Next-Gen Networks Drive AdvancedTCA Deployments

The evolution of technology and the never-ending thirst for higher bandwidth from industries and applications are pushing the limits of existing standards. The latest processors run faster and integrate more features, thus requiring greater power, more efficient cooling design, and a larger board size. The explosion of bandwidth in enterprise local-area networks (LANs) brought on by the deployment of gigabit Ethernet, 3G/WiMAX mobile communication, and wireless network systems and the growth of triple-play or multi-play network services, have all fueled the demand for servicing greater amounts of data traffic.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Data exchange, Performance upgrades

Secure Your Embedded Wireless Network

Connecting devices like medical instruments, weigh scales, printers, sensors, and other embedded devices to wireless networks allows the user to gain unprecedented freedom and mobility without the need for cumbersome cabling. Traditionally, many of these devices have been confined to a certain area, and the applications have been prone to human error when used by someone to manually collect information and then transfer it to a computer.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Cyber security, Wireless communication systems

Encapsulated Video “Brick” Bolsters Video Surveillance Along Boarder

Increasingly dependent on continuous video monitoring and recording, even today's more sophisticated security surveillance systems are often plagued by reliability problems. In some ways, more complex video systems are susceptible to signal and other dependability problems simply because they are multifaceted. Systems integrators may know what cameras and recorders to use in a given situation, but they also need to consider how subcomponents could play a critical role under certain conditions. A noisy switch or incompatible distribution amplifier (DA) can compromise the integrity of a video security system yet go undiagnosed or even undetected until the horse is already out of the barn.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Security systems, Surveillance

Perspective - Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III

Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III
Commander/District Engineer, St. Louis District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and became one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the United States. It resulted in more than 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damages. Katrina’s storm surge measured up to 30 feet along the Mississippi coast, with winds at 127 miles per hour when it made landfall in Louisiana. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans was under water. In the aftermath of Katrina, Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was selected to command Task Force Guardian, the team responsible for restoring New Orleans’ flood and hurricane protection system to its pre-storm levels before the 2006 hurricane season began.

In the following perspective, Colonel Setliff describes the challenges his team — and local contractors — faced in accomplishing their almost impossible goal of providing a measurably stronger level of protection to the city of New Orleans in a compressed time frame. (Colonel Setliff originally prepared this account of the restoration project for SolidWorks World 2007 in February in New Orleans.)

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, People and personalities

SMP vs. AMP: How Homogenous Is Your Embedded System?

Multiprocessing system architectures come in all shapes and sizes, so it is dangerous to make any generalizations. But perhaps there's agreement that most systems can be classified as either symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) or asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP).
Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software

Secure Partitioning Safeguards Real-time Performance

High performance multi-core processors are providing opportunities to consolidate multiple applications into a single system. However, embedded applications often have real-time requirements that cannot be put in jeopardy by other software clamoring for the same system resources such as CPU cycles and memory.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Reliability

Visualization Tools Aid Multi-core Development

Multi-core processing is a "disruptive technology", transforming the way embedded systems are architected, developed, and debugged. With greatly improved performance and lower power, multi-core processors have caught the attention of designers who don't think twice about putting two, four, or even eight processor cores into a system. But many software developers are playing catch up, working hard to quickly parallelize code. They are finding traditional debug methods aren't sufficient to profile the complex interactions between concurrently running tasks. "In a system with interacting applications running simultaneously on multiple processor cores, breakpoints have reduced applicability as a tool for understanding system behavior," says Rob McCammon, Director of Advanced Technology Planning at Wind River Systems.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Embedded software, Displays

Dense Functionalized-Nanowire Biosensor Arrays

Progress has been made in the development of compact sensor arrays containing molecular electronic devices for detecting molecules of interest (especially biomolecules) with high sensitivity and selectivity. As described in somewhat more detail below, the sensory devices in these arrays are based on chemically functionalized semiconductor nanowires. Because of the small sizes of nanowire-based devices, these arrays could be extremely dense, enabling simultaneous detection of multiple molecular species of interest. In addition, in some cases, it should be possible to extend the limits of detectability to quantities as small as a single molecule.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductor devices, Sensors and actuators

Nanowire-Based Chemical and Biological Sensor Arrays

Acontinuing effort that supplements and complements the one summarized in the immediately preceding article is dedicated to the development of nanowire-based sensor arrays, with emphasis on maximizing the utility of such arrays for real-time sensing of molecular species associated with chemical and biological threats. Like the sensors described in the immediately preceding article, most of these sensors are based on chemically functionalized semiconductor nanowires that are parts of fieldeffect transistors. In addition, some of these sensors are based on piezoelectric nanowire resonators.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Sensors and actuators, Biological sciences, Chemicals, Nanotechnology

Improved Magnetic Sensor Based on Giant Magneto-Impedance

A low-power, highly stable electronic sensor circuit for measuring a small change in the ambient magnetic field with high sensitivity exploits the giant magneto-impedance (GMI) effect, in which the radio-frequency (RF) impedance of a fiber made of a suitably formulated material varies with the externally generated magnetic field to which it is exposed. The GMI effect has been observed in fibers thinner than a human hair made of amorphous (in the sense of lacking crystalline structure) alloys of cobalt, iron, silicon, and boron.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Sensors and actuators, Fibers