Signal Processing COTS Standards

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Technical Highlights of M4i.22xx-ir40m option: Now provides programmable full scale ranges from ±40 mV up to ±0.5 V Sampling rates up to 5 GS/s with 8-bit ADC resolution and high SNR Available in PCIe, PXIe and LXI form factors[Continue reading →]

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Recently, the U.S.-based Internet service provider OneWeb ordered 900 satellites to provide additional global broadband. Knowing that this volume is more than half of the total 1,400 satellites already in orbit, and knowing that the cost for sending one into space is about $100 million, the industry needs to start thinking about new technologies that could help manage the mass of satellites that must be produced every year.[Continue reading →]

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The xTCA for Physics PICMG standards work began in 2009 after several years of investigation into the suitability of ATCA as a controls platform for several new accelerators then under consideration.[Continue reading →]

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In the current environment of "open source everything," is there still a role for PICMG and open specifications? Doug Sandy, vice president of technology and CTO for PICMG, explores the past and future of PICMG within the emerging industry landscape.[Continue reading →]

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PICMG got its start back in 1994 with the development of the first edge card computing industry standard: PICMG 1.0. Since then edge card computing has evolved to incorporate the latest PCI Express interface methodology and implementation standards in the SHB Express or PICMG 1.3 industry standard.[Continue reading →]

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Leaders of PICMG say that their standards continue to grow in adoption across the globe, with COM Express making huge inroads in Asia and Internet of Things (IoT) markets while CompactPCI Serial grows in acceptance in Europe.[Continue reading →]

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Last year ended with the loss of Joe Pavlat, who successfully led this organization for over 20 years. He worked with members to establish PICMG as a global leader in open standards for embedded computing. We are grateful for his service and will continue to build and improve the organization he helped found.[Continue reading →]

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PICMG is a nonprofit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high-performance telecommunications, military, industrial, and general-purpose embedded computing applications.[Continue reading →]

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Summer ended with sad news for our OpenSystems Media family when we learned that our friend and coworker, Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director of PICMG Technologies magazine, passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Valley, California. He was only 63 years old.[Continue reading →]

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The integrated onboard automated control systems are currently considered as advanced and multifunctional platforms providing solutions for a wide range of tasks. In such a case, depending on the type of a vehicle, they can either assist human-operators and expand opportunities (a classic example here is the onboard avionic system on a manned aircraft) or can be the main (sometimes the only one) command center of any self-propelled robotized vehicle (Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), spacecraft etc.). The core of such control platforms is the onboard computing system -- a special-purpose Box PC, usually controlled by real-time operating system and using peripheral equipment for connection to the systems of data acquisition and vehicle control.[Continue reading →]

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When revamping one of the most popular industry specifications, many factors need to be considered to meet the diverse needs of existing users and those of a new set of developers ready to take advantage of an upgraded technology platform.[Continue reading →]

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Open standards for embedded computing offer the customer a wide range of products, vendor independence, and a fairly predictable upgrade path to incorporate new semiconductor, storage, and software technologies. The standards themselves are generally developed and maintained by open organizations or consortia that work to be inclusive and not beholden to one or a few companies. There are many successful open standards organizations in operation, and the IEEE, PICMG, and VITA are among the best known.

One of PICMG’s early successful standards is CompactPCI, which incorporates the wealth of PCI silicon developed for the desktop PC world into a modular and rugged standard for embedded computing. First released in 1995, it continues to be the solution of choice for a very wide range of applications, including the Mars rover, Curiosity (I just never get tired of saying that). [Continue reading →]

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Grosshansdorf, Germany - Spectrum is pleased to announce that it is boosting its sales and support services in the US with the opening of Spectrum Instrumentation Corporation. Spectrum, headquartered in Grosshansdorf, Germany, is a pioneer in design and manufacturing of PC based test and measurement instrumentation that is used for electronic signal capture, generation and analysis. The company specializes in high-speed digitizer and generator technology and has available over 400 modular products in the popular industry standards; PCIe, LXI and PXI.

Managing Director of Spectrum, Gisela Hassler, says: "The importance of the US market continues to grow for us, particularly with the recent release of a number of high-end digitizer products. Our US customers are generally early technology adopters and they are looking for products that give them a technical edge. Modular hardware and software products need to be backed up with good application support. One thing that really helps to facilitate this is direct access to our engineering expertise and knowledge. As such, the timing is right for us to increase our local presence."[Continue reading →]

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Fully Integrated/Qualified Mission Computer delivers enhanced performance with up to four (4) Core(tm)i7 SBCs connected by Layer 2 Ethernet Switch and PCIe, and an optional Graphics Engine[Continue reading →]

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Whether they're powering a map-sensor payload for a Global Hawk UAV or a man-pack radio system for a soldier on the move, custom computer solutions have to be small and lightweight. Oh, and while you're at it, make them ruggedized, constant in temperature, power efficient, and inexpensive.

Military contractors have been trying to solve this puzzle for years, but in almost every application, they are forced to make some tradeoffs. To meet these stringent demands, engineers have created a clever solution — modular embedded computing platforms that allow customers to design their own customized machines.[Continue reading →]

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VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

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PXIe-based RF and microwave sources that provide high-quality CW signals at frequencies up to 12 GHz are well suited for general purpose LO, CW, and GHz clock applications where low cost, high performance and small footprint are important.[Continue reading →]

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A military prime contractor in Europe has chosen MicroTCA over OpenVPX for its RADAR Signal Processing application. The applications include ground-based mission surveillance, and airborne and ground-based RADAR. The company was looking for a high-performance, compact solution for data processing that could be used across multiple platforms including light-rugged and extreme rugged applications. MicroTCA provides excellent SWaP-C (Size, Weight, Power, and Cost). The architecture is an easily ruggedized form factor and provides a versatile ecosystem for a wide range of applications. The customer’s system provides simultaneous multi-mission capability, high survivability (small target, high mobility), and is fully self-contained. The MicroTCA platform is expected to expand into other mission computing and RADAR projects for the company.

System Requirements [Continue reading →]

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For decades, modular embedded computer systems have been built using card cages, backplanes, and plug-in boards that perform a wide variety of functions. While it is less expensive to do something on a single board, if volumes are high and there is not...[Continue reading →]

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ADLINK Technology, a leading global provider of cloud-based services, intelligent gateways and embedded building blocks for edge devices that enable the Internet of Things (IoT), invites attendees to view our latest PXI Express-based test solutions in Booth 627 at IEEE's AUTOTEST 2014 from September 15–18 at America's Center in St. Louis, MO. ADLINK will also be taking part in the PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA) Discovery Fest, a multi-vendor interoperability event, taking place in Room 240 on the final day of the show.

ADLINK demonstration highlights include: [Continue reading →]

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McObject announced that its co-founder and CEO, Steve Graves, has been chosen to deliver two presentations at Flash Memory Summit, the world's largest conference dedicated to flash memory and its applications. The talks focus on strategies for using NAND flash-based technology to enhance in-memory database systems (IMDS) performance and durability, and stem from McObject's benchmark testing of its eXtremeDB IMDS in partnership with leading flash technology vendors.[Continue reading →]

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A selfie taken by Curiosity Mars Rover\'s mast camera and compressed for transmission by the JPEG core available from CAST Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey — CAST, Inc. salesperson Steve Lilly couldn’t have imagined he’d help produce the galaxy’s most prolific selfie-shooting robot when he took that first call from Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). Yet that’s what ended up happening, as the JPEG Encoder IP Core MSSS licensed from CAST now plays a key role in getting Curiosity Rover’s amazing photos of Mars—and itself—back down to Earth.

The innovative system MSSS designed for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover uses three imaging systems: the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) that captured the rover’s landing, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm for close-ups of rocks and soil, and the dual-camera Mast Camera (Mastcam) on the rover’s remote sensing mast. These four cameras feed the four-board MMM Digital Electronics Assembly (DEA), a box inside the rover’s temperature-controlled interior that does image processing and JPEG compression and stores the images in 8 Gigabytes of non-volatile NAND Flash memory on each board.[Continue reading →]

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The growing number of autonomous and semi-autonomous platforms require a diverse range of technology subsystems, prompting engineers to select 3U CompactPCI (CPCI) for unmanned systems deployments because of its low power and ease of use.This year’s announcement that the number of active-duty Army personnel would be reduced to pre-World War II levels has positioned unmanned systems technology for a much larger role within the Department of Defense (DoD). Throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unmanned systems were leveraged heavily for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, and advancing sensor technology only affirms their place in the Pentagon’s tactical situational awareness strategy.

However, while the sophisticated sensors of an RQ-4 Global Hawk or MQ-9 Reaper require the best processing performance and bandwidth capacity available, the fact is those larger platforms represent only a small fraction of the DoD’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) inventory (Table 1). For smaller unmanned vehicles the Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) of systems like VME and VPX are simply too great, and represent an overkill for less compute-intensive applications in vehicle management and Payload Interface Units (PIUs). As a result, engineers continue to leverage CompactPCI (CPCI) technology for its low power and expansion capabilities, among other benefits.[Continue reading →]

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While we have tended to focus on high-end platforms like AdvancedTCA (ATCA) over the last couple of years, the embedded computer world is much broader than that and a recent trip to a very large, non-telecom-oriented tradeshow made that very clear.

The Embedded World tradeshow and conference was held February 25-27 in Nuremburg, Germany. Over 850 exhibitors from 35 countries exhibited their products and technologies, and more than 26,000 people attended. The show occupied six exhibit halls at NürnbergMesse, and is now the world’s largest that is strictly devoted to embedded technologies. There was very little telecom equipment, as most of those suppliers were at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which was held the same week.[Continue reading →]

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Simi Valley, CA Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the SBC-Duo-a user-customizable, turnkey embedded single board that includes a full Windows/Linux PC and supports a wide assortment of ultimate-performance XMC modules. With its modular I/O, quad-core CPU performance, and compatible PC architecture, the SBC-Duo reduces time-to-market for customers, providing outstanding performance while maintaining a tiny footprint and low cost. Applications include Embedded Instrumentation, Remote Sensing, Autonomous I/O, Mobile Instrumentation and Distributed data acquisition.

The SBC-Duo addresses the needs of many customers in a variety of markets, Wireless, Industrial Control, Military Hardware, Medical Imaging, Telecom/Intelligence, and Test & Measurement. Distributed Data Acquisition – Put the SBC-Duo at the data source and reduce system errors and complexity. Optional GPS/IEEE1588 -synchronized timing, triggering and sample control is available for remote I/O. Limitless expansion via multiple nodes. [Continue reading →]

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Tech Source has announced the new Condor 3001xF XMC graphics and video card to support the output of video signals to the next generation of avionics monitors running at resolutions of up to 1080p60. The card is ideal for retrofitting existing aircraft that have coaxial cables present with a new higher resolution (full HD) video format.[Continue reading →]

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Industrial markets are creating global impact, manufacturing new products through more sophisticated production processes, data sharing, and greater integration of machine vision throughout operations. Data and image processing systems in turn often require a high degree of customization, driving system integrators toward modular platforms that can be developed and deployed quickly. Throughout this industrial evolution, CompactPCI (cPCI) has played an important role as an ideal platform for handling the increasingly high data throughput required on the factory floor.

New and faster point-to-point industrial applications are now possible with cPCI Serial. These platforms capitalize on the fundamental change from bus-based systems to more integrated, serial communication-based systems that leverage an efficient star topology. New designs using this platform can benefit from a proven standard with a healthy ecosystem enhanced with new options for high-bandwidth I/O. Understanding the flexibility and capabilities of cPCI Serial offers a significant competitive edge for industrial Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) - and keeps industrial applications poised for whatever comes next.Industrial embedded markets keep designers very busy, working with a diverse and demanding range of vision-based applications. Machine vision covers the spectrum and can be found in automotive or electronics manufacturing, packaging, medical technology, surveillance systems, traffic and road safety engineering, or general healthcare. These essential systems handle localization and identification, measurement, and inspection tasks such as identifying, counting, and measuring objects or reading product codes and labels, for example. They may inspect product quality in a manufacturing line, constantly controlling and documenting quality throughout production processes. [Continue reading →]

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For the past 20 years, the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) has been developing standards that enable industrial computing customers to deploy the latest technology while taking advantage of time-to-market and hardware cross-compatibility inherent in open standards. This article explores the early days of PICMG and how the organization continues to evolve to meet the needs of industrial customers deploying technology in a wide range of applications.[Continue reading →]

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When Bob Dylan wrote that song 40 years ago he was likely thinking about the dramatic social and political changes that were happening in the 1960s, but a similar change in the technology of big networks is happening now – the way they are built, used, and the business models that support them are all being transformed. Terms like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are the latest additions to the alphabet soup of terms used by traditional telecom service providers and in the datacenter. The architectures used by both of these industries are beginning to merge into one where services, storage, and computing are provided to customers that want to sell something via e-commerce or share cat videos or corporate spreadsheets. With the increasing use of mobile devices, programs and data will not be on your desktop, but “in the cloud,” and accessible from anywhere.

This column was going to focus on introducing some of the concepts involved with SDN and NFV, but my good colleague Curt Schwaderer did a far better job than I ever could have in his excellent article on page 12, “Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) explained.” I highly recommend you read it, and also the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) white paper he references. [Continue reading →]

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The AdvancedTCA (ATCA) Base Extensions (PICMG 3.7) specification supports larger systems with the horsepower to handle deployment in cloud and datacenter applications, while also emphasizing compatibility with original AdvancedTCA (PICMG 3.0) platforms and boards. In addition to extended blade and shelf area, PICMG 3.7 includes enhanced Hardware Platform Management (HPM) capabilities, such as a complete description of the system power geography, much of which can be integrated into existing ATCA systems.[Continue reading →]

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Chatsworth, Calif. October 2013 – Aitech Defense Systems Inc., a pioneer in true rugged embedded and mission critical computing technologies, now offers two new rugged single board computers (SBCs) based on the latest Freescale 12-core T4240 QorIQ processor architecture.

Both the VME-based C111 and the VPX-based C112 provide integrated performance characteristics that enable enhanced processing in data-intensive rugged and defense computing environments. [Continue reading →]

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October 17, 2013 – San Jose, CA – ADLINK Technology, Inc., a trusted provider of embedded computing products for machine vision, announces the release of its new EOS-4000, the industry’s first compact Camera Link® embedded vision system to feature a powerful 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5 quad core processor, two independent Power over Camera Link (PoCL) ports, and rich I/O capability. The 3rd generation Intel quad-core processor delivers maximum computing power, and Camera Link connectivity provides image transmission with no CPU loading, making—along with Direct Memory Access (DMA)—the EOS-4000 ideal for speedy and accurate high-resolution performance supporting industrial automation and medical imaging environments.

The EOS-4000 streams raw image data over dedicated point-to-point link topology, with no network latency or protocol overhead, and implements DMA solutions, rearranging data for efficiency. Transmission of image data from cameras to the system memory is executed without utilizing any CPU resources, and the EOS-4000 supports 64-bit memory addressing and RAID technology (dual SATA interface), benefiting vision applications with large address space.[Continue reading →]

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DSPC-8681 DSPC-8682 TAIPEI, Taiwan, September 5, 2013 – Advantech (TWSE: 2395.TW) will reveal the latest DSP-based technology for advanced video solutions at the upcoming IBC Show to be held September 13-17 in Amsterdam. The company will feature products that support new video standards, including High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), JPEG2000 codec, 4K/2K resolution and AVC-Intra/Ultra, enabling high-performance video applications from core servers to edge nodes, allowing OEM customers to choose the most cost-effective platform for their particular applications.

Advantech DSPC-8681 and DSPC-8682 PCIe cards adopt multicore and programmable KeyStone™ multicore architecture from Texas InstrumentsIncorporated (TI) for fulfilling market needs in terms of raw power, low energy consumption and high density integration. These cards can support up to eight TMS320C6678 multicore DSPs from TI, each with 2GB of DDR3 1333/1600MHz 64-bit DDR3 memory, the PLX® ExpressLane(TM) PEX8748 PCIe Gen 3 switch, a Xilinx XC3S200AN Spartan-3 FPGA and an IDT CPS1616 Serial RapidIO Gen 2 switch to achieve levels of performance that far exceed the performance and density of commodity platforms. The DSPC-8681 and DSPC-8682 cards are perfectly capable of dealing with all of the new video codec standards including HEVC, JPEG2000 and AVC-Intra & Ultra in addition to existing well-established codecs such as MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.[Continue reading →]

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Open systems have the advantage of being the creation of many minds with many perspectives on what should be done. Therefore, many of these systems were originally developed to be general in their applicability, and found deployment applications like machine control and instrumentation. However, many of these systems have also migrated to industries that traditionally embraced only purpose-built and proprietary architectures based the belief that no open standard adequately met their needs. PICMG has been very busy of late trying to bridge this gap, and has released, or is about to release, a number of significant specifications to both improve existing platforms and adapt them to new market spaces,

CompactPCI Express[Continue reading →]

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HUNTSVILLE, AL. The first product based on Intel's 4th generation Core i7 processor will be in a rugged 3U VPX form factor and dubbed the SBC326. The single-board computer (SBC) is targeted at constrained-space applications such as manned- and unmanned air and ground vehicles. The product provides enhanced graphics performance, improved processor performance, and better security – all in the same power envelope as previous generations.[Continue reading →]

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ECHING, Germany. Kontron's initial offering of products based on the 4th generation Intel® Core i7 processors includes Mini-ITX, COM Express, 6U CompactPCI, and the Kontron SYMKLOUD Media cloud platforms. Four intelligent platforms with improved processing and graphics performance as well as energy efficiency are available for evaluation with immediate effect. n developments on their preferred new target platform.[Continue reading →]

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VITA 46, 48, and 65: The Next Generation VME system replacement. VITA 46 is the VPX base electrical and mechanical specification. VITA 48 is the VPX REDI cooling spec. VITA 65 is Open VPX. Open VPX was the industry's attempt to bring order to chaos. Open VPX methodically defines a system of profiles that would fully explain the interactions between the backplane and plug-in modules. The profiles are the physical mapping of resources in the system. This information can then be used to determine compatibility.[Continue reading →]

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Mezzanine carrier cards have been used in system designs for many years, and will continue to play an integral part, especially as the performance of processor cards continue to increase in the future. This white paper will discuss the many uses of carrier cards designed specifically for VPX and OpenVPX systems. First, let's define what we mean by a mezzanine carrier card. In some system designer's vernacular, a mezzanine carrier card can be defined as any card that can host a mezzanine. Although one can take this simple approach, we will be bit more restrictive in our definition. In this white paper, we will refer to a mezzanine carrier card as a card that can host one or more mezzanines but does not provide any processing function. The processing function or control of the mezzanine is provided by another card in the system. Stated another way, the mezzanine carrier is used to host a mezzanine which is then controlled and used by a "processor" card in the system. Hence, we could refer to the mezzanine carrier as being "dumb".[Continue reading →]

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Intel(r) 3-D processor technology brings a new dimension of processing to the embedded computing space and comes with a great deal of improvements. What are the most important benefits for embedded appliances and how can engineers deploy them most efficiently?[Continue reading →]

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How to decide which form factor to use for a radar or sonar application? Consider the application's topology: Interconnect topologies that comprise many high-speed connections are well suited to VPX, while applications with more “well-behaved” communications are usually a good candidate for less complex technologies like CompactPCI.[Continue reading →]

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The 2nd generation Intel(r) Core(tm) processor family brings huge improvements in processing power, graphics performance and power consumption. Further enhancements to power and a smaller footprint make it the ideal choice in 2011 for upgrading nearly all existing x86 platforms. But what is it exactly that makes the new processors so attractive?[Continue reading →]

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The demand for higher-quality video imagery in surveillance systems requires an advanced link between the sensors and the usable video data. An image processing system consisting exclusively of software processing isn’t capable of meeting these demands, and an ASIC-based system doesn’t provide the needed flexibility. Because of the compute-intensive nature of pixel processing, an FPGA-based imaging processing design using JPEG2000 encoding provides a powerful and flexible methodology.[Continue reading →]

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Getting to 100G with NPUs

Niel Viljoen, CEO, Netronome Systems[Continue reading →]

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A couple days ago, someone asked me if Embedded Computing Design was all about mobile phones now. I’ll say that’s not quite true, but it is symptomatic. My job is to spot trends, and I’m pretty sure that “phonemance” (think “bromance,” only the object of affection is your phone, not your best buddy) has implications much larger for the embedded computing industry than any phone.

Have you heard or said this recently: “This phone is my life”? It’s even a hook in phone advertisements, with messages urging you to bring everything in your life together in one place and promising the ability to do anything, anywhere, even multiple things at the same time. What needs to be recognized is that this notion is driving our industry, for better or worse, and it’s a good idea to get your arms around it if you haven’t already.[Continue reading →]

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Dog days? More like dogged pursuit of a number of markets for CompactPCI, and success as CompactPCI demonstrates its ability to adapt – check out the mil-areo app described in the Global Technology column this month.Most successful computer open standards, if they are to remain viable, adapt to changes in technology. The best expand their capabilities while maintaining a high degree of backwards compatibility. This leverages existing product offerings and reduces the cost of upgrades. CompactPCI, which has been around for 15 years now, has continued to evolve to improve performance and add new features. The original spec supported the 33 MHz, 32-bit parallel PCI bus. This was then expanded to 66 MHz, 64-bit PCI.

By the year 2000, parallel buses like PCI were being supplanted by higher-speed switched serial buses. They were popping up like weeds and were simply too numerous for all to survive. Some were chip-to-chip interconnects, while others were intended to interconnect boards at the system level. The most popular system-level interconnect, Ethernet, just kept getting faster, cheaper, and better. In 2001 a PICMG technical committee headed up by John Peters from Performance Technologies developed a specification that allowed boards in a CompactPCI system to communicate via Ethernet over the backplane. This was the industry’s first switched serial fabric standard, and it is still widely used. In 2005 PCI Express was added as a backplane interconnect in the CompactPCI Express specification.[Continue reading →]

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Along with a redesigned data acquisition system, the company TechniScan Medical Systems (TMS) relied on the features a CompactPCI board incorporated, including hot swap and Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI).[Continue reading →]

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David will discuss the characteristics of CompactPCI that make it suitable for mil and aero applications and use real-world examples to help readers recognize whether the CompactPCI form factor fits their applications. He will explore considerations for implementation of systems based on these architectures.Limitations of 3U VME in terms of bus width, bandwidth, and rear I/O pins make it impossible to use for many applications. Instead, designers choose 3U CompactPCI for these applications, as it supports a much higher bandwidth with plenty of rear I/O. Similarly, for high-performance applicationsthat require multiple CPUs processing data across a single back-plane, 6U CompactPCI’s derivative PICMG 2.16 is a logical choice, as it is more reliable and supports more rear I/O thanVITA 31 or VITA 41.

CompactPCI‚Äôs roots in PCI also make it more desirable than VME for many design groups. For example, new software designers already know and understand the development challenges for PCI applica-tions, while developing VME applications provides some unique challenges. Millions of software applications are CompactPCI compatible. These "comfort zone" factors that made CompactPCI quite success-ful in nondefense embedded applications are now helping to keep it as a prevalent architecture in defense applications.[Continue reading →]

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Hermann describes the role of CompactPCI in a tidal power station and gives us a snapshot of recent industry goings on in Europe, including CeBIT.CompactPCI dives into long-term energy sourceTidal power has been used since the 11th century. There willbe tides as long as the moon circles the earth. This energysource will last much longer than all known and hoped fordeposits of crude oil. The world’s first offshore tidal power station became operational in 2003 on the coast of Cornwall (Lynmouth, North Devon) in the southwestern part of England. The project, named Seaflow, is in the Bristol Channel. It is based on propeller-driven turbines from Marine Current Turbines Ltd. (MCT), which are attached to monopiles. These columnar structures resemble gigantic telephone poles 2.5 meters (approximately 8 feet) in diameter anchored underneath the seafloor. Ship travel is not impeded because this arrangement does not require dams.

Unlike winds, tides are not de-pendent on weather conditions. Only one third the diameter of wind rotors of the same power output, the sea turbine rotors reside deep below the water‚Äôs surface, not subject to damage from strong waves. The Seaflow turbines produced about25 percent more energy than expected by simulations. This project is the basis for the follow-on project SeaGen, announced on February 7, 2008, using dual-rotor turbines. A tidal power park will be installed off the coast of Anglesey, North Wales, UK (Figure 1, courtesy of MCT, UK). Several units are planned to produce 10.5 MW near Anglesey. A smaller unit is planned at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. It is estimated that tidal power stations around the British Isles could supply approximately between 8 GW and 16 GW (some experts believe up to 50 GW) of electrical power.[Continue reading →]

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