Features

Z-RAM

In the electronics industry today there are two commonly used high-speed memory types: static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). Traditionally, SRAM embedded memory has been the designer's choice for fast memory, but since a typical SRAM bitcell is comprised of six transistors, that benefit comes at the expense of cost and silicon area. Embedded DRAM (eDRAM), whose smaller bitcell is comprised of a single transistor and single capacitor, offers a much lower cost option, but has higher latency and is typically used further from the processor. While DRAM is fundamental to electronic systems, it does have its limit — namely, its inability to scale to accommodate the migration to smaller, and therefore more advanced, process geometries. This limitation is further complicated by the fact that new application areas for memory are fast appearing, fueled by the popularity of digital home appliances and next-generation mobile devices, the digital convergence of electronic goods and telecommunications, and ever evolving media content.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Data management, Product development
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Designing Configurable Air Transport Racks

High-powered embedded computing equipment utilizing the Air Transport Rack (ATR) form factor is playing an ever-larger role in extreme, mission-critical applications in air, land, and sea environments. This compact, rugged, and light form factor has been around for nearly 70 years. Its small size meets the tight space constraints of the current generation of military grade equipment, and its flexibility, coupled with the proliferation of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, allows ATR-based systems to meet cost and upgradeability goals for both legacy and emerging systems.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Materials handling
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Designing COTS Computers for Harsh Environments

The need for commercial off the shelf (COTS) single board computer (SBC) products continues to grow as higher processing, smaller footprints and lower power requirements become more critical. For design engineers in medical, military, industrial, aeronautics and other fields, the desire for reduced size and heat also parallels an additional requirement for fanless operation. In this environment, engineers are constantly faced with the challenge of trading off various aspects of functionality to stay within a particular form factor. Finding COTS products that have all the desired characteristics and are also rated to perform in extreme harsh environments creates an additional challenge. However, there are a number of industrial grade SBC manufacturers who have been successful in designing and manufacturing COTS products specifically for use in harsh environments.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Computer software / hardware, Durability, Reliability
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Performing Failure Mode and Effect Analysis

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a methodology for analyzing potential problems early in the product development cycle where it is easier to take action to overcome potential issues, thereby enhancing reliability through design. The tool is used to identify relationships between process and product requirements and the potential for unacceptable outputs and their effects.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure modes and effects analysis, Product development
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The Ballistic Missile Defense System: An Integrated Approach to Global Defense

Although the end of the Cold War signaled a reduction in the likelihood of global nuclear conflict, the threat from ballistic missiles has grown steadily as sophisticated missile technology becomes available on a wider scale to countries hostile to the U.S. and its allies.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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Data-Centric Distributed Application Architecture for Shipboard Systems

System architects design distributed applications leveraging computer resources connected by a network infrastructure: CPU-intensive tasks may be located on powerful core servers; application-data storage may be managed by specialized database servers; and data-collection, actuation, and user interaction may occur on nodes located at the edge of the network. The architecture must accommodate coordination of the distributed resources as well as ensuring that the necessary data is available to all the computation, decision- making, and visualization nodes.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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Taking PC/104 CPU Boards to the Next Performance Level

Since their introduction in 1991, PC/104 standard based systems have been widely adopted in various applications. Unmanned aircraft control, onboard vehicle control and navigation systems, personal communicators, add-on cards for customer specific boards, all utilize PC/104 technology. Many system developers choose this form-factor due to its advantages in terms of low weight, compact size (boards are just 90×96 mm), ease of application development and modification, and mechanical reliability.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Computer software / hardware, Customization
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