Articles

Bringing Modularity to MicroTCA

MicroTCA is a new specification that offers very high performance packed in a small form factor. The new specification is expected to be used in a wide variety of applications, including mil/aero, telecom edge, medical, enterprise and data, and scientific applications. However, there are so many possible configurations, it can be overwhelming. How can one develop various systems and offerings without starting from scratch — and the time to market, high costs, and implementation issues this brings? One solution is using modularity in MicroTCA designs. Prototyping and development of a new system enclosure design can be a time-consuming and costly process. Building upon a proven modular platform allows a wide range of design options with significantly reduced effort.

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Distributed Control Standard Connects Industry Regardless of Bus

In the early days of modern automation, the use of microprocessor technology addressed the need for fast and efficient configuration of control logics through graphical methods that mimic the hardwired relay logics. Over the past 30 years, the automation community has put the emphasis on simplifying and standardizing the method of programming this new breed of controllers. From these efforts came the adoption of the IEC 61131-3 standard that specifies the programming languages for automation.

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Digital Camera Technology for Today’s Industrial Imaging Applications

Machine vision requirements for better performance and higher resolution continue driving developers to incorporate digital cameras into their solutions. This trend will likely accelerate as the price and performance of digital cameras improves. This article will provide you with information on digital camera technology and key factors to consider when choosing a digital camera and associated frame grabber — assuming that all upfront analysis has been performed and that a digital imaging solution is required.

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Mini CW Lasers Enable Next-Generation Bioinstrumentation

During the past few years, low-cost, continuous-wave (CW) lasers have helped advance a wide range of life and health science applications such as cell sorting, DNA sequencing, confocal microscopy, micro array readers, hematology, and flow cytometry. The bioinstrumentation market continues to evolve, and as it matures, it continues to follow the same trends inherent to the semiconductor and telecommunications markets. Like their counterparts in those other markets, manufacturers of benchtop instruments are looking for robust, cost-effective solutions. They want smaller footprints so that they can decrease the size of their solutions. At the same time, they want to consolidate their supply chain by focusing on proven suppliers that can provide a complete spectrum of wavelengths.

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Liquid Cooling Takes Aim at Gamer PC Applications

Recent technical advances in graphics processing units have accelerated the proliferation of high-power graphics processing units (GPUs) and multiple GPUs in high-end gamer PC applications. Characterized by very high heat loads, this application is causing increasing numbers of OEMs to investigate alternative methods, such as liquid cooling, to achieve the level of thermal management needed for dramatically higher systempower levels. Traditional GPU cooling strategies, such as those combining a heat pipe, heat sink, and fan, provide diminishing thermal performance at 120W per chip. Alternatively, the aggressive cooling requirements of gamer PCs and other high heat-flux processor applications are proving to be fertile ground for “non-traditional” approaches that offer at least 25% better thermal performance, as typified by advanced liquid-cooling systems (LCS) (see figure 1).

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MILS: An Architecture for Security, Safety, and Real Time

The unrelenting growth and integration of embedded controls, information processing, and communications has created a need for systems that provide robust protection for resources and services in the face of serious threats. Formerly diverse requirements for different kinds of systems are now being merged into combined requirements to be met by a single system. To address this trend, a partnership of government, industry, and research institutions are developing the MILS (Multiple Independent Levels of Security/ Safety) architecture. Although being pursued initially for defense applications, MILS provides a foundation for critical systems of all kinds. Its security, safety, and real-time properties make it suitable for such diverse applications as financial, medical, and critical infrastructures. Based on a new breed of commercially available high-assurance products, MILS provides a modular, flexible, component- based approach to high-assurance systems.

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Embedded Databases: Data Management for Real- Time and Embedded Systems

The term embedded database was coined in the 1980s to mean a database management system (DBMS) that is embedded into an application, in contrast to large central databases (nowadays, usually client/server DMBSs a la Oracle). The first embedded databases had little or nothing to do with embedded systems, which were largely 8-bit, or possibly 16-bit, devices that performed a very specific function. Any data processing requirements were promoted to a higher layer in the system architecture. Embedded systems, like all other facets of computing, have matured and gained faster (32-bit) processors, memory, and more complexity. This has further confused conversations about embedded systems and embedded databases. Today, the term embedded database encompasses databases embedded into software applications, as well as the more modern client/server database design (although embedded client/several varieties are much smaller than their enterprise-level DBMS cousins such as Oracle or DB2). In fact, while embedded databases comprise a sizeable chunk of the overall database market, they show remarkable diversity in important respects such as programming interfaces, storage modes, and system architecture. This article examines some of these differences to help in choosing the right embedded database system for a given project.

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