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Electronic Design

Embedded System Conference Plays Home To Boston Revolution

Boston is again home to the Embedded System Conference, with all its historical flair. A host of positive developments marks this year's event, slated for Sept. 12-15 at the Hynes Convention Center. These advances include a major shift in compact embedded design standards with the announcement of EPIC Express (see "An EPIC Tale: PC/104 Hitches On To PCI Express," ED Online 10939). Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing (EPIC) is the PC/104-compatible board standard. EPIC Express brings PCI Express to the mix (Fig. 1).

EPIC Express supports four x1 PCI Express links with two additional optional x4 PCI Express links. This translates into a maximum of four x1 PCI Express-based EPIC Express modules and two x4 modules. The x1 links are faster than the PCI/104 PCI interface also used with PC/104 plus systems. The PCI Express connections take up less space in this compact system, too.

PC/104 modules can be plugged atop a stack of EPIC Express modules, supplying access to the plethora of existing modules used for data acquisition and control. EPIC Express provides a higher-bandwidth platform for applications such as video processing.

Meanwhile, Microcross will reveal its new software package for the Freescale i.MX multimedia microcontroller. It's available as part of a package that includes Cogent Computer Systems' expansion board (Fig. 2). Microcross delivers a complete software development kit along with GX-Linux, a version of Linux suitable for i.MX and i.MX1 processors. The processor module incorporatesa Macraigor USB JTag interface. The expansion board has an LCD, switches, status LEDs, an SD/MMC socket, a CompactFlash socket, an Ethernet connector, a pair of USB ports, and audio support. The system suits battery operation.

Atmel will announce its 50-MHz, 32-bit ARM7-based AT91SAM7X128 and AT91SAM7X256 microcontrollers with 128 or 256 kbytes of 25-ns flash for single-cycle execution without caching. Also, 32 kbytes of SRAM are needed to handle the array of network peripherals. These include CAN (controller-area network), a 10/100 Ethernet MAC, an 80-Mbit/s AES/3DES encryption engine, a Full Speed USB port, a 10-bit ADC, a pair of SPI ports, SSC, TWI, three UARTs, a 4-Mbyte/s DMA controller, and an eight-level priority controller.

Texas Instruments will show off over 50 new 16-bit MSP430F20xx microcontrollers. There's even a tiny 4- by 4-mm, 14-pin version priced under $0.50. The MSP430 requires less than 1 µA of standby current, making it ideal for battery-powered applications. Versions are available with a range of analog peripherals. An on-chip, 16-MHz clock requires no external components.

And, ESC Boston will be the platform for a number of software announcements, with Eclipse-based solutions at the forefront. Companies like Wind River are aggressively moving customers to its new Eclipse-based Workbench by including extensive support for features like multiple hosts.

Embedded Systems Conference Boston

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