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Telecom Adapter for Intra-Chassis Communication

Performance Technologies (Rochester, NY) has expanded its family of communication platforms with the PCE385, a quad T1/E1/J1 PCI Express telecom adapter. The device is enabled with NexusWare Core®, the company’s Linux-based software, and includes an onboard MPC8280 PowerQUICC II™ RISC communications processor. It offers various signaling and communications protocols including SIP, SS7 MTP-2, and ISDN and WAN connectivity with Frame Relay, HDLC, LAPD, and X.25.

Posted in: Products, Products, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers
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Sensor Interface Design Demystified

With the rapid expansion of available sensor elements driven by the growth of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, the considerations of sensor interface design become ever more important. The design engineer needs to understand both the sensor as well as the application in order to make the proper design tradeoffs in this already tricky art of analog front-end design. The challenge is further compounded with the trend toward MEMS technologies and their inherently smaller signals. This article attempts to cover some of the basics of sensor interface design and gives a cursory overview of the challenges and trade-offs of the possible approaches. It's Not Just a Resistor Fundamentally, every sensor can be modeled as a simpler component, albeit a component with a value that changes over time. Usually this means we can treat them as either a simple passive impedance, such as a resistance, capacitance, or inductance, or as an active source, such as a current or voltage source. As these values change with time, we need to be able to convert that change into a time-varying voltage. Furthermore, we need to maintain the linearity of the sensor while we do this.
Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Microelectricmechanical device, Sensors and actuators
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Advanced Ceramic Heaters Improve IC Packaging and System Performance

The continuous increase in the consumption of semiconductor devices and the emergence of new applications in optical components — MEMS, LCD display, flip-chip, chip-onglass, and multichip modules — has created a vast demand for faster throughput and better die-bonding equipment for IC packaging. IC packaging requires a typical ramp rate of 100ºC per second to 400 to 500ºC ±2°C, and a cycle time of 7 to 15 seconds. Similarly, IC chip testing, which stresses chips between -40 to 125ºC while monitoring electrical parameters, also requires a faster cycle rate. To manufacture ICs of all types, a die bonder or die attach equipment is used to attach the die to the die pad or die cavity of the package's support structure. The two most common processes for attaching the die to the die pad or substrate are adhesive die attach and eutectic die attach. In adhesive die attach, adhesives such as epoxy, polyimide, and Ag-filled glass frit are used to attach the die. Eutectic die attach uses a eutectic alloy. Au-Si eutectic, one commonly used alloy, has a liquidous temperature of 370ºC, while another alloy, Au-Sn, has a liquidous temperature of 280ºC.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductor devices, Joining, Ceramics
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Accelerated Testing — Raising the Bar on Electronics Integrity

By now, most test engineers have recognized that both HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) and HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screening) are the fastest and most effective new methodologies for quickly passing design verification and testing (DVT), and the most effective production screenings. Leaders across a broad range of industries have now embraced accelerated testing as a strategic move that can increase competitiveness and improve market share..

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Systems engineering, Production, Quality control, Test procedures
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High-Integrity Java Targets Safety-Critical Systems

High-integrity software plays critical roles in telecommunications, transportation, defense systems, industrial automation, and power management. Because human lives may be lost and tremendous economic costs may result if the software fails, the development of high-integrity software adopts practices that impose greater rigor on the software development processes. This rigor includes documentation of system requirements, architecture, design, test plan, and source code; development accountability audit trails; independent peer review of all development artifacts; full traceability analysis; and extensive test coverage. The goal of this increased rigor is to assure correct operation and reliability of the software. As computer automation expands its reach and influence, the size and complexity of high-integrity software is expanding as well. To deal with the increased development workload resulting from the ever-expanding role of high-integrity software, military and aerospace industries are leading the way towards the use of a safety-critical subset of the Java programming language to help increase developer productivity and reduce the maintenance costs associated with highintegrity software.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Safety critical systems, Productivity, Quality control
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Multi-Processor VME64x Computer With PowerPC Processor

Themis Computer (Fremont, CA) has introduced the TPPC64 multi-processor VME64x computer using IBM's 970FX Superscalar RISC processor. It can be configured with one or two 1.8-GHz PowerPC 970FX processors. The 970FX features VPX SIMD Vector Processing Units, bringing enterprise server-class processing power to bandwidth-intensive VME64x applications.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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High-Speed Ethernet Communication for PLCs

AutomationDirect (Cumming, GA) has released the H4-ECOM100 Ethernet communication module for the DirectLOGIC DL405 PLC. The H4-ECOM100 can be inserted into any I/O slot of any local DL405 base, including expansion bases when using the DL450 CPU and -1 bases to implement master/slave Ethernet communication at 10 or 100 Mbit data rates. The module supports the industry-standard MODBUS TCP/IP Client/Server protocol, and IP and IPX protocols. This allows a DL405 PLC with an H4-ECOM100 module to serve as a client (master) or as a server (slave) on a MODBUS TCP/IP Ethernet network.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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Graphics Card for Advanced Visualization Systems

The NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 X2 graphics card from NVIDIA Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) is designed for advanced visualization systems requiring scalable graphics performance, such as CAD and geo-seismic applications. The card features two NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 graphics processing units (GPUs) in a dual-slot configuration. Multi-GPU rendering enables maximum performance and image quality, leveraging 32x full-scene antialiasing for graphics-intensive applications.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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Ultraminiature Microswitches Offer Long Life Ratings

ALCOSWITCH ultraminiature SPDT microswitches from Tyco Electronics (Harrisburg, PA) have extended cycle life ratings up to 1 million cycles. The PC-mount product is available with straight or right-angle PC terminals, allowing for multiple mounting options.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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FPGA-Based Carrier Card Reduces Processor Board Count

TEK Microsystems (Chelmsford, MA) has announced the PowerRACE® 3A carrier card combining highdensity FPGAs, an onboard switched fabric, PowerPCs, and PMC interfaces. High-speed I/O and image processing are performed in one slot. The PowerRACE-3A uses two 800-MHz 440GX PowerPC processors to support throughput without incurring host processor overhead. Currently supporting the RACE++ interconnect fabric, future implementations will be fabric-agnostic. An onboard fabric allows each PMC site to transfer data concurrently to off-board RACE++ ports, FPGA processing, or memory, eliminating fabric contention and maximizing system performance. The card can be configured with one of the more than 30 available TEK PMC modules.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers
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