Control Engineering unveils Embedded Control channel

By Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor July 11, 2001

Oak Brook, Ill. — Move over “PC-based Control,” welcome “Embedded Control.” As the control and automation market continues to evolve, technologies developed and honed by PC-based control suppliers are finding their way into a diverse range of platforms sometimes far from the “white box” PC envisioned by pioneers. These platforms are referred to as “embedded.” Control Engineering has expanded its coverage of this area over the past three years and has decided to rename the PC-based Control channel to Embedded Control to acknowledge this expanded coverage. Senior editor, Gary Mintchell, will continue to cover this channel.

PC-based control is not dead, in fact, it continues to have significant impact on the control technology options available. PLC manufacturers have both incorporated PC technologies into PLCs and offer PC-based control products. True, the number of independent control software suppliers is dwindling, but the legacy is intact. It has become virtually impossible for suppliers to go to market without some open technologies pioneered by the PC-based control champions.

It’s just that the “PC” in “PC-based control” isn’t just a common desktop PC, or even just an industrial PC. The hardware platform may be PC, but just as easily it could be Compact PCI, VME, PC/104, or custom single board computer. Windows NT/2000 is still viable as the software platform with or without real-time extensions, but even Microsoft has entered the embedded space with Windows CE and Embedded NT. Open control systems can also have traditional real-time operating systems as a platform like VxWorks, QNX, OSE, and others. OEMs have increasingly embraced these technologies to provide custom solutions within an open architecture framework.

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Control Engineering Daily News DeskGary A. Mintchell, senior editor