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New MIPI Interface Brings together Diverse Sensors Flexibility and Security for Software-Defined Radio Modular Systems Hone in on Industrial Automation The Magazine of Record for the Embedded Computer Industry

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Vol 16 / No 7 / July 2015

Doling Out Power to Stingy Devices

An RTC Group Publication

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At RTD, we have developed a full suite of compatible boards and systems that serve automation, transport, industrial, defense, aerospace, maritime, ground, and research-based applications. We provide high-quality, cutting-edge, concept-to-deployment, rugged, embedded solutions. Whether you need a stack of modules, or a fully enclosed system, RTD has a solution for you. Call us to leverage our innovative product line to design your own embedded system that is reliable, flexible, expandable, and field-serviceable. Let us show you what we do best. Start here:

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Virtual Reality Becoming Real: Interactive 3D Medical Imaging by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief




22 Doling Out Power to Stingy Devices

by Doug Hoffman, Qualcomm and Paul Kimelman, NXP Semiconductors: members, MIPI Alliance Sensor Working Group







MIPI I3C Provides a Unified, High-Performing Interface for Sensors

RF-Sampling ADCs for Software-Defined Radio by Pierrick Vulliez

A Complex Connected World is Pushing for More Partnerships to Serve Customer Needs




Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Newest Embedded Technology Used by Industry Leaders


Power Management for ‘Stingy’ Devices by Matt Saunders, Silicon Labs


Do More with Less Power by Jin Xu, Microchip Technology



Factory Automation in the World of IIoT by Andrew Caples, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division

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A new Era of Industrial PCs Builds on Modularity and Cost Efficiencies by Susanne Bornschlegl, MEN Micro

Factory Automation in the World of IIoT RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 3



Qseven IoT Gateway Development Kit PUBLISHER President John Reardon, Vice President Aaron Foellmi,

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A complete starter set for the rapid prototyping of embedded IoT applications.

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IoT: A Complex Connected World is Pushing for More Partnerships to Serve Customer Needs by Tom Williams, Editor-In-Chief

Has anyone noticed that things are becoming more complicated? As if it were not already blazingly apparent, the emergence of the Internet of Things is presenting dizzying alternatives for configuring and managing vast numbers of connected devices that in turn generate immense volumes of Big Data that cry out for analysis and interpretation. The ability to manage these things is slipping away due to the growing complexity in connectivity, software and silicon integration, which are all being combined into larger systems. At this point, they cannot all be developed, integrated and managed by a single company—certainly not by any but the very largest conglomerate. This overarching situation has increasingly led to the formation of partnerships to try to bring specialized areas of expertise to bear on larger problems that combine them. Of course, that is a very natural development but with the growth of complexity the stakes are getting higher that a failed partnership could easily lead to ruin not only of a project but also of a company’s reputation with customers. For that reason, companies need to look very closely at the arrangements and understandings that make up a partnership because they are increasingly crucial to survival. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the customer doesn’t really care one wits worth about your partner. Now that isn’t entirely true if the partner has a reputation of expertise that can be cited as a positive reason to do business. But a customer, who has his or her own set of worries and priorities really just wants to purchase a product or service from a vendor and be assured of support from that vendor. If there is a need to draw on the specialized expertise of the partner in order to provide support, that should only be done by the vendor, who should never rout the customer to that partner. While there are, of course, alternatives to such partnerships, there are very strong forces moving companies

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toward forming them. Let’s look at the history of the once-humble microcontroller and the RTOS. Once upon a time there were simple 8-bit microcontrollers and relatively modest real-time operating systems. RTOS vendors could adopt their software and modest tools to the different parts that were on the market. These 8-bit devices became 16-bit and then 32-bit parts and the RTOS companies kept up pretty well, adding tools support, compilers, debuggers, network stacks and so on. As the 16- and 32-bit devices started adding more combinations of on-chip peripherals to families of MCUs, the customer wound up using the RTOS vendor’s development tools to write device drivers for the on-chip peripherals. Additionally he would use those tools for putting together a board support package (BSP). That is now becoming too much of a time-to-market burden for today’s OEM. Today’s 32-bit microcontrollers have a daunting array of processor cores and core variants—8- and 32-bit versions of a processor architecture—connected to a huge selection of on-chip peripherals by a system of on-chip buses. All these on-chip devices need software driver support. For the semiconductor vendor it comes down to a build or buy decision, but it is no longer a matter that can simply be left to the OEM customer. The time-to-market and software investment burdens are too great. The semiconductor vendor can either do this development in-house or partner with a software vendor. One company I talked to had decided to supply its own drivers and support software while letting customers select from available RTOSs and other development tools. I asked them—a silicon company—how many software engineers they had on staff as opposed to hardware engineers. They didn’t want to tell me. It is fairly well known how Intel solved this problem. They simply acquired Wind River, which still serves its established customer base

while supplying Intel all the software support it needs for its products. For the rest of us mortals, the alternative to such in-house solutions rests with a number of very well-qualified software operating system and tool vendors, who can provide service and support in partnership arrangements. Of course, with such an arrangement a company’s product line and even its overall reputation can be at risk if the partnership fails or is not clearly and reliably established. All kinds of intellectual property and nondisclosure issues will come up, or should come up, in negotiations. Since such software companies now also provide suites of development, debugging and analysis tools, often along with needed standards certifications these must be carefully planned for and agreed to for success. The advent of the IoT is only going to make the need for comprehensive partnerships greater, more widespread and probably much more complex in its own right. It will call for the integration and connection of many more and different fields of expertise, which will require ever-stronger collaboration in terms of licensing, communication and in confidence in order to serve the customer who simply wants to pay money and purchase something.


Support For Just-Adopted Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) Aware AdvancedTCA Specification Early industry support for the IPv6-awareness has been added to the ATCA specification via a just-adopted Engineering Change Notice (ECN). The 3.5.0 release of the Pigeon Point Shelf Manager, which is already shipping, includes basic support for IPv6 communication with the Shelf Manager, when running on the ShMM-700R shelf management mezzanine module. The 3.5.1 release, scheduled for July 2015, will add specific support, also on the ShMM-700R platform, for the ECN-defined IPv6 extensions in the ATCA specification, PICMG 3.0. IPv6 is the newest version of the ubiquitous Internet Protocol (IP) on which much of modern electronic communication is based. IPv6 solves multiple long term problems with the existing IPv4, including the impending exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, which are only 32 bits in size. The burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) is making it ever more crucial to continue and accelerate the availability of IPv6, which supports 128-bit addresses. Though many existing AdvancedTCA (ATCA) applications will continue to use IPv4 for a considerable time, it is crucial for ATCA to allow new applications to make use of IPv6 where appropriate. The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI, a foundation for the management layer of ATCA) was augmented with IPv6 support in 2013. PICMG’s new ATCA ECN adopts that IPMI support as an option and adds ATCA-specific facilities to that support, such as for configuring shelves with IPv6 access addresses, among other areas. The already shipping 3.5.0 release of the Pigeon Point Shelf Manager supports IPv6 access to any of the external Internet Protocol interfaces of the ShMM-700R, specifically including the IPMI-defined interface, which uses the Remote Management Control Protocol (RMCP). For instance, support in RMCP and in the Shelf Manager’s Command Line Interface has been added for more than 30 IPv6-related LAN configuration parameters. The upcoming 3.5.1 release augments that support with the ATCA-specific extensions defined by the new ECN. The new PICMG 3.0 ECN and a companion ECN adding IPv6-awareness to PICMG 3.7, the ATCA Base Extensions Specification, were just adopted by PICMG after being developed in the Hardware Platform Management (HPM) subcommittee. This subcommittee within PICMG was proposed by and is led by PPS. The subcommittee is also adding IPv6 awareness to HPM.2, the LAN-attached IPM Controller Specification and HPM.3, the DHCP-Assigned Platform Management Parameters Specification. The ShMM-700R uses a Freescale i.MX287 ARM9-based main

processor to execute Linux and the Shelf Manager application, plus a Microsemi SmartFusion A2F060 intelligent mixed signal FPGA for critical supplementary functions. (Pigeon Point also delivers SmartFusion-based variants of its market-leading Board Management Reference (BMR) series of xTCA board and module management controller solutions.)

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 7


VITA Standards Organization Ratifies ANSI/VITA 46.11 System Management on VPX

cation and leverages many concepts and definitions from the AdvancedTCA (ATCA) specification by PICMG. VITA 46.11 took on the challenge of defining a set of physical, logical, and protocol requirements to standardize the management of VITA 46 and VITA 65 compliant modules and backplanes. ANSI/VITA 46.11 provides a true The VMX Industry Trade Association (VITA) has ansolution for systems management interoperability across nounced that VITA 46.11 “System Management on VPX” various hardware and software vendors, chassis suppliers, has reached ANSI recognition as ANSI/VITA 46.11-2015. systems integrators, and end users. It provides consistent This specification has completed the VITA and ANSI management capabilities and behaviors for these disparate processes reaching full recognition under guidance of the elements, and provides a robust framework that allows VITA Standards Organization (VSO). individual implementers to add their own enhancements ANSI/VITA 46.11 defines a framework for System Man- without impacting interoperability. Copies of the specifiagement in VPX systems. It enables interoperability within cation are available for purchase at the VITA Online Shop the VPX ecosystem at the Field Replaceable Unit (FRU), ( chassis and system levels. The framework is based on the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) specifi-

Irish Power Plant Launches GE Software Platform, Improving Power Delivery to Nearly 10 Percent of Households Seeking to increase its availability to meet Ireland’s future energy needs, the Whitegate Power Station in County Cork, Ireland, has implemented new GE software technology to operate more efficiently and reliably. The site is the world’s first plant to install Reliability Excellence, a new advanced software solution which taps into industrial-scale data analytics to predictively identify operational issues before they occur. The 445-megawatt gas combined-cycle power plant is located 25 miles east of the city of Cork. GE, which provided the plant’s original generation equipment, operates and maintains Whitegate for Bord Gáis Energy under a 12-year service agreement. Whitegate began operating in November 2010 and generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 300,000 homes in Ireland. In June 2014, GE launched the software project by installing a condition-based, real-time monitoring solution featuring 141 total

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sensors throughout the plant. Through around-the-clock monitoring of Whitegate’s hardware assets, GE’s Reliability Excellence technology provides the facility’s operators a single, consolidated view of plant performance. These insights are being translated into operational recommendations that are expected to help the station focus its maintenance activity on minimizing downtime. Additionally, the software’s comprehensive data analytics is helping Whitegate detect operational anomalies, including combustion dynamics and parts degradation, before they become serious issues that could force the plant offline for costly unplanned repairs. Phase two of the project will include an operations module for process optimization and operational excellence, providing key performance indicator-focused analytics to multiple levels of the facility. This phase will provide a pathway to more flexible operation and connect the plant performance better to the real time marketplace. These analytics will help customers identify actions for lowering production costs, increasing plant capability and improving system reliability. Reliability Excellence technologies are powered by an enterprise GE platform called Predix. Representing an industrial cloud-based platform, this fully connected and secure cloud environment unifies the flow of data across all plant and fleet assets, delivering the enterprise visibility and insights needed to help optimize power plant, fleet and business operations.


Wind River Partners with CoreAVI to Enable Intel GPUs for Safety Critical Platforms Core Avionics & Industrial (CoreAVI) and Wind River have announced the availability of safety critical graphics drivers and DO-178C Level A safety certification support for a broad selection of Intel processors. CoreAVI’s HD 4000/5000 OpenGL driver suite supports Intel HD 4000/5000 graphics processors integrated with Atom, Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs and SoCs. The graphics driver suite supports the robust safety partitioning and secure virtualization/separation capabilities available with Wind River’s real-time operating system suite, including VxWorks 7, VxWorks 653 and VxWorks MILS. CoreAVI’s and Wind River’s solutions are successfully flying together in aircraft display systems by many of the world’s leading avionics manufacturers, such as Boeing, Airbus, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell and Cobham Aerospace. The latest collaboration and support for Intel graphics architectures enables military, aerospace, automotive, medical, industrial, and other high reliability system manufactures to deploy Intel’s unique processor capabilities, including multi-core silicon and secure partitioning for DO-178C certified platforms. “Wind River has partnered with CoreAVI to offer their Intel HD safety critical graphics drivers in conjunction with Wind River operating systems in order to deliver our customers a complete graphics solution and DO-178C Level A certification package based on both Intel CPU and GPU processor architectures,” said Dinyar Dastoor, vice president and general manager of operating system platforms at Wind River. “CoreAVI and Wind River’s combined solutions enable avionics and high reliability system manufacturers to harness the high performance capabilities available with Intel’s wide range of processors.”

Bsquare Renews Microsoft Windows Mobile Distribution Agreements Bsquare has announced the renewals of the company’s Windows Mobile Distribution Agreements with Microsoft Corporation. With these renewals, Bsquare continues to provide software licensing to the main geographic markets where Windows Mobile devices are developed by leading edge vertical OEMs. Bsquare complements this licensing relationship with value added engineering services and technical support. As its OEM customers move forward with new product roadmaps, they will be offered the MobileV platform to transition new products to an Intel based platform, running both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 operating systems. Windows 10 is critical to Microsoft and Bsquare for much broader IoT solutions development. Bsquare has been a Microsoft authorized Value-Added Provider of Windows Mobile Operating Systems since November 2009. The agreement, which is effective for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, renews the Bsquare Microsoft Windows Mobile distribution relationship for the 6th consecutive year. The renewals of the Microsoft Bsquare distribution relationship for the Windows Mobile Operating System in Japan, the Americas (excluding Cuba), Taiwan and the region comprised of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) lay the framework for the continued migration to Bsquare’s expanding MobileV portfolio. These agreements are in addition to Bsquare’s existing Windows General Embedded Distribution Agreements, which are also valid through June 30, 2016.

Connected Cars to Represent 20% of Global Market by 2019 A recent report by Juniper Research forecasts that the telematics sector will continue to outperform all other M2M markets over the next five years, in revenue terms, with one in five passenger vehicles connected globally by 2019. Smartphone-based models have become the key disruptor for M2M, as sectors such as healthcare, consumer electronics and retail continue to evolve. The report forecasts that the M2M sector will generate service revenues of over $40 billion globally by 2019 - doubling the size of today’s market. The new research, M2M & Embedded Devices: Strategic Analysis & Vertical Market Forecasts 2015-2019, observed that the roll-out of smart metering initiatives will see rapid up-take over the next six years, driven in part by governments’ ambitions to increase efficiency. According to research author Anthony Cox, “Both India and China are expected to see rapid adoption of smart metering as new metering infrastructure is installed and smart cities are created.” The utility sector however is not expected to generate similar revenues to that of the connected automotive sector. Agriculture and environmental applications are starting to emerge as important new sectors in the M2M market, with applications as diverse as wild-life and farm animal monitoring, and increasing productivity through precise field mapping. M&&A is also beginning to bring together some of the industry’s most powerful players, such as the merger of KORE Telematics and Raco Wireless, and the acquisition by Huawei of the M2M technology start-up Neul.

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 9


Wi-Fi to Carry up to 60% of Mobile Data Traffic by 2019 New research has forecast that Wi-Fi networks will carry almost 60% of smartphone and tablet data traffic by 2019, reaching over 115,000PB (Petabytes) by 2019, compared to under 30,000PB this year - representing almost a four-fold increase. The new research - Mobile Data Offload & Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell & Network Strategies 2015-2019- found that mobile data offload (data migration from a mobile network to a Wi-Fi network) offers several key benefits to industry stakeholders. Offload not only addresses the issue of patchy coverage, but also has the potential for the creation of new services such as VoWi-Fi (Wi-Fi Calling) and to increase the usage of existing 3G/4G services. However, the research cautioned that Wi-Fi offload brings challenges to Operators of effective deployment and ROI. “Operators need to deploy their own Wi-Fi zones in problematic areas or partner with Wi-Fi hotspot operators and aggregators such as iPass and Boingo”, added research author Nitin Bhas. Additionally, operators are also converting residential customers to community

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hotspot providers, especially in the US. According to Wi-Fi service provider iPass, there were nearly 40 million community hotspots in 2014 and expects this to more than double this year to nearly 90 million. Other global mobile data traffic highlights include: •G  lobal mobile data traffic generated from devices including smartphones, featurephones and tablets forecast to exceed 197,000PB in 2019. • J uniper estimates global smartphone data consumption to be nearly twice the amount of tablet traffic in 2015. •D  eveloping markets such as the Indian Subcontinent are forecast to witness higher growth rates and increased market share of the total mobile data traffic over the next 5 years; with operators in India already witnessing close to 100% y-o-y growth in data usage. • North  America and West Europe will together account for over 50% of the global mobile data being offloaded in 2019. The whitepaper, Wi-Fi Calling Operators is available to download from the Juniper Research website together with further details of the new research and interactive dataset.

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Virtual Reality Becoming Real: Interactive 3D Medical Imaging The ability of 3D rendering systems to process actual MRI and computer tomography data into 3D images has major implications for surgery and for medical education. by Tom Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Since Wilhelm Röntgen first made an X-ray image of his wife’s hand in 1895, medical imaging has advanced in its insight, resolution and applications but is still regarded as “incomplete” even with the huge progress in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer tomography (CT) and ultrasound. Another big leap now appears to be in progress with the development of the ability to render high-resolution 3D images from individual patients and to analyze and interact with them in 3D space. Interestingly, the advances do not stem from new imaging technology, but rather from the ability of high-powered graphics processing to render the data gathered from imaging systems like MRI and CT and present them as 3D objects that can be rotated in 3D space, sliced and examined and used for advanced diagnostics as well as for surgical planning. EchoPixel has combined 3D rendering and imaging software with a powerful workstation from zSpace, which is based on the powerful NVIDIA Quadro K4200 GPU to image the human body in interactive 3D.

Figure 1 The EchoPixel True 3D Viewer software runs on a 3D system from zSpace that is based on the NVIDIA Quadro K4200 GPU and lets the user wear 3D glasses to interact with models in 3D space.

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According to EchoPixel’s Sergio Aguirre, the current state of imaging has doctors looking at a series of 2D images and trying to reproduce the 3D structure in their minds and while there are some 3D rendering systems, the images are presented on a 2D screen. So, he notes, “Doctors are busy solving the 3D view instead of the physical problem they should be working on.” This can lead to difficulties on a number of levels. For one thing it’s not just the loss of clinical information, but also impacts productivity and communication with colleagues and with patients. Often, Aquirre says, a surgeon will walk into the OR with a hand-drawn piece of paper as a surgical plan. However, the data gathered by an MRI or CT scan consists of a large number of 2D image slices through the tissue under examination. This aggregate stack of 2D cross sections is inherently 3D and can theoretically be treated as such given the proper algorithms and processing power. Basically, the software is capable of taking the existing data from a variety of imaging devices that is stored, for example, on hospital servers and process it into 3D objects that can be viewed and manipulated by doctors using 3D glasses on the desktop machine from zSpace running the EchoPixel True 3D Viewer software (Figure 1). Using existing MRI or CT data can mean working with a varying number of “slices” for a given image and of course, the system works better with more slices and higher resolution data. But it can also work well over a range of slice depths. In general, the voxels should have a ratio of in-plane spatial resolution to slice space of equal or less than 1:5. In general, CTs have a ratio of 1:1.5, and MRs with a ratio of 1:2, or 1:3. Of course, the higher the resolution of the image, the better. By using true 3D rendering, the user is able to interact with the object in terms of its characteristics as a three-dimensional solid. Thus the doctor can characterize his stylus as, say, a scalpel. He can then “cut” into and object, be it a liver, intestine, heart or brain, and see the interior as it actually is, perhaps discovering a beginning tumor that was previously unrecognized. He can select a given body part and isolate it and use the 3D rendering

Figure 2 This colon image is from a specific application for colon cancer screening developed at the University of California San Francisco.

for surgical planning on that unique individual. The surgeon can then actually see the response of the tissue as he moves across a patient’s kidney or liver in the response of the data to whatever virtual instrument he or she is applying to it (Figure 2). There are often anomalies within individual bodies, such as the position or routing of an artery, that are discovered only when the incision has been made on the operating table. Then the surgical team must alter its strategy, which often prolongs the time the patient must remain under anesthesia. By discovering such anomalies in advance, the surgeon can make a more accurate plan. Beyond that, he can practice the actual procedure and build muscle memory that will aid him in the actual operation. According to Aquirre, the system has been used with newborn pediatric patients with the need for pulmonary artery reconstruction, which not surprisingly, is a very complex and delicate procedure. In clinical trials on improving the surgical plan, the detection time for insight into the operation was improved by 90 percent and the surgeons expect to be able to reduce the actual time for the operation from four hours to an hour and a half.

The availability of such accurate and interactive data has large implications for the future of internal medicine, for communication among physicians and physicians with patients and also for medical education. For example, surgeon must get the patient to sign off for the operation, which usually requires that the patient understand the procedure. To no one’s surprise, describing complex surgical procedures to a lay person can be quite difficult and time-consuming. The ability to show the patient exactly what is involved is expected to reduce the time and difficulty of that required step. In addition, medical schools and universities have a need for cadavers, which are in limited supply and quite expensive. The availability of accurate, interactive anatomical models can possibly reduce—though not eliminate—the need for cadavers in medical education. In addition, professors of anatomy will be able to use the system as models of various anatomical variations and anomalies are collected. This will help medical students better grasp the variety they can expect in dealing with real patients (Figure 3). Interestingly, Aquirre says they consider this initial product to be an entry level product and are preparing to delve into larger architectures and more exciting applications. While the system, which has received FDA approval, is now used for diagnostics and surgical planning, surgeons are now reportedly expressing the desire for real-time support. They would like to be able to make a surgical plan, save it to a file and send it to the operating room. There they would have the map available to them in real time. This will depend heavily on the performance of the graphics processor. EchoPizel is now looking beyond the Kepler architecture-based Quadro to newer architectures coming out of NVIDIA such as the Maxwell and the soon anticipated Pascal devices. As with many new technology developments, we appear to be at the beginning of a major application in medicine. It is fully to be expected that medical professionals in a wide range of fields will recognize the potential of the technology and motivate the system designers to expand its applications to areas they initially could not imagine. EchoPixel Mountain View, CA NVIDIA Santa Clara, CA (408) 486-2000 zSpace Sunnyvale, CA (877) 977-2231

Figure 3 This image looking inside a brain is able to identify the precise size, shape and location of tumors.

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 13


MIPI I3C Provides a Unified, High-Performing Interface for Sensors Planned for release in October, 2015, MIPI I3C is a sensor interface from the MIPI Alliance that alleviates sensor integration challenges in mobile, mobile influenced and embedded systems applications such as the Internet of Things. by Doug Hoffman, Qualcomm and Paul Kimelman, NXP Semiconductors: members, MIPI Alliance Sensor Working Group

Modem/ GPS L2S –






Modem/ GPS


Figure 1 Using MIPI I3C to interface a sensor engine or a discrete sensor hub




Sensor Hub


Descrete Sensor Hub


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Sensor Engine

Integrated Sensor Engine

Grappling with Traditional Interface Options for Sensor Applications

Manufacturers of smartphones and wearables are increasingly using sensors to provide activity recognition, pedestrian dead reckoning, and health and gaming capabilities, among other functions. High-end smartphones incorporate 10 or more sensors, with more than 20 signals, and smaller products, such as smart watches, must include multiple sensors as well. As a result of this growth, the number of sensor signals in mobile devices has become unmanageable. A design can require 12 to 18 pins/ traces to connect all of the required sensors. Another challenge is that sensor interfaces must enable always-on features. For example, even when a mobile device is in a pocket or purse with the screen off, a sensor can be operating to enable pedometer, activity recognition, and other applications. Because these sensors are always gathering and sharing data, the interface must support a very low power system architecture. Further, industry support for sensor interfaces is fragmented. Integration requirements can vary from sensor to sensor, and the need to accommodate differing approaches increases prod-




The proliferation of sensors in smartphones, tablets, and wearables is driving a new cycle of technology innovation and application development. Yet as more and more sensors are deployed in these mobile products, system integration is becoming increasingly difficult because it is hard to ensure optimum power and performance in the always-on components. Engineers need a convenient interface that can serve multiple sensor and design architectures while delivering the challenging performance and efficiency characteristics required in these designs. The MIPI Alliance designed MIPI I3C as the core technology for a variety of applications and market segments. The specification will be known as MIPI SenseWire when it is used for sensor systems in a mobile device.

uct development and integration costs. Among traditional interfaces, I2C has been the most widely used for sensors because its multidrop capabilities can support multiple sensors and its low-complexity and low-speed attributes help keep costs down. Yet I2C is not practical for quickly sending large amounts of batched data, which is necessary for many sensor applications. The industry has preferred the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI for) some applications—for example its higher speeds can more efficiently send batched data—but SPI is more complex than I2C, has a high pin count, requires a dedicated chip select pin for each sensor, and is not set up for multi-drop functionality. Further, both I2C and SPI share some common drawbacks for sensor interconnections. Neither has a way for the sensor to notify the application processor or sensor hub master that it has data. This is an important sensor requirement, however, so both I2C and SPI use extra wires to allow these notifications via GPIOs. Engineers must find ways to conveniently interface the components to the host processor while meeting increasing data throughput requirements, minimizing the number of pins needed to connect to the sensor hub or application processor and handle interrupt functions, while also minimizing energy consumption.

MIPI Alliance: Finding a Flexible Solution that Meets Broad Market Needs

In 2013 MIPI Alliance chartered a working group to address these challenges and define a common interface solution that would meet broad market needs. The organization’s goals were to re-use existing interfaces as much as possible while finding a

way to accomplish the following: reduce pin count, provide inband interrupts, reduce interface energy consumption, increase throughput, and reduce the cost of sensor implementations. The organization also wanted to reduce the operational time of the system infrastructure to reduce system-wide energy consumption. MIPI Alliance is uniquely qualified and positioned to meet these needs. The global organization focuses exclusively on providing device interface specifications for mobile, mobile-influenced and embedded systems. The Alliance has introduced more than 45 specifications in the last decade. All of its interfaces are designed to meet the high-performance, low-power operation and low-electromagnetic interference requirements needed in small, compact designs. To make sure the new interface addresses the broadest possible sensor ecosystem, MIPI Alliance collaborated with the MEMS Industry Group to survey members of both groups in order to identify the key performance and operational needs for the new interface. The MIPI I3C interface resulting from this work is thus a practical and appealing solution because it addresses technical requirements and standards needs expressed by a cross-section of sensor industry companies who participated in the surveys. Some sensor classes addressed by MIPI I3C are presented in Table 1; note this is not an exhaustive listing, but a sample list.

Unifying Fragmented Sensor Interface Technologies

MIPI I3C incorporates and unifies key positive attributes of I2C and SPI while improving the capabilities and per-

Figure 2 Comparison of I2C and MIPI I3C energy consumption (left) and comparison of I2C and MIPI I3C raw data rates

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 15


Host (Apps Processor)

Context Hub

Physical Sensing

Other Sensing

Figure 3 MIPI I3C Context/sensor hub offloading, always-on sensing and wake sources

formance of each approach with a comprehensive, scalable interface and architecture. The specification provides a two-pin interface that is backward compatible with I2C, allowing legacy I2C devices to coexist on the same interface as new devices that support MIPI I3C’s features. Equally, MIPI I3C devices may work on legacy I2C buses. At the same time, MIPI I3C provides data throughput capabilities comparable to SPI while keeping logic complexity low, using standard I/O pads and providing an accommodating bus topology. MIPI I3C provides important data transmission and management features. It allows in-band prioritized interrupts within the 2-wire interface, eliminating the need for a dedicated interrupt pin, thus drastically reducing the device pin count and signal paths to facilitate incorporation of more sensors in a device. It offers multi-master support and uses dynamic addressing and standardized commands to control the bus. It also offers advanced power management capabilities to minimize energy


consumption and extend battery life. The bus also allows for smaller devices with a lower data rate to be as small as possible, while allowing for integrated and batching devices to use a high data rate without a correspondingly faster clock speed. MIPI I3C works equally well with standalone sensor/context hubs and with integrated hubs in the application processor (Figure 1). It fully supports combining both, trading off roles depending on phone state.

Focus on Efficiency and Performance

Efficiency and performance are extremely important in sensor applications. Always-on sensors and/or hubs often need to accumulate (batch) data over specified intervals, even while the host processor is powered down to a low-power state. The sensor or hub must be able to batch the data and then transmit it as quickly as possible to minimize energy consumption of the host processor. MIPI I3C offers important capabilities to help designers address these needs. As can be seen in the left of Figure 2, MIPI I3C is always more efficient than I2C. This is the case even when using the I2Clike single data rate (SDR) protocol as well as its high data rate (HDR) protocol modes. MIPI I3C also provides substantial data throughput advantages compared to I2C, as shown in right graph in Figure 2. On standard CMOS I/O, MIPI I3C moves away from a pure open drain bus with strong resistors, which I2C employs, and instead uses a push/pull drive to operate at clock speeds up to 12.5 MHz compared to the 400 kHz or 1 MHz that I2C offers. When MIPI I3C uses its higher performance high-data-rate (HDR) modes, it can send data at two to three times faster speeds at the same bus frequency. Additionally, due to the much higher speeds, devices connected by MIPI I3C interfaces are active for a shorter time, even when sending large amounts of data. MIPI I3C allows the use of two different types of mastering


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08.10.2014 11:11:16

Mechanical/Motion • Compass/Magnetometer • Gyro • Accelerometer • Proximity • Touch Screen • Grip • Time of Flight (gestures) • Audio/Ultrasonic (events)

Biometrics/Health • Fingerprint • Glucometer • Heart Rate • Olfactory (e.g., breathalyzer) • EKG • GSR (galvanic skin response)

Environmental Sensing • Ambient Light • Barometric Pressure/Altimeter • Temperature • Carbon Monoxide/Pollutants • Humidity

Other • NFC (near field communications) • Haptic feedback • IR (smart TV remote) • UV/RGB

Table 1 Typical Sensor Classes Addressed By MIPI I3c

to help reduce signaling complexity, minimize energy requirements and keep costs down. For example, if the host processor is in sleep mode, a secondary master can collect sensor data for batching or computation and then provide it to the host when it wakes up. Figure 3 shows a typical system with a context/sensor hub that that controls the bus when the application processor/host is powered down. However, it can also control the bus all of the

time as well. The handoff master model allows for efficiency without contention issues. Additionally, for a sensor that needs to sometimes read from another sensor (e.g. a magnetometer), it can use peer-to-peer mastering, which does not require the mechanisms of a master, such as supplying the bus clock. MIPI I3C is a game changer for sensor vendors and engineers who work to interconnect sensors in their designs to create new products and applications. The new interface will enable manufacturers to combine multiple sensors from different vendors in a device, streamline integration and drive cost efficiencies. It supports connection to any type of device that employs a host processor or microcontroller using standardized sensor interface to ensure high-performance, low-power operation. It will be practical not only for smartphones, tablets, and wearables, but also for IoT, toys, gaming devices, medical, industrial equipment and other use cases. There is a bright future ahead for MIPI I3C. NXP Semiconductors, San Jose, CA (408) 518-5500. Qualcomm, San Diego, CA (858) 587-1121. MIPI Alliance,

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RF-Sampling ADCs for Software-Defined Radio Software-defined radio (SDR) uses software to replace the hardware components of a radio communication system to offer greater flexibility and security, particularly for military communications. by Pierrick Vulliez, 4DSP

By moving many of the previously inflexible signal processing features from analog circuits to software, it is possible to modify their characteristics during radio operation. Instead of using a single radio to receive a particular carrier frequency, bandwidth, and modulation for instance, a flexible digital solution can perform receiving functions over a wide range of frequencies. SDR therefore allows a variety of communications formats and protocols to be supported by one hardware design while enabling multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) solutions. SDR architectures can also be dynamically reconfigured and adapted to multiple air interfaces, enabling active antennas and beamforming for defense electronics, radio frequency (RF) instrumentation, and communications infrastructure purposes, among others.

FMC and FPGA SDR Solutions

The leading approach to defining an SDR application involves coupling flexible digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms with powerful embedded processing capabilities. This means that field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology plays an important role in the development of SDR platforms. This is due in no small part to the native parallel computational resources available in FPGAs that allow for a programming approach that

To User


Radio Front End


Figure 1 SDR Transceiver

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FPGA Data Processing From User




leverages parallel dataflow. 4DSP relies on such high-performance, low-power FPGAs from industry-leader Xilinx to power its COTS carrier cards and systems in small form factors such as VPX, PCIe, XMC, and CES. In an SDR solution, it is important to provide an integrated analog front end to receive the signal from the radio air interface. This functional block sits between the antenna and the FPGA, and is subject to complex and stringent demands as it delivers the signal from the real world to the digital domain. When designing an effective SDR system, it is therefore essential that the interfaces between the FPGA and the analog portion of the board be optimized to realize the best performance in demanding applications (Figure 1). The ideal SDR architecture connects a high-performance analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to the antenna and moves many of the typical RF functions such as filtering, demodulation, and other processing to the digital realm. Due to previous hardware limitations, the analog front end for such a versatile radio historically required an array of overlapping parallel channels. Each channel was dedicated to a particular segment of the RF spectrum, with its bandwidth matched to the required signal format. This approach was costly because of the high PCB footprint and power requirements. Fortunately, compact and powerful transceiver modules, such as 4DSP’s 5Gsps 10-bit FMC170 FPGA mezzanine card (FMC – VITA 57.1), are made possible by modern wideband ADCs and DACs which vastly improve the Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) profile of SDR systems. A key feature of these powerful converters is that they eliminate several stages of intermediate frequency (IF) downconversion that include mixers, filters, and other components. A Gsps-capable ADC makes it possible to combine multiple narrowband and wideband channels into one ultra-wideband channel. This moves formerly analog channelization onto the FPGA, where frequencies and bandwidths can be dynamically controlled with software to maximize system flexibility and configurability (Figure 2). Today’s transceiver designs rely mainly on a heterodyne architecture in which the RF input signal falls between 700 MHz and

Traditional Solution


RF Input ADC

Wideband ADC Solution

RF Input



Figure 2 Comparison of a traditional ADC architecture for SDR and a modern wideband SDR solution

many gigahertz before being downcoverted. This drives demand for the use of SDR in cellular base stations and backhaul pointto-point radios used in wireless network infrastructure, for instance, where the RF bands span from 700 MHz to 3.8 GHz, and allows for the successful implementation of smaller, more efficient form factors that offer higher channel density. Opportunities have also opened up in military applications such as radar, where the 1 to 3 GHz frequency range is used as a secondary IF when downconverting from higher RF bands in the 10 GHz to 40 GHz range. Other data acquisition systems and test equipment also benefit.

The obvious advantage of RF-sampling ADCs is their ability to capture large amounts of signal bandwidth directly at radio frequencies, thereby simplifying the signal chain. Another, less apparent advantage is the option to choose a sample rate that is in some cases many times faster than the signal bandwidth. This oversampling capability enables SDR designs to allow for in-band interference that passes through the receiver’s filter, thereby improving dynamic range despite low signal-to-noise ratio in some applications. Faster ADC sampling rates also provide ample unused frequency spectrum where a band-limited dither can be placed when it is necessary to boost gain for the purpose of detecting unwanted signals that may fall below the noise floor. RF-sampling ADCs also reduce the amount of anti-alias filtering necessary for the driving amplifier.

Military Applications

There are some fundamental differences between the methods for implementing SDR technology in the commercial, government, and military wireless-market segments. Wireless base stations for commercial cellular services handle heavy traffic in a restricted frequency range while supporting multiple air-interface modes with infrequent system changes. On the other hand, military tactical and battlefield radio systems involve a wide range of frequencies, numerous waveforms, rapid software reconfiguration requirements, and highly dynamic RF environments. Additionally, the necessity for extremely low latency sig-

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TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED SOFTWARE-DEFINED RADIO nal processing in military and aerospace applications demands higher performance from COTS hardware and DSP algorithms. The expanding use of different, incompatible radios poses a significant challenge in military and aerospace settings, where devices or systems may be required for airborne use, satellite communications, and emergency transmitters. Omitting any of these essential radio links can limit effectiveness and potentially safety, but each radio has SWaP requirements that tax the limited available resources. For this reason, SDR has become the go-to solution for military radio designs by enabling universal full-duplex radio systems that can be used across many platforms and reconfigured as needed in the field. This lightens the physical load while providing flexibility, versatility, and increased efficiency. SDR is a key component of the communication systems of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and, increasingly, unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) platforms. These represent significant areas of growth for the defense industry. Notably, FPGAs rather than conventional processors are becoming a more common choice for handling the demanding real-time processing required by the secure communications systems on UAVs and UGVs because of their ability to provide low latency while maximizing data throughput. When combined with wideband ADCs in multiband and cognitive radio systems, they can enable the frequency agility necessary to account for atmospheric effects on RF signals and to contend with interference and jamming. Additionally, data security and encryption pose real challenges for defense communication systems. Standard wireless protocols are insufficient in this context, so custom waveform modulation techniques must be combined with strong encryption to ensure secure transmissions on the battlefield. This has contributed to the pervasive deployment of SDR in defense and combat scenarios and the development of ever-smaller and faster wideband COTS designs capable of delivering additional functionality as new waveforms are developed and migrated across applications. SDR allows radio equipment makers to more quickly deliver new products that can be reprogrammed and upgraded in the field while remaining compatible with older narrowband platforms.

Commercial Applications

In the commercial and public safety communication segments, mobile device manufacturers are packing more methods of wireless connection into their designs (Bluetooth, WLAN, WiMAX, and GPS, in addition to 3G and LTE broadband) to satisfy the demands of the marketplace. Similar to the military space, this creates increasingly challenging architectural requirements that place a premium on reconfigurability and programmability. While the implementation of multiple wireless standards in a single mobile device presents challenges, the biggest hurdles are found in the mobile network terminal where managing power dissipation and energy use with compact and cost-effective equipment is paramount for an effective design. The ADC interface is a primary design consideration for

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mobile terminals because many wireless standards impose requirements that are often more stringent for the receiver chain than the transmitter chain. Data acquisition architectures using modern wideband ADCs can therefore greatly improve the performance of wireless systems, because their high-input bandwidth allows signals to be digitized directly at radio frequency and fast sampling rates reduce filter requirements. In this way, SDR provides a highly flexible and effective wireless testbed for developing mobile communication standards and applications using high-performance wireless transceivers that enable effective designs for next-generation networks. SDR benefits for network operators: • Maximize equipment lifespan to minimize costs by ensuring forward compatibility with future wireless standard revisions • Enable rapid deployment of new services • Optimize Quality of Service (QoS) by allowing dynamic resource allocation • Provide advanced spectrum management through flexible spectrum allocation SDR benefits for wireless base-station equipment makers: • Enable economies of scale by consolidating product variants onto reconfigurable platforms • Simplify bug fixes and software upgrades • Reduce time to market by minimizing the amount of new IP required • Enable adaptive-antenna support for mobile broadband Software-defined radio platforms have programmable hardware and software, so a basic SDR architecture can be straightforward, pairing flexible software with a receiver consisting primarily of a low-noise amplifier, a filter, and the ADC. The amplified RF signal is digitized directly without the need for downconversion, a local oscillator, or hardware-reliant tuning. The data can then be processed using different algorithms. The challenge for hardware and software engineers is assembling the best hardware and software for the job. FPGA-based SDR research and development provides a cost-effective way to quickly develop, test and refine new product designs in the laboratory, and ruggedized, low-power boards are ideal for use in the field. 4DSP’s FPGA carrier cards, RF-sampling analog transceiver FMC modules like the FMC110, FMC160, and FMC170, as well as an extensive library of proven IP simplify the rapid development of algorithms during SDR system prototyping and field deployment for electronic defense systems, communications infrastructure equipment, and radio frequency instruments. 4DSP, Austin, TX (800) 816-1751

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Power Management for ‘Stingy’ Devices With the advent of the IoT, small, widely distributed sensor nodes will proliferate. Most of these will be battery powered and must be in remote locations for long periods of time. It is essential to make them as power efficient as possible by combining a host of design considerations. Matt Saunders, Silicon Labs

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Light Thermal Vibration RF

Accelerometers Pressure Temperature Environmental

Energy Harvesting (optional)


Signal Conditioning

Figure 1 Typical Wireless Sensor Node Architecture

We have long seen the need across all industries and markets for energy-efficient, battery-powered devices that offer long service life. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), embedded designers are, more than ever, focusing their attention and efforts on power management for “stingy” devices. This is especially true when considering battery-powered devices that require some form of wireless connectivity, whether in a simple point-to-point wireless network configuration or a more complex star or mesh network. There are many applications that could be considered a good fit for the stingy device category. A prime example is a wireless sensor node -- a relatively simple device from a functional point of view that is required to do its job for an extended period (up to several years in some cases) while powered by a battery. To build a successful product for such an application, the developer must consider many aspects of the overall design. These design considerations include not only the microcontroller (MCU) and its degree of energy efficiency but also other elements in the system, such as the wireless interface (not just the physical implementation but also the wireless protocol used), system-level power management (e.g., the low drop-out regulator integrated into the MCU or dedicated power management ICs), the sensor itself, and analog functionality required to collect and process sensor data. Figure 1 shows the key elements of a wireless sensor node. For a battery-powered wireless sensor node, the MCU will need to be extremely energy efficient. RF protocol and data manipulation requirements (used perhaps for signal conditioning and digital signal processing) will likely dictate whether a 32-bit or 8-bit MCU is necessary, but, nonetheless, many low-energy requirements will remain the same regardless of the MCU choice. For example, being able to wake up from extremely low power modes to full-speed operation in a short span of time (e.g., 2 µsec) will make a significant difference in conserving battery power. The faster the MCU wakeup time, the better in this case. While the MCU is transitioning between power modes, it is effectively doing nothing useful.

Power Mgmt & Energy Storage


Low Power MCU

Low Power Wireless

Two additional parameters that also have a significant impact on system-level power are the energy consumption in low-power modes (should be <1 µA) and the consumption during active modes. This varies depending upon the MCU core used and the process technology node for the MCU itself and should be in the range of 150 µA/MHz or less. There are other factors that influence energy efficiency, but these three factors—computational requirements, low-power mode consumption and active mode consumption—are all essentially architectural considerations and will guide the MCU choice for the application. System designers should also carefully consider how much the chosen MCU can do without actually leveraging the CPU core itself. For example, significant power savings can be achieved through autonomous handling of sensor interfaces. Being able to generate the stimulus signal (or power supply) for the sensor from the MCU and read back and interpret the results without waking the MCU until “useful” data is obtained can go a long way toward maximizing the system’s battery life. Some MCU architectures are designed to provide autonomous sensor interaction. For example, as shown in Figure 2, Silicon Labs’ EFM32 MCU architecture combines an autonomous low-energy sensor interface (a peripheral called LESENSE) with onboard comparators to collect data from an external sensor and wake the CPU only when it has valid or useful data, all for a suitably stingy power budget of 1.5 µA. While there are other energy-saving aspects of an MCU to consider for stingy applications, we still have a lot more to cover for our simple wireless sensor node application example. Moving on to the wireless connectivity element, we can consider several significantly different options. The network topology (Figure 3) and the choice of protocols will both have an impact on the power budget required to maintain the wireless link. As shown in Figure 3, there are some cases where a simple point-topoint link using a proprietary sub-GHz protocol may seem like an appropriate choice as it would likely yield the lowest demand on power from the battery. However, this simple wireless configuration limits the scope of where and how the sensor can be deployed and still be useful. A star configuration built on either 2.4 GHz or sub-GHz technologies increases the flexibility for sensor deployment,

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 23



<1.5µA Sample


LESENSE ..101..




Power Supply





Figure 2 Low-Energy Sensor Interface (LESENSE) Technology Used in 32-bit EFM32 MCUs

meaning multiple sensors can be deployed in the same network. However, this would likely increase the complexity of the protocol required to transmit data, therefore increasing the amount of RF traffic and thus the power drain on the battery. A third option to consider is a mesh configuration based on a protocol such as ZigBee. While a mesh network imposes the biggest drain on the sensor node battery, it also provides the greatest level of flexibility for deployment including node-tonode data transfer. Depending on the wireless stack (such as ZigBee), a mesh network can also provide the most reliable deployment option with a self-healing network in which despite the failure of one node in the mesh, the messages can still find another path to their destination. Closely related to the choice of network configuration is the quantity of data that must be shifted from node-to-node or from node-to-collector. In a sensor node, the amount of data to be sent over the wireless link should be relatively small, especially if some of the data is processed on the node’s MCU and only relevant information, rather than all collected data, is transmitted. As such, ZigBee provides an optimal mesh networking solution; Bluetooth Smart is an excellent choice for standards-based, power-sensitive point-to-point configurations, and proprietary sub-GHz solutions provide maximum flexibility for network size, bandwidth and data payloads in star or point-to-point configurations. Table 1 summarizes many of the key features and benefits of leading RF technologies used in IoT applications. It is also helpful to consider long-range technologies and platforms, such as LoRa and Sigfox, which enable high node-count networks with connections that can reach up to tens of kilometers and still support low-power systems. Using these long-range wireless technologies, it’s possible to deploy stingy sensor nodes over very wide areas.

example, ZigBee has encryption built into the stack, but if the MCU (or processor core) used to run the stack does not have the correct encryption hardware, it will have to burn multiple cycles to run the algorithm in software. For example, managing a 128-bit AES encryption algorithm on an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor with an AES hardware accelerator takes 54 cycles while managing the same algorithm without hardware acceleration takes more than 4000 cycles, approximately 80 times longer than the MCU with hardware crypto support. This has a significant impact on the overall power consumption of the sensor node when it sends or receives data on the wireless link. In the IoT market, there is an increasing demand for security on wireless links. As more complex cryptography requirements are imposed on wireless networks, this security-driven element of power management for stingy devices is becoming increasingly important and will have a significant influence on the hardware choices made by developers. Regarding sensors used in our node example, numerous sensor choices are available, ranging from optical to environmental and motion. The choice of sensors ultimately is dictated by what you are trying to measure. For our example, we will choose ambient light levels. There are several options for measuring ambient light, starting with discrete sensing components, which could be designed to achieve very low power, but this approach puts the signal acquisition and processing burden onto the MCU. As a result, the MCU will be in active mode for longer periods of time; more peripherals, such as analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), will remain active, and the overall system power consumption will rise. An alternative approach involves using an ambient light sensor with built-in intelligence, as shown in Figure 4. Building signal conditioning into the sensor provides some significant advantages. The data that is sent to the MCU will be relevant data that can be quickly and easily interpreted by the application, which means the MCU can stay asleep longer. Having preconditioned data sent over a digital interface, such as SPI or I2C, also means the MCU can gather the data more efficiently than if it were using its ADC. While this example is specific to ambient light sensing, there are many other sensors that follow a similar path of including built-in intelligence and providing data

Further Considerations

An additional consideration for the wireless link is the encryption used to protect transmitted data. How encryption is handled can have a major impact on stingy devices. For

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Figure 3 Network Topology Examples

to the host MCU that is immediately actionable with a goal of reducing overall system power consumption. A final design consideration for stingy device applications is simply powering the system itself. Depending upon the type of battery used in the application, there is often a requirement for boost converters or boost-switching regulators if more voltage or current is required than the battery can deliver. For example, if you are running from a single cell at 1.5 V but need to generate 3.3 V for the MCU, then you will need to support this function when considering overall device power management. A careful choice here can again have a big impact on the system’s overall power consumption. Plenty of boost converters are available with consumption figures in the range of 5-7 µA, but that is a hefty penalty to pay if you are going to be in sleep mode most of the time. There are options for boost converters with 1 µA consumption and even as low as 150 nA (while maintaining a high boost efficiency). For more complex systems, it is worth considering a power management integrated circuit (PMIC) to give more precise control over the whole system. From a single power source, you can generate multiple voltage rails to drive different elements of the embedded system, tuning each voltage rail to provide just enough power for what the application needs without wasting

Table 1 Primary Differences between RF Protocols

partly because of the additional cost, but in applications that can bear that additional cost, the PMIC approach represents an excellent way to manage overall system power for stingy applications. In conclusion, there are many different system design aspects involved in developing a battery-powered stingy application. Not only the semiconductor components used but also the overall approach to software, including wireless stacks, encryption and data processing, are important considerations. Each of these design elements can have a significant effect on the system’s overall power budget, enabling you to create stingy devices that maximize useful battery life, and isn’t that what good IoT system design is all about? Silicon Labs Austin, TX (512) 416-8500

Figure 4 Ambient Light Sensor with Built-in Signal Conditioning

any power. For example, you can dedicate a supply to the radio in the system that is separate from the MCU, meaning that if the protocol permits this capability, the radio can be completely turned off when not in use. Or, if you have an MCU that provides the option to supply the I/O ring and the core separately, you can again achieve optimum MCU energy efficiency by using a PMIC, also supplying a separate voltage rail into the sensors used in the application. A high-quality PMIC will also offer additional functionality for general system control, such as watchdog timers and rest capability. A PMIC is not going to be suitable in all applications RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 25


Do More with Less Power The rise of portable, battery-powered applications has resulted in more features packed into smaller form factors. Particularly wireless communication, this means a bigger demand on the system power source. With the help of the most recent advances in microcontroller functionality, including various integrated features and peripherals, power management in embedded designs has become easier and smarter to implement. These MCUs have also enabled better design techniques by Jin Xu, Microchip Technology

In case you haven’t noticed, it seems that everything around us is getting smarter and connected to one thing or another. Your shoes now have sensors that can tell you how to improve your running time by displaying your pace on your smart phone. Your scale can automatically save your weight to your cloud–based tracking application, and it can let you know why that last doughnut you ate was a bad idea—via an alert on your smart phone. Your home security system can inform you about a leak in your garage via text message, thanks to a small wireless sensor placed next to the water heater. The rise in popularity of portable battery-powered applications has increased exponentially, thanks to the technological advances over time. Engineers are constantly being pushed to increase product functionality while reducing its overall dimensions, for each successive design. These additional features put a bigger demand on the system power source. The challenge becomes how to implement these new functions while extending the battery life, all in a smaller footprint. The conventional approach for battery-powered application design is to keep as many modules in a low-power state for as long as possible, occasionally waking up to perform the required tasks before returning to sleep mode. In a complex design with multiple MCU/MPUs and components, a low pin count 8-bit microcontroller is often used as the system supervisor, to perform housekeeping tasks such as turning on and off modules as needed to maximize the power efficiency. Still, the majority of designs have only one main microcontroller with a host of integrated peripherals to implement the required system functions. Therefore, the power consumption of that microcontroller becomes a critical parameter. However, not all microcontrollers are made the same when it comes to low-power performance. This is where an 8-bit microcontroller can outshine a 32-bit device in many cases. Some 8-bit MCUs consume as little as 20 nA in the lowest power setting, while a 32-bit bottoms out around 10 to 20 times higher, at best. There are a number of ways to wake up the microcontroller from sleep mode. Using the microcontroller’s internal timers to wake up the system periodically is a common practice. The timer

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Figure 1 An 8-bit microcontroller’s core-independent peripherals are being used to extend the idle period to 205 days, without any additional components or power penalty

can be configured to trigger an interrupt after it overflows. A 16bit timer with 1:8 pre-scaler, running off the internal, low-power 31 kHz oscillator (or with an external crystal) can keep the device in sleep for about 17 seconds. Another option is to use the MCU’s watchdog timer (WDT), ideally with a maximum idle time of 256 seconds while consuming around 440 nA. (Once again, a typical 32-bit MCU with WDT enabled consumes at least 3 times the current of an 8-bit MCU.) Take an application that doesn’t need to wake up frequently, such as an environmental monitor that wakes up roughly every four hours to read the humidity sensor before going back to sleep again. Does this mean that we must wake up more frequently, due to the internal timer limitations? Not necessarily. One option is to use a real time clock (RTC) and crystal that can provide accurate time keeping in terms of hours, days, months and even years, if needed. Since not all microcontrollers offer an integrated RTC and crystal, often for cost reasons, a stand-alone RTC can also be considered.

Core-Independent Peripherals

Another option to extend the idle period without any additional

components or power penalty is to use the unique peripherals found in some next-generation 8-bit microcontrollers (such as Microchip Technology’s PIC MCUs). For example, designers can connect one of these MCU’s configurable logic cells (CLCs) and its numerically controlled oscillator (NCO) to the 16-bit timer, in order to extend the period from 17 seconds to 205 days, before triggering an interrupt to wake up the MCU (Figure 1). Of course, it is rare for an application to have a need to remain idle for such long period, but the capability is present if necessary. The power consumption of this implementation can be reduced by 50% to around 2.3 µA, by using an external crystal instead of the MCU’s internal 31 kHz oscillator. External interrupt sources can also be used to wake up the microcontroller, such as a switch or sensor. Some of the larger MCU/MPUs have multiple interrupts with priority levels, but these features are often not present in most of the low pin count MCUs on the market. Remember the configurable logic cell module that we used to extend the timer period in the previous example? Not only can it be used to create extra interrupt sources when the MCU has only one system INT, the CLC also allows designers to add conditional or sequential logic to the wake-up routine; making it smarter with no additional current draw. If the system requires a number of signals to represent a specific state, in

Figure 2 A graphic representation of a microcontroller’s current consumption over time.

order to wake up the CPU to check the condition, very often it was awakened due to one signal change, only to find the other signals had not yet occurred. It is now possible to configure and combine the available logic functions and state machines in the CLC, or even multiple CLC modules, to create specific wake-up conditions that avoid frequent false triggers and unnecessary power drain.

Intelligent Networking

Peet to Peer Tranfers

Reflective memory multicast RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 27

TECHNOLOGY IN SYSTEMS POWER MANAGEMENT FOR STINGY DEVICES While we would like to do everything in sleep mode, certain tasks must be performed in active mode where the MCU core consumes the highest amount of power relative to all other modules. This is where things can get a bit tricky. Figure 2 is a simplified graphic representation of the system current consumption over time. The area under the current-consumption line represents the total discharge over time, measured in Coulombs. If the sum of all the areas under the sleep-mode period is much greater than the active mode, then the sleep-current value is more critical since most of the energy consumption takes place in a low-power mode. Vice versa, if the sum of the area under the active-mode period is significantly higher, then the sleep current value and the time spent in sleep mode become irrelevant. Applications with wireless communication, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth LE, are particularly challenging systems in which to reduce power consumption. Designers of these systems must consider how much data is transmitted or received, since this will directly impact the overall current consumption. Wireless modules can be used in “Beacon Mode,” to wake up periodically and search for signals; or they can go into standby mode when not in use. Analog sensors require the use of the MCU’s on-chip ADC module. Typically, the time needed for ADC sampling is much longer than the conversion time. The more time spent in active mode, the more current is consumed. However, some MCUs have ADC modules that allow conversions in sleep mode, which saves power by minimizing the time spent in active mode. Some MCUs integrate a wide variety of low-power active modes. These modes provide the option to turn off or reduce the

speed of the core processor, while selectively keeping the system clock active for the on-chip peripherals. One frequently heard statement is “the higher the performance of the core, the faster the execution of the tasks, then the sooner it can return to sleep mode.” While this might be true in some cases, there is a flaw to this logic. We have to remember that the core consumes more power than any other module in the MCU. Additionally, all of the tasks that require the core must be executed sequentially (FIFO), regardless of the speed. Therefore, the core can’t be turned off until the last task is completed. When a microcontroller can perform the required tasks in parallel, using integrated peripherals that can operate without the core, then it makes the speed of the core irrelevant while significantly reducing the overall power usage. After all, the majority of these new peripherals are fully functional while the MCU’s core is in sleep mode. Designing battery-powered applications has become more complex, due to their increasing functionality. Engineers should analyze and fully understand the current-consumption profile of each component in different power and activity modes, in order to achieve the highest battery usage efficiency. The new peripheral sets in the next generation of 8-bit microcontrollers enable engineers to be creative with their designs, without sacrificing performance. Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ (480) 792-7200.

When Leaders talk...Be There to Hear Every Word. (SPACE IS LIMITED, REGISTER NOW} How to Navigate Through the Maze of Medical Technology Market?

Engineering C4ISR Platforms for Today and the Future: Navigating Capabilities, Costs and Complexities

The medical technology market is both rewarding, confusing and going through some rapid changes. We see new technology breakthroughs, new applications, new start-ups and mergers happening at the same time. Companies are making money and losing money. What better way to get a grip of the dynamics of the market than to hear directly from the movers and shakers in the medical industry! During this 60-min panel, you will have a chance to interact with representatives from leading medical device companies, FDA and IP execs, wireless technologists and VC to share their visions.

It’s never been more important for embedded technology supplier companies, prime and sub-prime contractors and DoD organizations to work closer together. They all share a role in delivering complex platforms to warfighters under ever-changing cost and capability demands. This panel discussion looks at how C4I and C4ISR programs can take full advantage of what today’s computing architectures offer—virtualization, cloud-storage, advance networking and so on—while navigating issues like security, seamless integration and cost control that all make engineering C4I/C4ISR systems more complex.

Medical Panel Discussion Includes: • Dr. Carlos Nunez, BD Medical • Clint McClellan, Indie Health • Enrique Saldivar, MD, MSBME, PHD, Wireless Health • Shep Bentley, Industry Leader on FDA Matters • Irfan A. Lateef, Knobbe Martens • Jack Young, Qualcomm Ventures & dRX Capital • Jae Son, PHD, Pressure Profile

C4ISR Panel Discussion Includes: • Rob Wolborsky, SPAWAR • Dr. Robert Smith, Lockheed Martin • Howard Pace, ViaSat • Keith Smith, Northrop Grumman • Will Fitzgerald, SPAWAR • Michael Twyman, Cubic Global Defense • John Quigly, SAIC

RTECC SAN DIEGO • AUGUST 25, 2015 at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar

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Reconngurable FPGA of the Month

XMC Modules Featuring the Xilinx® Spartan-6™ FPGA TEWS Technolgies, with over 40 years of turn-key design experience is recognized by for its NEW XMC I/O board. The TXMC635 is a standard single-width Switched Mezzanine Card compatible module providing a user conngurable XC6SLX45T-2 or XC6SLX100T-2 Spartan-4 FPGA. “The TXMC633 and TXMC635 are the rst two members of TEWS TECHNOLOGIES’ cost-effective user programmable XMC family of modules featuring the Xilinx® Spartan-6™ FPGA. The XMC FPGA modules are designed for simulation, industrial, COTS, and transportation applications. Advantages of the new family of modules include cost-effective customizable FPGA-based designs for long-term product lifecycle management, the availability of example application designs, and a 5 year warranty for members of the family. The different members of the family implement various I/O conngurations for application speciic requirements. Additional XMC FPGA family products will feature new I/O conngurations, and custom implementations are available for qualiied projects.

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Factory Automation in the World of IIoT

As the Internet of Things inevitable embraces the industrial world, it awakens the promise of direct customer interaction with the manufacture and customization of products. For this to work, however, there is a need for standardization and data sharing across a vast array of automated, real-time devices. by Andrew Caples, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division

With the vision of Internet of Things (IoT) becoming reality, the impact for industrial automation will be huge as technology standardization increases to enable seamless integration of Cloudbased services. There will be a need to integrate information technology with operations technology down through the fieldbus on the factory floor. The integration of industrial machines with access to Cloud services will introduce new challenges and security concerns. This article discusses Industrial IoT (IIoT) and its implications with respect to connectivity technologies from Cloud to the fieldbus connected devices (Figure 1). We hear about the promise of what IIoT will bring: factories will become more efficient and flexible. These connected factories will offer new services, lower prices for consumers, and faster turn-around times. IIoT will facilitate the direct connection between factories and customers. The era of mass production will be usurped by a new generation of nimble production facilities capable of interacting directly with customers. Using Webbased tools to design and customize products, customers will be 30 | RTC Magazine JULY 2015

able to submit orders with the expectation that production will occur in near real time with of course, overnight shipping.

Connectivity and Integration Complexities

However, the potential of IIoT is hindered with the complexities needed to connect and integrate the smart sensors and embedded computing in industrial machines to the Cloud for real-time data analysis. Factories with networked machines are already in existence today; however, the machines typically operate as islands, or individual modules, without interacting or without awareness of the proceeding or subsequent machine. In order to realize the potential of IIoT, or what is often referred to as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Industry 4.0,â&#x20AC;? individual machines need to communicate with each other and control or influence other machines in the factory. As product life cycles become shorter, and more custom products are produced with near-commoditized pricing, the need to improve flexibility and efficiency becomes critical to survival. The future for industrial automation includes a produc-

power link technologies is now possible. 6LowPAN is an adaption layer between the IP link and the network layer to enable transmission of IPv6 packets over low-power wireless connections like 802.15.4. 6LowPAN provides header compression and packet fragmentation to reduce payload size, which allows the low power transmission of standards based IPv6 packets. With layer 2 packet forwarding, 6LowPAN can be used to support large quantities of nodes in low power networks requiring multiple hops over large areas.

Standard Protocols Needed

Figure 1 Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) is a fieldbus solution, critical to enabling the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

tion environment in which devices, machines, and materials are connected with sensors, and communication technology is leveraged to increase quality, production efficiency, and flexibility. Realizing these gains will require standardization. The next quantum leap in efficiency gains for industrial automation will be driven by data collection for factory machines and real-time access to act upon that data. Information is needed to optimize operations to increase velocity and to program devices for custom production runs, predict problems, and prevent downtime. Information must be gathered and used to understand the impact of the environmental conditions on factory machines. As every sensor, actuator, and factory machine becomes a participant in the network, the need for standardization becomes more acute. The vast quantities of data generated by devices spread out all over the factory will require a complete IIoT architecture based on standards to facilitate the secure data transfer to Cloud storage, access to information, and the ability to control factory assets. Smart sensors will use standards-based protocols to connect to gateways that will upload the data using standards-based IIoT protocols to collect, transport, and dump data into Cloud-based storage.

IoT protocols, such as Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) and Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) can provide the standards necessary to integrate sensors and actuators to the Cloud using 6LowPAN for transport (Figure 2). MQTT provides an excellent choice for IIoT transport for environments in which the monitoring of resource constrained sensors is required. MQTT targets device data collection; and as the name suggests, remote monitoring (telemetry) is its main purpose. Designed to push data, MQTT uses a publish and subscribe message approach (any sensor can publish the data and clients can subscribe). Any new data published is handled by the broker that takes care to ensure all subscribing nodes receive the data. The built-in support for quality assurance guarantees the delivery of a message. MQTT is a binary format that requires minimum bandwidth: the fix header is only 2 bytes. This light-weight protocol, with built-in quality assurance, can be used in unreliable networks. An example might include factory machines that are not connected, but the machines have been around for decades. These machines can become IIoT participants by augmenting them with sensors and using MQTT to publish the data. Other machines in the factory can subscribe to receive the data through the data broker. And as the factory grows, or back-end Cloud applications are added, new

IoT Standards for the Cloud

For resource constrained devices, the IoT protocols that have been historically deployed for data transport and Cloud integration were proprietary and not IP-based. This was primarily due to the large overhead and resource requirements associated with IP packets. In short, proprietary protocols were embraced because IP was not considered practical for low power network nodes like sensors and actuators. IP was bandwidth hungry and memory intensive. With the introduction of IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LowPAN) the IoT landscape has changed: the use of standards-based IP over low

Figure 2 IIoT protocol example.

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TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT MODULAR SYSTEMS FOR INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION to prevent any degradation to performance, the switchport takes care of inserting TCP/IP packets into the EtherCAT traffic in a manner to prevent the network’s real-time properties from becoming affected. Additionally, EtherCAT devices may also support Internet protocols (such as HTTP) and can therefore, behave like a standard Ethernet node outside of the EtherCAT segment. Finally, EoE brings about connectivity and interoperability between TCP/IP devices and EtherCAT, but it can also open the door to potential vulnerabilities for malicious attacks to the I/O network.

Standardizing across the Enterprise

Figure 3 Vertical levels of integration throughout the Automation System Pyramid. Source: KRAKEN Automation, Inc.

subscribers like enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications can become data subscribers. Applications that are designed to monitor thousands of sensors can leverage MQTT as a data collection protocol. CoAP is a message protocol similar to MQTT, but designed for very low power and efficient data transmission. CoAP provides a request and response interaction model between application endpoints, and supports built-in discovery of services and resources. Because CoAP is a protocol often used in networks with high packet error rate, there are quality assurance features such as support for retransmission. CoAP is designed to easily interface with HTTP for integration with the Web, but provides a very low overhead and simplicity. CoAP is suitable for constrained environments.

Fieldbus technology: EtherCAT

Large industrial automation players have by and large driven fragmentation by promoting different fieldbus technologies. As the push to accelerate factory automation through connectivity gains momentum, there is a trend in the adoption of standardsbased fieldbus technologies which leverage the traditional network infrastructure. Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) is one example of a fieldbus solution that uses existing standard Ethernet infrastructure. EtherCAT is a globally emerging technology that could potentially lead towards a standard for Ethernet fieldbus. EtherCAT is Ethernet-based with real-time support and built-in security because it’s not built on TCP/IP. Further, because EtherCAT is Ethernet-based at the physical layer, it uses standard Category 5 cabling and Network Interface Cards (NIC). To facilitate TCP/IP-based data transfers within an EtherCAT segment, an Ethernet over EtherCAT (EoE) protocol can be used. Switchports are needed to connect Ethernet devices to an EtherCAT segment. The Ethernet frames are tunneled through the EtherCAT protocol, which makes the EtherCAT network completely transparent for Ethernet devices. In order

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In order to realize the gains promised by Industry 4.0, there is a need for vertical integration throughout the layers of the Automation System Pyramid (Figure 3). Integration is required in order for the data to be accessible throughout the enterprise. In addition, this access to data is needed to make real-time decisions. While EtherCAT is inherently secure, tunneling to other networks within the enterprise using TCP/IP can become a problem as any introduction of malicious software can have devastating effects on the factory floor. Integration with EtherCAT demands protocols that address the security required to prevent compromise to devices connected to the fieldbus. Recently, EtherCAT and the OPC Foundation announced collaboration plans to jointly support Industry 4.0. The OPC-Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) was designed with security in mind in order to be implemented system wide. OPC-UA includes countermeasures against cyber threats including denial of service attacks, compromised extranet and Cloud components, and malicious software introduced via an Intranet, or the Internet. It is implicitly secure using access control, encryption, digital signatures, and X.509 certificates to address the security requirements needed to allow the secure movement of data throughout the enterprise. Because the OPCUA is platform independent and scalable, it’s used to integrate devices throughout the enterprise. OPC-UA can be deployed throughout the enterprise on embedded devices executing real-time operating systems (RTOSes) up to services running Linux and Windows platforms. With the combination of OPC-UA and EtherCAT, standards-based protocols can be used to integrate the factory floor with wider enterprise systems. It is through standards that the realization of data access throughout the enterprise is possible. This can be extended horizontally within the organization, to integrate cross-functional processes to optimize the supply chain, with production and product delivery. The processes associated with Web-based custom design, ordering, production, and fulfillment require the integration of systems and devices that span the spectrum and reach across multiple, cross-functional groups. As the processes are integrated, devices will need to collaborate and share data. Using standards-based protocols such as EtherCAT, OPC-UA, and other IIoT protocols, true vertical and horizontal integration will be achieved. The impact for industrial automation will be more control, faster response time, and greater accessibility.

The IT/OT convergence

General Electric’s (GE) vision of the future factory has taken vertical and horizontal integration across the enterprise to the next level. By modeling a company’s operations, digital process engineering optimizes the entire operation. Linking product design with manufacturing and the supply chain, predictions can be obtained on the effects of design decisions. Sensors on the factory floor impact the design decisions that can be measured and modeled. The end result is the optimization of the factory, supply chain, fulfillment, and more. Digitally modeling the processes is interesting; however, it can only be realized through standards-based protocols which can integrated on the factory floor, throughout the ERP systems, and finally to the Cloud. Mentor Graphics is a leader in embedded runtime solutions with a vast embedded solutions runtime portfolio that includes; Nucleus real-time operating system, Mentor Embedded Linux, and Mentor Embedded Hypervisor. Mentor also provides IEC 61508 safety-certified solutions to meet the highest levels of safety for industrial designs. Mentor runtime solutions are integrated with industrial fieldbus support that includes both EtherCAT and EthernetIP, supporting industrial protocols such as OPC-UA, CANbus, and Modbus. It is becoming abundantly clear with each passing day: momentum is building for IIoT and Industry 4.0. (Figure 4). We are entering an industrial automation revolution of connected devices in which sensors, actuators, and control machines are

Figure 4 We are at the forefront of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Source: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), 2013.

active participants on the network. The amount of data generated will be vast and accessible throughout the enterprise. Standards-based protocols will be needed for the secure transport of data from the factory floor to the Cloud. Mentor Graphics, Hillsboro, OR (503) 685-7000.

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RTECC ORANGE COUNTY • AUGUST 27, 2015 at the Richard Nixon Library Yorba Linda, CA

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A new Era of Industrial PCs Builds on Modularity and Cost Efficiencies The built-to-order, or BTO, system is a way of combining standard functions in custom configurations based on the PC concept. The ability to assemble off-the-shelf components into systems for dedicated industrial purposes is a big win for cost and time-to-market goals. by Susanne Bornschlegl, MEN Micro

No matter the industry, companies needing highly operational embedded systems are increasingly pressed for time to get designs developed and performing optimally. While standard products typically provide cost and time-to-market efficiencies, the trade-off is less application-specific functionality and configuration. However, one computing concept—built-to-order (BTO) systems— actually builds upon standard products. The vision started with the development of modular box PCs that provide the cost economies of standard products and the ability to custom tailor a system to the unique requirements of a given application.

A Balancing Act

Computer systems are subject to extreme cost pressures, particularly in industrial areas like automation. On the other hand they need to be configurable. They need PCI components and fieldbus options. Ideally, everything has to come off the shelf to optimize the costs both on the manufacturer’s side and on the designer’s side (Figure 1). The modular BTO concept eases this tension by quickly delivering application specific, ready-to-use computing systems at a much lower price point than many custom-specific designs. In fact, low quantities for fast evaluation are available in as little as two weeks, due to a high procurement of single components and a simplified ordering process for these systems. Once developed, users only need to install their own application on the box PC.

• Configuration must be easy—even with special I/O requirements. • Any approach must be highly modular to save time and costs. • The final system must be ready for harsh environments. Clearly following such a vision has quickly led designers from different markets to a range of products that improve on existing solutions. The typical built-to-order box PC consists of a separate CPU board, the I/O board, a heat sink and additional accessories like PCI Express Mini Cards or storage modules. Additional advantages include the use of scalable processor platforms and a robust design, such as conforming to EN 50155 and the requirements for E-Mark certification (Figure 2).

A Solid Base to Start From

A platform even more natural for BTO systems is standard 19” CompactPCI. A growing number of products with a specific

From the Beginning

The BTO box PC concept from MEN Micro was developed with a clear set of goals aimed at offering a groundbreaking, turnkey solution that gives system designers a flexible, budget-conscious, quickly delivered computing system: • Time-to-market must be short.

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Figure 1 Time and cost pressures are rising in industrial computing, while specialized computing requirements continue to grow as well.

basic functionality can cost-effectively provide application-ready systems with very short time-to-market. The backplane for this type of industrial PC is built around a standard 3U CompactPCI PlusIO CPU board, allowing hybrid solutions using an original CompactPCI as well as the updated CompactPCI Serial platform. An Intel Core i7 processor brings high CPU performance to industrial applications, providing scalable performance levels within the Core i7 family. The concept also makes the system available long-term: when a CPU is discontinued, a new Intel card with an up-to-date processor can easily be cycled in.

Flexibility at the Core

One of the complex challenges of the BTO concept was to allow for configuration that could accommodate all kinds of I/O functions, along with the PCI cards very common in industrial applications, without having to change the resulting backplane for different configurations (Figure 3). Multiple I/O and expansion slot options, coupled with the CPU flexibility, allows these industrial PCs to cover a broad range of possible tasks, including RAID, NAS, kiosk or data acquisition functions. Proven, reliable standards, like CompactPCI and CompactPCI Serial, ensure the necessary modularity for design flexibility as well as help reduce a designer’s dependence on a single supplier. The concept of using CompactPCI Serial in combination with PCI takes modularity to a new level. And with the added robustness of these systems, the application possibilities are virtually endless. The pool of standard hardware available to build up a specific functionality includes all kinds of I/O for PCI, CompactPCI and CompactPCI Serial such as networking or mass storage, analog and binary I/O or wireless interfaces. Working with partners such as Hilscher, companies like MEN Micro that are developing these systems can easily incorporate fieldbus interfaces as diverse as CANopen, DeviceNet and Real-Time-Ethernet (EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, Modbus, POWERLINK, PROFINET, SERCOS, Varan) to PROFIBUS on 3U CompactPCI. The supported components have been selected to guarantee a complete range of options from a reliable source. And finally the best of hardware cannot be called “application-ready” without matching software. This is why the industrial PC always comes with a pre-installed operating system and drivers.

Flexible Systems Through Technology Re-Use

What these CompactPCI-based systems and box PCs have in common is the modular, family-based design. Many design details are completely dedicated to one package concept, but many functions can be re-used and technologies can be shared between device types. Plug-on modules like PCIe Mini Cards can add wireless or legacy I/O functions and especially fieldbus interfaces. Hilscher’s modular solution for functions from CANopen to real-time Ethernet integrates perfectly into MEN systems, with CompactPCI peripherals and Mini Cards based on the same functional unit. Re-using such units drastically reduces costs. These are not just application-ready, but true turnkey systems, complemented by a family of routers and switches in both box and 9.5” rack-mount CompactPCI format, similar to the different

Figure 2 A scalable CPU board, design flexibility and a robust housing make BTO box PCs an ideal choice for a number of computing applications.

industrial PCs. The networking products are designed with one common PCB base, yielding a complete range of ready-to-use devices optimized for different markets and performance levels. If that sounds like a solid base for many tasks, you should never forget how different embedded applications can be. A jack of all trades is a master of none, and this may never have been as true as today, with these specialized embedded computers finding their way into ever new fields of use. Their modular design ensures that these systems are developed to hone in on the critical functionalities needed in specific applications. Engineers need to think out of the box before actually designing it. This is where the true mastery of this modular computing concept becomes a reality. In fact, the BTO concept has recently made inroads into European mass transportation.

Box PCs Travel to New Regions

While railway is by far the largest segment of public transportation, the market has always had another spoke in its wheel. Buses have served the public for years, but have not reached the popularity of train travel. However, this is changing. Recognizing the rising expectations of the mass commuter, bus manufacturers are stepping up to incorporate technology into buses for a better end user experience. Internet access will soon be joining cheaper fares as a draw for the modern commuter to seriously consider buses as an effective means of mass transportation. The popularity of traveling by bus will continue to rise as passenger conveniences are added. A major factor enabling buses to implement these types of advanced technology-based systems is the built-to-order box PC concept, because it brings cost-effective modularity and fast time-to-market to a compact platform suitable for buses. Although considered standard in the computing industry, the footprint of a 19” system may still be too large; its cooling concept may not work in restricted surroundings; the housing may not be robust enough. Accommodations for these design deviations are also part of the BTO vision. A number of standardized components can be assembled to build up all kinds of box PCs, allowing for different CPUs from ARM to AMD and Intel, numerous I/O configuration options and scalable housing sizes. This wide range of standard boxes covers dedicated functional areas to meet cost requirements and

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Figure 2 The first in this growing line of modular solutions, the half 19” MH70I offers many BTO configurations, resulting in fast time-to-market.

fast time-to-market. An important focus is on in-vehicle PCs complying with EN 50155 for rail and ISO 7637-2 for automotive. One compact box was designed for graphical performance and another, slightly larger box adds a bit more I/O to accommodate wireless communication. With AMD or, alternatively, Intel performance, this box PC can be combined with displays or storage, while PCI Express Mini Cards, SIM card holders and antenna facilities enable configuration of the exact wireless functionality up to LTE (4G) or

WLAN/Wi-Fi. A GNSS interface supporting GPS and GLONASS for positioning complements the possibilities. Other AMD-based industrial box PCs encompass a version optimized for cost efficiency and one for storage applications, including hot-pluggable HDD/SSD shuttles. Then, there are a number of Intel-based box PCs for even higher performance in storage and communication functions. The final question is whether even heavily configurable devices can keep up with the off-the-shelf idea. Even with a radicalized modularity concept, can you just “click and place” your components online and put the system into a shopping basket for ordering? Yes and no, in a way… A truly optimized solution deserves some degree of complexity. Customers face full racks of devices in all flavors in the embedded supermarket. Could the last modular piece in the puzzle of an application-ready system be an excellent partner who understands your needs? Your system will still be on your desk and in your project in very short time, but without the hassle of which components really match. That is part of the vision, too. MEN Micro, Blue Bell, PA. (215) 542-9576. Hilscher Gesellschaft für Systemautomation, Hattersheim, Germany. +49 (0)6190 9907-0.

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Pentek Phone: (201) 818-5900 FAX: (201) 818-5904 Email: Web:

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New XMC Modules Feature Xilinx Artix -7 FPGA

A new XMC mezzanine module is now enhanced with the Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA for low-power consumption and exceptional 128M x 16-bit Quad DDR3 SDRAM processing performance. Reconfiguring the Artix-7 FPGA is possible via a direct download into the Flash configuration memory over the PCIe bus or the JTAG port. The XMC-7A200 from Acromag supports a four-lane high-speed serial interface on the rear P15 connector for PCI Express Gen 1/2 (standard), Serial RapidIO, and Xilinx Aurora implementations. Rear I/O provides an 8-lane high-speed serial interface on the P16 XMC port. SelectI/O or LVDS pairs plus global clock pairs direct to FPGA via rear P4 or P16 port. The FPGA serves as a co-processor applying custom logic and algorithms to streams of remote sensor data. Typical applications include hardware simulation, communications, in-circuit diagnostics, military servers, signal intelligence, and image processing. . Build options include XC7A200T FPGA device with plug-in I/O or conduction-cooled for extended temperature. An engineering design kit provides user with basic information required to develop a custom FPGA program. Software support packages are available for VxWorks 32-bit, Windows DLL, and Linux. Designed and manufactured in the USA, lead-free modules are available beginning at $2,295. Acromag, Wixom, MI (248) 295-0310.

Mobile-Edge Platform for Extreme Environments and Outdoor Telecom/ Networking Applications

What is being called an “extreme outdoor server” is a high-performance mobile edge computing (MEC) platform specifically designed for extreme environments and outdoor telecom/networking applications. The ETOS-1000 from Adlink Technology is based on the dual Intel Xeon®E5-2400 v2 family of processors. the platform enables telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs) and application providers to deliver data center performance at the edge of the network. The ETOS-1000 provides IT and cloud-computing capabilities within the radio access network (RAN) in close proximity to mobile subscribers. This offers a service environment characterized by proximity, ultra-low latency, and high-bandwidth that allows content, services, and applications to be accelerated, maintaining a customer’s high-level quality of experience (QoE). The ETOS-1000 mobile-edge computing platform provides computing resources, storage capacity, connectivity and access to user traffic and real-time radio and network information. This allows operators to offer context-related services that can differentiate and monetize the user experience. In addition, since the data is processed at the edge in the RAN environment, the ETOS-1000 reduces backhaul costs and improves the infrastructure’s efficiency with more intelligent and optimized networks. And with the onset of network function virtualization (NFV) infrastructure, having data center performance at the edge of networks can enable specific virtualized network functions (VNFs) closer to the consumer, improving QoE. Attributes such as shock and vibration resistance, -40˚C to +55˚C operating temperature range, and IP65 water and dust ingress rating make the ETOS-1000 an attractive solution for outdoor and extreme environments. The ETOS-1000 can also utilize Adlink’s application ready intelligent platform (ARiP) software, which includes PacketManager, remote management functions, and system management APIs for application developers. ARiPs enable customers to focus primarily on their application instead of the IoT platform building blocks required for cloud computing. The ETOS-1000 reduces maintenance costs by eliminating fans and filters and offering worry-free, weather-resistant, high-speed connections for copper or fiber options. ADLINK Technology, San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200.

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OpenPower-Based CAPI Acceleration Solution on PCIe Board

A Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) acceleration development kit targets the ADM-PCIE-7V3 board from Alpha Data. The kit will enable designers to utilize Xilinx All Programmable FPGA devices attached to the coherent accelerator processor interfaces on IBM POWER8 systems. The development kit includes the Power Service Layer (PSL) to provide the infrastructure connection to the POWER8 chip, examples of user defined accelerator function units (AFUs), as well as OS Kernel extensions and library functions specifically for CAPI. This solution significantly reduces the development time required to offload data processing applications to FPGAs. CAPI removes the software overhead for processor communication with the I/O subsystem, allowing an accelerator to operate as part of an application. CAPI on POWER8 systems provides a high-performance solution for the implementation of client-specific, computation-heavy algorithms on an FPGA. IBM’s solution enables higher system performance with a much smaller programming investment, allowing hybrid computing to be successful across a much broader range of applications. The Alpha Data ADM-PCIE-7V3 PCIe form factor add-in card utilizes Xilinx FPGAs to deliver application-specific acceleration for Big Data workloads. The ADM-PCIE-7V3 is IBM Power8 CAPI capable, featuring a Xilinx Virtex®-7 X690T FPGA with dual 10Gigabit SFP+ ports for direct networking attach, two onboard SO-DIMMs for computing from local memory, and dual SATA interfaces for local data storage. OpenPOWER systems with AlphaData co-processors provide an ideal solution for next-generation data-centers.

Alpha Data, Denver, CO. 303.954.8768

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Reflective Optical Encoders for Low -Power Miniaturized Motion Control Systems

A new series of 3-channel reflective optical encoder devices is targeted for use in low-power miniaturized motion control systems such as stepper motors, electrical actuators, piezoelectric drives and portable medical appliances. Expanding upon previous generation devices, the new AEDR-87xx from Avago Technologies boasts encoding resolution up to 318 lines per inch (LPI) supports 3.3V and 5V supply voltage for low-power applications. Dual analog outputs interface directly with an external interpolator for high precision motion control measurements. The devices are packaged in industry’s smallest form factor for 3-channel reflective optical encoder. Key features include 3 channel outputs including one index digital output and a built-in Interpolator for 4x, 8x and 16x Interpolation. The line has built-in Automatic LED Current regulation and an encoding resolution of 318 LPI (up to 1.25um pitch). Power supply voltage is 3.3 or 5 V for theAEDR-871x and 5 V for theAEDR-872x. In addition, their compact size is only 3.95 mm (L) x 3.4 mm (W) x 0.956 mm (H). The AEDR-8710 and AEDR-8723 are priced starting at $15 and $22 USD, respectively in 10,000 piece quantities. Avago Technologies, San Jose, CA (408) 435-7400.


Qseven Module with Quad-Core Pentium Processor and 4K Resolution

A new Qseven module features the new Intel Pentium and Celeron processors based on 14 nm technology and offers increased energy savings and computing power. The optimized Intel Gen8 graphics, with up to 16 EUs (graphics execution units) and 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) resolution, result in a significantly improved visual experience. The conga-QA4 module from congatec comes in three different processor versions (Intel codename Braswell) for high scalability. These range from the entry-level dual-core Intel Celeron N3050 with 1.6/2.08 GHz to the quad-core Intel Pentium N3700 with 1.6/2.4 GHz, each with a power consumption of 4 watts for standard applications. The Qseven module is equipped with up to 8 GB dual channel DDR3L memory and up to 64GB eMMC 5.0 for mass storage. The enhanced integrated Intel Gen8 graphics supports DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.2 and OpenCL 1.2. The new high-performance, hardware-accelerated video decoding of H.265/HEVC, requires a 50% lower data rate compared to H.264/AVC, making it possible to stream 4K videos in real time. Up to 4K(3840 x 2160 pixels) resolution is supported by either DisplayPort or HDMI interfaces. In addition the conga-QA4 module has a default 24bit LVDS interface. The Qseven specification includes an optional pinout which replaces the LVDS interface with two sets of Embedded DisplayPort signals. This optional implementation allows for the operation of 3 independent displays. The new standard MIPI CSI 2 camera interface opens Qseven’s eyes. Using a feature connector conforming to the Qseven SGET 2.0 specification (Addendum), the conga-QA4 module can directly support up to two MIPI HD cameras. The main advantage of MIPI-CSI2 lies in the low price of camera modules supporting the MIPI-CSI2 interface. Thanks to native USB 3.0 support, the conga-QA4 module provides fast data transmission despite low power draw. A total of six USB 2.0 ports are provided, one of which is executed as USB 3.0 SuperSpeed. Three PCI Express 2.0 lanes and two SATA 3.0 ports with up to 6 Gb/s allow fast and flexible system extensions. The Intel® I211 Gigabit Ethernet Controller offers the best software compatibility, while I2C bus, LPC bus for easy integration of legacy I/O interfaces, and Intel® High Definition Audio with an 8-channel sound card round off the feature set.

Intel Compute Stick: A Windows PC in a Dongle

A new generation of computer from Intel is the Compute Stick, a new device that enables any screen with an HDMI interface to become a fully functional personal computer. The Compute Stick comes pre-installed with the Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system. The Intel Compute Stick is a fully-functional computer in a package similar to a large USB stick. The new Intel Compute Stick with Windows 8.1 is powered by a 64 bit 1.83GHz Atom Z3735F Quad-Core processor with 2Mbytes cache, integrated Intel HD graphics, and multi channel digital audio. The Compute Stick plugs into any display that has an HDMI 1.4a interface. Networking is achieved with onboard IEEE 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, and peripheral connectivity is available through the Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 2.0 interfaces. Once plugged into a display’s HDMI port, the user powers the Compute Stick with a wall adapter. A status LED indicates the device is powered while both graphics and audio is provided through the HDMI port. The device can be controlled through a wireless keyboard and mouse. The Intel Compute Stick is available from Mouser Electronics running the Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system with 32GBytes of eMMC Flash for user file storage, 2GBytes of RAM, and a free six month subscription to McAfee Antivirus Plus. An Intel Compute Stick running Linux Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available at a later date. Flash user storage is expandable for both versions through a microSDXC slot on the side of the device. Once configured, the Intel Compute Stick has all the performance and functionality of a full-sized computer and can browse the web, view online video, edit photos and files, and play music. Intel, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 765-8080.

congatec, San Diego, CA (858) 457-2600.

RTC Magazine JULY 2015 | 39


Development Kit Accelerates Development of Wireless Sensor Industrial IoT Applications

The SmartMesh IP wireless sensor networking products from Linear Technology now provide the ability to program industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications directly on the embedded ARM Cortex-M3, running Micrium’s μC/OS-II RTOS. Users no longer need a separate processor for sensor interface and edge data analytics, reducing the cost, footprint and power consumption of the integrated wireless sensor node. Application development time is accelerated with a library of reference code and source code examples. Based on 6LoWPAN, SmartMesh IP mesh networking products include a pre-compiled networking stack that delivers >99.999% network reliability at ultralow power. This is particularly important for industrial IoT applications, where wireless sensor networks (WSNs) may be deployed in harsh and remote environments. The On-Chip Software Development Kit (SDK) provided with the LTC5800-IPM (system-on-chip) and LTP5901/2-IPM (PCB modules) has been designed to ensure that developers can stably run both the pre-compiled SmartMesh IP networking stack and their applications simultaneously. To support the growing community of developers on this platform, the DustCloud Developer Community provides an interactive forum for developers building applications on SmartMesh IP. It contains source code, software reference designs and detailed documentation for the SDK, as well as a developer discussion forum. Applications written within the SDK may read and control peripherals - general purpose input-output (GPIO) pins, analog-to-digital converter (ADC) inputs, universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART), serial peripheral interface (SPI) master, inter-integrated circuit (I2C) master, 1-wire master. They can process data such as statistical analysis and local decision-making and control. And they can Send and receive wireless messages through the SmartMesh IP wireless mesh network. The On-Chip SDK is now available as part of the SmartMesh IP product line.

High-Side Current/Power Sensor Features Configurable Analog Output and 2-Wire Digital Bus

Linear Technology, Milpitas, CA 408-432-1900.

Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ (480) 792-7211.

40 | RTC Magazine JULY 2015

A combined analog and digital current sensor is a high-side current sensor with both a digital output, as well as a configurable analog output that can present power, current or voltage over the single output pin. Simultaneously, all power related output values are also available over the 2-Wire digital bus, which is compatible with I2C. The PAC1921 from Microchip Technology is available in a 10-lead 3x3 mm VDFN package and was designed with the 2-Wire bus to maximize data and diagnostic reporting, while having the analog output to minimize data latency. The analog output can also be adjusted for use with 3V, 2V, 1.5V or 1V microcontroller inputs. The PAC1921 is suitable for networking, power-distribution, power-supply, computing and industrial-automation applications that cannot allow for latency when performing high-speed power management. A 39-bit accumulation register and 128 times gain configuration make this device useful for both heavy and light system-load power measurement, from 0V to 32V. It has the ability to integrate more than two seconds of power-consumption data. Additionally, the PAC1921 has a READ/INT pin for host control of the measurement period; and this pin can be used to synchronize readings of multiple devices. The ability to output power measurements in both the digital and analog domains provides designers with a unique level of flexibility. The PAC1921 accomplishes this by combining a digital current sensor to maximize data and diagnostic reporting, together with an analog current sensor to minimize data latency. Pricing starts at $1.18 each in 5,000-unit quantities. The PAC1921 is supported by Microchip’s new PAC1921 High-Side Power and Current Monitor Evaluation Board,which is available for $64.99.


FPGA Accelerator Features Floating Point-Enabled FPGA with OpenCL Tool Flow

A production-ready, server-qualified FPGA card is capable of accelerating a new generation of energy-efficient datacenter applications. The 385A from Nallatech is a half-height, half-length PCIe Gen 3 card featuring Altera’s new floating-point enabled Arria 10 FPGA family capable of delivering 1.5 Peak TFlops of floating point performance. Two independent banks of SDRAM memory and dual QSFP+ network ports complete the balanced architecture capable of both co-processing and latency-critical 1G/10G/40G streaming applications. The 385A will be delivered with an optimized Board Support Package compatible with the Altera Software Development Kit (SDK) for OpenCL. This allows the card to be programmed at a high level of abstraction by customers unfamiliar with traditional FPGA hardware-based tool flows. “Intel’s acquisition of Altera marks a dramatic new chapter in the high performance computing Industry with FPGAs destined to play a key role” said Allan Cantle, president and founder of Nallatech. “FPGAs are no longer just a curiosity to be benchmarked. Major companies such as Microsoft and IBM are deploying high volumes of FPGAs in production systems where a step-change in both application performance and energy-efficiency are needed, but cannot be realized using only CPU plus GPU configurations. The 385A is the ideal product for customers wanting to cost-effectively add FPGA fabric to their data center.” 385A cards are shipping now. Customers can purchase cards individually or as integrated servers pre-loaded with tools including the Altera OpenCL SDK and Nallatech Board Support Packages. Nallatech, Camarillo, CA (805) 383-8997.

Recorders with Serial FPDP System Provides 4 TB Hot Swappable Storage

A new recorder extends the Talon Value Series of rackmount recorders from Pentek that are optimized for laboratory operating environments. The RTV 2602 supports up to four independently clocked Serial FPDP links using copper or optical cables with single-mode or multimode fibre with flexible baud rate selection to support virtually all popular Serial FPDP interfaces. It is capable of both receiving and transmitting data over these links and supports real-time data storage to disk and playback from disk. Up to four channels can be recorded or played back simultaneously with an aggregate rate of up to 400 MB/ sec. Providing 4 TB of data storage, the six enterprise-class, hot-swappable front-panel disk drives can be easily replaced by empty drives when full. All Talon recorders are built on a Windows 7 Professional workstation and include Pentek’s SystemFlow software, featuring a GUI (graphical user interface), signal viewer, and API (Application Programming Interface). The GUI provides intuitive controls for out-of-the-box turn-key operation using point-and-click configuration management. Configurations are easily stored and recalled for single-click setup. User settings to configure data format for the signal viewer provide a virtual oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer to monitor signals before, during and after data collection. The C-callable API allows users to integrate the recorder control into larger application systems. Pentek provides a Talon Recording System Simulator for evaluation of the SystemFlow software package. The Talon RTV 2602 Value Series recorder starts at $19,495 USD and is available for expedited delivery from stock. Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ (201) 818-5900.

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Company...........................................................................Page................................................................................Website congatec, Inc....................................................................................................................... Dolphin...................................................................................................................................27................................................................................................................. EDT............................................................................................................................................. Intelligent Systems Lauterbach........................................................................................................................... Middle Canyon............................................................................................................... 17, Novasis. One Stop Systems...................................................................................................... 5, Pixus.........................................................................................................................................42............................................................................................................................. Raythe RTD............................................................................................................................................. RTECC.................................................................................................................................28, 33..................................................................................................................... Super Micro Computers, Inc................................................................................... Trenton Systems..............................................................................................................21..................................................................................................... Product Gallery.................................................................................................................36...................................................................................................................................................... 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.

You Know Embedded Computing. We Know Packaging. Partnering with Pixus Technologies for your enclosure, backplane, integrated system, subrack, components, plug-in units, or instrumentation and electronics cases, allows you to focus on your core competencies. With expertise in industry standard form factors including ATCA, CompactPCI, MicroTCA, VME, and VPX, Pixus has the industry experience you need in a packaging partner. To learn how we can help with your next project, contact us today.


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42 | RTC Magazine JULY 2015

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The medical industry has a unique demand for highest safety and reliability meeting regulatory requirements. Applications range from demanding computing requirements for optical Analysis to low power mobile diagnostic and supportive equipment. The NOVAsom8© is a module card designed with a System On Module (SOM) architecture based on quad core ARM Cortex-A9, 64 bit memory until 2 GB and 3 graphic engines that is perfect for medical applications.

Designed with the latest generation, high performance microprocessor. NOVAsom8© can be used in many distinct industrial applications. On-board connectivity solutions, advanced multimedia and other standard peripherals allow our customers quick and easy From the integration into numerous innovative, high-tech product applications.

NOVAsom8© is based on Freescale processors that are focused on industrial products and market segments requiring stability and long product life cycle.

Data Center to the Battlefield.

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HOST PROCESSOR. Designed to deliver high performance while minimizing power usage, the MPC7410 provides a mature off-the-shelf microprocessing solution that you can count on for now and years to come. Connect with us:

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RTC Magazine  

July 2015

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