Programming Network Processors Made Simple

The telecommunications industry’s continuous strive for higher performance has spurred innovations in processor architectures. The general trend has been to go parallel; adding more cores to a single processor device and then dividing tasks between them. This has resulted in a more complex environment for software engineers to master. But does this mean that the programming of next-generation network processors (NPUs) has to be difficult? Not necessarily.

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

Designing Solid State Drives Into ATCA-based Platforms

Due to the growth of video on demand (VoD), IPTV media content, and embedded database applications, AdvancedTCA (ATCA)-based storage capacity requirements continue to increase exponentially. In addition, storage requirements have become more complex and varied for ATCA designs that have expanded beyond the central office to include network data center and general data center applications that need to handle a wide variety of server platforms. The advancements and general availability of new storage solutions, particularly solid state drives (SSDs), enables ATCA platform developers to meet the design metrics of a broader range of markets where distributed data storage and management become increasingly required. The continual evolution of SSD storage technology, with its improved capacity, performance, and cost reductions, provides additional opportunities for integrating storage directly into the ATCA platform, allowing new designs to gain the benefit of high performance and availability provided by ATCA-based systems.

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

Achieving Embedded Software Safety with Agility

Safety-critical development standards, such as DO-1781, have been very successful in guiding the production of reliable software. These standards assist developers in applying good software practices during development, ensuring, as much as possible, the absence of errors. Compliance with these stringent standards involves a high cost because of their labor-intensiveness and high levels of know-how.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers

Optimizing the Interoperability of Military Satellite Communications

Satellite communications offer mobility and communications for military operations in remote locations where terrestrial-based connectivity is not available, or is too expensive. Unfortunately, satellite connectivity brings many challenges that can impair network performance in delivering mission-critical information and applications. High-latency transport and application protocol inefficiencies, adverse weather, and interference are just a few of the causes that slow the delivery of applications and limit the amount of traffic that can run over a satellite link. Compounding these problems is interoperability among disparate military networks that can jeopardize mission-critical communications.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Optimization, Communication protocols, Satellite communications, Defense industry, Satellites

Choosing Your RF Design Environment Flow

You can’t build a house without blueprints. So why do so many RF design flows try to build a board without a schematic? Most often, this crude process comes about due to lack of availability of RF design tools. But the wireless industry is the new cool kid on the block. As a result, electronic design automation (EDA) software vendors are scrambling to disencumber the rigid printed circuit board (PCB) world of tailored processes and streamlined user flows. RF engineers demand freedom from constraints, so EDA vendors are peeling back the layers of traditional PCB design and opening up some truly excellent solutions. But with these solutions, RF engineers are challenged to rethink their request for primitive simplicity and consider a higher-level process.

Posted in: Articles, RFM Catchall, Aerospace, Design processes, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Wireless communication systems, Product development, Systems engineering

Using Microelectrode Arrays for Cerebral Applications

The fundamental understanding of cerebral systems and associated diseases relies on the electrical recording of single neuron activity. This requires in vivo interfacing with neurons using micrometer-scale electrodes. Traditionally, this challenging task is being performed using: single wire electrodes, probes containing small ensembles of electrodes or, more recently, multi-electrode arrays. These electrode arrangements have the potential to gather signals in three-dimensional space and to provide important laminar information. However, the types of arrays that have been proposed so far are either restricted to sampling in a given plane or have difficulty in collecting data in complex regions, such as those found in highly convoluted cortices. Moreover, state-of-the-art micro-electrode systems are not (yet) suitable for obtaining highly stable signals over extended recording periods. In some cases, the probes are just too bulky to follow cortical motion in chronic applications. Also, the damage inflicted to tissue and the way tissue responds to the presence of a foreign body are presently restrictive to chronic neural recordings. Such a chronic use is, however, highly needed, since it allows the study of changes in population activity at single neuron level and at the interaction level with learning, memory and training.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Diseases, Medical equipment and supplies, Nervous system

How Cool Is That? Ensuring Effective Thermal Design

Proper thermal design of any electronics-based system is key to its long-term reliability. NASA engineering expertise in this area is renowned. The International Space Station (ISS) operates in a temperature environment from 250 degrees F (121 °C), down to a minus 250 degrees F (-157 °C), while maintaining a survivable internal temperature. Yet, in the commercial electronics industry many systems engineers have limited knowledge about thermal design. Furthermore, military and industrial customers with wide temperature range applications, want to save money by using commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Thermal management