Electronic Design

Boards, Software, Serial Buses—A Busy ESC Covers It All

Moscone Center is going to be a bustling place with the Embedded System Conference, electronicaUSA, and the Communications Design Conference all in the house.

Conferences typically highlight the latest and greatest in products. The same is true for the 2004 Embedded System Conference (ESC) at Moscone Center in San Francisco, March 29 through April 1. Yet there's a twist. Many of the product releases will focus on their incorporation of the latest crop of standards, such as PCI Express, Serial ATA, and AdvancedTCA.

The improved financial environment hearkens an upbeat show. Companies that are looking to exploit this situation will have plenty of off-the-shelf products available for new applications. Of course, it's possible to have some fun at the show, too.

After taking a look at Tensilica's latest Xtensa processor, check out the company's Sozbot competition. This compact robot combat tournament is one way to see technology in action. Tensilica also will have its Xtensa HiFi audio engine on hand. The 24-bit audio engine for system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs has received Dolby Laboratories' approval.

PCI Express is one topic that should get lots of play on the floor, although production quantities of anything but PCI Express chips may be tough in the near future. Check out Intel's booth for the latest innovations, in addition to a wide range of communication and processor solutions. Other vendors will show off PCI Express-based motherboards. Look for most motherboards to sport Serial ATA (SATA) interfaces along with USB 2.0 hubs. It's the new wave, along with small-form-factor boards.

PMC-Sierra will highlight high-speed serial links as well, with its PM8359 QuadPHY 6G serializer/deserializer (SERDES) transceiver technology. The QuadPHY 6G multiplexes and demultiplexes eight 3.125-Gbit/s serial links into four 6.25-Gbit/s serial links. It also features the QuadSMX 3G, a bidirectional 2:1 multiplexer/demultiplexer, targeted at SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) solutions.

Standard Microsystems will show USB, Ethernet, and Arcnet products. These include its LAN83-C185 single-chip 10/100 Ethernet physical layer (PHY).

Serial fabrics will be out in force, although Advanced Switching must wait until the next show. In the meantime, a number of vendors will feature StarFabric products. StarGen will demonstrate its SG2010 PCI-to-StarFabric chip and six-port SG1010 StarFabric switch chip. InfiniBand has its representatives as well. SBS Technologies has its 24-port switch and host adapters in addition to a wide range of other board, system, and communication products.

The 1-Gbit Ethernet is the interface du jour. Most vendors with Ethernet support will have at least a few products with one or more interfaces on board. On the systems side, 10-Gbit Ethernet is the hot ticket. However, it will be rare at this show as 1-Gbit Ethernet fabrics will dominate the large systems.

Off-the-shelf form factors, including ATX, PC/104, VME, and AdvancedTCA, continue to steal the spotlight at the show.

SMA Computers' 3U CompactPCI CPU 1.2 is based on an 800-MHz Crusoe from Transmeta. It consumes less than 10 W and runs Windows XP and Linux at a price tag that's under $1000. Advantech presents its collection of System On Modules (SOMs), including the 933-MHz Pentium III-based SOM-4475 SOM-ETX. It also will show XScale-based SOMs. Kontron will have a wide range of small-form-factor ETXexpress, AdvancedTCA, and PC/104 boards and single-board computers (SBCs).

Look for new design trends, such as Pentek's Model 6821. This VME data-acquisition board has a 12-bit, 210-MHz analog-to-digital converter (ADC) linked to a pair of Virtex-II Pro FPGAs with built-in PowerPC processors. Thales Computers packs on an Altera EP1S10 FPGA with 64-kbyte integrated FIFO in its PMC-FPDP single-wide PMC. The card uses a PLX PCI 9656 PCI bridge chip and a 100-Mbyte/s linked list DMA engine.

Tern Inc. introduces its R-Drive, a 186-generation C/C++ programmed SBC aimed at industrial control and data-acquisition applications. And Moxa Technologies launches its NE-4120S/A Network Enabler (NE) embedded modules for Industrial Serial Devices. These link serial devices to 10/100M Ethernet networks.

Aaeon Electronics' gets into the act with its ITX-266 Embedded Mini ITX Socket 370-based Tualatin Board, which contains a VIA CLE266 processor, 2D/3D AGP 8X graphics, six-channel AC'97 audio, and three PCI slots. Diamond Systems' Hercules-EBX SBC also combines a VIA Eden Pentium-III class processor with a 32-channel 250-kHz analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and dc-dc power supply, enabling the system to run with an input voltage of 5 to 28 V. It incorporates a PC/104 expansion socket. Octagon Systems' PCS-620 SBC has a PC/104 socket as well. The board combines a low-power, 300-MHz Pentium with wireless, Ethernet, serial, and parallel I/O support.

DSPs are out in force, ranging from fast and furious to cool and compact. Texas Instruments (TI) released the EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) chip set and reference design based on its OMAP platform. The 1-GHz TMS320C6414T, C6415T, and C6416T DSPs deliver 8 MMAC/s (million multiple accumulate operations) performance on 8-bit data. TI also offers the 72-MHz TMS320C64x part built using 90-nm technology.

Analog Devices takes the symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) DSP market by storm with its 750-MHz ADSP-BF561. Incorporating two identical Blackfin cores, the processor boasts a performance of 1500 MMACs per core. Larger SMP systems can be easily constructed using multiple chips.

Lots of action is swirling around the 16-bit microcontroller (MCU) arena. Renesas will display its 16-bit H8/38086 MCU, which integrates a delta-sigma type 14-bit ADC. The company also will show off its M32C/8x line of MCUs, with 512 kbytes of program flash and 4 kbytes of data flash for automotive applications. CAN and a 10-bit ADC are just some of the peripheral options available.

In the 8-bit arena, ZiLOG will launch its Z8Encore! XP Family of MCUs. A development kit priced at $39.95 is available. The family has some notable peripherals, including a temperature sensor, a transimpedence amplifier, an enhanced sigma-delta ADC, and an on-chip oscillator.

Check out Integrated Device Technology's booth to see two processing devices linked together. The 70P2x8 chips have a 1.8-V interface on one side and a 3.3/3.0/2.5-V interface on the other port.

A new crop of operating-system releases are expected to make an impact at the conference. QNX Momentics 6.3 adds features like an embedded browser, advanced graphics support with 3D rendering, and new network protocol support, such as Multilink PPP and IPv6.

Green Hills Software will have its Integrity real-time operating system (RTOS) on display, along with development tools. Integrity just passed the IEEE POSIX Std 1003.1, 2003 Edition conformance certification.

Wind River will offer a major release of its flagship, VxWorks 6, along with version 2.0 of its Industrial Automation and Industrial Devices platforms. VxWorks 6.0 supports MMU-based memory protection, plus system partitioning and fault isolation.

The Eclipse flood has turned into an ocean when it comes to support. The open-source project is under independent leadership now, with a host of vendors presenting Eclipse-based products. These vendors include IBM, MontaVista, QNX, TimeSys, Wasabi, and Wind River.

Wind River's Power IDE 2.0 integrates Wind River's development tools under an Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE). This includes the Diab Compiler, Tornado, SNIFF+, visionClick/XD, SingleStep, and JTAG emulation tools. QNX Momentics 6.3 includes an updated IDE along with support for the latest compilers and development tools.

The MathWorks Embedded Target software will be on display as well. It supports TI's C2000 digital signal controllers. TI also will show off its latest Code Composer Studio, along with a $495 DMC550 motor development board and TMS320LF2407A eZdsp development platform.

American Arium takes advantage of Arm's ETM (Embedded Trace Macrocell) with its SourcePoint Performance Analysis tool. SourcePoint hardware and software works with any ARM9 cores that have ETM and any application providing real-time profiling and timing information.

A wide range of new support software will be available for examination. CMX's SNMP stack brings remote management to 8-bit MCUs for the first time. It works with the CMX-MicroNet TCP/IP stack for 8- and 16-bit processors.

Swell Software's PEG/C graphics software has an update, and the Pagasis GUI toolkit now includes the PEG Assistant Application Framework. In addition, Encirq will unveil its Encirq 3e Telematics Edition. This embedded data-management solution handles 80% of the core data-management functionality, reducing development cost and time-to-market.

McObject and mycable GmbH will show the SPEED (Small Profile Embedded Engine for Devices) Kit for data-intensive, Linux-based applications running on intelligent devices. The kit combines McObject's eXtremeDB in-memory embedded database with mycable's XXS1500 Linux/MIPS System.

Agilent Technologies will demonstrate its modular logic analyzer with hosted capabilities. Three new 16900 series logic-analyzer acquisition modules all provide 4-GHz timing (250-ps sampling) simultaneously with state measurements, eliminating the need to double probe. The 68-channel 16950A module offers 600-MHz state speed.

Leopard Logic will hawk its new Gladiator CLD family. This configurable system combines ASIC mask programmable and FPGA field-programmable technologies in a single device and design environment.

From BP Microsystems comes the 3700 MK2, an automated fine-pitch programming system that claims the fastest programming times and high throughput. It combines a high-speed flash programmer with support for over 16,000 devices.

Cornice's 2-Gbyte Storage Element (SE) is just the ticket for mobile devices. This heavily stripped-down hard disk has only 33 parts, and it's battery-friendly. Mobile devices built with an SE have a typical battery life of 10 to 16 hours thanks to some innovative duty-cycle management.

Indesign LLC will highlight its JS-2 wireless audio system. It targets such devices as wireless speakers, home theater, and wireless headphones. The radio can transmit and receive full CD-quality audio (44.1 kHz, 16 bit) without any compression. The actual data rate is 2.4 Mbits/s with a latency of less than 1 ms and an indoor range over 100 feet. Now that's worth listening to!

Kent Displays will show off its monochrome Cholesteric LCD (ChLCD) displays. The ChLCD technology features a bi-stable, nonvolatile memory that maintains images indefinitely without consuming electrical power.

For hard-core mobile designers, there's Virtual Silicon's VIP PowerSaver Standard Cell Library. Targeted at TSMC's 130-nm process, it uses power islands to dynamically control the voltage and frequency. It can reduce power consumption by up to 50%.

Regardless of your interest, the Embedded Systems Conference will have a lot to keep you busy. Additionally, the show is part of the ElectronicaUSA exposition, plus the Communications Design Conference, the Power Electronics Conference, and the Emerging Technology Forum. Each of these shows has a plethora of panel discussions, technology sessions, and tutorials to further the educational experience.

Embedded Systems Conference

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