Embedded Extra

Oct. 26, 2004
Paul Whytock reviews some of the latest developments in the embedded electronics sector.

The Embedded Systems Conference at Boston was the forum where operating systems company Enea Embedded Technology decided to unveil its Enea Embedded Medical Platform (EE-Med), a safety-critical software platform for embedded medical devices. The attraction of this platform is its ability to provide all the software components needed to design safety-critical medical devices, including a hard RTOS, secure wireless and wireline networking, an embedded GUI, a fault tolerant database and a strong development environment.

This platform, along with Enea's medical reference boards and hardware/software engineering services, covers all the aspects of design, development and deployment from initial planning to FDA certification.

"OSE's real-time response, secure partitioning, and guaranteed resource availability make it the ideal platform for building safety-critical embedded medical devices," commented Adrian Leufvén, vice president marketing of Enea Embedded Technology.

The foundation for EE-Med is the safety-critical OSE RTOS which combines fast, deterministic, real-time response with memory protection facilities that enable medical OEM's to isolate safety- and life-critical Level A functions. This secure partitioning guarantees that failures in non-critical services such as networking do not impair life-critical services such as dispensing medication or monitoring vital signs.

Enhanced reliability OSE will also provide guaranteed resource availability, which enhances reliability by ensuring that critical Level A functions always have prompt access to necessary CPU and memory resources, claims Enea Embedded technology.

In a further development to its range of embedded CompactPCI single-board computers (SBC) MEN Mikro Elektronik, the Munich based company, has unveiled its F9 SBC which is Pentium M based.

Designed in single Eurocard format, this board is suitable for severe environmental conditions and will be available for at least five years, says the company.

The SBC is designed to accommodate Banias and Dothan Pentium M varieties between 1.1 and 1.8GHz as well as the Celeron M 600MHz. Dedicated LV and ULV types keep heat dissipation to a minimum and a specially designed heat sink removes heat in fanless systems or in high-temperature applications. All processors used on the F9 are part of Intel's embedded line and have a guaranteed minimum availability of five years. The BIOS from Phoenix is also particularly suitable for the demands of embedded applications.

Meanwhile in a global launch, SuperH, the CPU IP supplier of multimedia RISC CPU cores, announced its SH-4 RISC CPU core has been used in the verification of a new SoC design methodology developed by STARC (Semiconductor Technology Academic Research Centre) of Japan.

The company has been able to deliver a technology-independent Synthesisable Core Design Kit (SCDK) to STARC for porting onto the 6-layer low-power 90nm technology offered by ASPLA (Advanced SoC PLAtform Corporation) of Japan. The SH-4 core was ported and the SH-4 based SoCs were taped out successfully by STARC using two different versions of the design flow based on two major EDA vendors' tools. STARC is building the industry-wide standard design methodology for advanced technology from Japan, and has emphasised the design porting as well as the silicon verification of the SH-4 based SoC as a significant step in validating the design methodology.

Throughout the design porting, the design methodology has been proven to resolve various issues that are typically faced in an advanced 90nm semiconductor product design like timing, signal integrity, reliability and manufacturability in a short period of time.

The CPU will be prototyped on the ASPLA 90-nm shuttle service using both of the layout design databases generated during the design. The resulting CPUs will then be evaluated and verified as the part of the process of finalizing the design methodology.

The SH4-FPU core is a high performance, dual issue, integer 32-bit RISC CPU family with an integrated vector floating point unit, designed for a range of multimedia applications that require a compact CPU core with integrated vector floating point able to execute both general purpose code and multimedia code such as audio, speech and video codecs. An MPEG-4 video codec implemented fully in software on an SH4-202 core can decode a 384kbps, 15fps CIF image at only 45MHz.

Concurrent Technologies has announced its support of LynuxWorks LynxOS 4.0 hard RTOS for its range of Motorola PowerPC and Intel Pentium boards for VME and CompactPCI architectures. Included in the list of boards supported is the company's latest 1GHz Motorola MPC7455 PowerPC based VME board where LynxOS 4.0 provides support for Motorola AltiVec technology. Vertical markets include defence, industrial automation, medical, aerospace, scientific and telecommunications industries.

Customer choice Concurrent Technologies has said it recognises that customers have a choice of RTOS depending on their market application. Therefore, supporting LynxOS 4.0 is meeting the explicit needs of customers requiring a well supported operating system for the VME and CompactPCI real-time single board market. LynxOS 4.0 provides features such as increased real-time performance, full POSIX conformance, IPv6 networking capability and Linux ABI-compatibility.

LynuxWorks has unveiled a new enhanced tool set, the Luminosity Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which is based on the Eclipse IDE platform. The Luminosity IDE provides embedded system developers with a simplified, flexible platform to accelerate product time-to-market in the aerospace, telecommunications and military sectors.

Luminosity IDE is a Linux and Solaris-based IDE powered by the Eclipse platform, giving developers control over creating, editing, compiling, managing and debugging C/C++ and Java embedded and real-time applications. Developers can select the project wizard to jumpstart development and view all process and thread activity taking place on the target through the system viewer.

Over in Santa Clara, Magma Design Automation, a provider of chip design solutions and ChipX, a structured ASIC company, have made available a unified RTL-to-GDSII design flow based on Magma's Blast Create and Blast Fusion. The companies have worked together to test and customise the Magma flow to support the ChipX CX5000 family and future structured ASIC product families. The flow will be used by mutual customers and by ChipX to deliver low-cost structured ASIC designs or to migrate FPGA designs to ChipX's structured ASIC platforms.

Hot of the press from Atmel at its Heilbronn, Germany location is what the company describes as a highly integrated high-performance complete RF solution for digital cordless phones operating at the license-free 5.8 GHz frequency band.

Atmel says that because of their high integration, low number of external components and easy handling, the new devices will help to reduce manufacturing costs of cordless phones by about 25%, depending on the design. This solution also supports multi-handset applications.

Currently, the RF part of 5.8 GHz cordless phones is manufactured using discrete circuitry, involving more than 200 components and a large PCB. Using Atmel's 5.8-GHz RF solution enables cordless phone designers to reduce the number of external components down to 80 and the board size by nearly 50%. Atmel's reference boards demonstrate good performance in terms of sensitivity (-97dBm) and power output (27dBm), resulting in improved phone coverage externally at distances of more than 300 metres.

The digital 5.8 GHz cordless technologies is the latest phone technology, which offers many additional advantages.

Most cordless phone manufacturers have decided to offer high-end products with an increased number of features in the 5.8GHz frequency range. A key benefit is the absence of interferences due to pagers; micro oven; Bluetooth, WLAN etc. since this frequency band is not used for any other application than cordless phones.

On the base-station side, Atmel's 5.8GHz solution contains a 2.9- /2.4-GHz transceiver IC ATR2808, which is a single-chip device with integrated synthesizer and VCO including resonator, and the up-conversion mixer ATR7039 as frequency doubler.

The 2nd harmonic is selected by a dielectric bandpass filter directly supplying the input of the 5.8-GHz power amplifier ATR7035 with an output power of 28 dBm. Both the ATR7035 and the ATR7039 are devices manufactured in Atmel's SiGe technology which requires only a single 3V supply voltage.

In California, MIPS Technologies and Agilent Technologies have said that that Agilent has licensed the MIPS32 4K, 4KE embedded processor core families, and the M4K and MIPS64 5Kc and 5Kf cores. The licensing agreement also gives Agilent access to the Pro Series versions of these products. Using its SoC capabilities, Agilent will target customers in a range of embedded markets, including desktop printing and imaging.

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