ESC Boston 2005 product sampler


Information Control

A watchdog timer and bypass control logic circuits are used to command the relay and communication states of GbE PCI-X card.

Some 160 exhibitors participated in Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Boston at the Hynes Convention Center, Sept. 12-15, 2005. Here is a sampling of many product innovations on display. Companies included Adlink Technology America, Atmel, Itox Applied Computing, Quadros Systems, Rabbit Semiconductor, and Xilinx.

Adlink Technology Inc . released a high-performance, two-port Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) PCI-X card with bypass capability. Based on a highly integrated Intel 82546EB chip that provides 133-MHz capability, PCI-8246 card connects GbE signals on two GbE connectors during either system power-down or under software halt. Bypass capability uses a mechanical relay to control physical routing of GbE signals. Two communication states exist for GbE signal routing. In normal state , signals go directly to the GbE controller via a transformer. In bypass state , the two GbE signals are crossed-over to connect to each other, enabling Ethernet connections to bypass the computer or network appliance. The signals connect to another port and bypass the GbE controller.

Expanded support in its AVR microcontrollers for brushless dc (bldc) and ac motor-control applications was one of the offerings of Atmel Corp . Using internal timers with pulse-width modulation (PWM) allows speed and acceleration control by regulating the voltage pattern applied to the motor. Onboard 10-bit analog-to-digital (A/D) converter measures power consumption and supplies over-current warnings; AVR's pin-change interrupt monitors a bldc motor's Hall-effect sensors. For sensorless bldc operation, the A/D converter and analog comparator are used to predict motor shaft position. All features are interrupt-based. A dedicated Web area at Atmel is now available for AVT motor control support at .

Itox Applied Computing showed its main product line of x86 embedded motherboards, which it produces and supports for long-life (availability). The boards are intended for light industrial and special OEM applications, such as medical electronics, security/surveillance, telecom, and industrial control. Standard and custom boards are offered in form factors from Mini-ITX through ATX.

A software development kit (SDK) to add far-reaching peer-to-peer network connectivity to embedded devices was announced by Quadros Systems Inc . Called RTXC Quadnet UPnP, the kit intends to solve consumers' complaints about the difficulty of connecting and networking their electronic devices. RTXC Quadnet UPnP software lets intelligent devices join a network dynamically with zero configuration, obtain an IP address, and advertise its capabilities to all other network devices, according to Quadros. Smooth, automatic exit from the network is also provided. UPnP works with TCP/IP, HTTP, and XML technologies.

Rabbit 4000's internal architecture is 8-bit for efficiency, but it can interface to 16-bit SRAM and flash memories.

Rabbit Semiconductor Inc . introduced its latest low-EMI microprocessor (MPU)—Rabbit 4000—specifically designed for embedded control, communications, and Ethernet connectivity. The MPU runs at up to 60 MHz and offers three priority-interrupt levels for real-time response. New features include DMA controller, integrated 10base-T Ethernet, 16-bit memory device support, encryption, and chip security. For motion control applications, there is a 16-bit timer system and variable-phase PWM. Availability of Rabbit 4000 in quantity is scheduled for March 2006.

"A comprehensive design environment with everything embedded developers need to create processor-based systems," is how Xilinx Inc . defined its PowerPC and MicroBlaze Development Kit, Virtex-4 FX12 Edition, showcased at ESC Boston. FX12 Edition, for short, supports a hard processor (PowerPC 405) as well as a soft processor (MicroBlaze). It integrates the company's Virtex-4 hardware development board; Platform Studio embedded tool suite and an FPGA design software; and peripheral support through more than 60 intellectual property (IP) cores. FX12 Edition development kit comes with pre-verified reference designs and reportedly offers numerous options that help rapidly configure complete systems. It is priced at $895.

Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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