Electronic Design

<i>Auto Electronics</i> Web Site Sheds Its Print Heritage

One of the casualties of this recession is Electronic Design’s sister publication, Auto Electronics. Are design engineers no longer interested in the subject matter? That’s not the case, for sure. For an industry that is suffering so mightily right now, enormous innovation is occurring.

Like many defunct print publications, content lives on and will continue to grow in cyberspace—on the Auto Electronics Web site. We plan to keep covering the evolution of this industry, from the standpoint of auto electronics design, via the Web site and a revitalized e-newsletter that is scheduled to launch this fall.

The final print edition was the May/June issue. Of course, the articles that appeared in that issue are now on the Web site, just like prior issues. In its cover story, “Modeling Tomorrow’s Networks,” Contributing Editor John Day echoed the familiar beat of engineers working hard through the recession.

“As the automotive industry slump continues, design engineers must balance conflicting needs for differentiation and cost reduction, while they learn to employ new technologies like FlexRay and AUTOSAR. New modeling and simulation tools should help ease the burden,” he writes.

New articles are being posted to the Auto Electronics Web site on a regular basis, and this will continue. Recent stories include contributed pieces from NEC Electronics America, QNX Software Systems, and Maxim Integrated Electronics.

In “Automotive Vision Systems Mix It Up With SIMD-MIMD Processor Architectures,” NEC principal technical application engineer Jens Eltze points out that single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD) or multiple-instruction multiple-data (MIMD) processor architectures alone might not be able to handle the rigors of vision system processing.

But Eltze also states that vision-based and imagerecognition systems are likely to experience strong growth over the coming years due to their cost advantages and multifunction capabilities. So what’s an engineer to do? See Eltze’s article for a compromise.

In “Design Challenges for Digital Instrument Clusters,” Andy Gryc of QNX notes that digital instrument clusters are poised to supersede analog clusters in next-generation vehicles. He takes a stepby- step approach in explaining what engineers will need to do to make the changeover from analog to digital. In fact, he outlines the skill set needed to produce analog clusters and shows how some skills will have to be discarded or transformed for the coming generation of digital clusters.

“The software behind an analog cluster is fairly simple. It doesn’t need an operating system (OS), since all tasks can execute within a fixed duration in a small, tight loop,” he writes. “To develop the software, engineers need traditional embedded skills: setting and reading bits for GPIOs, debouncing switches, reading ADCs, receiving and sending CAN messages, and performing other direct-to-hardware tasks.”

Digital clusters, Gryc points out, will demand a real-time operating system (RTOS) as well as a graphics library to draw gauges, indicators, text announcements, and other components.

“SERDES Test Strategies To Minimize EMI/ EMC” from Tanja Hofner and John Guy of Maxim explains that electromagentic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing is an important part of design verification for SERDES devices. As EMI and EMC must be considered early in the design cycle to prevent needless revisions, the article offers basic concepts and guidelines on preparing a SERDES system for EMI/EMC testing.

Though the economy may be struggling to rebound, especially in this sector, significant industry announcements appear regularly in my e-mail inbox. Our reports on these developments can be found under the Auto Electronics News section of the Web site, and they will be in the newsletters as well.

One recent Infineon Technologies announcement focused on a single-chip low-dropout (LDO) voltage regulator that simplifies the design of active antenna systems for car radios and in-car infotainment systems. The TLF 4277 has adjustable output voltage to support most standard active antennas, including FM/AM, Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB), and the XM and Sirius satellite radio bands.

Finally, several editors will contribute to the blogs on the site. You will probably see entries from the technology editors of Electronic Design, like Bill Wong and Don Tuite, as well as contributing editors Roger Allan, Randy Frank, and John Day. John has been the sole contributor to the blog to date, and he has done a great job, but it should be fun to see new viewpoints.

For AE, print is gone; long live the Web. If you’re an engineer working in the automotive space or simply an enthusiast, you can still find lots of interesting articles on the Auto Electronics Web site. If you’re not a subscriber to the Auto Electronics e-newsletter, visit the home page and click on “Subscribe to AE.”

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