Embedded Systems Conference highlights

Multicore embedded computing was a major development at the conference, held April 14-18 in San Jose. (See product photos.) Recently, companies have started developing software that....

04/28/2008


San Jose, CA – Multicore embedded computing was a major development at the Embedded Systems Conference Silicon Valley, held April 14-18 in San Jose. While multi-core and multiprocessor computers and chips, have been out for several years, it is only recently that companies have started developing software thatcan really put it to good use. (See photos below.) 
Greg Lammers, president of

Real-Time Systems

, said that as the world goes multicore, it can be difficult for software to follow. Many OSs, he explained, are SMP (symmetric multi-processing), but that isn’t always needed in embedded applications, where the processing bottlenecks are generally elsewhere. At the same time, he continued, virtualizing the hardware is too slow for real time applications. His company’s answer is to separate the assets and give the real-time portion of an application its own core. Their solution allows different cores to run different operating systems– for example, running two instances of Microsoft Windows CE on a dual-core processor. The OSs are completely independent and don’t share any resources, with no guests and no hosting. It’s possible, he went on, to reboot one OS and leave the others running.

Adlink

announced that it had purchased

Ampro Computers

. The company announced the Express-MC800 Computer on Module Express product featuring Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Intel GM965 chipset. It’s aimed at high-end graphic tasks and computer-intensive applications. Also new is the DPAC-3000 Distributed Programmable Automation Controller (DPAC) for the machine automation industry. It offers a distributed control solution for digital and analog I/O and motion control, while enabling a 15% to 20% cabling reduction compared to other programmable logic controller (PLC) and programmable automation controller (PAC) solutions on the market today.

Adlink DPAC-3000 Distributed Programmable Automation Controller (DPAC) is for the machine automation industry.

Ambric

ware development tool suite, which uses the company’s structured object programming model (SOPM). The chip has found use in video processing (HDTV, MPEG4, etc.) and medical imaging; so far it hasn’t been used much industrially, as they’re not sure what industrial application mightrequire that much horsepower.

Ambric Am2045 GT massively-parallel processor puts 336 processors on a 1.25-inch chip.

Downscaled power
Another trend is low-power wireless networking technology, which is gaining in popularity.

Advantech

announced the COM-Express SOM-5775 a processor board based on the new Intel Atom Z500 series microprocessor, which features very small chip size and low power. The new board measures just 95 mm in a side and is backward-compatible with existing COM-Express boards, yet uses less than 10 W of power.


Advantech announced the COM-Express SOM-5775 a processor board based on the new Intel Atom Z500 series microprocessor.

Digi International

had two low-power announcements. The first was the release of the low power XBee ZB and extended range XBee-PRO ZB ZigBee modules based on the ZigBee PRO feature set.The ZigBee PRO feature set enables deployment of larger, more stable and interoperable ZigBee networks with advanced features. The second was the XBee-PRO XSC, a 900 MHz embedded RF module that provides up to 15 miles RF line-of-sight transmission in the postage-stamp sized XBee form factor.
Going up in power,

Silicon Systems

in capacities to 2 GB. The company is talking to several others with an eye to making the new concept available from more than one source; they are also attempting to get the new connector associated with a standard.

Silicon Systems has a SiliconDrive II USB Blade, which uses a new industrial USB connector.

In what might be the start of a real trend,

Recognetics

showed a tiny vision system built around its CM-1K neural networking chip that is planned to cost just $300. It’s a reference design intended to get people to use their neural network chip, for which they feel there is a big market. One application suggested by Guy Paillet, one of the company’s founders, was the use of multiple units to do distributed inspection applications at very high speed.


Recognetics is developing a tiny vision system built around its CM-1K neural networking chip.

Software developments
Electric Cloud

, which makes software production management tools, and

Klocwork

, which makes automated source code analysis tools, announced that the Electric Cloud’s ElectricCommander and ElectricAccelerator have been integrated with Klocwork Insight. The idea is that, just as in manufacturing, the earlier in the process a defect (in the case of software, a bug) is found, the less expensive it is to fix. In addition, Klocwork announced the launch of the Klocwork Checker Exchange, an on-line community that will allow the sharing of source checkers.
Craig Husa, pres and CEO, and Steve Jones, founder and CTO of

General Software

said that the company is all set for the new Intel Atom processor. Jones suggested that the new chip may find easier market entry in the industrial arena than in the PDA market, simply because the ARM processor is so well established in the latter. The company showed a Radisys COM Express module that uses General Software’s Embedded BIOS with StrongFrame Technology for quick booting and wide BIOS latitude to work with multiple SIOs and multiple carrier boards.
– Peter Cleaveland, Contributing Editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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