Bus & Board Finale Takes a Critical Turn

March 8, 2007
B&B 2007’s curtain call serves up a slew of embedded-system innovations.

Ihad the opportunity to attend the 9th—and final— Bus and Board 2007 (B&B) conference. However, its legacy continues on—conference director Ray Alderman announced during his opening speech that the conference agenda would focus on critical embedded systems in the future.

So, what does that mean? As defined by Alderman at the conference, "critical embedded technology is life or safety critical systems where failures or malfunctions may result in death or injury to people or the loss or severe damage to equipment or may result in environmental damage." He further refined that definition to include "high-performance distributed systems that manage high bandwidth I/O, that involve real-time processing, and are environmentally constrained to space weight and power."

During the conference, Ray Alderman said that VME technology is a favorite choice for embedded-systems architecture, and that current users have taken advantage of the long life cycle of VME products. Today, its technology includes parallel bus performance of over 300 MB/s using VME 2eSST, with more bandwidth performance on the near horizon.


Enough about the future—what about this year's B&B conference? A whole selection of new products where announced by many sponsors of the conference. Let's take a look at some.

Concurrent Technologies announced the release of an Intel Core 2 Duo processor-based VME/VXS single-board computer (SBC) as a performance upgrade from the VX 405/04x released earlier in the year. The VX 407/04x uses the latest mobile dual-core processor from the Intel embedded roadmap, namely the 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, which boosts measured performance/watt.

The VX 407/04x SBC can access up to 4GB of DDR2-667 soldered SDRAM at up to 10.6GB/s. The VXS switched serial standard—VITA 41.3 (1000Mb/s baseband IEEE802.3)—is optionally supported to provide fast data transfer between other compatible boards in the system. The board supports the 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor (in a socket), replete with 4MB of L2 cache (which is shared between the cores).

By using appropriate operating systems and applications software, a computing performance increase of at least twice an Intel Pentium M processor is achievable. Still, the Intel Thermal Design Power (TDP) for the 2.16GHz dual-core processor is 34W versus 27W TDP for the single-core 2.0GHz Intel Pentium M processor 760 (with 2MB of L2 cache).


Emerson Network Power's new Embedded Computing business, formerly known as Artesyn Communication Products, unveiled its new SpiderWareM3 platform management software for MicroTCA systems. The software can be integrated with existing HA middleware software. Overall, platform management makes it easier to monitor, manage, and maintain multiple AdvancedMC blades in multiple MicroTCA chassis.

"IPMI platform management provides the foundation for system- wide network management, and is one of the most compelling features of emerging open architecture telecom shelf standards like MicroTCA," explained Todd Wynia, vice president of product management for Emerson's new Embedded Computing business.

The SpiderWareM3 software provides a fast development environment that reduces timeto- market by simplifying integration and testing. Its management framework, which can run locally or remotely, maximises implementation flexibility. It does so by providing management interfaces at multiple levels within a system.

SpiderWareM3 acquires information for key physical-system health characteristics, such as voltage, fan speed, temperature, and power supply status, through each AdvancedMC blade's I2C-based IPMI interface. Using this information, the management software and/or network operators are able to monitor system operation, take corrective action, optimise cooling and system power allocation, and perform remote shutdown/ restart (typically on a slot-by-slot basis), in addition to logging events.


Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing launched what it describe as the new era of VPX computing. The company launched the first public demonstration of an embedded system based on the new highbandwidth VPX (VITA 46) open architecture bus standard.

A high-performance successor to the VMEbus bus architecture, VPX and its complement, VPXREDI (VITA 48), were designed to address emerging serial switched-fabric, high-bandwidth defense and aerospace applications that exceed the capabilities of the earlier bus standard.

The demo comprised a system using several of its new 6U formfactor VPX boards. The system featured a VPX6-185 SBC and two CHAMP-AV6 DSP VPX boards operating in a mesh Serial RapidIO (SRIO) network. Each board in the mesh is connected to all others by a bidirectional x4 SRIO connection, with each link providing up to 2.5GB/s of bidirectional bandwidth. An application running on the system enabled demo viewers to choose the number of processors participating in simultaneous streaming transfers between the boards.


On the heels of its acquisition of Radstone Embedded Computing, GE Fanuc Embedded Systems unveiled the 3U VPX MAGIC1 Rugged Display Processor at the conference. The MAGIC1 is a rugged, integrated subsystem consisting of the 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo processor-based SBC340 SBC and GRA110 graphics processor. Consequently, this makes the NVIDIA PCI Express graphics capability available to the military computing market for the first time ever.

The rugged graphics display processor supports VAPS, GL Studio, and iData display software. Moreover, it targets applications such as embedded training, digital mapping, and vehicle displays.


PLX Technology upped its PLX PCIe product family to 13 after announcing three new switches. These latest devices push PCI Express technology forward with PLX's third-generation PCIe switching architecture, which features 110ns latency, low power consumption, flexible port configurations up to x16, and true peer-to-peer support.

The PLX ExpressLane PEX 8525 (24 lanes, 5 ports), PEX 8533 (32 lanes, 6 ports), and PEX 8547 (48 lanes, 3 ports) join the recently introduced PEX 8548 (48 lanes, 9 ports) as next-generation PCI Express switches based on PLX's established architecture. These switches comply to the PCI-SIG PCI Express Base Specification, Revision 1.1.


Mercury Computer Systems announced its Echotek Series ECV4-2 family of mixed-signal PMC and XMC modules. The ECV4-2, with input clock capability up to 1.5GHz, is the highestperforming digital receiver in an XMC form factor in the industry, according to the company.

Echotek products create a bridge between the realms of analog signals and digital processing. Among the applications they will have a direct effect on are beamforming and directionfinding as required by radar, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and electronic intelligence (ELINT); medical imaging; and communications.

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