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Critical Embedded Systems MediaFest 2008

By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

Yours Truly recently attended the new Critical Embedded Systems MediaFest 2008 (www.critical-embedded-systems.com), “The Business and Technology Media Event for the Bus & Board Industry” held at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 5-6. Perhaps “new” isn’t an appropriate term, since from 1999 until 2007, it was a show and conference called Bus & Board. Indeed, it’s still my favorite computer-related show, run under the auspices of the VME International Trade Association (VITA) and the dynamic Ray Alderman. The new CES (News - Alert) show is essentially a combination of Bus and Board and two other VITA-sponsored events: the Military Embedded Electronics and Computing Conference and CoolCON, which was devoted to the liquid cooling of electronics.

There were a surprising number debuts and demos at the show…

AdvancedIO Systems – The new V1120 XMC module, a dual-channel 10 GbE device that’s the first member of the V1100 family, the industry’s first conduction-cooled XMC product family for 10 GbE connectivity and packet processing, in particular open-standard, extremely high bandwidth networking and point-to-point connectivity in high performance real-time systems operating in harsh environments. The V1120 uses a Xilinx (News - Alert) Virtex-5 FPGA that can handle high-performance real-time processing and recording applications. (www.advancedio.com)

Aitech Defense Systems – AiTech now offers a 3U high CompactPCI (News - Alert) (cPCI) radiation-tolerant single-slot Single Board Computer (SBC) called the S950. It protects against Single Event Upsets (SEUs) making it ideal for various Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and geocentric orbit (GEO) applications including redundant computers and guidance and navigation computers and well as in command and data handling computers, solid-state recorders and video controllers. AiTech also now sells the E192, a 2-slot, 3U cPCI enclosure with rugged environmental properties and a modular and removable power supply. And AiTeh’s C108, a rugged 6U single-slot VME PowerPC (MPC7448 processor) SBC, has now been upgraded to include an 8 GB USB Solid State Drive (SSD). (www.rugged.com)




American Portwell Technology – Announced the new PEB-2736, utilizing the Intel (News - Alert) ECX form factor, and the new UMPC-2710, both based on the Intel Atom processor Z500 series and the Intel System Controller Hub US15W. The small devices will find a home in low-power systems and handheld mobile devices for applications such as Portable POS, Medical Healthcare, Mobile Kiosk, Entry-Gaming, Digital Signage and In-Vehicle Infotainment. The PEB-2736 operates at a power consumption of less than 10 watts at full load. It supports dual display by LVDS and SDVO connector. The modular SDVO and SDIO board architecture can be easily customized to meet the customer’s time to market and proprietary requirements. The PEB-2736 supports one SO-DIMM memory slot for DDR2 SDRAM up to 1GB, and comes with one IDE, one CompactFlash socket, two RS232, high definition audio CH5.1, six USB2.0 and three SDIO ports. Wireless applications can be supported via mini-card socket on optional daughter card. (www.portwell.com)

Elma Electronics/Elma Bustronic – Bustronic announced MicroTCA (News - Alert) backplanes in the Pico style format, designed for sister-company Elma Electronic’s 1U MicroTCA enclosure solution. The Pico format is typically in a horizontally-mounted chassis that saves vertical rack space. The Bustronic Pico backplanes will typically have a Star topology, with one MCH and one Power Module. The rest of the slots will allow for AMC modules in various sizes. (www.bustronic.com)

Emerson (News - Alert) Network Power – Unveiled the Centellis 500, a MicroTCA system that leverages innovative plastic packaging, Emerson’s MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) and a high performace processor module that, at under $5,000, costs half the price of previous generation MicroTCA systems. It can support such apps as IP-PBX (News - Alert), packet processing, VoIP gateway, network Point of Sales (POS), industrial automation, access router, WiMAX, telemedicare, remote radiology and patient monitoring. (www.EmersonNetworkPower.com/EmbeddedComputing)

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms (News - Alert) They announced at CES the VPXcel3 SBC320 – the first 3U VPX single board computer to feature Core™2 Duo processing technology combined with a server class memory controller. Available in five air- and conduction-cooled ruggedization levels, the SBC320 is designed for demanding space-constrained embedded computing applications where leading edge processing capability is combined with low heat dissipation. Joining the 3U VPX SBC310, SBC330 and SBC340 – which offer a choice of processor architectures – the SBC320 brings the total of VPX products announced by GE Fanuc to 11. (www.gefanuc.com)

General Micro Systems (GMS (News - Alert)) – GMS introduced a 3U high (5.25-inch) cPCI SBC called the “CoolOne” (CC40x), said to be the first conduction-cooled board with a typical operating power consumption of 3.5 watts/5 watts maximum, which would make it currently the most energy-efficient board in its type and class. CoolOne remains cool thanks in part to its conduction-cooled package and partly because of its onboard Intel Atom processor operating at (up to) 1.6GHz with 512 KB of L2 Cache. With (up to) a 533MHz Front Side Bus, the board delivers as much as 1GB of 533MHz DDR-2 SDRAM. High performance is further ensured by (up to) 16 GB of Bootable Flash memory via CompactFlash, six USB-2.0 ports, two serial ports with RS232/422 support, and two 8-bit Secure Digital I/O or MMC ports for custom I/O. A Special Application Module (SAM) for custom I/O also provides up to 64 GB configured as a high-speed SATA solid state drive, and an optional mini module and PCI Express Card can be used for further individualized configurations. With its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, combined with its small weight and energy efficiency, the CoolOne is ideal for handheld or UMPC device applications. GMS also announced the “Pinnacle”, one of a new family of SBCs utilizing high-performance Core 2 Duo processors operating at 2.16 GHz. (www.gms4vme.com)

MEN Micro Inc. – Also known as Mikro Elektronik Nurnberg, they’ve announced the ESMexpress System-On-Module Standard, a new computing standard in development destined to be the ANSI-VITA 59 (RSE Rugged System-On-Module Express) Standard. ESMexpress brings the cost and time savings of Computer-On-Modules or COMs (also known as Systems-On-Modules or SOMs) technology to rugged, harsh and mission-critical environments. An initial ESMexpress product from MEN Micro, the XM1, is powered by the first-generation Intel Atom processor (Z530 at 1.6 GHz or Z510 at 1.1 GHz) based on 45-nm technology. It runs on the module with 1 GB of soldered DDR2 SDRAM and yields very low power dissipation, reduced design costs and space-saving design flexibility. Also, MEN’s new XM50 is the first PowerPC-based ESMexpress module for low power processing in rugged embedded applications. With its 1.5 GHz PowerQUICC III MPC8548 processor, the XM50 should be ideal for communication-intensive applications for the railway, avionics, medical engineering and industrial automation markets. (www.men.de)

Mercury Computer Systems – At the show they unveiled their smallest embedded system yet, the PowerBlock 50, an ultra-compact embedded computer designed for maximum performance in a minimal footprint, for small platforms in the 6- to 10-pound range. Optimized for real-time image, sensor, and signal processing and ruggedized for harsh environments, it’s fully integrated and programmable, with liquid cooling. The PowerBlock 50’s modular architecture allows for flexible configurations of multiple processors (e.g. PowerQUICC, Virtex-4, and Intel) delivering well over 100 GFLOPS of processing power, SATA storage and Gigabit Ethernet and RS-232 I/O interfaces. A fully configured PowerBlock 50 weighs less than 10 pounds and measures approximately 4x5x6 inches – it can literally be held comfortably in one hand. (www.mc.com)

Pentek – Introduced the Model 7151 high-resolution software radio module. Four 200 MHz 16-bit A/D converters feed a proprietary FPGA IP core that delivers 256 channels of indenpendently-tuned Digital Down Conversion (DDC), arranged in four banks of 64 DDC channels, with each bank configurable for a unique output signal bandwidth for apps demanding mixed signal types or multiple modulation schemes. It’s well-suited for GSM cell-phone monitoring and signal-intelligence applications. (www.pentek.com) IT

Richard “Zippy” Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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