Secure Your Embedded Wireless Network

Connecting devices like medical instruments, weigh scales, printers, sensors, and other embedded devices to wireless networks allows the user to gain unprecedented freedom and mobility without the need for cumbersome cabling. Traditionally, many of these devices have been confined to a certain area, and the applications have been prone to human error when used by someone to manually collect information and then transfer it to a computer.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Cyber security, Wireless communication systems

Encapsulated Video “Brick” Bolsters Video Surveillance Along Boarder

Increasingly dependent on continuous video monitoring and recording, even today's more sophisticated security surveillance systems are often plagued by reliability problems. In some ways, more complex video systems are susceptible to signal and other dependability problems simply because they are multifaceted. Systems integrators may know what cameras and recorders to use in a given situation, but they also need to consider how subcomponents could play a critical role under certain conditions. A noisy switch or incompatible distribution amplifier (DA) can compromise the integrity of a video security system yet go undiagnosed or even undetected until the horse is already out of the barn.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Security systems, Surveillance

Perspective - Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III

Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III
Commander/District Engineer, St. Louis District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and became one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the United States. It resulted in more than 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damages. Katrina’s storm surge measured up to 30 feet along the Mississippi coast, with winds at 127 miles per hour when it made landfall in Louisiana. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans was under water. In the aftermath of Katrina, Colonel Lewis F. Setliff III of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was selected to command Task Force Guardian, the team responsible for restoring New Orleans’ flood and hurricane protection system to its pre-storm levels before the 2006 hurricane season began.

In the following perspective, Colonel Setliff describes the challenges his team — and local contractors — faced in accomplishing their almost impossible goal of providing a measurably stronger level of protection to the city of New Orleans in a compressed time frame. (Colonel Setliff originally prepared this account of the restoration project for SolidWorks World 2007 in February in New Orleans.)

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, People and personalities

SMP vs. AMP: How Homogenous Is Your Embedded System?

Multiprocessing system architectures come in all shapes and sizes, so it is dangerous to make any generalizations. But perhaps there's agreement that most systems can be classified as either symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) or asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP).
Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software

Secure Partitioning Safeguards Real-time Performance

High performance multi-core processors are providing opportunities to consolidate multiple applications into a single system. However, embedded applications often have real-time requirements that cannot be put in jeopardy by other software clamoring for the same system resources such as CPU cycles and memory.

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

Visualization Tools Aid Multi-core Development

Multi-core processing is a "disruptive technology", transforming the way embedded systems are architected, developed, and debugged. With greatly improved performance and lower power, multi-core processors have caught the attention of designers who don't think twice about putting two, four, or even eight processor cores into a system. But many software developers are playing catch up, working hard to quickly parallelize code. They are finding traditional debug methods aren't sufficient to profile the complex interactions between concurrently running tasks. "In a system with interacting applications running simultaneously on multiple processor cores, breakpoints have reduced applicability as a tool for understanding system behavior," says Rob McCammon, Director of Advanced Technology Planning at Wind River Systems.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Embedded software, Displays

Distributed Control Standard Connects Industry Regardless of Bus

In the early days of modern automation, the use of microprocessor technology addressed the need for fast and efficient configuration of control logics through graphical methods that mimic the hardwired relay logics. Over the past 30 years, the automation community has put the emphasis on simplifying and standardizing the method of programming this new breed of controllers. From these efforts came the adoption of the IEC 61131-3 standard that specifies the programming languages for automation.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Standardization, Automation