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Growing Software Content Pushes for Automotive Standards Open Source: Great Promise for the Internet of Things Digital Signage Opens New Opportunities The Magazine of Record for the Embedded Computer Industry

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The Magazine of Record for the Embedded Computing Industry




As Embedded Systems Permeate Automobiles, Safety and Standards Take Center Stage by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief




14 Defining “High Performance Embedded Computing”

Defining “High Performance Embedded Computing by Colin Cureton and Mitch Furman, Advanced Micro Devices


Platforms for High-end Embedded Software Development by John Carbone, Express Logic






The Union of Desktop, Mobile and Embedded is On the Way–Just Not Here Yet

INDUSTRY INSIDER Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders

Open Source and the Internet of Things: Roles, Reach and Rationale for Deploying OSS by Bill Weinberg, Black Duck Software



Doing Digital Signage Right... the First Time by Robert White, Multi-Media Solutions


Your Digital Chariot by Mark Stross, ANC Sports Enterprises


Doing Digital Signage Right... the First Time RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 3


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The Union of Desktop, Mobile and Embedded is On the Way—Just Not Here Yet by Tom Williams, Editor-In-Chief

It has been fascinating to watch the development of what we call “embedded systems” over the years. For one thing, it is impossible to single out one thing and call it the first embedded system, but it is clear that it could not have happened before the advent of the microprocessor The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004, which was built into a calculator. But then it is hard to trace exactly where it went from there. One of the first personal computers that appeared around 1975 or 1976 was the MITS Altair 8800, which I sold in a surplus electronics store in St. Louis. It was built around the Intel 8080 (the phone number for Intel headquarters still ends in 8080), an 8-bit, 2MHz device. The Altiar was available in kit form for hobbyists so in addition to a CPU board, you could select memory boards and eventually 8-inch drive controllers, etc. The first version of MITS basic, which was soon to become Microsoft Basic and launch that company into the future, was loaded from paper tape from a Model 33 Teletype machine. One option was something called a “process control board,” which sported a number of relays you could program to turn on and off in response to a set of inputs. Definitely not real time, but it pointed the way toward what was to come. This is not going to be a history of embedded computing but I want to mention these early things in order to look at a change that is happening today as we see what had split into the desktop and the embedded world apparently merging to some extent into a new, more integrated consumer experience. As everyone

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knows, personal computing quickly went from a thing for hobbyists and deep techies to an office necessity and another branch went into industrial applications and all manner of devices where I like to say the definition of embedded was “hiding the computer behind its own usefulness.” These lines of development certainly continue today. But now something else is happening; another layer of usage is emerging that is merging the embedded world to the personal computer world via a mobile user experience. Through a combination of the Internet with a set of intuitive interfaces that shield the user from technical details, the use of computer intelligence is becoming a pervasive world that people take with them throughout their daily lives. Not only is the desktop merging with the tablet and smartphone; there is the definite possibility of bringing networks of embedded devices into the consumer user experience as well. However, this transition is not yet complete because there is still no over-arching user environment to bring it all together. People now have access to the Internet and all its possible connectivity, including the vast and growing Internet of Things, through a range of devices. There is, of course, the desktop, which includes the laptop. The laptop is, however, only somewhat awkwardly mobile and both desktop and laptop still predominately use the keyboard and mouse. For true mobility, there are the tablet and the smartphone, which are touch-oriented and a real keyboard, while useable, introduces a degree of awkwardness of its own. In between there is the “two-in-one” device, which

attempts to let the user switch between a keyboard/laptop and a touch tablet. We all know how much fun it is to extensively use a “keyboard” on a smartphone. As far as the actual user environment goes, the most unified experience is, of course, offered by the Apple world. However, a large number of users whose home and office environment is centered on Windows are presently faced with a somewhat split experience. The desktop/ laptop environment may be Windows, but on the mobile side they are faced with a choice between Android and iOS. Both these environments are quite rich in their own right, but they do not allow for a smoothly integrated user experience across all devices that a user may have. There are signs that Microsoft may be aiming to change all that with the upcoming release of Windows 10. Rumors are that it will come in two versions atop a common code base. One will be desktop-oriented and the other touch screen-oriented for tablets and smartphones. If such a development results in a smoothly unified user experience, it could spell trouble for Android in the mobile market. Anyone who has struggled to manage a Word document under an Android app will probably agree that the experience is less than optimal. The initial attempt at Windows 8 on tablets and phones was also difficult. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft has created an overarching user experience that can unite these worlds and also bring in the Internet of Things. If they do pull it off, it could be a very major development indeed.


MIPI Alliance Introduces Sensor Interface Spec for Mobile and Embedded Systems The MIPI Alliance, an international organization that develops interface specifications for mobile and mobile-influenced industries, has introduced a sensor interface specification for mobile, mobile-influenced and embedded systems applications. The new specification, named MIPI I3C (or MIPI i3c), was developed with the participation of vendors from across the sensor and mobile ecosystems. The name MIPI SenseWire will be used to describe the application of I3C in mobile devices and the use of the I3C interface for mobile devices connecting to a set of sensors, directly or indirectly. The proliferation of sensors has created significant challenges to product designers. The challenges are particularly demanding in the handset market, where smartphones often require as many as 10 sensors and more than 20 signals. Yet as these requirements continue to grow, phone architectures can’t scale to deliver the design, cost and performance efficiencies manufacturers need to add more sensors to their products. In general, SenseWire incorporates and unifies key attributes of I2C and SPI while improving the capabilities and performance of each approach with a comprehensive, scalable interface and architecture. The specification also anticipates sensor interface architectures that mobile, mobile-influenced, and embedded-systems industries will need in the future. The specification should make it easier for system designers to connect and manage sensors in a device, improve time to market for these implementations and enable a greater number of sensors to operate in a device while minimizing power consumption and reducing component and implementation costs. It will also help manufacturers combine multiple sensors from different vendors to enable new features while supporting longer battery life. The technical features of the MIPI I3C specification include a two-pin interface that is backward compatible with the I2C standard and provides data throughput capabilities comparable to SPI. The technical attributes explain the name for the specification, MIPI I3C, which is derived from its compatibility with I2C. The new technology can facilitate in-band interrupts within the 2-wire interface, which drastically reduces device pin count and signal paths, and facilitates incorporation of more sensors in a device. On standard CMOS I/O, it supports a minimum data rate of 10 Mbit/s with options for higher performance high-data-rate (HDR) modes, offering a substantial leap in performance and power efficiency compared to existing options. It also offers multimaster support, dynamic addressing, command-code compatibility and a uniform approach for advanced power management features, such as sleep mode.

ETSI publishes European Standards for Intelligent Transport Systems The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published two European Standards for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS): the specification of Cooperative Awareness Basic Service - EN 302 637-2, and the specification of Decentralized Environmental Notification Basic Service - EN 302 637-3. They define the message sets needed for running Cooperative ITS safety critical applications. The Cooperative Awareness Service enables the exchange of information between road users and roadside infrastructure, providing each other’s position, dynamics and attributes. Road users may be cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles or even pedestrians while roadside infrastructure equipment includes road signs, traffic lights or barriers and gates. Awareness of each other is the basis for several road safety and traffic efficiency applications. This is achieved by regular exchange of information from vehicle to vehicle (V2V), and between vehicles and road side infrastructure (V2I and I2V) based on wireless networks. EN 302 637-2 specifies the syntax and semantics of the Cooperative Awareness Message (CAM) and provides detailed specifications on the message handling. EN 302 637-3 defines the Decentralized Environmental Notification (DEN) Basic Service that supports road hazard warning. The Decentralized Environmental Notification Message (DENM) contains information related to a road hazard or an abnormal traffic condition, including its type and position. Typically for an ITS application, a message is disseminated to ITS stations that are located within a geographic area through direct vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, in order to alert road users of a detected and potentially dangerous event. At the receiving side, the message is processed and the application may present the information to the driver if it is assessed to be relevant. The driver is then able to take appropriate action to react to the situation accordingly. RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 7


Kontron Launches New IoT Microsite Kontron provides a comprehensive overview of the many and varied segments of the “Internet of Things” at its new website, Visitors can quickly get an overview of the areas and products in which Kontron is engaged in the IoT. The resulting potential savings that companies can achieve, while also increasing sales, are graphically illustrated. “The Internet of Things promises in future to network people with billions of smart devices, in order to exploit the data generated in this way to optimum effect. On our new website we illustrate these possibilities, as well as the benefits for companies. In a separate news section ‘Stay Connected’, we also inform the user about important coming developments or events on this topic,” says Daniel Piper, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at Kontron. Since its very beginnings, the Internet has been connecting computers worldwide, resulting in a continuous exchange of data between computers, servers, workstations and PCs, as well as embedded-computers. Current-day IT products have integrated microcontrollers and systems-on-chips (SoCs) and already provide information automatically to host networks.

Green Hills and MEN Mikro Form Partnership to Develop PreCertified Safety Platforms Green Hills Software and MEN Mikro Elektronik have announced a partnership to develop pre-certified safety platforms for applications in the industrial and transportation sectors. This cooperation will enable customers to focus on the development of their own applications, confident in the knowledge that they can achieve required safety certifications while minimizing risk and cost. 8 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

The vision for the next stage of development is the complete networking of the environment, including data collection and exchange with individuals – known as the “Internet of Things”. According to some experts, a billion devices will be networked with the IoT by 2025. “At the moment, the market is still heavily fragmented as a result of incompatible systems. IoT concepts such as predictive maintenance, big data and analytics require an integrated approach. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of cooperation between hardware and software suppliers, service providers and communication infrastructure providers,” says Jens Wiegand, CTO of Kontron. On its new microsite, Kontron shows how these hurdles can be overcome and how the “Internet of Things” is structured. The user is guided through the world of the “Internet of Things” with the aid of clear topic areas. Following an introduction to the term and an IoT product overview from Kontron, the visitor can explore the various layers of the IoT and networking, as well as the associated security measures and encryption methods employed in the exchange of data. Next, the benefits for companies are illustrated. The processes optimizations facilitated by the IoT are reflected, for example, in the reduced maintenance costs or potential energy savings which could generate enormous gains for companies over many years. The new website is rounded off by a news section, including contact details of the experts at Kontron and information about events.

Under the agreement, the Green Hills European Technical Centre in The Netherlands will provide a range of services, from assisting customers through the industrial safety (IEC 61508) and transportation (EN 50128) certification process to offering a complete, turn-key safety board support package (BSP) service. Green Hills Software has a unique and unmatched safety and security pedigree that includes the completion of many certified projects to IEC 61508 SIL 3 (industrial), EN 50128 SWSIL 4 (railway), EAL 6+ High Robustness (security), DO-178B Level A (avionics), ISO 26262 ASIL D (automotive) and FDA Class III (medical) over a period of more than a decade. By adopting Green Hills Software’s safety-certified Integrity RTOS, developers are able to run applications containing software of multiple levels of safety-criticality (and non-critical software) concurrently

on a single processor. The Integrity secure separation kernel architecture enables consolidation of functions on a single processor that, until now, may have been implemented with a more costly hardware design using physical separation. System consolidation offers a lower production cost and a better energy footprint. MEN Mikro Elektronik’s computer solutions are used in harsh mission- and safety-critical environments found in the transportation (rail, road, air, sea) and industrial (automation, power & energy, medical) markets. MEN provides its customers advice and support as well as system design, configuration and environmental qualification in accordance with industry standards. The company’s core competencies encompass ARM, Power, and x86 processor architectures, development rules for safe applications, analogue I/O design and FPGA technology.


Amazon Employs Robots to Increase Efficiency and Cut Costs at Fulfillment Center A year ago, workers hiked miles of aisles each shift to “pick” each item a customer ordered and prepare it for shipping. Now the e-commerce giant has deployed more than 15,000 wheeled robots to crisscross the floors of its biggest warehouses and deliver books and other products to employees. The Seattle-based company now has 109 shipping centers around the globe. Its Tracy, California facility is one of 10 in which Amazon has deployed the robots, using technology acquired when the company bought robot-maker Kiva Systems in 2012. More than 1,500 full-time employees work at the Tracy center, which has 1.2 million square feet of space – the equivalent of 28 football fields. They are joined by about 3,000 robots, gliding swiftly and quietly around the warehouse. The robots navigate by scanning coded stickers on the floor, following digital commands that are beamed wirelessly from a central computer. Each of the can slide under and then lift a stack of shelves that is four feet wide and holds up to 750 pounds of merchandise. The system uses bar codes to track which items are on each shelf, so a robot can fetch the right shelves for each worker as orders come in. Because the robots travel underneath, the shelves can be stacked closely together, which means the warehouse can hold more goods. The Tracy center now holds about 20 million items, representing 3.5 million different products, from bottles of gourmet steak sauce to high-end audio headsets, books and video games. It can ship 700,000 items in a day, but will hold more and ship more by next year. The robots are expected to cut the Tracy center’s operating costs by

Autocam Medical Acquires Southeastern Technology

Autocam Medical Devices has announced the completion of its acquisition through cash transaction of Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Southeastern Technology (SET), effective November 30, 2014. Like Autocam Medical, SET is a leading contract manufacturer of precision-machined components, assemblies and engineered solutions primarily focused on serving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the medical device industry. SET serves the orthopedic and spine markets with precision implants and complex instruments. They also machine precision components for other medical applications such as oncology and dental. With the completion of the transaction, Autocam Medical is situated to become one of the most competitive global medical device contract manufacturing suppliers capable of manufacturing a wide range of precision components and complex assemblies in the marketplace. Projected 2015 sales of the companies will total approximately $100 million. SET will operate under Autocam Medical as the Southeastern Technology division; all employees will be retained. “SET has a highly competent and engaged team with an excellent reputation for technical and engineering expertise, quality, value, and customer service. We don’t anticipate any changes in SET operations beyond enhancing some IT infrastructure and certain business systems. We’re excited to bring SET aboard and we have high expectations for our future,” said Autocam founder John Kennedy.

Cypress to Acquire Spansion for $1.6 Billion, Adding NOR Flash Capability Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion plan to merge in a move the companies call an all-stock, tax-free transaction valued at approximately $4 billion. Cypress will be trading 2.457 Cypress shares for each Spansion share, resulting in a purchase price of roughly $1.6 billion. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, pending approval by Cypress and Spansion stockholders and review by regulators in the U.S., Germany, and China. Cypress CEO T.J. Rodgers will be CEO of the combined firm with Spansion’s chairman Ray Bingham will continue as non-executive chairman. The new company, to be called Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, will have annual revenues of more than $2 billion. The combination is expected to create annual synergies of $135 million “achievable over three years”. The merger will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings within the first full year after the close, and Cypress plans to continue payments of its $0.11 quarterly dividend. Cypress points out that it is the leading producer of SRAMs, and that Spansion is the leading NOR flash provider. Cypress CEO Rodgers says that the combined company: “will be a leading provider of embedded MCUs,” and will have: “synergy in virtually every area of our enterprises.”

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 9


As Embedded Systems Permeate Automobiles, Safety and Standards Take Center Stage The embedded electronics and software content of automobiles is exploding. In order to keep up with this and meet time-to-market and safety requirements, manufacturers are embracing standards. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Figure 1 A comprehensive set of tools is used to input the requirements from standards-generated documents so they can be used to trace to their correct implementation in code as well as to generate test scenarios at all levels.

There are big changes happening in the automotive world that involve embedded systems and software. Of course, it’s not as if we are suddenly seeing microcontrollers in cars; they have, of course, been there for quite some time. They are in engine control, transmissions, braking systems, airbags and in all manner of “infotainment” systems and devices. For the most part, automobile manufacturers have treated these systems as

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internal, proprietary projects and that will continue at least partially for some aspects of vehicle design. However, the proliferation of embedded control is accelerating to the point where considerations of cost, time- to-market, reliability and primarily safety are forcing a reevaluation of just how all these control systems will be designed into vehicles in the future. According to Jim McElroy, VP of Marketing

of LDRA, some of today’s higher-end vehicles now have up to 100 electronic control units (ECUs) with huge numbers of sensors throughout the vehicle. These types of systems, McElroy says, “are leading to applications where there are actually more lines of code in some vehicles than there might be in an airplane.” It’s getting to the point where practically any function you can think of in a car—seat modules, power windows, and more—are under software control. With such growth in sheer volume of code and complexity, automobile manufacturers are moving away from complete in-house proprietary development and turning to suppliers who can furnish the components they need. Not only is there an increasing need for ready-built components; there is also a vital need for component-based systems that are certified for reliability and above all for safety. Manufacturers simply cannot afford massive recalls such as those that have happened recently and which have been all over the press. This is leading to systems that are developed in a more component-based systems approach, which means that there must be certain standards under which such components can be assembled into systems. One such emerging standard, which can be used as an example of how this trend is developing can be seen in the AUTomotive Open System Architecture (AUTOSAR). While AUTOSAR is far from universally adopted, its goals indicate the direction of embedded development for vehicles. It is aimed at establishing and infrastructure with reusable components and interfaces between functional modules such that multiple suppliers can offer products and services in a known environment. The idea is that code can be developed as pieces of low-level functionality that, thanks to their standard interfaces, can be moved or placed in different ECUs depending on such things as performance requirements and the availability of performance in individual processors. While ECUs were originally designed with regard to their target functions, that is now changing so that with standards like AUTOSAR, this low-level functionality can be put in virtually any processing unit within the vehicle. Low-level function modules can then be aggregated into much more complex high-level applications. Such a model, then, will require effective data communication between functional modules that is independent of the physical locations of the sensors, actuators and the software modules in the vehicle. AUTOSAR itself does not seem to define the actual bus or communications technology. It can be CAN bus or FlexRay or possibly the Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST). The AUTOSAR runtime environment (RTE) does specify a virtual function bus (VFB), which presumably can be implemented on a choice of physical media. The advantage of the VFB is that it allows designers to put together a vehicle system without thinking in terms of ECUs. They assemble a collection of functional software components that due to the addressing scheme can accept sensor data and output control commands regardless of their actual location. The actual implementation of the communication bus depends on the manufacturer. The emergence of standards comes from the need to develop functionally safe software and manufacturers want their suppliers to adhere to standards so that their software can be certified as both functional and safe and avoid recalls. One important standard that is gaining widespread usage is a functional safety standard for road vehicles ISO 29292. This standard defines functional safety for the life cycle of all automotive electronic and electrical equipment using an automotive-based risk assessment for determining risk classes or automotive safety integrity levels (ASILs). LDRA is a supplier of static and dynamic analysis tools (Figure 1) that target automotive software development by tracking risk-based requirements to the ISO 26262 objectives to develop code that can be certified functionally safe. In addition to 26262 compliance, the tools can also check compliance to automotive coding standards like the Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) specifications for C programming. It can further check for compliance with any manufacturer-defined coding requirements. Certified compliance not only ensures safety but also code portability between suppliers and different OEMs. According to LDRA’s McElroy, “If they already have guidelines in place, we help them

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EDITORS REPORT AUTOMOTIVE SOFTWARE STANDARDS with static analysis capability to combine their own standards with potentially the MISRA standard or some other industry standard.” The software requirements for code development are generated from the risk analysis and are checked and called out during the static analysis. ISO 26262 recommends a certain coverage level dependent on the risk of a particular software component within the system. This can be coordinated with the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) classification. ASIL risk levels are assigned on the basis of the severity of possible injuries, the relative frequency of operation in which such injuries can occur and the controllability of the conditions, such as a driver’s ability to control them to prevent injury. The highest level is a combination of all these factors and is called ASIL D. Such a classification will require modified condition decision coverage (MCDC) and will require the most extensive coverage and testing. Using LDRA’s unit and integration process, developers can verify the application as they are building it and can automatically generate test cases for the units that go into the vehicle. As they exercise test cases on components and components become aggregated into applications further test cases can be generated for those levels. Testing can be carried out on the host development system and in a simulator as well as on the target hardware using the same test cases. As embedded automotive systems become more complex and pervasive, the push is to make them more modular and more adherent to standards. In that trend, there is also a push to make development and modeling tools more applicable over the different stages of development and system integration. All this is driven by the pressures of cost, time-to-market and the

need for safety and reliability to avoid recalls. Standards such as ISO 26262, AUTOSAR and MOST are becoming ever more attractive, although the latter two are not yet universally used. Nonetheless, AUTOSAR, driven by a number of European countries, is finding its way into the US. For compelling economic reasons, auto manufacturers increasingly find themselves cooperating on standards for safety, security and reliability while still competing on the implementation and creativity of their applications, which not only define the vehicle’s safety but also the driver experience. An additional advantage is maintainability and upgradeability to enhance the driver experience. As a small example, a car has pressure sensors in each tire and when one senses low pressure it can turn on a symbol on the dashboard. But since each tire already has a sensor, the addition of an additional function component or (more likely) turning on a software switch for a fee could enable components already present to display the current pressure in each tire. So choices of options made at purchase could be easily supplied without delay. As standards in automotive software become more established, we can expect to see added user experience in all aspects—basic functionality, safety, comfort and infotainment. Still in the distance is the driverless car, which some say is definitely coming but which others wish would not. But that’s a different topic. LDRA Atlanta, GA. (855) 855-5372



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Defining ‘High Performance Embedded Computing’ How advancements in parallel processing, power scalability and open development frameworks are transforming compute-intensive applications from avionics to medical imaging and beyond by Colin Cureton and Mitch Furman, Advanced Micro Devices

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GPU Memory










Figure 1 The Heterogeneous System Architecture integrates parallel processing units such as GPUs with CPUs and other elements such as DSPs on a single chip across a unified interface architecture.

The concept of ‘high performance computing’ (HPC) typically calls to mind a vast server farm underpinned by tens to hundreds of thousands of processing elements, orchestrating the extreme data crunching required for advanced applications like geothermal exploration and molecular dynamics simulation. ‘High performance embedded computing’ (HPEC) mirrors this construct in some ways, insofar as it relies on parallel processing techniques to run numerous computational threads at high speeds. And as with HPC, some will define HPEC based purely on FLOPS speed, anticipating the day when mainstream embedded processing platforms break the TFLOPS barrier – a benchmark that’s now within reach of some APU and GPU processors. But the hardware compute level is where the meaningful comparisons between HPC and HPEC end. The divergence between the two rests largely on performance and power scalability, from the seemingly ‘infinite’ in the case of HPC, to the decidedly finite with many HPEC applications. HPEC typically hinges on the performance of a single processor (or co-processors) within an embedded system that is often tailored to a single user’s requirements. In many cases the performance measurement is inextricably linked to power consumption, distinguishing ‘performance per watt’ (or FLOP per watt) as a more meaningful metric particularly for battery-powered and

handheld systems. Where HPC datacenter architects can readily throw more CPU cores and power at a formidable compute challenge, embedded system designers are far more constricted in this regard – the system size, weight and power budget requirements are ever more exacting. Heat dissipation is another key challenge for HPEC systems given the sheer density of today’s high-end embedded electronics, the narrowing airflow paths passing between embedded subsystems, and the wide variance in operating temperature that can be brought on by fluctuations in environmental conditions. Active fan cooling isn’t a viable thermal management approach for many of these systems given the reliability concerns that accompany moving parts, which can be subject to failure due to extreme shock and vibration, humidity, particulates and other variable and often harsh conditions.

Parallel Processing & Performance Per Watt For HPEC, high speed parallel processing is largely, but not exclusively, the domain of graphic processing units (GPUs) and accelerated processing units (APUs). Workloads have skyrocketed to demand ever increasing processing performance, often overloading even the fastest CPUs operating at full power. Massively multicore processor architectures can provide an

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Figure 2 High-performance embedded computing is enabling ever greater visualization in medical devices.

advantage for handling these compute-intensive workloads, distinguishing the parallel processing capabilities of a GPU from a high-end CPU. Meanwhile the emergence of the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) is allowing programmers to take advantage of the parallel processing capabilities of GPUs applied as co-processors to traditional multithreaded CPUs. HSA brings together the specialized capabilities of the CPU, GPU and various other processing elements within a single chip APU, enabling the ability to dynamically toggle between CPU-optimized serial I/O tasks and GPU-optimized single instruction multiple data (SIMD) parallel graphics and multimedia tasks depending on workload requirements (Figure 1). This approach exploits the dual strengths of GPU parallel processing and CPU serial processing, the latter of which can be capable of much higher clock speeds. HSA also embraces a fully coherent memory model, allowing the CPU and GPU to share and access the entire memory address space. In terms of power management, configurable performance and power scaling capabilities can help a parallel process-

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ing-based HPEC system strike an optimal performance-per-watt balance. This advantage manifests as early as the processor selection/procurement stage – with the ability to scale power and performance, a customer designing for a 20W thermal budget, for example, doesn’t have to compromise on a lesser performing 15W processor when he/she could use a higher performing 25W processor that’s ‘tuned’ to 20W. Once deployed and operational in the field, an HPEC system with real time power/performance scaling capabilities is well suited to support rapidly-shifting processing workloads and challenging thermal conditions. What’s needed here is the ability to reduce the power of underutilized cores while also allowing for dynamic allocation of the thermal budget between cores for improved performance and more agile heat dissipation. This is especially important for APUs and other platforms with multiple onboard processing engines and varied functional ‘blocks’. AMD’s Turbo Core technology utilizes algorithms that assess a variety of frequency, voltage, temperature and logic activity inputs to determine in real time which core needs a performance boost and how much thermal headroom is available. This

intelligence enables an AMD APU to dynamically downclock GPU frequency and increase CPU frequency, or vice versa, without straying outside its thermal envelope. This configurable thermal design profile (TDP) capability ultimately equips a parallel processing-based HPEC system to conserve power while allocating it to where it can do the most good for the system at any given moment.

New Frontiers in HPEC

Among the embedded applications at the forefront of HPEC innovation, avionics and medical imaging are perhaps the most prominent drivers of embedded processor performance requirements. For graphics-intensive conventional military and civilian avionics applications, incremental gains in processing performance unlock new potential for improving responsiveness and situational awareness for pilots and UAV operators. New advancements in synthetic vision and video overlay capabilities hold the promise to transform modern aircraft control panels and displays bringing photo-realistic 3D graphics clarity to the cockpit to enhance the pilot’s understanding of the flying environment in real-time. This yields clear advantages in commercial air transport and military applications while helping to ensure greater overall safety. To achieve these new levels of graphics performance, designers of avionics systems are increasingly transitioning away from FPGA and DSP platforms in favor of more versatile, higher performing embedded GPUs, which are optimized to handle the high-speed parallel processing required for tasks like radar processing, object recognition, 3D mapping and video manipulation. In the medical imaging domain, advancements in HPEC extend from the point of diagnosis to the patient’s bedside. High-performance, low-power APUs and GPUs are enabling portable ultrasound capabilities – including 3D visualization – that previously had only been available in hospitals or clinics. These systems can now be deployed for ambulatory and battlefield usage, providing accelerated image transformation and delivering excellent image rendering for medical personnel. HPEC can also be applied to improve 3D image reconstruction in low-dose X-ray applications, helping to minimize patients’ radiation exposure by boosting the computation required to ‘fill in the blanks’ of the sparse data being collected in these instances. The medical device market is also moving quickly to embrace 3D visualization at the point of care via a new generation of video- and graphics-optimized touchscreen panels that can be attached to hospital beds and dental chairs for use by medical staff and patients alike. Medical practices are beginning to transition away from conventional 2D X-ray film and light-box illuminators to sleek, chair-side monitors that provide 360 degree image visualization and other advanced graphics-driven capabilities in HD resolution with intuitive multi-touch interactivity à la tablet computers. These devices help can equip medical staff to assess patients’ medical imagery with great accuracy and process

efficiency, while simultaneously providing new levels of visual detail to their patients. Where previously patients may have struggled to understand diagnoses and treatment recommendations made on the basis of static 2D renderings, they can now have a clear view of the treatment area and care methodology. HPEC is finding its way to a host of other applications as well, enabling advanced facial recognition capabilities in video security and surveillance systems, and gesture interactivity capabilities in digital signage systems, for example. For many of these applications, and for digital gaming as well, HPEC also plays a significant role in powering multiscreen visualization and immersion.

Agility Is Everything The concept of HPEC extends beyond the processing hardware itself. It also encompasses the design processes and software tools that can help to accelerate application performance by maximizing parallel compute utilization for heterogeneous architectures across all supported mainstream parallel processing platforms. HPEC system designers are increasingly seeking out methodologies and tools that present the designer with an abstract platform model that conceptualizes all of these architectures in a similar way and targets all of the parallel processing elements available in a given system. Cross-platform, non-proprietary programming frameworks like HSA, OpenCL and OpenGL have proven very valuable in this regard, enabling designers to focus on applications rather than chip architectures via a single, portable source code base. This approach helps designers achieve significant programming efficiency gains for parallel processing-driven HPEC systems while lowering costs by maximizing the ability to repurpose existing code for new systems, preserving the value of their accrued investments in code development. Continued innovation in APU and GPU parallel processing is equipping embedded system designers to approach teraFLOPS processing performance while taking advantage of advanced power scaling capabilities that maximize core utilization and optimize thermal budget management to achieve HPEC-caliber performance per watt profiles. Leveraging open development frameworks to achieve new levels of parallel processing efficiency and design agility, system designers are well positioned to push the boundaries of HPEC for decades to come. Advanced Micro Devices Sunnyvale, CA (408) 749-4000

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Platforms for High-End Embedded Software Development Today’s complex and powerful processors and SoCs demand more than just an RTOS and some drivers to get the developer started. A comprehensive and consistent software development environment along with a sample hardware board is increasingly essential for OEMs to start adding value. by John Carbone, Express Logic

Products from Different SW Vendors?

RTOS Kernel

Integration Gap that must be filled by Vendor, End User, or 3rd party

Network Stack

GUIX Framework

Effort Time Cost Risk

Effort Time Cost Risk

Ethernet Driver

LCD/Touchscreen Driver

Ethernet MAC/PHY

LCD/Touchscreen Controller

Kernel HW Integration

From HW Vendor Not Production Quality Software Drivers, not Integrated with SW Products

Timers, Interrupts, Etc.

Effort Time Cost Risk

Board Figure 1 Developers have to bridge the “Integration Gap” left between hardware and software and between software products from different sources. This requires time, effort, risk, and cost.

Today’s embedded software engineer gets to choose from a plethora of development boards. Many of these boards boast high-performance MCUs like the ARM Cortex-M and MPUs like the Cortex-A series and have ample internal memory, USB host and device ports, Gigabit Ethernet, LCD touchscreens and more. Amazingly, many of these boards are priced below $100, but typically range from $25 - $1,000, depending on what they include. Equally important, the boards include a host of software support. Developers can find free downloads for just about every piece of software imaginable. Don’t believe me—just look on a

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board vendors’ web site. Free software options include an RTOS, TCP/IP stack, USB stack, even GUI development tools. And for IDEs, developers can find Eclipse development IDEs, GCC compilers, and other tools. If needed, licenses are available for a more capable IDE as well as a JTAG debugger tailored for their chosen development board. This comprehensive board support ecosystem is truly amazing, except for one thing—developers still have a lot of work to do before they can start prototyping their application!

The Integration Gap—Lots of Work Still To Be Done The problem arises when developers begin to mix and match the software options available for their chosen board in order to create a complete “platform.” Developers need a board, RTOS, graphics, USB and Ethernet that all work together on the same board and with the same tools. This foundation lets them write application code that sits on top and freely calls on any one of these components without worrying about unintended interference with the others. Ideally, developers want to do all this while avoiding having to write device drivers for the specific peripherals used in the MCUI/MPU or externally on the board. Figure 1 illustrates the challenge in achieving this. Even if developers invested the necessary time to solve these issues and get everything running successfully, they still face a real problem. They have a collection of very different products, from different vendors or authors, with different APIs, programming styles, quality of code, and underlying assumptions. If they are lucky enough to have source code for all of these tools, they’ll discover that each code base differs from the others and, navigating through each one, requires its own learning curve. Beyond these issues of usability, developers also have to examine production-readiness of the software to see if there are free, suitable code samples that can be downloaded for production use? If there are examples, are they supported at all? And, even if the samples/tools are individually supported, each one might be supported by a different company—or by a different community—forcing the development team to work

with many different support groups (Figure 1). Obviously, the ideal situation would involve a company that supports the combination of products for a specific board because if there is interference between multiple examples, who do developers contact for support? Design can quickly grind to a halt if their multiple support teams are simply pointing fingers at the other company’s software. To solve or avoid each of these problems and inconveniences, a single supplier would need to provide and support all the software modules for the chosen development board. In porting each product to the exact board, they develop whatever peripheral drivers are necessary for the tools to be fully functional on that board. In essence, they would provide a unified board support package (BSP) and development environment that supported all of the products. Any resource conflicts would be resolved and the developer would be left with a comprehensive set of software products, fully ported, guaranteed to be interoperable without conflict, and fully supported by one company. The software platform would be truly production ready.

Problem Solved As an answer to these challenges faced by embedded developers worldwide, Express Logic has partnered with Renesas Electronics to develop and launch X-Ware Platform, a comprehensive, target-specific, integrated, development software suite that delivers all of Express Logic’s familiar X-Ware components (ThreadX, NetX, USBX, FileX, GUIX, and TraceX) pre-ported and fully integrated for use on the Renesas Cortex-A9-based, RZ/A1H RSK development board (Figure 2).

X-Ware Platform is integrated and optimized

From Express Logic Quality, Production-Ready Supported

X-Ware Product (e.g. ThreadX)

Kernel HW Integration

Drivers integrated, Optimized, and Supported by Express Logic From H/W Vendor

Timers, Interrupts, Etc.

X-Ware Product (e.g. NetX)

X-Ware Product (e.g. GUIX)

Driver Integration and Optimization

Driver Integration and Optimization

Ethernet Driver

LCD/Touchscreen Driver

Ethernet MAC/PHY

LCD/Touchscreen Controller

Board Figure 2 A finished platform includes fully integrated software and hardware and no inter-element software incompatibilities or mismatched driver code.

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TECHNOLOGY CORE EMBEDDED HIGH PERFORMANCE EMBEDDED COMPUTING The Renesas RZ/A family is an ARM Cortex A9-based embedded MPU solution that features up to 10MB of embedded SRAM on chip, providing highly optimized system cost and performance for any HMI system. RZ/A is designed to be a hybrid between MCU and MPU, combining the advantages of both, making it ideal for migrating from MCU-based systems towards MPU, while avoiding challenges such as the need for expensive multi-layer PCBs and the overhead of external memory (Figure 3). By integrating its high-quality, widely respected ThreadX RTOS and Middleware components with the Renesas RZ/A1H RSK board, the result is a Platform that simplifies and accelerates IoT development.

A Fast Start for IoT Development

Figure 3 The Renesas RZ/A1 RSK is an excellent hardware development board with CPU, LCD touchscreen, USB, and Ethernet.

IoT-targeted products typically require an RTOS, network connectivity, graphics displays, a file system, and sometimes USB or other middleware components. Developers working on bringing these products to market quickly, and with competitively superior features, need these software capabilities to be available in a fully integrated, ready-to-use form. Otherwise, developers would have to spend time selecting, acquiring, porting, and integrating multiple elements to form a satisfactory foundation for their application development. A Platform requires much more than just an RTOS kernel. To be complete, a Platform should include robust IPv4/IPv6 TCP/IP networking, and USB host/device support (see “TCP/IP Networking Protocols and USB Classes,” pxx).

HMI Development and Runtime Support Many IoT products today offer touchscreen LCD displays for user interaction, enabling consumers and operators to see key information, and to instruct the device in an intuitive fashion. Developers therefore need a robust HMI development framework with rapid prototyping and automatic code generation, as well as all required peripheral device drivers, readily accessible from applications via a simple, intuitive API.

Use the Right Tools Figure 4 A PC-based GUI design tool simplifies graphics design and layout and can also automatically generate C code for use on the PC or target hardware.

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A key element of any successful development platform is that it be designed to work with a good compiler, debugger, and IDE suite, such as IAR’s Embedded Workbench IDE. The value of a good IDE should not be underestimated. With tight IDE integration, a Platform benefits from RTOS-aware debugging support and a fully configured project structure, eliminating the need for developers to adapt software from one tool to another. Such a Platform enables rapid prototyping, speeding internal review and customer sampling. By minimizing integration and porting, a Platform shortens time to market and reduces risk. And of course, a Platform must begin with an appropriate development board, such as the Renesas Cortex-A9, RZ/A1-based Renesas RSK. Coupled with such a board and IDE, a software Platform can deliver all of the technologies required to create real-time, networked, connected, HMI-driven products for the IoT, so that developers can focus on their domain expertise. And by using

a custom-constructed Platform for a specific development board, OEMs avoid re-inventing existing foundation technology and can invest their engineering development time in producing fully supportable, fully integrated, easy-to-use IoT systems. e With this kind of integrated Platform, developers are not slowed down by component selection, driver development, product integration, optimization, and the challenge of dealing with multivendor support. An integrated, developer-ready Platform eliminates all of that by knitting the entire RTOS, middleware, and IDE solution together, right down to optimized drivers and boot code. Developers can focus on their proprietary product attributes and not waste time reinventing the wheel.

Reference Design Projects for a Fast Start Developers love to start with working examples, reference designs, for particular functionality. Rather than start from scratch and struggle with all the setup and initialization required to get any board and C program ready to run, it’s far more efficient to work from an existing reference point that is known to work correctly, and build the application from there. To satisfy this developer benefit, a Platform should include a number of reference design projects, provided for evaluation and product development. These example projects should illustrate the use of each hardware and software component individually, as well as in combination. These examples will help ensure that IoT developers have a head start on incorporating technologies such as a graphical user interface with high-speed networking, USB, and file management within a real-time system. These reference projects might include: • RTOS Kernel, showing scheduling, interrupt processing, message passing, synchronization, and other kernel services; • Event Trace, showing exactly what the application threads were doing at any point in time over a period of operation; • IPv4/IPv6 Ping, enabling quick verification of correct IPv4/IPv6 operation; • IPv4/IPv6 TCP/UDP Throughput, showing measured performance of both TCP and UDP data packet transfer throughput over an IPv4/IPv6 network; • USB Host Mass Storage, showing an example of system operation as a host to a USB flash memory stick; • USB Device Mass Storage, showing an example of system operation as a mass storage device, being accessed by a host PC; • USB Device CDC/ACM, showing character echo from a simulated modem connected to a PC; • RAM-disk, showing a file system reading/writing a target RAM-based file system; • SD Card, showing an example of access of an SD card on the target device; • GUI Thermometer, showing a simple GUI with 2 graphic buttons, that simulates the operation of a Thermometer; • GUI Medical, a tri-screen, muti-tab demo, that illustrates a GUI display with sliders, buttons, text, animation, list scrolling, and more; • GUI Weather, a multi-screen example of imported graphics, animation, and buttons, simulating a weather forecast and thermostat station; • Multifunction, combining RTOS, File System, Networking, USB, and GUI technologies in a comprehensive example; All reference design projects should run out-of-the-box on the target board and include full application source code. Developers can start working on their applications immediately, rather than spending time on configuration, porting, and integration before meaningful work can even begin. Express Logic San Diego, CA (858) 613-6640

TCP/IP Networking Protocols and USB Classes • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) • Internet Protocol (IP) • User Datagram Protocol (UDP) • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) • Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP) • Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) • Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) • Point-To-Point Protocol (PPP) • Domain Name Server (DNS) • mDNS • DNS-SD • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) • Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) • Terminal Emulation (Telnet) • Network Address Translation (NAT) • BSD Sockets Interface Layer • Hypertext transfer Protocol Server (HTTP) • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) • Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) • Post Office Protocol-3 (POP3) • Simple Network Transport Protocol (SNTP) • AutoIP • USB Host/Device Classes • USBX Host Classes • Asix USB to Ethernet controller • Audio • CDC ACM • HID (keyboard, mouse, RCU clients) • HUB • Pima • Printer • Prolific USB to RS232 controller • Storage • Generic serial class • USBX Device Classes • HID • CDC-ACM • Rndis • Mass Storage • Pima • PictBridge Client and Server

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Open Source and the Internet of Things: Roles, Reach and Rationale for Deploying OSS Open source software will help drive the IoT build-out, but dominance in IoT technologies is not a foregone conclusion. Open source does indeed dominate large swaths of intelligent networking and Cloud platform software. For that to translate into IoT dominance, developer communities will have to cross key gaps and implement technologies essential to the Internet of Things. by Bill Weinberg, Black Duck Software

computing technologies and methods (including open source); others herald the IoT as a revolution that will reinvent the IT industry and spur a major paradigm shift (Figure 1). This article explores the evolution of IoT technology, and ecosystem, and the role and reach of open source software in building and sustaining the IoT, from infrastructure to applications and other value-added device content. Specifically, it investigates how OSS can support competing and complementary architectures and meet looming IoT challenges.

50 45 40

World Population


Connected Devices

30 25 20 15 10

Competing Visions for IoT

5 0





Figure 1 Growth in Human Populations and Connected Devices through 2020 (Cisco)

The build out of the Internet of Things is outpacing desktop and mobile computing. By 2020, over 50 billion intelligent devices (Cisco) will connect to and exchange information over the Internet with an economic impact of nearly US$2 trillion. This huge cohort of “things” comprises staggering diversity, from recognizable computers to infrastructure devices to sensors, light switches, and thermostats. The impact will span the gamut of industries and applications – medical, agriculture, manufacturing, consumer electronics, transportation, and energy. Like the existing Internet, the emerging IoT will rely upon and instigate adoption of ofpe source software (OSS) technologies and open standards. With the range of applications and constituents, divergent visions exist for building out and benefiting from the IoT. Some see the IoT as an incremental extension of existing 22 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

The IoT engenders excitement and inspires optimism about its potential. However, those prognostications will be subject to different, competing visions and paths for the actual build out. Monetization of the IoT, especially of open source software supporting that build out, will be subject to competing technical and financial models. The two prevalent views of the architecture and make-up of the Internet of Things are Many Peers and Many Leaves. Many Peers extends the current connected universe: the IoT comprises a network of “compute peers,” deployed with Linux, Android and comparable high-level OSes, running on 32- or 64-bit hardware, communicating over TCP/IP with applications running on a LAN or in the Cloud. Many Peers are just that, peers, but they do exist in a hierarchical context extending from the edge of the IoT to the Cloud. Many Leaves envisions an extension of the machine to machine (M2M) paradigm – a vast collection of simple end-point systems, deployed with deeply embedded operating systems or no OS at all, running on a mix of 8-, 16-, and 32-bit hardware including RFID, communicating via specialized interconnects and protocols. Traffic from these systems traverses specialized gateways to reach local application servers (a.k.a. “the fog”) or travels onward to the Internet and up to the Cloud. These two visions

presence and utility is not uniform across all elements of the network with its various node types and data paths (Figure 2).

End Points or Leaf Nodes

Figure 2 IoT Node Types and Data Paths

are not incompatible and devices implementing both paradigms already populate the nascent IoT. A stark distinction exists between two approaches to populating the different technical tiers of the IoT, with important implications for collaboration and interoperability—vertical integration vs. horizontal diversity. Vertical Integration: There already exist silos of IoT devices and protocols. Providers of premises control equipment, home appliances, medical and e-health devices, and other gear are providing extensive, interoperating product lines with devices designed to function together and/or with Cloud and mobile apps. An example is home monitoring with network cameras and home automation equipment. A half-dozen vendors supply various lines of cameras, other sensors and actuators, along with Cloud and mobile apps to view and control them. In a mono-branded environment, vendors provide near-flawless out-of-the box and user experiences but do not interoperate with nearly identical devices from other vendors. Horizontal Diversity: With a single IoT tier, there are less ambitious and more open suppliers. These companies offer fewer devices and device types but strive to interoperate with similar gear from other vendors (cameras with cameras, smart light switches with similar kit, etc.) and with third-party infrastructure devices as well. To achieve quality interoperability, vendors across tiers must implement using open IoT standards (e.g., MQTT) vs. enabling interoperation only with their own devices. They must also eschew the addition of “secret sauce” to differentiate their own wares and support brand affinity, and limit interoperability. As exemplified in today’s web standards (HTTP, HTML, SOAP, etc.), the best way to foster interoperability is with open standards and shared, re-usable open source implementations. While open source is and will continue to be instrumental to the IoT, its

An area often overlooked in IoT discussion is the population of “dumb” devices – smart labels, inductive slugs and other RFID devices, used in manufacturing, inventory control, and elsewhere to track presence and location of objects and materials. These devices are stateless and passive, reporting only an ID and relatively small amounts of data when energized by scanning equipment. The role of OSS in such passive devices lies not in the RFID tags and slugs themselves but in the equipment that activates them and in supporting the applications that act upon data they generate. The “things” par excellence that comprise the leaf nodes of the prototypical IoT are simple end points—mono-function, ubiquitous, free-standing sensors and actuators. Imposing low power consumption and lower cost, these devices can be mostly stateless or highly stateful; they can be “headless” or boast device-local UI/UX functions; they can be completely independent or tightly networked with their peers; their communications can be terse or “chirpy,” and the data they transmit and receive can be slow-changing or highly dynamic. Think light switches and sockets, thermostats and HVAC controls, motion sensors and perimeter alarm switches, soil moisture and air temperature sensors. The prototypical leaf node deploys fairly minimal software, supporting core functionality for sensing or affecting its environment and communicating state/status information upstream. Such devices may benefit from an actual embedded OS or just run a main loop and device service code. With minimalist 4/8/16-bit CPUs, they are unlikely to deploy a full OSI TCP/IP stack, instead employing point-to-point communications, mesh networking, 6LowPAN or partial IP networking (UDP, etc.). The role of OSS in such devices is tactical or incidental. OEMs may choose a nominally open source RTOS (e.g., TinyOS, FreeRTOS) or a proprietary kernel to manage resources and simplify application programming. Developers will surely use OSS tools to create leaf node devices, and semiconductor suppliers will provide open source device drivers and other elements to support them, but the applications running on them will likely remain closed as are many other types of device software. Device manufacturers insist that today and for the foreseeable future they need to retain all rights to differentiating technology in hardware and software vs. sharing development and maintenance responsibilities through collaborative development. Peer-level leaf devices serve many of the same functions as simple end points, but with two key differences. They are better provisioned, with 32- or even 64-bit CPUs and additional RAM and they are more likely to bundle routing and/or gateway functionality into RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 23


Figure 3 IoT Open Source “Heat Map”

a single package. Additionally, they are by definition multi-function devices with the potential (or the necessity) of deploying enterprise-peer OSes – Linux, BSD, versions of Windows, etc. These devices represent more interesting opportunities for OSS, from system software—especially Linux and Android—up through middleware and application frameworks, as well as routing software. The openness of value-added application software is subject to the same OEM IP constraints as on simple leaf nodes, with perceived disincentives to release such differentiating functionality as open source. However, with fewer resource limitations and constraints on bills-of-material (BoM) costs, these types of devices are easier to build and accessible to “home brewing” and the creativity of the maker movement. We are already seeing a range of peertype leaf nodes being implemented by hobbyists, researchers, and low-to-moderate volume integrators using readily available low-end commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware - including versions of the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BeagleBoard designs.


At this level, the IoT still resembles machine-to-machine (M2M) networking. Mission-specific devices transmit context-dependent information across a point-to-point or mesh network, aggregated, buffered and conditioned by application-specific gateways and routers. In M2M, these devices communicate over a LAN to computers tasked with control, data analysis, etc. Today, they bridge and forward to the larger Internet and onward to Cloud servers. These gateway devices deploy 32- or 64-bit CPUs and are provisioned with industrial network and serial connections – Zigbee, 6LowPAN, RS-422 and other specialized interconnects – as well as more familiar Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity for both 24 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

LAN- and WAN-ward communications. Depending on the number and variety of connected leaf devices, the “chattiness” of those devices, and the mix of public and private source and destination packets, IoT infrastructure devices may also log and buffer IoT traffic, time and space compress packets, and perform analysis and conditioning of the data in those packets before sending traffic upstream to the Cloud or downstream to local devices. These nodes provide opportunities for OSS deployment and for the evolution of new OSS implementations: embedded Linux provides a flexible platform with native IP networking, IP routing software and standardized local file systems. New IoT frameworks are almost universally first hosted on Linux, as are most popular programming languages and tool kits. The broader infrastructure of the Internet, from local wireless networks to broadband and mobile baseband access, to edge and core networking, is already teeming with open source software: • Embedded Linux and Carrier Grade Linux in access points, routers, gateways, firewalls, media gateways, and other networking and telecommunications equipment • Open source routing packages, security libraries, network management tool kits, high-availability enablers, and other network-related middleware • BSDLite-derived TCP/IP stacks paired with proprietary embedded OSes • Embedded web servers and web application components used to support configuration and management interfaces The ongoing rollout of software defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is also providing ample new opportunities for open source development to support Internet infrastructure. As with Internet infrastructure, the Cloud is substantially built on OSS components – Linux, virtualization platforms, orchestration and management software, application support libraries and other Cloud middleware, and the tools and frameworks developers use to build and deploy code are all open source. Not all Cloud software is open (e.g., Microsoft Azure), nor is software that implements infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) readily available as open source, for example, the code behind Amazon Web Services or Rackspace Cloud Hosting. And, while code that implements IoT applications and IoT-centric software as a service (SaaS) solutions leverages OSS, there is no impetus for that code to be open source itself. Like Android, IoT platforms and tools derive from open source components and are themselves open, the majority of applications remain closed and proprietary.

attach and the increasing enterprise-type software present on current generation devices. This has resulted in customer and market End-user IoT software supports monitoring, control and configrequirements for more secure device operation and better defense uration of IoT devices and analytics of the data generated by one around information on them. or more IoT end point devices. These applications also provide As with enterprise software, intelligent device designers depend domain-specific functionality relating to the functioning of one or on OSS, and dynamic updates to it, to meet the security threat more IoT devices. End-user IoT applications are typically manifestlandscape. These practices apply as well to peer-level IoT nodes. ed as web applications or mobile apps, but can really come in any But mono-function and limited-function end-points face a difform, such as parts of Big Data analytics packages. ferent threat profile. Being out in the world, end-point devices are As with the existing marketplaces of mobile apps and the even subject to physical attack. They can be commandeered or stolen, broader universe of web applications, IoT end-user apps certainly re-provisioned (re-flashed) with malware and re-deployed. Simple benefit from the existence of open source development tools and end-point devices still face vulnerabilities from poorly implemiddleware, but have no particular impetus towards being open mented interfaces and authentication, buffer overflow exploits, source themselves. Reasons include small audiences for niche apps developer back doors, etc. IoT end-point devices, even if relatively unlikely to engender and support communities; mostly traditional secure, still present exposed serial, network, USB and other physper-unit business models; freeware with revenue from advertising ical interfaces, and can also be “cooked” and otherwise abused to or in-app purchases that don’t accrue additional benefit from the induce failure modes of interest to malefactors. “frictionless” distribution model of OSS; strong affinity with a Beyond that, local wireless / mesh networks and can be particular brand/company that regards its end-user apps as conferspoofed and subject to man-in-the-middle attacks. Low-cost / ring proprietary advantage. An overview of the likelihood of open high-volume devices are also likely to be deployed once and nevsource being used is given in Figure 3. er updated, and so don’t benefit from security updates – either by design or because low-bandwidth networking is not suited to Meeting Key IoT Challenges with OSS deploying update images, especially across thousands of fielded Having established the various roles of OSS in the ongoing IoT devices. build-out, and substantiated the design share enjoyed today by None of the above is insurmountable. The most ubiquitous embedded OSS platforms (as well as their likely future domi“things” on the Internet today are mobile phones and tablets, nance), let’s pause to consider how OSS can address some of the which stand out as a morass of security problems. Mobile OEMs, most daunting challenges facing the Internet of Things – security, system software developers, network operators, application softprivacy, and IP rights. The history of OSS and security has been a roller coaster. First, a ware vendors, IT departments, and end-users find themselves playing security “whack-a-mole”, despite the efforts of the global market accustomed to security-by-obscurity was slow to embrace developer communities around Android and other platforms community oversight as a means of tracking exploits and correcting the software defects that enable them. After years of debate, IT both open and proprietary. While important, open source is just one factor in a compreindustry professionals finally came to appreciate the “many eyes” approach of OSS communities to detecting and addressing security hensive IoT security and privacy paradigm. Equally important are best development practices and development tools to augrisks and the essential requirement to keep software up-to-date. ment and enforce those practices. The low defect rates of OSS code were borne out by independent What does make OSS more amenable to security remediation studies such as Coverity Scans. Then came the OpenSSL Heartis its very openness. Beyond “many eyes making bugs shallow”, bleed bug and the pendulum began to swing back, again casting readily available source code and published OSS project inforcritical eyes upon OSS security, even as community developers mation (e.g., on GitHub and from Black Duck OpenHub) enable acted quickly to remedy the vulnerability. automation of otherwise tedious and technically-challenging Privacy-wise, OSS stepped up to enable protection of indiactivities. These include identifying security vulnerabilities, viduals’ data by implementing strong encryption for the masses out-of-date versions, inactive or poorly maintained projects; as(SSL, SSH, PGP, etc.) and by supplying building blocks for mobile sessing and remediating components with known vulnerabilities security and data protection—whether or not they are currently and monitoring IoT device and application codebases to ensure employed to great effect. future security. The IoT presents its own set of security and privacy challenges. For one thing, the myriad device types are built with greatly varyBlack Duck Software ing degrees of security expertise. There is a rich mix of public and Burlington, MA private data with the potential to disrupt operation of industrial (781) 891-5100 and energy systems, and of life-critical connected devices. Device manufacturers historically relied upon security-by-obscurity (and by simplicity), but practices have been changing. OEMs face a combination of evolving pressures. These include the burgeoning attacks on devices and the networks to which they

End-User Software

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 25

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RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 27


Doing Digital Signage Right‌ the First Time Getting the basic networking set up right for a digital signage project is of course important. But additional thought must also be given to content and how the anticipated user base will interact with the planned set-up for a particular customer. by Robert White, Multi-Media Solutions

28 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

It is a wonder to me that some customers who know the statistics still want to implement and utilize digital signage. With more failures than successes it can be a daunting pursuit. It is fact that several digital signage networks are on their second or third implementation of a new content management software or hardware platform trying to find one that actually meets their needs (including several large retailers you and I would know). But for those who have done digital signage right the first time there are huge benefits measured in many ways—profits, communications goals, and brand recognition to name a few. So what does it take to do digital signage right... the first time? Let’s go over some key things you can do to increase your odds for success. We are going to look at a few key areas Asking the Right Questions, Setting the Right Expectations, Gathering the Right resources, Content, and Measurement.

Ask the Right questions

Whether you’re the integrator asking the questions or you’re the end user answering them, if the right questions aren’t asked then you are surely headed for some digital signage pitfalls. I see requests for proposals (RFPs) come out for digital signage all the time that provide the specifications for the requested hardware and software, and even the requested functionality, but most often there is no mention of the content. It makes one wonder if those requesting proposals think that the backgrounds, layouts, and other requirements for digital signage are going to appear out of thin air. I say that in fun, but it sure seems that no one asks about content considerations. You’d think after we have been an industry with the idea that “Content is King” stressed so heavily, that things like this wouldn’t be overlooked in RFP’s. Yet many of these big picture questions are still overlooked and they can really cost you. That’s right, content is not the only obvious element that is often overlooked. What is the intended purpose of your digital signage? This seems simple and straightforward, but I have seen more than one digital signage network deployed because they saw digital signage somewhere and thought it was cool. They had no idea if they wanted to use it to reduce perceived wait time, branding, or sales lift, to name a few worthwhile goals, because it seems that no one had asked them what they really wanted to accomplish with their investment. Examples of such diversity can be seen in Figures 1, 2 and 3. All of these questions that should be asked fall under what are the seven main categories of digital signage that include: Hardware, Software, Connectivity, Operations, Design, Business, and of course Content. Many questions seem as though they would be obvious, but never get asked. As the industry matures and digital signage proves itself more broadly, it is incumbent upon both end users and integrators to ask better questions. Beyond business and content, there are questions that should be asked about technical issues. When you’re looking at a new deployment opportunity, it is a fundamental necessity to ask if your customer’s IT department will require that the digital signage player be joined to the customer’s domain. Stop and think about the repercussions of not finding this out

Figure 1 First Tennessee Building Directory - showing an interactive touchscreen directory on the left and a news focused digital signage display on the right in the Lobby of the First Tennessee Building in downtown Knoxville, TN.

Figure 2 Duty Free Americas - Video Wall in the Atlanta Airport showing thin bezel screens and retail focused content.

ahead of time. Suppose you go onsite and install windows players and then find out that you can’t communicate with the web unless you are joined to their domain. At this point they haven’t created a Domain Group for you so you are forced into some general group, which may mean that a lot of general policies are forced onto your players. I know because I have been in this unfortunate situation. There is a good chance that these domain policies for content have been created with good intent in order to keep their regular domain users from staying logged in and inactive for a period of time. But now your players will auto-log themselves out and you will be stuck at a windows login screen every hour. I hope you’re not thinking “this won’t happen to me,” because it very well could, and watch out for windows updates, which can further complicate the installation. Proxy servers, VPNs, and firewalls are all challenges for digital signage deployments as well. Does the player need access RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 29

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT DIGITAL SIGNAGE to the outside web? If it is a SaaS player, the answer is yes, and if you are asking this on the day of the deployment and you’re an integrator, you may be about to lose your shirt on all of the go-backs you will have to do. So what could have been done differently to avoid this? You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if the question is asked up front, “I know these players need to get out to the outside web. Are there any proxys or firewalls that would prevent this?” While the customer doesn’t always get the settings right the first time either, by asking the right question you’ve already started the process and know what the challenge will be ahead of time. Here are just a few more example questions that help get the wheels turning—and the answers to each of these questions will have their own repercussions: • What type of connectivity is available? (Note: Wired is always best when available) • Does your customer have a really slow connection? With several players onsite trying to push large updates through a small pipe, it could take days for updates to hit. Find out what the tolerance is for timing updates. • Are they running a 24/7 operation? • What content assets does your client have and what are they planning to use? • Are there several windows in the same room as your screens, which might affect brightness and readability? • If there is an audio component to the content, what is the level of ambient noise in the viewing environment? Will there be lots of background noise? • Has ADA compliance been considered?

Setting the Right Expectations

What do expectations have to do with doing digital signage? If the integrator does his or her job right, the customer will know that just putting up some screens and slapping players behind them will not automatically achieve sales lift. Setting the correct expectations upfront allows the customer to be more comfortable with their investment and encourages longer-term support of the project. Setting and managing client expectations requires a frank discussion about return on investment (ROI) with your customer upfront. Such a discussion will prevent common misunderstandings, friction between you and your client, and possibly even losing the project if the customer doesn’t have an idea of what to expect. Recommending a “pilot phase” is a good way to validate expectations. If you need more information before deciding how a large roll out of digital signage will or won’t work, then you should do a pilot installation. In the case of retail make sure you don’t just do one store location, but multiple store locations. A minimum of two or three stores as part of your pilot will give you a better indication of what the installation can deliver. Expectations are very important and if you don’t meet them clients will withdraw future funding! 30 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

Figure 3 Colts Trailer - Interactive digital signage inside the Colts trailer encouraging exercise and showing Colts Trivia.

Gathering the Right Resources

There are a variety of ways in which integrators and clients set themselves up to fail. If you don’t put the right resources in place then you most assuredly will have a failure. We worked with a bank interested in deploying digital signage at many branches. As the project started we were put in touch with the person charged with managing their content. We had already discussed the role this person was to play, but soon discovered that a short attention span and lack of technical aptitude resulted in client calls about content challenges. These discrepancies arose because the in-house person assigned to manage the network continually missed some of the straightforward steps to publishing the content. This individual was a valued employee and good at a lot of things, but managing a digital signage network was not one of them. The skill sets that an individual who is to publish and create content for an in-house digital signage network should include attention to detail and patience (we’re working with technology here!). Most in-house personnel have not come from a content creation firm nor have most had prior experience managing a large digital signage network. But a person in your internal marketing or advertising departments will likely have a working knowledge of programs more complicated than Microsoft Word and they may even know how to create some basic content when they need to. If such a person or department doesn’t exist, perhaps someone from, who is used to creating bulletins and will

have a general understanding of the basics of content design. After you have chosen the best fit available for managing your network you have the task of training this person to make sure they understand some basic digital signage rules. Note: in smaller organizations this person will likely be multi-tasking. This person will be your first line of defense for troubleshooting challenges and your last line of defense for content review. But the most important thing – and I cannot stress this enough – is this person must have some skin in the game. This means that their performance reviews, raises, bonuses, (however you choose to do it) must be tied to how well this person manages the digital signage network.

Keeping Content Fresh

Content is probably the most important piece of your digital signage network, or at least statistically one of the most likely places to fail. There are many more examples on how to do this wrong then how to do this right. So let’s look at some ground rules for getting started on the right foot. The very first place to start is content guidelines. These guidelines don’t refer to whether you can put ESPN on the screen in your lobby. You should already know the answer to that. We are talking about considerations such as deciding whether or not you will allow political advertising. Because once you accept one political ad you’ve got to accept them all. What about religious-affiliated ads, will you allow those? Do you have to comply with FCC regulations? The idea here is to come up with some basic guidelines and write them down. So at least if one of the guidelines is broken you have recourse as to why you can’t run that content again. Other guidelines might include approved backgrounds, logos, or even who should have access. There are some great free articles out there to get you started on this process. Please take this planning seriously because it can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Ask similar businesses how they did theirs as well! With guidelines in place you can consider content strategy. This consideration goes hand-in-hand with the purpose of this digital signage solution. Let’s say the answer was to boost profits in a gas station. Then you should be thinking about what your most profitable items are and how to showcase them. There is generally a multi-faceted strategy here with other goals for brand loyalty and brand recognition. There are a lot of directions to go with your goals. Now the dreaded content rules come into play. Is there enough time play an “M&M’s on Sale” ad before for your customer leaves? To know the answer you need to know what your average dwell time is. Before you ask—yes, it does matter what colors you use, and it does matter how consistent you are with the look of your ads. Keeping your content fresh is a big deal. If someone walks into that same gas station two or three times a week and the same content is always playing they’re likely going to ignore it! Probably more important than any of the content rules keeping your content fresh will at least keep customers looking at your

screens. This is where having the right internal resources discussed above will make the difference in whether your content stays fresh or gets stale.

Measuring Success

Why is it harder to sell advertising on your screens to an advertiser the second time around? It normally has to do with how well you measured (audience) success and how well you were able to prove it. Measuring success is measuring the culmination of all of the work put forth above. But the key is to start planning how you are going to measure this in the early stages before you hang your first screen. Now the metrics you track may change or even evolve, but you as the end user, possibly assisted by the integrator, should start out with a plan. You should discuss which metrics will prove that your digital signage was effective. Technologies and methods for measuring effectiveness are more available than they have ever been, and more cost effective. So if these technologies are more readily available why are so few end users choosing to use them? This goes back to asking the right questions—and few integrators are asking their clients if they would like to use them. Measurement devices include the plethora of camera-based systems with specialized software that count viewers, identify sex and age and in some cases count the number of viewers of a specific ad. There are also mats that count the amount of foot traffic near a screen, or products like cell phones attached to sensors that record how many times they were picked up. You can also offer an app that when downloaded will track each time a user comes in the store, or offer an incentive to users who scan the QR code with their smart phone and to track those users. With these measurement technologies an advertiser will know with certainty at which location 30 males and 25 females saw the add for scarves and 75% of them watched it until it was over. That data can be correlated that with how many scarves were bought that day providing a strong case for digital signage by showing a trend of sales uplift. Remember always to start by asking the right questions. In many cases these are learned from experience – this is where an experienced integrator comes in – and with those answers, you’ll be able to start setting the right expectations, find the correct resources and measure for success. Don’t become apart of the failed implementation statistic become one of the rising number of successes! Author Robert White will be presenting Seminar 1 entitled, “Doing Digital Signage Right…The First Time,” at Digital Signage Expo 2015 on Wednesday, March 11 from 9:00-10:00am at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information about DSE or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn about digital signage go to Multi-Media Solutions, Alcoa, TN (865) 681-2575.

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 31


Your Digital Chariot Digital signage systems depend on the underlying network to support basic connectivity but also the needs of the data to be distributed and the purpose of the signage system. They must also provide security, reliability and flexibility for future applications. by Mark Stross, ANC Sports Enterprises

32 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

Figure 1 Cleveland Cavaliers, the largest arena center-hung scoreboard in the country. Note the duplicate large signs, each with multiple segments for advertisements, scores, game information, etc.

Over the past several years, ANC has deployed some of the highest profile digital signage systems in the world, including the largest arena center-hung scoreboard at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quicken Loans Arena, the highest resolution and largest display in MLB with the Seattle Mariners and the largest signage network in a New York City transportation hub at Fulton Center. These signage systems feature different technologies, at times, different display types within the same installation. However, the one constant which ANC has encountered, is the need to build a comprehensive digital signage network to maximize the quickly evolving display technologies based on a solid but adaptable underlying network infrastructure. While their time is centuries apart, a digital network can be likened to a chariot wheel, with all traffic moving along individual spokes connected to a center hub. Break one spoke of one wheel and you can potentially derail your entire chariot. Each hub, or chariot wheel, is not only connected internally through spokes, but can connect to other hubs through spokes, similar to a chariot’s axel connecting two wheels. While the chariot wheels can embody your network, a network is only as strong as its data. Data is no different than water,

flowing freely through the spokes from one hub to the next. A damaged spoke blocks the water, preventing it from flowing throughout the network. Data, which is prevented from moving doesn’t appear on its final destination or appears incorrectly with stuttering, content breaks and other irregularities.

Building Your Chariot

There are many different security models for CMS and Extranet applications (not Internet). Many of these models work for different applications, so it is important to be able to select and implement a security, which works for your individual network. Usually, a vendor will receive a request for proposal or scope of work document to start forming a roadmap to build a network. The first order of business upon receiving the scope is to determine if the vendor can actually do the project. This is perhaps the hardest aspect of the process since its subjective and relies completely upon vendors to be honest with themselves. Once confident your expertise meets the scope of work, the first step towards responding to the request for proposal is to determine what kind of network is required. A closed network with no outside data entanglements, a partial closed network RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 33


Figure 2 Control Center for a large digital signage operation.

with ports open to the outside, or a completely open network. A secure network requires firewalls, intelligent routers and secure software access. In some projects, agreeing to this infrastructure can be difficult and if done incorrectly can negatively impact the final network. Vendors and clients should figure out security and network first as it is the backbone of every integrated project. One popular method is to use virtual private network (VPN) tunnels into the network. This method opens up the content players GUI and can enable repairs and programming without limitations since the whole network lives within the security of VPN. Unfortunately, VPN tunnels do not always work, especially if your system is spread out over a large geographic location. Therefore, every vendor should examine each project to identify which of the many different successful models will enable them to build their infrastructure. This one choice is huge and should be carefully vetted out to maximize the project’s success. Once a network has been selected and the vendor and client have agreed to a security vision, the project can proceed. The scoped products working within the network now need to be addressed. Since your network has been established, you now know how your data will flow. Knowing how your data will flow will enable you to select and place your hardware to light up the deployment. An interesting fact is that by doing the security and network plans upfront, you create a blueprint for the next steps (Figure 1). Placing infrastructure within your network will always follow your data plan if it needs to be connected. One of the interesting hardware scope issues is addressing the machines on your network. You will need to address questions 34 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

such as should you use DHCP or static IP addresses to find items on your network. We have discovered that we usually prefer setting up static IP addresses. Using machine names over a network can trip you up if you are not careful. It is critical to understand that you must test your hardware on your network layout and make sure you watch it for any issues. You might be a machine name lover at heart but discover that your network prefers static IP addresses. You will not know unless you have truly tested your configuration. Too many smart hardware designs are derailed by the loss of player connectivity. One hard lesson is that it’s easy to throw hardware towards resolving issues. Frankly, that’s the lazy way to do it. Each additional hardware widget is another point of failure, another aspect of the deployment that needs to be learned, and finally new hardware can have “quirks” that have to be understood. Now that you have tested your hardware design on the planned network you are able to create a scope package for the client including the ever important cost, as well as its functionality based on your testing and knowledge of your system. Here’s where the fun begins. Essentially, we always try to include backup systems (the spare chariot wheel) for every network so that we have a fall back system in place. You have to know up front where your failure points could be in your design. You have to have spares and the ability to quickly switch gear out or switch to redundancy on the fly. Like a submarine, know the danger points for leaking water and batten down the hatches. The network design usually integrates a control room (Figure 1). The control room is the hub, the center of the chariot wheel, to which all spokes somehow connect. From the hub you have fiber or cable networks extending to players and content to screens. Sometimes you have redundancy where you have two control points feeding a central network hub which typically have redundant intelligent routers that switch from each other if

any transmission packets go dark. We don’t see this type of setup often, but if the client needs total uptime, this is a means to make it happen. One of the most frequently used utilities in our testing is software that checks out our network for packet losses and other issues. Believe it or not; the same motherboard manufacturer might change out the Ethernet—on-board Ethernet—chips on their motherboard. Just because one machine is working great does not mean every machine is working great. While this seems simplistic, items such as this have tripped up the best technology teams in the world. Ethernet ports and fiber communication modems are the cartilage Figure 1 that holds your network together. ANC Sports Mariners Safeco Field, the largest/highest resolution display in Major League Baseball. Also note that While holding everything together, the signs around the outfield walls are part of the system as well. these items are actually also the weakest link. Testing your network after you deploy your hardware will save you time and identify demand for faster delivery of that data and the requirement to the issues which might prevent your system from functioning deliver data to more final destinations (Figure 2). properly in the future. So how do you future-proof, while ensuring you deploy a When you are dealing with long runs, getting fiber modems system at your client’s budget today? The answer is so decepworking can be a chore. At times, we can find ourselves working tively simple, it’s irritating: testing. Testing means do everything in new building constructions zones, which don’t have cell you possibly can to break your setup. Unplug technology, break phone reception and need ultra-high power two-way radios. wires, do the ugliest torture tests you can think up. Always Essentially, when you are estimating how to design as well as think worst-case deployment issues. Testing is not just about how to deploy your network, keep in mind that your location matching up standards found on the web. Specs that come with is also a challenge. You will either need extra communications equipment cannot be relied upon. Try out the gear. See the spec technology, extra bodies so that you can do an effective sneaker being delivered with your own eyes and push its limits. net, or extra time. Unfortunately, technology deployments are Be brave and explore different technologies, then test, test often completed under demanding deadlines where more often again and test some more. To stay viable create a plan, test the than not, extra time is not an option. Trying to bring a network plan, design hardware around the plan, test the hardware within online under brutal conditions only works if you are prepared, the planned configuration, debug the test results, plan for the fuwhich takes us back to planning. Know the environment you ture, test the future, implement and retest. Then, finally, at some are going to deploy in and solve for the environment as part of point in between repairing your wheel spokes to ensure your your design. chariot continues to ride smoothly, take the time to celebrate As we all know, the time honored truth about technology your success and enjoy the ride. is that it will change. Change is occurring so fast that none of Author Mark Stross will be co-presenting Seminar 18 entitled, us will be master of any technology for long and if we wish to “Using Technology to Manage Network Growth & Multiple Disremain viable will have to learn many technologies. play Types,” at Digital Signage Expo 2015 on Thursday, March We all should be asking ourselves; “What could I be doing 12 from 9:00-10:00am at the Las Vegas Convention Center. with my technology to make it better?” “What do my clients For more information about DSE or to register for this or any want that I am not delivering?” Whatever the answers are, one other educational seminar or workshop and learn about digital thing is for certain; you should be thinking about future-proofsignage go to ing your clients’ deployments. This is challenging, as clients often don’t want to think down the road. However, your network ANC Sports Enterprises, Purchase, NY infrastructure needs to be built to withstand more data, the (914) 696-2100. RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 35


Fourth Generation Intel Processor in Rugged 6U VME SBC

An industrial ATX motherboard, features the fourth generation Intel Core technology and Intel H81 chipset in a LGA1150 package. The IMB-H42H from Adlink Technology supports integrated motion/vision application-based platforms with a leading price/performance ratio, deivering computing power by as much as 18% and graphics performance up to 80% over previous generation processors. Combined high-bandwidth PCIe x16, PCIe x4 conventional PCI slots, superior, rugged I/O connectivity and optimal design make it an attractive solution for industrial automation applications. Adlink’s IMB-M42H array of dedicated mainstream expansion provides limitless PCI Express expansion options for frame grabbers, digitizers, high-resolution dynamic signal acquisition, generation modules, and PCI expansion options for motion capture and I/O ports, enabling instant implementation of machine vision and industrial automation operations. Full-compatibility verification testing ensures high bandwidth support with no image data loss. Each USB port provides up to 1A power supply, enabling stable and reliable connectivity of cameras or other devices. The IMB-M42H provides rich industrial grade I/O connectivity including 6 COM ports (COM1/2 supporting RS232/422/485, COM1 supporting RS-485 automatic flow control for network communications), 10 USB ports (2 USB 3.0), and 8-bit 4-In/4Out API sample code-ready GPIO. Moreover, the IMB-42H provides stable, reliable USB,LAN ports, two USB3.0 interfaces, and one Intel i217V Giga LAN interface enable connection to USB 3.0 or GigE cameras without requiring extra USB 3.0 or NIC cards. The superior I/O design eliminates the cost of additional communications and trigger modules, lowering TCO. The IMB-M42H accommodates integration of Adlink’s full spectrum of frame grabbers, motion controllers, data acquisition cards, and offers the benefit of Adlink’s comprehensive expertise and experience delivering industry-leading application-specific platforms with versatile Adlink I/O cards for automation applications.

A rugged 6U VME SBC is based on the fourth generation Intel Core i7 (Haswell) processor family. The C163 from Aitech Defense Systems is based on the latest Intel, fourth generation Haswell multicore processors and the ruggedized board reliably operates over wide temperature ranges in embedded and harsh environments, including defense, aerospace and rugged industrial applications. With up to 16 GB of fast DDR3L SDRAM and 128 GB of SATA II Flash disk, the C163 is suitable for applications that require extensive memory resources. Environments requiring reliable operation benefits from the board’s dual redundant BIOS Flash that ensures the boot process will redirect to the alternate device should the board fail to boot from the primary device. By integrating the low power, dual core (Core i5) or quad core (Core i7) Intel CPU with large memory arrays, the new SBC easily handles intense data requirements typical in modern video and graphics processing applications. Intel’s embedded HD graphics 4600 GPU, implemented on the processor, provides 20 execution units and is capable of 2D/3D graphics processing eliminating the need for separate GPU-based mezzanine boards. An included PCH-QM87 Lynx point platform controller hub integrates the platform I/O interfaces and supports both high-speed and legacy resources. This added design flexibility provides more efficient processing across the board. Two industry-standard PMC/XMC slots further enhance the board’s capabilities. Facilitating its high-speed operation and exceptional throughput, the board implements a Tundra-to-VMEbus bridge located on the PCI bus that incorporates two large FIFOs for optimal operation of the PCI and VME buses. The VME interface supports full master/ slave capabilities and legacy VME protocols as well as A64/A32/A24/ A16 addressing modes. Two included DMA engines support the high data rate transfers. The C163 is available in four basic I/O configurations: a standard on-board I/O version, arrangements that accommodate the board’s PMC or XMC expansion slots and a C160-compatible (previous generation) configuration. The new SBC can also be customized to meet specific user requirements. Various I/O resources include four GbE ports, seven USB 2.0 ports, two SATA II ports and four RS232/422/485 serial ports as well as 12 discrete I/O lines, two CANbus ports, one HDMI/DVI display port and a high definition audio port.

ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA (408) 360-0200 •

Aitech Defense Systems, Chatsworth, CA (818) 700-2000.

Industrial Motherboard Empowers Combined Motion & Vision Applications

36 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015


Software-Defined Magnetic Sensor IC

A new, fully programmable, extremely compact sensor IC is capable of accurately measuring changes in magnetic flux density along its X, Y and Z axes. Based on the company’s proprietary Triaxis technology, the MLX90393 from Melexis provides almost unlimited scope with which all manner of human machine interface implementations can be accomplished—from joystick, slide switches, push/pull switches, levelers, linear swipe switches and rotary knobs, right through to complex 3D position sensing systems. Suitable for micropower applications, the IC draws just 2.5µA of current when idle. It employs a monolithic pixel cell arrangement and has a 16-bit resolution output. Using its SPI and I2C interfaces, engineers can access the MLX90393’s various operating modes; continuous; single measurement; wake up on change and burst mode. In addition, the device’s settings can be adjusted at runtime as required by the application needs. The burst mode duty cycle programmable range spans between 0.1% and 100%. By having it higher, fast response time applications can be served. Conversely, by having a lower duty cycle the current consumption can be curbed at supply voltages as low as 2.2V. It is not difficult to find magnetic sensors on the market with linear sensing ranges up to ±2mT, mainly targeting compass applications. The MLX90393 however is the first 3D magnetometer enabling a linear sensitivity across a selectable 16-bit full-scale range from ±5mT up to ±50mT. This makes it highly suited to position sensing and shows one of the most important strengths of integrated Hall-effect technology. This device opens up a host of new possibilities to sensing system design in both consumer and industrial sectors. It has the capability to capture precise measurement data on the magnetic field in X, Y and Z directions, as well as temperature T, or any combination of these. Trade-offs can be made between power consumption, speed and signal integrity. The multitude of options that result from its array of programmable functions make this an extremely versatile device. Supporting an operational temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, the MLX90393 is supplied in a 3mm x 3mm QFN package. Melexis, Nashua, NH 603-204-2900.

Low Cost, Rugged Data Acquisition PCIe MiniCard A rugged, low cost data acquisition PCIe MiniCard module is suitable for adding analog I/O and digital I/O features to embedded applications requiring low cost, small size, and/or light weight. The DS-MPE-DAQ0804 from Diamond Systems offers 8 16-bit analog input channels, 4 16-bit analog output channels, and 21 configurable digital I/O lines in a PCIe MiniCard form factor with an extended operating temperature of -40oC to +85oC. The analog inputs offer single-ended and true differential capability, 4 programmable input ranges, and 100 KHz aggregate sample rate. Major features of the DS-MPE-DAQ0804 analog input circuitry include an integrated programmable timer to control A/D sample rates automatically, resulting in precise timing plus significantly reduced processor overhead compared to software polling techniques. The 2048-sample data FIFO with programmable interrupt threshold further reduces processor overhead by reducing the interrupt rate required to transfer data from the board to the application. With these features DS-MPE-DAQ0804 can offer accurate, full-speed performance in any single-board computer regardless of processor speed. The 16-bit analog outputs offer 2 programmable output voltage ranges. An integrated precision, low-drift voltage reference ensures a lifetime of accurate performance across the full operating temperature range. A built-in waveform generator with 2K sample buffer enables the board to be used in stimulus applications such as sonar, laser light control, and other applications. The 21 buffered digital I/O lines feature programmable direction in groups of 4, 6, and 8 bits. The digital I/O lines can also be configured as either 24-bit pulse width modulators or 32-bit counter/timers, driven by the on-board 50 MHz clock. All I/O signals are provided on two miniature connectors, one for the analog signals and one for the digital signals. The connectors feature positive locking for maximum reliability in high vibration environments. Diamond’s free Universal Driver software, included with the DS-MPE-DAQ0804, simplifies programming effort for all the board’s I/O functions under both Windows and Linux operating systems. The DS-MPE¬DAQ0804’s key features and functions are tabulated below. Single unit pricing starts at US$270. Diamond Systems, Mountain View, CA (650) 810-2500.

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 37


Rugged COM Express Carrier Board Accommodates all Standard Serial I/O

High Performance Serial Port Module with Opto-isolation, Software Configuration

A carrier board for Rugged COM Express modules acts as an evaluation and development platform can test required functions individually to ensure the appropriate settings are used for various rugged embedded applications. The XC15 from Men Micro provides a considerable number of physical interfaces and connectors for almost all existing standard serial I/O, which can be routed from the COM Express connectors to the carrier board. Users can evaluate features and performance to determine which Rugged COM Express module is appropriate for an intended application. Apart from withstanding an extended temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, the sturdy and securely screwed aluminum frame ensures 100% EMC protection as well as shock and vibration resistance. It also reliably protects against dust, humidity and chemicals. Although the functionality of all connectors depends on the specific Rugged COM Express module used, the new carrier board offers a wide variety of interfaces. This includes one COM Express slot and seven PCI Express card slots as well as an onboard PCI Express Graphics (PEG) interface on a standard PCIe x16 connector. For multimedia applications, the XC15 offers one VGA, two LVDS and three DisplayPort connectors. Four onboard SATA connectors and two CAN interfaces, available via SA-Adapters, are also included. The new carrier board supports the microATX form factor, and can therefore be operated in a PC system. Additional USB ports on the front panel allow easy connection of USB-driven Flash disks, complementing the memory configuration for application storage. This allows the already-established storage systems to be easily adapted to different COM Express modules. The XC15 is supplied with a plug-in card for the COM Express CC10 or the Rugged COM Express module CC10C. MEN Micro also provides additional accessories including external PSUs and fans, DisplayPort-to-DVI adapters as well as cables for UART and SATA. Pricing for the XC15 is $684 USD.

A family of high performance PCIe/104 serial I/O modules offers 4 or 8 serial ports with software-controlled configuration and optional opto-isolation. With the Emerald-MM-8EL-XT from Diamond systems, the serial ports are based on a high speed PCIe octal UART with 256-byte TX/RX FIFOs and auto RS-485 transmit control. Each serial port can be independently configured for RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485 protocols, along with programmable 120-ohm line termination. Each port is independently isolated with an isolated power + signal chip, plus additional isolators for control signals. The board features intelligent power management that limits inrush current on power-up and also enables power-down of unused serial ports for power savings. Opto-isolated models feature independent 2500V isolation circuits for enhanced reliability in vehicle or long cable applications. All ports also feature +/-15KV ESD protection. Each serial port is available on an independent latching connector for increased isolation and ruggedness. With its wide operating temperature range and high resistance to shock and vibration, the EMM-8EL-XT fits a wide variety of rugged and on-vehicle embedded serial I/O application needs. EMM-8EL-XT also offers 8 digital/analog I/O lines which are programmable from the on-board microcontroller. Each I/O line can be configured for digital input or output. Seven of the I/O lines can also be configured for 12-bit A/D input with selectable 0-2.048V or 0-3.3V input ranges. EMM-8EL-XT contains no configuration jumpers; all configuration and control is done with an onboard microcontroller. All configuration settings are stored in the microcontroller’s flash memory and are automatically loaded on power-up. The microcontroller is managed with a comprehensive software suite that makes configuring the EMM-8EL-XT fast and simple. A graphical control panel, a console application, and drivers for Windows and Linux are provided to enable convenient configuration of the board and control of the I/O features in a laboratory or system assembly environment, or embedded in the customer’s application software. EMM-8EL-XT is compatible with Windows 7/Vista/2000/XP and Linux and is qualified for operation over the full industrial temperature range of -40oC to +85oC. Single unit pricing starts at US$675.

MEN Micro, Blue Bell, PA (215) 542-9575.

Diamond Systems, Mountain View, CA (650) 810-2500.

38 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

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

3U CompactPCI Board Increases, Power Efficiencies and Comprehensive I/O

A new 3U CompactPCI board delivers significant performance increases and power efficiencies. The CP3010-SA from Kontron integrates the powerful 22nm Intel Atom processor that offers quad-core 1.91 GHz performance, a very low thermal design power (TDP) value and extended temperature operation. This rugged CPU board is EN50155 compliant and designed with soldered processor and memory to handle tough shock and vibration environmental conditions making it suitable for a wide range of rail transportation, industrial and mobile applications. Supporting maximum design flexibility, the Kontron CP-3010 offers a comprehensive I/O feature set and can be adapted to a diverse array of application requirements. The CP-3010 also has a built-in graphics core via Intel HD Graphics Technology that gives designers outstanding graphics performance compared to the previous Atom architecture. To protect OEM development investments and eliminate unplanned design changes, the Kontron CP3010 ensures long-term availability due to Intel‘s embedded product line. It also minimizes deployment risks by providing a broad range of software support that also helps to ease the process of product integration providing competitive advantages that accelerate time-to-market. The CP3010-SA is Kontron’s latest low-power 3U CompactPCI CPU board. It is based on the Intel Atom processors E3827 and E3845 that provide a maximum of quad-core 1.91 GHz processing performance. For memory-demanding applications, the CP3010 offers up to 8GB of soldered DDR3L memory running at 1333MHz, and onboard data storage is satisfied by a CFAST option or soldered SATA Flash solid-state drive and a HDD/SSD option on the CP3010’s 8HP extension module. On the system side, the CP3010-SA supports a PCI 32-bit, 33MHz (66MHz on request) CompactPCI interface enabling the peripheral mode feature. The CP3010-SA comes with a comprehensive I/O feature set supporting interfaces such as DisplayPort, USB 3.0/2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, CAN, RS-232 serial ports in common with the audio interfaces Line-In and Line-Out. It is available as 4HP or 8HP version, which can be optionally combined with rear I/O support. Kontron, Poway, CA (888) 294-4558.

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 •

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 39


Fanless Box PC and Entry-Level High-End System based on Intel Haswell ULT SoC

A high performance and low-power Box PC system with rugged fan-less design is powered by the mobile fourth generation Intel Core ULT (ultra low TDP) SoC processor (formerly codenamed Haswell). The intelligent WEBS-5481-S system from American Portwell Technology supports triple display with high-resolution and provides wireless function. This makes it an attractive platform for high-performance, high-demanding video/graphic and automation control applications to expand the market in IoT world. WEBS-5481-S is powerful but not power hungry. This is because of its ability to utilize the dual-core fourth generation Intel Core processor with Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 (select CPU SKUs), Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology. The integration of Intel ‘s Haswell SoC, a mobile 2-in-1 platform combined with only 15W TDP design, enables WEBS-5481-S to incorporate a more effective thermal design into a smaller, sleeker and lighter intelligent system than ever before. Another highlight of WEBS-5481-S is the triple display that

Digital Signage Player Features 4K UHD Video Playback

A digital signage player is based on fourth Generation Intel Core processors and available with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i74500EQ or 2.7 Intel Core i5-4400E processor. The SI-83 from IBase Technology can be used in applications such as digital menu boards in restaurants, retail advertising in shopping malls and hotel lobby signage.

40 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

supports the high-resolution video/graphic capability. This allows the new Box PC to take full advantage of the 4th generation Intel Core processor with integrated HD4400 graphics engine, which outperforms its predecessor by over 20 percent. In addition, the progressive mechanical design concept enables WEBS-5481-S to stand out in hash environments. It is also compact, rugged and fan-less with a highly reliable thermally-enhanced ripple fin chassis design. It functions reliably in operating temperatures ranging from 20ºC to 55ºC and has also passed both an anti-vibration test of up to 5Grms and an anti-shock test of 50G. The versatile WEBS-5481-S system supports many other major features, including dual channel DDR3L memory up to 16GB, one 2.5” SATA HDD/SSD, one CFEX, one mSATA for storage. It offers rich compact I/O sets and fast connectivity functions with three independent display interfaces (VGA/ HDMI/DisplayPort), two COM ports (one RS-232/422/485 port by BIOS selection and one RS-232 port), two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one 8 bits GPIO port, and Line-out/Mic-in audio interfaces. Furthermore, in the Industry 4.0 generation, networking plays a major role in IoT world. The optional WiFi or 3G/GPS mini PCIe module is offered via one full-size mini PCIe socket with an onboard cover type SIM card holder and one half-size mini PCIe socket to process data transferring from local wireless network or mobile phone base station. American Portwell Technology, Fremont, CA. (510) 403-8899.

The SI-83 features the QM87 integrated graphics controller and supports three outputs with two DP 1.2 and one HDMI 1.4a, offering impressive system performance and full HD videos. As the HDMI interface delivers a video playback with resolution of 3840 x 2160p @ 30Hz, the DP interface can support 4K (3840 x 2160p @ 60Hz) content. With support for smooth 1080P video playback on three independent displays, it can fully meet customers’ expectation and the needs of various signage applications. Measuring 175mm by 116mm by 32mm, the slim unit has a segregated ventilation system to keep contaminants out and enhance system stability. I/O connections on board are for two Gigabit Ethernets, two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, audio and a 12V DC-in jack. Storage and expansion are supported with one mSATA and a Mini PCI-E(x1) slot for WiFi + Bluetooth, 3G and TV tuner options. IBASE Technology, Taipei, Taiwan, +886-2-26557588.


Rugged “All-in-One” Mission Computer IOS Network Router Subsystem A single unit SWaP-optimized subsystem solution combines Inte Core i7-based processing and a Cisco 5915 Internetwork Operating System (IOS)-managed defense-secure network router in a single subsystem. This Commercial-Off the Shelf (COTS) modular and scalable platform is designed for optimal performance in extended temperature, high shock & vibration environments. It provides system designers with a scalable, all-in-one computing appliance that simplifies the integration of tactical computing, IP networking and situational awareness applications, while significantly reducing SWaP and enabling Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) consolidation. The DuraWORX 10-10 uniquely delivers new levels of computing and communications capabilities for mobile, airborne, ground vehicle applications operating at the tactical network edge. It’s designed to support C4ISR command and control, image processing and surveillance requirements while aggregating peripheral devices (cameras, sensors, computers) from external and embedded IP networks into a manageable, highly secure IP network. The DuraWORX 10-10 extends the Cisco enterprise networking infrasThe DuraWORX 10-10 uniquely integrates the capabilities of Curtiss-Wright’s industry leading DuraCOR 80-40 mission computer and DuraMAR 5915 network router line replaceable unit (LRU) subsystems in a single highly rugged enclosure. Parvus DuraNET 30-2020 or DuraNET 20-10 Ethernet switches can also be integrated in the system to increase Ethernet port count and add managed Layer 2 switching capabilities. DuraCOR 80-40: A rugged COTS tactical mission computer subsystem based on the high performance Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor with a high-speed, stackable PCI-Express bus

(PCIe/104) architecture for I/O card expansion. The DuraCOR 80-40 combines powerful graphics and multi-core processing with ultra-reliable mechanical robustness and modular I/O expansion for extreme environmental and EMI performance per MIL-STD-810G (thermal, shock, vibration, dust, water, humidity) and MIL-STD-461F. DuraMAR 5915: Rugged SWaP-C optimized mobile IP router subsystem. The Parvus DuraMAR 5915 delivers a Cisco IOS networking architecture with advanced routing features supporting Communications on the Move (COTM), remote Voice Over IP (VoIP), Mobile Ad Hoc Networking (MANET), AES/NSA Suite B Encryption, and Radio Aware Routing (RAR), among others. DuraNET 30-2020: Ultra-rugged 19-port Cisco IOS-managed Layer 2 network switch integrating Cisco’s ESS 2020 Embedded Services Switch technology with an isolated MILSTD-1275/704 power supply in an IP67 (dust/water proof) sealed aluminum chassis with MIL-DTL-38999 connectors. DuraNET 20-10: Rugged Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch subsystem featuring advanced Layer 2 networking features with 20 ports of non-blocking wire-speed 10/100/1000Mbps connectivity, an integrated management processor and extremely low power consumption. The DuraNET 20-10 enables reliable switching across extended operating temperature to connect a large number of IP-enabled embedded devices, including computers, cameras, sensors, and command-and-control equipment deployed in digital networked architectures of manned and unmanned system platforms at the network edge. The unit is designed to meet extreme MIL-STD-461F, RTCA/DO-160G, MIL-STD810G thermal, shock, vibe, humidity, altitude, ingress, and EMI/EMC conditions Curtiss-Right Defense Systems, Ashburn, VA (661) 705-1142,

RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015 | 41


Company...........................................................................Page................................................................................Website congatec, Dolphin................................................................................................................... 44.................................................................................... High Assurance Systems..........................................................................43.................................................................................. Intelligent Systems Source.......................................................................27................................................. Lauterbach Development Tools........................................................... Men Micro, MSC Embedded Inc........................................................................................4........................................................................... Super Micro Computers, Inc.....................................................................5.................................................................................... Tadiran Batteries.............................................................................................. 13..................................................................................... Win Systems......................................................................................................... RTC Products Gallery....................................................................................27........................................................................................................................................ 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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42 | RTC Magazine JANUARY 2015

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?

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Need Software for 速 PCI Express

PCI Express速 Software Dolphin PCI Express sooware is a complete sooware stack that supports Windows, Linux, and now VxWorks. is stack includes sooware for Peer to Peer connections, sockets, reeective memory connections, and TCP/IP support.

RTC Magazine  

January 2015

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