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OpenGL Speeds High-End Graphics for On-Chip GPUs Tailor the RTOS for the IoT Applications Coordinate Power & Protection for the Smart Grid Real World Connected Systems Magazine. Produced by Intelligent Systems Source

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C and Its Offspring: OpenGL (Part Two) by Sean Harmer, KDAB



22 PCI Express Technology Features Low Power and New Form Factors for Mobile and IoT Advances DEPARTMENTS 06





Prashant Dubal, Wind River



PCI Express Technology Features Low Power and New Form Factors for Mobile and IoT Advances by Al Yanes, PCI-SIG


The Time Has Come, the Editor Said, “I’m Off to Other Things.”

Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

The Internet of Things Stipulates the Specification for your RTOS

Augmenting ATCA Hardware Platform Management with IPv6 for IoT Backend Systems by Mark Overgaard, Pentair Electronics Protection



Embedded Computing with ARM: Build or Buy? by Dan Demers, congatec

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Not Your Traditional App Store: Four Smart Grid Applications by Brett Burger, National Instruments



Energy Harvesting Makes for a More Intelligent ‘Smart Grid’ by Sol Jacobs, Tadiran Batteries

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The Time Has Come, the Editor Said, “I’m Off to Other Things.” by Tom Williams, Editor-In-Chief

It’s been almost 40 years—1975 to be exact— that I was a graduate student working on a PhD in 18th century German literature and got a part-time job in a surplus electronics store in St. Louis. At about that time we encountered a device known as the MITS Altair 8800 and the store owner, who had catered mostly to the ham radio crowd, decided that the store would carry this product. The Altair 8800 was available in kit form and appealed to hobbyists, and I was to be the computer salesman. For you youngsters who don’t remember the MITS Altair, it was based on the fantastic Intel 8080 processor, an 8-bit wonder running at 2 MHz and supporting a maximum of 64k Bytes of RAM. It supported a monochrome alphanumeric display and a keyboard (no mouse) and initially supported no disc drives. The Altair did have a programming language available that was then known as MITS BASIC. However, you had to load it via paper tape although later it came on a cassette tape, then finally 8-inch floppy discs. To do so, you first had to set a series of 8 toggle switches to the appropriate 8-bit instructions and then press another switch to load each instruction into memory. This was known as the “boot loader.” Then we used a Model 33 Teletype machine to read the paper tape into memory after which one could actually work with the computer via the keyboard and display. That MITS BASIC, it turns out, had been developed by a young Harvard student named Bill Gates. He did it by emulating the 8080 processor on a DEC PDP-8 minicomputer, then contacted MITS, brought the tape to their headquarters and it worked the first time. After a heated dispute over ownership to the rights of MIPS BASIC, Gates prevailed and named his venture Microsoft with Microsoft BASIC becoming his first product. Since then, the world has not been the same.

6 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

Over the course of the following years after coming to California, I have been privileged to observe the development, growth and evolution of this incredible industry from the perches of several publications starting in 1977 with Dr. Dobbs Journal and later InfoWorld, Electronic Design, Computer Design, Embedded Systems Development and for more than the past 15 years, RTC. Someone once estimated that if automobile technology had followed the same price/performance track we have seen with digital computer technology, a Rolls Royce would cost less than a dollar. It is impossible to adequately summarize here the advances in silicon, systems, and software that have taken place over that time. But it is often entertaining to pull out some 15- to 20 yearold issues of the magazine and see what we then breathlessly reported as the very latest technical development. It is also instructive to see what appeared to be promising technical advances that ultimately came to nothing. Innovation is a process of evolution and not every bright idea will fully flower—and often due to reasons that are other than purely technical. With these thoughts it is now time to take leave of the helm of this publication and to leave it to the capable hands of John Koon. John has been with the RTC Group for longer than I have and has a strong knowledge of the industry and a long line of good contacts and acquaintances. I’m confident that he will continue and improve the quality and integrity of a publication I have been proud to guide for such a long time. For a while I will be available to John for any questions about things I may have forgotten to tell him or only solicited advice. Over the years I have learned that journalism, be it technical or otherwise is really a people business. While I have been able to observe and report on a vast number of technological developments, one must remember that they

are made by real people and in this area, very smart people. Of course, the stereotype of the computer “geek” is evident in quite a number of folks, but it is a very one-dimensional way to observe what they do and who they are. So many engineers, programmers and technology people have wide areas of interest and fascinating personalities. And that influences what they do and what they create. Part of the fascination of this job has been in discovering some of those aspects and appreciating the kinds of people who make up this world. In some cases this has led to actual friendships that will last for a much longer time. I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks and appreciation to so many I have gotten to know in this industry, my co-workers at the RTC Group and my colleagues in the editorial and public relations arena. It has been a real privilege to know and work with you all.


Abaco Systems, Former GE Embedded Computing Business, Launches Abaco Systems, a provider of rugged embedded computing solutions for defense, aerospace and industrial applications, has announced its separation from GE, opening a new chapter in the company’s history. Customers have been notified of the change in ownership and have welcomed the news of the new Abaco Systems. Veritas Capital, a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services to

Microsoft and Azul Systems Partner to Bring Zulu Embedded to Windows IoT

Azul Systems has announced a partnership with Microsoft to provide Java developers open source development tools, device I/O libraries, and a Java runtime targeting Internet of Things (IoT) applications on Windows 10. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT is a Java Development Kit (JDK), Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and a set of device I/O libraries based on OpenJDK that is compliant with the Java 8 SE specification and has been certified by Azul for use with Windows 10 IoT Core. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT is free to download and use and may be distributed without restriction. Azul and Microsoft’s IoT team are partnering to ensure Zulu Embedded meets the ongoing Java development and runtime requirements for Microsoft’s IoT initiatives, including continued updates to ensure compatibility with the latest Java updates and security patches as well as support for additional IoT device connectivity, control, and communication. With this partnership, the global community of Java developers using Windows 10 IoT core will be assured of a high-quality foundation for their Java implementations leveraging the latest advances in OpenJDK. Zulu Embedded for Windows 10 IoT Core is available immediately.

government and commercial customers worldwide, acquired the embedded computing business from GE. Abaco Systems is a leader in open architecture rugged embedded systems. Spun out of GE in 2015, they deliver market-leading commercial off-the-shelf and custom products, together with best in class program lifecycle management. This, together with 700+ professionals’ focus on customers’ success, reduces program cost and risk, allows technology insertion with affordable readiness and enables platforms to successfully reach deployment sooner and with a lower total cost of ownership. With an active presence in a significant number of national asset platforms on land, sea and in the air, Abaco Systems is trusted where it matters most. www.

Silicon Labs Aquires Telegesis, a Leading Supplier of ZigBee Modules Silicon Labs has announced the acquisition of Telegesis, a leading supplier of wireless mesh networking modules based on Silicon Labs’ ZigBee technology. A privately held company founded in 1998 and based near London, Telegesis has established itself with strong momentum in the smart energy market, providing ZigBee module solutions to many of the world’s top smart metering manufacturers. This strategic acquisition accelerates Silicon Labs’ roadmap for ZigBee and Thread-ready modules and enhances the company’s ability to support customer needs with comprehensive mesh networking solutions ranging from wireless system-on-chip (SoC) devices to plug-and-play modules backed by best-in-class 802.15.4 software stacks and development tools. Telegesis modules integrate the antenna and provide a pre-certified RF design that reduces certification costs, compliance efforts and time to market. Customers can migrate later from modules to cost-efficient SoC-based designs with minimal system redesign and full software reuse. The market for ZigBee modules is large and growing. According to IHS Technology, 20 percent of all ZigBee PRO integrated circuits shipping today are used in modules, and ZigBee module shipments are expected to grow at a compounded rate of 24.6 percent between now and 2019. Telegesis exclusively uses Silicon Labs’ ZigBee technology in its module products, which are deployed in smart meters, USB adapters and gateways for smart energy applications. Additional target applications include home automation, connected lighting, security and industrial automation. The modules come with Silicon Labs’ EmberZNet PRO ZigBee protocol stack, Telegesis also offers comprehensive development and evaluation kits to help developers streamline their ZigBee-based applications. Silicon Labs completed the acquisition of Telegesis on November 20, 2015, for a cash purchase price of approximately $20 million (USD).

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 7


Installed Base of Fleet Management Systems in the Americas to Exceed 13 Million Units by 2019 According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in North America was 4.7 million in Q4-2014. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5 percent, this number is expected to reach 9.7 million by 2019. In Latin America, the number of active fleet management systems is expected to increase from 2.1 million in Q4-2014, growing at a CAGR of 14.6 percent to reach 4.1 million in 2019. The top-15 providers of fleet management systems in the Americas now have a combined installed base of more than 3.5 million active units in the region and the top-5 players alone even account for 2 million units. Leading solution providers including Fleetmatics, Omnitracs, Trimble, Telogis and Zonar Systems now all have more than 300,000 active units on this market. Berg Insight anticipates that the milestone of 1 million fleet management units globally will be surpassed by at least one of the solution providers by 2018. An emerging trend that has surfaced in recent years includes a diversification among providers of fleet management solutions for commercial vehicles to also support other types of assets. Several solution providers now offer integrated solutions that can be deployed across off-highway vehicles, non-powered assets and other non-vehicle fleets in addition to the commercial vehicle types traditionally targeted by FM providers. “This enables fleet owners to monitor and manage all of their business-critical assets through the same back office interface, using familiar applications and reporting tools”, said Rickard Andersson, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. Andersson adds that at the same time this development enables fleet telematics providers to maintain subscriber growth as mature markets eventually approach peak penetration. “The telematics penetration is for example already comparably high in the heavy truck and trailer segment in North America, but the same cannot be said about most other types of assets used by fleet-owning companies.”, said Andersson. He concludes that asset tracking thus represents a heavily underpenetrated market with considerable potential for telematics providers that are ready to diversify their product offering. Many other players active in the general fields of Big Data and the Internet of Things may also start eyeing this market.

8 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

File Management Optimized to Improve Flash Memory Reliability and Durability Express Logic has announced that FileX, its file management system, now supports Microsoft’s Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system. With exFAT, FileX maximizes the reliability and fault tolerance of flash memory in a number of media devices from flat panel TVs and media centers to compact flash and USB pen drives drives. In addition, for systems that also need wear leveling capabilities, Express Logic complements FileX with LevelX, a new flash wear leveling software that extends the longevity of storage devices. FileX’s improved dependability comes from the implementation of journaling for fault recovery. By tracking uncommitted file-system changes and recording the intentions or changes within the journal data structure, FileX now fully supports fault-tolerant systems. FileX improves system reliability and prevents data corruption by enabling the recovery of files should a system crash or power failure occur. Such data management is critical for always-on, mission-critical devices. LevelX complements FileX for always-on devices, like wearble heart monitors, where data is stored locally until it can be uploaded via a network. Such devices typically use NOR and NAND flash, which can only be erased and rewritten a finite number of times. These devices must maximize the longevity of usuable flash memory. Wear leveling maximizes the life of the flash by distributing the storage of memory evenly over the entire flash. Express Logic’s LevelX delivers NAND and NOR flash wear leveling through an algorithm that reuses blocks of flash memory on lowest erase count. The algorithm also tracks the number of obsolete mappings to eliminate overhead when moving and mapping new entries. For applications involving multiple instances of NAND and/or NOR flash, separate instances of LevelX can be used. LevelX achieves fault tolerance by performing multi-step process that is interruptible at any point. LevelX automatically recovers to a coherent state during the next power-up operation.


Google Merging Chrome and Android? There is currently much talk and speculation that Google intends to merge Chrome OS and Android with Google’s only response being that Chrome OS is not being “killed”. According to Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research, both of these operating systems have been under one roof since 2013 and from an ecosystem perspective, it makes a lot of sense to merge them into one. Two important aspects of an ecosystem are: first, the ability to offer a consistent user experience across multiple device types such as phones, TVs, PCs etc. Second is ensuring that software is as consistent as possible across the ecosystem. Merging Chrome OS and Android would help improve Google’s performance against both of these metrics. However there is a much more important motivation for this move. Edison research has indicated for some time that the appeal of Google’s ecosystem to both users and software developers continues to be hobbled by the nature of Android. Google’s ecosystem exists as a layer of software known as Google Mobile Services (GMS) that sits on top of the Android Open Source Package (AOSP). GMS is proprietary to Google while AOSP is open source. AOSP

controls significant aspects of the user experience and because it is open source, it is very fragmented. This has had a huge impact on the quality of the user experience on Android and deleteriously impacted the ease and fun of use of the Google ecosystem. Furthermore, Google does not have the ability to distribute any upgrades it makes to the AOSP. Instead, it must wait for device makers and mobile operators to be willing to upgrade the devices that they control. This has resulted in it taking multiple years for new software to make it into the hands of the majority of users, seriously impacting the appeal of the Google ecosystem. The one way by which Google can rectify these problems is to take over as much of the AOSP as it can and turn an open operating system into a proprietary one. Then Google will have full control of the user experience and should also be in a position to take control of software distribution. Merging Chrome OS and Android into one would allow Google to quietly take much greater control of Android by replacing open source elements of the AOSP with elements from Chrome OS which is not open.

DecaWave Joins Forces with UWB Leader Time Domain

DecaWave, a manufacturer of ultra wideband (UWB) semiconductors, and Time Domain, a developer of UWB hardware and software, have announced a strategic partnership to serve growing commercial and industrial markets for precision ranging and localization. The deal establishes Time Domain as DecaWave’s preferred partner for navigation and tracking opportunities based on two-way time-of-flight (TWTOF) ranging and grants DecaWave a worldwide license to Time Domain’s industry-leading patent portfolio. The landmark partnership pairs DecaWave’s chip technology with Time Domain’s development ecosystem to shorten system integrators’ development cycles and speed time to market for new location-based solutions. The agreement also provides a framework for collaboration on products, regulatory standards, and industry symposia. As part of the cooperation and licensing deal, Time Domain will be given Strategic Partner status within DecaWave’s successful Partnership Program. Time Domain will pursue TW-TOF ranging applications in industries where mobile ad hoc operating environments are the rule rather than the exception, such as mobile robotics, smart mobility, and autonomous operations. The two companies have committed to expanding their collaboration in other areas to promote the adoption of UWB technology worldwide, including coordination on industry and regulatory standards and the creation of a UWB industry forum. In August, Time Domain announced the PulsON 330 (P330), its first OEM module based upon DecaWave’s DW1000 chip.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 9


C and Its Offspring: OpenGL OpenGL continues to grow and develop along with its own offspring to bring high-end, high-speed graphics and visualization into the future. by Sean Harmer, KDAB

Part One of this series explained how the flow of data through the pipeline transforms from vertices, through fragments and eventually, for the lucky few, to pixels on the screen. Of course, modern GPUs are very good at doing this but only if we treat them the right way. The programmable shader-based stages of the pipeline give us a huge amount of flexibility but we also need to feed the pipeline with a steady stream of data so as to not allow it to stall. In addition to flexibility, it is the desire for greater performance that has shaped the OpenGL API in recent times. Legacy OpenGL that you may have seen with its copious calls to glVertex3f() and friends are just not a good way of getting data into the pipeline. OpenGL’s threading model means that all rendering commands for a particular pipeline must be issued from the same thread. One CPU core is simply not fast enough to feed data one vertex attribute at a time and keep the GPU fully loaded. Laughably far from it. OpenGL performs best when working on large contiguous blocks of memory stored in buffer objects. For typical geometry, such data consists of vertex positions that give the actual geometric shape of the mesh to be rendered; a normal vector at each vertex that feeds into the lighting calculations implemented in the programmable

shader stages of the pipeline; and texture coordinates used to map images onto the surface of the 3D meshes being displayed. Consequently, OpenGL now requires us to package up the input data (vertex positions and other attributes) into relatively large packages with a well-defined (but user specifiable) format. Figure 1 shows one possible way of arranging typical vertex data (positions, normal vectors and texture coordinates) into buffer objects. The buffer objects that contain our vertex attribute data can be associated with the inputs to a vertex shader with a few commands on the CPU (glVertexAttribPointer() and friends). If we tell OpenGL how the data in our buffers will be used and how often it is likely to be updated, the OpenGL driver may be nice and DMA the buffer of data such that it resides in nice and fast GPU-side memory (if your GPU and CPU don’t have a shared memory architecture). The upshot of this is that with minimal CPU overhead we can get everything needed by the GPU lined up and ready to go prior to issuing a draw call. Think of issuing an OpenGL draw call such as glDrawElements(), as simply pulling the trigger on a starter’s pistol. The draw call returns immediately and the CPU is free to get on with other work (queueing up additional OpenGL work or anything else) whilst the GPU asynchronously gets on with the work described in the previous section. Maintaining this degree of parallelism between the CPU and GPU is key to maintaining good performance in OpenGL.

Figure 1 One possible configuration in which the data can be arranged into multiple buffer objects. Other, more complex arrangements are possible that give better performance as a result of improved cache coherency. It is necessary to tell OpenGL about the format of the data so that it knows how much data to feed into the pipeline for each vertex.

10 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

OpenGL Without the Triangles

Newer versions of OpenGL (OpenGL 4.3 or OpenGL ES 3.1) introduce a second pipeline in addition to the graphics rasterization one we have been discussing up to now. This second pipeline is very simple and consists of a single programmable shader stage – the compute shader. What is the compute shader and what is it good for I hear you ask? Well, a compute shader is written in GLSL just like its graphical counterparts, and it is useful when you want to perform general purpose computations that do not directly involve rasterizing primitives. Ideally to take full advantage of the GPU’s parallelism, the algorithms that you code up into compute shaders should be nicely parallelizable in terms of the data they operate on and have no (or very few) dependencies between blocks of work. But when should we use compute shaders instead of OpenCL? The functionality exposed by compute shaders in OpenGL is not as full featured as the facilities offered by OpenCL, CUDA and other similar APIs. However, OpenGL’s compute feature does have one major advantage: there is no very expensive context switch required when switching between OpenGL graphics and compute pipelines as there is when switching between OpenGL and OpenCL or Cuda and back again.

The upshot of these conditions is that OpenGL’s compute shaders often find very good use for processing data that is close to the graphics. For example, performing physics particle simulations by updating the contents of a buffer containing particle positions and velocities or convolving texture data with a kernel ready to be displayed in a subsequent graphics pipeline pass. If your needs exceed that of OpenGL compute shaders, then you will need to look elsewhere and use an interoperability API if you then need to render the results of the calculations performed. We do not have space here to do justice to OpenCL but there are some fantastic online resources available such as Hands On OpenCL.

Using OpenGL in Practice

OpenGL is very often the go-to API of choice when you want fluidly animated user interfaces, or need to display large quantities of data, or as often found, both. OpenGL cannot be used in isolation to write an entire application. OpenGL knows nothing of window surfaces, input devices, and the raft of other tasks an application has to complete. The process of obtaining a window surface on which to draw and an OpenGL context (that holds the current OpenGL state) requires the use of platform-specific APIs such as EGL, WGL, GLX, CGL etc. Alternatively, one can use a cross-platform toolkit such as Qt that abstracts these things nicely away allowing you to concen-

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TECHNOLOGY IN SYSTEMS C AND ITS OFFSPRING trate more on the task at hand. Once you have performed the mundane tasks of obtaining a window and context you can set to with your fancy shader based pipelines and big buffers of data to render your masterpiece at 60 frames per second (fps). More likely, you will find yourself staring at a black screen because you made a subtle mistake in one of a hundred possible ways that means you don’t see what you hoped. Some classic examples of mistakes (all of which I have made at various times) are: transforming the object you want to see so that it is behind the virtual camera; putting the camera inside the object and disabling rasterization of the back faces of triangles; drawing a quad exactly edge on; incorrectly transforming vertices in your vertex shader; using an incomplete texture object (gives black object on a black background) and many more. To avoid repeating many of these mistakes time and again, developers either end up writing their own set of wrappers and utilities to help manage the large amounts of data and concepts or they use an existing framework. There are many such frameworks—often referred to as scene graphs—available, both open source and commercial. Take your pick of the one that suits you best. However, you still need a good mental model of what the OpenGL pipeline is doing under the hood and who knows when you’ll need to tweak that shader that ships out of the box but doesn’t quite do what you need. Qt once again shines here. The Qt3D module is currently undergoing rapid development and allows both C++ and QML APIs to create and manage your scene graph. Moreover, Qt3D also allows you to specify exactly how the scene graph is processed and rendered by the backend. This allows you, for example, to completely switch the rendering algorithm dynamically at runtime – when transitioning from an outdoor to an indoor scene for example. Qt3D is also extensible to a great degree, and the future will bring features such as collision detection, AI, 3D positional audio and much more. The Qt3D framework allows a much higher level of abstraction than using raw OpenGL but still provides a powerful feature set. In Figure 2 we can see a model of a jet engine being rendered from

three separate camera positions into three regions of the window. The engine and stand use a variety of materials and textures to get the desired surface finishes. Cut planes are implemented with some custom GLSL shaders to selectively allow seeing the internal structure of the engine. The background is smoothly animated to vary slowly over time and the 2D user interface is provided by Qt Quick and blended over top of the 3D content including real time transparent panels. Finally, you need to consider how to compose your OpenGL scene with a traditional 2D user interface and any other data such as camera feeds, video streams, 3rd party mapping frameworks etc. As described in the May 2015 issue of RTC, Qt provides the Qt Quick UX technology stack. It just so happens that Qt Quick is rendered using OpenGL (by way of a scene graph that specializes in 2D content). Qt Quick also supports camera and video data and is relatively easy to integrate with mapping engines too. Of course Qt Quick and Qt3D work seamlessly together and allow the creation of stunning user interfaces that combine 2D and 3D aspects. The display of the jet engine show an example of Qt3D and QtQuick running together at 60 fps.

The Future

Over time, more facilities have been added to OpenGL to get even better performance. Features such as primitive restart, instanced rendering, array textures, and indirect rendering allow a single draw call to trigger far more work than was possible without them – this is often referred to as increasing the batch size. However, while maintaining backwards compatibility there is one problem that cannot be solved in OpenGL. It’s a big one: the threading model. OpenGL originates from a time of processors with single cores and this is reflected in its architecture. All OpenGL commands for the current context have to be issued from the thread on which the context is current. This means that on modern machines the CPU often has N-1 cores idling whilst they wait for the core driving the OpenGL context to complete its work each frame.

Figure 1 Example of an application written with Qt3D showing off the power of OpenGL.

12 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

A new approach is needed to solve this. Vulkan is the answer to this from Khronos. Vulkan is a new API designed from the ground up to eliminate the problems with OpenGL. It features a threading model that allows multiple CPU cores to build up command buffers that can later be issued to the GPU. Potentially such command buffers can be reused multiple times, even across frames, saving the CPU even more workload in situations that exhibit a high degree of temporal coherency. Vulkan is also an explicit API. The application (programmer) is responsible for managing every aspect of the resources used by the pipeline. This minimizes surprises that can sometimes be present in OpenGL when certain commands take far longer than expected due to the driver having to do bookkeeping behind the scenes. The advent of Vulkan does not spell the end for OpenGL by any means. OpenGL is still perfectly capable of driving the vast majority of use cases encountered today. Vulkan will allow developers to scale the graphical aspects of their applications horizontally across multiple CPU cores. This is most beneficial at present for high end game engines on the desktop but also for mobile and embedded devices wishing to get better use of the limited thermal envelopes and/or battery life. Although the API of Vulkan is necessarily different from that of OpenGL, the concepts are very much the same. So if you have never touched OpenGL before, the investment in to learning it now

will not be lost even if you wish to migrate to Vulkan in the future. Hopefully this article has shed a little light on some of the concepts involved with using modern OpenGL. Of course there is far more to it than we can hope to cover in a few pages. The good news is that all of the sophisticated lighting models, texturing methods, tessellation and geometry processing all build upon the same core principals. If all of this still seems a little daunting there are plenty of resources available to help you on your way. The official OpenGL wiki is a great place to start and the OpenGL man pages are very thorough. In addition to consulting services, KDAB also offers professional 3-5 day training courses that can help explain the concepts, demonstrate the techniques that build upon them and arm you with everything needed to be productive with OpenGL. We even include around 100 examples and hands-on exercises to cut your teeth on. KDAB Houston, TX (866) 777-5322

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The Internet of Things Stipulates the Specification for your RTOS To address the range of needs for devices on the Internet of Things, an RTOS must be modular, scalable and support a range of connectivity while maintaining security. This calls for a platform approach that can be configured and adapted while maintaining a stable base. by Prashant Dubal, Wind River

The embedded systems industry can look forward to a sustained period of growth thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). The forecast billions of devices, typically called edge nodes, make up a considerable part of the IoT, and in some cases, simple devices are key to unlocking new business models and increasing operating efficiency. Harnessing vast volumes of data in this system-of-systems is crucial to providing the insight within the hidden data and bringing about real-time decision making. Every aspect of the IoT relies on reliable connectivity, Cloud service provision and the constant stream of data from the embedded edge nodes. These embedded devices will exhibit a lot of diversity, some being simple sensors reading temperature, humidity etc., while others will be more complex and involve more decision making intelligence and system control. For these more intelligent devices, it is highly likely they will require a real-time operating system (RTOS). Whatever the purpose or architecture that a particular IoT application takes, the manufacturers of such embedded systems need to juggle a number of business and design considerations in order to bring their solutions to market quickly. Given the openness of the IoT it will be particularly important for connected devices to be brought to market as quickly as possible in order to drive broad market adoption. And at the same time, these products need to have features and capabilities that help differentiate them from other competitive products. From the technical perspective, device security will be paramount. Suffice to say that managing these challenges, while aiming to keep development costs and risks to a minimum, will keep engineering teams busy. Using pre-certified compute and wireless modules will significantly aid developers with the hardware challenge, and using an RTOS might well assist in developing a secure, modular and scalable operating environment on which to base their design. 14 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

Figure 1 Key platform features and attributes of an RTOS for the IoT.

Here are key aspects of an RTOS that an IoT application should review when selecting one (Figure 1). In the context of IoT or machine-to-machine (M2M) systems, connectivity is a crucial component. Low power wireless modules and sensors are being used across the world of IoT— from industrial controls, medical and healthcare diagnostics to automotive safety and domestic appliances. As a consequence, an RTOS needs to include native support for all the leading communications standards and protocols such as ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and CAN. With connectivity being omnipresent, security will be at the forefront of the engineering specification. The selected RTOS needs to encompass security across the operational life cycle of the device, including during configuration, while booting,

Figure 2 Four pillars of RTOS security

normal operation, power-down, and, not forgetting, disposal. The RTOS should provide security not only against malware and unwanted or rogue applications, but also deliver secure data storage and communications. Provisioning such security features at the operating system level in place of add-on software

is essential (Figure2). The RTOS-based devices will require the logic for opening those packets, validating their integrity, analyzing their contents, and verifying that these actions have taken place securely. Security threats and vulnerabilities are ever changing, so an RTOS needs to support the secure upgrade, download and authentication of applications to help keep devices secure going forward. The IoT and M2M landscape is evolving faster than the release cycles for the traditional RTOS, which means the design and deployment of the RTOS need to adapt. Traditionally monolithic in nature, an RTOS has been delivered all at once as a large bundle of software, board support packages (BSPs), middleware, operating system, and tools. Updates to this baseline have been mostly for bug and security fixes rather than to add new features due to the prohibitive amount of coding and testing required to implement them. The days of dedicated functions with little or no updates or expansion are over. Intelligent devices need to adapt to changing needs in the network. The reinvented RTOS must be built on a modular, upgradeable, future-proof architecture that separates the core kernel from middleware, protocols, applications and other packages. The RTOS of the future will provide a stable core so that add-on components can rely on this stability for

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TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TAILORING THE RTOS FOR THE IOT a relatively extended period of time, for example, three years. Middleware, new protocols and other packages can be added or upgraded without changing the core. For many developers and engineering teams, the attraction of establishing a platform approach for all your IoT devices, whether edge node sensors, gateways or data servers makes a lot of business sense. Being able to provide a broad product portfolio catering for small form factor single-application devices to large-scale more complex systems means that you need to select a single RTOS that can scale accordingly. A single RTOS that can scale to meet the unique memory footprint, functionality, and processing power requirements of multiple product classes can help manufacturers of embedded systems increase the return on their operating system investment, cut development costs by leveraging the economies of scope, and reduce time to market (Figure 3). The platform approach mentioned above also has another pragmatic reason for consideration, that of scalability. Clearly, IoT topology can be very diverse. The edge devices may comprise hundreds or even thousands of simple sensors or actuators

Figure 3 A modern RTOS must support these axes of scalability in order to deliver the most value in the IoT.

Intelligent Networking

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16 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

ranging from environmental sensors such as temperature or humidity through to electromechanical or hydraulic actuators. Such devices will most likely communicate to the Cloud either directly, or more likely, via a gateway. The gateway itself might do some local data storage and/or processing prior to passing data to a Cloud-based analytics application. Many sensors are likely to be battery-powered with wireless connectivity and, consequently, will need a power management capability together with basic network stacks. When you consider the challenges associated with scalability, from a simple MCU-based sensor through to, potentially, a multicore gateway, the benefits of using the same RTOS become a wise choice. Being able to build your desired RTOS from a standard set of stacks and components to suit the application and the desired choice of microcontroller/microprocessor can bring many advantages. For example, Wind River provides a compact version of its VxWorks RTOS for exactly this purpose. With a footprint as small as 20 kB, the VxWorks MicroKernel provides power management and basic network stacks that suit a single task edge node device. In this example there is no need, for example, for a routing capability. Depending on the application, it might not need security features either if it was communicating directly to a gateway, the use of a protocol such as OpenSSL would be sufficient since the gateway would provide the firewall function. While a bare-metal approach might appear attractive, especially for those simple edge node sensors, the benefits of using an RTOS mount up when you consider factors such as support, tool chains and other aspects of development. Just as some of the world’s successful airlines quote the benefits of using a single aircraft type, the same concept applies to the diverse embedded development necessary for an IoT application. The choice of compute device will be decided by the application. Whatever architecture you standardize on there will be a range of MCU/MPU devices available to satisfy the performance, power budget and peripheral requirement for your design. Using a professional and well-supported RTOS should provide the level of board support each design requires. For example, Wind River VxWorks has hundreds of qualified board support packages across many different device archectitures. Aside from the key factors mentioned above there are a number of other considerations that developers should investigate. One of these is the aspect of functional safety as stipulated in ISO 61508. Machines, appliances or equipment controlled by an embedded device might malfunction and cause injury or death. The norm in highly regulated industries such as aerospace and automotive, safety standards are now being applied to many other industries. As these evolve, manufacturers increasingly look to RTOS vendors to deliver the appropriate safety and security capabilities and certifications, so as to make it easier for them to obtain required safety and security certifications for their end products. A broad feature set delivered by the modern RTOS and its ecosystem of compatible third-party applications is essential to enabling manufacturers of embedded systems to create a differentiated product offering and secure a sustainable compet-

itive advantage. Other desired features might have support for provisioning a rich user interface for example. With customer experience and user interface becoming key differentiating features for products ranging from mobile phones to medical devices to industrial control systems, powerful human-machine interaction capabilities are becoming a must for an RTOS for IoT. This includes quality 2D and 3D graphics engines, support for multiple monitors and touch screens, as well as rich graphics designer tools. The era of the Internet of Things requires a modular, configurable and expandable RTOS. It will add enhanced scalability, connectivity, security, safety, and an extended feature set to the solid real-time performance, low latency and multi-core processor support already needed today. Such an RTOS for your future embedded applications will give them a competitive edge in the world of IoT by enabling them to bring industry-leading devices to market faster while reducing risks and development and maintenance costs. Wind River Alameda, CA (510) 748-4100


Full-On Devel Targets Indust opment Suite rial Automation Medical Device s Merge Intelligence with Connectivity The Magazine

of Record for

the Embedded

Computer Indust


Temperature Consid eratio Critical Solid State ns for Storage Vol 16 / No 3

COM Modul Variety and es Grow in Capability

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/ MARCH 2015

An RTC Group Publication



PCI Express Technology Features Low Power and New Form Factors for Mobile and IoT Advances PCI-SIG has expanded its technology’s low power capabilities with the introduction of L1 sub-states, Quarter-Swing technology, the M-PCIe specification, as well as new form factors to bring the benefits of PCIe architecture to low power and battery-based devices. by Al Yanes, PCI-SIG

There are a number of industry trends that are driving the “data domination.” According to Gartner in its report “Predicts 2015: The Internet of Things,” the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is growing at a rapid pace. Gartner projects that there will be 4.9 billion connected IoT devices by the end of 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and 25 billion connected devices by 2020. On the mobile front, data on the mobile network is continuing to explode, driven by the growth in mobile video, the plethora of smartphones in the market, and subscribers’ demand for access to their content anytime, anywhere. According to the annual “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2014-2019 White Paper,” global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent during this time period. Almost 75 percent of this global mobile data traffic will be mobile video by 2019. This data domination, attributed to the growth of IoT and the mobile data explosion, is driving demand for both faster data rates and for more power-efficient devices. PCI Express (PCIe) technology is well-known in the industry and has long been the interconnect of choice for servers, computers, networking and more as it delivers a low cost, high performance, ubiquitous and robust interface for the computing industry. However, what is less well-known to date is that PCIe is also suitable for mobile and battery-powered devices that require low power and high performance I/O technology. PCI-SIG, comprised of nearly 800 member companies around the world, is the consortium that owns and manages PCI specifications as open industry standards. From the beginning, PCI-SIG had designed its PCIe architecture with low power features to support adoption in multiple applications from SoCs to high-performance servers. It has recently added additional low power features to maintain its leadership in power efficiency and to meet the demands of new market segments such as IoT and mobile. The PCIe specification’s low power features include L1 Sub-states, Half-swing and Quarter-Swing and the M-PCIe specification.

18 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

L1 Sub-states

The PCI Express Power Management specification defines link power management states that a PCI Express physical link is permitted to enter in response to either software driven device-state (D-state) transitions or active state link power management activities. Central to this is Active State Power Management (ASPM), an autonomous hardware-based, active state mechanism that enables power savings even when the connected components are in the D0 state. After a period of idle link time an ASPM physical-layer protocol places the idle link into a lower power state. Once in a lower power state, transitions to the fully operative link state are triggered by traffic appearing on either side of the link. The defined link states include L0, L0s, L1, L2 and L3 and the power savings increase as the link state transitions from L0 to L3. At L0, full power is on and all clocks are running, while at L3, all power and clocks are shut off. As you can see, the power savings increase as the link state transitions from L0 to L3. However, this approach comes with more latency as the states go back to L0. While L0 refers to active state with all PCIe transactions and other operations enabled, L0s is a low latency, energy saving standby state. In this mode, all main power supplies, component reference clocks, and components internal PLLs (Phase-Locked Loops) must be active at all times. The Physical Layer provides mechanisms for quick transitions from this state to the L0 state. The L1 state on the other hand, delivers a higher latency, low power standby state, as compared to L0s. The L1 link state is optimized for maximum power savings at a cost of longer entry and exit latencies. L1 also reduces link power beyond the L0s state for cases where low power is required and longer transition times are acceptable. In short, the L0s state delivers very low exit latencies in the realm of several hundred nanoseconds for a small power reduction, while the L1 state delivers exit latencies in the order

Table 1 Power Sub-states. Note: these are targets; actual power may vary per implementation.

of microseconds, but with greater power reductions. However, to further maximize power savings, PCI-SIG has introduced optional L1 power management sub-states defined as L1.1 and L1.2. These sub-states can further reduce link power for cases where very low idle power is required. Devices that leverage PCIe technology and adopt the newly defined L1 Sub-states will achieve significant reduction in idle power consumption, going from consuming tens of milliwatts of power while in an L1 state down to less than 10 microwatts while in L1.2 Sub-states. Table 1 shows one example of the power savings and exit latencies that can be achieved, depending on device manufacturers’ design choices and implementation. By implementing L1 Substates, device manufacturers can reduce idle power consumption significantly, but still retain the ability to quickly come out of sleep mode.

Half-Swing and Quarter-Swing

PCIe applications that are power sensitive, such as mobile applications, can take advantage of reduced power usage by implanting the reduced swing transmitter option. This involves the use of a reduced swing transmit signal with no de-emphasis. The procedure for specifying a channel for the reduced swing transmitter is identical to that used for the full swing transmitter, with the exception that the worst case behavioral Tx characteristics must reflect the reduced swing and lack of de-emphasis. This reduced swing is known as “HalfSwing,” and it has been a key feature of the PCI Express architecture since the release of the PCIe 1.0 specification. Half-Swing reduces power via the voltage shift from 800 millivolts to 400 millivolts. Typically,

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TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS UPDATES physical layer provides the mobile industry with a low-power, scalable solution that enables interoperability and a consistent user experience across multiple devices. The layered architecture of the PCIe I/O technology facilitates the integration of the power-efficient M-PHY with its extensible protocol stack to deliver best-in-class and highly scalable I/O functionality for mobile devices.

New Form Factors Support IoT and Mobile Devices

Figure 1 Power Sub-states. Note: these are targets; actual power may vary per implementation.

the half-swing mode is specified for power sensitive applications where a shorter channel is acceptable. PCI-SIG plans to reduce this power consumption even further with the introduction of the Quarter-Swing feature in the forthcoming PCIe 4.0 specification, with a target of 200 millivolts. While all PCI Express device Transmitters must support full swing signaling, support for reduced swing signaling is optional and it is up to device manufacturers to choose to implement it (Figure 1).

Power-constrained mobile devices with a low profile, such as smartphones and tablets, also have different form factor requirements. To address this need, PCI-SIG has introduced new form factors to deliver connectivity and expansion for mobile applications. PCI-SIG’s M.2 Revision 1.0 specification is a next-generation form factor for ultra-light and thin platforms, that increases design flexibility to support high-end performance and enhanced data rates for power-constrained platforms. In addition, it enables the higher integration of functions onto a single form factor module solution. As a natural progression from the PCIe Mini Card and PCIe

M-PCIe Specification

PCI-SIG’s M-PCIe specification enables PCI Express architecture to operate over the MIPI Alliance M-PHY physical layer, an established industry specification, to enable aggressive power management solutions while retaining all of the existing benefits of the PCIe architecture. The M-PCIe specification provides uncompromised scalable performance while delivering a consistent user experience across multiple mobile platforms. As seen in Figure 2, a key feature of the M-PCIe specification is that it does not require any major changes to the upper layers of the PCIe protocol stack. Additional key features include: • Maintaining compatibility with PCIe programming models • Multi-lane support, support lane configurations as defined in the PCIe specification • Support for asymmetric link width configurations • Support for dynamic bandwidth scalability • Optimized for RFI/EMI • Enable short channel circuit optimizations • Support for all MIPI M-PHY high speed gears • Support for M-PHY TYPE I MODULE only • Support for MIPI M-PHY LS gear to be utilized for M-PHY parameter initialization • Support of 8b/10b data encoding • Support for shared and independent reference clocks The adaptation of PCIe protocols to operate over the M-PHY 20 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

Figure 2 The PCIe architecture delivers power reduction through half-swing and quarter-swing implementations.

Half Mini Card, the smaller M.2 form factor is designed to meet future market requirements for applications in thin mobile platforms, such as tablets, portable gaming devices, smartphones and devices requiring SSDs. Its extensible design provides scalability for multiple technologies and host interfaces, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SSD and WWAN. The new M.2 specification allows for the manufacture of larger PCBs, maximizing the use of the card space and leaving behind a minimal footprint. M.2 connectors support both single- and double-sided module cards and are available in connectorized or soldered-down forms. The connectorized forms allow single-sided modules for low profile solutions, or dual-sided modules for increased integration within Rugged Sixteen Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch the platform. All soldered-down module with Embedded X86 PC cards are single-sided and are intended for use in low profile applications. The newest addition to the PCI-SIG portfolio is the OCuLink cable form factor specification, released as Revision 1.0 in October 2015. The specification defines small, low-cost passive and active cable form factors for internal and external applications. Internal cables are defined for PCIe-attached storage to facilitate the SATA transition, while external cables are defined to support PCIe I/O expansion and external PCIe-attached storage. The PCIe OCuLink cable, optimized for the client and mobile market segments, supports up to four PCIe lanes with all cables supporting 8 Gtransfers/s to deliver up to 32 Gbit/s in each direction within a four lane configuration. The NanoSWITCH brings enterprise level layer 2/3 switching into the rugged PCI-SIG continues to deliver low cost, environments found in military ground, air and sea vehicles, and unforgiving high performance, low power specifiindustrial environments such as offshore oil platforms. Typical applications cations to meet the interconnect needs include: of multiple applications, including the emerging IoT and the exploding mobile • Vehicle network switching market sectors. PCI-SIG designed its PCIe • Distributed architecture vehicle controller architecture from the beginning with low • VICTORY compliant switch, router, timing, and control power features to reduce active and idle • WAN – LAN interconnectivity and firewall power consumption. PCIe technology’s • Shared processing and peripheral communications flexible lane width configurations and For more information, go to speed selection have always supported low power solutions for desktops, servers and storage devices.


PCI-SIG Beaverton, OR (503) 619.0569

47200 Bayside Parkway, Fremont CA 94538 | 510-252-0870 | ©2015 Themis Computer. All rights reserved. Themis and the Themis logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Themis Computer. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 21


Augmenting ATCA Hardware Platform Management with IPv6 for IoT Backend Systems IPv6-awareness that has now been added to the HPM layer for ATCA and its complementary specifications. These additions have been led within PICMG by its HPM subcommittee. by Mark Overgaard, Pentair Electronics Protection

Discussions of the Internet of Things (IoT) typically focus on the “things” – that is, the millions or billions of small Internet-connected devices that constitute the “front end” user interaction points in an IoT-oriented system. Just as crucial, however, is the backend part of IoT, where potentially massive communication throughput and computation power is needed to service the needs of those millions or billions of “things,” possibly with stringent demands on the reliable availability of those services. The thoroughly field-validated AdvancedTCA (ATCA) hardware platform management (HPM) architecture is a strong candidate to be used for those backend systems, but there is a key challenge. The traditional ATCA HPM architecture only provides for the legacy version 4 of the Internet Protocol (IPv4), where the public addresses are 32 bits in size and close to exhaustion. In contrast, IP version 6 (IPv6), which was formalized way back in 1998, grows IP addresses from 32 bits to 128 bits, dramatically expanding the number of devices that can be addressed. Until just the last few years, the adoption rate for IPv6 has been very low. One reason (or consequence!) is that numerous workarounds were developed to stave off the biggest downsides of IPv4. For instance, Network Address Translation (NAT) applied at a point of internet access can allow one IPv4 address to represent hundreds, thousands or more private IP addresses; only the public address needs to be unique. But NAT and the other workarounds have downsides, such as complicating direct device to device communication, an important part of IoT friendliness. Now, however, the adoption rate is accelerating. As of mid-October, 2015, for instance, of the 10 largest network operators (by traffic volume) tracked by the IPv6 Launch organization, the fraction of IPv6 traffic was over 70% for Verizon Wireless, and over 50% for ATT and T-Mobile USA. Comcast had the highest traffic volume in that group; their fraction of IPv6 traffic was over 40%.

22 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

Figure 1 A block diagram for an ATCA shelf manager, in this case the widely used Schroff Pigeon Point shelf manager, showing that all protocols in the System Manager Interface are IPv6 enabled (including the ATCA-mandated RMCP), assumed to be running here on the most recent Pigeon Point shelf manager hardware platform, the ShMM-700R.

“Applying ATCA Hardware Platform Management (HPM) to IoT Backend Systems,” in the April, 2014 issue of RTC describes how ATCA’s management layer can be used in such systems, even if those systems have proprietary or only partially standard physical architectures. Such systems with proprietary elements, such as physical form factors, can still take advantage of the proven ATCA HPM architecture. As of 2014, however, the ATCA architecture was still missing support for IPv6. In 2013, the promoter companies of the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) – Intel, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Dell – released an update of the IPMI specification that adds IPv6-awareness. That was a key gating factor for the ATCA, AdvancedMC (AMC) and MicroTCA (collectively, xTCA) HPM subsystems, which are based on IPMI, to become IPv6-aware, as well. Existing IPv4-based network architectures, and the ATCA systems used therein, can continue to take advantage of the various available workarounds. New network architectures, however, can begin to take advantage of the inherent benefits of IPv6.

Augmentation of the ATCA Base and Base Extensions Specifications for IPv6

The ATCA HPM subsystem was first adopted with the rest of ATCA at the end of 2002 and has had multiple major rounds of enhancement since then. Other elements of xTCA, including MicroTCA, AMC and related specifications (numbering almost two dozen in all) base their HPM subsystems on the foundation established by ATCA. It was natural, therefore, for the first phase in this IPv6 initiative to focus on PICMG 3.0, the ATCA specification. This work resulted in an Engineering Change Notice (ECN), which was adopted in April, 2015. One key principle for the ECN is that IPv6 support is optional. With the adoption of the ECN, the official definition of ATCA now includes IPv6 support, but an ATCA system without IPv6 support can still be fully compliant. Another key principle of this ECN is that IPv6 complements, but does not replace IPv4 in the ATCA architecture. IPv4 support continues to be mandatory to maximize backward compatibility. If IPv6 support is present, however, it must be compliant with this ECN and with the IPv6 aspects of the IPMI 2.0 specification. One challenge in adding IPv6 awareness was that in IPv6, unlike in IPv4, an IP connection endpoint can have multiple IPv6 addresses, versus normally a single primary address in IPv4. As a consequence, ATCA originally assumed that the IP address of the active Shelf Manager is a single IPv4 address. After the ECN, that single address becomes the active shelf manager IP address set and can include multiple IP addresses. Figure 1 shows a block diagram for one ATCA Shelf Manager product, including the various elements of its system manager interface, which is Internet Protocol-based. The diagram exemplifies what is likely to be the case for all ATCA shelf managers that add IPv6 awareness in that interface. Multiple protocols are supported in that interface, even though only the Remote Management Control Protocol (RMCP) is mandated and func-

Figure 2 One way for HPM.2 IPMCs to connect with an in-shelf Ethernet Base Interface is to share access to one or more network controllers, so that IPMI traffic can be multiplexed with other Ethernet traffic to or from the board’s payload CPU(s). The IPMC to network controller link is called a sideband interface.

tionally specified in ATCA; it makes sense for all those protocols to enable IPv6 access, as is done in the Schroff Pigeon Point shelf manager shown there. PICMG 3.7, the AdvancedTCA Base Extensions specification, is organized as a series of changes to PICMG 3.0 R3.0. By design, the HPM portions of these changes were structured so that PICMG 3.0 as amended by the PICMG 3.0 ECN could be easily used as an alternate base. A formal ECN to PICMG 3.7 makes exactly that change. No other changes are necessary to make PICMG 3.7 IPv6 aware. Both the PICMG 3.0 and 3.7 ECNs are available free on the PICMG AdvancedTCA page. “Boosting ATCA Hardware Platform Management for Power Subsystems,” in the November, 2013 issue of RTC, describes some key aspects of the ATCA Base Extensions architecture, with an emphasis on power subsystem aspects.

IPv6 Implications for the HPM.x Specifications?

This set of PICMG Hardware Platform Management specifications augments the xTCA architecture and includes the following members: • HPM.1: the Firmware Upgrade specification, which standardizes upgrades for xTCA management controllers. This critical function is not standardized by IPMI. • HPM.2: the LAN-attached IPM Controller (IPMC) specifica-

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 23

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS UPDATES tion, which enables IPMCs (that is, board and module level management controllers) to directly connect to existing inshelf LANs to augment their communication with the Shelf Manager and potentially with shelf-external entities. • HPM.3: the DHCP-assigned Platform Management Parameters specification, which provides a standard way for IP addresses and other parameters to be assigned to LAN-attached management controllers. HPM.1 allows the use of IP connections for firmware upgrade traffic, but does not attempt to standardize any IP address-related aspect of that communication. Therefore, no IPv6 awareness changes are needed. HPM.2 R1.0, which was adopted in 2012, already has some placeholder provisions for IPv6 support. Those provisions have been filled out, along with other modest changes, in the just-adopted R1.1. Figure 2 shows how a LAN-attached IPMC connects to an in-shelf LAN, in this case the Base Interface (which supports 1G Ethernet in PICMG 3.0 and optionally 10G in PICMG 3.7). With HPM.2 R1.1, IPv6 is supported for such connections. HPM.3 R1.0 is tightly focused on IPv4 and the corresponding version 4 of DHCP, the Dynamic Host Control Protocol, which uses one or more DHCP servers in a network to provide IPv4 address assignments to DHCP clients in the network. Network entities must have IP addresses to use IP on the network. For instance, Shelf Manager(s) in shown in the previous illustrations would usually, in production environments, receive their IP address assignments via DHCP. Assignments of IPv6 addresses and other network parameters need version 6 of DHCP (DHCPv6), which operates quite differently, especially at the detailed level, than DHCPv4. Therefore, R2.0 of HPM.3 will be a significant extension of R1.0. Work on this revision is under way in PICMG. As with the other aspects of PICMG’s IPv6 initiative, backward compatibility will be preserved in HPM.3 R2.0, which will support existing IPv4- and DHCPv4-based network architectures as defined in HPM.3 R1.0. The new facilities, though different, will be as compatible as possible with R1.0’s IPv4-oriented approaches.

Getting Started with IPv6 for ATCA Management Controllers

The best approach is to pick management controllers that already support IPv6. One option is Pentair’s Schroff Pigeon Point management solutions for ATCA, starting with the already available Pigeon Point ShMM-700R, a small mezzanine module. The ShMM-700R comes pre-loaded with the Pigeon Point Shelf Manager, the first shelf manager for ATCA to support the just-adopted IPv6 ECN. Multiple companies, including Pentair, are already delivering ATCA shelves managed by the ShMM-700R. Figure 3 shows a Schroff shelf manager board that includes a ShMM-700R and installs in a wide range of Schroff ATCA shelves.

24 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

Figure 3 Example IPv6-capable Shelf Manager board, the Schroff ACB-VI, which includes a Pigeon Point ShMM-700R.

ATCA boards and AMC modules, if designed to be LAN-attached—which would typically be done via HPM.2—can also be made IPv6-capable at the management controller level with Pigeon Point board management reference (BMR) solutions for IPMCs, Carrier IPMCs and module management controllers (MMCs). Carrier IPMCs are the management controllers on AdvancedMC (AMC) carrier boards and MMCs are the controllers on the AMCs, themselves. ATCA systems with IPv6-enabled hardware platform management can be an excellent part of a backend compute complex for the Internet of Things, as well as for new applications in ATCA’s traditional application spaces, including communications and defense. Pentair Electronics Protection Warwick, RI (800) 525-4682

Embedded Computing with ARM: Build or Buy?

Buy or develop yourself? That is a much less frequent question with x86 than ARM because x86 is supported by a number of form factor standards. ARM Cortex A-9 Freescale i.MX 6 processors are now also available on the sub-credit card sized μQseven form factor. But do developers really need a form factor standard for ARM processors? by Dan Demers, congatec

The x86 PC has dominated embedded computing for decades. For a long time, the next processor generation was better because it was faster. But at some point, the increase in energy consumption meant that the latest desktop processors became unusable in the embedded market. As a result, the industry switched to using the mobile processors that were powering notebooks. We are all familiar with the subsequent development towards tablets and smartphones. The processors needed for these new consumer applications differ from traditional x86 PCs in several ways. Firstly, and because of the application, they consume significantly less energy. Secondly and because of that, they do not provide as many generic expansion options. Instead, they offer a more focused feature set with, for example, camera interfaces that are supported directly by the processor.

IoT connectivity so that they can be controlled from anywhere in the world if necessary. Unlike consumer applications, which tend to have extremely large production quantities, batch sizes here are often much smaller. The Freescale i.MX 6 processor, which distinguishes itself with a 10 year product longevity, a particularly compact 3.5W low-power design and excellent multimedia and computing performance, is integrated for instance in compact industrial controllers or POS systems and supermarket scales. These applications have much smaller quantities than smartphones or tablets. The same goes for digital signage systems in vehicles or parking and other ticket vending machines that benefit from the extended temperature range of -40°C to + 85°C.

Focused Feature Set

The lesser benefit is drawn from the economies of scale, the more important is the use of solutions that reduce development costs. For this reason, there have always been – even and especially in the ARM segment – a variety of pre- designed components and evaluation modules enabling developers to thoroughly test the latest processor

Today, both processor architectures offer such focusing. With the increasing growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the associated expectation to be able to control the TV via smartphone, OEMs want to equip their devices, machines and plants with similarly intelligent

Smaller batches

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 25

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS UPDATES technologies and integrate them into their custom designs. However, a true form factor standard, of which there are several for the x86 architecture, has never been formed. That didn’t really matter because until now the next ARM processor generation by one or more manufacturers did not usually provide a truly comparable generic feature set with ‘simply’ improved performance. Each new target application was just too heterogeneous, which meant the I/Os also were too heterogeneous. So the reasons why no form factor emerged for the ARM segment lay in the processor architecture itself, the manufacturers’ different licensing requirements and the often very heterogeneous applications. This has now completely changed, thanks to the advent of ARM technology in smartphones, tablets and other comparable embedded applications that have features similar to x86, such as HDMI, USB or PCIe. It is exactly this uniform set of interfaces plus the similarity of applications that are the key drivers behind the formation of new standards for the tablet and smartphone class of ARM and x86 processors.

Standards Provide Economies of Scale

The Qseven (70 x 70 mm) Computer-on-Module specification by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET) has picked up on this trend and ARM-based modules have been available for some time. One example is the Freescale i.MX 6 based conga-QMX6 that can support as many as three displays via 2x LVDS and 1x HDMI 1.4. This was made possible by splitting LVDS into two independent display channels, each with 24 bits (Figure 1). For some designs, however, the 70 x 70 mm footprint turned out to be too large. This led to the introduction of modules in the μQseven format which is also standardized as part of the SGET specification for Qseven. Measuring 40 x 70 mm, μQseven is smaller than a credit card and suitable even for small handheld devices such as industrial-grade smartphones. This leaves virtually no embedded design that cannot be implemented with one of these standard modules (Figure 2). The new conga-UMX6 µQseven modules from congatec are equipped with ARM Cortex A9 based Freescale i.MX 6 SoCs, which come with a long-term availability of at least 10 years, and range from 1 GHz single- to dual-core performance and up to 1 Gbyte of robust soldered memory. With OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0 and OpenVG 1.1, the integrated high performance graphics support appealing 2D and 3D applications with up to WUXGA resolutions (1920 x 1200). Thanks to hardware-accelerated video processing, the modules decode 1080p videos at 60Hz in real time and encode up to two 720p videos. Two independent displays get connection via 2x LVDS or alternatively via 1x LVDS and 1x HDMI 1.4. For application and data storage, the modules have one LVDS and one HDMI 1.4. For application and data storage, the modules have one SATA interface and an optional 32GB of SSD. To connect application-specific I/Os, the new congatec µQseven modules provide 1x PCI Express 2.0, 5x USB 2.0, 1x Gbit Ethernet and 1x CAN Bus to the carrier board. I2S bus support further ensures jitter-free, high-quality audio transmission. The integrated board management controller offers – amongst other things – watchdog timer and power loss control, as well as support of monitoring, man-

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Figure 1 The Freescale i.MX 6 based congatec Qseven module conga-QMX6 can support up to three displays via HDMI and 2x 24-bit LVDS.

agement and maintenance features for distributed IoT installations. Board Support Packages (BSPs) are available for Android and all common Linux distributions as well as Windows Embedded Compact 7. All BSPs are fully released and available for download from congatec’s GIT server.

Standards Provide Vendor Independence and Longevity

Given that the end result is an OEM-specific design, why is standardization so important? Why not use other predesigned, proprietary ODM modules and boards? As always, it is of course a question of cost and time savings as well as staying independent from individual manufacturers. The first μQseven module with Freescale i.MX 6 is sold not just by one manufacturer, but has been available from a second source right from the start. By now, there are almost a dozen providers of Qseven and μQseven modules with Freescale i.MX 6 . It is therefore safe to assume that pricing will always be competitive. In addition, an ecosystem has evolved that ranges from carrier boards for custom designs and evaluation kits to design guides and carrier board design training. Then, there is also a developer community that can learn from each other and even re-use models for carrier board designs when there are no directly competing users. Such an approach is therefore significantly more open than the proprietary board or module solutions provided by individual manufacturers. Another factor that shouldn’t be underestimated is that modules are available for many years allowing OEMs to replace a module with the same functionality if the existing processor design is discontinued. ETX modules are a good example to prove the benefits of longterm availability in the case of x86. They are still available with full ISA and PCI bus support, even though the PC standards turned their back on these buses more than 10 years ago. Customers can relatively safely assume that the ecosystem will include some providers who are prepared to service the long-tail of these technologies after the hype is over and who will support legacy applications for years, even

decades to come. As a result, OEM customers are able to sell their original applications for several decades, thereby increasing their return on investment. And that’s a more common scenario for a range of industrial applications than you might think. Ultimately, this is an added value that no proprietary ARM design can offer. So there are many reasons to rely on embedded form factor standards for ARM such as Qseven and μQseven.

Standard Providers Offer Better Service

Once a user has decided in favor of standardization and the use of modules, the question remains which provider to buy from. Next to the offered module selection, the company’s market position, focus on board-level products and accompanying embedded design & manufacturing services are important factors to consider, so there will be no competition at the system level. In addition to these strategic decisions is also important that the day-to-day contact runs smoothly and efficiently during the Design-in phase. Companies that provide comprehensive documentation along with industry-standard driver implementations, while also offering personal integration support when this package is not sufficient for the customer, certainly have a distinct competitive advantage. They enable OEMs to integrate new processor technologies more quickly and efficiently into their own applications. Qseven and μQseven specify modern serial I/O interfaces such as PCIe, Gigabit Ethernet, USB, SATA, SDIO and the CAN bus. In addition, they also support platform-specific I/Os, such as the LPC bus for x86. In line with the latest graphics interface trends, Qseven offers multi-display support for up to three independent screens via HDMI V1.4 and 24-bit LVDS dual channel, and up to 4k resolutions (3840 x 2160). Qseven specifies a maximum power dissipation of 12W, even though current ARM platforms such as the Freescale i.MX6 processor never actually reach this limit. 12W is reaching the upper threshold for fanless designs. While the 12W limit restricts developers’ choices, it also adds greater security, because the specification of the thermal interface opens up the possibility of seamless interchangeability. With the appropriate standardization, modules as well as the cooling systems become swappable across different CPU technologies. This allows the development of new product lines in the field of heatsinks, which reduces costs. Anyone who has experienced or been responsible for a mechanical design change (e.g. heatsink) at a process-heavy company, is sure to appreciate this.

Future Evolution

In the midst of this, computer technology is still evolving in big steps. The processor structures (yes, surprisingly, Moore’s Law is still valid) continue to shrink, resulting in more computing power with less energy consumption. The interfaces are also changing. In recent years, parallel data buses have virtually disappeared to be replaced by fast differential serial interfaces. Qseven never provided any parallel interfaces, not even in the original version of the specification. As a consequence, the specification has so far needed few changes. Minor modifications are currently underway to ensure that the Qseven standard remains future-oriented. For instance, the Qseven SGET team is working on replacing the LPC bus with ESPI. The LPC

Figure 2 congatec’s first sub-credit card sized µQseven module (40 x 70 mm) is equipped with ARM Cortex A-9 based Freescale i.MX 6 processors and a standardized pinout.

bus is ultimately a descendant of the ancient ISA bus, which will not be supported by x86 processors or chipsets for much longer. ESPI (often referred to as QSPI or QuadSPI) is the successor and – unlike LPC – it is also supported by a wide range of ARM-based processors. This will ensure even greater continuity between ARM and x86 architectures for Qseven in days to come. The future Qseven specification also takes advantage of the strong trend towards ever lower power consumption. Fewer pins are required for the power supply, and the free pin space is already being reserved for future new interfaces. To round off Qseven 3.0, a further USB 3.0 port is added while the errata for USB OTG, the pinout and the position of the MIPI CSI camera interfaces, which are currently published as stand-alone documents, will be integrated into the main document. Qseven 3.0 is therefore well prepared for future challenges. It provides four PCI Express x1 lanes, five USB 2.0 and three USB 3.0 (incl. 2.0) plus SPI, ESPI, I2C and GPIO/SDIO for generic and intrinsic extensions. Storage media can be connected via two SATA. DP/HDM, eDP/LVDS (2x24-bit) specify numerous video interfaces for several independent high-resolution displays, Ethernet for (IoT) connectivity, two MIPI-CSI for the connection of low-cost cameras and HDA/I2S for sound. So, why not try out an ARM-based Qseven module instead of relying on a proprietary solution? congatec San Diego, CA (858) 457-2600

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Not Your Traditional App Store: Four Smart Grid Applications

Four smart grid applications are improving how utilities operate their electrical networks. All of these systems incorporate platform elements and cover protection relays, power monitoring, distribution automation, and field communication applications showing the broad range of use that systems can have when designed around platform elements. by Brett Burger, National Instruments

When the iPhone was first released, many questioned if it would work for the business user or be relegated to the consumer market. The wealth of productivity and enterprise level applications for businesses have answered this question and made the addressable market for iPhone users essentially all mobile phone users. For a platform to succeed it must be flexible enough to appeal to a broad number of applications. Platforms for the modern utility grid are no exception.

Protecting Grid Assets with a Custom Sub-Synchronous Relay

Wind generation is growing at an impressive rate. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the wind industry grew new wind installations by 44% with a record of more than 51 GW of new capacity installed in 2014. This growth is creating some challenges that are unique to utilities with large amounts of wind generation. Series compensated transmission lines, frequently used for transmitting energy over the great distance from wind farms to population centers, have capacitors installed to increase the capacity of the line. The capacitors increase the load capability but when combined with the properties of the line itself, create a system with resonant frequencies that can interact with wind turbines and potentially cause catastroph-

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ic damage to grid equipment. Dr. Y. Gong, a Senior Engineer with American Electric Power (AEP), along with his colleagues Y. Xue and B. Mehraban, have been working on a new algorithm to detect these lower frequency oscillations and protect the grid from the harmful impacts. Dr. Gong presented this custom sub-synchronous oscillation (SSO) relay at the CIGRE 2015 Grid of the Future Symposium in Chicago where he went into details on the algorithm, custom filter design, and lab performance validation. One reason Dr. Gong and the AEP team were able to design a new protection relay with a small team is because they designed their application on an off the shelf platform of measurement and control components. By purchasing the lower level components off the shelf as building blocks, the team is able to focus more of their expertise on bringing new algorithms and digital filter designs to the market which benefits wind owning utilities, system operators and energy customers alike (Figure 1).

Improving Grid Utilization with Better Control at the Edge

The typical grid is designed for peak demand, the hottest or coldest day with consideration of possible equipment failure. This results

Figure 1 From the outside view (a), the new SSO relay looks similar to other devices on the market. The inside (b), shows the modular, programmable hardware elements the AEP team used to develop a custom relay.

in grids with fairly low utilization rates, sometimes under 50% since most days customers do not use near as much energy as the days when all homes and offices are trying to keep up with extreme weather. Controlling equipment at the edge (like commercial and industrial building loads or distributed generation) would help but that task is difficult because edge devices are usually not owned by the utility company and the control solutions that exist today, such as demand response, do not return real-time information and are not reliable solutions for dispatch. Innovari, a U.S. based energy innovations company, is working to fix that problem with their Interactive Energy Platform. Their solution uses three different hardware nodes for a variety of measurement and control procedures to improve overall system utilization. One type of node both measures the load of connected circuits and has output signals to control the same circuits to which it is connected. Another device processes Voltage and Current waveform measurements into analytics such as power quality data, and the final device is designed for controlling distributed generation assets. The vast network of deployed devices sends data back to an Innovari control center where an algorithm can match the dispatch request from the utility company to the appropriate edge nodes that are controlling lights, air handling units, generators, renewable sources, and other edge devices that can help more efficiently use grid infrastructure. This intelligent system provides the utility with affordable, generation quality, demand-side capacity. The end nodes are embedded systems built around a control and processing board with integrated input and output for connection to building energy sensors and circuits. Innovari built these intelligent nodes using a programmable control and measurement platform for embedded design and focused on developing unique real-time algorithms, helping utilities overcome key challenges, and strengthening relationships among utility companies, large commercial utility customers, and regulators in a win-win-win business model (Figure 1).

and shared high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnects with neighboring countries. To help grid quality and future transmission planning, an engineering team at National Grid UK designed a monitoring platform to help understand the total harmonic distortion at various points in their grid. Peter Haigh, an engineer at National Grid UK and representative of the design team, recently spoke at the IoT World Congress in Barcelona where he talked about connectivity, programmability, and intelligence for systems to help control and maintain a grid. The team selected an off the shelf measurement, control, and signal processing platform because they understand that the future challenges of the UK grid are likely unseen as of today. One feature today of their smart grid application is a heat map that will ultimately represent THD from over 130 measurement locations on their grid, but their application will likely grow in value as future software updates are released (Figure 2).

Improving Device Communication with a Field Message Bus

Faster control can help manage some of the challenges of the grid, like distributed renewables, but the ability to speed up grid control rates is itself a challenge. Many grid control schemes today are designed such that measurement devices send data to a central control program that in turn responds with commands to control devices. With some communication schemes that round trip is measured in minutes, which is not fast enough to keep up with the dynamic nature of today’s electric network. As an example, clouds can block out the

Monitoring Power Quality Problems

Inverters convert electricity from direct current, as generated by wind, solar, and battery storage, to the alternating current used on transmission networks around the globe. Inverters are important components that connect clean, renewable energy to grid but by the nature of their design they can impact the quality of the grid through the addition of unwanted harmonics. National Grid UK, the transmission operator for England and Wales, is seeing an increase in energy sources that use inverters, mainly offshore wind farms

Figure 2 Grids are designed to handle peak conditions that only occur infrequently. Intelligent control of devices on the edge of the grid can help alleviate peak demand and improve grid utilization percentage.

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INDUSTRY WATCH BUILDING OUT THE SMART GRID generation of a solar farm in less than a minute. One plan to improve this latency is being worked on by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) and it’s called the Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) initiative. The OpenFMB project aims to abstract device communication and create a reference architecture utilizing Internet of Things technology. Intelligent devices installed at the edge of the grid, like inverters, protection relays, and controllers, will be able to communicate directly with each other without having to communicate through a central server. Communication capability such as this is an element of modern intelligent grid devices that are designed on a platform. This reference architecture, like many popular smart phone applications, is designed to work on a variety of vendor platforms, an important aspect seeing as how utility grids today use devices from multiple vendors. The applications discussed here could represent the early stages of a broader adoption of software defined grid applications. The platform centric design, as seen with iPhone and Android in the mobile handset industry, helps developers innovate and upgrade capability at a pace much faster than traditional design. In the case of a phone, consumers can expect two to three software upgrades in the span of a couple of years. For the utility grid, that may translate to two or three software upgrades over a decade. However, it is going to reduce the risk of having costly, stale technology deployed on the grid that is ineffective at solving a future of unknown problems. The pool of expertise for the utility grid is smaller compared to that of iPhone and

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Figure 3 Inverters can impact the grid with added harmonic energy and in some cases; the harmonics are higher than traditional instrumentation measures.

Android developers. And in the market, platforms serve as a force multiplier empowering engineers and grid experts, like Dr. Yanfeng Gong from AEP and Jim Tillett of Innovari, to focus on the problems facing the grid without having to spend time reinventing the wheel, or in this case the relay, meter, or inverter. National Instruments Austin, TX (512) 794-0100

Energy Harvesting Makes for a More Intelligent ‘Smart Grid’ Harvesting electro-magnetic (EM) energy, in combination with industrial grade rechargeable lithium batteries, enables emergency repair crews to pinpoint disruptions in the electrical power transmission lines to speed repairs and reduce labor costs. by Sol Jacobs, Tadiran Batteries

High voltage electrical power transmission lines form the backbone of America’s power grid: a vital asset that demands intelligent management and oversight to protect against disruptions to regional energy markets. It is becoming essential for electrical power grid managers to have access to near real-time data that offers actionable intelligence regarding the operational status of transmission lines, thus enabling emergency repair crews to pinpoint potential line breaks to promote faster response and less system downtime. High voltage power lines are also inherently dangerous and inaccessible, so the equipment being installed must be highly durable to provide long-life reliability to reduce long-term maintenance costs, because the electrical power grid is simply no place for unproven or short-lived technologies. A long-term solution uses harvested magnetic energy Southwire Company, LLC, a leading manufacturer of wire, cable and associated products for the distribution and transmission of electricity, recently developed a wireless line/connector sensor that supports the power grid by providing real-time status of electrical transmission assets. The line/connector sensor mounts directly on a bare overhead transmission conductor, where it harvests energy from the power line’s magnetic field to measure conductor temperature, sag on the transmission line, and electrical current on the line. These readings are transmitted, typically every 30 seconds, to a base station using 2.4 GHz RF communications. The line/connector sensor requires sufficient line current to fully recharge a AA-size industrial grade rechargeable Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery that stores enough energy to provide approximately 45 days of continuous sensor operation during extended periods where there is no line current. The strength of the magnetic field is also constantly changing, including many periods when line current drops below the threshold required for energy harvesting, and the rechargeable Li-ion battery serves to balance out theses fluctuations. Unlike consumer grade Li-ion batteries, industrial grade Li-ion rechargeable battery can deliver high pulses of short duration (5A for a AA-size cell) required for wireless communications. Consumer grade Li-ion cells have other limitations, including limited life

expectancy (5 years and 500 recharge cycles), restricted temperature range (0°C - 40°C), and crimped seals that may leak. By contrast, industrial grade Li-ion batteries can operate for up to 20 years and 5,000 full recharge cycles, with an extended temperature range of -40°C to 85°C, and a glass-to-metal hermetic seal to protect against leakage. Supercapacitors were not appropriate for this application for numerous reasons, including lower reliability, linear discharge characteristics that do not allow for use of all the available energy, low capacity, low energy density, short duration power due to high self-discharge (up to 60% per year), and the need for cell balancing for supercapacitors linked in series. Supercapacitors are also extremely bulky, whereas utility line crews prefer more lightweight and ergonomic solution. Combining an energy harvesting device with a 20-year industrial grade Li-ion battery proved to offer the most economical solution because is reduces long-term maintenance costs, thus resulting in a lower total cost of ownership. Tadiran Batteries, Lake Success, NY (516) 621-4980.

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700 Watt, 5-output Open VPX-Compliant Intelligent Power Supply

A VITA 62, Open VPX compliant, 6U power supply delivers 700 Watts of DC power via five outputs, along with an unprecedented array of high intelligence features. The VPXtra 1000CMIQ power supply from Behlman Electronics has the ability to utilize wide-ranging input power from 18 to 36 VDC. This enables it to operate effectively in extremely variable conditions. Applying its 700 Watts DC to five different outputs gives VPX system designers the versatility of having 12 VDC at 40 Amps; 5 VDC at 24 Amps; 3.3 VDC at 15 Amps; -12 VDC at 2 Amps, and +12 VDC at 1 Amp. In addition, the 12 VDC output can be paralleled. Other features include low noise and ripple; input-output isolation; over-current, over-voltage and over-temperature protection; excellent load regulation; high power density; and 90% typical efficiency. The intelligence built into VPXtra 1000CM-IQ Power Supplies, enables VPX system designers to create more compact systems with fewer additional components needed to accomplish vital communication, measurement and control functions. VPXtra IQ features include the ability to monitor and report all output voltages; output current; input voltage; input current; and temperature. It also supports ANSI/VITA 46 signals for geographical addressing, non-volatile memory read only (NVMRO) and SYSRESET. Also included are user-adjustable warning/fault levels for voltage, current and temperature; inventory management information such as part numbers, serial numbers, and revision status; SMBALERT # signal to alert system controller of a power supply status change; over 200K user storage memory for settings and information; extensive PMBus command set and status registers support. Behlman Electronics (631) 435-0410.

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Server-on-Modules Equipped with New Intel Xeon/Core Processors

A new line of server-class embedded modules is equipped with sixth generation Intel Xeon and Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 processors (codenamed Skylake). The DDR4 memory of the conga-TS170 modules from congatec provides up to twice as much system memory performance for data-intensive applications while consuming 20 percent less energy and requiring only half the footprint of DDR3 RAM that is expected to become legacy in future applications. In addition, the modules offer faster processor speeds, a 60 percent accelerated system bus and an enlarged Intel Smart Cache (up to 8 MB) as well as the PCIe Gen 3.0 support for all PCIe Lanes and the new Intel HD Graphics P530. Overall, users can expect to benefit from enhanced system performance and packing density with lower space and energy requirements. The new modules have been developed for the server-class of embedded designs that operate within a thermal power envelope of 25-45W TDP and require custom I/O and IoT interfaces. The new conga-TS170 modules equipped with Intel Core processors are suitable for applications including test and measurement equipment, back-end systems in medical imaging, high-performance industrial workload stations as well as intelligent vending machines. The Intel Xeon module variants additionally provide ECC memory protection, which extends their usage to data critical server and gateway applications. Applications can be found in industrial IoT and cloud servers with big data analytics, carrier-grade edge node servers as well as connected Industry 4.0 automation servers that host multiple virtual machines or media servers with multiple stream real-time video transcoding. In addition, the new conga-TS170 modules offer powerful tools to manage distributed IoT, M2M and Industry 4.0 applications. Thanks to Intel vPro technology and congatec’s board management controller with watchdog timer and power loss control, the modules are fully equipped for remote monitoring, management and maintenance tasks, right down to out-of-band management. For cost-sensitive applications that do not necessarily require complex out-of-band management or virtualization, modules based on the Intel Core i3 processor and the Mobile Intel HM170 chipset are also available. congatec, San Diego, CA (858) 457-2600.

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Long Life Cycle Mini-ITX Series Follows Strict Form, Fit, Function Design Principle

A series of new Mini-ITX computing platforms is ready for use as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions for infotainment (gaming/retail), medical, and industrial automation applications that require rich I/O options and high performance graphics capabilities. The high-performance Mini-ITX boards from Adlink are based on both fourth generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3 desktop processors and AMD Embedded Second Generation R-Series APUs. These high-end boards specifically target the infotainment and industrial automation markets. Boards come with unique hardware features, such as support for both a PEG x16 card slot and an additional PCIe x1 I/O card slot. Additional features include a removable BIOS chip, a vertical USB port for security dongles, and SATA docking sockets to accommodate SATA-DOM. All boards feature dual power inputs that allow for use of either a single 12V-DC power supply or a standard ATX power supply. The boards also offer up to four serial ports (RS232/422/485) and multiple USB 2.0/3.0 ports. Entry level Mini-ITX boards are based on the latest Intel Atom processor roadmap and mainly focus on industrial automation and medical applications. These Intel Atom processor-based Mini-ITX boards are also available in Extreme Rugged versions for operation in -40°C to +85°C environment. Adlink’s new series of Mini-ITX platforms follows our proven industrial design process, including highly accelerated life testing (HALT), extended operating temperature, MIL-STD, and shock & vibration. Adlink’s Mini-ITX boards are offered with a seven year product availability. All of Adlink’s Mini-ITX boards come equipped with Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA), enabling on-premises management and control of distributed devices. Adlink’s SEMA-equipped devices connect seamlessly to the company’s SEMA Cloud solution to enable remote monitoring, autonomous status analysis, custom data collection, and initiation of appropriate actions. All collected data, including sensor measurements and management commands, are available through a web interface or via API from any place, at any time via encrypted data connection.

Dual-Channel USB Port Power Controller Maximizes System Reliability and Uptime

A new USB-port power controller supports two ports with eight programmable continuous current limits for each port, ranging from 0.53 to 3.0 Amps for faster charging times at higher currents. Features for protecting and increasing overall system uptime also include integrated current monitoring, precision current limiting, charge rationing and dynamic thermal management. The UCS2112 from Microchip Technology helps designers address a wide breadth of host devices, such as the laptops, tablets, monitors, docking stations and printers found in automotive, computing, education and aviation applications, as well as multi-port charging accessories and storage. This device has the flexibility of working individually or in concert with USB hubs, to create a complete charging and/or USB-communication system. For a better end-user experience, the UCS2112’s dynamic thermal-management feature throttles back the current limit as it approaches the thermal limit, preventing shutdown and allowing for charging where other devices have stopped completely. The UCS2112’s integrated current monitor eliminates the need for an external sense resistor and enables an “attach detect” signal that does not rely on the main power to be active for hosts that are off or sleeping. Current monitoring and rationing also helps manage multiple charging devices and can balance a dynamic load current for systems with smaller power supplies. The UCS2112 also aligns with the USB Power Delivery initiatives from the USB Industry Forum, and is in compliance with various charging specifications, including the USB-IF BC1.2. The UCS2112 port power controller is supported by Microchip’s new UCS2112 Evaluation Board (Part # ADM00639, $140), which is available today from microchipDIRECT, any Microchip sales representative and all authorized worldwide distributors. Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ (480) 792-7200.

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

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Flexible, Economical AdvancedTCA ECO Modular System with Adjustable Features

A series of ruggedly designed, DIN-rail type controllers features the Intel Atom E3815, E3827 and E3845 (formerly Bay Trail-I) processors with fanless operation. The PL 83300 series from WIN Enterprises is designed for industrial automation, networking, power substations, transportation and hazardous environments.The PL-83300 series implements isolated protection design on serial, Ethernet, power input and DI/DO ports for application in hazardous environments. These systems provide the power input range of from 9 to 48 VDC enabling the use of the same type of power source at different system voltage requirements across geographic regions. In addition, the power module supports dual isolated redundant functionality for increased reliability of communications systems and provides savings on cabling costs. Key features include the Intel Atom processors, a fanless DIN-rail mounted design and wide operating temperature range of -40째 to 75째 C. There is a power redundancy input from 9 to 48VDC and standard models support either 6 serial and 2 GbE or 2 serial and 6 GbE LAN ports. Units provide an easily removable HDD/SSD bay and a Mini-PCIe slot The PL-83300 series is offered in two standard models depending on different needs. The PL-8330E includes 6 isolated Ethernet RJ45 GbE and 2 isolated Serial ports (RS 232/422/485). The PL-8330S model features 2 isolated Ethernet RJ45 GbE and 6 isolated Serial ports (RS-232/422/485). PL-8330E and PL-8330S support 1 pair of bypass function for operational reliability. Support for an extended operating temperature range of -40 to 75째C is optionally available. The PL-83300 series are compliant with a number of industry standards, including CE/ FCC , UL-508, C1D2, IEC 61850 and EN 50155. This makes these systems suitable for a range of industrial and military applications.

To satisfy the demand for flexibility plus ever-increasing data rates, cooling capacities and power consumption, Pentair has developed the Schroff AdvancedTCA ECO Modular System. Designed with user-friendliness in mind, this 14U AdvancedTCA system offers 14 slots and is based on a modular concept with a cost-optimized scope of features. All features can be upgraded or minimized as required and the cooling and power supply can be easily adapted to suit. A removable fan tray provides optimal cooling of the ECO modular system, featuring six or eight standard fans and delivering a cooling capacity of 250 W or 450 W per blade respectively. Alternatively, six higher-output fans may be used together to provide cooling of over 500 W per blade. With these modular fan drawer options, system cooling capacity and costs can be designed with flexibility. The ECO modular fan tray is fitted below the board cage and connected directly to the backplane. The Telco alarm panel and the two RJ45 connectors for the shelf manager ports are positioned on the front panel of the fan tray. No separate alarm module is required. With the fan tray in autonomous mode, the system can also be operated without a shelf manager. In this case, the fan controller monitors the air inlet and air outlet temperatures and sets the fan speed accordingly. The modular concept of the PEM supports 250 or 500 W per slot and a power supply unit with or without redundancy. To achieve this, Pentair developed a PEM board that includes input filtering and two 50 A fuses. The Schroff ECO Modular System is available with two backplane options: a Dual Star version and a Dual-Dual Star version. Both backplanes satisfy the requirements of IEEE 40GBase KR4, i.e. Ethernet with a data transfer rate of 10 Gb/s per port and four ports per channel. This gives a total of 40 Gb/s between blade and switch (40G backplane). In the case of a Dual-Dual Star backplane, four switches are used. Data can thus be sent via two switches in redundancy mode, resulting in 80 Gb/s overall. If the switches are configured for 3+1 redundancy, a data rate of 120 Gb/s can be achieved between the blades. The IPMB management bus on both backplanes is bussed.

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

Pentair Technical Products, San Diego, CA (858) 740-2400.

Fanless DIN-rail Industrial Network System

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Customizable, Secure End-to-End IoT Solution with Integrated Gateway, Cloud and Edge Devices

A new fully customizable edge-to-Cloud IoT solution enables companies to get to market quickly while reducing risk, cost, and development cycles. The Mentor IoT solution from Mentor Graphics comprises a customizable IoT gateway System Design Kit (SysDK), a Cloud backend,Image and runtime solutions on which to build a wide array Compact Processor Targets High of IoT edge devices. It enables the most demanding IoT requirements Definition Action Applications with support from 8-bit microcontrollers to the latest 64-bit microA compact image processor is the eighth-generation product processors, and deployments of 100,000+ gateways each supporting from its Milbeaut image processor series by Socionext. The dozens of edge devices. with a powerful Codec Engine originally MB86S27 is equipped Mentor Graphics provides and software developed at Socionext, anda feature-rich is designed hardware for delivering high gateway platform that can be used as-is or customized in bothcorrechardresolution 4K video. It comes with 360-degree distortion ware and software to meet specific gateway requirements, including tion and other state-of-the-art image processing functionalities compatibility withquality legacy and newwith IoT devices deployments. Thesurveillance Gateway suitable for high video such as SysDK reference hardware utilizes the ARM Cortex-A9 based cameras, drones, action cameras and drive recorders. i.MX 6 series from Freescale Semiconductor. The base Theapplications MB86S27 isprocessor designed to serve the growing need for reference software includes a rich Linux BSP with full support for the high-definition, high-quality video in a broad range of rapidly reference board. To support secure convergence, the Mentor Gateway expanding applications. These include surveillance cameras that SysDK can be includeworldwide, secure gateway partitions using are seeing ancustomized increasing to demand such as in drones that record in off-limit or hazardous areas, action-cameras in ARM TrustZone, which enables secure applications such as certificate non-sport applications, and drive recorders effective traffic management and secure remote firmware upgrades. The for integration accident investigation and are feasible as an integral of Cloud middleware supports thepotentially functionality provided from the part ofbackend. new insurance programs. Cloud By leveraging the Gateway SysDK, customers can In addition to 4Ktovideo capability, the device move from concept production in as little as eightintegrates weeks. hardware macros specialized for various image processing, The Mentor Graphics end-to-end IoT solution includes support thusa comprehensive reducing the CPU Power consumption is as low as for set ofload. physical connections complemented by a 1.3W, when 4K at for 30 wired framesand perwireless secondedge (fps). breadth of IoToperating and Cloudwith protocols device With the MB86S27, Socionext is developing aggregation, and secure communication betweenand theproviding Cloud backend, video-optimized platforms and firmware, as well as picture gateway, and edge devices. End-to-end security is provided for data quality consulting services, delivering comprehensive solutions communications, access control, software execution, and intrusion to customers. detection. Security integration with enterprise IT infrastructure is Key features include an ARM Cortex A5 MP 400MHz x 2 CPU provided by Icon Labs’ Floodgate for McAfee ePO. plus connected sensors including subLVDS 12 lanes + 3 clocks Mentor Cloud solutioninclude enablesPCIe companies remotely 800The Mbps/lane. Interfaces Gne2, to 2 lanes x 1 chanprovision, monitor, collect data for analysis, and manage gateway nel, or PCIe Gen1, 1 lane x 2 channels and RGMII v1.3 at 1Gbps. andNetwork device deployment a web interface or aoffload mobile capability securely consiststhrough of TCP/IP, RTP/UDP/IP application. Mentor provides a Cloud backend that can be licensed or assist, protocol stack and offload engine. provided as a service. Designed for performance and scalability for Image processing features include an H.264 Video Codec with massive deployments, Cloudplus backend can integrate(up full HD worldwide encoding at 120fps, 4K the at 30fps multi-encoding multiple Cloud service providers, and enables management of server to 6 streams). Imagine processing IP covers Noise Reduction life-cycles using automation templates including easy-to-use and and Optimization of high sensitivity. And all this with a power customizable dashboards. consumption: typically1.3W when operating 4K 30fps. To provide customers maximum flexibility in meeting urgent business needs,Sunnyvale, the technologyCA can be licensed commercially as an Socionext, entire solution or in parts to address and complete a cus(408)end-to-end 737-5400. tomer’s existing solution. Additionally, Mentor Graphics can deploy and manage the solution as a service to customers. These options are available today from Mentor Graphics.

Mentor Graphics, Wilsonville, OR (503) 685-7000.

Series of COM Express Modules Equipped With Sixth Generation Core Processors

A series of Type 6 COM Express modules is based on the sixth generation Intel Core processor (codename Skylake) and Intel Q170, H110 and C236 chipsets. These Portwell’s new COM Express modules from American Portwell, the PCOM-B639VG, PCOM-B638VG and PCOM-B637VG, include Intel Turbo Boost Technology (Intel Core i7 and i5 processors), Intel vPro Technology supported by the Intel Q170 chipset for superior remote management capabilities, and Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel Core i7 processors). The product series also supports new advanced features offered by the sixth generation Intel Core processors that boost IoT designs from the edge to the Cloud, including Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX), Intel Memory Guard Extensions (MPX), additional high speed input/output (HSIO) with increased flexibility, and expanded HW/GPU accelerated codec support. In addition, the PCOM-B639VG, PCOM-B638VG and PCOM-B637VG Type 6 COM Express modules deliver greater graphics performance, stunning Ultra HD 4K display across three independent displays, as well as faster 3D and video playback capability, all while with improved energy efficiency. Specifically, the PCOM-B639VG and PCOM-B637VG Type 6 COM Express modules (125mm x 95mm) support up to 32GB (16GB for PCOM-B637VG) ECC (supported by C236 chipset only) and non-ECC 288-pin DDR4-2133 SODIMM, making both new modules faster than their predecessor. The expansion interface supports one PCI Express x16 Gen3 (8.0GT/s) for enhanced video delivering 1.6 times faster performance than that of the previous Gen2 (5.0GT/s), and eight PCI Express x1 Gen3 (8.0 GT/s). Furthermore, PCOM-B637VG and PCOM-B639VG support three independent displays, DP (DisplayPort), VGA and LVDS with greater 3D performance compared to its previous generation. Operating with a low TDP CPU (35 watts), the PCOM-B637VG can provide superior graphics performance for medical/healthcare systems and communications applications. The Portwell PCOM-B638VG Type 6 Compact COM Express module (95mm x 95mm) supports DDR4-2133 ECC/Non-ECC SODIMM up to 16GB on two 288-pin SODIMM sockets. Its low profile design with high performance and low power consumption, plus enhanced I/O features, making it an excellent choice for developing solutions for many IoT applications. American Portwell Technology, Fremont, CA (510) 403-3332.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 35

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Turn-key Multichannel, High-Speed A/D & D/A in 3U VPX or PCIe Solution

Pentek has introduced two new models of its FlexorSets. FlexorSet Model 5973-324 for 3U VPX and Model 7070-324 for PCIe. They consist of the new Flexor Model 3324 4-Channel A/D & 4-Channel D/A FMC installed on either of two carriers. The carriers contain optimized Pentek FPGA intellectual property (IP) for A/D acquisition and D/A waveform playback, which is matched to the four 500 MHz, 16-bit A/Ds and the four 1.5 GHz, 16-bit D/As with digital up-converters (DUCs) on the FMC. A rich set of software development tools enables rapid application development and rapid time to market. The Model 3324 FMC front end accepts four analog HF or IF inputs on front panel connectors with transformer coupling into two Texas Instruments ADS54J69 dual A/D converters, boosting density for high channel count systems. On the output side, a Texas Instruments DAC38J84 D/A converter accepts baseband real or complex data streams from the FPGA. Each stream then passes through digital interpolation and upconversion stages before delivery to the D/A. Output sampling rates up to 1.5 GHz are supported, with or without translation. FlexorSet presents system integrators with a full development and deployment platform for custom IP. The Pentek GateFlow FPGA design kit gives users access to the complete factory installed IP at the source level, allowing them to extend or even replace the built-in functions. Pentek’s GateXpress PCIe configuration manager supports dynamic FPGA reconfiguration though software commands as part of the runtime application. This provides an efficient way to quickly reload the FPGA, which slashes development time during testing. For deployed environments, GateXpress enables reloading the FPGA without the need to reset the host system, ideal for applications that require dynamic access to multiple processing IP algorithms. Pentek’s ReadyFlow Board Support Package is available with drivers for Windows and Linux operating systems. The ReadyFlow C-callable library contains a complete suite of initialization, control and status functions, as well as a rich set of precompiled, ready-to-run-examples, accelerate application development. FlexorSets are designed for air-cooled, conduction-cooled, and rugged operating environments. The FlexorSet Model 5973-324 for 3U VPX and the FlexorSet Model 7070-324 for PCIe both start at $24,890 USD. Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ (291) 818-5100.

36 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

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Basic COM Express Module Based On Xeon Processor D Family

A Type 6 COM Express Basic (125mm x 95mm) module has optimized value models and service levels by running network applications securely and reliably on virtualization-optimized platforms. Along with 32-lane PCI Express, the PCOM-634VG from American Portwell Technology utilizes Intel Xeon Processor D-1500 Family built on 14nm process technology and designed into a dense, lower-power system-on-a-chip (SoC) with integrated PCH technology and Ethernet. The PCOM-B634VG also offers pin-to-pin compatibility and scalability from previous designs to support legacy and new network applications with increased performance at low power. These features translate into reduced manageability cost and improved security, making the PCOM-B634VG an ideal solution for Advanced Mezzanine Cards, CompactPCI and high-density systems in network and data-centric applications. The Intel Xeon Processor D-1500 Family integrates up to eight CPU cores, each with three 1.5MB cache, of up to 12MB in total. Portwell’s PCOM-B634VG COM Express module provides one PCIe x16 and eight PCIe x1 channels, one standard GbE interface plus two 1/2.5/10GbE Ethernet interfaces in the C/D pin row. The three SODIMM memory slots support dual-channel DDR3L-1600 or DDR4-2400(select SKUs) configurations with a maximum capacity of 128GB and ECC support. Furthermore, there are four SATA III (6Gbps) interfaces, four USB 3.0, and seven USB 2.0 ports implemented on the module. The processor supports functions like Hyper Threading; Turbo Boost; Intel Virtualization Technology, set of hardware enhancements improving flexibility and robustness of traditional software; Intel Trusted Execution Technology delivering reliable execution; and Intel AES-NI/Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 2 instruction set. Designed on a basic 125mm x 95mm platform, the PCOMB634VG is backward compatible and seamlessly scales up and ensures interoperability between industrial edge devices and enterprise systems. Meanwhile, Portwell customers can manage certification more easily thanks to generational compatibility. In the micro server, storage, networking, and Internet of Things (IoT), the PCOM-B634VG is suitable for high-performance network, high data transfer loads and dense applications. With exceptional value, Portwell’s PCOM-B634VG COM Express module supplies data integrity, balance I/O, memory bandwidth, and Intel® QuickAssist Technology providing security and compression acceleration. American Portwell Technology, Fremont, CA (510) 403-3332.

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Tiny Supercomputer to Bring Artificial Intelligence to New Generation of Autonomous Robots and Drones

NVIDIA has unveiled a credit-card sized module that harnesses the power of machine learning to enable a new generation of smart, autonomous machines that can learn. The NVIDIA JetsonTM TX1 module addresses the challenge of creating a new wave of millions of smart devices — drones that don’t just fly by remote control, but navigate their way through a forest for search and rescue; compact security surveillance systems that don’t just scan crowds, but identify suspicious activity; and robots that don’t just perform tasks, but tailor them to individuals’ habits — by incorporating capabilities such as machine learning, computer vision, navigation and more. NVIDIA is positioning the Jetson TX1 as the first embedded computer designed to process deep neural networks — computer software that can learn to recognize objects or interpret information. This approach to programing computers is called machine learning and can be used to perform complex tasks such as recognizing images, processing conversational speech, or analyzing a room full of furniture and finding a path to navigate across it. Machine learning is a groundbreaking technology that will give autonomous devices a giant leap in capability. With its 1 teraflops of performance — comparable to the fastest supercomputer from 15 years ago — Jetson delivers exceptional performance for machine learning, computer vision, GPU computing and graphics, while drawing very little power. Available as a module, Jetson TX1 is also built into a developer kit that enables hobbyists and professionals to develop and test highly advanced autonomous devices. This makes it easy to transition from development to manufacturing and production. The Jetson TX1 module measures 50mm x 87mm and includes a 256-core Maxwell architecture-based GPU offering best-in-class performance at 1 teraflops supported by 64-bit ARM A-57 CPUs. It also has camera support for 1400 megapixels per second with 4K video encode and decode. Module memory is 4GB LPDDR4 at 25.6 gigabits/second with 16GB eMMC storage. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are supported along with 1 GB Ethernet. And operating systems support is provided in the form of Linux for Tegra. The Jetson TX1 includes a comprehensive SDK for embedded visual computing, including cuDNN, which is a CUDA-accelerated library for machine learning. For both training and inference, it is compatible with many industry-standard frameworks, including Caffe, Theano and Torch. In addition, VisionWorks is a CUDA-accelerated library and framework for computer vision. It is an implementation of the OpenVX 1.1 specification with additional NVIDIA extensions. The SDK includes support for the latest graphics drivers and APIs, including OpenGL 4.5, OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan. Support for CUDA 7.0. enables CUDA to turn the GPU into a general-purpose processor, giving developers access to tremendous parallel performance and power efficiency. NVIDIA, Santa Clara, CA (408) 486-2000.

PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY Connected OS Platform for Innovative Connectivity into the Car Network

A new software platform targets next-generation automotive applications. Leveraging experience from a proven track record of enabling on-time award winning start-of-production (SOP) deliveries, the Automotive Connected OS software from Mentor Graphics provides scalable frameworks for IVI, Driver Information and ADAS applications. The automotive-grade platform facilitates faster time-to-market by solving automotive-specific challenges at the operating system level. Automakers are faced with the challenge of satisfying demanding consumer expectations for multimedia and network connectivity, in addition to abiding by very market-specific requirements. These challenges are further magnified by the traditionally long product lifecycles of the automobile, including the requirement to support car network infrastructures and standards for several generations. As software content in the car continues to grow, car makers are looking for a mature, yet flexible solution, to build on vertically in a specific car generation as well as horizontally from generation to generation. The Connected OS solution offers the answer with scalable frameworks in the pre-integrated software platform supporting longer lasting standards for car network communication. In addition, the Connected OS software includes solutions to support the most modern and rapidly evolving features for CE device connectivity within the cabin. The Connected OS software features a modular, GENIVIbased Linux platform with an enhanced board support package (SuperBSP) and an optimized middleware layer (OPTstack). This software stack delivers key technologies such as Fastboot, Instant-On, and optimized audio/video functionality – necessary for cutting-edge automotive applications. The level of optimization and tight integration in Connected OS delivers extremely fastest boot times and extremely high robustness. Supporting the market leading SoCs, the Connected OS solution is developed and maintained on a platform-centric basis for deep integration with System-on-Chip (SoC) specific features, and is customizable to support the unique requirements of OEMs and Tier1s. Advanced In-Vehicle Networking for IVI & ADAS Mentor Automotive announced the pre-integration of Ethernet Audio/ Video Bridging (eAVB) into the Connected OS solution. Most of the in-car data, especially related to safety applications is required to be transmitted in real-time with high quality of service (QoS). The Connected OS product enables these applications through the support for emerging connectivity protocol eAVB to address the stringent requirements of low-latency time sensitive applications and reserved data channels. The eAVB stack in the Connected OS solution is developed to IEEE AVB standards and is AVnu Alliance compliant. Supported IEEE implementations include IEEE 802.1AS, 802.1Qat, 802.1Qav, 1722.1 and 1733. Mentor Graphics, Hillsboro, OR (503) 685-7000.

RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015 | 37

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38 | RTC Magazine DECEMBER 2015

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Accelerate Your Product Development Cycle

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December 2015

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