Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Making Sense Out of SOUP (Software of Unknown Pedigree)

Software test tools have been traditionally designed with the expectation that the code has been (or is being) designed and developed following a best practice development process. Legacy code turns the ideal process on its head. Although such code is a valuable asset, it is likely to have been developed on an experimental, ad hoc basis by a series of “gurus” — experts who prided themselves on getting things done and in knowing the application itself, but not necessarily expert at complying with modern development thinking and bored with providing complete documentation. That doesn’t sit well with the requirements of standards such as DO-178B.

Posted in: Articles, Articles
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Multicore Processing: A Technological Dead End?

The computing press is full of discussions about multicore systems, defined here as single-chip computers containing two or more processing cores each connected to a common shared memory (Figure 1).

These devices are being presented as the solution to the performance problems faced by embedded systems, but in fact, multicore may be more of a problem than a solution.

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Understanding Virtex FPGAs

With each new generation of FPGA devices, Xilinx continues to push the performance envelope to match the ever-increasing requirements of target applications. The recent announcement of the Virtex-6 is no exception. More processing power, lower power consumption and updated interface features to match the latest technology I/O requirements are all part of the new devices. While it might be easy to assume that faster, bigger, more powerful is better, it’s important to understand how the latest FPGA innovations actually deliver this higher performance to best match the device to the specific requirements of the application.

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Applying Embedded Form Factors to Wireless Systems

Wireless connectivity is merging with technological advancements in silicon, signaling, mass storage and software to meet the high-performance, ultra-low power requirements for next-generation wireless systems. Embedded form factors, seeking to utilize these developing technologies to the best advantage of system designers, continue to evolve by providing enhanced capabilities while simultaneously reducing form factor footprints. As wireless connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the volume of embedded systems that utilize wireless is expanding. This perpetuates the demand for higher processing power with minimal power draw and size.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs
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SUMIT™ Expansion Modules

VersaLogic Corp. (Eugene, OR) has developed two expansion modules that feature the Stackable Unified Module Interconnect Technology (SUMITTM) interface scheme. These PC/104-sized modules are suitable for systems that need a small (3.65" × 3.8") footprint. Expansion boards may be added, including PCI Express (PCIe) lanes, USB ports, LPC, SPI, and SMB. For legacy applications, the accessory cards are also equipped with a PC/104 ISA feed-through connector.

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EBX-Sized Single Board Computer

The EBC-Z8510-G single board computer (SBC) from WinSystems (Arlington, TX) is powered by an Intel 1.1GHz AtomTM processor. It measures 203mm × 147mm and supports the SUMIT-ISM I/O expansion standard plus COMIT (Computer On Module Interconnect TechnologyTM). The interface features two Gigabit Ethernet ports, CRT and LVDS flat panel video, a MiniPCIe card interface for a wireless networking module, four USB 2.0 ports, four serial COM ports, HD audio, PATA controller for both a CompactFlash and hard disk, 48 lines of digital I/O, LPT, and a PS/2 port for keyboard and mouse. Additional I/O module expansion is supported with two SUMIT and legacy PC/104 connectors. This RoHS-compliant board operates over a temperature range of -40 to +70°C.

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COM Express ModuleCOM Express Module

ADLINK Technology, Inc. (San Jose, CA) has introduced the Express-ATC, a “Compact” COM Express module that is compatible with the Type 2 pin-out of the PICMG® COM Express specification. The module is suitable for systems that require a full set of graphics features in a small package (95mm × 95mm), including medical diagnostics, medical imaging, gaming, industrial automation, test and measurement, and industrial control.

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48-Channel PCIe Digital I/O Card

ACCES I/O Products (San Diego, CA) now offers the PCIe-DIO-48S, a 48-channel PCI Express (PCIe) card designed for use in a variety of digital I/O applications. It is compatible with 8255 PPI (mode 0) and features a x1 lane PCIe connector that can be used in any x1 or higher PCI Express slot. It is suitable for use in applications sensing inputs such as switch closures, TTL, LVTTL, CMOS logic and controlling external relays.

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18-Pin Microcontrollers

Microchip Technology (Chandler, AZ) has introduced the PIC16(L)F1826 and PIC16(L)F1827 general-purpose 8-bit microcontrollers that feature the company’s enhanced mid-range core. The new MCUs provide an advanced peripheral set that includes an mTouchTM capacitive touch sensing and dual I2C/SPI interfaces, along with “LF” versions featuring low power consumption via Microchip’s nanoWatt XLP eXtreme Low-Power technology. Key features include a maximum frequency of 32 MHz, up to 7 KB Flash, up to 384 Bytes of SRAM, and an operating voltage of 1.8 to 5.5 V.

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Controlling Devices Using the Ear as an Output Source

This method creates a hands-free way of controlling devices such as medical equipment, wheelchairs, computers, and cell phones.

Current methods of device control include joysticks, which involve using one or both hands, external microphones that are cumbersome and pick up ambient noise, and external arrays that are also cumbersome and can restrict a user’s movement. Additionally, the external microphone and array options do not provide a high level of accuracy in certain situations.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical, Motion Control, Electronic control systems, Medical equipment and supplies, Noise
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