Features

Using CompactPCI to Build Rugged Embedded Systems

The task-specific nature of an embedded system application typically defines a narrow scope of performance requirements. But the range of options for achieving those requirements are broad — from multicore processors and rugged single board computers (SBCs) to I/O devices and the bus systems that tie everything together. And the choices to be made are critical in their impact on cost, on performance efficiency in compute-intensive operations, and on the ability to function reliably in hot, cold, dusty or wet environments.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Embedded software, Durability
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The Evolution of Storage

The embedded computing industry is being inundated with changes to storage products driven by technological advancements, market forces and environmental concerns. The precipitous drop in solid-state flash drive (SSD) prices has enabled designers, previously turned off by the cost, to now consider solid state as an option over rotating hard disk drives (HDD). With that decision comes a serious list of performance benefits, including improvements in durability and security, which SSDs have over HDDs.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Computer software / hardware, Data management
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Micro Air Vehicles Serve as Eyes in the Sky for Ground Troops

Honeywell Aerospace has developed the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) based on ducted-fan technology that recently was deployed in Iraq to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the sky. The deployment marked the first time a ducted-fan UAV was used during combat missions. The MAV, and subsequent generations of the vehicle already in use, could change the face of military reconnaissance, as well as help civilian law enforcement and aviation officials.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Surveillance, Fans, Military aircraft, Military vehicles and equipment, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Network Keeps Line of Communication Open to Convoys

An airman riding as part of a convoy escort team in Iraq keys his radio microphone to check in with his base, and hears nothing but dead air. The U.S. Air Force is leading a joint implementation of a Radio over Internet Protocol Routed Network (RIPRnet) communication system that prevents such a scenario. RIPRnet ties convoy radios in with Internet-based technology to extend their range, providing robust, clear, reliable, and secure communications for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are out on the roads of Iraq.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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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, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, 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, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, 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, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Computer software / hardware, Durability, Reliability
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