Tech Briefs

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
Read More >>

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, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Failure modes and effects analysis, Product development
Read More >>

Embedded Design and Technology Trends in the Military

A presidential election... the continuance or end of deploying troops in Iraq...Phoenix spacecraft landing on Mars...2008 could be an exciting year, so let's take a moment to look at a few trends that could affect the military embedded Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) market.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Embedded software, Defense industry, Military vehicles and equipment
Read More >>

Ruggedized Hard Disk Drives Keep Data Safe In Harsh Environments

Conventional hard disk drives (HDDs) are designed to reliably operate in the hospitable physical surroundings of interior deployments, which are typically characterized by mild temperatures, stable humidity and modest levels of vibration. By contrast, outdoor and mobile storage environments can entail anything from sweltering heat or sub-zero frost to oppressive dampness and pounding vibration. And all may be encountered miles above sea level. So it’s no surprise that bringing the benefits of HDD-based storage to outdoor and mobile settings such as automotive, industrial PC, field computing, and military applications poses a formidable challenge to engineers.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Durability
Read More >>

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
Read More >>

Data-Centric Network Integration Takes Headaches Out of Avionic Upgrades

Avionics systems are becoming more powerful and more dependent upon data exchanged between instruments. These instruments and subsystems reside on a network and must share time-critical data to achieve their mission. For example, targeting systems require real-time input of aircraft speed and attitude, as well as position and velocity data of the target. At the same time, additional bandwidth is required for data from onboard systems, such as GPS, airspeed and directional gyro, flight control systems, and dozens of other instruments and subsystems. As a result, network traffic is high, and potential data interactions can be highly complex. This complexity makes real-time integration of the data from disparate instruments during operational missions a significant challenge. Furthermore, upgrades of avionics and software applications during the useful life of the airframe means that new subsystems must be seamlessly integrated with legacy subsystems. In other words, data paths, interactions, and integration are not fixed forever. Today, aircraft systems typically are constructed to provide point-to-point communications between instruments and control systems that require realtime data. This approach has a significant impact on the complexity of the system and its subsequent maintainability. If an instrument is upgraded or replaced, the interfaces between it and other directly connected devices have the potential to change, requiring significant recoding and retesting.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Avionics
Read More >>

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
Read More >>