How to Design an Embedded RDBMS Search

As the cost of micro-disk and NAND Flash continue to drop, devices are storing more and more data. It is common now for a person's MP3 player to have more storage than their laptop. But this increase in storage capacity has not been matched with advances in the user interface. Typically, users still wrestle with a folder-based interface to find the data they want, searching by a few vendor-defined categories such as artist, album, and genre. But a new class of embedded database manage- ment systems (DBMS) is emerging to allow end users to search the way people think, rather than in this stat- ic manner. With a RAM footprint ranging from a few tens to a few hundred kilobytes, these products enable developers to deliver this sophisti- cated search on mobile devices. So how do they work? How do you write an embedded application to use a relational DBMS (RDBMS)? While there are a few kinds of DBMS, the relational model has tri- umphed over all the others, largely because it abstracts the data struc- tures so that applications don't have to know them. A relational database management system offers a standard, high-level query language that allows access to data by content, not by pointer or location and offset.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Human machine interface (HMI), Data management

WIN-T: The Warfighter's Communications Backbone for Today and Tomorrow

The battlefield of the future will integrate all elements into one networked force, enabling communication among soldiers and commanders on the land, at sea, in the air, and at fixed command posts. Developed by a team led by General Dynamics C4 Systems and Lockheed Martin, the Warfighter Information Network - Tactical (WIN-T) project is the tactical communications backbone for the warfighter, both today and for the future. WIN-T supports voice, video, and data applications, enabling the soldier to stay connected anytime and anywhere by providing mobility and reliable bandwidth. Leveraging communications technologies such as cellular, wireless LAN, satellite, and VoiceOver IP, WIN-T links weapons, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, while remaining mobile, scalable, modular, and secure.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Satellite communications, Telecommunications systems, Military vehicles and equipment

Open-Standard Multicomputers Address Next-Generation Multi-Function Radar Applications

Next-generation radar applications will drive performance demands that will have architectural implications for radar computing and electronics. Advanced multi-function radar (MFR) systems, which will be deployed in harsh and demanding environmental conditions inside unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manned aircraft, and ship- and ground-based radar systems must simultaneously provide multi-mode search, multi-target tracking, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging, and space time adaptive processing (STAP). Both the performance and ruggedization requirements make it challenging to service MFR applications using yesterday's commercial- off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Architecture, Radar, Systems engineering, Durability, Reliability

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

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

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

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