ABCs of SBCs: Single board computers for embedded control; Lego learning

Two new SBCs have higher speeds and easier programming: Men Micro supports multiple Intel processors;  National Instruments has RIO devices targeting embedded control and data acquisition. See photos (and more Legos)....

08/18/2008


Two new single board computing (SBC) offerings offer higher speeds, multiple processors, and re-use of programming code. One from Men Micro Inc . that supports Intel multicore processors and the other from National Instruments via its RIO devices targeting embedded control and data acquisition.
Low-power 6U VMEbus SBC from MEN Micro supports Intel Multicore Architectures: The new A19 6U VMEbus single-board computer (SBC) supports several Intel processors, from 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo T7400 to the single-core Celeron M.

Low-power 6U VMEbus SBC from MEN Micro supports Intel Multicore Architectures.
Low-power 6U VMEbus SBC from MEN Micro supports Intel Multicore Architectures.

The A19 uses Intel's low-power 945GME Express Chipset, with an integrated 256-bit graphics engine providing up to 250 MHz, and enables the connection of two monitors with the same or different displays. The processor and chipset combination make it suitable for a range of industrial, medical engineering, robotics, “infotainment,” and transportation industries with high computing requirements found in monitoring, control, automation, and security functions, company says.
A19 comes with a tailored passive heat sink. Depending on processor type, heat sink size, and system requirements, it can be used in an extended temperature range. Soldered DDR2-RAM system memory (up to 4GB) guarantees optimum shock and vibration resistance. For operation in humid and dusty environments, A19 is prepared for conformal coating. A Tundra TSI148 bridge controller delivers 2eSST functionality that doubles the theoretical VME transaction bandwidth up to 320 MB/s, maintaining compatibility with legacy standards.
Front-panel I/O includes graphics via VGA connector and two Gigabit Ethernet and two USB 2.0 interfaces. A PMC or XMC slot coupled with a specially developed mezzanine card, which can be used on the CompactPCI-based SBC D9, provides expanded I/O functions. With a mezzanine card, up to four USB and two Gigabit Ethernet ports are led to the rear of A19.
Ethernet channels enable implementation of a packet-based switching architecture on top of CompactPCI to meet PICMG 2.16 specifications. I/O options via a mezzanine card include a digital video port via DVI and HD audio. Six PCI Express lanes ensure fast data transfer. Also available are a CompactFlash slot and two SATA ports used on-board or on the backplane.
The SBC operates in Windows and Linux environments as well as with real-time operating systems that support a multicore architecture.
MEN Micro Inc. based in Ambler, PA provides embedded computing and I/O products for industrial, mobile, and harsh environment applications,
Also read:

Single Board Computers for Control Applications

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National Instruments has announced NI Single-Board RIO devices to deploy embedded control and data acquisition applications. The eight new sbRIO-96xx devices combine an embedded real-time processor, reconfigurable field-programmable gate array (FPGA), and analog and digital I/O on one printed circuit board (PCB) for applications that require flexibility and high performance in a small form factor.

National Instruments introduces NI single-board RIO platform for embedded systems.
National Instruments introduces NI single-board RIO platform for embedded systems.

The NI LabVIEW graphical system design platform customizes NI Single-Board RIO hardware and develops all aspects of their embedded systems.
“NI Single-Board RIO delivered all the components we needed for a reliable, high-performance embedded system on a single device, which streamlined development and drastically reduced costs,” said Jeremy Snow, president at Ventura Aerospace, which deployed the devices in a fire suppression system for FedEx Express. “We were able to start with LabVIEW and CompactRIO for prototyping and quickly migrate our code to the new NI Single-Board RIO for deployment -- all in less than a year.”
NI Single-Board RIO devices expand the NI FPGA-based deployment platform offering which includes PXI, PC and the NI CompactRIO embedded control and data acquisition system that share the NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture. Because users can program NI RIO technology platforms with LabVIEW, no recoding is needed when transitioning from prototype to deployment.
The devices feature an industrial 266 MHz or 400 MHz Freescale MPC5200 processor built on Power Architecture technology, the Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS), and Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA.
Operating temperature is -20 to 55 °C for use in thermally rugged applications as well as an integrated 19 to 30 V dc power supply input and real-time clock with battery backup for increased reliability. All these products are Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) compliant.
A demo video and white papers and case studies are available on the Web site where evaluation kits may be reserved.
More Legos for robotics education : In other news from NI, the company has partnered with Lego Education to continue their educational robotics collaboration with the new WeDo classroom robotics platform for elementary school students. Powered by NI LabVIEW graphical design software, Lego Education WeDo Software is a drag-and-drop, icon-based environment that students ages 7 to 11 can use to program their own robotics inventions.

National Instruments LabVIEW software, Lego Education WeDo Software
NI LabVIEW graphical design software, Lego Education WeDo Software is a drag-and-drop, icon-based environment.

“National Instruments is passionate about educating and inspiring today’s students to become engineers and scientists through hands-on, project-based learning,” said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. “Our collaboration with Lego Education has leveraged the strength of both companies to deliver our third educational robotics toolset in the past 10 years.” Lego Education WeDo will be available from Lego Education in January 2009.
National Instruments is based in Austin, TX.
Also read:

New version: Prototyping platform promotes interactive, hands-on learning


–  Control Engineering News Desk
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