliability with the highest levels of performance. They continue to be baseline solutions to developers building aerospace and defense, avionics, medical, industrial, consumer, office automation, transportation and security applications and devices. Also, as the new IoT connected embedded world is growing at a dramatic rate, it is creating a new requirement for quality real-time safety and security solutions, especially in industrial automation applications and critical infrastructure. The LynxOS and LynxSecure products from Lynx Software Technologies address these needs with open standards-based solutions offering reusability while maintaining the highest level of safety and security. As more and more embedded devices become connected to the Internet, the need for built-in security becomes a necessity for embedded developers. Lynx

Electric Cars Reinvented — $178.9 Billion Market

In what may have significant far-reaching implications for the embedded computing industry, IDTechEx finds that the global sale of hybrid and pure electric cars will triple to $178.9 billion in 2024 as they are transformed in most respects. Up-to-date 10-year forecasts are provided in this new IDTechEx report, “Hybrid and Pure Electric Cars 2014-2024,” which is unique in revealing how everything about such cars is being reinvented. There are extensive chapters on in-wheel motors, fuel cell cars and the transformed battery situation. In-wheel motors are at last appearing in born-electric vehicles optimized for this disruptive change. 140 lithium-ion battery manufacturers and their changing success with EVs and changing chemistry are analyzed. They are now threatened by Tesla planning a mega factory to dwarf all of them put together. IDTechEx reveals the winners and losers that may result. Launches of production models of fuel cell cars are promised

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SEPTEMBER JULY 2014 RTC 2014MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE

around 2015 by companies such as Hyundai, Toyota, Daimler and Tesla Motors, bringing these center stage to the contempt of competitors that consider them to be a dead end. New car technologies such as supercapacitors, SiC and GaN power components, switched reluctance motors, merged and structural electric components, contactless charging and harvesting heat, light and vertical movement are presented. IDTechEx sees a gathering trend toward OEMs making their own key enabling technologies. It reveals that there are far more than the traditional three key enabling technologies now and explains their future. Very different options for the elements of an EV are now emerging. It may be possible to have flexible batteries over the skin of the car in due course. Sometimes such laminar batteries permit faster charging and greater safety. In about 10 years, structural components—loadbearing supercapacitors and batteries—will save even more space and weight in the most advanced vehicles. Vehicle electrics will be a greater part of the cost of the ve-

Software Technologies provides military-grade security in both its LynxOS RTOS and LynxSecure separation kernel hypervisor, giving a secure foundation for this new generation of connected embedded devices. The new rootkit detection capabilities provided by LynxSecure also offer advanced cyber-security protection for embedded devices even if other legacy operating systems are being used. Lynx Software Technologies is a leader in secure virtualization and open and reliable real-time operating systems (RTOS). The company’s LynxOS family of RTOSs offers open standards with the highest level of safety and security features, enabling many mission-critical systems in defense, avionics, industrial and other industries. The latest product in the product portfolio, the award winning LynxSecure, offers a secure separation kernel hypervisor that forms a virtualization platform for securing both embedded and IT systems. Since it was established in 1988, Lynx Software Technologies has created technology that has been successfully deployed in thousands of designs and millions of products made by leading communications, industrial, transportation, avionics, aerospace/ defense and consumer electronics companies. Lynx Software Technologies’ headquarters are located in San Jose, CA. The new Web site is www.lynx.com.

hicle as they replace hardware and give greater safety and performance. Electrics will change radically from the introduction of wide bandgap power semiconductors to printed electronics. There is scope for energy harvesting from shock absorbers, thermoelectric harvesting, which will be viable around 2017, and there will be some local harvesting for devices around the vehicle (e.g., Fiat vision). Radically new functional systems with previously impossible shapes and functions will transform e-car systems beyond recognition— it’s all covered in this report.

Microchip Technology Acquires ISSC Technologies

Microchip Technology has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ISSC, a leading provider of low-power Bluetooth and advanced wireless solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. In calendar year 2013, ISSC had net sales of US$69.2 million and an operating margin of 18.9% based on their reported results under International Financial Reporting Standards.

The acquisition has been approved by the Boards of Directors of each company. The tender offer is expected to close in the third quarter of calendar 2014. The follow-on merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar 2014, subject to approval of the follow-on merger by ISSC stockholders, “We are delighted to have ISSC join the Microchip team. ISSC’s deep domain knowledge in Bluetooth and wireless technologies, and strong position in the consumer markets, complement many of Microchip’s initiatives in wireless and IoT areas. We believe that combining ISSC’s strengths in wireless products and technology with Microchip’s brand, channel and operational strengths will enable significant cross-selling opportunities,” said Ganesh Moorthy, COO of Microchip Technology. “This transaction represents the first major overseas acquisition by Microchip, and the purchase will be funded with a portion of Microchip’s foreign cash and will not require any additional borrowings from our line of credit. We believe the combination of a very


strategic transaction that provides low-power Bluetooth technology, ISSC’s strengths and capabilities, and our use of foreign cash makes this a compelling transaction for the shareholders of both companies,” said Steve Sanghi, Microchip’s President and CEO.

congatec Adds Single-Board Computers and ODM Services to its Offering

congatec, has announced that the company is diversifying to ensure continued annual growth of more than 20% in the long term. The addition of single board computers and ODM services signals a change in strategy that will help serve existing customers better and address new customer groups. According to an IHS study from 2013, congatec is the number one provider of Computer-on-Modules (COMs) in Europe since 2012. The company will now transfer its know-how in embedded computer technology to the area of single board computers (SBCs). The first form factor will be Mini-ITX boards, equipped with congatec’s industryproven technology. The market for professional and industrial Mini-ITX boards is very large and continues to offer high growth rates. In parallel with the product expansion, congatec is adding original design manufacturer (ODM) services to its offering in order to realize project-specific customer requirements. This will include the development of carrier boards or cooling solutions, full-custom designs or even complete and fully tested systems that are provided with all necessary approvals. The first Mini-ITX board to be launched in the congatec Professional Line is the conga-IGX, which is based on AMD Embedded G-Series SOC technology. The Professional Line is characterized by advanced functionality and guaranteed product availability of seven years. The first products in the Industrial Line, which

are additionally optimized for industrial temperature range and 24/7 operation, will be available in the second half of this year. Both product lines enable developers to bring new product ideas to market quickly and to use the latest technologies.

Biomedical Big Data Now Able to Process a Complete Human DNA in Less Than 30 Minutes

At the European Society of Human Genetics conference in Milan, Genalice announced the scheduled release of an upgraded version of its Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) DNA data processing software solution Genalice Map. Featuring the new 5-minute variant caller, the company is now capable of processing the DNA data of an entire human genome with 40x depth within 30 minutes on a commodity dual Intel Xeon E5 server. The company commercializes its software in a turnkey appliance, the Genalice Vault. This all-in-one bioinformatics tool is preloaded with the company’s breakthrough DNA processing solution Genalice Map. Hans Karten, CEO/CTO, explains: “The two key processing steps after DNA has been sequenced are short read alignment and variant calling. In our first release we only included the alignment part. We are extremely pleased to upgrade our software suite with our ultra-fast and highly accurate variant caller. Both steps normally take 1 to 2 days on a similar hardware configuration. By mastering both steps in less than 30 minutes now, we have created a processing pipeline that offers our customers spectacular benefits. Exome data or panels can be processed in near real time. Combining our speed and footprint reduction, we are able to drive down the cost of processing and storing a full genome to less than $100 per year, while further improving the quality.” The company has collaborated with several scientific institutes to

validate their pipeline. In the public domain Genalice tested its product with well-known reference datasets like “Genome in a Bottle,” and has used the highly recommended Genome Comparison & Analytic Testing (GCAT) tool from Bioplanet. com to directly compare the sensitivity and specificity with most commonly used conventional tools. The results have been drafted in a white paper and GCAT report. Both can be found at the company’s website in the product section under Genalice Map.

ARM to Acquire Duolog Technologies

With the goals to strengthen its IP configuration and integration capability and address increasing SoC complexity, ARM is acquiring Duolog Technologies, a leader in design configuration and integration technology for the semiconductor industry. The acquisition will expand ARM’s position at the forefront of deploying complex system IP including debug and trace IP, and will help ARM partners design and deploy system IP and manage increasing SoC integration complexity. The agreement will extend ARM’s market reach for ARM CoreLink Interconnect and Controllers and CoreSight debug and trace roadmaps across mobile, enterprise and IoT markets. Additionally, ARM will extend the use of Duolog Socrates within its own subsystem design flow. Duolog’s award-winning Socrates platform configures IP in a standardized way ideal for importing into EDA tools to perform tasks such as subsystem functional verification and validation. Over the last 10 years, Socrates has been used for over 100 successful tape-outs. ARM will continue to support Duolog’s Socrates licensee base. The acquisition is expected to be completed in Q3 2014. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

DiSTI and Green Hills Partner to Support Safety-Critical ISO 26262 Automotive HMI Displays

The DiSTI Corporation, which develops high-performance embedded 3D graphical user interfaces, and Green Hills have announced the extension of a partnership spanning over a decade to support the automotive market with a safety-critical HMI system. DiSTI and Green Hills have a long history of delivering success in safety-critical FAA DO178-certified aerospace and aviation avionics markets as well as a co-operative FDA 501k certification in the life-critical Class III medical device market. With Green Hills Software’s certified safety and security solutions, services and cross-industry expertise coupled with DiSTI’s GL Studio, automotive OEMs and Tier 1s are able to leverage the specialization of each company with this proven solution that works out of the box. This partnership brings together the targeted focus to creating safety-critical ISO 26262 ASIL-certified displays for automotive instrument clusters, HUDs and infotainment systems in order to meet the ever increasing complexities of the electrical and electronic systems in automotive systems. The partnership appears to be leveraging the success both companies have had working together in the aviation and medical markets into the rapidly advancing automotive market, which is increasingly integrating high-performance graphical HMI systems and safety capabilities into the next generation of vehicles.

RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER JULY 2014

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SMALL FORM FACTOR

FORUM Colin McCracken

The Internet of Computers

W

hat do the following things have in common: selfdriving car technology, video streaming of World Cup soccer/football, global warming sensor measurements, UAV photo capturing and remote household appliance control? Hint—it’s not a government surveillance program involving metadata collection. Okay, at least that’s not the answer we were looking for. The Internet of Things (IoT) has given renewed enthusiasm to developers and lucrative valuations to Wall Street, as well as a fresh facelift to aging computer board alliance programs. Although vast database-driven Web pages are full of new and nearEOL boards alike, the latest certification programs create real value to OEMs by bringing together fully tested hardware and software. It’s not a new idea for every device and gadget under the sun to have its own unique address. It has taken ten, even twenty years for early concepts to finally take hold on the massive scale that is now underway. Previous obstacles like size and power reduction are being overcome at an unprecedented pace. Where does desktop PC technology fit into the IoT realm? Small form factor (SFF) computer boards are already widely used in mobile and line powered embedded systems. Yes, “embedded.” The term has not actually reached obsolescence in this IoT era. The “15 billion embedded devices by 2020” target has been simply re-labeled as “30 billion devices on the IoT by 2020.” Or perhaps re-focused. After all, these are not all Frenchstyle smart cards and cell phones. There are quite a large number of tiny systems with unique requirements that cannot be met with a one-CPU-fits-all approach. Nor a single Internet gateway. Nor a single wireless (radio) interface. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. SFF x86 board and chip vendors apply 64-bit multicore processors with huge caches and fast interfaces like PCI Express, SATA, USB and Wi-Fi to the myriad of tiny micro-power sensors and mesh networks. Even if each processor core only draws 2 watts when lightly loaded, the I/O and memory interfaces burn much more power than necessary to accomplish edge tasks. WiFi is not the best fit for a large number of endpoints that hardly

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need to update more than a few times a second, if even that. Working backward from the endpoint perspective, one can calculate the bandwidth each device needs in both directions. Often in the broader IoT picture, sensors sip from a faucet. By comparison, edge routers and access points drink from a fat pipe while core routers and Big Data servers and Cloud storage devices gulp from a fire hose. Serial ports, SPI bus and I2C are examples of interfaces that not only match the data rates, but are also easy to attach to using a CPLD or small FPGA, or even bitbanging with GPIOs that microcontrollers have. In many cases, microcontrollers and 32-bit ARM SoCs have built-in UARTs, USARTs and SPI ports that run faster, with FIFOs that don’t tie up the micro. Some low-cost, low-power A-to-D chips have direct SPI interfaces, obviating the need for an FPGA at all. Similarly, an onboard SSD chip or flash in the microcontroller itself is more optimized than mSATA, M.2 or m-anything else. The x86 processor community killed off serial ports when USB took over desktop peripherals. Fortunately, the embedded market does have influence at the lowest end of modern x86 SoCs, where serial ports have re-emerged. It’s usually applications like car computers that have the unit volumes to buy influence. Don’t get your hopes up too much when you see the SPI port on the datasheet or pinout, because that is usually reserved for firmware. So the IoT isn’t going to become the IoC (Computers) any time soon, despite all best efforts. You have to Sprechen Sie I/O first. Then a well-tested small Linux or RTOS, or no OS is important to the dialog. There’s no getting around it, though. PC technology has become quite embedded into the everyday life of the developer community. Even though they are comparatively large, bulky and costly, such off-the-shelf building blocks are convenient in a world where time-to-market translates into market share. Even if not cost-optimized, x86 systems will ride the wave rather than miss the boat, clear out to the access points and even in some edge systems where data crunching is more efficient to do there. Where there’s an I/O bridge and accompanying device driver, there’s a way. But the lowest power edge devices with IP interfaces will be captured by ARM’s iron hand.


COLLECT, TRANSFORM, & ACT ON DATA FASTER Seamless connections are crucial in the

Internet of Things. Red Hat provides the only open-source, end-to-end solution stack—supporting edge devices to enterprise applications—for embedded and intelligent systems.

Learn more at redhat.com/embedded.

Copyright © 2014 Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Shadowman logo, and JBoss are trademarks of Red Hat, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Linux® is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries. #12228807_0614


EDITOR’S REPORT Advanced Electronics for Solar Panel Conversion

Solar Power Opening up Advances for Control and Conversion Modules The dropping price of photovoltaic solar panels along with the development of improved ways to extract their optimal power is opening up a world of opportunities for embedded electronics as the control moves closer to the panel. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

T

D 1

PV

PV

PV

PV

PV

Centralized Solar Inverter

D 2

PV

PV

D 3

JULY 2014 RTC MAGAZINE

String PV Arrays

PV

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The rather simple reason is that while solar panels convert sunlight into energy and present a voltage at their terminals, is doesn’t end there. The power produced by

PV

here are increasingly clear indications that we may soon be looking at a surge in renewable energy, particularly in solar power. Interestingly, this does not appear to be happening as a result of government regulation such as the recent carbon limits announced by the EPA. Rather, it seems to be a result of cold, hard numbers representing the costs of solar vs. those of coal-fired plants, with solar poised to drop below the price of coal. In fact, Barclay’s Bank recently downgraded the bonds of several utilities based on their continued use of coal. Germany is already setting an example with a huge expansion of solar energy as well as wind power. The expansion of solar photovoltaic energy could have huge implications for the semiconductor industry as well as for the developers of embedded controllers and the build-out of the Smart Grid.

the panels must be controlled, combined with the output of other panels and converted into AC power that can be used to run homes, offices and facilities, placed on the grid and/or stored for later use. There are relentless efforts underway to improve the efficiency of solar panels themselves to produce more power per surface area. There are also intense efforts to improve the efficiency of the control and conversion systems that ultimately deliver the power to the user. Basically, that involves taking the DC output of the panel, converting it to a target DC voltage and then sending it to an inverter to produce AC. One of the main reasons for the DC/ DC conversion is that the output voltage varies among panels so that it is necessary to get a single common DC voltage to feed into the inverter. One of the earlier and most common approaches has been to connect groups of panels serially in several “strings” using special diodes (which cause losses) to allow for the different string voltages and simply feed them into a single large inverter. This had been the traditional approach taken by large arrays at solar farms and utility plants. The DC from the strings must still be converted to a fixed DC in the inverter before being converted to AC. This is not really optimal because it is converting the output of all the panels and some panels may not be delivering the peak power they may be capable of (Figure 1). The trend for controller/inverters is moving toward implementing them on

DC AC

FIGURE 1 The “traditional” central topology for a solar array involves feeding the output of several strings into a single, often large, central converter that converts the panel outputs to a single DC voltage that is then fed into a DC/AC inverter (Courtesy Texas Instruments).


EDITOR’S REPORT

smaller groups of panels within an array, and further toward implementing them on each individual panel. One variation on the above approach it to do DC/DC conversion at each panel using microconverters while connecting the panels in parallel and feeding their output into a central DC/AC inverter. This increases efficiency somewhat but still involves a single large inverter, which may be fine for a central utility plant but is less attractive for systems placed on residential rooftops or commercial buildings.

Upending the System

This last little item, which we can collectively refer to as “rooftop solar,” is inherently a disruptive technology. Taking power generation out of a centralized location with its distribution and billing systems and dispersing it at user locations has the potential to radically change the assumptions long associated with local monopolies (regulated though they may be) like utility companies. While relatively few users are likely to be completely off grid, the vast majority will increasingly have the opportunity to use rooftop solar to supplement the power they take from the grid by having systems that push surplus power onto the grid and remove only what they need when they need it. Another potential alternative is to add local storage

PV DC

PV

PV

DC AC

to such a system so that very little if any interaction with the grid will be needed. With the cost of solar installations falling about 10% per year, we can look for some pretty rapid acceleration that will not be significantly affected by added fees and/or political resistance. Nor will it be significantly accelerated by government regulation. Market economics can be expected to act as the main driver. Texas Instruments has produced a number of solar development kits to help engineers design and evaluate controllers, converters and inverters for solar power applications. The most recent such kit, based around TI’s C2000 Piccolo TMS320F28035 microcontroller, supports the most recent and advanced approach to solar panel power conversion and control, the micro-inverter (Figure 2). It also appears to indicate TI’s recognition of the extremely high market potential for solar inverter technology and the semiconductor products that will support it. The micro-inverter is used at the output of each individual panel and integrates DC/DC conversion along with DC/AC inversion plus some control and optimization functions to be described later. According to TI MCU application engineer Manish Bbhardwaj, the most frequently used approach for rooftop solar until recently has been the string topology in

The Texas Instruments C2000 micro-inverter development kit supports the latest trend toward the implementation of solar panel arrays.

which 10 to 12 panels are connected in serial and then handled by one converter/ inverter. Several such strings can then be connected in parallel. Now, however, the trend is moving toward the micro-inverter, which performs DC/DC conversion and DC/AC inversion at each panel (Figure 3). There are several immediate advantages for residential users and the companies that install rooftop systems. First, if one panel in the array is shaded or damaged, it does not affect the output of the other panels in the array. Second, the system is easy to expand. Simply adding one or more panels with their own micro-inverters adds power to the systems without

PV

DC AC

FIGURE 2

DC AC

AC

FIGURE 3 The micro-inverter topology implements DC/DC conversions along with DC/AC at each panel. The modules also implement AC phase lock among panels and MPPT for optimal power output under variable conditions (Courtesy Texas Instruments).

RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE OCTOBER JULY 2013 2014

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EDITOR’S REPORT

having to worry about upgrading a central converter to handle the additional current. While micro-inverters are used for grid-tie systems in which power is put on and taken off the grid as needed, the micro-inverter is not involved in the “bookkeeping.” The ultimate charge or credit from the electric utility is handled by the smart meters that are rapidly replacing the old-style electric meters that required a human meter reader. Smart meters, in conjunction with wireless and power line communications, are in many locations already capable of handling grid-tie solar panel systems.

Let’s Get Even More Efficient

As noted earlier, the actual output of which a solar panel is capable can vary according to such things as temperature, partial shading or even damage. Their maximum output also varies according to time of day. It is obviously important, therefore, to be able to extract the maxi-

mum power available from each panel throughout these changing conditions where that maximum obtainable power will vary. The micro-inverter’s internal controller has two main responsibilities. First, in doing the DC/AC conversion, it also must lock the AC output to the frequency of the grid. Second, it must see to it that the panel produces its maximum available power from moment to moment via a process called maximum peak power tracking (MPPT). The real-time processors—in this case, the TI C2000 series—use A/D converters for input and pulse width modulators (PWMs) for output to adjust the DC/ DC converter and the DC/AC inverter by changing the PWM duty cycle according to the load. Thus the DC/DC conversion happens at the optimal power output. The AC output voltage is the same as that of all the other panels, but each panel then delivers the maximum power of which it is capable in a process that is continuously

updated. Two things appear to be converging: the dropping price of solar panels along with their constantly improving efficiency, and the advancing capabilities of the electronic components and modules that can produce optimal useable electrical power in a vastly distributed world of grid-tied systems, systems with increasing storage capabilities, and a growing but much smaller number of off-grid systems. The opportunities for even more improved control and conversion technologies do indeed seem bright. Texas Instruments Dallas, TX (972) 995-2011 www.ti.com

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Rugged Boards & Solutions We know PCIe/104. And we do it best. At RTD, designing and manufacturing rugged, top-quality boards and system solutions is our passion. As a founder of the PC/104 Consortium back in 1992, we moved desktop computing to the embedded world. Over the years, we've provided the leadership and support that brought the latest signaling and I/O technologies to the PC/104 form factor. Most recently, we've championed the latest specifications based on stackable PCI Express: PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express.

With our focused vision, we have developed an entire suite of compatible boards and systems that serve the defense, aerospace, maritime, ground, industrial and research arenas. But don't just think about boards and systems. Think solutions. That is what we provide: high-quality, cutting-edge, concept-to-deployment, rugged, embedded solutions. Whether you need a single board, a stack of modules, or a fully enclosed system, RTD has a solution for you. Keep in mind that as an RTD customer, you're not just

working with a selection of proven, quality electronics; you're benefitting from an entire team of dedicated engineers and manufacturing personnel driven by excellence and bolstered by a 28-year track record of success in the embedded industry. If you need proven COTS-Plus solutions, give us a call. Or leverage RTD's innovative product line to design your own embedded system that is reliable, flexible, expandable, and serviceable in the field for the long run. Contact us and let us show you what we do best.

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TECHNOLOGY

CORE

Java Links the Field to the Cloud

Use Java to Develop Complex M2M Systems That Deliver Data to the Enterprise M2M projects present many challenges, even when the hardware is designed exactly to customer specifications. Success can be best assured with effective implementation of the device logic, scalable methods for device and data management, and simple integration of distributed devices into different enterprise applications. by Robert Andres, Eurotech

B

usinesses need “off-the-shelf� purpose-built solutions to address interoperability and seamlessly connect, aggregate, filter and share data from the edge of the network to the Cloud. The emergence of a Multi-Service Gateway model, which operates on the edge of an M2M deployment as an aggregator and controller, has opened up new possibilities. IT-centric solutions based on Java can be used to develop a very sophisticated, managed and robust network-connected application in a very short amount of time, with minimal effort and without compromising quality. Eurotech recently introduced a complex environmental monitoring system with Oracle at Embedded World, the ReliaSENS 18-12, which demonstrates how the right technical building blocks including multi-service gateway hardware combined with standards-based software components can lead to a rugged, reliable M2M system. The use of such technical building blocks can leverage Java to ensure shorter development times, more deterministic development and future-proof M2M applications.

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FIGURE 1 Multi-Service Gateways consolidate multiple business-relevant tasks into an overall application framework.

Simplifying Environmental Monitoring with a Multi-Service Gateway

Because many M2M edge devices are complex, an environmental monitoring system provides an excellent example

where various sensors and devices must be combined to create a cohesive system. Consider a Cloud-connected environmental monitoring system with high-precision air pollution sensors and real-time data access. The system must be rugged and


TECHNOLOGY CORE

FIGURE 2 Bringing data from the edge of the network to the enterprise.

compact to withstand the elements, and will be designed to monitor traffic, industrial, construction and urban areas for temperature, gaseous pollutants, particulates, electromagnetic fields, radioactivity and sound pollution. Furthermore, it will be built to seamlessly connect to the Cloud and send data from the field to the business application in real time. The M2M marketplace is full of hundreds of piecemeal technologies that can be cobbled together to form a solution, but complex devices like an environmental monitoring system are best developed using the Multi-Service Gateway approach (Figure 1). The Multi-Service Gateway approach minimizes development risk by using off-the-shelf, purpose-built systems and boards designed to meet vertical market value propositions. These hardware elements come with an integrated powerful M2M/IoT software stack that allows the development of the devices business logic in Java. These systems or boards are therefore also suitable platforms to build more complex systems by adding sensors and actuators to create powerful appli-

ances like an environmental monitoring system (Figure 2).

Java-Based Application Framework

The Multi-Service Gateway approach solves a number of integration problems and unifies disparate components in the environmental monitoring system. One fundamental building block is an application framework to put a layer between the operating system and the business application on the gateway. Through the Everyware Software Framework (ESF), Eurotech provides a set of common services for Java developers building M2M applications, including I/O access, data services, network configuration and remote management. Eurotech assures a strong foundation for M2M applications by relying on leading industry partners (Oracle’s Java Embedded Technologies, Hitachi SuperJ OSGi platform) to provide the technology basis for device, network and service abstraction as well as efficient development. The OSGi framework is a module system and service platform for the Java programming

language that implements a complete and dynamic component model, something that does not exist in standalone Java/VM environments. The benefits of IT-centric application development using ESF (Figure 3) to implement business logic in smart edge devices / service gateways include simplifying application development for smart M2M Multi-Service Gateways and smart edge devices as well as optimizing portability across systems and hardware architectures. It greatly improves local and remote management of both devices and applications and enables native M2M platform integration by means of Everyware Cloud and Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). Oracle Java Embedded is beneficial for application code development in connected devices such as the environmental monitoring system because it provides a robust software infrastructure for service delivery platforms. This enables easy code development through software simulation before porting onto the embedded devices thus reducing time-to-market. Using an OSGi-based container on top of a Java Virtual Machine simplifies application development and optimizes portability across systems and hardware architectures should the need arise in the future. ESF is a general-purpose, secure and managed framework that leverages OSGi and supports the deployment of extensible and downloadable applications known as “bundles.” Bundles can be downloaded, installed, started, stopped, monitored and uninstalled on the fly, even while other applications are running. Hitachi’s SuperJ Applications Ecosystem is a framework for the OSGi Service Platform that facilitates the modularization of software components and applications and assures interoperability of applications and services over a variety of M2M devices. SuperJ offers additional benefits such as the ability to deploy multiple versions of a module concurrently on a Multi-Service Gateway. ESF offers many additional elements including simple means to support field protocols, GPS services, administration GUI, customer business logic and a Cloud client. ESF can enable all of this functionality by encapsulating the complexity of RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE OCTOBER JULY 2013 2014

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TECHNOLOGY CORE

the lower layers and creating a foundation layer upon which customers can build their application and start with their value add from day one. An advanced software framework that leverages OSGi and Java isolates the developer from the complexity of the hardware, and the networking subsystems brings the Multi-Service Gateway hardware into an integrated hardware and software solution (Figure 4). Building on proven architecture and software building blocks that would require many years to develop, the use of an M2M application framework will result in shorter, more deterministic device software development. Using this IT-centric approach to implement the device logic in smart edge devices such as the environmental monitors improves both device management and application management. Once this standard software platform is in place, connecting to the Cloud is simpler than it ever has been before.

OSGi-Based Application Framework for M2M Service Gateways

The Eclipse Kura project is an effort aimed at offering a Java/OSGi-based container for M2M applications running in Multi-Service Gateways. Kura provides or aggregates open source implementations for the most common services needed by M2M applications. Kura components are designed as configurable OSGi Declarative Services exposing the service API and raising events. The initial contribution of the Kura project will be a large subset of the current Eurotech Everyware Software Framework. The goals of the Eclipse Kura project can be summarized as: • Provide an OSGi-based container for M2M applications running in service gateways. Kura complements the Java 6 SE and OSGi platforms with API and services covering the most common requirements of M2M applications. These extensions include but are not limited to: I/O access, data services, watchdog, network configuration and remote management.

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FIGURE 3 ESF developer experience: designed from the ground up for developers.

• Kura adopts existing javax.* API for its functionalities when available—for example javax.comm, javax.usb, and javax.bluetooth. When possible, Kura will select an open source implementation of such API that is compatible with the Eclipse license and package it in an OSGi bundle to include it in the Kura default build. • Design a build environment, which isolates the native code components and makes it simple to add ports of these components for new platforms in the Kura build and distribution. • Provide a development environment that allows developers to run M2M applications in an emulated environment within the Eclipse IDE, then deploy them on a target gateway, and finally remotely provision the applications to Kura-enabled devices on the field. Kura offers a foundation on top of which other contributions for field bus protocols and sensor integration can reside.

M2M Integration Platform

An M2M integration platform designed to act as an intermediary system between the distributed devices and the applications making use of the data, can further reconcile the varied technologies found in complex M2M projects and help customers to quickly connect their devices in the field to the business applications on the enterprise IT side. An effective M2M integration platform must act as an operating system for the IoT, enabling the transfer of device data independent of any programming language, platform, or underlying technology. An M2M platform is essential in the environmental monitoring system, with a large number of devices in the field collecting data and connecting to a backend system with multiple user applications such as a desktop GUI, handheld device applications and server data storage. Clients have the choice to build out their own backend server system and associated software elements, or look to a Cloud-based system where much of the solution has been provided. Which solution is best depends on many factors in-


TECHNOLOGY CORE

cluding: core competencies, complexity, capital investment, time-to-market requirements and more. The Multi-Service Gateway approach aided by a 100 percent Java application framework can ensure successful and deterministic development and deployment of M2M solutions for a broad range of vertical markets. A well designed M2M/IoT architecture and proven building blocks, including an enabling device middleware—a Java and OSGi-based application framework—allows customers to focus on their core competencies and provide higher value through services, improve efficiency, and reduce costs while developing, deploying and maintaining the connected devices in the field. Eurotech Columbia, MD (301) 490-4007 www.eurotech.com

FIGURE 4 An application framework encapsulates the complexity of the underlying layers, making it easier for developers to write code on top.

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TECHNOLOGY

CORE

Java Links the Field to the Cloud

Embedded Systems and the Internet of Things—What’s Under the Hood? As the Internet of Things continues to grow, it is changing the nature of the devices that are attached and how we interact with them and their data into an object-oriented paradigm. This opens a path for a software system like embedded Java to be a natural means of development, control and interaction. by Tom Angelucci, Oracle

C

hange is afoot in the world of embedded systems. As the Internet of Things (IoT) creeps closer to the precipice of delivering the scale of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication that’s long been promised, so, too, are new ways of doing things starting to displace tried-and-true tools and strategies. Nowhere is this more evident than on the platform front. Having dominated embedded system design for decades, stalwart languages C and Assembly have been rapidly ceding market share to modern, object-oriented alternatives, most notably Java. There are numerous reasons for this shift, from the ramped-up timeto-market pressures enterprises face to the “write once, run anywhere” portability Java Embedded affords. The bottom line is that Java Embedded appears to be staking its claim as the preferred programming language businesses use to develop IoT applications. Java is “the language of choice within the enterprise, and what will drive M2M is not only the engineering community, but also businesses embracing it,” Michael Azoff, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, wrote in a recent report.

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FIGURE 1 IoT impact on the device.

And what businesses need right now is the ability to make quicker, better and smarter decisions with the IoTs’ fountain of data. So, when a motion sensor at the entrance to a building detects a breakin, it shouldn’t merely turn on the alarm system; it should also automatically start

recording video of the burglary and trigger a feed of that video to a security supervisor’s smart phone as well as the local police. Likewise, when an aircraft’s engine sensors detect a mechanical issue, its embedded system should diagnose the situation, send the data to the appropriate


TECHNOLOGY CORE

FIGURE 2 IoT is changing the device.

location of a repair team who can more quickly and efficiently address the problem and then effect repairs. Engineering teams are, of course, eager to satisfy business demands. So it’s no surprise that survey findings from VDC Research indicate that the portion of embedded systems design projects powered by Java rose from 12.3 percent in 2008 to 27.8 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, use of C during the same period dropped from 91.6 percent to 59.8 percent, and use of Assembly fell from 47.4 percent to 19.1 percent. With billions of devices expected to join the IoT over the next several years, analysts expect organizations to continue this migration away from the legacy static languages that have been traditionally used. This steady integration into the IoT will have significant impact on device design (Figure 1). “The Internet of Things is rendering many incumbent embedded engineering technologies and design processes insufficient and antiquated,” Chris Rommel, vice president of M2M and embedded technology at VDC, wrote in a research report accompanying the firm’s survey findings. “Engineering organizations now need new solutions that address these evolving

requirements and speed development and time to revenue.” It is only set to get worse—or better, depending on one’s perspective. A recent survey of 1,867 Internet experts and stakeholders conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project found that there’s no perceived limit to where the IoT will show up in the near future. Respondents predicted that the IoT will be evident in most goods and services, ubiquitous in our homes, communities and environments, and will even be making appearances in our bodies. The research survey noted commentary from Patrick Tucker, author of “The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?,” offering a succinct written analysis of where he sees the IoT heading: “Here are the easy facts: In 2008, the number of Internet-connected devices first outnumbered the human population, and they have been growing far faster than we have,” wrote Tucker. As the array of predictions in the Pew survey indicates, the range of devices that will make up IoT is likely to vary wildly in footprint and function. As such, developers can expect to see embedded system design projects pop up everywhere from assembly line machinery and building au-

tomation systems to pacemakers and even toothbrushes. Working with these devices is definitely a new and different domain for most application developers. And the changes that will come to the devices themselves as they are integrated into the IoT will call for ways to make their development more approachable (Figure 2). For starters, these devices are often “resource constrained.” They might have a smaller memory footprint, and they don’t have a human on the other end that can click on an option or push a button to upgrade. A lot of these devices will be field-deployed in some cases for 10 or 15 years without anyone ever touching them. They will, however, be producing huge volumes of sensor data, making independent decisions and integrating with enterprise systems (such as analytics databases), all needs for which Java Embedded is well suited. But Java Embedded delivers a number of other advantages as well. First, there’s the fact that Java’s runtime environment, the Java Virtual Machine, can run multiple applications simultaneously and securely without having one affect the other, enabling programming to be broken down into reusable modules. Right there,

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TECHNOLOGY CORE

FIGURE 2 A typical IoT value chain.

we’re talking shorter development cycles and lower costs. That modularity, in turn, offers a significant security payoff by preventing malicious programs from affecting multiple applications, a critical layer of protection when embedded IoT systems are accessing firmware updates. Java Embedded also addresses the issue of these devices being deployed in-field for the long term by enabling on-the-fly application downloads and updates, remote operation—often in challenging environments, and the ability to add new capabilities without impacting the existing functions. This extends the lifetime, flexibility and value of embedded solutions by enabling application upgrades in the field, without compromising the integrity and security of the system. All this goes to create a chain of data and services that runs from the smallest connected device to the Cloud (Figure 3). There is also abundant evidence that Java speeds up embedded system design efforts, not to mention interoperability and portability. Where embedded systems built using C are generally device specific, the ability of Java Embedded to enable

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code reuse in a variety of IoT settings can further cut development time and costs significantly by breaking down embedded system silos. In the past, people would choose the components that go into a device and then write all the software in native code, so there weren’t a lot of considerations about interoperability or reusability of the code for other similar applications. Java, with its “write once, run anywhere” capabilities, allows developers to get started more quickly and to reuse code across devices. Oracle Java Embedded also delivers important staffing and resource benefits. To start, with a population of 9 million and growing, the Java programming community is large, making it much simpler for companies to find the developers they need. What’s more, because Java is an established enterprise asset in most companies, Java programmers can apply their skills as readily to enterprise application and Cloud development efforts as they can to embedded IoT projects. Still, with the IoT in its relative infancy, there aren’t a lot of large-scale deployments that demonstrate the potential

of this new approach to embedded system design. With that in mind, Oracle and Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) member ProSyst Software GmbH decided to provide a proof point that would demonstrate how its technology could be combined with Oracle Java Embedded to connect millions of devices to powerful backend systems via an open, standards-based platform. ProSyst makes middleware designed for the IoT. ProSyst Software successfully operated more than 4 million online Java Embedded devices simultaneously on a four-node Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, delivering a benchmark for industrial applications. It also used Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud to enable smart device connectivity—from mobile phones and vehicle onboard units to kitchen appliances and infotainment equipment—without registering any notable performance blips. The solution supported more than 7,000 technical report sessions, 3,000 firmware updates, 4,000 bundle application installations of the OSGi Java specification and 100,000 JavaScript Object Notation Remote Procedure Call protocols per second.


TECHNOLOGY CORE

Another OPN member, V2COM, has spearheaded development of a vertical IoT solution that leverages Oracle Java Embedded, along with security vendor Gemalto, to help modernize electrical power delivery in Latin America. The solution is designed to support leading-edge smart metering, as well as big data integration and power network automation, to improve energy efficiency and quality of service. V2COM’s smart grid uses Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M modules, along with Oracle Java Embedded, to securely transmit energy usage data over wireless networks into backend utility systems. Oracle’s device-to-data-center solution is intended to enable electricity providers to reduce energy losses and fraudulent incidents by improving remote monitoring and management of energy consumption, and speeding up response times when outages occur. Early adoption is already occurring in healthcare as well, with Java Embed-

ded showing up in lifestyle health devices, patient monitoring technologies and home healthcare or telehealth tools. In the auto industry, meanwhile, the Java Embedded-enabled IoT sensors and devices are increasingly being deployed for multiple use cases from fleet management and logistics to pushing offers to rental car drivers. As ambitious as these efforts have been, this is only the beginning for IoT. And in many cases, Java Embedded will be under the hood, making it all happen. Oracle, Redwood Shores, CA. (650) 506-7000. www.oracle.com ProSyst Software, Cologne, Germany. +49 221 6604-0. www.prosyst.com V2COM, Sao Paulo, Brazil. +55 11 3031 3322. www.v2com.mobi

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TECHNOLOGY IN

CONTEXT

Flash Memory: Growing in Size and Speed

Enhancing Storage Efficiencies from Greater Understanding of SSD Application Classes Solid state storage, implemented with NAND flash, has grown in speed, capacity and reliability. Still, qualifying a given device for a particular embedded application requires careful consideration of a number of interrelated metrics. by Scott Phillips, Virtium

T

he simple dollar per gigabyte metric no longer applies in evaluating storage solutions now that embedded systems computing has migrated from desktops and laptops to mobile devices and cloud storage. Developers have started to use a more sophisticated review process based on their specific application and its related data-type usage model. NAND flash technology employed by SSDs has also freed developers from the physical and mechanical spinning platter limitations of hard drives. In turn, SSD manufacturers have capitalized on the technology’s inherent advantages to optimize their solutions based on the application at hand. With the SSD industry continuing to explode, manufacturers are looking for ways to competitively position their products through technology differentiation and application-specific branding. This has caused several application classes to emerge. These classes are referred to as client, enterprise, data center and embedded SSDs. For the most part, SSDs are made up of the same components: a controller (ASIC or FPGA), NAND flash

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FIGURE 1 StorFly SATA SSDs are available in seven different industry standard form factors – 2.5”, 1.8”, M.2 22x42, M.2 22x80, mSATA, Slim SATA and CFast – and in capacities ranging from 8 Gbyte to 480 Gbyte.

(other technologies are on the horizon but none are yet as commercially viable), and possibly DRAM. These components are either integrated into a solder-down mul-

tichip package or are combined with other passives and mounted onto a printed circuit board of some type. So what characteristics differentiate SSDs built for each application class? The common answer from most SSD industry professionals is to define how the product is built as opposed to what the product does. They typically get into deep discussions about MLC vs. SLC vs. TLC (and now vs. 3D), write amplification optimization, read disturb mitigation, voltage threshold shifting and myriad other “secret sauces.” In the end, do any of these parameters really matter to system developers? Probably not. What is most important is that SSDs address developers’ needs by meeting the objectives of the applications’ usage models. Developers are keenly focused on finding the right storage solutions that fit their budget and application specs. That is why it is important to highlight the key external metrics of client, enterprise, data center and industrial SSDs without being overly concerned with the underlying technology and how these metrics are accomplished.


TECHNOLOGY IN CONTEXT

SSD Application Usage Models

To fully understand the reasons behind the different SSD application classes, let’s look at an overview of the applications for which they are designed. There are many well-known use cases and metrics associated with client applications that include desktops, notebooks and now ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones. In these applications, SSDs are used for storing operating systems and user data that is generated or downloaded by a single person. Performance is largely subjective based on individual needs with the most desired features being instant-on and application response time. Client SSDs are typically optimized for read speed. Write speed doesn’t matter as much, and there is quite a bit of downtime associated with client applications. This downtime is enough for the SSD to take care of any background task, such as flash management, that will help it achieve higher performance, greater reliability or longer endurance. Enterprise class SSDs were originally developed to replace racks of shortstroked enterprise class hard drives. In recent years, SAS has become the interface of choice for storing higher-reliability, mission-critical enterprise data that dictated the development of enterprise class SSDs, which use the same interface. SAS, with its dual port modes, DIF and other data integrity enhancements, offers the benefit of higher reliability than SATA. However, the performance capabilities of SSDs, which quickly highlighted the traditional hard drive interfaces as a major bottleneck, so impacted the enterprise that even more performance was desired. Enter PCIe as the high-performance interface of choice for today’s most demanding enterprise applications. Today, enterprise SSDs fall into three basic categories as shown in Table 1. Data Center SSDs are designed as the main storage building block for application-specific servers and appliances. Driving this application class are multiple Internet search and social media sites. SSDs for the data center are generally 6 Gbit/s SATA SSDs in capacities of 120 Gbyte and higher. SATA is typically chosen because it is a well-known,

FIGURE 2 Virtium offers some of the storage industry’s longest product lifecycles, which help minimize costly and disruptive requalifications. Its second generation SLC-based StorFly PE class products are guaranteed to not cause a requal for at least four years.

straightforward interface that is highly compatible and generally the most costefficient compared to SAS and PCIe. It is no wonder then that the SSD companies that stand out are those that manufacture NAND flash. For purposes of this analysis; data center SSDs are positioned for a lower cost per gigabyte while maintaining adequate IOPS and low latencies, and generally feature read/write speeds around 500 Mbyte/s and IOPS in the 60K+ range. The utilization of SSDs in industrial and embedded systems comes into clear focus with their deployment mainly in equipment that supports the infrastructure. Examples of infrastructure applications include networking and communication industry routers, switches and base stations; enterprise network security and monitoring devices; medical and gaming equipment; factory automation systems and digital signage…and the list goes on. Compared to the well-known usage models for client and enterprise SSDs, infrastructure SSD applications are highly fragmented, making them more difficult to segment into a particular application class. As noted previously, client SSDs are employed for read use cases and enterprise SSDs are used to support writeintensive workloads. Infrastructure SSDs, on the other hand, need to support a wide

range of mixed function workloads. Two opposite examples are casino gaming and radio base station applications. Casino gaming SSDs might only be written to once and then be write protected, but are read from as games are played. Base station SSDs may need to be continuously written with cell phone traffic log information. Infrastructure equipment data patterns can range from 99% read/ 1% write to just the opposite and can encompass every scenario in between. Infrastructure applications are also considered mission-critical and must be designed for 24/7 operation—many times in harsh, extended temperature environments ranging from -40° to 85°C and higher. Embedded infrastructure-based SSDs are frequently characterized by smaller, lower power, lower capacity form factors such as Slim SATA, mSATA, CompactFlash or 10-pin eUSB whose applications typically require capacities less than 100 Gbyte—with a large number of Linux and real time OS-based systems requiring less than 4 Gbyte (Figure 1). A common belief among infrastructure system developers is that industrial SSDs need to be built with SLC NAND, making them considerably more “expen-

FIGURE 3 Virtium’s StorFly SATA, TuffDrive USB and CompactFlash SSDs match the use case needs of a multitude of industrial embedded systems. StorFly SATA SSDs are not only available with SATA 6G interfaces, they can also be configured as SATA 3G or even SATA 1.5G devices, since many legacy systems were never designed to accommodate handshaking from SATA 6G.

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TECHNOLOGY IN CONTEXT

Enterprise Class SSDs

SAS

PCIe

Flash Storage Arrays

Capacity

200 GB to 2 TB

365 GB to 10.24 TB

3 TB to 120 TB

NAND

MLC/eMLC

SLC/MLC/eMLC

SLC/MLC

Form Factor

2.5”

PCIe half size/PCIe full size

Array

Read/Write

Up to 1200/750 MB/s

Up to 6.7/4.4 GB/s

Up to 12 GB/s

Read/Write IOPS

Up to 145,000/100,000

Up to 1,300,000/1,240,000

Up to 2,000,000

TABLE 1 The basic categories of today’s solid state storage devices.

sive” than client SSDs. This is not necessarily true. While SLC is more expensive on a dollar per Gbyte basis, there are many applications where the lowest-cost 120 Gbyte client SSD is still more expensive than the “right” 8 Gbyte SLC infrastructure SSD on a dollar per unit basis. There are also numerous mission-critical scenarios where SLC-based SSDs are essential, so the expense is justified with greater endurance and reliability over a longer product lifecycle.

Embedded system developers are also concerned with the high cost of requalification. The reality today is that there may be three iterations of MLC for every one iteration of SLC, which necessitate a requal for every iteration. For high-capacity requirements, it may still be difficult to cost-justify using SLC, but as capacity needs decrease, the total cost of ownership (TCO) and performance arguments for SLC become more compelling (Figure 2).

Rules Are Not Always Followed After reviewing the diverse set of applications, it should be abundantly clear why SSD application classes are defined by usage model and their associated workload requirements rather than technology. These definitions provide a helpful set of guidelines in specifying SSDs. However, not all SSD suppliers follow these guidelines, and it is not mandatory to do so. At the moment, the JEDEC JC64.8 SSD committee defines application

Workload

Consists of the types of data, file sizes, whether that data is sequential or random, and the read and write requirements of the application.

Active Use

Defines the assumed case temperature inside the host system, generally on the SSD case, at which the SSD is written and read. It also defines how often the SSD is used.

Retention Use

Defines the storage temperature and the length of time the SSD can be powered off while still keeping the data intact after the SSD has reached its endurance specification.

Data Retention Time

Is an important metric point for industrial SSDs. If the SSD has barely been written, the retention time is significantly longer than an SSD that has been in use for a long time.

Functional Failure Requirement

Outlines the number of “acceptable” failures for a given sample size subject to specifically defined conditions.

UBER

Measures the number of sectors that return an uncorrectable bit error based on the number of bits that have been read.

TABLE 2 Factors affecting SSD endurance and suitability for a given application.

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TECHNOLOGY IN CONTEXT

classes only for client and enterprise SSDs in document JESD218. The workloads associated with these application classes are explained in JESD219. Unfortunately, embedded system developers may not find a given SSD specification to be particularly useful or meaningful if it isn’t based on a set of common rules. JEDEC definitions are helpful in specifying client and enterprise SSDs, but they don’t cover all of the considerations for embedded SSDs. Therefore, it is important for designers to carefully review datasheets to fully understand the assumptions and conditions under which the products are specified (Figure 3). Validating endurance for an infrastructure application class workload is an excellent example where designers may need to define many elements that include active use (power on) time and temperature, retention use (power off) time and temperature, and functional failure and uncorrectable bit error rate requirements. Adding to the challenge is that the metrics shown in Table 2 are all interrelated when it comes to endurance, and changes in assumptions for one parameter can lead to changes in another. This endurance example highlights the critical nature of understanding the use case for which an SSD is specified for its applicability and effectiveness in certain situations. Consequently, if SSD specifications do not provide use case data, they are truly of limited benefit to developers and should be questioned.

As the analysis should have highlighted, total cost of ownership and improved storage efficiency benefits can be achieved in embedded system designs by taking the time to fully understand SSD application classes. This information can greatly assist OEMs in selecting the most optimal solution for their particular design. Although it can be challenging to find the right SSD to meet budget and application specifications, there are expert storage suppliers ready to take a larger role in serving the needs of this diverse market with extensive expertise in guiding OEMs to the optimal storage solution, and by delivering high-reliability, quality products that are proven to work over the course of the systems’ lifecycle goals. Virtium Santa Margarita, CA. (949) 888-2444 www.virtium.com

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SSDs That Match Industrial Infrastructure Needs

Because of the broad and varying storage requirements of embedded and industrial systems infrastructure applications, OEMs today need to seek multiple options to match their individual system needs. While there are many suppliers of SSDs, not all are in tune with embedded infrastructure application developers’ unique requirements. These developers require specifically engineered SSDs that address unique challenges including power-down protection, 24/7 availability, reliable operation over a wide temperature range, low-power/low-heat, high endurance and long product lifecycles, to name a few.

Technology in Quality

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TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT Fleet Management Systems

Taking Data Networks on the Road With the increasing demand for data to control and monitor today’s transportation systems and to fit into small spaces and rugged environments, the modular box PC is an attractive choice for in-vehicle systems. In addition, its flexibility lets it take on a wide range of different, demanding tasks. by Barbara Schmitz, MEN Mikro Elektronik

W

ith as much talk as there is about the Internet of Things, and how much can be done in the digital world, there is still an element to realworld operations that requires physically moving things from point A to point B. You can’t send a freight load of imported automobiles from our nation’s ports to car dealerships via Ethernet…yet. But the Internet of Things is still helping to move things along in this physical world, requiring a shift in thinking about how powerful data networks are making their way into industries traditionally considered “lower tech,” such as transportation, construction and agriculture. Who would have thought that an 18-wheeler, an underground mining machine, or a commuter train would be part of an interconnected global network? Historically, these industries have not used much technology, but they are under the same cost scrutiny and time-to-market

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constraints as any other business entity looking to optimize operational efficiency within a set budget.

The Road to Efficiency

Businesses that employ a mobile workforce are tasked with a unique situation—most of the fleet operators are working remotely as well as independently with external, uncontrollable factors, such as traffic and weather that impact productivity. There is an inherent lack of control and oversight from the headquarters, so in the past managing certain operational parameters has been challenging. But once embedded technologies began shrinking enough to be used on vehicles, and then became smart enough to be connected remotely via wireless methods, an evolution began. Businesses realized that through proper fleet management, certain aspects of their business could be optimized, whereas previously the main

office staff had no connection to what was happening on the road. Three key areas where embedded computing is lending a hand include revenue generation through operational efficiencies and reducing risks by way of better on-road management of vehicle repair and fuel costs. In addition, it makes for increased communication resulting in better transparency with third parties, such as passengers, customers or other vehicles on the road. Not only do today’s fleet management operations connect a driver with the main office, but vehicles can communicate with one another, with back-end computing systems and with other agencies or systems, depending on the nature of information being communicated. Modern commercial vehicles, like buses, coaches and trucks as well as offhighway vehicles found in construction, farming and mining, have functions controlled directly by computer systems that need to communicate with the outside world (Figure 1). These mobile environments are harsh, so the computers must be robust with small footprints to fit into narrow, space-constrained locations. Reliable transmission in a fast-moving means of transportation is considerably more difficult than in a stationary or slow-moving vehicle. However, improved technology in embedded computing continues to gain ground, providing optimal solutions for efficient transportation management. Rugged computing systems offer the best combination of form, fit and function to ensure proper fail-safe operations, with mission-critical computers supporting safe driving techniques, fleet oversight and vehicle maintenance, for example.

A True Information Highway

Wireless technologies typically networked by fieldbuses like CAN bus are now commonly used in the control computers within these vehicles to perform vital functions. Communication computers are mostly based on standard Ethernet, while the external link can be connected using one of many different wireless standards including GSM, GPRS, LTE and WLAN, to name a few. Dynamic information systems are


TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

FIGURE 1 Today’s on-road vehicles incorporate advanced computing across several different platforms.

providing today’s connected fleet with information on the current traffic or weather conditions for better operations and allowing for fast, effective rerouting. And Internet access points required to transmit the data along can be easily integrated into these advanced computing systems, keeping the main office up to speed on a vehicle’s status for on-the-fly modifications to scheduling.

Hauling a Different Kind of Cargo

Any mobile vehicle is faced with space constraints, and with more functionality being pushed into each vehicle, highly reliable systems that can most efficiently utilize this space are definitely in high demand. A computing trend increasingly being used in transportation and fleet management environments is rugged, modular box computers. This concept allows a dense computing system to be tailored to a specific application and then enclosed in a rugged housing to withstand the rigors of a mobile environment. Not only can the electronics be customized, but the housing dimensions are adaptable enough to enable a precise fit into the compact areas of virtually any vehicle application. In addition, these environments typically mandate fanless conductive-cooling within the given application, which the box computer concept can accommodate through its design elements. From small units with 3.5” displays up to computers with 10.4” screens or

larger, box computers are providing a variety of transportation applications with advanced connectivity not seen in this area before. Because a dense set of electronics can be designed into a sealed, rugged enclosure, fleet managers are able to take advantage of the latest in embedded computing functionality. These computing solutions easily handle the vast amount of information available on 3G, and even 4G, data networks, enabling on-road access to realtime traffic information so trucks can be rerouted to stay on schedule or to precise GPS location providing an accurate delivery time to a waiting customer. Because the components and functionality of these box computers are contained within a sealed housing, the unit needs to perform reliably in not only rugged environments, but over long periods of time as well. These pre-integrated systems are designed to be put in place and operate effectively. The time and effort spent getting the system up and running is of no use if it constantly needs maintenance, especially when that system is on a vehicle in transit.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A box computer is configurable and can be tailored to almost any application in the transportation, construction or agriculture markets as well as to any required standards in each industry. A box PC for the rail market, for example, can

be equipped with rugged M12 connectors and a power supply compliant to the EN 50155 standard. For utility vehicles, box PCs can be certified according to ISO 7637-2 (E-mark) and come with an automotive power supply unit. Some fleet management operations are taking this newfound freedom of technology one step further. An increasing number of mass transit vehicles are being equipped with driverless systems to optimize travel speeds and frequency, and lower energy consumption. Automatic train operation (ATO) systems in the railway industry, for example, are typically based on modular systems because they control a multitude of functions such as status data continuously sent to the control center, or the capture of data from the wayside sensors, while communicating with wayside equipment (Figure 2). In one driverless underground application, up to 500 mobile and stationary control and management systems are needed to monitor the train on a line. The control and monitoring system provides a response channel that allows the permanent transmission of status data from the vehicles back to the control center. Reliable wireless communication is key to system operation, so the electronics need to function under extreme temperature and operational conditions. Aboveground driverless buses are quickly being implemented through box computing solutions, as well. And with the speed and direction of a bus being

FIGURE 2 As access to data across vehicle networks increases, more functions are being controlled remotely, from simple vehicle diagnostics to fully automated driverless systems.

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TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYED

controlled via electronics, high safety levels are required, so the system will operate effectively and ensure safe passenger transit. This is achieved by housing more than one single board computer in a system to ensure redundancy and continued operation if a failure were to occur. Again, the highly dense box PC concept enables this level of functionality to be cost-effectively incorporated into an enclosed computing system. The box computer concept from MEN Micro, for example, is simple and versatile—take a CPU board equipped with an AMD or Intel processor that fits the application, combine it with an I/O board featuring the connectors needed, then wrap it into a rugged fanless housing adaptable to the vehicle’s space requirements.

Keep on Truckin’

The ability to easily adapt the computing system as well as the housing leads to a cost-effective method for implementing the latest technologies in modern fleet management environments. Once hooked up via wireless methods, these systems can collect critical data and transmit it back to a central office to help with vehicle diagnostics as well as manage schedules more efficiently. Conversely, a main operator can send information to the entire fleet at any given moment for optimum—and total—fleet management. Several different implementations have already been successfully deployed. In one instance, a fanless, SCADA-based automotive data logger is used to record and preprocess information in trucks and buses. Information from one, or several, vehicles is sent to the headquarters via the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, indicating the vehicle’s status and position as well as when its next scheduled maintenance is due. Application-specific functions, such as CAN bus interfaces, are implemented as IP cores in the onboard FPGA. Another application incorporates a compact design into a fully custom rugged 3.5” housing to provide universal control for a wide variety of commercial vehicles and mobile machines, including utility vehicles, mining trucks and construction machines. If required, this box PC can be customized with a display in sizes ranging

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a

b

FIGURE 3 The system on the left (a) is equipped with four PCI Express Mini Card slots controlling up to eight SIM cards and a GPS interface, while the right unit (b) incorporates an 8.4” LCD screen and 20 backlit keys with tactile feedback for vehicle function monitoring as well as speed optimization.

from 7” to 15” with support for a range of interfaces including Ethernet, USB and UART as well as graphics and audio I/O. In mass transportation, panel PCs used for driver desk systems can interface with the passengers as well as the main office, displaying content and video streams to keep all parties informed of schedules, upcoming stations or weather at a certain destination. In addition to providing outbound system information, these systems simultaneously keep the driver informed of critical operational tasks including fuel consumption and vehicle diagnostics.

Data Delivery for Specific Operations

Multiple data sources are now available between a central office and the vehicles in its network, so harnessing and processing all this data in also an important aspect when implementing a computing solution. What may be critical to the freight-related transportation industry that covers a wide geographic area may not hold true for what is important in a mass transit environment, which may be more regionally focused. Through implementing different functionality within a modular structure, the flexible box computer provides a means to achieve a cost-effective solution designed specifically for each application. In the case of a nationwide trucking operation, functionality within an on-vehicle system should include an interface to a satellite network to ensure widespread data transmissions. The ability to maintain data signals and accurate positioning

through tunnels would be an advantage as well, and if used in a system internationally, the ability to interface with multiple global systems, such as GPS, GLONASS and the upcoming European Galileo system, would be of exceptional value to a fleet manager. A large display is probably not a priority (Figures 3). However, a system used for a regional transportation operation that involves a large concentration of vehicles in a smaller geographic area will benefit from scalable box computers that can graphically display route alternatives should traffic or weather become factors that impact scheduling and delivery times. In many cases, because the control electronics in a box PC concept are directly attached to the back of the display, bigger screen sizes or other aspect ratios can be easily adjusted. Box computing systems provide bestin-class, flexible computing solutions encased in a housing that not only fits into a space-constrained vehicle application, but that is designed to withstand significant environmental conditions and long-term transit situations, as well. With modern, robust electronics making their way into an increasing number of mobile vehicles, highly dense box computing systems that can harness modern data networks will continue to be a driving force in fleet management efficiency. MEN Micro Blue Bell, PA. (215) 542-9575 www.menmicro.com


RTC PRODUCT GALLERY

Data Acquisition & PC104 Showcase

USB-2405 Dynamic Signal Acquisition High-speed USB 2.0 Module

• 24-bit Sigma-Delta ADC with built-in anti-aliasing filter • 4-CH simultaneous sampling analog input, up to 128kS/s • AC or DC input coupling, software selectable • Analog or digital triggering • Supports 2mA excitation output on each analog input channel for IEPE sensor measurement • Full auto-calibration • Includes Visual Signal DAQ Express TFA application Phone: (408) 360-0200

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ANDROID-232: New USB serial interface board—the ANDROID-232

• RS-232 Serial Adapter for Android Devices • Supports UART interface with RX, TX, RTS and CTS • ±15kV ESD protection on USB data lines and all RS-232 signals • Supports USB charging for Android devices • Type A USB connector features industrial strength high retention design • Industrial operating temperature (-40°C to +85°C) standard • Hard line wired connection eliminates security concerns associated with Wi-Fi and other radio Phone: (858) 550-9559 FAX: (858) 550-7322

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Cobalt Model 78633: PCIe Board with 1100-Channel GSM Channelizer and Virtex-6 FPGA

• Complete GSM channelizer with analog IF interface • Two banks of 375 DDCs for upper GSM band • Two banks of 175 DDCs for lower GSM band • Four 180 MHz 16-bit digitizers • Gen. 2 x8 PCI Express interface • Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA • Clock/sync bus for multiboard synchronization • Sample clock synchronization to an external system reference Phone: (201) 818-5900 Web: www.pentek.com/go/rtc78633

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USB-104-HUB

• Rugged, industrialized, four-port USB hub •E  xtended temperature operation (-40°C to +85°C) • S upports bus powered and self-powered modes • Th  ree power input connectors (power jack, screw terminals, or 3.5” drive Berg power connector) •U  SB/104 form-factor for OEM embedded applications •O  EM version (board only) features PC/104 module size and mounting compatibility • I ncludes micro-fit embedded USB header connectors

Phone: (858) 550-9559 FAX: (858) 550-7322

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TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT Fleet Management Systems

Fleet Management Sees Impact of Integrated Devices and the Internet of Things Fleet management is poised for dramatic growth, fueled by the Internet of Things and a need for differentiated performance in a consolidating market. Developers are responding with highly integrated solutions that blur the lines, differentiating devices used for in-vehicle tracking and enabling more competitive, real-time services provided in the field.

for connectivity and a handheld component for use outside the vehicle. Antenna extension cables might also be part of the system, keeping a device with limited portability connected to the vehicle’s wireless signal. For example in the trucking industry, dash-mounted computing units often have a pendant that can be removed for field use, although the device stays connected with a spiral cord similar to an old telephone cable. An extensive range of software applications complete the multipiece hardware solution; these options could facilitate mapping and routing, or access to industry-specific applications and databases such as fingerprint scans, vehicle records or motorist information. Rugged PCs are well-established as in-vehicle computing solutions, yet the market has demonstrated a need for a more versatile option that is lightweight, display-oriented and connected. Instead of multiple devices—for example a fix-

by Kenneth Tsai, Adlink Technology

A

s technology becomes more agile at collecting, sharing and acting on real-time information, the definition of fleet management has evolved in step. Today’s market is steadily expanding from its traditional focus on managing delivery and logistics to improving operations for law enforcement, first responders, public utility service vehicles, cable providers and more. Just about any business with a mobile presence or employees in the field can compete more effectively with greater access to information—using data to improve efficiencies, increase safety, reduce maintenance cost and improve customer service. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has had real impact in this arena, and fleet management is taking the lead as a major growth market for connected embedded applications. To better capitalize on this promise, a shift is becoming evident—systems are moving away from complex, multi-equipment so-

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lutions and toward all-in-one, high-performance devices that offer compact performance and value. Streamlined, rugged and creatively designed for high-endurance environments, fleet management devices are evolving to incorporate the high performance of a traditional PC-based system, along with improved display options and easy portability. Coupled with a smaller footprint, these highly integrated devices are providing a new competitive edge in the field, blending traditional fleet management functions with smarter connected embedded services and applications.

Defining Next Generation Fleet Management Devices

Current fleet management solutions typically require several elements to accomplish desired performance in the field. From the hardware perspective, a fleet driver might have to manage not only a rugged laptop, but also a gateway device

FIGURE 1 Adlink’s IMT-1 integrates the high-performance TI OMAP5432 1.5 GHz dual-core ARM A15 processor and Android operating system. The open system architecture of the Android OS allows system integrators to easily develop applications, supporting fleet management operators with state-of-theart management applications, safer operations and regulatory compliance. Plus, TI OMAP processing power has ensured that other data- and graphicintensive applications such as certain mapping software also runs efficiently on the IMT-1 tablet PC.


TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

mount system plus another device for tracking shipment as deliveries are recorded throughout the day—new options optimize this varied performance into a simple, integrated system. Today, a single device can achieve the same powerful connectivity to enable vehicle diagnostics while also acting as the handheld interface for other field service applications.

Familiar, All-In-One Performance

Optimized in-vehicle displays today offer the familiar look and feel of a consumer tablet, following the path of consumer electronics by doing more with a single device (Figure 1). However, this familiar interface also supports powerful built-in performance for devices that are sunlight readable and offer specifications for industrial use, such as IP54 rating for resistance to dust and water. Gorilla glass touchscreens are thicker than a typical consumer display, making them impervious to damage in the field. These rugged features combine to reduce the fleet operator’s total cost of ownership and enable faster return-on-investment in fleet management systems. Most importantly, this level of integration, ruggedness and performance is enabling a significant shift in the fleet management industry. Fleet operators no longer face such a daunting task—which historically included installing a gateway in the vehicle, fixing a rugged laptop to the dashboard or console, and training employees on using and syncing a handheld device that supplements the system with data collected when it’s removed from the vehicle and used onsite. Compact, all-in-one devices are offering a simple, more intuitive method of in-vehicle computing—not only blending processes with field service applications, but also substantially reducing the space, cost and deployment challenges associated with a larger, multi-piece deployment.

Expanding the Market

Solving the need for rugged, integrated solutions is essential, enabling fleet management applications to continue their evolution, as well as to expand into new markets. While transportation and

logistics services are foundation markets for fleet management, the opportunity for market growth is broad; integrators anticipate fleet technology to cross industry sectors such as academia, government, waste management, public transportation, utilities, retail, logistics, construction, mining, oil/gas and chemicals. Even though the fleets themselves may vary greatly (e.g., limousines, fire trucks, ambulances, law enforcement, cable repair, utility service), basic management applications are relatively consistent. The overarching goal is to keep vehicles on the road using the best routes, track and manage maintenance in a timely and cost-effective manner, and keep drivers safe by tracking behavior and addressing issues with increased training. At the same time, fleet management is expanding to include all types of field service, such as on-site medical support for first responders. Using fleet management tools, emergency personnel can send vital diagnostic information or imaging results directly from the ambulance to the hospital destination. Receiving staff can better prepare for their arrival with the proper treatment options and equipment. Ambulance personnel can even re-route more effectively if the situation warrants, for example, diverting to a facility equipped with specialized treatment options for a particular injury or medical situation. Consequently, fleet management developers are now focused on creating designs that integrate these priority performance requirements for logistics providers—focusing mainly on the two primary functional uses of an in-vehicle device. This includes the more sophisticated features such as monitoring and retrieving engine stats and employee driving habits, as well as more fundamental features such as verifying what was delivered and when. Monitoring engine performance and driver behavior is more challenging because it requires a fleet management device that is carefully harnessed into the vehicle; devices are connected and synced to the vehicle, gathering high-level diagnostic data. Some fleet management systems are taking this a step further, capturing video or sending a live video feed.

This is one application with significant potential for police and first responders, who can gather timely and accurate eyewitness statements via video or can capture real-time surveillance video to make arrests and provide evidentiary material to ensure conviction. Even fundamental logistics applications such as verification of delivery are improving with higher performance devices. Consider the delivery shipment that is damaged in transit and refused upon delivery; with capture of the right realtime data, a replacement delivery can be managed immediately instead of after data is reviewed and lengthy paperwork is processed. As industry research firm, Telematics Update, pointed out in a recent report that the data collected by fleet management applications can be almost overwhelming to operators. The real-time ability to “manage by exception” is an important benefit, building value in connected in-vehicle devices and growing the market further.

Growing with Improved, Flexible Connectivity

Fleet management is considered an extension of intelligent transportation design—applying IoT ideals to extract greater value from connectivity. Versatile wireless support is required, allowing in-vehicle devices to connect via wireless local area networks (WLAN) protocols including IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, as well as wireless wide area network (WWAN) such as 3.5G HSPA+ and 4G LTE. For example, Adlink’s IMT-1 industrial mobile tablet incorporates all of these protocols, as well as support for high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz NFC radio frequency identification (RFID), which allows highspeed data capture to enable fleet management operators to read the vehicle’s RFID tag and schedule appropriate maintenance activities. High-speed connectivity allows drivers to seamlessly provide and access realtime information, such as instantly correcting mistakes that can reduce costly paperwork and delays. Further, integrated GPS and e-compass technologies ensure shipments are delivered on time by opti-

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mizing driver routes, and enabling monitoring by the operator. Customers awaiting delivery or service can be alerted in real time to drivers running late or early, a simple communication that can elevate the public perception of a company as being at the top of its game.

Rugged, High-Performance Solutions

Real-world scenarios for in-vehicle devices include extensive tablet usage as the driver is unloading materials, stacking boxes, moving shipments in and out of loading docks and offices, or just visiting customers in the field. Dropping the tablet is a given, and so resistance to damage from dropping is a specific requirement for the device’s rugged capabilities. For a device to be interchangeable from in-vehicle mounting to a handheld interface for field services, it must be droppable from hip height, 0.8 meters or about 2.5 feet, onto a hard surface. Industry feedback suggests that designs should ideally extend this 1.2 meters or about 4 feet; however, this must be done while the device remains sensitive to portability. Tablets can indeed be designed to handle this requirement directly, but—in the process— they become bulky and lose some of their ergonomics and elegance. These details matter significantly for real-world usability. As a result, competitive designs may opt for an add-on bumper case to extend resistance to drop height, allowing better consideration to keeping the device light and easy to handle. Integrated devices also include greater visual performance, including camera capabilities in the tablet itself. Built-in megapixel cameras on the front and rear of the device again mirror the flexibility and familiarity of a consumer tablet. In the event of a damaged delivery, image recording provides a simple means of documenting the damage right onsite, avoiding costly delays in service. Ordering or delivering replacement items right away again distinguishes the provider with better customer service. Data- and graphics-intensive applications such as image processing and mapping software are efficiently managed with Android-based devices, today capitalizing

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on both ARM processors and current lowpower x86 processor options. Low power is a key enabler in IoT designs, enabling high performance in thermally sensitive, passively cooled designs that truly can go anywhere.

The Business Case for a Connected Fleet

Research firm Markets and Markets recently announced details of a fleet management market study, suggesting the market is anticipated to build dramatically over the next several years, growing from $10.91 billion in 2013 to $30.45 billion by 2018. This corresponds to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.8% during that timeframe. What are the challenges to winning a segment of this monumental growth? Increasing efficiency, ensuring compliance and promoting safety are top priorities for any design to win market share. Keeping up with capacity may be less discussed but is just as important—freight must be moved efficiently from any number of key transportation arteries that impact public health and safety. These stations include freight terminals, seaports, motor carrier hubs and airports, and further test the capacity of road, rail, air and waterways. Picking up and moving freight in a timely manner limits congestion in these transportation corridors. However, the operators that provide land transport and domestic inland distribution can compound congestion problems if they are not operating at peak performance. Further, the market is undergoing extensive consolidation demonstrated by ongoing mergers and acquisitions worldwide. Partnership is also prevalent, as new entrants to the market recognize the opportunity for leadership in working with manufacturers. By providing services and software to complement fleet management hardware, these partnerships are enabling new revenue streams for the fleet industry. For developers, supporting these issues with rugged, integrated devices is an essential piece of the shifting industry picture—embracing the Internet of Things with flexible solutions that offer a foundation for both in-vehicle connectivity and field service applications.

Moving the Market Forward with Integrated Devices

Comprehensive, compact in-vehicle solutions are driving growth, supporting multipurpose improvements that create a competitive edge. When behind-thewheel behavior is tracked, driver safety can improve with training targeted to specific issues. When routes are planned and managed for improved efficiency, organizations can reduce energy consumption and their associated carbon footprint. Real-time data creates a new ability to manage by exception, rather than sifting through mountains of information to determine how to improve operations in an ongoing manner. Customer service improves as a result of all these internal benefits, providing a tangible differentiator that exceeds the competition and improves business overall. The possibilities are expanding exponentially for operators—and designers—who are connecting customer-facing employees with effective fleet management. Using a single integrated device, operators can access and manage data for enterprise-wide improvements in performance, services and revenue. This is quickly evolving from the basics of fleet dispatch such as scheduling, load management, driver and vehicle tracking and effective routing. New performance improvements such as automated processes, image-based shipment tracking and video capture are just a few of the innovations yet to come, and they are anticipated to add broad industry value and opportunity. For fleet operators, capitalizing on IoT connectivity and highly integrated devices enables a competitive edge in this transition—reducing costs, improving performance and distinguishing compact systems that handle both in-vehicle and field service applications. ADLINK Technology San Jose, CA (408) 360-0200 www.adlinktech.com


INDUSTRY

WATCH

Dealing with Data: Big and Important

The Lifecycle of Live Data With the increasing integration of embedded devices with the Cloud, it is necessary to differentiate between live, actionable information and data with ongoing value. In order to realize the true power of the Cloud, businesses must utilize the power of the collecting and controlling computers on the edge of the grid. by Wayne Warren, Raima

T

he rise of the Cloud has presented companies of all sizes with new opportunities to store, manage and analyze data—easily, effectively and at low cost. Data management in the Cloud has enabled these companies to reduce their in-house systems costs and complexity, while actually gaining increased visibility on plant and processes. At the same time, third-party service organizations have emerged, providing data dashboards that give companies “live real-time control� of their assets, often from remote locations, as well as historical trend analysis. Consider, for example, a company at a central location with a key asset in an entirely different or isolated location. It may be advantageous to monitor key operational data to ensure the equipment itself is not trending toward some catastrophic fault, and some performance data to ensure output is optimal. That might be relatively few sensors over all, and perhaps some diagnostics feedback from onboard control systems. But getting at that data directly might mean setting up embedded Web servers or establishing some form of telemetry. And then we must get that data into management software and deliver it in a way that enables it to be acted upon. How much easier would it be to simply provide those same outputs to a

FIGURE 1 The differentiation of data lifestyles with historical data that can be aggregated, sorted and then stored for the long term (ideal for the Cloud), and live data that impacts directly on production performance.

Cloud-based data management provider, and then log in to a customized dashboard that provides visualization and control, complete with alarms, actions, reports and more? And all for a nominal monthly fee. Further, with virtually unlimited storage in the Cloud, all data can be stored, mined, analyzed and disseminated as reports that provide unprecedented levels of traceability (important to many sectors

of industry) and long-term trend analysis that can really help companies to boost performance and, ultimately, improve profitability. As our data output increases, it might seem reasonable to expect that the quality of information being returned from the Cloud should improve as well, enabling us to make better operational decisions that improve performance still further. And RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2014

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INDUSTRY WATCH

FIGURE 2 Wind turbines are examples of systems that need data both for immediate control to keep up with things like changing wind conditions and for longer term analysis such as parts wear and trends that may signal need for maintenance.

to an extent, this is true. But there is also danger on that path because as we move into an era of Big Data, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pull meaningful, “actionable information” out from the background noise. Where once a data analyst might simply have been interested in production line quotas and the link to plant or asset uptime, today they may also be interested in accessing the data generated by the myriad of automated devices along the production line. That is because that raw data may well hold the key to increased productivity, reduced energy consumption, elimination of waste, reduction in down time, improved overall equipment effectiveness, and ultimately a better bottom line. And we really are talking about huge amounts of data. The rise of the “Inter-

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net of Things” and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, combined with the latest GSM networks that deliver highspeed, bi-directional transfer without the limitations of range, power, data size and network infrastructure that once held back traditional telematics solutions, has seen data transmission increase exponentially in the last few years. As of 2012, across the globe over 2.5 exabytes (2.5x1018) of data were being created every day, and it is certainly not unusual for individual companies to be generating hundreds of gigabytes of data. Importantly, different types of data will have different lifecycles, and this impacts how that data needs to be managed. The phasor measurement devices, for example those that monitor the variables on the power grid that highlight changes in frequency, power, voltage, etc., might gen-

erate perhaps a few terabytes of information per month. Certainly this is a lot of data, and it has a mixture of lifecycles— long-term information indicative of trends as well as live data that can immediately flag a fault. A complex product test, by contrast, might generate the same volume of information in an hour or less, but again there will be a mixture of data lifecycles; the complex information that provides a pass/fail output for the test needs to be immediately available to optimize production cycles, but has no value subsequently, while the overview information might be important to store for traceability reasons. The common thread, however, is the large amount of data being generated. Indeed, this is so much information that it is no longer meaningful to measure today’s data in terms of the number of records, but rather by the velocity of the stream. Live


INDUSTRY WATCH

data—that is, captured data about something happening right now—is available in great quantities and at low cost. Sensors on embedded and real-time computers are able to capture information at a rate that exceeds our ability to use it. That means that the moment for which any given volume of data has real value may well come and go faster than we can actually exploit it.

Data from the Edge

If our only response is to simply send all of that data to the Cloud with no regard for the life cycle of the data, then the Cloud becomes little more than a dumping ground for data that may well have no ongoing value. It is vital, then, to consider the lifecycle of live data, and how that data is best distributed between embedded devices and the Cloud. For Cloud resources to be truly optimized while enabling meaningful operational decisions to be made locally, in the moment, then the power of embedded systems on the edge of the grid must be fully utilized. Only by delegation of responsibilities for data collection, filtering and decision making to the increasingly powerful computers deployed within the Internet of Things can we have effective management of data from its inception to disposal. The embedded database industry has responded to this requirement with data management tools that deliver the requisite performance and availability in products that are readily scalable. These data management products can take the captured live data, process it (aggregating and simplifying the data as required) and then distribute it to deliver the visualization and analytics that will enable meaningful decisions to be made. The ability to do all of this locally within embedded systems—acting on data that is only of real value in the moment—has a huge impact on the performance of plant and assets, while the data that has ongoing value can be sorted and sent to the Cloud. Consider, for example, the testing of consumer products where the way the product sounds or feels is taken as an indicator of its quality. Such quality testing is common in a host of domestic and automotive products, which possess intrinsic vibration and sound characteristics that may be used

as indictors of mechanical integrity. A part under test might be subjected to a period of controlled operation while measuring millions of data points. A multitude of metrics and algorithms need to be applied to this data to create a “signature,” which determines whether the product passes or fails the quality check. Raima was involved in just such an application, in a market where production cycle times were critical and where new data sets were being generated every two seconds. The live data had to be acted on in real time to match the required production cycle time while providing reliable pass/fail information. At the same time, it is important to aggregate, manage and store the essential test information for the long term so that in the event of an operational fault or a customer complaint, the product serial number can be quickly checked against the test history. It is important to be able to reprocess the historical data when considering warranty costs or perhaps even the need for a product batch recall. This is a very clear differentiation of data lifecycles (Figure 1). When we talk about performance, we do not necessarily have to think about real-time response in a deterministic sense for streaming data, but we must have live real-time response that is simply fast enough to work with live information that appears quickly and has a short lifecycle. The database might need to be able to keep up with data rates that may measure thousands of events per minute, with burst rates many times higher, and must able to raise alarms or trigger additional actions when particular conditions are met. Those conditions might involve the presence or absence of data in the database, so quick lookups must be performed. They may also depend on connections between records in the database, so the database system needs to be able to maintain associations and lookups that can be quickly created or queried. The high-speed processors in modern computer systems play a part, but increasingly meeting performance requirements depends on scalability, which comes from the ability to distribute the database operations across multiple CPUs and multiple processor cores. This not only makes best

use of available resources, but also opens up possibilities for parallel data access, allowing very fast throughput. Now look at the example of wind turbine control, where operators need to constantly monitor variables such as wind speed, vibration and temperature (Figure 2). Because wind turbines are often in remote locations and are unmanned, a database is required that can store large amounts of data—perhaps in the order of terabytes per day—and that will continue to operate reliably 24/7 without intervention. The data storage system must therefore support replication (from turbine controllers to wind farm controller), as well as remote, secure access. The database is critical at several different levels. First, it is central to the control of the wind farm, controlling the turbines through the wind turbine control database into which a row that sets the turbine’s operational status and describes the current wind conditions is inserted and replicated to each of the turbine control programs. This is based on live data with a very short lifecycle. Then there is condition monitoring on the turbine itself, providing critical information on the operation of the asset and enabling, for example, cost-effective scheduled or pre-emptive maintenance that maximizes uptime. The datastream is live, with high volumes of data, but it needs to be aggregated and analyzed to produce trend outputs and alarms. Finally, there is the storage and monitoring of historical data that will enable the development of next generation wind turbines that are more robust and more fault tolerant. This data has very little value in the moment, but has a very long lifecycle—appropriate for storage in the Cloud. RDM Embedded from Raima meets all of the requirements for managing live streams of data, providing a platform that enables both live real-time decisions to be taken and long lifecycle data to be sorted and then sent to the Cloud. The database engine is capable of storing incoming data reliably while allowing the same data to be read for analysis, possibly from remote systems, or else via replication. Platform independent, it can run on everything from popular OS options such RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE OCTOBER JULY 2013 2014

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INDUSTRY WATCH

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

as MS Windows, Linux and iOS to realtime systems such as Wind Rivers’s VxWorks, QNX Neutrino and Green Hills Integrity, as well as many others. As well as supporting multiple processor and multicore architectures, the RDM data storage engine provides a set of data-organizing features that can be used to control in-memory, disk-based or remote storage to provide the best possible performance in an embedded system application. Importantly, RDM makes data available wherever it is needed. RDM can replicate data between computers on a network and via the Internet to systems outside the embedded network environment. This can be used to improve the speed of processing, data backup security and system-wide data availability. While the Cloud is the ideal environment for storing, managing and analyzing data that is less time-sensitive or which has ongoing value, meaningful handling of live, time-sensitive data with a much

shorter lifecycle is much better provided by local embedded database systems. Only when companies are able to analyze and act upon this critical data can they have the information needed to truly optimize plant, process and production operations. In this Big Data era, the businesses that are the most successful in reaping the benefits of those large volumes of information will be those that are able to discriminate between time-sensitive data and data with ongoing value, and then integrate their embedded systems and Cloudbased systems effectively to ensure the appropriate data is always going to the right place. Only by embracing the power of the computer systems at the edge of the grid can companies really optimize the power of Cloud resources. Raima. Seattle, WA (206) 748-5300. www.raima.com

SENSORAY embedded electronics Made & Supported in the USA

Model 953-ET

Rugged, Industrial Strength PCIe/104 A/V Codec

• 4 NTSC/PAL video input/outputs • 4 stereo audio inputs/outputs • H.264 HP@L3, MPEG-4 ASP, MJPEG MJPEG video; AAC, G.711, PCM audio • Ultra-low latency video preview concurrent w/compressed capture • Full duplex hardware encode/decode • Text overlay, GPIO

www.SENSORAY.com/RT07/953 Model 2253P Ideal for video pipeline inspection, radar processing and video surveillance

A/V H.264 Codec with GPS and Incremental Encoder Interfaces

You Need This Magazine

• Simultaneous encode/decode • Low preview latency; Text overlay • H.264 HP@L3, MPEG-4 ASP, MJPEG video compression • GPS receiver and two incremental encoder interfaces/dual GPIO • Pause/resume capture of a video stream • Encoder counts and GPS data can be overlaid onto video

www.SENSORAY.com/RT07/2253P Model 2453

Also available as OEM board Model 2454

Ethernet H.264 Video Server

Be a part of the magazine that brings you a world of technology solutions RTC magazine is the industry’s premier magazine covering a wide range of embedded, board level technologies and peripheral components and subsystems. In addition, RTC magazine provides accurate, timely and thorough analysis of competing products and technologies so that you can make informed decisions.

For information about subscribing or advertising visit our web site at

www.rtcmagazine.com or call 949.226.2000

• Two H.264 streams from a single input; SD (NTSC, PAL) • Multiple output stream formats and protocols: MPEG-TS, H.264 VES, MJPEG, FLV over HTTP, RTP, RTSP, UDP, RTMP • AAC-LC audio (line or microphone input) • RS-232/422/485 port for PTZ control, 2 bit GPIO for alarms • Supports decoding to analog audio and video outputs • Text overlay with auto timestamps

www.SENSORAY.com/RT07/2453

SENSORAY. com | 503.684.8005 38

OCTOBER JULY 20142013 RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE


PRODUCTS &

TECHNOLOGY Ready-to-Use, 16-Channel 250 MHz Data Acquisition to PCI Express

A commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) card features advanced digital signal processing (DSP) and data acquisition capabilities. The PC768 from 4DSP is designed for a variety of applications, including medical and scientific imaging and software defined radio (SDR) wideband waveform processing. The PC768 is an excellent, cost-effective choice for applications that require large-band signal digitization and processing through the use of accelerated frequency-domain algorithms. The new PCI Express product features the Xilinx Kintex-7 combined with 16 A/D channels at 250 Msps. Multichannel data acquisition systems offer challenges due to the massive amount of data digitized simultaneously. The Kintex 7-based PC768 has the necessary resources to overcome system throughput bottlenecks typical of DSP- and GPP-based systems. Systems based on the PC768 will benefit from ample logic and DSP resources, as well as large memory density and high-throughput PCIe communication.

Mini-ITX Motherboard Based on AMD Embedded G-Series SoC

A line of Mini-ITX motherboards will also offer additional services of 7+ years availability, global technical support, extended manuals, specifications and customized design services. The conga-IGX Mini ITX board from congatec is based on AMD Embedded G-Series SoC technology and integrates the nextgeneration computing power of the “Jaguar”based processor and high-performance AMD Radeon graphics cores in a compact package. FIND the products featured in this section and more at

www.intelligentsystemssource.com

The PC768 enables rapid prototyping and timely solutions deployment through the use of 4DSP’s StellarIP tool, which is part of 4DSP’s Board Support Package. It offers FPGA design engineers the ability to efficiently implement processing algorithms on the Kintex-7 device. Code reuse and high-level abstraction make it an agile and efficient approach to FPGA firmware design. The PC768 adds to 4DSP’s PCIe FPGA card data acquisition product catalog. It is ready to use right out of the box and is well-suited for speeding design to production for both the industrial and defense markets. A full suite of tools is available to support the PC768. 4DSP, Austin, TX. (775) 473-9928. www.4dsp.com

Congatec offers three new Mini ITX motherboards on the AMD Embedded G-Series SoC platform. A low-energy 9W TDP 1.0 GHz dual-core processor GX-210HA SoC with integrated AMD Radeon HD 8210E graphics; a dual-core 18W TDP GX-217GA SoC processor model with integrated AMD Radeon HD 8280E graphics; and a 2.0 GHz quad-core AMD Embedded GX-420CA SoC with integrated AMD Radeon HD 8400E graphics. The integrated AMD Radeon graphics feature the Universal Video Decoder 4.2 for seamless processing of BluRays with HDCP (1080p), MPEG-2, HD and DivX (MPEG-4) videos. The conga-IGX also supports DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.0 for fast 2D and 3D imaging and OpenCL 1.1. Interface options include 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 ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology for panorama view and multi-streaming, making it possible to control up to two displays per graphics port in daisy chain mode. The low power draw of the new SoCs also makes fanless designs possible. This not only makes the systems quieter, but also more reliable since unreliable mechanical components

such as fans can be eliminated. Advanced power management has a positive impact whenever there are wait times in an application. CPU state C6 “deep power down” is available on the multimedia engine as well, making it possible to further reduce power consumption without impairing ease of use since the computer needs less than a millisecond in order to switch from energy saving mode to full computing power. 1x PCIe x4 connector and Mini-PCI Express on board, Dual GbE LAN on board, 2x Serial ATA III, 1x mSATA (SATA III) socket support, 7x USB 2.0 and 2x USB3.0 on board, 8-bit GPIO on board, 3x serial port and 1x parallel port on board allow flexible system expansion at high data bandwidth. DC power supply 12V/19-24V, ACPI 3.0 power management and high-definition audio complete the package. congatec, Inc. San Diego, CA. (858) 457-2600 congatec.com

RTC MAGAZINE JULY 2014

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PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY

High Resolution PCIe Cards Offer Cost-Effective Data Acquisition

A new, cost-effective series of high-resolution data acquisition waveform digitizing products delivers prime performance into a wider number of applications where the acquisition of high-speed, high-resolution and high-precision waveform data is of the utmost importance. A number of applications benefit from the new TPCE-LE PCIe line of lower cost products from Elsys Instruments, such as education and research programs in schools, universities and laboratories as well as in application fields such as ballistics and explosive tests, acoustic emissions, ultrasonic testing and structural soundness testing. The high-precision, high-resolution digitizers offer features such as advanced trigger modes, continuous data acquisition mode, single-ended and differential inputs, digital input lines and ICP coupling for powering piezo sensors. They enable the development of scalable systems that can be expanded to meet growing data acquisition needs. Free with each board purchase is the TranAX-LE operating and analysis software as well as LabView Instrument driver, C++/C# and IVI scope class driver. As with Elsys’ existing TPCX and TPCE platforms, the TPCE-LE modules can be housed in any existing TraNET system. All Elsys recorders feature input channels with the unique ability to be individually triggered. For example, four full trigger circuits are available on a four-channel recorder to obtain logic triggering such as “AND” and “OR.” Synchronization can be established with many associated channels as well. Advanced trigger modes include slew rate, pulse width, pulse pause, period, missing event, window-in and window-out as well as the usual edge pos/ neg triggering with trigger hysteresis values set by the user. Pricing for individual TPCE-LE modules starts at $3,400. Elsys Instruments, Monroe, NY. (845) 238-3933. www.elsys-instruments.com

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OCTOBER JULY 20142013 RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE

Resistive Touch Panels for High-Use Applications and Harsh Environments A new line of analog resistive touch panels, including a 9H surface panel for Point of Sale, hospitality, industrial and medical applications, has been introduced by Fujitsu Components of America. They include Fujitsu’s Feather Touch, two-finger function PERFS (Pinch, Expand, Rotate, Flick and Swipe) touch panel and a 9H top surface for increased durability, scratch and wear resistance. This ultra-durable, 4-wire resistive panel is 40 times more scratch resistant to stylus use than panels with a polycarbonate layer. Companies that depend on handheld industrial devices for signature capture are finding that damage to the device’s touch screen from repeated stylus use is a costly issue. In most cases, the touch screen’s functional life exceeds its cosmetic life. Using this 9H top surface will significantly preserve the touch panel’s appearance and extend its usability. The 9Hrated touch panels are also suitable for mobile and personal medical monitoring devices that are prone to scratches from repeated stylus use or being carried in pockets or purses. Other panels include custom 5-wire Feather Touch panels (up to 17-inches) for Pointof-Sale applications in restaurant and hospitality environments. These panels require just 0.02-0.3N force input for gesturing functionality typical of more costly projected capacitive touch panels. Fujitsu Components America, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 745-4900www.fujitsu.com/us

AMC Storage Modules Quadruple Transfer Rate with Upgrades The VadaTech line of AMC Storage Modules has been upgraded with higher transfer rate, RAID and Host Bus Adapter options. The first in the line of upgraded storage AMCs is the AMC626. The module meets the AMC.1 specifications for use in MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA systems. It comes in the single module, midsize, and holds a 2.5-inch drive for SATA III at a 6 Gbit/s transfer rate or SAS-3 for a 12 Gbit/s transfer rate. The AMC626 has a storage capacity of 900 Gbyte per disk and includes a Host Bus Adapter (HBA). The HBA allows the storage data to transfer across the fat pipe fabric, expanding from two dedicated SAS/SATA ports to x8 lanes across PCIe Gen 3. The result is up to four times the data transfer rate across the backplane. The new storage modules provide RAID 0, 1, 1E and 10 options. This provides striping, mirroring and mirroring/block-level striping. The AMC626 also includes dual RS-232 and dual SFF-8644 ports for expansion out the front panel providing support for eight SATA/SAS ports. VadaTech offers storage modules in HDD, CompactFlash, SATA, SAS and SATA/SAS versions. This includes a mix of 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch sizes and various RAID options. The company also provides the full MicroTCA ecosystem including chassis platforms, MCHs, power modules, JTAG switch modules and over 200 AMCs of all types. VadaTech, Henderson, NV. (702) 896-3337. www.vadatech.com


PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY

Second Generation AMD Embedded R-Series APUs and CPUs

The second generation AMD Embedded R-series accelerated processing unit (APU) and CPU family (previously codenamed “Bald Eagle”) for embedded applications delivers compute and graphics performance targeting gaming machines, medical imaging, digital signage, industrial control and automation (IC&A), communications and networking infrastructure that require industry-leading compute and graphics processing technology. The second generation AMD R-series APU and CPU solutions are designed for mid- to high-end visual and parallel compute-intensive embedded applications with support for Linux, RTOS and Windows operating systems. The new solutions range from 2.2-3.6 GHz CPU frequency with max boost, based on AMD’s latest CPU architecture (codenamed: “Steamroller”) and 533-686 MHz GPU frequency based on AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The second generation AMD Embedded R-series APU is the first embedded processor to incorporate Heterogeneous System Architecture (HAS) features, enabling applications to distribute workloads to run on the best compute element, e.g., CPU, GPU or a specialized accelerator such as video decode. As a gold-level member of the Yocto Project, a Linux Foundation Collaboration Project, and as part of a recent multiyear agreement with Mentor Graphics, embedded systems developers now have access to customized embedded Linux development and commercial support on the second generation AMD Embedded R-series family through Mentor Embedded Linux and Sourcery CodeBench, as well as Mentor Embedded Linux Lite available at no cost. The second generation AMD Embedded R-series family is specifically designed for embedded applications with industry-leading, 10-year longevity, dual-channel memory with error-correcting code (ECC), DDR3-2133 support and configurable TDP for system design flexibility to optimize the processor at a lower TDP.

Versatile Platform Provides I/O Design Configurability

A highly reliable and rugged, field-deployable system features abundant configurable I/O for maximum design versatility. Virtually any I/O scheme can be supported using tailored I/O panels, and the S50J from Elma Electronic also features expandable aluminum sidewalls for easy sizing. The fanless system platform is suitable for applications where system reliability is paramount and environmental conditions can be extreme. Specific uses include signal processing; hyperspectral imaging, tactical command and control as well as surveillance and reconnaissance. Using application-specific I/O expansion cards, the S50J can easily accommodate video compression and frame grabbers, ARINC and 1553 cards, Wi-Fi, CANBus, data storage, or FPGA and GPGPU processing. This facilitates

Visual Embedded: For embedded applications like gaming machines and digital signage that provide immersive and interactive visual experiences, AMD customers can achieve up to 64 percent more 3-D graphics performance than a standalone second generation AMD Embedded R-series APU, and greater flexibility and scalability with support for up to nine independent displays and 4K resolution with the combination of the newly launched AMD Embedded Radeon E8860 discrete GPU. Medical Imaging: The second generation AMD R-series APU is also attractive for clinical and field medical imaging applications across portable, 3-D and 4-D ultrasound, low-dose X-ray, and imagingassisted surgical systems. The new AMD Embedded R-series APUs deliver high image transformation performance and low latencies in a low-power and highly integrated solution for medical imaging device vendors looking to help reduce size, weight, complexity and system cost. For non-visual applications, the advanced parallel-compute graphics engine in the second generation AMD Embedded R-series APU provides a highly unique heterogeneous compute platform for control plane switching and routing applications. With up to 66 percent more compute performance than the previous generation AMD Embedded R-series APU, the high-performance GPU enables acceleration of parallelizable functions such as deep packet inspection, encryption or decryption, search, and compression or decompression allowing more CPU headroom for customers to help increase feature velocity. Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, CA (408) 749-4000. www.amd.com

easier system configuration to cost-effectively support program evolution, while mitigating design risks. The feature-rich EPIC-based embedded board in the S50J features a high-performance, yet low heat generating Intel Core i7 processor with an Intel QM57 Express Chipset. The full system incorporates 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, up to six USB 2.0 and four SATA ports and eight independent serial ports. Support is available for both Linux and Windows. IP65-rated for protection against dust as well as low pressure water jets from all directions, the S50J delivers reliable performance in dusty, humid and wet environments and when exposed to extreme temperatures from -20C to +60°C. The rugged system platform incorporates a thermally conductive base as well as ribbed top and bottom covers to provide convection and conduction cooling for superior thermal

management. Additional features include EMC shielding, compact dimensions of 10.5" D x 9" W x 4.75" H (267 mm x 229 mm x 121 mm) and a weight of 14 lbs (6.4 kg). Pricing for the S50J starts at $6,100 in quantities of 10 and is configuration-dependent. Elma Electronic, Fremont, CA (510) 656-3400. www.elma.com

RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE OCTOBER JULY 2013 2014

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Advertiser Index GET CONNECTED WITH INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS SOURCE AND PURCHASABLE SOLUTIONS NOW Intelligent Systems Source is a new resource that gives you the power to compare, review and even purchase embedded computing products intelligently. To help you research SBCs, SOMs, COMs, Systems, or I/O boards, the Intelligent Systems Source website provides products, articles, and whitepapers from industry leading manufacturers---and it's even connected to the top 5 distributors. Go to Intelligent Systems Source now so you can start to locate, compare, and purchase the correct product for your needs.

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Company Page Website Advanced Micro Devices, Inc............................................................................................. 44................................................................................................ www.amd.com/embedded Cadia................................................................................................................................ 43.................................................................................................. www.cadianetworks.com Commell........................................................................................................................... 23.......................................................................................................www.commell.com.tw congatec, Inc..................................................................................................................... 4.............................................................................................................. www.congatec.us Dolphin Interconnect Solutions........................................................................................... 14......................................................................................................... www.dolphinics.com Intelligent Systems Source.................................................................................................. 7.................................................................................... www.intelligentsystemssource.com MinnowBoard.................................................................................................................... 23..................................................................................................... www.minnowboard.org MSC Embedded, Inc........................................................................................................... 4...................................................................................................www.mscembedded.com One Stop Systems, Inc.................................................................................................... 5, 19..............................................................................................www.onestopsystems.com Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference.................................................................. 42................................................................................................................ www.rtecc.com Red Hat............................................................................................................................. 11............................................................................................. www.redhat.com/embedded RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc...................................................................................... 15....................................................................................................................www.rtd.com Sensoray........................................................................................................................... 38...........................................................................................................www.sensoray.com Trenton Systems................................................................................................................. 2.................................................................................................. www.trentonsystems.com TQ Systems GmbH............................................................................................................ 27...................................................................... www.convergencepromotions.com/TQ-USA Product Showcase............................................................................................................. 31........................................................................................................................................ RTC (Issn#1092-1524) magazine is published monthly at 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 250, San Clemente, CA 92673. Periodical postage paid at San Clemente and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 250, San Clemente, CA 92673.

The Event for Embedded & High-Tech Technology 2014 Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conferences Minneapolis, MN September 9

Ottawa, ON October 9

Chicago, IL September 11

Los Angeles, CA October 21

Toronto, ON October 7

San Mateo, CA October 23

Tysons Corner Area, VA November 13

Register today at www.rtecc.com

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OCTOBER JULY 20142013 RTC MAGAZINE RTC MAGAZINE


Thinking about how to take advantage of “The Cloud” in your Embedded Application?

Intelligent IoT/M2M Gateways v v v v v v v v

Highly Secure Device Interoperability Intelligence at the Edge Deterministic Scheduler Virtualization / HyperVisor Store & Forward Sensor Data Remote Maintenance Conduction Cooled Platforms

ARM A9, Atom, 3rd & 4th Gen Celeron, Core i3, i5 & i7

v Preinstalled Operating Systems

Windows, WinCE, WES7/8 , Linux & Android

Ruggedized Router

RoughNUC-MaxRouter Baytrail Atom

v v v v

Intelligent Host 5 Port GigE Router LAN1 - POE Management S/W

In-Vehicle

IVC-4700 Ivy Bridge i3 & i7 v v v v

Digital Signage

OPS-5332 Freescale iMX6 A9

v Quad Core 4 GigE Ports GPS Dead Reckoning v Onboard 1GB RAM, 4GB iNAND mSATA SSD v Native Linux, Android EN50155

Industrial M2M

ECS-5536 Atom N2800 v v v v

6 COM Ports Dual GigE DVI & VGA WES7/8 Compatible

Providing Application Specific Boards, Systems & Services to the Embedded Computing World www.cadianetworks.com Tel: +1-855-GO-CADIA

Network Appliance

RoughNUC-Plus Haswell i5

v v v v

4th Gen Intel Core vPro Technology Turbo Boost Remote Management


AMD Innovation Continues Introducing the 2nd Generation AMD Embedded R-Series APU

The 2nd generation AMD Embedded R-series APU (previously codenamed “Bald Eagle”) delivers breakthrough graphics performance and power efficiency for a new generation of embedded systems designed to provide ultra-immersive HD multimedia experiences and parallel processing compute performance. The AMD R-series APU offers next-generation performance-per-watt compute efficiency in the x86 product category by allowing system designers to take advantage of Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA). AMD’s 2nd generation AMD Embedded R-series APU is a revolutionary leap in processing performance, power efficiency and multimedia immersion for embedded gaming, medical imaging and digital signage applications.

Learn more at: www.amd.com/r-series

RTC Magazine  

RTC Magazine July 2014

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