Interview with Ray Alderman, Executive Director of VITA

Founded in 1984 to promote VMEbus technology, VITA is a non-profit organization of more than 125 vendor companies who share a common interest in real-time, modular embedded computing systems. In August 2008, VITA's Executive Director, Ray Alderman, agreed to speak with Embedded Technology's editor, Bruce Bennett, about the state of VME technology in 2008, how far it has come in its 30-year history, and where it is likely to go in the future.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Embedded software, People and personalities

Modeling System Architecture and Resource Constraints Using Discrete-Event Simulation

Optimizing system resource utilization is a key design objective for system engineers in communications, electronics, and other industries. System resources such as processors, memory, or bandwidth on a communication bus are often shared by various components in the system. To understand the utilization of a shared resource, system engineers must do two things: they must identify constraints on the resource, such as number of processors and memory size, and they must analyze the effect of input traffic or load on the shared resource.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer simulation, Optimization, Architecture

RapidIO vs. Ethernet A Practical Technical Comparison

Ethernet is currently the incumbent backplane technology across a wide range of storage, wireless, wireline, military, industrial, and other embedded applications as developers move away from proprietary implementations in an effort to reduce development time and cost while increasing performance and functionality. However, as data rates increase, it has become apparent that many high-performance applications exceed the limits of this traditional protocol. Designing an efficient embedded backplane interconnect with excellent performance requires addressing a number of key design challenges, including header efficiency, protocol processing efficiency, effective bandwidth, and quality of service while strictly managing cost. To meet these challenges, many developers are turning to RapidIO® technology as an alternative to Ethernet.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Data exchange, Embedded software, Data management, Technical reference

Designing Software Radio Systems With FPGAs

Software defined radio technology has been widely adopted for new military and aerospace platforms, government signal intelligence and homeland security systems, and now more extensively in commercial wireless voice and data networks as well. These modern communication systems need to squeeze more channels of traffic into an expensive slice of precious radio spectrum. Military and government requirements for secure communications mandate real-time encryption and decryption schemes that must be increasingly more resistant to interception. In multinational theater of war combat operations, communications systems must selectively ensure certain specific links and reliably deny others.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Communication protocols, Cryptography, Integrated circuits, Radio equipment, Defense industry

Front Panel Hardware Considerations For ATCA, AMC, and MicroTCA Telecom Equipment

Acceptance of telecom industry standards for rack-mounted server equipment — in the form of the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturer’s Group (PICMG) standards — is gaining momentum throughout global market channels. The objectives of those standards are certainly attractive in terms of streamlining economy and efficiency for both carriers and telecom equipment manufacturers across a number of areas. Their aim is to reduce development time and costs, as well as to help reduce the total cost of ownership. They are also intended to offer high levels of modularity and configurability while delivering high levels of service availability (99.999% and greater) and supporting appropriate scalability of system performance and capacity.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Telecommunications systems, Market research, Standardization

Getting Real-Time Performance From A Full-Featured OS

Spend a few minutes at your local electronics store and it's obvious — the mobile phone is a device that far surpasses its original intent. With respect to functionality, today's mobile phone goes well beyond the ability to make calls and store phone numbers. It also synchs up with your desktop's calendar and address book, it can take pictures, play and store music, and receive emails.

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

Omniscient Code Generation for 8-, 16- and 32-bit Microcontrollers

C-language programs are usually developed by teams of engineers who are often geographically dispersed, leading to redundant code and inconsistent variable declarations between modules. Traditional compilation technology compiles each module separately with no regard for what goes on in the other modules and with no information about how pointers, stacks, variables and functions are used throughout the whole program. Traditional compilers tend to over-allocate memory space for pointers, stacks and registers. They are unable to fully exploit the wide variety of memory maps, and register and stack configurations available in today’s micro-controllers. All too often, the programmer must resort to manual optimizations that compromise portability (Figure 1).

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