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Serial Interconnects Keep Gaining Speed Bring Existing Devices into the IoT Virtualization Boosts Network Speed and Efficiency The Magazine of Record for the Embedded Computer Industry

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Application Optimized New!Widest Server Selection for Enterprise IT Supports up to: 1.5TB DDR4- 2133MHz in 24 DIMMs • 7 PCI-E 3.0 • SAS 3.0 (12Gbps) • Quad 10GBase-T Quad Gigabit Ethernet LAN • Redundant Titanium/Platinum Level Digital Power Supplies Dual 18 Cores and 145W TDP Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600/1600 v3 Product Families



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GPGPU Application


The Magazine of Record for the Embedded Computing Industry




PCI Express Developing New Features Even as it Heads for a New Generation by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief




Internet of Things: A Fancy Way of Saying “More Embedded Linux, Please James Kirkland, Red Hat



Linux: The Operating System for Embedded Design by Sanjay Challa, National Instruments

Internet of Things: A Fancy Way of Saying “More Embedded Linux, Please”













by Anup Shivakumar, Cypress Semiconductor

MEMS: Enabling a World of Sensor-Based Intelligence Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace


PCI Express vs. Ethernet – Selecting the Superior Technology for Real-Time, Embedded Systems by Krishna Mallampati, Avago Technologies

SFF State of the Union

Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders

Addressing Embedded Platform Performance Bottlenecks for USB 3.0




IoT Welcomes Existing Products by Gil Ben-Dov and Richard Jahnke, Total Phase



IoT Welcomes Existing Products


Getting the Most from Network Function Virtualization by Alan Deikman CTO, ZNYX Networks

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 3


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MEMS: Enabling a World of Sensor-Based Intelligence by Tom Williams, Editor-In-Chief

Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS, have been around for a while but now appear to be experiencing an emerging heyday due to some very large markets opening for them. While the name states “mechanical,” which is technically the case, the main function of MEMS devices is as very small, very accurate sensors. Since they are implemented on silicon dies—although often with different materials for the sensor aspect, they are increasingly growing on-chip intelligence and broadening their functionality. MEMS are now being propelled by the burgeoning market in smartphones and tablets, but their further growth and diversification is responding to the growth of the Internet of Things. What is now an everyday object, the smartphone, is host to a growing number of MEMS sensors. The modern smartphone like the new Apple iPhone 6 has sensors in six or more categories. There are sensors for heart rate, glucose and blood pressure. There are microphones and cameras. There are inertial, multi-axis accelerometers and gyroscopes for motion sensing and compass functions. Sensors are coming aboard to measure temperature, humidity, alcohol and CO2. More specialized MEMS sensors are becoming available that can plug into smartphones and be run by special apps. Among these are a number of microspectrometers with interferometers that can accurately detect and analyze gases and materials. Tablets have many of the same needs and capabilities as smartphones. That latter fact has led to an enormous growth in the MEMS market in terms of the sheer number of devices needed. That has been an advantage for some six or seven major MEMS vendors but it has 6 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

also been the impetus for startups and for vendors to start looking at applications beyond the smartphone/tables arena. Microspectrometers are showing promise in a growing field of applications due to the ability to fabricate Fabry-Perot interferometers (FPIs) that are tunable in the range from ultraviolet and visible light all the way to thermal infrared. Such instruments can be made at very low cost handheld instruments compared to traditional expensive benchtop models. Possible application areas range from food and agriculture safety with water and pesticide analysis and use in UAVs for crop monitoring, to industrial applications in online process control, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and hygiene, environmental analysis and monitoring, and all kinds of health and diagnostic applications that were not previously practical. In the medical arena, in addition to spectral analysis, MEMS are being looked at for implantable and wearable sensors for pulse and heart rate and for bringing down the costs of DNA sequencing, which is now already in the $1,000 range. In addition, the technology used for ink jet heads is being modified to make it useable for metered administration of medications. But having reached some plateau of volume, which is resulting in lower costs, the MEMS community is quite naturally looking for markets they can expand into. At a recent MEMS Executive Congress held in Scottsdale, Arizona, which included not only MEMS vendors but representatives of equipment manufacturers, the prediction is to the hundred billion number and new markets to include a wide range of everyday products but with a strategic targeting in for big areas. The

first is smart wearables such as sensors in clothing, fitness devices and what is already emerging in smart watches from Apple, Microsoft and others. The latter can act as hubs for numerous devices that can then send the signals from the sensor via the watch to the smartphone and on to some designated target or an app on the phone. The next area is the smart home. In this regard, we have been hearing a lot about the in-home networking technology (will it be Zigbee or Bluetooth) and some of the devices like lights, door locks and toasters that will be connected in the home but not so much about the sensors that will actually enable much of the functionality. By extension, the smart city is cited as a market that will integrate smart parking, grid, water, agriculture and more. Of course a fourth area about which we are already thinking is the smart car. Smart car is not just the driverless vehicle but includes a gamut of collision avoidance, infotainment and comfort features that will involve motion, light, image, temperature and other sensors. As sensors become more widely used, the are starting to be integrated on chips in combination, such as gyroscope and accelerator functions. In addition, their ever-reducing size is making room for more circuits and hence more on-chip intelligence. That in turn makes it possible to enhance their functionality yet more through the creative use of software. When we here talk about intelligent systems, we appear more often to focus on the processing power of devices. We must increasingly remember that intelligence involved interaction with the external world—a function for which sensors are indispensable.


Digital Signage Expo 2015 Announces All New Fundamentals Track

The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) Tradeshow and Educational Conference dedicated to digital displays, interactive technology and digital communications networks, announced today that it will present an all new four-part Digital Signage Fundamentals Seminar Program at DSE 2015 designed specifically to prepare those investing in digital signage and related screen technologies for the first-time to deal with initial planning, investment substantiation, and execution challenges. The program, to be presented at the Las Vegas Convention Center, March 11th and 12th, 2015, is part of DSE’s eight-track Educational Conference and is designed specifically for DOOH network operators, digital signage (DS) end-users, and systems integrators and installers who are relatively new to the industry. This educational track is intended to provide an introduction to the digital signage industry. Topics to be covered include: • Doing Digital Signage Right…The First Time • Fundamentals of Digital Signage Business ROI/ROO • Fundamentals of Digital Signage Content • Creating a Digital Signage Network Design Management & Operations Instruction will consist of “how to” and “need to know” presentations and interactive discussions that are easy to understand and immediately applicable. Each session will be led by professionals who will be sharing hard-earned experience and come from a variety of disciplines within DOOH Networks, as well as end-users from the retail and advertising agency fields, along with knowledgeable industry consultants.

SiTime to be Acquired by MegaChips for $200M SiTime Corporation, a MEMS and analog semiconductor company, has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement under which MegaChips Corporation a fabless semiconductor company based in Japan, will acquire SiTime for $200 million in cash. This transaction combines two complementary fabless semiconductor leaders that provide solutions for the growing Wearables, Mobile and Internet of Things markets. While the world of electronics has delivered many innovations, the clock function, which is the heartbeat in all electronics, still uses 75-year-old quartz technology. SiTime’s MEMS timing solutions replace dated quartz products in the telecom, networking, computing, storage and consumer markets, with the benefits of higher performance, smaller size, and lower power and cost. “MegaChips has an aggressive growth strategy with a vision to become one of the top ten fabless semiconductor companies through both organic growth and strategic acquisitions,” said Akira Takata, President and CEO of MegaChips Corporation. “MEMS components are fuelling the growth of the semiconductor industry. Through the acquisition of SiTime, MegaChips becomes a leader in MEMS. SiTime will help us expand our portfolio and diversify our customer base. SiTime technology is the perfect match for MegaChips’ solutions that target Wearables, Mobile and IoT markets such as “frizz”, our ultra-low-power smart phone Sensor Hub LSI and BlueChip Wireless, a sub-GHz RF LSI.”

Cypress and Icron Technologies: Joint Interoperability for USB 3.0 Controllers and Active Cable Extension

Cypress Semiconductor and Icron Technologies have announced the completion of successful interoperability testing between both Cypress’s EZ-USB FX3 USB 3.0 peripheral controller and EZ-USB CX3 camera controller and Icron’s USB 3.0 Spectra 3001-15 active copper extension cable. USB 3.0 is gaining popularity in machine vision and industrial cameras thanks to its 5-Gbit/s bandwidth that enables high-resolution, high-frame-rate imaging in real time without the need for compression, which degrades image quality. However, USB 3.0 currently has a maximum cable length of approximately 3 meters, and many vision applications require longer distances between the host computer and the camera. Icron’s Spectra 3001-15 bus-powered copper cable extends USB 3.0 performance to 15 meters, allowing Cypress USB 3.0 solutions to be easily and cost effectively deployed across a wider range of machine vision and industrial applications. The active cable provides a full 5V, 900mA of current and includes Icron’s ExtremeUSB suite of features such as transparent USB extension, true plug-andplay (no software drivers) and compatibility with all major operating systems including Windows 8. EZ-USB FX3 and CX3 are popular USB 3.0 solutions for HD video. The FX3 is equipped with a highly configurable General Programmable Interface (GPIF™ II) which can be programmed in 8-, 16- and 32-bit configurations. GPIF II allows FX3 to communicate directly with application processors, FPGAs, and image sensors and provides a data transfer rate at up to 400 Megabytes per second. CX3 is capable of steaming 1080p video at 30 frames a second or 720p 60 fps without the need for compression. Both FX3 and CX3 come with an ARM9 CPU and 512KB SRAM, providing 200 MIPS of computational power for image processing and buffering. . RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 7


Light-Enabled Internet Technology Could Tackle Global Data Crunch High-speed bi-directional wireless technology uses light to send information securely – and in the future at far greater speeds than conventional Wi-Fi. Light-enabled Wi-Fi, or Li-Fi – first developed by Professor Harald Haas, Chair of Mobile Communication with the University of Edinburgh – offers faster, safer transfer of data than conventional wi-fi. In addition, because it does not rely on the radio spectrum, it provides 10,000 times more, and free, bandwidth – the fundamental resource of all communication systems. As increasing amounts of internet data are transmitted through mobile networks, the current radio spectrum could run out of capacity in the next five years. This looming spectrum crunch could severely limit people’s ability to access information, potentially costing the world’s economy billions of dollars. The UK industry regulator for communications, Ofcom, has warned that the available radio spectrum will run out by 2020. By that time, it is forecast that there will be a staggering 7 trillion wireless devices in use. This means for every person on the planet there will 1000 wireless devices, so a solution is needed. Li-Fi creates the possibility of everyday objects housing LED lights to also transmit data. In many cases, vehicles, household appliances, even jewellery already have LEDs within them. Li-Fi offers opportunities across sectors including mobile communications, energy, healthcare, transport, manufacturing, lighting, security and advertising. The industry is estimated to be worth at least $6 billion in the next five years. Li-Fi offers greater security compared with Wi-Fi because light waves do not pass through walls, so secure wireless communication is possible in cyber-secure spaces. Moreover, there are areas where radio simply does not work, or is not permitted such as underwater and in aircraft cabins. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.” Li-Fi technology also gives much higher transmission speeds and capacity. By utilising a LED light bulb, data can travel at over 10 gigabits per second, and with tens of light bulbs in an office or factory space, there would be hundreds of gigabits per second available. With conventional wi-fi, the same room can only have a single wi-fi access point, as the radio signals from additional access points interfere with each other, compromising transmission capacity. The latest wi-fi technology, WiGig, can transmit up to 7 gigabits per second, but in a LiFi enabled room, the total capacity could be increased significantly. The development of white LED bulbs - essential for Li-Fi - followed the invention of blue LEDs, the importance of which was recognised earlier this month by the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics 2014 to three Japanese researchers for their work in this field. The University of Edinburgh has set up the Li-Fi Research & Development Centre to lead the technology’s global development. Partners already include Texas-based National Instruments. 8 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

NWave Joins Weightless SIG to Drive New Specifications The Weightless SIG has announced that NWave Technologies, an IoT over ISM spectrum vendor, has joined the group to contribute to the rapid evolution of the recently announced Weightless-N specification. Weightless-N is the new and unique open connectivity standard for IoT/M2M over ISM bands. NWave is a provider of connectivity technology for the Internet of Things in unlicensed spectrum – specifically the Industrial, Scientific and Medical bands below 1GHz. NWave’s technology is designed to operate in 868MHz in Europe and 900MHz band in the USA. Weightless-N will utilize Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) technology to deliver best in class connectivity solutions that retain all of the core competitive advantages of Weightless technology that have already been established: Minimal power consumption will enable terminal devices to operate in the field for up to ten years on a single AA form factor battery. Simple terminal hardware utilizing low cost components will enable modules to be deployed for around USD$2. Network costs will be minimized through excellent signal propagation characteristics – an urban range of 5km to a low cost internally located antenna and between 20 – 30km rural range to an external antenna.


VNX Marketing Alliance Announces Formation The VMEbus International Trade Association (VITA) has announced the formation of the VNX Marketing Alliance. The purpose of the VNX Marketing Alliance is to establish an ecosystem of interested parties to promote and create name recognition, as well as grow adoption of the VITA 74 NanoX Small Form Factor specification and technology. VITA 74 defines both mechanical and electrical specifications to implement a small form factor system. The specification addresses a need for a standardized approach to small-scale systems to be used in rugged environment applications. The specification encourages multiple vendors to supply components to be used in small systems at various levels, including modules, backplanes, enclosures and integrated systems. The goal is to allow vendor implementation flexibility at the same time as ensuring component interoperability. The VITA 74 NanoX Small Form Factor specification was released as a VITA Draft Standard for Trial Use at the end of 2013. The next step is for full ANSI/VITA ratification which the working group is undertaking at this time. The VNX Marketing Alliance has launched a website. Here you will find the latest information on VNX technology. The alliance is made up of technology suppliers developing products based on the VITA 74 NanoX Small Form Factor specification. Companies that develop VNX products are encouraged to contact VITA to join the VNX Marketing Alliance. The inaugural members of the VNX Marketing Alliance are: • Alligator Designs Pvt Ltd • Alphi Technology Corporation • Alta Data Technologies LLC • CES-Creative Electronic Systems • DDC-Data Device Corporation • IOXOS Technologies SA • Red Rapids, Inc. • Samtec • Themis Computer • VectorNav Technologies, LLC

Superyacht Industry Sees a Rise in iPad Control Systems Recent software advancements have resulted in a sudden rise in the use of iPad control on board superyachts. Since the launch of M/Y Adastra in 2012, the demand for similar systems has increased according to Daragh O’Higgins, managing director at TechWorX. O’Higgins commented, “These systems consist of a central processor that connects to all the equipment you want to control. It then for example, switches the TV to the right channel, turns on the Blu-ray player and dims the lights to watch a movie by just pressing one button on the iPad. It then switches to a page where you have all the controls you need for the Blu-ray player. This is just one of many different scenarios you can set.” Currently, the majority of larger superyachts will have a form of tablet-control system on board, but how much they control is increasing. Daragh continued, “It has been standard practice for many years to have automation systems on yachts, but this has typically meant expensive touch panels that sometimes cost over $10,000. The rise of the iPad has made automation more common and affordable. As the tablets become faster and automation controllers drop in price and become easier to install, it will be common place in all areas of a yacht.” With smart technology on the incline, it is likely all newly built superyachts will have similar systems installed on board in the future.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 9


SFF State of the Union by Colin McCrackin

Every once in a while, we look back and reflect on how far the small form factor (SFF) industry has come, re-learn past lessons, and pay respects to those who built this industry. Now there are SoCs and hobbyist boards that encroach on the status quo. This reflection also takes the form of a “swan song”, as I hereby wind down my writing activities and pass the torch. One score and ten years ago, our SFF founding fathers brought forth on this industry a new form factor, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all embedded engineers are created equal. (Note: A “score” is 20 years.) Now we are engaged in a great form factor civil war, testing whether that form factor, or any form factor so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here devoted their careers that that form factor might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave consortium members, working and retired, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the working, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly

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advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored retired we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these retired shall not have died in vain—that this SFF market shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the engineers, by the engineers, for the engineers, shall not perish from the market. The year was 1984, and the 5.75 x 8” Little Board was unveiled to bring desktop PC technology to the masses. A benign CGA graphics card interface soon gave way to a standardized embedded stackable bus, and a PC/104 ecosystem was born. The American governing body donned big wigs, gloves and hats and assumed the ruling positions. After much deliberation, Little Board ultimately led to the EBX open standard SBC form factor. Halfway into the 30-year cycle, 1999 emerged with much affront to the ramping non-desktop non-backplane boards business. The Asian Invasion was in full swing, brought about by better “biscuit” boards and Socket 370 sockets for customers to install their own CPUs. Sold on price, price and price, the boards were snatched up by all but the most rugged discriminating system OEMs. The same year, the ETX form factor was launched in Europe as a shot heard around the world. More than yet another E-blank-X name, a quiet ruler was born in the form of a revolutionary shift in design methodol-

ogy, from full custom and full off-theshelf-stackable to some weird hybrid in between. A tower of I/O cards gave way to a purpose-designed I/O carrier card that the ETX processor simply plugs into and upgrades over time. ETX split into King COM Express for the mid- to high end, and Prince Qseven for the low- to mid-range. Even more significant is the shift toward light, responsive trade groups that can crank out a new, free open standard as I/O and expansion buses cross over established boundaries. More still is the onslaught of cheap hobbyist boards. For the ambushes and all-out turf wars of the past have given way to bunker busters, stealth strikes, and terrorism from within. Bigwigs only watch from afar. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all the OS and tool developers and the application software troops who make our lives much easier when bringing up small boards, and who make useful platforms out of mere boards. The very topic of form factors even gets demoted in favor of how the entire scope of work can be completed with reduced budgets and resources. “Off-the-shelf ” is now more about finding software than finding hardware. It’s been a pleasure writing for you all these years. May your form factors decrease in size and your designs prosper. With proper attribution to the Gettysburg Address, this swan has sung.

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PCI Express Developing New Features Even as it Heads for a New Generation An ongoing and dynamic evolution of technology is adding features to PCIe that make it ever more compatible with the Internet of Things and mobile devices even though the debut of the full new generation is still some time off. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

PCI Express, which was one of the few big winners of the long-ago (early 2000s) switched fabric wars, perhaps because it had its origins in the PC architecture, continues to evolve. That evolution is dynamic and ongoing. While PCI Express is currently in its third generation and projected to emerge in a fourth generation around the mid-2016 time frame, it continues to add new functionality along the way. These interim extensions and engineering change notices, when officially released from the PCI-SIG can be adopted, depending on the demands they may make on hardware, by OEMs and will be included in the next generation specification when that is officially released. The next specification, which will be Gen 4, will also include a greatly enhanced data rate. The PCI Express specifications are created and controlled by the PCI-SIG, which responds to input from its members when they identify and suggest enhancements and modifications. For example, in 2013, the SIG released MPCIe, which enables PCIe to run over the MIPI M-PHY physical layer technology. The MIPI Alliance develops interface specifications for the mobile ecosystem including such things as mobile handsets and now includes tablets, PCs, cameras and medical devices. The PCI-SIG is a partner organization with the MIPI Alliance. MPCIe is the adaptation layer that allows you to “stitch” the PCIe protocol stack to the MIPI PHY (Figure 1). While it is a very narrow-scoped specification, it is now possible to run PCI Express anywhere there is an M-PHY without changing any protocols. This change, which is useable today, will be integrated into the next version of the PCIe specification. Likewise, there was an engineering change notice for retiming—a rather minor addition—in response to some members’ needs to retime devices to extend the reach of PCIe channels. This too will be integrated into the coming Gen 4 specification. According to Ramin Neshati, PCI-SIG Board Member and Marketing Workgroup Chair, “These are a couple of examples

12 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

of how the technology dynamically evolves. Before our release a spec, you can add on some of these things.” This is done by people proposing extensions that, when approved, are captured as engineering change notices. Of course, the scope varies. Some can be applied right away while others may depend on revision to devices, which will be defined by the next version of the spec.

The IoT is Already upon Us

It should come as no surprise that the rise of the Internet of Things is having an effect on serial communication technologies and PCI Express is quite naturally in the thick of it. According to Neshati, the PCI-SIG did a study for the adaptation to the IoT looking at what needs to be done to make PCIe more IoT-friendly. The results showed that it is already quite adaptable for embedded and small devices due to its small footprint and the fact that the required set of features is not an obstacle. One such rather minor change is a protocol extension that addresses the needs of SoC integration called “enhanced allocation.” This allows designers to create fixed base address registers (BARs) so that they can establish fixed, non-relocatable MMIO resources, thus reducing some degree of complexity. Of course, the need for improved support of small, complex SoCs fits with their increasing use in mobile devices that are also connected to the IoT and mobility also demands increased power efficiency.

Mobile and Low Power Support

The ability to now connect to the MIPI-PHY had already been mentioned and is a big advantage for connecting to mobile devices. In addition, while PCIe’s networking technology is designed to be power-efficient, especially its own PHY specification, using somewhere in the range of a milliwatt, there is

M-PCIe Architecture PCIe Architecture

Adapted PCIe Architecture




PHY Logical PHY Analog

Normative reference


Normative reference

PHY Analog

Figure 1 MPCIe provides normative references between PCIe protocols and the MIPI PHY so that PCIe can run in devices with MIPI communications

definitely room for improvement. The new changes address the goal of reducing link idle power and are getting the idle power down into the microwatt range, supported by what are called L-1 Substates, when both ends are inactive. Device discovery and enumeration also support power management in that they can discover and enumerate devices in the system without requiring new software and drivers. A new mode for short channel topologies also is available that is called “half swing,” which uses half the launch voltage—400mV—where the normal full swing is 800mV. This is an option that has been available since Gen1. In addition, according to Neshati, the PCIe protocol already contains a robust power management features that can be used to configure the system for dynamic power management.

New Form Factors

By now we are all probably familiar with the card electro-mechanical (CEM) form factor for PCIe devices that plugs into the sockets provided in the normal PC. Of course, the “normal” PC is changing to ever thinner, ever sleeker laptops. Also, the range of intelligent mobile and consumer devices is evolving to ever smaller packages that need to take advantage of the almost universal functionality and acceptance of PCIe. One new form factor that is targeted at the very sleek, very thin new generation of laptops is the M.2, which is meant to replace the mini-CEM form factor to add features to laptops. According to Neshati, the mini-CEM is not exactly very “height friendly.” M.2 is not just one form factor. It has a flexible I/O technology and multiple socket definitions to support WWAN, SSD and other applications. In addition, there are single-sided and double-sided options to allow trade-offs between high-integration and low-profile options as well as connector or solder-down options. The M.2 form factor is also available in a range

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 13


RetClk O & Lane O


Lanes 1-3, SMBus, & Dual Port Enable

SAS/SATA Power and Control Pins Refclk 1, 3.3V Aux, & Resets Figure 2 The SFF-8639 connector provides PCIe lanes, SAS/SATA and other connections for storage and high-performance devices

of board dimensions with four width options from 12mm to 30mm and seven length options from 16mm to 110mm. Another emerging form factor—the SFF-8639—is targeted mostly at the more highly integrated new generations of desktops and workstations. The board dimensions are 100.45mm x 69.85mm x 7mm. It is targeted at storage and high-integration applications, especially for the ability to pack large numbers of SSDs onto one board and it supports a data transfer rate of 8 Gtransfers/s in two directions. The connector (Figure 2) both supports PCIe lanes as well as SAS/SATA interface and enables hot plug and hot swap. Yet another “between specs” addition that is on the way but not yet released (in Rev 0.9) is an external small cable called OCuLink that can provide outside the box I/O in a variety of high-performance applications (Figure 3). OCuLink has a basic transfer rate of 8Gbit/s with room to scale higher. Thus a four-lane configuration can deliver 32 Gbit/s in both directions. The current version will first be implemented with copper cables but optical is also under development. In fact, OCuLink stands for “optical copper link. “The cable link is targeted at inside the box as well as outside connections, such as displays and external storage. At first glance, OCuLink would appear to fit the same roles as USB 3.0 except that it can hit speeds of almost 7 times what USB is capable of.

On the Road to Gen 4

With all these extension both out and in the pipeline there is naturally anticipation of the release of the next PCIe generation, Gen 4. Gen 4 is promising a raw bit rate of 16 Gbit/s, double that of Gen 3, and to be fully backward compatible with previous generations. The promotion talks about its suitability with Big Data applications, which would once more attach it to concepts involving the Internet of Things where small, distributed devices collectively generate huge amounts of data that must be communicated, stored and analyzed at various stages along the way and ultimately in the Cloud.

14 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014







All dimensions in mm Figure 3 OCuLink will provide very high-speed connectivity both within and outside the box starting at 8Gbit/s per lane with optical development potentially offering much higher speeds at a later date.

Currently, the spec is looking at the preliminary release of Rev 0/5 sometime in early 2015 to give developers a preview of what is coming so they can get started with design planning. Then the—tentative and not definitive—expectation is to see Rev 0.7 sometime in the second half of 2015 with Rev 0.9 in the first half of 2016. That, according to Ramin Neshati, should signal that everything is done and call for final comments prior to the final release sometime hopefully still in 2016. PCI-SIG Beaverton, OR (503) 619-0569 www.pcisig.com3


Internet of Things: A Fancy Way of Saying “More Embedded Linux, Please” Spanning server to deployed device, configurations of Linux have reached levels of flexibility, performance and real-time capability that enable it to function at all levels in the Internet of Things by James Kirkland, Red Hat

16 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

Availability of full source code Availability of tech support No royalities Real-time performance

Column 1

Compatibility w/ other software, systems Freedom to customize or modify Open-source availability 0






Figure 1 Top considerations when choosing an embedded operating system

To recap the past decade or so of embedded computing:: Linux is the dominant operating system in embedded devices and its use is increasing, while the deployment of custom or in-house operating systems has taken a sharp downward turn, according to the 2014 Embedded Market Study by UMB Tech. This remains true, even when taking Android and all of its associated “Linux or not” questions out of the equation, with the next contenders being Windows, custom OSes, and RTOS as a distant fourth. Why is Linux so dominant? It’s not the smallest, fastest, or lowest energy OS. Memory requirements ranging from 2 MB to 512 MB preclude its use on many smaller devices. A custom OS that has been pared down and optimized for a given microprocessor or System-on-Chip (SoC) will probably deliver better performance. Figure 1 which shows the 2014 Embedded Market Study results when participants were asked, “What are the most important factors in choosing an OS?” These results show that the top three concerns are not technical; rather, they relate to the business requirements around the long-term maintainability and commercial viability of a deployed solution. The open source nature of Linux ensures that the source code is available, that tech support is available (through the vast community of contributors and through services provided by enterprise vendors), and that there are no royalties for the

software. The open source model with its published APIs and its inclination to establish or follow industry standards means that Linux is compatible with other software and systems, more so than a proprietary OS would be. As open source software, Linux can be customized, and these customizations can then in turn be contributed to upstream projects, fueling the cycle of innovation.

Configurable Footprint and Deployment Flexibility Linux can be configured to fit on many different device types from a small flash memory drive to a gateway server or controller using SSDs or traditional hard drives for storage. Linux distributions include tools that allow developers to omit user space packages with unwanted functionality and significantly reduce the OS footprint. Similarly, developers can modify the OS to meet their specifications. Modifying or configuring an existing OS is more efficient than building a custom one yet achieves many of the same objectives. The answer to the question of Linux’s importance to the Internet of Things, and therefore embedded systems, lies partly in recent technical advances and partly in changes to embedded devices themselves and their usage. Hardware certifications have kept up with the pace of new processors, boards, SoCs, etc.

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Datacenter Functionality Longterm Data Analytics Longterm Control Rule Creation Reporting

Controller Functionality Communications Data Summary Realtime Data Analytics Realtime Actions / Rules

Device Functionality Communications Data Acquisition

Figure 2 An Internet of Things solution typically adds layers of complexity to device workloads.

Better tools simplify the job of deploying to multiple types of devices, and the Linux kernel now includes real-time capabilities. These are just some of the innovations that make Linux suitable for more embedded use cases than before. As for the devices themselves, while some are becoming smaller as in the case of wearables and sensors, many are getting “smarter,” especially in enterprise or industrial settings. These smart devices are called upon to perform a wider variety of increasingly complicated tasks that require more processing capacity. As the use cases grow more complex some devices start looking more like mini-servers. Figure 2 shows the three-tier architecture of a typical enterprise internet of things solution. In this example, the embedded device could be running an encryption application, lightweight messaging and ESB middleware in addition to the operating system. The embedded “mini-server” or controller is also running a combination of data-processing application and middleware plus a portion of a business rules engine that allows it to control the device based on data it has received from the datacenter or from the device itself. Shifting some of the data processing and business rules logic away from the data center and into the field reduces the latency and cost of routing all data to the data center. Take, for example, smart meters. Today, most of these are not all that smart functioning primarily as sensors, but they will eventually become hubs for smart houses serving as in-and-out conduit for all the systems in the house such as air conditioning, security or electric car chargers. In some areas, technology trials are taking place where the smart meter does more than transmit energy usage data—it allows energy companies to manage demand. It can delay or decrease the amount of electricity being consumed by controlling lighting, cooling, etc.

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For devices like these increasingly smart meters, a robust OS like Linux, with its memory-management capabilities and services such as network management and military-grade security, is a necessity instead of overhead as might previously been thought to be the case.

Connectivity Requires Security

Another aspect of these smarter devices and their deployment scenarios is the degree to which they are connected to other devices and to enterprise data centers. Connectivity is a hallmark of the Internet of Things, a space more and more embedded devices find themselves inhabiting. Smarter devices, that is. Devices collecting, processing and transmitting more data, connected to critical resources pose a significant security risk—even when the devices are on a private network. Some of the recent retail data breaches occurred when private networks where data was being transmitted in clear text were compromised. Many distributions of Linux include a security-enhanced option called SELinux which has earned the highest government certifications. SELinux has built-in context-defined, policy-based security. With other operating systems and some Linux distributions, security is incumbent on the system architects and the amount of effort they put into it.

Real-time Linux Comes of Age

Real-time capabilities are critical in any use case where physical state must be considered and operations must occur in a specified order according to regimented timing. Robotics, manufacturing, and control systems are just a few of the areas where a real-time system is found in embedded devices. As an example of Linux’s real-time capabilities, the U.S. Air Force has replaced RTOS in the anti-missile systems on its

Lockheed AC-130s. The original system consisting of a MIPs chip running RTOS has been exchanged for a less expensive solution: a Linux laptop that has been certified as meeting real-time specifications connected to a bus that detects the missile and dispenses the counter measures, such as chaff and flares. Linux was able to meet requirements for predictable ordering of operations that used to be reserved for an RTOS. In 2006, real-time capabilities were added to the 2.6 Linux kernel. Since that time, better schedulers and locking algorithms have increased determinism and decreased latency. Some Linux distributions provide real-time variants while others provide a kernel patch (PREEMPT_RT) that can be used to upgrade Linux to function as a real-time system. An RTOS offers comprehensive real-time capabilities—both hard and soft real time. Linux does not have a deadline scheduler to support hard real time where processes are forced off the CPU in order to allow the process with a firm deadline to complete on time. Linux provides only soft real time where every process receives a fair share of resources and every effort is made to respect deadlines by increasing a job’s priority. For scenarios where soft real time is all that’s needed, Linux can offer a less expensive and more flexible alternative to an RTOS.

Linux Tools for Configuring Real-Time Environments

In addition to core real-time capabilities, Linux includes a set of tools for optimizing and configuring how real-time systems perform. Developing an application that performs well on a real-time system requires attention to how processes consume resources to avoid latency traps. For example, instead of using global locks, use specific resource locks to ensure that other processes don’t get blocked by a process that can’t be pre-empted. The Linux tuna and ltrace tools can help identify latency traps so that you can program an application in such a way that processes aren’t waiting on resources. Tuna allows you to change scheduler and interrupt request settings at the CPU level or by thread. Ltrace is a debugging tool that identifies shared library and system calls and is useful for seeing where an application might have run into resource contention. Another Linux feature, control groups (or c-groups), allows you to control resource allocation. For example, you can use control groups to pin all the hardware interrupt requests to a certain CPU and ensure that a process gets higher priority on that CPU. This avoids one of the latency traps caused when a process gets bounced between CPUs, loses access to its cached data and has to pull data back from memory. Control groups also let you assign I/O and network resources to certain processes. Whereas control groups let you dynamically manage resources, for an embedded deployment you would define resource allocations in a configuration file. The Linux OS gives you fine-grained control of resources and the tools to deliver optimizations as part of the embedded application. Whether you are deploying a traditional embedded device or an Internet of Things solution, Linux allows you to optimize for a given environment and hardware without the effort, cost, and risk of customizing an OS. When you choose to embed an enterprise-class Linux platform, you are choosing to build highly reliable and widely tested technology into your embedded system.

Breaking the Chains! Open and Flexible System Architecture for Safe Train Control Rugged Computer Boards and Systems for Harsh, Mobile and Mission-Critical Environments n

Modular, SIL 4-certifiable systems for safety-critical railway applications


Configurable to the final application from single function to main control system


Communication via real-time Ethernet


Connection to any railway fieldbus type like CANopen, MVB, PROFINET, etc.


Comes with complete certification package including hardware, safe operation system and software


Compliant with EN 50155

Red Hat Raleigh, NC (514) 448-5100

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 19


Figure 1 Typical aircraft assembly environment. Note that much of the assembly is done by hand, which is why there is a push to make the tools much more intelligent to improve production efficiency and quality.

Linux: The Operating System for Embedded Design Advances in processor performance, community innovation and support have propelled Linux to the position of the premier operating system in computers large and small. Now it is moving ever more strongly into the realm of embedded systems. by Sanjay Challa, National Instruments

From its humble beginnings as a computer science project from the Finnish student Linus Torvalds in 1991, Linux has enjoyed remarkable growth. It has continued to gain market share across all computing platforms and today represents the majority share in many of these markets, including web servers, supercomputers and mobile devices. Embedded designers may be wondering how they can best benefit from this offering. After all, it is quite amazing that one operating system can successfully serve the needs of so many seemingly different applications – from the cloud to mobile and everything in between. Surely, Linux may have a lot to offer for embedded designers as well. Given that the needs of a typical embedded design team vary considerably from the requirements for the next supercomputer, it is important to understand what Linux can do to alleviate the challenges typically encountered in embedded system design. This consideration is especially important with recent security vulnerabilities around open source software (for example, Heartbleed and Shellshock), which affected many Linux

20 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

systems. Based on these recent events, embedded designers may question whether Linux is the right operating system to rely on for their next project. The reality is that Linux is here to stay for the foreseeable future. In fact, it is poised better than ever for strong growth across many applications, especially embedded systems. From industrial automation to structural health monitoring, it can benefit a variety of embedded systems projects. Linux provides a common environment for design and serves as a broad technology platform for innovation. This means embedded designers no longer need to develop a custom operating system tailored for one application that requires specialized skills. Instead, organizations using Linux can access a larger talent pool of developers, more easily integrate with standard technologies and more readily access support. Relying on Linux enables embedded designers to focus on high-value tasks, such as investing time in the value differentiators of their offering, as opposed to spending effort starting completely from scratch.

As a technology platform, it certainly helps that Linux is available at no cost to embedded designers who have the time and access to the requisite talent necessary to customize and maintain an open source solution. Those lacking the time or expertise have the option of paying a vendor for an embedded Linux solution. Given the advancements in tooling and in build infrastructure with efforts like the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded, it’s now easier than ever -- and hence more common -- for embedded design teams to pursue a self-maintained Linux solution. Regardless, in both scenarios, given that the source code is always made available, an embedded design team maintains the freedom to modify the distribuFigure 2 tion to better fit their design needs. The new-generation pick and place machine uses 16 axles for the suction This flexibility is invaluable and nozzle, substantially accelerating the suction of wafers. Consequently, the makes it substantially easier to accuracy and response time for vision and motion processing in this closedloop system becomes even more critical in ensuring proper performance. keep pace with evolving trends. The trade-offs between the DIY and the vendor-provided embedded Linux solutions aside, both options are more beneficial than a market often include deployment costs that can severely hinder proprietary solution, which is inevitably less flexible and open embedded designers from scaling their embedded solution. and consequently slower to adapt to market trends. In a market In addition to price, another key challenge with proprietary typically characterized by large volumes of capable yet cost-opoperating systems is the lack of easy access to the source code. timized deployments, Linux is a very cost-compelling solution. There is considerably more risk to a project or solution should Typical proprietary operating systems that serve the embedded an OS vendor go out of business, decide that they would like to



Debug & Trace

Application Core

advertisement_multicore_7,375x3,375mm.indd 1

DSP Core



Accelerator Core

27.06.2014 16:49:10

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Figure 3 Pictured is NI’s Linux-based Compact Vision System (a), CompactRIO performance controller (b) and System on Module (c).

22 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

work on a different set of features or invest in their software in a way that is counterproductive or tangential to an embedded designer’s application needs. Worse yet is being forced to scramble when a vendor decides that they will no longer support or maintain a proprietary operating system or when they look to coerce all users to upgrade to better manage the lifecycle of their offering. Given that Linux is open source and community supported, it avoids many of the challenges associated with proprietary operating systems. For example, access to the source code offers a level of transparency unmatched by proprietary alternatives and is incredibly valuable given recent security vulnerabilities. The open source community has been swift and aggressive in pushing out patches to the recently identified vulnerabilities. In all likelihood, proprietary software suffers from just as many if not vastly more insidious vulnerabilities. Unfortunately these are seldom discovered or addressed, leaving systems vulnerable to zero-day attacks. While recent security issues may have marred the reputation of open source software in terms of security, per Linus’s Law the reality is that the community imposes much better oversight on open source software and can more quickly collaborate to fix an issue than the majority of proprietary OS vendors. Despite the multitude of benefits, designers have traditionally had some skepticism about Linux as a technology platform for certain embedded systems. The biggest concerns are in regards to the size and performance of the operating system. Cost-optimized embedded solutions that need to run on minimal disk and memory are especially demanding on footprint and Linux is often considered to be ‘too large’. Similarly, for reliable closedloop control systems, many have questioned whether Linux can provide the necessary real-time performance. With technology advances and community efforts, these concerns are much less relevant. Technology advances in hardware coupled with community efforts such as uClinux make it possible for users to deploy Linux to substantially smaller form factor systems. As a prime example, Airbus’ Factory of the Future is architected around smart tools powered by NI’s System on Module (SOM) solution, which is a remarkably small hardware device that runs NI Linux Real-Time, an embedded Linux distribution (Figure 1). Traditionally, the subassembly of an airplane has been a manual process and includes roughly 400,000 points that need to be tightened down. Understandably, there is considerable risk to the production since a single location that is tightened down incorrectly could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Because of this risk, it is critical to improve the efficiency of the production process. The NI System on Module (SOM) solution, powered by Linux, is available in a small enough form factor to serve as the main computational core of a variety of factory tools required for aircraft assembly. This enables Airbus to envision a future where aircraft assembly is completed more efficiently and with higher quality.

Regarding the performance necessary for closed-loop control, PREEMPT_RT is a Linux community effort that is now the de facto standard for achieving real-time performance with Linux. In fact, coalitions such as the Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) are looking to standardize industrial automation with PREEMPT_RT patched Linux. As another example, the NI Linux Real-Time distribution also makes use of PREEMPT_RT and the NI cRIO-9068 industrial controller that runs this RTOS is behind the high-precision pick and place machine produced by Master Machinery. With advances in hardware and with the software capabilities of Linux, it is now possible to build closed-loop real-time systems with Linux (Figure 2). Looking forward, vendors are beginning to understand that they can truly empower end users by offering Linux on processor-based platforms or by providing Linux drivers for sensors and instruments. With a Linux based system, users have outstanding flexibility in configuring and customizing systems. What was previously a feature that needed to be completed by a vendor is now something that users can implement as needed for their particular application. As an example, users can decide whether to put their own web server or run small, embedded or distributed databases on a Linux-based SOM. From a security perspective, users can directly add a VPN and firewall or run SELinux to implement mandatory access control on their embedded system. Furthermore, given that Linux is fueled by a tremendous amount of community-driven research, there is unique benefit to Linux systems in an Internet of Things age. As embedded devices become increasingly complex, connected and online, it is possible to rely on the package management provided by Linux to update deployed solutions with new applications and features. From innovations in the network stack to entirely new file systems such as Btrfs, it is now possible to benefit from the vast number of open source projects constantly pushing the limits with Linux. Alternatives to Linux typically innovate at a much slower pace and often lack the package management infrastructure that Linux offers, which leaves end users running behind in this increasingly connected world. It is clear that Linux is well suited to continue expanding in a variety of markets, especially with embedded systems applications. Innovative vendors are already bringing Linux to their embedded offerings. As an example, NI offers a Linux-based Compact Vision System, SOM, and rugged industrial controller (Figure 3). Embedded systems designers can profit from the trend of more Linux-based hardware by building their proficiency in Linux and by looking to solutions powered by Linux. These types of solutions will be much easier to connect, update, customize and maintain than traditional custom or proprietary alternatives because Linux is the unquestionable leader in the realm of embedded operating systems. National Instruments Austin, TX (512) 794-0100

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Addressing Embedded Platform Performance Bottlenecks for USB 3.0 Video-intensive embedded applications such as security and consumer cameras are demanding higher-performance interconnects for faster data transfer. SuperSpeed USB is the natural choice for the next-generation of high-speed embedded platform connectivity. by Anup Shivakumar, Cypress Semiconductors

Figure 1 Video Camera Architectural Block Diagram

As a high-speed serial interconnect, USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed USB) has found widespread usage among personal computers plus peripheral devices such as video monitors and storage peripherals. Embedded designers are finding that highly integrated USB 3.0 devices can address their high-speed internal data transfers. USB 3.0 can also provide a low-cost interconnect to other devices, along with faster data throughput, lower power, smaller design footprint, reduced BOM cost, and shorter development schedules. High-definition (HD) and ultra high-definition (UHD) video camera designs can illustrate the many benefits of using a standard serial bus such as USB 3.0. Today’s HD/UHD cameras generate real-time data that must be captured, processed locally and then quickly transferred to remote devices such as security 24 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

monitors and pooled storage services. Even a 5 Megapixel camera at 24 frames per second (fps) can generate a 2.4 Gbit/s data flow. Designs relying on older serial interfaces such as USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11n simply cannot keep up with camera data, let alone handle real-time transfers to other devices within the user network. The lack of high-speed data paths can lead to higher embedded design complexity and cost, such as upsizing frame buffers and requiring larger local storage elements. These design elements can increase overall cost and development times. USB 3.0 provides an extremely effective choice for today’s high-performance embedded system developers. Its dual-bus architecture allows for communication with legacy devices while SuperSpeed USB can achieve device transfer rates of 5 Gbit/s. In


512 KB RAM



32 End Points

USB 3.0


SD/eMMC Controller



2x SD/eMMC





Figure 2 Cypress FX3S SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Controller Block Diagram

addition, USB 3.0 has 3x more power efficiency than USB 2.0. Due to its broad industry popularity, SuperSpeed USB is a natural choice for both internal and external data path management with the best combination of high performance, reduced power consumption, and cost structure. Camera system-on-chip (SoC) architectures are highly tuned for gathering and processing data from high-resolution image sensors using specialized on-chip video and image processing DSPs. Design implementations such as those shown in Figure 1 use a secure digital extended capacity (SDXC) interface for local video/image storage, typically in the form of mini/micro SD Cards. HDMI ports provide video transfer to external monitors. The SoC must also manage the on-board LCD screen. USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi ports can provide for external data sharing. Unfortunately, these SoC interfaces cannot keep up with the data rates generated by the image sensors. Custom SoC solutions can lead to long development times due to their design complexity. This camera architecture can be highly tuned for writing the processed image or video frame into local Flash memory. Performance and usability are limited by the available SD storage size, coupled with the interface speed by which the content can be moved to a more permanent storage such as a personal computer or external hard drive.

Certain product categories such as commercial security cameras provide limited on-board storage. They instead rely on fast external interfaces such as wired or wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) to transfer their video streams onto a local server. Some consumer cameras provide a removable storage card (mini/micro SD). However, they tend to not be equipped with a local LCD screen for local content viewing. Thus they depend on the recorded content to be transferred to an external device for storage and viewing. These devices often utilize a variety of popular interfaces such as Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, or Bluetooth for data transfer. Wi-Fi is highly dependent on the availability of a fast reliable network infrastructure. Even an optimized 802.11n network may only be capable of supporting a 300Mbit/s data rate. The actual bandwidth of most 802.11n network installations fall significantly short of this bandwidth due to configuration variations, wireless security, number of channels bonded, etc. This results in an average throughput of 50-80Mbit/s, reaching 100Mbit/s typically only with more expensive commercial-grade equipment. USB 2.0 has an effective bandwidth of only 280-320 Mbit/s (35-40MByte/s). Even so, most devices can only deliver 200-240Mbit/s. Sustained USB 2.0 transfer rates depend heavily on software driver and platform optimizations.

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Figure 3 Enhanced Video Camera Architecture using Cypress FX3S

Table 1 illustrates the expected data transfer time for a 30-minute 1080p HD (H.264) video of ~18GB using USB 2.0 and various Wi-Fi alternatives. Notice that some cases take longer to transfer the video stream than viewing the video stream itself requires! Camera OEMs choosing to address this performance bottleneck are left with two choices: (1) Develop their own next-generation ASIC or (2) Wait for next-generation SoCs. Either choice can easily result in an 18 to 24 month product introduction delay. Alternately, designers can upgrade their existing platforms using off-the-shelf SuperSpeed USB components. SuperSpeed USB can operate 10x faster data than USB 2.0, making it an appropriate serial interconnect to address the video transfer bottleneck. Off-the-shelf controllers such as the Cypress EZ-USB FX3S SuperSpeed USB controller provide on-board ARM9 core, USB 3.0 functionality, plus two storage ports (configured either as SDIO 3.0 or eMMC 4.41) as shown in Figure 2. The FX3S can easily be integrated into a video camera platform by connecting the FX3S to the camera SoC via its programmable GPIF interface (Figure 3). The Cypress FX3S GPIF II interface is a fully configurable parallel interface that connects to external ASICs/SoCs or FPGAs. For additional information on Cypress GPIF II configuration techniques, refer to Application Notes AN75705 and AN75779. In this configuration, the FX3S and its associated SD Cards merely appear as a USB storage device to the SoC. The compressed video data can be stored in the same manner as the current camera implementations without any impact on the software stack.

26 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014




Wi-Fi 802.11n Optimized

300 Mbps

8 minutes

Wi-Fi 802.11n Typical

80 Mbps

30 minutes

Wi-Fi 802.11g

54 Mbps

45 minutes

Wi-Fi 802.11b

11 Mbps

3 Hours 39 minutes

USB 2.0 Optimized

320 Mbps

7 minutes 30 seconds

USB 2.0 Typical

USB 2.0 Typical

12 minutes

Table 1 Data Transfer Times for a 30min 1080p HD (H.264) Video

This implementation produces several architectural advantages. First, it provides a low-risk, economical means of adding a SuperSpeed USB port. Second, it moves SD Card management away from the SoC, releasing its CPU bandwidth for other critical tasks.

The FX3S GPIF II, configured as a 16-bit multiplexed address/data bus running at 100MHz, provides a ~1.8x data WRITE (Figure 3, Arrow 1) performance improvement over current implementations. The dual-SD interface on the FX3S can be configured in a RAID 0 configuration using a second mini/micro SD Card, improving performance while providing end users with increased storage. Application Note AN86947 provides performance optimization techniques for USB 3.0 throughput; AN89661 discusses RAID disk design using the Cypress FX3S. The FX3S can deliver a video READ throughput (Figure 3, Arrow 2) of ~720 Mbit/s for a dual SD card configuration. This reduces the transfer rate for the same 18GB video to less than 4 minutes, delivering a significantly higher performance over existing architectures. With the increased size of storage in cameras, longer recording times and transition to higher-resolution video qualities such as 4K, this performance gap will continue to widen significantly. The addition of the Cypress FX3S controller does not significantly impact battery life. The FX3S is expected to add ~97 mW of active power to the total camera platform power consumption. Assuming a 1160 mAH, 3.8 V camera battery; the FX3S would consume an additional 13.43 mAH (assumes a 95% conversion efficiency) of energy for the same 30 minute video or ~1.2% impact on the battery life. Adding a second SD Card (~270mW) for higher capacity and better performance will impact total battery life by ~4.3%. As we have shown above, today’s high-performance embedded platforms such as video cameras are facing a performance bottleneck in transferring their content using existing industry strandard interconnects such as USB2.0 and Wi-Fi. This performance gap will cotinue to widen with the continous demand for larger file transfers and higher resolution content such UHD video. SuperSpeed USB is a natural choice for embedded applications that require high-speed device data transfer connections. Developers are left with the choice

of waiting for the next generation of SoCs and take the associated schedule and opportunity cost risk or evolve their platforms around commercially available solution to meet the address this platform bottleneck.

Cypress Semiconductor San Jose, CA (408) 943-2600

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 27


PCI Express vs. Ethernet – Selecting the Superior Technology for Real-Time, Embedded Systems

PCI Express has become so widely adapted and is so flexible that it is included on most microprocessors thus making it possible to implement all the connections in a rack with one interface and one protocol. Savings in cost, power, latency and complexity are all made possible through a unified design. by Krishna Mallampati, Avago Technologies

PCI Express (PCIe) is growing up, as Ethernet matures. It’s being used as a chip-to-chip interconnect and Ethernet as a system-to-system technology. This has been the way embedded-system designers have been using both these technologies without a second thought because there have been some reasons (right or wrong) why these boundaries have endured. Regardless, these two technologies have been co-existing. While nothing on the horizon is about to fundamentally change this, PCIe is showing every sign of growing and competing with Ethernet for space that once was solely the domain of Ethernet – specifically, within the rack. What benefits can PCIe offer embedded-system designers to compete effectively and win against Ethernet? The answers to this question are of significance in real-time computing and embedded applications, in which designers are constantly

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looking for lower price and power without compromising on performance. In order to get the attention of real-time and embedded-systems users, it is important for PCIe to not just be incrementally better than the competing technology. It must provide significant savings on power and price without impacting performance in any way other than making it better. Real-time computing and embedded-systems users are very demanding! PCI and its successor PCIe have been around for decades, and PCIe has built a huge ecosystem in its existence -- so much so that, aside from a few vendors, almost all semiconductor products come with native PCIe. The PCI-SIG has more than 800 members, reflecting the reach and adoption breadth of this popular interface. With the latest incarnation of PCIe—Gen3 with speeds at 8GT/s—PCIe is now expanding from a chip-to-


Figure 1 Example of a traditional I/O system in use today

Multiple Fabrics 1-3 ToR switches

Networking CPU/Host



Ethernet LOM/NIC HBA







CPU/Host CPU/Host


PCI Express

chip interconnect into an interface of choice within the rack, and in many cases displacing Ethernet. Real-time and embedded engineers won’t be easily swayed to replace Ethernet with PCIe for modest savings; they need an order of magnitude in savings for both power and cost before changing anything. PCIe is definitely up to that task!

Current Architecture

NICs, HBAs HCAs $50 – $500 each and 5 – 8W each

Real-time and embedded systems that are the norm, presently employ several interconnect technologies that need to be supported. Fibre Channel and Ethernet are two examples (Figure 1). There are several shortcomings to this architecture. Among them are the existence of multiple I/O interconnect technologies, low utilization rates of I/O endpoints, high power and cost of the system due to the need for multiple I/O endpoints. In addition, the I/O is fixed early in the design and build process leaving no flexibility to change later And as a result management software must handle multiple I/O protocols along with overhead. The use of multiple I/O interconnect technologies increases latency, cost, board space, design complexity and power. The end points are under-utilized, meaning system users pay for the overhead of the existence of these various endpoints despite their limited utilization. The increased latency is from the PCIe interface native in the processors on these systems, which needs to be converted to the multiple protocols. Embedded designers



PCI Express

Already available in every box

can reduce their system latency by using the PCIe that’s native on the processors and by converging all endpoints using PCIe. Sharing I/O endpoints, as illustrated in Figure 2, is the most obvious solution to these shortcomings. This concept appeals to all system designers because it lowers price and power, improves performance and utilization and simplifies their designs. There are several advantages to a shared-I/O architecture. As I/O speeds increase, the only additional investment needed is to change the I/O adapter cards. In earlier deployments, when multiple I/O technologies existed on the same card, designers would have to re-design the entire system, whereas in the shared-I/O model, they can simply replace an existing card with a new one when an upgrade is needed for one particular I/O technology. Since multiple I/O endpoints don’t need to exist on the same cards, designers can either manufacture smaller cards to further reduce cost and power, or choose to retain the existing form factor and differentiate their products by adding multiple CPUs, memory and/or other endpoints in the space saved by eliminating multiple I/O endpoints from the card. Designers can reduce the number of cables that crisscross a system. With multiple interconnect technologies comes the need for different (and multiple) cables to enable bandwidth and overhead protocol. However, with the simplification of the design and the range of I/O interconnect technologies, the

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 29


Figure 2 A traditional I/O system using PCI Express for shared I/O

Shared I/O to Drop Costs & Power

Pushes the Network to Top of Rack with PCIe…Removing Costly NICs/HBAs Each Host believes they still have a dedicated NIC as before


Converged Fabric PCI Express

ExpressFabric Switch


CPU/Host* PCIe

Scalable to • 64G (x8) • 128G (x16) Copper & Optical









Fraction of the Cost & Power of NICs, LOMs, HBAs


* Placement of the CPU may eliminate need for retimer in some designs dropping costs and power further


PCI Express

number of cables needed for proper functioning of the system also is reduced, thereby eliminating the complexity of the design and delivering cost savings. Implementing shared I/O in a PCIe switch is the key enabler for architectures illustrated in Figure 2. single-root I/O virtualization (SR-IOV) technology implements I/O virtualization in the hardware for improved performance, and makes use of hardware-based security and quality-of -service (QoS) features in a single physical server. SR-IOV also allows the sharing of an I/O device by multiple guest operating systems running on the same server. Most often an embedded system has complete control over the OS making it easier to accomplish this. PCIe offers a simplified solution by allowing all I/O adapters (10GbE or FC or IB or others) to be moved outside the server. With a PCIe switch fabric providing virtualization support, each adapter can be shared across multiple servers and at the same time provide each server with a logical adapter. The servers (or the virtual machines on each server) continue to have direct access to their own set of hardware resources on the shared adapter. The resulting virtualization allows for better scalability where the I/O and the servers can be scaled independently of each other. I/O virtualization avoids over-provisioning the servers or the I/O resources, thus leading to cost and power reduction.

30 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

High Performance Low Latency 32Gbs Links (x4)

Simple ˜$5 & ˜1 Watt PCIe Retimers

Adding to the shared I/O implementation, the PCIe fabric has enhanced the basic PCIe capability to include remote DMA (RDMA), which offers very low latency host-to-host transfers by copying the information directly from the host application memory, without involving the main CPU, thereby freeing up the CPU for processing other useful system functions. Table 1 provides a high-level overview of the cost comparison, and Table 2 provides the high-level overview of the power comparison when using PCIe as opposed to 10G Ethernet. The price estimates are based on a broad industry survey, and assume pricing will vary according to volume, availability and vendor relationships with regard to top-of-rack (ToR) switches and the adapters. These tables provide a framework for understanding the cost and power savings by using PCIe for I/O sharing -- principally through the elimination of adapters. PCIe is native on an increasing number of processors from major vendors. Embedded designers can benefit from the lower latency realized by not having to use any components between a CPU and a PCIe switch. With this new generation of CPUs, those designers can place a PCIe switch directly off the CPU, thereby reducing latency and component cost. PCIe has come to dominate the mainstream interconnect market for a variety of reasons. First is its ability to scale linearly for different bandwidth requirements. From x1 connections on server motherboards, to x2 connections to high speed

Cost/Gbps ($) 10GE

Power/Gbps (w) 10GE 1.40

$18.0 $16.0 $14.0 $12.0 $10.0 $8.0 $6.0 $4.0 $2.0 $–

1.20 1.00 0.80 0.60 0.40 0.20 0.00 ExpressFabric



Table 3 Cost savings comparison between PCIe and Ethernet

storage, to x4 and x8 connections for backplanes, and up to x16 for graphics applications. The other main advantage for PCIe is its simple, low overhead protocol. Lastly, PCIe is ubiquitous with almost every device in a system having at least one – and often more than one – PCIe connection. From a system designer’s perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to convert this PCIe interface to another technology and then back again to PCIe – highly inefficient! In addition to the many advantages already cited here, another key attribute of PCIe that it’s also a lossless fabric at the transport layer. The PCIe specification has defined a robust flow-control mechanism that prevents packets from being dropped. Every PCIe packet is acknowledged at every hop, insuring a successful transmission. In the event of a transmission error, the packet is replayed again – something that occurs in hardware, without any involvement of upper layers. Data loss and corruption in PCIe-based storage systems, therefore, are highly unlikely. To satisfy the requirements in the shared-I/O and clustering market segments, technology innovators such as Avago Technologies are bringing to market high-performance, flexible, and power- and space-efficient devices that help real-time and embedded system designers and users realize the full potential of PCIe for price, power and performance benefits. These switches have been designed to fit into the full range of applications cited above. Looking forward, PCIe Gen4, with speeds of up to 16Gbps per link, will help to further expand the adoption of PCIe technology into these crucial market segments, all the while making it easier and economical to design and use.




Table 4 Power savings comparison between PCIe and Ethernet

Further exending PCIe’s place in embedded and real-time systems is its application as a fabric—an application that, until recently, hasn’t been regarded as a viable general-purpose solution. But that is now changing. Designers are opting for PCIe as the main interconnect inside systems, with either Ethernet or InfiniBand connecting those racks together. The ability of these technologies co-exist and complement one another gives rise to fabrics as a brand-new application for PCIe. And this is bringing the technology to the forefront of new system architectures, while refining the role of traditional interconnect solutions. PCI-based sharing of I/O endpoints is expected to make a huge difference in the multi-billion dollar embedded markets. However, Ethernet and PCIe will continue their co-existence, with Ethernet connecting systems to one another, while PCIe continuing to blossom in its role within the rack. PCIe is indeed growing up. And embedded/real-time system designers are beginning to reap the benefits of its steady maturity. Looking forward, PCIe Gen4, with speeds of up to 16Gbit/s per link, will help accelerate and expand the adoption of PCIe technology into real-time and embedded market segments while making it easier and economical to design and use. Avago Technologies San Jose, CA (408) 435-7400

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 31


IoT Welcomes Existing Products With proper care and connections, existing devices can be integrated into the Internet of Things without the expense of acquiring expensive new systems. The example of retrofitting buses into a transportation systems serves to illustrate what is possible at reasonable cost. by Gil Ben-Dov and Richard Jahnke, Total Phase

32 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

A new motorized vehicle today, whether a car, bus, truck, or heavy duty vehicle, is a “connected vehicle”. While the decision to purchase is a complex algorithm specific to your company, the purchase choice will be designed for the “Internet of Things” (IoT), therefore interoperability, connectivity and reliability are given. That doesn’t mean your existing fleet needs to be left behind. There is an additional level of complexity when your fleet contains assets that are still productive, reliable, not fully depreciated or near end-of-life. It’s not generally fiscally prudent to retire those assets or take large write-downs as you replace your fleet to modernize, but waiting until assets come off the balance sheet for a gradual replacement can result in an excessively long time to receive full project benefits. This type of project is not linear, e.g. a 50% IoT enabled fleet yields less than 50% of the total benefit; therefore, fast project completion is essential to your business. A solution that enables a retrofit your fleet with IoT capabilities offers advantages versus a partial or complete evolution of your fleet: • • • • •

Lowest investment Fastest time to project completion Simpler transition to fully IOT enabled Supports a multi-vendor fleet approach Better ROI

We recently outfitted a city bus to report location and engine parameters to a central system. The incremental cost to outfit an existing bus was more than offset by the savings in maintenance and increase in reliability. Many, if not most electronically controlled systems rely on sensors and actuators to perform their required function. In all instances within a system, signals and data travel over a protocol either serially such as USB, I2C, CAN, RS232/485 or in a parallel manner for simple on/off sensors or actuators. Having the ability to “sniff ” and capture any or all of these data streams and reprocess the data via an Internet-connected device adds new life and value to existing infrastructures (Figure 1). Today we’re all familiar with a range of connected devices, from a simple garage door opener or programmable thermostat to the Google Driverless Car or military drone. What all these applications have in common now is a dependence on human interaction or very careful preprogramming. There simply are not enough connected sensors, communicating in a common language, for these devices to be truly autonomous today but step by technological step and week by week we see the gaps being filled.

Figure 1 Interconnectivity can be more than a vehicle

Because the “things” will all be communicating over the Internet, a review of how the Internet operates will aid in understanding the current limitations in terms of real-time operation for an IoT. The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standard commonly referred to as TCP/IP is the multi-layer model used by the Internet. While each layer supports different protocols only the most commonly used ones are referenced. At the lowest level is the link layer. This is where protocols for Ethernet, Wi-Fi and PPP(modems) exist . Next is the transport layer where IP address (IPV4, IPV6, etc.) decoding takes place. Next up is the transport layer, typically TCP where packets are sent, received, error checked and retransmitted if required. TCP is also in charge of specifying the size, direction, rate and traffic congestion control aspects. There is ongoing discussion as to whether UDP, where packet receipt confirmation is not embedded, would be faster than TCP in an IoT application but TCP has a higher level of security and reliability and if only a small amount of data is required and packet confirmation is written into the data exchange then UDP may actually be slower. The top layer is the application layer where HTTP among other protocols resides and through which multiple packets may be exchanged between client and server as described by the preceding layers. This

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 33

TECHNOLOGY IN SYSTEMS IMPLEMENTING M2M FOR EXISTING DEVICES entire suite of protocol exchange software is known as the network stack. For any device to be networkable it requires hardware (PHY layer) running an OS that implements a network stack with associated connection hardware and an IP address. A network stack is available on all modern OS versions (Linux, Android, Win, Mac). The IP address is more problematic because even with IPV6 capability it can change on every boot or reconnect cycle. Fixed IP addresses have some cost associated so efficient reuse of addresses via DHCP will continue for some time. Therefore we need to make a distinction between a network enabled device (containing only the network stack with associated PHY layer and a variable IP address) and a network aware device. Network awareness requires at a minimum that a device register its current IP address with a “home” database located at a fixed IP address or more efficiently to pass along a unique identifier of itself on every network transaction so that other devices on the network can always access it. Network awareness can be further expanded to include context awareness where not only the IP address but also the capabilities of each device are recorded such that multiple devices will know and can share the capabilities of all devices on the network. In an IoT environment the “thing” may have to perform the functions of both client, to receive and act on commands or as a server to upload captured data for historical or analytical purpose as well as for device-to-device command and control.

A Real-World Example

Now let’s review a real world example of a mobile IoT network and the engineering process that brought it to life in 2012. The client was a public transport department in a large city. They requested a comparison between their existing proprietary RF-enabled vehicle-monitoring system and an Internet-enabled system. The test vehicle came straight from the fleet and only 1 day with the bus and senior engineer was allowed to determine its systems and connections. Discovered was an On-Board-Diagnostic (OBD) system running CAN/J1939 that provided engine, transmission and chassis data in standard values, a passenger counting system that provided a door number and quantities of boarding and alighting passengers as an RS485 data stream 100ms after a door closure and a suitable power connection. Other systems that could have been interfaced but were not required for the evaluation included digital signage via RS232, a 6-camera video recorder, a fare box with RS232 output, onboard video providing bus location and local advertizing to passengers, a control and monitoring system for vehicle lights and doors, and of course the desktop sized custom unit with radio interfaces to be compared against. The prototype platform selected was a BeagleBoard XM. It’s a low cost, open source SBC sporting a 1GHz 34 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

ARM Cortex-A8 with 4 USB and 1 RS232 ports in conjunction with the standard Linux kernel and Angstrom OS download for the board. Borrowed cell phones enabled by Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile and driving around the city while observing signal strength pointed to Verizon and a modem selection. Janus Communications supplies a range of FCC-approved modems for a range of carriers from GPRS through 4G. A 3G model with built-in GPS was selected. The CAN interface was the most difficult to source. There was neither the time nor budget to write a CAN software stack and off the shelf sources were expensive and unavailable for the ARM architecture. However, Total Phase offers a range of serial (CAN, USB, I2C etc.) bus analysis tools in compact low cost packages. These products can both read and/or write data on a serial bus and are supported by full GUI-based software as well as C++ library binaries. When first implemented the supplied binaries were found to be compiled for X86. A call to customer service resolved the issue. They supplied a BeagleBoard with a GCC toolchain and recompiled their library natively on the platform of choice and provided a download the next day. A DC-DC converter from RECOM Power and a small LiPo battery with charger circuit (MCP73213) supply the juice for running and a final data upload after the main power is switched off. An RS485 to USB converter from FTDI supported the passenger counter. The individual hardware elements were mounted on a perf-board and packaged in an 8x10x2 inch industrial enclosure. Now what about the network awareness mentioned previously? This is where Galixsys Networks comes in. They provide a platform-agnostic software framework with built-in network awareness for up to 4 billion devices. Each device is uniquely tracked on every network transaction. Commands and data are exchanged through service calls using a binary-over-HTTP method via standard CGI-BIN. Predefined services include send-file, get-file, ping-server and direct up/down loads to a database. User defined services pass a unique value that will trigger any imaginable code to run. Voila, a turnkey IoT network is available in a commercial package. The controlling software is reasonably straightforward. At the system level udev rules insure consistent boot enumeration of USB and serial port usage. Modem connection and receipt of an IP address from the carrier are accomplished through a Point-to-Point (PPP) options file and a chat script. Other methods for Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth are well documented in books, on the Internet or by device manufacturers. Simple C code loops, running as background threads, gather the CAN, GPS and passenger count data and maintain the current data in shared memory files. Then everything is wrapped in

Intelligent Networking

Peet to Peer Tranfers

Reflective memory multicast



expansion enclosures

Choose from a variety of options: ExpressCard, PCIe, or Thunderbolt connectivity package

1, 2, 3, 5, or 8 slots

Full-length (13.25”), mid-length (9.5” ), or short card (7.5” )

Half-height or full-height cards

36W, 180W, 400W, 550W or 1100W power supply

Flexible and Versatile: Supports any combination of Flash drives, video, lm editing, GPU’s, and other PCIe I/O cards. The CUBE, The mCUBE, and The nanoCUBE are trademarks of One Stop Systems, Inc. and the logo are trademarks of One Stop Systems, Inc. Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of the Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.



Figure 2 Galixsys’ Andromeda architecture delivers IoT to existing systems

about 700 lines of shell script that launch the processes, insure everything is running correctly and upload a data packet every 6 seconds. This shell script launches automatically after boot-up. In a mobile cell connected scenario the rate and type of data uploaded is a balance between the essential needs of the system and the cost of data charged by the provider. Now where did the data packet go and how was it presented? A server leased from SingleHop with open source MySQL database, OpenLayers mapping, Dygraph charting, a Galixsys binary and a DNS name from Go-Daddy filled the bill. A single Galixsys system call uploaded the packet and stored it in associated fields of the database. HTML code allowed specific users to login with a password and select a bus to view. Then they selected real-time or historical pages of location mapping, speed over ground, passenger count or engine health data. Over/under limits were selected for each dataset and an SMS message could be sent if values were exceeded. An automatic software update feature was added and after a week of field trials the system was delivered and installed on the bus with two “Y” cables to tap into CAN and RS485 serial data and 4 discreet connections for door position and power. The bus was returned to service within a few hours (Figure 2). The real-world evaluation continued for six months while more users were added to the website interface and additional engine parameters remotely added to the monitored data. The success of the evaluation can best be summed up by a comment made by the general manager of the division. He said, “ We’ve spent 6 years and millions of dollars developing a system and you guys have made it obsolete in 4 months just to show us your technology.” Whether you can afford to replace your entire fleet or not, consider a retrofit to deliver faster results with lower cost.

36 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

Total Phase Sunnyvale, CA (408) 850-6500 Galixsys Networks Allen, TX (972) 800-1301 RECOM Power Brooklyn, NY (718) 855-9710 Single Hop Chicago, IL (312) 386-6210

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Request your copy today. RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 37


Getting the Most from Network Function Virtualization Virtualization is by now familiar in terms of CPUs and now virtualization concepts are coming into use for improving the efficiency and throughput of network architectures. by Alan Deikman CTO, ZNYX Networks

38 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is the new technology that “virtualizes” network devices, such as firewalls, spam filters, intrusion detection systems and many other network devices that historically have been sold as a stand-alone device. NFV has generated intense interest for the same reasons virtualization has come to dominate the server market: Flexibility to scale resources to the needs of the business, eliminate the burden of managing physical systems, and the obvious savings in capital investments and operational expenses. The potential benefits are substantial enough to overcome the usual resistance to change in the data center. In addition, the market has generated a number of enticing applications typically required for a new technology to gain traction.




Software Switch

NFV Versus VMs

It may not be immediately apparent what the difference is between the technological requirements of virtual machines (VM), which are well-established in the market, and NFVs. The main difference is that NFVs tend to be more network I/O dependent than general servers that follow a client-server model. To illustrate, Figure 1 provides an overview of the network environment inside the hypervisor where the two virtual technologies are used. The VM, which is typically a web server, serves requests from several clients. It may require back-end servers for storage or databases, but in general it performs computations of some kind in the process. Many factors, such as the number of CPU cores and the complexity of the service process, determine its overall performance. When a client submits a request, or batch of requests, another request is generally not submitted until the first request is processed or times out. This process also applies to the packet aggregation of groups of clients. This workflow tends to regulate the network flow in and out of the server, and is typically mea-

SR-IOV Network Interface

Next NFV or VM

Figure 1 NFV versus VM .

sured in terms of how many requests per second or the number of simultaneous clients. In contrast, NFV will not be similarly “in control” of the volume of LAN traffic. It is intended to replace a physical box that performs the same function on behalf of other servers that may be VMs or completely separate systems. The performance of NFV is expected to exceed the performance of the servers for which it is processing network traffic (assuming that network traffic is not line-rate) because users do not want system performance limited by the firewall or other security device in front of it. Its performance will tend to be measured in metrics such as packets-per-second and flows-per-second. LAN interface performance is critical in the case of NFVs.

NFV 1: Intrusion Detection

NFV 2: Spam Filter

VM Mail Server

LAN Interface Figure 2 Two NFVs and a server

Software Switch

Software Switch

Software Switch

Hypervisor Traffic

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 39


SR-IOV Network Interface

NFV 1: Intrusion Detection

NFV 2: Spam Filter

VM Mail Server


SR-IOV LAN Interface/Switch Hypervisor Traffic

Figure 3 Two NFVs and a server with SR-IOV

Hypervisor Software Switching

By default, NFVs are built with the same software systems and structures as servers (Figure 2). In this example, we have two NFVs---a malware detection device and a spam filter—that are processing packets on behalf of a VM server (mail server). The software switches in Figure 2 are programs executed in the hypervisor environment. Software reads each incoming packet, identifies the destination MAC address, and copies it to its destination accordingly. The NFVs and the VM server interface to the software switches with special virtual drivers. A Linux kernal-based virtual machine (KVM) typically uses the virtio driver, while VMware uses vmxnet. Although this technique is very expensive in terms of processor cycles, it is has the advantage of being very easy to set up and flexible to manage. A common feature in modern VM environments is the ability to move VMs and NFVs from one physical machine to another without any loss of functionality. This may be accomplished simply by moving the VM image files, then assigning the virtual network drivers to the appropriate software switches. Standard L2 and L3 switching rules handle the rest. The more NFVs in the system, the more network-related performance limits are apparent. The number of in-system transfers of packets increases quickly with each new NFV. In the example shown in Figure 2, one packet will be transferred in and out of memory a minimum of 5 times, not counting the transfers the NFVs and the server do alone. That calculation is for a one-way trip; the return path could add another 5 memory transfers or more. The end result is that if the end server is handling 1Gbit of traffic in and 1Gbit of traffic out, the hardware may have to provide up to 10Gbit of data transfer capacity. This drag is magnified even further when a single physical server hosts dozens

40 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

of VMs.This situation has motivated the industry to develop solutions relieving the stress on the data busses of systems that implement VM and KVM technology. One approach that is gaining popularity is single root I/O virtualization (SR-IOV).

Pros and Cons of SR-IOV

General purpose processors are not well optimized for L2/ L3 data switching. Instead ASICs are typically better at this job, and have been introduced to the VM data flow by the SR-IOV industry standard. The idea is to move the task of copying and switching data packets from a software switch running in the processor to the network interface (NIC) adapter itself. When applied to the example in Figure 2, the data path structure is transformed as shown in Figure 3. Although this diagram is simplified (the presence of the hypervisor software driver has been omitted), the LAN adapter provides multiple state machines and register interfaces to simulate the presence of many LAN adapters instead of just one. The Intel 82599 10 GbE controller, for example, implements up to 64 such interfaces for each Ethernet port. Each SR-IOV Virtual Function (VF) interface can serve and be controlled by a separate SR-IOV driver instance. These can be assigned to various VMs and NFVs, as needed. The data arriving from the LAN or being transmitted to the LAN can transfer directly from buffers inside the virtual environment of the VM or NFV. Although the number of data transfers that must occur to complete the data path is reduced only slightly (because there is no need to copy into the software switch in the hypervisor), the processor does not need to look up MAC or IP addresses and move the packets. This results in significantly less load on the system.

Pass-Through Interface


NFV 1: Intrusion Detection

NFV 2: Spam Filter

Adapter Software Switch

SR-IOV LAN Adaptor/Switch

VM Mail Server

Hypervisor Traffic Figure 4 Use of Device Pass Through

As a by-product of its design, the SR-IOV adapter can also serve as a switched data path between VMs and NFVs. The data is transported out of one buffer, over the PCIe bus to the adapter’s NIC, then back over the PCIe bus to the new buffer. SR-IOV VFs are a limited resource that must be considered in the management system. This mode of operation does have its own considerations. For one thing, the PCIe bus can become overused resulting in a system-wide performance problem. And it is also true that methods of direct copy between VM structures may be faster. And finally, software management for setting up this mode of operation may be problematic, particularly when VMs and NFVs are moved from one hardware box to another. A special problem with SR-IOV arises when an NFV is expected to perform a Layer 2 networking function. All traffic on a particular LAN must be seen, not just those packets with the NFVs own MAC address. This can be achieved with an L2 switch or a network snooping device and is referred to as “promiscuous mode” operation. In some models of SR-IOV silicon, promiscuous mode to a VF (the interface used by a VM or NFV) is not supported. Performance for SR-IOV equipped VM/NFV systems is definitely better than software switched systems. Data published by various vendors, including ZNYX Networks, show that a VM with an SR-IOV pipe can get as much as 80% of the throughput as the same software application running within a hypervisor. This level of performance is not always easy to attain since it requires a fine degree of tuning. Tests indicate that carelessly installed NFVs can result in a performance loss of up to 80% -in other words an application will process only 20% of the traffic it could handle if were installed “bare metal” in the hypervisor environment.

Device Pass Through

Another approach to serving network traffic to VMs and NFVs is device pass through, which places a complete network adapter device under control of the VM and is not visible to the hypervisor. Complete LAN-to-VM memory transfers are achieved without overhead and the complexities of SR-IOV. Applications that require promiscuous mode service must use Device Pass Through if the network device is to be run in a VM. The disadvantage of device pass through is that, by definition, it allows only one VM or NFV to access the LAN channel. Most VM hosts are limited in the number of LAN adapters they have to allocate. In practice when device pass through is used, it is combined with the other methods of serving LAN traffic to VMs (Figure 4). In Figure 4, the intrusion detection NFV has full access to the LAN through its own dedicated adapter. It is configured in monitor-mode only, where it just inspects all traffic and generates alerts or reports. The NFV #2 is still acting as a filter for the mail server in the same system as before. device pass through is dedicated to a physical port on the system. So in Figure 4, there will be a connector on the outside of the box labeled “Intrusion Detection.” Similarly, each NFV that uses device pass through will have its own dedicated connector and label. This attribute dilutes the benefit of NFV, which otherwise would leave all network connections fully up to software. A solution that ZNYX Networks has found is to integrate a fully functional Ethernet switch into the NFV platform, to which all of the LAN adapters are attached. With the switch controlled by the software, any physical port on the outside of the box can be logically connected to any NFV, regardless of whether it is using device pass through or not (Figure 5).

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 41




Ethernet Switch





VM Adapter

Software Switch


Figure 5 Switching with NFV.

Optimal NFV Platform

The concept of NFVs allows them to run on the same processor systems as server VMs, and in many cases this will be the preferred mode. Ideally, it does not matter where the NFV or chain of NVFs are relative to the servers, but in practice it is pretty clear that available LAN bandwidth will always be a factor. Large-scale NFV installations benefit from platforms with the features in Table 1. Simple in concept and with many benefits, there is little question that NFV is the next big thing in the data center. The technology is not without its growing pains but these are being overcome by both open standards and proprietary efforts on every front. For the current year, the recommendation is to use platforms that offer plenty of discrete LAN interfaces to match the processor capabilities, and to use SR-IOV and device pass through as much as possible. ZNYX Networks Fremont, CA (800) 724-0911

FEATURE Large Processor Core Count

BENEFIT TO NFV Ability to dedicate greater processor resources to the NFV. This is the same as it is for server VMs.

Fastest Memory Systems

NFVs typically are not as memory intensive as servers but do have buffering needs and the ability to look up data in hash tables quickly. DRAM with higher clock speeds are desirable.

Largest Number of LAN Adapters Possible

More adapters provide greater opportunity to use Pass-Through mode to NFVs.

SR-IOV Capability

Assigning VFs to NFVs can result in less switching burden on the processor.

Flexible Ethernet Switching

An Ethernet switch integrated into the platform can be used to route traffic to NFVs without utilizing software-operated switches.

Table 1

42 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014



Network Appliance with Software Toolkits Enhances DPI/Security Performance A new 1U/2U rackmount network appliance uses fourth generation Intel processor Xeon E3-1200 v3 and the C226 Chipset. The CSA-5200 Series from Adlink supports Adlink’s networking software package, PacketManager, which is targeted for use in unified threat management (UTM), next-generation firewall (NGFW), deep packet inspection (DPI) and other network security applications. The CSA-5200/5100 Series network appliance is an Adlink Application Ready Intelligent Platform (ARIP) designed specifically for network communications with full support for the Adlink PacketManager, a software package that includes Control Plane configuration tools and Data Plane packet processing acceleration capabilities. Empowered by the Adlink PacketManager, the CSA-5200/5100 Series brings a breakthrough in DPI/ security performance and packet processing, with up to 11 times faster Layer 3 forwarding performance and 4 times faster DPI performance compared to that of native Linux. The CSA-5200/5100 Series features high scalability through four expansion slots for Network Interface Modules (NIM), with a choice of GbE, SFP and SFP+ ports; four 2.5”/3.5” SATA drive bays on the 2U model (CSA-5200); and one 2.5” SATA drive bay plus two mSATA SSD slots on the 1U model (CSA-5100). Flexible storage support is provided in the form of SATADOM and CFast slots, and one PCIe slot is available for a hardware accelerator card to offload processor-intensive security tasks. ADLINK Technology San Jose, CA (408) 360-0200

3U Open VPX VITA 62 Compliant Power Supply with Five Outputs and 550 Watts A VITA 62 power supply is designed to support the rigors of mission critical airborne, shipboard, vehicle and mobile VPX applications, as well as high-end industrial applications. The VPXtra 500M 3U COTS DC to DC power unit from Behlman Electronics is a rugged, highly reliable, conduction cooled, switch mode unit. It is VITA 62, Open VPX compliant, and delivers up to 550 Watts of DC power via six outputs. The 12V, 3.3V, and 5V main outputs can be paralleled for higher power. The VPXtra 500M can accept 18 to 36 VDC input, compliant with MIL-STD-704, and can supply a high-power DC output. VPXtra 500M power supplies have no minimum load requirement and have overvoltage and short circuit protection, as well as over current and thermal protection. Designed and manufactured with Xtra-Cooling, Xtra-Reliable Design and Xtra-Rugged Construction, the Behlman VPXtra 500M is your best choice for Open VPX system designs when 3U and VITA Compliance are essential. The VPXtra 1500CS power supply is a rugged, highly-reliable, conduction cooled, switch mode COTS AC-to-DC unit for highend industrial and military applications. It is VITA 62, Open VPX compliant, and delivers 1500 Watts of 33 VDC power from a 115/200 VAC, 3-phase input, IAW MIL-STD-704, compliant with CE101 and MIL-STD-1399. It also provides short circuit protection, over current and thermal protection, and has no minimum load requirement. Behlman Electronics Hauppauge, NY (631) 435-0410

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 43


Real-Time Operating System Evaluation Kit Now Available for Altera SoC

eSOL has announced that the eT-Kernel Evaluation Kit is now available for the Altera Cyclon V SoC, which integrates the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor with the FPGA fabric systems. The Evaluation Kit features all the required base software for application development, including eSOL’s eT-Kernel Multi-Core Edition real-time operating system (RTOS), tightly integrated with the eBinder Integrated Development Environment (IDE), middleware components, and device drivers. With the free 30-day evaluation license, developers can easily and quickly evaluate the performance and quality of Cyclone V SoC and eT-Kernel. eT-Kernel facilitates the reuse of the software assets developed for uITRON, the most popular RTOS in Japan and Asian countries, because of its inheritance functions and architecture. Runtime software in the eT-Kernel/Cyclone V SoC Evaluation Kit includes dedicated device drivers for on-chip controllers on the Cyclone V SoC Development Board including the SD Memory Card, USB host, and Ethernet controllers, plus middleware components including file systems, network protocol stacks, and a USB host stack. The eBinder IDE offers a wide variety of development tools, including ARM’s genuine compiler. These tools enable developers to quickly verify the behavior and performance of a target sample application running on Cyclone V SoC. eBinder assists in efficient application development in less time at lower cost for Cyclone V SoC through its multi-programming tools, which are important in developing software on multi-core processors. It also has useful functions for debug and analysis of complex multi-core systems. eSOL has been working closely with Altera through technical liaisons and exchanging information on the product roadmap. eSOL is committed to strongly support Altera SoC-based software developers by utilizing their expertise in real-time operating systems, and their technical know-how based on extensive experience and deep knowledge of ARM processors. eSOL, Tokyo, Japan, +81-3-5365-1560

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Mil/COTS Supply Delivers 1,000 Watts at -40C

A new ruggedized Mil/COTS modular power supply is designed to deliver 1000W at -40°C. Designed for use in harsh operating environments that do not require -55C operation, the XFN powerPac from Excelsys Technologies is conformal-coated to withstand extremes in shock and vibration to MIL-STD-810G levels. It also carries full safety agency approvals including UL 606950 and is EMC characterized to MIL-STD-461F. The XFN powerPac broadens Excelsys full line of XF power supplies that provide up to 1000 W of power in a compact, 1U x 268 mm x127 mm package. Employing an innovative plugand-play architecture, XF power supplies accommodate up to six Excelsys powerMod output modules, which allow users to rapidly configure a custom power solution. Standard features in the series include 47-440Hz input frequency, 1.5 V to 58 V standard output voltages, and individual output control. They are completely field-configurable with an option to factory fix. All outputs are fully floating to allow for series/parallel connection of multiple outputs for non-standard voltages or for higher-output-current paralleling of powerPacs for increased system power and efficiency. All models feature overvoltage, over temperature and overcurrent protection, provide a 5V/250mA bias standby voltage, individual output control of every output module, a market-leading five-year warranty and are SEMI F47 compliant. Prices for configured units range from $549.00 to $778.00 in OEM quantities. Excelsys Technologies Rockwall, TX (972) 771-4544

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Platform to Fast-Track ARM-Based IoT Development

A suite of target-specific, integrated development software delivers pre-ported and fully integrated tools and components for use on specific development boards. Recognizing ARM’s market leadership in the IoT space, Express Logic has tailored its initial X-Ware Platform offerings to the ARM developer community. By integrating all its X-Ware components (ThreadX, NetX, USBX, FileX, GUIX, and TraceX) for use on specific targets, Express Logic’s X-Ware Platform simplifies and accelerates IoT development for products aimed at markets such as home automation, smart metering, industrial control, medical devices, and more. IoT-targeted products typically require an RTOS, network connectivity, graphics displays, a file system, and sometimes USB or other middleware components. Express Logic’s X-Ware Platform delivers all the software needed by these products in a fully integrated, ready-to-use form. Much more than just an RTOS kernel, X-Ware Platform also features IPv4/IPv6 TCP/ IP, USB host/device, GUI, and file system software libraries, including device drivers, readily accessible from applications via a simple, intuitive API. Customers simply choose the X-Ware Platform combination of RTOS and middleware most suited for their particular application. X-Ware Platform is designed to work with IAR’s Embedded Workbench IDE on leading ARM-based MPU/MCU development boards, such as the Renesas Cortex-A9, RZ/A1-based RSK. X-Ware Platform deliver all of the software technologies required to create real-time, networked, connected, HMI-driven products—all integrated and optimized for high performance— so that developers can focus on their domain expertise. By custom-constructing each X-Ware Platform for specific development boards, Express Logic saves OEMs the engineering development time needed to produce fully supportable, fully integrated, easy-to-use IoT systems. Express Logic’s board-specific X-Ware Platform includes support for peripherals such as LCD touchscreens, Ethernet MAC, USB host or device controllers, and SD card media. All are supported with integrated stacks and drivers, ready to use out of the box. X-Ware Platform is licensed at prices starting at $12,500 with no per-unit royalties. Pre-license evaluation is easy and free. Reference projects can be downloaded and run on a developer’s hardware of choice, free of charge. Full source evaluation licenses are available free of charge from Express Logic. Please consult Express Logic for further information. Express Logic San Diego, CA (858) 613-6640

Outdoor Digital Signage Player for Harsh Environment Applications An outdoor digital signage player integrates an R-452L APU to deliver high processing performance coupled with discrete-class Radeon HD 7600 graphics performance. Designed for outdoor and automotive digital signage applications, the rugged and compact SI-32-N from IBase Technology is built to withstand vibration and silently operate with a wide voltage input range of 12V~24V. The SI-32-N comes with a compact chassis that works as a passive cooler for better system reliability. Supporting an A70M chipset, the fanless media player can have two independent displays with full 1080p HD content through two types of connectors - a Hybrid DVI (VGA/DVI/HDMI with audio) and a dual-link DVI-I connector. To facilitate installation by system integrators, SI-32-N has wall-mounting holes and optional mounting brackets. It also supports two DDR3 SO-DIMM sockets, two Gigabit Ethernets and three USB 3.0 ports. Two mini PCI-E sockets on board help users to add WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G or TV tuner functions based on their needs. The unit is fully compatible with world-class signage software providers such as SCALA, DISE, Omnivex, YCD, and Stinova. Features include iSMART - for EuP/ErP power saving, auto-scheduler and power resume, Dual independent 1080p playback. The unit has an R-Series Quad-Core R-452L/Dual-Core R-260H APU, up to 19W with 2x DDR3 1600MHz SO-DIMM, for a maximum of 8GB memory. It incorporates a Radeon HD 7600G/7500G GPU and has Dual Mini PCI-E(x1) slots for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G or TV tuner options. IBASE Technology Taipei, Taiwan 886-2-26557588

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 45

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Four 6U System Health Monitors and two Rear Transition Modules for VME and VPX

System Combines COM Express CPU Module, Dual 10 GbE Ethernet and Dual XMC I/O Modules A user-customizable, turnkey embedded instrument includes a full Windows/Linux PC and supports a wide assortment of ultimate-performance XMC modules. With its modular I/O, scalable performance, and easy to use PC architecture, the ePCÂŹDuo from Innovative Integration reduces time-to-market while providing the performance you need. The ePC-Duo raises the bar by offering powerful solutions within the embedded instrumentation market as well as mobile instrumentation and distributed data acquisition. Using the ePC Duo in Distributed Data Acquisition puts the ePC-Duo at the data source and reduces system errors and complexity. Optional GPS-synchronized timing, triggering and sample control is available for remote I/O. With limitless expansion via multiple nodes and up to 4 TB for data logging, the unit also is uniquely customizable. It provides dual XMC sites for I/O, along with user programmable Xilinx FPGA for I/O interfaces, triggering and timing control and USB ports. Analog I/O ranges from complex 4 GSPS IF receivers down to 12-channel, 200 KSPS servo controllers providing a range of adopability. The ePCDuo is capable of remote or local operation. Continuous data streaming is available up to 2000MByte/s (quad local SSDs or dual 10 GbE LAN). Optional, stand-alone, autonomous operation with GPS or network -synchronized sampling is available. Rugged SSD boot drive support in a compact, rugged 250x195mm footprint that is ready for embedded operation. And it is capable of 8-36V DC-Only Operation , which is perfect for portable wireless surveillance, radar/lidar, high-speed data. Innovative Integration Simi Valley, CA (805) 578-4260

46 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

A family of six new 6U products includes two VME System Health Monitors, two 6U VPX System Health Monitors, and a Rear Transition Module (RTM) for each. The System Health Monitors feature a unique, proprietary GUI; Ethernet, USB and/or RS 232 interfaces; set-up; data logging; field upgradable firmware; and data password protection. VME HMC-A 6U System Health Monitors have 20 analog sensors (4 onboard and 16 external), plus 8 digital sensors. Voltage monitoring accepts 8 inputs (+3.3 VDC, +5 VDC, +12 VDC, and -12 VDC, plus four user-defined positive voltages from 0VDC to +28 VDC. This unit provides dramatically expanded graphical user interfaces that enable design teams to quickly and easily establish a broad range of operating parameters. VME HMC-B 6U System Health Monitors have 9 analog sensors (1 onboard and 8 external) plus 8 digital sensors. Voltage monitoring accepts 4 inputs (+3.3 VDC, +5 VDC, +12 VDC, -12 VDC). This unit provides dramatically expanded graphical user interfaces that enable design teams to quickly and easily establish a broad range of operating parameters. VPX HMC-A 6U System Health Monitors have 20 analog sensors (4 onboard and 16 external), plus 8 digital sensors. Voltage monitoring accepts 8 inputs (+3.3 VDC, +5 VDC, +12 VDC, and -12 VDC, plus four user-defined positive voltages from 0 VDC to +28 VDC). This unit provides dramatically expanded graphical user interfaces that enable design teams to quickly and easily establish a broad range of operating parameters. VPX HMC-B 6U System Health Monitors have 9 analog sensors (1 onboard and 8 external) plus 8 digital sensors. Voltage monitoring accepts 4 inputs (+3.3 VDC, +5 VDC, +12 VDC, -12 VDC). VME 6U Rear Transition Module is designed as a companion board for the VME versions of Orbit HMC-A Health Monitors. It can also be used with any VME card to provide rear I/O in any VME system. Direct mapping from the P0 and P2 connectors to the RTM connectors allows signals to be brought off the backplane to interface to external equipment. VPX 6U Rear Transition Module is designed as a companion module for the VPX versions of Orbit HMC-A Health Monitors. It can also be used to provide rear I/O to any VPX card in any VPX system. MULTI-GIG RT-2 connectors to D Sub connectors allow signals to be brought off the backplane and interface within other system components, as well as to external equipment. Both Orbit RTMs have locking extractors that provide secure connections even in rugged, high vibration environments. Orbit Electronics Group, Haupage, NY. (866) 309-8085 •


Fabric Mapping Modules Automate Optimization of OpenVPX Backplane Topologies A line of newly patented fabric mapping modules connector-less backplane micro-overlays simplifies and automates the optimization of backplane topologies in compliance with OpenVPX profiles. The fabric mapping modules (FMMs) from Dawn VME Products use BGA substrate technology as a micro-overlay, similar in function to VME backplane overlays except FMMs can be used on VPX backplanes and are tuned for high-speed signal transmission. Fabric Mapping Modules interface a PC- based differential pair matrix with compatible Dawn backplanes, so inter-slot communications can be customized to meet unique system requirements. Fabric Mapping Modules reduce the transmission line impedance variations and “stubs” associated with connector-based interfaces by connecting directly to the main backplane via a solder interface. This advanced technique improves the signal integrity between system cards beyond the requirements of the PCI Express Gen 3, Serial Rapid I/O, and 10Gbit (XAUI) Ethernet standards. The flexibility offered by the wide range of OpenVPX profiles allows designers to optimize the communication topology between slots within a system’s backplane, delivering tremendous improvements in the performance of real-time applications. Slots can be designed to accept the best I/O modules for a specific application and the number of those slots also matched to application needs. Similarly, the number of processing modules is set to meet the performance requirements, and then the connections between all these modules are designed to match the applications processing style and deliver maximum sensor processing throughput. However, implementing this level of optimized topology can be a complex and time-consuming task, constrained by a number of factors. Fabric Mapping Modules connect to the backplane and modify its topology, making it more flexible. They provides quickturn backplane customization, thus eliminating interconnect conflicts. Pricing to implement a standard FMM solution using in-stock FMMs is $800.00 to $1,000.00 per backplane. Dawn VME Products, Fremont, CA (510) 657-4444 •

Bluetooth Module for Audio Features TrueWireless technology and True Audio Data Protocol. A new family of Bluetooth modules supports Bluetooth BLE V3.0 and Classic standards. The RB540 series from Radicom Researh features a Class 1 Bluetooth data with simultaneous audio module for system integrators. The RB540 comes complete with DSP, stereo CODEC, flash memory and on board antenna. The module offers superior audio quality, power consumption and radio performance making it suitable for high quality Bluetooth headset designs and most stereo and mono audio applications. With Class 1 radio, transmission power up to 20dBm, the RB540 series can connect to other Bluetooth devices such as MP3/MD/CD players, mobile phones, and desktop or notebook computers, PDA etc., in range up to 650 ft. (200 meters). The RB540 series combines Bluetooth Basic Rate (BT 3.0) technology to provide increased throughput, reduced battery consumption and improved security. It also provides faster pairing and allows superior performance in the presence of interference from 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless devices and other 2.4GHz radios. The RB540 series has on board flash memory available to upgrade the module’s firmware, modify parameters, or implement custom features. Radicom is capable to modify the firmware to meet ODM / OEM requirements and create custom Bluetooth functionality to meet OEM’s specific needs. TrueWirelss (TWS) technology allows for streaming A2DP music on the master device which then relays the audio stream to a slave device. It also supports sending data or command to control master and slave through a smart phone or tablet. With Radicom Research’s proprietary True Audio Data (TAD) protocol, the RB540 allows smart phones to transmit data to control devices during music streaming without affecting the audio signal. It supports audio A2DP, handset, hands-free wireless profiles. Pricing starts at US $17.00 each in quantity of 1000 pieces with bulk discounts available. Radicom Research, San Jose, CA 408.383.9006 •

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 47


New Raspberry Pi Adds Connectivity and Power Features

A new Raspberry Pi B+ board, marks the first significant change to the multi-million selling credit card-sized computer, and is available to buy immediately through element14. Priced at $35, the new board offers more sensors and accessories than ever before, enabling users to build bigger and better projects. Advanced power management and enhanced connectivity make it possible to power four USB accessories such as a 2.5 inch hard drive through the device. Up to 1.2A can be delivered to the USB ports to connect power-hungry devices and accessories without needing mains power or an external USB hub. Featuring a 40-pin extended GPIO, even more sensors, connectors and expansion boards can be added to the board, allowing users to increase the complexity of their Raspberry Pi projects. The first 26 pins remain identical to the original Raspberry Pi Model B for 100% backward compatibility. The Raspberry Pi B+ is based on the same Broadcom BCM2835 Chipset and 512MB of RAM as the previous model. It is powered by micro USB with AV connections through either HDMI or a new four-pole connector replacing the existing analogue audio and composite video ports. The SD card slot has been replaced with a micro-SD, tidying up the board design and helping to protect the card from damage. The B+ board also now uses less power (600mA) than the Model B Board (750mA) when running. Since its launch in February 2012 over three million Raspberry Pi boards have been sold and the element14 Community has become one of the leading websites for discussion and collaboration around Raspberry Pi projects and developments. With over 250,000 registered users the element14 Community is the largest online community for design engineers to share ideas, knowledge and solve challenges. element14 Community raspberry-pi

48 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

HD/SD USB Audio/Video Encoder Captures Video from Various HD and SD Sources A versatile USB audio/video encoder supports multiple analog and digital input formats. The Model 2263S from Sensoray captures HD or SD video and simultaneously sends a compressed and an uncompressed (preview) stream to the host. Supported video inputs include DVI, component (with a component to DVI-I adapter, not included) and composite. Audio is optionally captured from analog line input, compressed and multiplexed into transport stream. It is well-suited for uncompromising capture of multiple video sources, such as video pipeline inspection, radar and sonar processing, remote video surveillance and traffic monitoring. The Model 2263S is designed as a USB Video Class (UVC) device, which means it does not require a device-specific driver. It is controlled using a video API (DirectShow or Video4Linux). Sensoray provides Software Development Kits that speed up application development for several operating systems. A fully functional demo application illustrates the capabilities and serves as a good starting point for Custom Development. The device implements efficient H.264 video compression. The resulting data is output as an MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS), or in MP4 or AVI file formats. Audio compression is performed using AAC-LC. High precision hardware timestamps used for multiplexing aid in keeping audio and video data in sync. MJPEG compression is supported for snapshots and AVI streams. Sensoray Tigard, OR (503) 684-8005

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Standard semiconductor vendor and RTOS features

Enhanced workflow including device-specific support and debug/trace extensions

Support for industry standard adaptors including Open OCD/CMSIS-DAP


3rd Party Plug-ins GNU GDB Debugger

Eclipse Platform SOMNIUM® Plug-ins


.c & cxx


SOMNIUM® Re-sequencing Linker

GNU Assembler


SOMNIUM® Libraries

Product quality latest stable version with SOMNIUM® device-specific tuning

Support & optimization for leading RTOS

Standard APIs highly optimized for performance and size

Replaces GNU LD with patent pending re-sequencing optimizations

Device-Aware Software Development Environment Optimizes Code Size A complete software development environment for ARM Cortex-based embedded systems. Unlike other solutions currently available, Somnium’s DRT environment uses a patent-pending resequencing technology that provides much greater scope for optimization - resulting in shorter development times, improved performance characteristics and lower associated costs. Early tests have shown that code size reductions of over 20% can be achieved without any impact on performance. Somnium DRT takes into account not only the processor element of the device but also its underlying memory system. Thus every element of the code generation flow is fully aware of the target device in its entirety, resulting in optimizations beyond those possible with traditional tools and techniques. As it is fully automated, human intervention is not required. There is therefore no need for profiler feedback or source code changes. The result is smaller, faster, more efficient and less power-hungry designs, produced on time and with less programmer effort. The programmer can proceed in his or her normal way and Somnium takes care of the underlying optimization. Embedded systems developers must ensure that the software they produce is completed on schedule and within budget, while simultaneously making it as streamlined as possible and maximizing its effectiveness. Somnium DRT differentiates itself from traditional software development tools via its patent pending device-aware resequencing optimizations. These analyze the whole program and identify all instruction and data sequences, as well as the interactions occurring between them and the hardware. Because this process takes place after existing compilers have applied their optimization techniques, it builds upon traditional compiler optimizations, and integrates easily into code generation flows without the need for modifications. Somnium Chepstow, UK +44 79 525 145

COM Express Mini Module Supports ECC A COM Express Mini Type 10 module now offers the security of error correction code (ECC). The new conga-MA3E from congatec, a follow on from the conga-MA3, is based on the Intel Atom E3800 series of processors. Unlike standard RAM modules, ECC modules feature additional functions to check the data flow and adjust it as necessary in order to correct errors. The correction mode of this memory type can detect and correct both single and double bit errors. It therefore differs significantly from the so-called “parity bit,” where errors can be detected but not corrected. Both the conga-MA3 and the conga-MA3E feature the latest Intel Atom single chip design, an L2 cache able to be shared by multiple cores, and a much faster Intel HD graphics engine than the previous generation. Other highlights of the modules include an ultra-dense design, onboard soldered DDR3L memory (ECC for the conga-MA3E) with support for up to 8GBytes, and an onboard MLC or SLC eMMC SSD. Both modules support commercial and industrial temperature rated versions ranging from the entry-level single-core to the quad-core Intel Atom E3845 with 1.91 GHz and 10 watts maximum power consumption. The eMMC drive supports an integrated wear levelling feature for high data security. The improved graphics supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.2, OpenCL 1.2 and high-performance, flexible hardware to decode multiple high-resolution full HD videos in parallel. Up to 2,560 x 1,600 pixels with DisplayPort and 1,920 x 1,200 pixels with HDMI are natively supported in the processor. It is possible to connect up to two independent display interfaces, including one via a 24-bit LVDS output. Thanks to native USB 3.0 support, the modules achieve fast data transmission with low power consumption. A total of six USB 2.0 ports are provided plus one USB 3.0 Super Speed port. Four 5 Gb/s PCI Express 2.0 lanes and two SATA interfaces operating up to 3 Gb/s enable fast and flexible system extensions. The Intel Gigabit Ethernet Controller I210 helps with software compatibility. ACPI 5.0, I2C bus, LPC bus for easy integration of legacy I/O interfaces and Intel High Definition Audio complete the feature set. Congatec, San Diego, CA (858) 457-2600.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014 | 49


Company...........................................................................Page................................................................................Website Acromag.................................................................................................................27......................................................................................... Commell.................................................................................................................. congatec, Diamond Systems Dolphin................................................................................................................... 36.................................................................................... Embedded World.............................................................................................. 15......................................................................... High Assurance Systems.......................................................................... 51................................................................................... Intelligent Systems Source.......................................................................37................................................. Interface Lauterbach Development Men Micro, Inc................................................................................................ 19. MSC Embedded Inc........................................................................................4........................................................................... One Stop Systems......................................................................................52 Super Micro Computers, Inc..................................................................... 2.................................................................................... Trenton Systems................................................................................................5......................................................................... RTC Products Gallery....................................................................................33....................................................................................................................................... RTC (Issn#1092-1524) magazine is published monthly at 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 150, 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. 150, San Clemente, CA 92673.

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50 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2014

Embedded and IoT Engineering is Hard – Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Building great embedded devices, including for the Internet of Things, is hard. What about security? Will your device meet performance, reliability, and cost requirements? Do you need an operating system, networking, a file system, a UI, or remote management?

transparent and frequent communication, and deliver on time and within budget.

Your technical and business requirements are the start. We provide turnkey solutions or work with your engineers. We execute using agile development methods, with

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Call for a no-cost consultation to accelerate getting your brilliant idea to market!

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RTC Magazine  

December 2014

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