Control Engineering Embedded Control eNews for April 2003


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What's the latest in embedded systems?

Control Engineering will be uncovering more of the latest from the Embedded Systems Conference, April 22-26. Frank Bartos, Control Engineering executive editor, will attend, even if your bags aren't packed. The conference program does a decent job of following trends with tracks on system-on-chip (SoC) and consumer electronics (which can help those in the industrial market with programming and design). Other topics include security, WIFI, audio and video, Linux, and real-time design. For more on the conference, visit the Embedded System Conference website.

Here's a bit of what's showing:

  • Green Hills Software's ''Multi'' integrated development environment for embedded Linux systems provides an advanced environment for debugging Linux applications, the Linux kernel, and Linux device drivers. Multi works out of the box with existing GNU development tool chains, including those used for native Intel/Pentium, embedded MIPS, and embedded PowerPC environments. Multi gives Linux kernel developers accustomed to debugging code with primitive print statements and command-line debuggers, a full-featured, commercial solution that greatly simplifies the debug process.

  • National Instruments' Compact FieldPoint product line of 20 I/O modules and three intelligent controllers delivers a small, rugged, intelligent platform that extends the reach of its Lab-View software to harsh industrial environments, such as embedded-machine control, industrial data acquisition, data logging, and in-vehicle applications.

  • OSE Systems , a subsidiary of Enea Data, will exhibit its OSE Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) 4.5 and development environment. The newest generation OSE RTOS is based on a message-passing model that provides fast, asynchronous interprocess communications ideal for fault-tolerant or high reliability, real-time applications such as telecommunications infrastructure, wireless, automotive, and industrial automation.

  • GateFlow IP Core Libraries, from Pentek Inc. , are able to leverage Xilinx's Virtex field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for reportedly outstanding performance and reduced development time. Gate Flow IP also includes FFT engines and wideband, digital-down converters; alternatives to ASICs and DSPs; 10x FFT speed improvement handles >500 MHz real-time data streams; wideband receivers that deliver increased speed, resolution, and accuracy; and a design for signal intelligence and radar applications.

  • OEM2500 Coyote single-board computer from Z World provides OEM designers with a low-cost embedded control for high-volume applications, as well as multiple options for built-to-suit custom orders to lower OEM product costs. Two standard models are available, one with Ethernet and one without. It can be customized to user specifications for orders of 500 units or more. OEM 2500 Coyote features the Rabbit 3000 microprocessor at 29.4 MHz; 256 K Flash and 128 K SRAM; five serial ports; 16 rugged I/O (plus one A/D input and two D/A outputs); four LEDs; and 10 timers.

Watch for more news from the show in Control Engineering e-newsletters and in print, or type in the word embedded in the search box at the top of any page on the Control Engineering website . (Thanks to Jim Montague, Control Engineering news editor, who helped assemble the above information about the conference.)

How small will ''embedded'' get?

How small will ''embedded'' get? Many integrated circuits have been too small to handle with stubby fingers for some time. Issues being addressed along the way include finding appropriate materials and means of connection to systems of conventional size, according to Daniela L. Carrillo, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan . While Ms. Carrillo works in the sensor group, challenges obviously parallel those in connecting ever-smaller circuits to embedded boards.

In a report called ''Is the Sensors Industry Ready for the Nanotechnology Boom?'' she says materials experts have been working on nanostructures, such as porous silicon, for optical biosensors, DNA detection sensor, ethanol detection sensor, and photodectors. Applications include personal and healthcare products, catalysts, electronics, chemical mechanical polishing, thermal sprays, and a variety of coatings.

'One of the biggest challenges for nanosensors is the ability to interface between nanoscale devices, microsystems, and macrosystems. Nanosensors will need to convert optical, chemical, biological, and electrical data into signals that can be transmitted within nanosensor systems, and that can be acquired by data acquisition systems and computers that allow for human interaction and analysis,'' points out Ms. Carrillo.

Tools used inside new process equipment

Yield Engineering Systems Inc . selected Adept Technology tools to develop a new 300-mm process tool platform to fully automate its vacuum cure oven process. The YES-450PBX4-300 platform will utilize Adept's SmartController CS controller, AdeptSix six-axis robot, and Adept SmartModule linear modules that will link via Adept's SmartServo FireWire-based distributed network.

Yield Engineering makes process equipment for the semiconductor, biomedical, flat panel, optical, and medical industries. Adept Technology designs, manufactures, and markets factory automation components and systems for the fiber optic, telecommunications, semiconductor, automotive, food and durable goods industries.

CMOS switches, MCUs, board-level connectors

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) says it has some switching ''firsts,'' with low-power consumption, high-bandwidth, and space-saving packages.

  • ADG918 and ADG919 are the industry's first wideband CMOS switches to provide high isolation and low insertion loss at frequencies exceeding 1 GHz. This is said to be ideal for low-power, high-bandwidth applications, such as wireless metering.

  • ADG819 is ADI's first IC offered in ''wafer-level,'' or die-size packaging, which is a true CSP (chip-size package) because it has no plastic coating. This monolithic, single-pole, double-throw CMOS switch can be mounted directly on a board for critical space savings key to high-density electronic applications.

  • ADI's first digital switching products provide wide-range voltage level translation capabilities, eliminating the need for external circuitry in 1.8-V to 3.3-V translations. This saves board space and reduces solution cost.

Motorola recently announced new pin-compatible microcontroller units (MCUs) for cost-sensitive designs (MPC53x devices) for applications including building control, networking, and automation systems. The line reduces the number of peripherals included on-chip. The new MPC53x devices are ideally suited for designs requiring a powerful MCU with memory, yet without higher-end functionality offered in the first members of the MPC5xx family. This new series will offer a pin-compatible upgrade.

Enhancements to the MPC500 family include a new series of MPC56x devices that run at speeds of 66 MHz-said to be the most powerful 32-bit Flash MCU in this market space. MPC561, MPC562, MPC563, and MPC564 devices offer increased performance and a pin-compatible upgrade path for current users of MPC500 40-MHz and 56-MHz devices.

Wieland Electric Inc. announces its 8520 pluggable PC board spring clamp connectors, available as a pluggable connector with matching pin strip, and in a direct-mount solder version with vertical or horizontal solder pins.

The 8520 Series provides maintenance free, vibration and shock-proof connections with permanent and continuous clamping forces. Rated cross section of the 8520 connector is 0.5 mm2solid; the spring clamp tension will securely terminate the conductor; no tools required. Spacing is 3.5 mm and the pole configurations vary between 2 and 8 poles; 7-mm pitch available upon request.


Best technologies

Every year Control Engineering editors select the best of the technologies we cover with the annual Editors' Choice Awards. Here are some of the winners, recognized at a ceremony during National Manufacturing Week last month.

See all the winners in the article ' 'Finding Gold'' on the Control Engineering website .

Resources: direct links

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