Embedded World 2007 Dazzles the Crowd

Our post-show wrap-up fishes out some highlights from the sea of innovative technology on display.

From its modest beginnings in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany, the Embedded World show has flourished into what must be the largest technology show of its type in the world. Electronic Design Europe attended the Embedded World Conference and Exhibition, which is now staged at the Nuremberg Exhibition complex. The venue played host to around 500 companies, and, needless to say, there was no shortage of new technology to report on.

U.S. firm Microchip used the event to debut its MCP3909 energy-measurement IC and reference design (Fig. 1). The IC manages to combine low power consumption with an SPI interface and active power pulse output. Coupling those features with the fact that it's a part of the MCP3909 3-Phase Energy Metre Reference Design, the IC enables designers to quickly develop new metre designs.

The MCP3909 has two 16bit delta-sigma ADCs, data access via its SPI interface, and an active power pulse output. Thanks to this simultaneous data output, the IC can adapt to a variety of metre requirements. Its low (0.1% typical) measurement error over a 1000:1 dynamic range suits metre applications requiring high accuracy, while a low supply current of only 4mA makes it workable for many single- and three-phase energy meter designs.

The 3-Phase Energy Metre Reference Design (Part No MCP3909RD-3PH1) includes three MCP3909 ICs, and separate PIC18F2520 and PIC18F4550 microcontrollers, in a modular design. The PIC18F2520 performs all power calculations in the reference design, while the PIC18F4550 provides a USB interface to desktop software. The reference design's software package makes it possible to read active and apparent power, as well as RMS current and RMS voltage, and it enables metre calibration.

In addition to this new technology, Microchip also displayed the PIC16F882—the lowest-cost member of its PIC18F88X family to date. The PIC16F882, along with the other four members of the PIC16F88X family, are pinand code-compatible with other 28/40-pin PICMicrocontrollers.

CONTROL THAT MOTOR

Moving on to motor control, Japanese company Toshiba believes it's taken motion-control IC integration to a new level with the introduction of a complete SoC solution for driving three-phase brushless dc (BLDC) motors. The TB6588FG PWM sensorless driver ASSP brings together PWM sensorless motor control, protection functionality, an output power stage, and an operational amplifier in a single, 36-pin HSOP package (Fig. 2).

What Toshiba says is that by combining sensorless operation with high levels of on-board functionality, the new ASSP will cut component count, design complexity, and the development time of three-phase, full-wave BLDC motor applications with power levels up to 60W.

The TB6588FG controls forward- or reverse-rotation speed by changing the PWM duty cycle based on an analogue control signal input. Full-wave PWM operation provides high efficiency and low-power operation while minimising electrical and acoustic noise, says the company. Lead angle control options of 0°, 7.5°, 15°, and 30° allow designers to tune their application for optimum efficiency. The IC can deliver a maximum current output of 2.5A through its integrated power stage and offers configurable modes for improving the motor startup characteristic.

HOWDY PARTNERS

Analog Devices (ADI) hosted a special Embedded Partner Pavilion at Embedded World that was geared to demonstrating ADI's technology collaborations with five partners.

"The Embedded World show is a great meeting place for the embedded processing community," said Stefan Steyerl, European director for the Convergent Platform and Services Group. "This year we're pleased to share our presence with our partners as we work together to deliver innovative applications to customers."

So, which companies were at the Partner Pavilion? Firstly, Anagram was showing BlueTiger—a hardware and software optical drive platform based on ADI's Blackfin. It allows the developer to differentiate commodity consumer electronics devices with enhanced audio/video processing.

Accompanying them was Bluetechnix, which offers products for demanding applications in a space- and power-constrained environment. A set of tiny core modules and development boards for rapid prototyping help developers and system integrators quickly design products.

Another company, PHYTEC, builds micro-controller-modules for industrial applications. It was demonstrating its phyCOREBlackfin single-board-computer module for embedded design and production.

Finally, there was ZP Engineering, which provides design services for embedded systems and has a special focus on DSP, FPGA, and RISC technologies. The company is currently an authorised developer for Analog Devices' DSPs.

READING THE SIGNALS

Instrumentation company Yokogawa had its SignalXplorer DL9710L on display (Fig. 3). The high-performance, mixedsignal oscilloscope combines four 1GHz analogue channels with a 32-bit logic input.

One particularly smart aspect of this new instrument is it can carry out simultaneous measurement and analysis on four channels of analogue data and 32- bit logic signals. Each analogue channel offers a 1GHz frequency bandwidth and a sampling speed of up to 5Gsamples/s. The memory length of 6.25MW per channel is available across all 36 channels.

YELLOW BRANDING

Finally, IAR Systems unveiled its IAR YellowSuite, the new brand identity for its family of embedded design tools and middleware. By integrating visualSTATE into the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE, along with the recently introduced IAR PowerPac RTOS and file system, IAR YellowSuite can seamlessly integrate all modules accessed through the familiar integrated development environment.

The tools operate on an opensystem basis, giving users the freedom to choose the additional development tools they need, whether from IAR Systems or other vendors.

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